Ngam's injury causing worry

Published : Nov 03, 2001 00:00 IST


OCTOBER 17: Sports is a medium which brings people together, irrespective of race. Though there are special development programmes for cricket put in place by several organisations, the primary schools still play an important role. One such institution is the Greenwood Primary School opposite the St. George's Park, the home ground of the Eastern Province Cricket Association.

The school has a playground, bigger than the Cooperage football ground in Mumbai. Apart from academics, Greenwood encourages its students to take to sports.

Some of Greenwood's wards play cricket, which is not South Africa's most popular sport. According to research done by 'Sowetan', South Africa's largest circulated daily, the No. 1 sport is soccer, followed by boxing. Cricket comes next at No. 3. According to another survey, cricket is expected to displace boxing as the No. 2 sport soon.

When people here talk of popularity, it is always 'black specific'. Players like Mfuneko Ngam have made a tremendous impact on the blacks; he is a product of the development programme. Unfortunately, he has been rendered out of action and is likely to miss the away series in Australia.

Ngam has already become a role model, the blacks want to bowl like him, fast and straight. There are some who want to bat like Herschelle Gibbs. There was this boy at Greenwood, batting on a practice strip laid in one corner of the playground, who had a backlift which seemed to be perfect. His coach, a tall man, did not waste time in chastising him the moment he made a stroke away from his body. One day, this boy like others who go to Greenwood might get a chance to play at St. George's Park. That's what they dream of.

October 18: Nature has gifted South Africa with a long coastline on both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean sides. East London is one such place where the tourists throng during the summer. The Indian team is not in a great mood while coming here after its shock defeat against Kenya in Port Elizabeth. India is to play South Africa, in the third and final league match against the home team. An off-day might have been in order had Sourav Ganguly's team beaten the Kenyans and more or less clinched a place in the final.

The team's think tank rested players like Javagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar and Virender Sehwag for the match against Kenya in Port Elizabeth. The argument was that any XI picked from the top 20 Indian players should be able to beat Kenya. They gambled and the move backfired.

October 19: An example of functioning in a professional manner is given by South Africa's physiotherapist Craig Smith. After the match Smith comes along with Shaun Pollock to the media conference room and explains at length about the injury status of Ngam, Allan Donald and Gary Kirsten. Smith has been associated with the team for years and is responsible for keeping the players in good health.

With a fast bowler like Ngam - who is expected to replace Donald in the near future - in poor health, the cricketing community is eager to know about the condition of the fast bowler. "It's poor news" are Smith's first words. "It's very disturbing. It's the fourth or fifth stress fracture in five years and in different parts of his body. He has had two in his spine, one in his foot, one in his leg and another one now in the right tibia. We cannot have him breaking down once in 12 months because of stress fractures.

"We have seen a metabolic specialist, whose results have not been very conclusive. We are going to the best in the world now. We are really flummoxed as to why he gets injured like this. We have not overused him and have not thrown him into the fray. He was to bowl this weekend. He's out for six weeks at least,"said Smith.

The Buffalo Park is the first venue where spectators are asked to go through a security check. There is no body frisking, but the spectators are asked to open the bags they carry. But it's legal to drink beer. With the Indian wickets falling and no interest left in the match, some of the boys and girls collect hundreds of beer cups and place them one on top of the other just to see how the architecture takes shape.

October 20: The Kenyans are the busiest cricketers. The more they play the happier they are. Their fourth friendly game of the tour pits them against a South Africa Students' XI at Bellville. They beat the students by 20-odd runs, after Steve Tikolo makes a century and Ravindu Shah, following his two half centuries, maintains his form with a near hundred. But at the end of the match, Kenyan fast bowler Sandip Gupta is ruled out of the remainder of the tri-series because of a Achilles tendon problem.

The people who were unfair in treating the Kenyans as a ragtag and bobtail side were ready to pat them on their backs after their fine performance against the Indians. The outcome of the match in East London, makes the Kenyans happy. They realise they have a chance of making the final, if they beat India in the last league match in Paarl. But their coach Sandeep Patil counsels them not to get excited."They should not become overambitious, they should enjoy playing the game."

October 21: It is said Cape Town is 'God's Own Country'. India's coach John Wright had heard a lot (from the South African players) about Cape Town when he was playing for Derbyshire in the English County cricket championship. He might have urged himself to take a day off and go to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. But India is not comfortably placed in the tri-series and he heads for Paarl with half a dozen players.

The Indian team manager M. K. Bhargava, cannot but appreciate the Table Mountain, looking at it from its base. But he refuses to go up in a cable car that travels to the top in seven minutes flat. "Heights scare me", he says, preferring a vanilla flavoured softie. The next stops are at the Penguin Colony, Mineral World, Simon's Town, Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. The view is breathtaking at Cape Point, 287 metres above sea level where the old lighthouse is in place. "If you are in Cape Town, you must visit the Cape of Good Hope. It's the farthest point on South West Africa and a few metres from the Atlantic Ocean. The winds which blow from here are called the Cape Doctor," said guide Abdulla.

October 22: Attending parties thrown by Indian Embassies and High Commissions abroad has become a routine for the team. Rarely does one come across people deputed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) who are not interested in cricket. Manjeev Singh Puri, an IFS officer of the 1982 batch, does not lose time in throwing a party at his residence. He is the Head of the Cape Town office of the Indian High Commission in South Africa.

Puri took time off from his busy schedule to be with the cricketers and the media. In fact he was at the Cape Town airport to receive everybody and personally extend an invitation to his house for dinner. Legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar, made it a point to attend the function. The Indian team was in full attendance, including the coach John Wright and physio Andrew Leipus.

October 23: One of the greatest fielders and easily the most popular cricketer in South Africa, Jonty Rhodes, makes news again. A 148-page book 'Jonty In Pictures', has been published by Penguins. The text is by Andy Capostango who likened Paul Adams' action to 'a frog in the blender'.

The book takes the viewer through the early days of Jonathan Neil Rhodes, right from the day he played tennis at the Hilton Tennis Club, soccer at Pietermaritzburg and then beach cricket. There is also the famous picture of the run out he effected of Inzamam-ul-Haq in the 1992 World Cup match at the Gabba, Brisbane. In short the book is all about capturing the defining moments of one of South Africa's greatest cricketers.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment