DURBAN - If you’re a James Bond fan, you will be familiar with the plot of Casino Royale, where Agent 007 eventually wins a high stakes poker game against the villain of the piece.
Bond, being who he is, almost loses the game early, as he tries to pounce too early, and tries to call the bluff of his key opponent.
He blows out, and loses his first $10-million. He can’t convince the accountant to fund him the emergency bucks, and only gets back in the game by getting a bail-out from the FBI, of all people.
It’s a Bond movie, so anything can happen, of course.
Closer to home, and far removed from the make-believe of Hollywood scripts, the T20 Global League has descended from drama into a tragic comedy. It is a heck of a plot twist, and one senses that they will keep coming.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) appear to have tried their own hand at a Bond bluff, from the moment they launched their new baby to much glitz and glamour.
Fittingly, it was in Bond’s backyard in London, as they flexed their muscles and sought to show the world that they were now operating at the high rollers’ table.
It was an exceptionally strong hand, as they footed the bill for indulging owners, their families, their minions and their egos. The $10-million buy-in for owners suddenly seemed like small change, and CSA maintained that they were about to shake up the world.
That was back in June, when the whole thing was a mystery, and the smokescreen of projected figures could explain away any gaps in the skeleton structure. Stadiums were repainted and refurbished, players were drafted for life-changing sums, in some cases, and 3 November was marked as a date to never forget.
Well, we can forget it now, after CSA pulled the plug dramatically on the whole thing, just three weeks away from opening night.
The embarrassment alone may scare away some of the owners, and the much-maligned broadcast deal will only shrink over the next year, as the world now realises that CSA’s credibility is only dwarfed by their credit rating after this blunder.
Indeed, over the next 12 months, the postponement could easily become an annulment, as the tail quietly slips between CSA’s legs. The ironic thing is that much of the public is still in the dark about what is no longer happening, anyway.
For all the bluffing, the man on the street was almost clueless about this big bang that was supposed to hit in November. Life went on, and it will go on. Not for CSA, however.
Their big bluff at the high rollers’ table proved to be just that. There was no broadcast deal. No prime sponsors and no basis for optimism. That was essentially what the postponement confirmed.
Sadly, there is no bail-out from the FBI. This is reality. Instead, there is a R350-million hole in the pocket, and a six-week window of nothingness on the summer schedule. Even James Bond would struggle to wriggle out of this with his dignity maintained.