FILE - Former South African opening batsman Barry Richards. Photo: Patrick Compton
FILE - Former South African opening batsman Barry Richards. Photo: Patrick Compton

Barry Richards responds to Faiek Davids: It’s absolute rubbish

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Jul 25, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – Former Springbok opening batsman Barry Richards has denied that he refused to commentate with former SA Cricket Board star Faiek Davids during a 2002 Test at Newlands.

Davids, who was part of the first South African squad to tour India in 1991 as a ‘development player’ – but didn’t get a chance to play – spoke during a webinar hosted by a community organisation, the United Coalition for Sport and Community Based Organizations (UCSCBO), on Thursday night, on Black Lives Matter in South African sport.

He said that he was a TV commentator during the second Test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands in 2002, and that Richards “was the only person that refused, point-blank refused to commentate with me on air.

“So, he took himself off, and whenever I was supposed to come on – and the two of us were supposed to commentate (together) – he just took himself off.”

Read: Faiek Davids: Barry Richards refused to commentate with me at Newlands Test

Asked by IOL Sport for his response, Richards – who turned 75 earlier this week – said via email: “It’s absolute rubbish. I have commentated with anybody at any time. The producer makes the call and you get on with it. It is never the commentators’ call (ask Jeremy Fredericks on that issue).

“I shall be seeking an apology, and if necessary, will get the director of the time to back me up. Mr Davids is way out of line.

“Also happy to speak to Mikey Holding if necessary. He will put it right. He (Davids) has fabricated something to make himself relevant.

“If necessary, I would be happy to sit with you and SuperSport, who will have the tape, and discuss with the director of the day. It’s a nonsense.

“You might like to ask Mr Davids why Sky (a UK-based TV company) were covering a series Australia v SA? Just didn’t happen like that (would have been Fox or Channel 9 from Oz). Something else at play here, but we will get to the bottom of it, for sure.

“There is one (video) going about SA v Australia, with Gilchrist getting a hundred, and many saying Mr Davids is in comms with Ravi Shastri. But I think you will find it is Craig Marais, but time will tell.”

The video in question is on YouTube, which you can watch here:

It is a highlights package of Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist smashing a hundred, and during the 11-minute clip, Richards and Davids are heard a few times, with different commentators such as Allan Border, Michael Holding and Ravi Shastri.

The moment Richards refers to above, when Gilchrist went to his century, was when Shastri and Davids were on air – not the person he mentioned, SABC commentator Craig Marais.

Davids was approached by IOL Sport for his reply to Richards’ contention that “it’s absolute rubbish”, and the former middle-order batsman acknowledged that the only mistake he made was that the broadcaster was Fox Sports from Australia, and not Sky Sports from the UK, as he had said during the webinar – “I apologise for that”.

But Davids was sure that Richards did not commentate with him at all over the five days at Newlands, despite the roster scheduling the duo together at different times.

“I know for a fact that he never commentated with me. I saw the schedule, and whenever he was supposed to commentate with me, he wasn’t with me… Then, someone else would commentate in his place. That is how it was,” Davids said.

“Of course, it was my first time commentating and I didn’t know exactly what was happening and how it worked. Whatever the producer changed or whatever… Like I said, I don’t know what went into his (Richards) mind.

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In the last couple of months I have realized that we must choose our battles. We are surrounded by many injustices in our country that require urgent attention and action to fix them. If we wait only for the ones that attack us personally, we will always live for “my way vs your way” and that way leads us nowhere. So I’ve remained silent, with the intent to listen, but not respond. Slowing down my point of view, but quicker to hear the pain of someone else. I knew that words would be lacking and that my understanding is not close to where it needs to be. I surrender my opinions and take the knee as an intercessor. I acknowledge that South Africa is still hugely divided by racism and it is my personal responsibility to do my best to emphasize, hear the stories, learn and then be part of the solution with my thoughts, words and actions I have gotten it wrong before. Good intentions were failed by a lack of perspective when I said on a platform that - I don’t see colour. In my ignorance I silenced the struggles of others by placing my own view on it. A race problem is a human race problem, if one part of the body hurts ,we all stop, we empathize, we get perspective, we learn and then we tend to the hurting part of the body. So I am saying that all lives don’t matter UNTIL black lives matter. I’m speaking up now, because if I wait to be perfect, I never will. I want to leave a legacy of empathy. The work needs to continue for the change to come and whether we agree or disagree, conversation is the vehicle for change.

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“I just saw the roster – Faiek Davids commentating there (at a certain time) with Barry Richards, but it never happened. The producer never spoke to me about it, and I never raised it at the time. I didn’t question anything about it – it was obviously my first time.

“I remember doing the pitch report on the first day of the Test, and in the next five days, I never commentated with Barry Richards. That’s all I’m saying.

“I saw my name on the roster on the time (with him). You also rotate commentators, and it is normal that you don’t have the same two people together all the time. And he never sat with me, so that is my story. They can go back and check, but it is not something that I am trying to suck out of my thumb.

“I don’t know how his heart felt at the time, in terms of – because I am a nothing and didn’t play international cricket, I don’t know. These are just things that I am saying to people now, because we never had an opportunity to speak.

“Of course, we’ve always been discriminated against and stuff like that, but we won’t go out and share that with the people because it is part of the struggle. We deal with it and get on with it, and that was it.”

Davids added that he had been an admirer of Richards’ commentary before the Newlands Test, but that his feelings had changed since the incident.

“My mindset towards him changed because of the… subtleness of what they did. It wasn’t a case of him (Richards) coming out and saying ‘I don’t want to commentate with him’. It’s not that. It is the things that you notice without a word being said – the subtlety of racism, or of discrimination, or of classism. Whatever it is, I don’t know,” the 55-year-old said.

“For me, I was excited to be there, and these are the things that you notice. Of course, I was very nervous as it was my first Test as a commentator, and all these big names like Ravi Shastri and Allan Border, and I admire all these guys.

“I don’t know how you can go back and trace it back, but for him to say I fabricated something to make myself relevant, that already says it for you – he thinks nothing of the next person. That already tells you a story.

“I know what I’m talking is the truth. I have no agenda with this: I am just sharing my experiences. Fortunately, it comes out now – we all know that there is an Allah. We all know there is a God. I would’ve gone to my grave with this without anyone having to know, but it was an opportunity, just sharing my experiences.

“No one knew this. It came back to me now when everybody (started speaking out). This is what I’ve experienced, and I didn’t even tell anyone at the time. I know Craig Marais sat with me at that game, outside of commentary – I think he was working for the SABC there – and I think I might have shared it with him, I’m not sure.

“No one knew about it at the time. I don’t want to entertain it. If he (Richards) wants to, he can go back in time and check it out. I’m not someone who wants to be in the spotlight.”

Davids stated that he decided to mention the Richards episode because he wanted things to change in cricket and sport in general going forward.

“All we want is equality and respect for the person that you are, and what you can bring to the party. It is our duty to speak out so that it won’t happen to the next generation. We know that everyone doesn’t feel the same, but don’t oppress or discriminate because you feel entitled – because ‘I am Barry Richards’ or because ‘I am white’,” he said.

“I don’t have any bitterness in my heart. I am a part of history, to be able to go through this so that the next person doesn’t have to. I’m just glad to be part of cricket to help whoever. I know my heart is pure in terms of how I go about things, and I have no hidden agendas.”

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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