“Cricket is an art, not a poor relation , but a full member of the community. It belongs with theatre, ballet , opera and the dance. ”
Just three months ago, South Africa headed the ICC Test rankings. Today, they were knocked off their pedestal by a resurgent England. Team India are now No. 1 crowned by default on the back of their resounding defeat of the Proteans at home. Funny how in a matter of six Tests fortunes have changed and how. It also goes to show that if teams don’t put up a fight overseas and everyone concedes that South Africa were dismal tourists barring the final Test, their performance at home can take a nose-dive. England did something similar to India when they toured here following their 4-0 whitewash at home. MS Dhoni would perhaps reminisce about the time he led Team India to the peak four years ago, and perhaps knowingly wink at Virat Kohli saying, “I told you so.”
From hero to villain, from fame to notoriety, Oscar Pistorius has been in the news for the best part of the last decade.
His website, oscarpistorius.com, has the following statement on the home-page:
“14 February 2014
No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved – and continues to love Reeva.
The pain and sadness – especially for Reeva’s parents, family and friends consumes me with sorrow.
The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Following the tragic event and the enormous global interest, the family of Oscar Pistorius has taken the decision to devote his official website to the latest news about developments as well as messages of support.
The website will provide the opportunity for the media to make enquiries or requests but for understandable legal reasons it may not always be possible to respond or comment.
The Pistorius family and Oscar’s management company have been inundated with messages of support and condolences for Oscar and for the family of Reeva Steenkamp from all over the world.
Mr Arnold Pistorius, uncle of Oscar, said on behalf of the family: ‘We believe that this is an appropriate way to deal with the expressions of support we have received as well as keeping the media informed about any key developments in the case.
We have every confidence as a family that when the world has heard the full evidence that this will prove to be a terrible and tragic accident which has changed many lives forever. We are praying for everyone touched by this tragedy.’”
The web-site does not deliver what it promises. At least, not right now.
All the links are broken: a reflection, perhaps, of a broken man.
Oscar Pistorius was born on 22 November, 1986.
His parents were Henke and Sheila Pistorius.
Oscar is a middle child amongst three; he has an elder brother Carl and a younger sister Aimée.
His legs were amputated half-way between his knees and ankles when he was 11 months old after he was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs.
Pistorius was quite the ‘sport’ while in school participating in rugby, water polo, tennis and wrestling.
When he was 18, he was introduced to running post a serious rugby knee injury.
Pistorius began sprinting in January 2004.
He qualified for the Athens Paralympic Games that year and won bronze in the 100 metres and gold in the 200m.
Pistorius never looked back since.
His sporting motto, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have,” was a source of inspiration for many.
He reached the pinnacle of his sporting achievements when he was allowed to participate in the 2012 London Olympics representing South Africa in the 400 metres and the 4 X 400 metres relay. He also carried his country’s flag at the closing ceremony.
The sprinter was deemed ineligible to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics when Cologne Sports University’s Professor of Biomechanics Dr. Peter Brüggemann ruled that Pistorius “has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us. It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not expect it to be so clear.”
Pistorius appealed against the adverse decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. His protest was upheld.
The CAS panel determined Pistorous had no net advantage over able-bodied athletes especially when considering the handicap he suffered in comparison to normal athletes when starting and accelerating.
Pustorius was thus able to participate in the 2012 London Summer Olympics fulfilling his dream of representing his country alongside normal athletes.
Pistorius is the recipient of numerous awards including Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by the President of South Africa for outstanding achievement in sports, BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2007, Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for 2012 and a honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
He also made the Time 100 twice—in 2008 and 2012.
This could very well have been a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ fairy-tale ending.
Alas, it was not to be.
Pistorius hit the headlines again the following year when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp allegedly mistaking her for a possible intruder.
The disabled athlete—after a six-month trial—was convicted on one charge of culpable homicide, two counts of negligent use of a firearm and one count of possession of illegal ammunition.
