Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2009

bk_rebeltoursThe Rebel Tours began with a desire to read a book, not to write one.

Neither I nor my brother have knowingly allowed a birthday or Christmas to pass without adding to a formidable collection of cricket paraphernalia: board games, videos, gloves, wickets, bats, balls, and books.

Books about professionals and books about amateurs. Biographies and autobiographies. Compendiums of Wisden and collections of ‘wit and wisdom’. Books that were entertaining, insightful and important, and others that were less so.

Yet when the subject of the rebel tours came up in conversation three years ago, neither of us had even the basic information. Graham Gooch had gone over early on, my brother thought. And I knew that Mike Gatting led a tour at the exact moment FW De Klerk was releasing Nelson Mandela from prison, unbanning the fiercely anti-tour ANC and allowing black protest. That had to be an awkward moment.

They had been controversial and difficult and were occasionally still brought up in Private Eye if Gooch, Gatting or Geoffrey Boycott criticised others for disloyalty. But the details were almost entirely obscure to those of us who are old enough to remember but were too young to understand.

Never mind, we thought. There would be a book or two on the tours. We’d pick them up second hand, have a read and have a chat. And yet……(and you may be ahead of me here)……. there wasn’t a book on the rebel tours.

Where cricket’s other great crises, Bodyline and Packer, have received extensive analysis the rebel tours have scarcely been examined.  In particular the cricket itself, despite featuring some colossal figures, has received virtually no attention at all.

Having researched and written The Rebel Tours, my incomprehension has only grown. They are a unique sporting phenomenon. Even without the sport itself, just a handful of the ingredients are fascism, locusts, a boycott, G Boycott, greed, secret codes, covert international travel, media hysteria, political corruption, death threats and the fall of apartheid. The ferocity of the controversy beggars belief looking back now.

So what exactly has put people off?

The most obvious explanation is regret. The cricket itself is a source of curiosity rather than admiration. Many politicians, administrators and writers – particularly in the UK – have good reason to stare at their hands if their children ever ask, ‘What did you do to oppose apartheid, Daddy?’ Ali Bacher himself has admitted he didn’t understand the full South African context until 1990. Two decades on it is rare to hear a defence of the tours from anyone but a former tourist.

But the fact that not everyone emerges from the story with a medal on their breast and a song in their heart is hardly reason not to tell it. Many protagonists were wary of involvement in the book, no doubt fearing a scandal-ridden polemic handed down from a moral high horse. However I’ve resisted the urge to show everybody in the worst possible light without shying away from the often awkward and sometimes awful truth of the tours.

If nothing else you will hopefully be astounded reading The Rebel Tours that no-one has done this before. I know I still am.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Burn out or fade away?

postal_strike

‘Is it better to burn out or fade away?’ – Barry, High Fidelity.

Bloody postmen. Country’s gone to the dogs. If people cannot send and receive key medical supplies, Hallowe’en greeting cards and new cricket books then revolution will soon be at our door.

A week on from the official Rebel Tours publication date, no copy of the book has been sighted. And without evidence of its existence, I am beginning to wonder whether I’ve been hustled – conned into writing 80,000 words that will never see the light of day or the dark of the Poundsaver ‘reduced to clear’ bin. Except I’ve not given any agent or distributor any money so it’s difficult to work out the motivation for such a scam.

So impotent am I, so bad has the listlessness and paranoia become, that I am reduced to sitting on the sofa, sipping weak lemon drink and thinking about Peter Hain.

As anyone who has ever heard Mr Hain speak will know, he was at the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement. And while it is easy to despair at his endless self-promotion (he treats the phrase ‘when I was fighting apartheid….’ as a sort of punctuation, beginning every sentence this way) his pride is wholly justified.

As recounted in The Rebel Tours, the AAM faced ridicule from many around 1970 but were generally proven correct over the next 20 years. And more than standing up to public opinion, Hain showed remarkable courage in the face of government intimidation. The South African secret police framed him for armed robbery in 1975 and there were violent attacks by unidentified opponents in the UK and the republic.

But even at his moments of greatest triumph, the high-mindedness was often undisguised. Hain criticised Basil D’Oliveira for his role in the, er, D’Oliveira affair, a vivid illustration of his self-assurance to the exclusion of all else. And this attitude is back in the news this week as Hain takes the lead in denouncing the BBC for allowing BNP excrescence Nick Griffin onto Question Time.

Too much has been written about the affair already and acres more newsprint will be given over to the post-match but suffice to say Hain is wrong about the BBC. I will limit myself to protesting the incessant anti-apartheid name-drop, which grates for a couple of reasons. First, his position of supposed authority on this issue relies on false parallels between the BNP and South African National Party. They may possess similar ‘philosophies’ but there are important differences: 40 years and 6000 miles for starters, and the gulf between a lunatic fringe and despotic government for main.

More generally, it is genuinely dispiriting to see the mighty fallen. Hain merits only passing reference in The Rebel Tours, but his cameo is in the courageous vein discussed above. One person who reviewed the manuscript then wondered, ‘Is it worth mentioning he reached the heights of Secretary of State for Wales?’ It would have been an ironic misjudgement.

