Interview of Cricket Fans – 38
Thank you so much, sir, for your participation in this interview, tell us what was it like growing up in South Africa with Cricket being one of the popular sport after Rugby.
The most popular sport in South Africa is football. Cricket only became popular when a program called Bakers Mini Cricket was going into schools teaching kids how to play cricket. This was back in early 1990. Players like Paul Adams, Makhaya Ntini, Jonty Rhodes and Hansie Cronje made cricket to become popular in the country. Majority of South Africans had no access to the game of cricket. If you go to most schools they do not even have a cricket team. If you are a child in South Africa and you want to play cricket you have to go to a very expensive private school.
You have been following cricket for a very long time, what are your early memories associated with this sport?
The earliest memory I have of cricket was ‘The Hero Cup’ which was played in 1993. No one at home watched cricket before I started watching it. They had no interest in it. The Hero Cup was on TV and I wanted to learn how cricket was played and what were the rules for playing it. I had to teach my family cricket rules so they could understand what was happening during games. If I had not taught them they would have not let me watch it on TV.
Who was your favourite cricketer then?
My favourite cricketer was Hansie Cronje. I even tried to copy his batting style when I started playing cricket. The one thing I love about South African cricket is that as a country we still produce some very talented players who go on and become the best cricketers in the world. One of England’s best batsman in the last 20 years came from South Africa.
Dale Steyn’s career has been plagued with injuries especially after the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Let’s imagine an ideal world where Steyn was fit for the most part of his career, what heights would he have taken South African Cricket, and for him personally?
A fit Dale Steyn would be sitting on more Test wickets than Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad even with England playing more Tests per year than South Africa. I do not think a fit Dale Steyn would have won us a World Cup. There have been other problems to stop us from winning it.
Which is your favourite moment from South Africa – India rivalry? Who is your favourite Indian player?
There was a Test match played in Newlands between South Africa and India in 1997. Mohammad Azharrudin’s partnership with Sachin Tendulkar. Both batsmen made 100s. It was the best batting I have seen from India here in SA. That was my favourite moment. India lost the match but two of my favourite batsmen scored exciting 100s in the match.
If I had to pick one player from India it would have to be Sachin Tendulkar. I used to make sure I watch every 100 he scored. If I missed a 100 live on TV, I would make sure I watch highlights. I have to mention Javagal Srinath and Rahul Dravid as my other two favourite Indian cricketers.
Your thoughts on South Africa – Australia rivalry? These two teams produce intense matches, don’t you think?
We always want to beat Australia whether we playing cricket or rugby, we just have to beat them. There are too many great games between the two countries. I do not think the 438 game would have happened if it was not Australia trying to defend that total. I think what motivated our batsmen more was the fact that it was against Australia.
Your thoughts on World Test Championship? How crucial will this be for making test cricket great again?
I wish it had come in earlier between 2008 to 2012 when South Africa had their best years in Test cricket. I think it is great for Test cricket. I still wish to see a Test series between Pakistan and India. I know it looks impossible now but I still hope. The Test matches between the two countries used to be great. The game of cricket needs it.
Do you see South Africa lifting a Cricket World Cup in the next 10 years?
I do not see South Africa lifting a World Cup in the next 10 years. I think the best chances for South Africa to lift a World Cup have passed in 1999 and 2015. I still think had South Africa won the World Cup in 1999 they would have won three by now. The previous failures weigh heavy on squads that try to win it now. The biggest problem now is administration and some former Proteas. Very difficult when former players tell young players to leave the country and go play cricket in other countries.
Maybe since no one will believe they can win it, that might just take away the pressure and help them to surprise us by winning it haha.
2015 was our last chance to win it. I do not see us having that many world-class players together again.