Judge Thokosile Masipa did not find Pistorius guilty of murder with direct intent or common murder (dolus eventualis).
The amputee claimed that he believed that he was firing on an intruder who had broken into his house.
The claim is plausible enough given that home robbery or home invasions are a growing problem across all provinces in South Africa.
2012 National Victims of Crime Survey (NVCS) states that half of households surveyed feared this type of crime.
“‘Home robbery’, unlike ‘house breaking’ (burglary), is regarded as a violent crime because people are at home when it takes place. This puts people at risk of personal injury and emotional trauma in the place where they should feel safest. “
The 2012 Survey also states that home robbery increased nationally by 64.4% over the past eight years.
While the fear of this kind of crime is high, it is a relatively rare occurence. Only 4.5% of households experienced a home robbery between January 2007 and December 2011.
The survey further states:
“75% of home robberies occur at night, with the most vulnerable times being in the late evening between 21:00 and 23:59 and very early morning between 00:00 and 02:59. More than half (55%) of home robberies take place at these times, in all likelihood because people’s guards are down when they are relaxing or asleep. Two-thirds (66%) of home robberies are committed by small groups of two to three robbers. Most robbers were said to be males between 15 and 34 years of age.
Weapons were used in almost all cases (99.9%) by those committing home robberies.”
Pistorius’ case has since gone to appeal to the Supreme Court. The State hopes to overturn the verdict of culpable homicide and either force a retrial or a resentencing. The double amputee could face up to 15 years in prison under the new charges.
The Paralympian was sentenced to five years in prison but is now out on bail after serving ten months in prison.
Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June was forgiving and accepting of the reduced sentence on Pistorius.
“I’ve got no feelings of revenge. I don’t want to hurt him; he is already a disabled person. I didn’t want him to be thrown in jail and be suffering because I don’t wish suffering on anyone, and that’s not going to bring Reeva back. But in my heart, I don’t want revenge towards him. I’m past that. Once you have told God that you forgive, you have to forgive. And I don’t want him to suffer …. I would certainly not want to hurt another human being. One has to forgive to move on, otherwise you become ill. For God expects you to forgive, and until you’ve done that, you can’t move forward in any way.”
June added that she still has “nightmares about what happened to her when she was trapped behind that door and how she died”.
“Sometimes I wake up at 3 in the morning and that’s the first thing that comes in my head and I couldn’t be there to protect her from that.She couldn’t move in that toilet, she couldn’t move a centimetre either way to get out of the way of the firing – she was like a trapped animal in that toilet. We didn’t know he had guns, we didn’t know anything about him actually.”
“Maybe if he wasn’t so famous…I think if he would have just been a normal guy in the street he would have maybe had a stiffer sentence”.
Oscar Pistorius was most recently in the news celebrating his 29th birthday at his uncle’s mansion.
The sprinter is now the same age as his deceased girlfriend.
Oscar Pistorius was today found guilty of murder by the South African Appeals Court. The fresh sentence will be pronounced later.
‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius continues to be in the fight of his life.
The Paralympian and Olympian’s freedom centres around the State’s appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the previous verdict of culpable homicide.
State advocate Gerrie Nel is arguing that the verdict returned should have been murder instead—in effect, a call for a stiffer sentence for the amputee.
Pistorius was earlier sentenced to a five-year term in prison. He has since been released after serving ten months. He was expected to finish the rest of his sentence at his uncle’s Waterkloof home under strict bail conditions. South African laws permit prisoners to released after serving one-sixth of their sentence if they are deemed not a threat to society.
If Pistorius is convicted of murder, he will face at least 15 years behind bars.
The South African was convicted of killing his then model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
The athlete fired four shots through a toilet door claiming there was an intruder in his luxury Silver Lakes, Pretoria, house.
The bullets killed Steenkamp.
The new judgment hinges on Pistorius’ state of mind when he let loose the volley of shots—whether he believed that they would kill.
The judges have to take into account that the defendant is handicapped and would have been unable to escape easily from his home.
