“You had your turn, now the game belongs to us.”
To genuine gasps of shock, Graeme Pollock, widely regarded as the finest left-hander to play the game, recalled a conversation with Gerald Majola, the embattled CEO of cricket’s top table in this country, during a fundraiser for the Kingsmead Mynahs at the Durban Country Club this week.
“I had called him to ask him why some of us older guys hadn’t been invited to a function for former players,” Pollock explained.
What followed was a withering response from Majola, who told Pollock during the course of a conversation that escalated into an argument, that anything that had happened prior to unification wasn’t considered a part of South African cricket.
When Pollock responded, Majola allegedly ended the conversation by telling him to “F*** off”, before slamming the phone down on him.
Pollock, along with Mike Procter and Barry Richards – three of the players who walked off the field in Cape Town in April, 1971, after one ball of the game between Transvaal and the Rest of South Africa and issued a statement supporting selection by merit regardless of skin colour – were the guests of honour at the fundraiserthis week.
The trio fielded questions from respected commentator and Kingsmead Stadium manager Brett Proctor, looking back on their careers, and shedding some light on the challenges of dealing with apartheid as players, and also the despicable manner in which they have been treated by the shamed Cricket South Africa administration.
“According to the new regime, what we achieved doesn’t count,” Mike Procter weighed in.
“They even wrote to the MCC a few years ago, asking if all records of South African matches prior to isolation could be wiped off. It’s sad, and that is why someone like Jacques Kallis is listed as something like the 27th player to play Test cricket for South Africa, despite there being so many more who came before him.”
That administrators would go as far as contacting the MCC to try and write off the achievements of those who came long before them beggars belief, and speaks volumes of how dangerous power can be in the wrong hands.
Majola, unsurprisingly, stayed well away from the recent CSA Awards. Insiders said he felt his presence would draw attention away from the evening, while others still ventured that he was unwilling to face the inevitable questions that would come his way.
Whatever his reasons, surely the time has come for South African cricket to look forward, and not back in weary recollection of a murky period that has robbed future hopefuls of much-needed funds, while also walking all over the legacies of some of the world’s most respected superstars .
As Messrs Procter, Pollock and Richards pointed out, they were also robbed of burgeoning careers by isolation, but as sportsmen there was not much they could have done. Procter, especially, wishes he could have been able to do more.
Though all three giants of the past are hurt by the lack of respect afforded to their considerable talents by those in their own backyard, they are now more concerned about the future of the game.
“The recommendations made by Judge Nicholson have to be followed. They just have to be carried out, so that integrity can be restored and we can start again,” Pollock implored.
Richards said that no administration could survive once they were divided.
“Once people are whispering in the corridors, you know it’s time for change.
“It needs people who have the game’s interests at heart first and foremost, to come in and steer it in the right direction.”
Already, there are signs that the game is ready to move forward, as a united force.
Momentum has come forward as a major sponsor, while sports minister Fikile Mbalula has been unflinching in his pursuit for transparency across the board. – Sunday Tribune