Thank heavens, it's all over in SA!
That the Indian cricket team wasted absolutely no time in getting back from South Africa after the conclusion of the Durban Test seemed to be only the right thing to do considering the relationship the cricket establishments of both these countries enjoy.
And all those who wanted the tour to be a longer one — and rightly so — should find solace in the fact that the series would have been a more uncomfortable one for the visiting team, who in a way, had to bear the brunt of the frosty administrative relationships.
The three one-day internationals and two Tests would normally have got a decent, if not massive, crowd in South Africa. But it appeared that they stayed away with so much of bad blood flowing around.
At a time when cricket is trying to convince its followers that there is great entertainment also in Test match and 50-over cricket, this is not good news. Doubtless, the host media played a role in portraying India as the villain and their country, the saints, who never did anything wrong to deserve a truncated series.
In the end, South Africa walked away winners on the cricket field, but losers off it because the poor response affected gate money. So in their eyes, India, or more precisely, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is to blame.
During the series, we got to read how the game in South Africa is reeling under the shortage of funds which are needed to develop infrastructure and young players. That may well be the case, but that is also a separate problem and cannot relate to the BCCI vs Cricket South Africa battle.
At the heart of the India versus South Africa off-field battle is Haroon Lorgat, the man who BCCI apparently loves to hate. There is no official reason for the Indian board’s problem with him, but it’s probably got to do with his keenness (as the International Cricket Council’s then chief executive) towards the controversial Decision Review System which the BCCI doesn’t regard very highly, and how Lorgat got the job to spearhead the affairs of Cricket South Africa as chief executive.
We will hear more about Lorgat since the BCCI has taken note of the fact that he was at the post-match presentation ceremony in Durban despite an understanding between both boards that he would not be involved in this series.
Past and present South African cricketers have not helped matters with their red-hot comments during the series. It’s true that the Indians need to play the short ball better, but their other skills cannot be obliterated because they come undone in one aspect of the game. Dale Steyn did not need to blurt out his ‘this is not Mumbai’ headline-making comment during the one-day series. And where were AB de Villiers’ cricketing manners to suggest that the Indian team was scared of fast bowling?
In fact, this Indian team did well in many ways. Durban was disappointing, but how many of their supporters expected the batsmen to perform as well as they did in the opening Test at Johannesburg after a near-shellacking in the one-day series? And where was all that South African bravado when it came to pressing for victory in Johannesburg? Quite justifiably to some, Steyn deserved to be booed after the draw.
Barry Richards was very active on Facebook and at times appeared more like a restless fan than a former South Africa batsman. Not long after Rohit Sharma walked into bat in the second innings of the Durban Test, he wrote: “Rohit Sharma chance to stand up, been bullying bowling in sub continent but chance to see off a real attack?”
Probably Richards needed to be reminded that Rohit at that time was playing only his second Test away from home out of a total of four.
I wonder whether Richards would have made that Facebook comment had he been one of the current commentators. On afterthought, considering so much hatred for India ironically in the land of peace-loving Mandela, it was almost inevitable that Richards would make such a comment.
Clayton Murzello is MiD DAY’s Group Sports Editor