Professor Stephen Tucson, who teaches criminal law and procedure at Wits University, believes that the State has a strong case.
“The consensus of opinion seems to suggest that the SCA has the power to change the verdict. There are two options. If they say there was an error and order a new trial, it will go to any other judge but a re-sentencing… will go back to Judge Masipa.”
(This is part I in a series).
Blame the pitch, blame the curator, blame your bowlers, blame your batsmen, blame your running between wickets, blame your fielders but never ever, ever blame the opposition for out-batting, out-bowling and out-playing your side through the most part of the series.
Ravi Shastri allegedly had harsh words for Sudhir Naik, the Wankhede curator.
He expressed his displeasure after the South Africans posted a mammoth total on a benign wicket all but wrapping up the series before the Indians came out to bat.
His behaviour is to be deplored.
Curators are responsible for preparing pitches keeping in mind soil and weather conditions.
Indian skippers and support staff seem to believe that they ought to always be given the extra edge, not by taking scheduling and conditions into account, but based on how they have fared in the series up to that point.
Naik claims that he was told to prepare a turning wicket just two days before the game—an impossibility.
It is time that Indian team management admitted that they are no longer bully boys on sub-continental wickets given that their South African, Australian, English and Kiwi counterparts are now accustomed both to the heat and the batting conditions courtesy the IPL.
They would be better off choosing the best bowlers for all conditions rather than ‘horses for courses’.
The BCCI should also spell out specific guidelines in their newly drafted conflict of interest rules that would prevent such a situation recurring in the future.
Curators’ decisions must be independent of the Indian team’s vagaries and fortunes.
Therein lies the best interests of Indian cricket.
The question then is: Are these the best players in the country at the moment? If not, where are the ones who deserve to be in the side? Why have they been overlooked?
When will Indian fans realize that unruly behaviour is never going to prevent their beloved team losing?
It only serves to reinforce the feeling that cricket followers in India are neither sporting nor knowledgeable about the intricacies of the game.
They lack the maturity to accept defeat—unlike the very cricketers they idolise.
The pelting of the South Africans with water bottles at the Barabarti stadium in Cuttack to signal the crowd’s displeasure with their team’s abject batting display was yet another black mark in the annals of Indian fandom.
Rajarshi Majumdar, writing for International Business Times, termed their behaviour ‘barbaric’.
The journo said:
“The name Barabati can somewhat be related to the word ‘barbaric’ and why won’t someone draw such relations!”
“Will these same bunch of chaotic people throw their valuables at the players when they win a game?”
The South Africans are ranked No.1 in Tests and despite termed ‘chokers’ in ICC ODI and T20 tournaments, are no pushovers in bilateral series.
Team India have ceded the T20 series without much ado.
The initiative has been surrendered.
MS Dhoni was sanguine about the entire episode.
“We should not be taking such things seriously. I still remember we play in Vizag once and we won the game very easily and that time also a lot of bottles were thrown. It starts with the first bottle and then it’s more of a fun for the spectators.
When it comes to the safety of the players, I don’t think there was any serious threat. A few of the powerful people in the crowd were throwing the bottles into the ground and the umpires felt it was safe to stay in the centre or go off the ground.
We didn’t play well and at times you get a reaction like these. It’s only the first few bottles that are hurled with serious intent, after that they just do it for fun.”
His counterpart, Faf Du Plessis, was not.
“It’s not nice to see it. I have played 5-6 years of cricket in India, and I have never seen that. So, you don’t want that to be a part of the game. You come here to compete, and the best team walks away winning.
To have that happening, I don’t think it’s a good thing. It should not happen. Even the way the game was played towards the end, it lost its intensity because obviously India thought that we have already won as we needed only 20 runs. Disappointing in that sense, and hopefully it is the first and the last time we see it on this tour.”
He was not sure whether the boorish behaviour was a sub-continental malaise.
“It is a difficult question to answer. All around the world you get people who get really passionate about their team. Sometimes you cross that boundary you shouldn’t. This is the first time I have experienced in India, so I can’t say it happens a lot. But as you said, it happens a lot in the sub-continental conditions. That’s definitely to do with the passion that fans have. But, it is surely not something we as players want to be a part of the game. Obviously, player security is very important wherever we go across the world. Let’s just hope that it’s a bad day at the office.”
Speaking to NDTV, Sunny Gavaskar blasted the miscreants:
“Cuttack should not be given an international for the next couple of years. As a deterrent, the BCCI must also stop the subsidy to the Odisha Cricket Association.Do the crowd throw valuables when the team does well? When the team does badly, the fans have no business to throw rubbish.”
Aggressive behaviour and attitudes on the field are punished by match referees when reported by on-field umpires. Players are checked by limits imposed by the ICC Code of Conduct.
Is it time sports administrators and patrons of the game demanded the same of fans? Can they be allowed to rum amok whenever they please? Does safety in numbers and anonymity imply that they are allowed to carry their rage over to cricket grounds? Or is it time the Indian penal system implemented measures like in the UK and Germany where known hooligans are closely watched and even prevented from travelling abroad because of the mischief they can wreak there? Isn’t it time?
Anger need not be ‘bottled‘.
What he said:
“It’s got nothing to do about I’ll see you in the car park and we’ll beat the crap out of each other.”
Dale Steyn has not forgotten his war of words with the Australian skipper Michael Clark during the Newlands test in March this year.
In Zimbabwe later this year, Steyn said:
“I haven’t really spoken to him [Clarke] much since then to be honest. I don’t take many things personally, but what he did say to me I did take personally. I know he apologised in the media and I should be playing this down.
But the day he comes and shakes my hand and says, ‘I really mean what I said,’ and behaves like the way he should, maybe then I will (forgive him). But for right now, he’s not here so I’ll wait until I get to Australia.”
Steyn is still upset with Clark for what he considers a personal sledge.
The South African pacer said:
“I don’t think I can mention it over the air now”.
“[That’s] why I said if I see him we’ll have a normal chat between the two of us. It’s got nothing to do about I’ll see you in the car park and we’ll beat the crap out of each other. It’s got nothing to do with that man, maybe I just said too much in Zimbabwe.
The issue got blown out completely, it was like two schoolgirls the way the media got hold of it. I felt like Clarkey had his opportunity to say something at the end of the Cape Town Test and obviously I wasn’t in the press conference there and the next opportunity I got was a couple of months later in Zimbabwe so I said what I felt.
It wouldn’t have been fair if I’d said something straight after, I would have been called a sore loser after losing the series or the match so I just kept my mouth closed until it was my turn to say something. I didn’t want it to start a massive thing. It did, doesn’t matter. He’s not playing now. He’s obviously injured. Hopefully he gets well, he’s a great player and I think there’s enough respect from both of us, we’ve played against each other for long enough now and it’s just kind of got blown out of the water. It’s a bit silly really in all honesty.”
On the Aussies’ aggressive on-field appproach:
“Aussies are that kind of side they’re always in your face.I think of all the sides that play Test cricket in the world, the Aussies are always well known for being in your face kind of cricketers, kind of bullying teams and stuff like that. I don’t play my cricket like that personally.
I may look like that when I’m on the field and everything like that but I am a fast bowler, that’s just what you’ve got to do at the end of the day. I don’t quite agree with the way some of the things are done I think there’s a line. And I try to stay close to that line but never over-stepping it and if I do over-step it, I’ll be the first guy to put my hand up and say I’m sorry and go and do whatever I can to fix that.
Australia have always been that kind of side, so it doesn’t surprise me when they come hard or when somebody you’ve been a team-mate with before doesn’t greet you at breakfast, that’s just the way it is.”
What Steyn really meant:
“It’s a gentleman’s game, chaps, and I’m a sensitive guy. I can carry a chip on my shoulder for, let’s say how long it’s been now? Eight months?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’d rather bowl to him in the car park when he’s without his protective gear. That’s what car parks are good for—ambush territory.”
