The pre-season. When all is still and no one quite knows what to do. When fidgeting, and checking transfer news, while waiting for the meaningful stuff to begin is all too prevalent. When tournaments are announced containing teams like Baobab Zero Fake.

Baobab Zero Fake? Is that a soft drink made from a tree, only to become an illusion? No, it’s a team, and they are playing in a tournament against Swallows, SuperSport and Sundowns. I don’t know if those Baobabs can win, but they’ll certainly grow from the experience. I’d get my coat, but there’s a lot more space to fill.

There’s another tournament this weekend, and it’s got nothing to do with a soft drink, but it is sponsored by a beer. It involves Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, and that’s all the attention it’s getting here.

I really like beer, and am well aware that this stance makes me a smidgen of a hypocrite, especially given that a 12-pack of this brew landed in my office this morning. And, given that – and you can spank me further – I might even drink one. Or two. But, call me a football traditionalist, I don’t like gimmicks.

I’m also never too comfortable watching the rich get richer at the expense of others, and this tournament is, for me, an illustration of such a process in this nation. (As a Chelsea fan, I am now aware that my levels of hypocrisy may well have just thumped merrily into the earth’s core, but what is humanity, if not full of contradictions?).

Anyway, I have dwelled too long on the tournament whose name I dare not speak. In fact, I have dwelled too long on football, lost as it is in pre-season perambulations, much as one wishes that Hobbit would hurry up and get the hell to Mordor.

Instead, I am now moving across the sports to another gimmick, the alleged Best Cricket Team in the World, England.

They might have been top of the ICC world rankings ahead of the Test series against the Proteas, but Andrew Strauss’s men were so utterly pummelled in the first Test against the Proteas, it made a mockery of any suggestion of superiority from the old Empire.

South Africa, day one aside, from the brilliant batting of Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, to the devilish fast bowling of Dale Steyn, were quite simply leagues ahead of England, and this is coming from a rather depressed Londoner.

England might just bounce back at Headingley, and the Proteas are not exactly known for consistency, but I can’t see it, and now boldly predict a white-wash for the new world’s best. – The Star