|World Cup Diary
Match fixing dates back to 1975!
The respect people here in South Africa have for Nelson Mandela is enormous and hes becoming even popular. He has just appeared on the TV and said, "Who the hell is he (George Bush) to attack Iraq," The people here in Paarl love the statement. Reached Paarl from Pietermaritzburg this Morning. Boarded the bus the previous day around 10 in the morning. 22 long hours in the bus, tiring but quite interesting and I tell you my geography of South Africa is fast improving. The bus was a double-decker with snacks, tea and coffee available. The seats were pretty comfortable and in the back of the bus theres a lavatory as well. The bus stops only at major towns. There must have been eight stops in all. The distance I traveled was 1200 kilometers and it cost me 250 Rands about 3000 Sri Lankan rupees.
It was too early in the morning and the roads were empty. Leave alone taxis, not even a vehicle to be seen. After sometime a police vehicle passed by and a constable attached to the Paarl police station D. J. Alexander offered me a lift to drop me at Old Oak Lodge. Walked around Paarl in the morning. Its a lovely place. Weather condition; very cold in the morning, hot in the afternoon and again cold in the night. No rain. Its a laid back place too and by seven in the evening no one is seen on the road. But the pubs are open. 95% of the population is Whites. They seem to be a religious lot as well. In the main street alone there are about five churches. Goodness me the amount of vineyards in this place. There are more vineyards than houses I suppose. Everywhere you get grapes and its pretty cheap too. A kilo would cost you only about half a Rand. And the wine . pretty cheap too, (I havent tasted any !) but they say its excellent. A good bottle of wine costs about 25 Rands. Thats about 300 Rupees.
In the evening the Sri Lankan cricketers conducted a development clinic for about 50 children from the area and it created enormous interest.
Needed to pay a visit to a dentist. He was Dr. Milan and a thorough cricket follower too. Dr Milans two kids had taken part in the clinic the previous day and he spoke highly of the Sri Lankans. But he didnt have any kind words for the South African cricket officials and called them "useless". He also sounded a warning for South African cricket saying that theres no proper structure and method in coaching the youngsters.
Saw the Sri Lankan cricketers at the ground. Asked Aravinda whether hes free to do the interview we were planning for sometime. He agreed to do after a hit in the nets. Ari frankly spoke about quite a few issues for a long time. There were issues like his unsuccessful stint as the captain during the 1992 World Cup to his retirement plans. About his captaincy, something I always wanted to ask, was glad to hear him speak. He was handed the captaincy amidst a lot of trouble and admitted thats not the way he would have liked to skipper Sri Lanka. Definitely one of the best interviews I have done. Right up there with the one I did with Steve Waugh in September.
The Sri Lankans are trying to bring down a substitute for Pulasti Gunarathna. The talk is that everyone is looking forward to Nuwan Zoysa. Sanath Jayasuriya is adamant that his middle order is experienced and they can rise up to the occasion and therefore his priority should be in knocking off the opposition when they are playing the lesser teams. Not sure whether agree with him. In both the Bangladesh and Canada matches he won the toss and should have batted first. Simply to allow his middle order have a feel of things. How many times the Sri Lankan batting line up has crumbled after Jayasuriya had departed. He might be missing the plot here. Hope he would do it at least in Nairobi.
Met an elderly Irish couple John and Magi Falconer at a pub called Pipers. Theyve come here to Paarl to see the Sri Lankan batsmen scoring heavily. I told them not to have too much hopes as I knew what Sanath was planning to do if he wins the toss. John loves Sanath. He had seen him making that hundred in Headingly and says, "Man .. that bloke can bat," After he spoke I reminded him despite Sanaths brilliant hundred we lost that game too. We dont lose on many occasions when Sanath makes a fifty and very rarely when he hammers a hundred.
The match day. Sri Lanka won the match convincingly. Prabath Nissanka bowled well. The press conference was held at the pub of Boland Park. Nissanka spoke better than what I thought he could when foreign media asked a few questions. The pub at the Boland Park is a controversial place these days. Its here a couple of days back Percy Sonn, the cricket chief of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, got drunk and started scolding people in filth. Sonn initially denied doing so, but later admitted guilty. The ICC chief Malcolm Grey was a disappointed man. When he came to the ground around 11:40 in the morning the match was over. Few minutes later everyone went off from the ground and just a couple of journalists remained. Grey showed up at the press box and spoke to the four Sri Lankan journalists who were on sight filing their copies. Grey was asked to make it early for the Australia-Sri Lanka game as itll be another early finish in favour of Sri Lanka. Grey, an Australian, answered back saying he doesnt support any team and that hes a neutral man. You can pardon him, unlike Percy Sonn, he was only lying.
My efforts to go out of Paarl to Nairobi as soon as possible are not realizing. Now I think Ill be only able to go there on Saturday. That gives me two days before the match. Hope Sanath will do something at least in Nairobi to allow the middle order have a proper hit in the middle. Just read a statement from Lord Condon, which says that this is the only World Cup without match fixing. What Condon basically says is even way back in 1975, at the inaugural World Cup, matches have been fixed. Well then you might ask the question whether banning Hansie, Azhar, Jadeja and Malik is fair. He says that match fixing has been rooted out as theyve identified 101 individuals and barred them from entering South Africa. Well Mr. Condon has to understand that to fix cricket matches people neednt be present by person. Just a phone call would do. Thats the way it has been done. If the phones are trapped, you have e-mail facilities Mr. Condon.
However, Condon also believes that still a few players could be influencing the results of cricket matches. Hope the Blue Caps are not held for ransom.
Saw Alan Donald speak on the TV today ahead of their match against Bangladesh at Bloemfontein. Donald was basically saying that now the only place he was accepted in South Africa was at Bloem. Donald has come in for intense criticism for his erratic bowling in the tournament. Just wish one my all time favourite players would get his rhythm back. Hopefully not against Sri Lanka at Durban. A lot of speculation is going here in South Africa that theres a rift in the Springbok side after Garry Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs started saying what a good captain the late Hansie Cronje was. The South African Cricket Board was quick to tell its players not to make public statements about Cronje. Met a guy who works in a pub. Its the pub at Boland Park. Asked him whether he was there when the Percy Sonn incident happened. He said he served them drinks. Great. Asked him what happened. "Too much of Smirnoff Vodka," he said.
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