What he said:
“But all diamonds are flawed. They are not perfect and you have to learn to love and nurture a diamond.”
Geoffrey Boycott , in Kevin Pietersen’s defense, likens the South African born cricketer to a solitaire.
“I am not blindly sticking up for Kevin. But most very talented sportsmen are like diamonds. They sparkle and glitter and light up the game. They catch the eye and enchant the public. But all diamonds are flawed. They are not perfect and you have to learn to love and nurture a diamond. They have not done that with Kevin.”
The Yorkshire man is disgusted with the way the English Cricket Board sought to discredit Pietersen’s outbursts about the bullying culture within the English team by leaking a confidential document outlining his indiscretions to the media.
“Kevin is a sinner but he has been sinned against by the ECB. There are rights and wrongs on both sides and whatever Pietersen’s faults, the ECB is not blameless.
For me, it reached its lowest point on Tuesday when a ‘strictly confidential’ ECB document was leaked to the media. The points it contained were pathetic and it was a crass idea to put together such a report to try to trash Kevin. It stinks.”
“Yes Kevin was awkward, difficult, different and at times his own worst enemy. But his record and his performances do not deserve a character assassination. The ECB should be dignified about it all and not try to belittle him.
I hope the ECB is investigating how one of its confidential documents reached the public domain. If it discovers someone within the ECB leaked it then they should get the sack. If nobody is sacked then we can only assume that the ECB was happy or even complicit with the document being leaked in order to denigrate Kevin.
Some of the points contained in this document are so trivial it beggars belief. He had rows with the captain and coach about the way the team were performing, that sort of thing has gone on forever. It is OK if it happens within the confines of the dressing room. You are supposed to have open discussion in the dressing room and get things off your chest. In fact, the way we played in Australia, I would have said some far worse things to my team-mates if I was still playing.
Another claim is he took some younger players out for a drink in Adelaide. Give me a break – drinking has always gone on and that should not be dignified with a reply. It was only last year after a drinking session we had England players peeing on the Oval pitch after an Ashes win and the ECB or Andy Flower did nothing about it. We had Andrew Flintoff full of drink and trying to ride a pedalo in the West Indies but it did not finish his career. We had Joe Root drinking in the early hours of the morning when he was attacked by David Warner during the Champions Trophy last year. On the field James Anderson uses personal abuse every Test and nothing has been done about it.
The report also claims Kevin looked at his watch and out the window during team meetings. He was probably bored to death. I am sorry but the ECB is making itself look like a laughing stock.”
Boycott claims that he is no stranger to blackballing tactics elaborating thus:
“The Yorkshire committee tried to do the same thing to me when they had an ‘in-depth investigation’ into why we were not winning championships. They tried to blame me for everything. They even got a tea lady at Warwickshire to write a letter of complaint saying I had taken the crusts off my sandwiches which had upset her.”
Geoffrey Boycott, however, does not mince words when he says that he found the ace bat sometimes displaying an insouciant nonchalance and lack of commitment to the national side.
“This is not a one-eyed support for Kevin from me but a defence of fair play. There is no excuse for some of his stupid shots when England were in trouble. He gave the impression, rightly or wrongly, that he could not care less. There was also no excuse for KP constantly agitating to play a full IPL season to earn his $2 million for eight weeks’ work. England compromised and allowed him half that but told him he had to be back for the first Test of the summer. England were right on that. He had been given an opportunity to play for England and he was contracted to the ECB on good money. Do not forget, his IPL deals only came about because he had been given the chance to showcase his talents by England.
Kevin wanted the penny and the bun. He did not want to give up anything.”
What he really meant:
“Diamonds are forever. But you have to know how to wear them and camouflage the flaws.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“You do know Pietersen’s originally South African? See, how I’m being clever here with the metaphor.”
What he said:
“You can’t survive for 66 Tests just on the basis of a quota.”
Ashwell Prince protests that coloreds in the South African side do not get full credit for their on-field achievements. His Cricinfo profile describes him as a beneficiary of the post-apartheid preferential treatment for blacks in South African sport.
“It saddens me that I have to point that out today, but you have to defend yourself.”
“As soon as apartheid fell away and we could compete with white kids, we proved that colour had nothing to do with it. Right from the start, we could go from Galvendale, which is where I grew up in Port Elizabeth, go to their ground and beat them. It was all about opportunity and being able to show what you could do.”
On the quota system:
“We were aware that there were quota systems in provincial cricket. But as far as the national team was concerned, there was never ever a quota system. Unfortunately, outside of South African cricket, people didn’t see it like that, so whenever someone of colour was selected for the national team there were these questions. It came as no surprise to me that opposition players would target me in that way.”
What he really meant:
“On the field, race hardly matters. It’s runs, wickets and catches that count. In my case, certainly, statistics don’t lie.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Have I used up my quota of words or what?”
What he said:
A fake Quinton De Kock Twitter account was in the news with leading dailies attributing the above tweet to the chubby-faced South African opening bat.
Saeed Ajmal has been banned with immediate effect from all international cricket after his bowling action was deemed illegitimate by the ICC.
Bio-mechanic analysis revealed the the Pakistani off-spinner flexed his elbow as much as 35 degrees against the permitted 15 degrees.
The bowler can apply for a reassessment anytime once his action has been rectified. However, he is permitted to take part in domestic cricket under the supervision of his country’s cricketing board, the PCB.
Maninder Singh, a former India left-arm spinner, squarely blamed the ICC for the current mess.
“”The problem started with Muralitharan. The menace should have been stopped then. If that had happened, all boards would have taken steps to prevent this.Now it (chucking) has become a norm, it is like ‘if he (Murali) can do it, anyone can’.”
On young bowlers choosing the wrong role models:
“This has ruined careers. Whether you call it 12 or 15 degrees, it is to be blamed.”
On why English and Australian bowlers are not called that often:
“People there are basically honest, and they will own up. We don’t, and in fact start backing them.”
Former India all-rounder Madan Lal said:
“”Even in my academy, so many boys bend their elbows. They see lot of cricket on TV and try to imitate them. It gets difficult to correct them once they are set in their ways.”
Saeed Ajmal’s reactions:
“It is disappointing to learn the result of the biomechanic test in Brisbane but I have not given up. I don’t see the ban as a major problem as I know I can work out on the flaws and make a comeback.
Obviously, I have to follow their advice but from what I know is that once we get the full medical report, we have a right of appeal and to challenge these findings.
I want to play in the World Cup and see my country doing well and I will do whatever it takes to be ready for the tournament. I am a fighter and I know what I have to do to get back into international cricket before the World Cup.”
Bishan Singh Bedi tweeted:
At long last ICC nets a big shark but not b4 it devoured more than 350 Intnl scalps!Tragedy remains as many 'chucking' sharks still at large—
Bishan Bedi (@BishanBedi) September 09, 2014
Speaking to the Times of India, Bedi said:
“”It was inevitable. But it’s a decision taken too late, when all the damage has been done and Ajmal has taken so many wickets in international cricket.
What was the ICC doing till now? All those batsmen who lost their wickets to him, all those teams which lost a game because of an Ajmal spell, should they now come forward and say we have been wronged? If they can’t, then what is the point of rehabilitating these bowlers.”
“Most people who claim to be mystery spinners enjoy an unfair advantage because they are being allowed to bowl illegal deliveries.What is the point of correcting their action in a laboratory and then letting them loose? Is the ICC a reformatory school? A chucker cannot reform. He is merely rendered ineffective.”
What the Fake Quinton De Kock really meant:
“Saeed Ajmal can’t bowl! Saeed Ajmal can’t bowl! With or without his 35 degrees of hyper extension…Ajmal can’t bowl…”
What he definitely didn’t (or did he?) :
“I’m famous, not Quinton De Kock.”