Peter Hain is destined to “go down in history as the man who made apartheid a national issue in Britain”. This is an esteemed position, and one hard earned. Four decades on his accomplishments ‘from the heights of Secretary of State’ include: approval for the Iraq invasion during which his invaders have not been counting the bodies of those they kill; a disreputable role in a donations scandal and subsequent resignation; and a prominent position in the New Labour project that leaves us with a bankrupt political class and the BNP popular enough to be invited onto Question Time.

Hain gives the impression that his very opinion on the topic ought to be enough to convince all concerned. But, like a fading middle-aged rocker, he is a forlorn shadow of his angry, principled younger self.

  • This is a blog-only entry in honour of (a) having too much time on my hands, and (b) the biggest UK political story of the year bearing some relation to this rebel tours business. Once copies start reaching punters and reviewers we can focus on writing relevant to the main topic, including an exclusive series of interviews with leading figures in South African cricket.

Read Full Post »

Hand of Godberford

tissot_plague

James Tissot (1836-1902). The artist's impression of Trent Bridge groundstaff as Wilton-Godberford unleashes his wrath.

It is a great injustice of our times that David Wilton-Godberford is not a household name. In another dimension, a better time and place, there are books written about him, songs sung about him, documentaries voiced by Stephen Fry and featuring whimsical recollections from Stuart Maconie broadcast about him.

For Wilton-Godberford is the greatest folk hero we never had; the architect of perhaps the wittiest, most outrageous protest action ever devised in the United Kingdom.

It was May, 1970 and the South Africa cricket team were due to arrive within weeks. The Springboks represented the ultimate test in world cricket. They had just whitewashed Australia 4-0 and, five years before the inaugural World Cup, were the unofficial champions of the world.

Unfortunate term, though, ‘whitewashed’ because the ‘Boks were, to a man, all white. Not by chance or even bias but by law. South Africa was the land of apartheid, of official and institutional white supremacy. The cricket world could hardly forget. It had been the celebrated D’Oliveira affair that had brought apartheid to the public’s attention in 1968. And for two years the world had waited and watched English cricket.

Would they (could they?) welcome the whites-only Springboks for an official Test series as if nothing had happened? The establishment seemed to think so but the anti-apartheid movement had other ideas. For a year the Stop the Seventy Tour group had disrupted visiting Springbok teams by invading tennis courts and rugby pitches, hijacking team coaches and gluing hotel doors shut.

 They had similar plans for the cricketers but Wilton-Godberford threatened to take it to a new level. Times cricket correspondent John Woodcock filed a story from North Wales reporting that Wilton-Godberford, a London University student, intended to make a “personal protest”.

And this was something altogether different to linking arms and working through the playlist of Song to a Seagull, or handcuffing himself to the Twickenham posts. Wilton-Godberford was a biology scholar, but obviously not adverse to allying his Darwin with reading of an older vintage where the occasion called for it. As Woodcock reported, he had threatened to unleash 500,000 locusts on the playing fields of England if the tour were to proceed.

Now whatever you think about direct action protesting, you have to admit that this is a bold gambit: ambitious, media friendly and, perhaps above all, practicable. If you really want to pull off that Old Testament ‘wow factor’ on limited resources then locusts are the way to go. Turning rivers to blood is a big ask, hail mixed with fire attracts public disapproval, and deaths of the first born sons would deprive future generations of Shaun Pollock.

DWG himself was quoted thus: “They will ravage every blade of grass and green foliage. The greatest care will be taken to ensure that they are in the correct physiological stage. So that their insatiable appetites will not be impaired they will not be fed for 24 hours before the moment of truth. The crack of a solid army of locusts feeding on the grass will sound like flames.”

Or, to put it another way: “There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.”

Wilton-Godberford never had to make good on his threat. The tour was cancelled and South Africa quickly exiled from international sport. The 1970 Springboks were disbanded and they watched the 1975 World Cup from their living rooms.

By that time the whites-only Springbok policy had been thrown out with teams picked on a ‘multi-racial’ basis. But it was too late. The Springboks would not be allowed to return to international cricket until apartheid itself was dismantled. It would be another 12 years before the Springbok emblem was worn on the cricket field – and only then in sparking a new and vociferous controversy that rocked cricket and the world far beyond.

  • A version of this article was first published by Cricket365.com on 24 June, 2008. ‘Plan to disrupt cricket tour with locusts’ by John Woodcock appeared in The Times on 11 May, 1970. The tour was cancelled 11 days later, a week before Ali Bacher’s side was due to arrive.

Read Full Post »

D-Day for the ‘Dirty Dozen’

We have written a new article on the remarkable first tour by Graham Gooch, Geoffrey Boycott and company:

6 MARCH, 1982 Walking out for the toss, Mike Procter was overcome with emotion. The South African all-rounder had long ago resigned himself to never again wearing Springbok colours yet here he stood before a capacity crowd in Port Elizabeth, green cap on his head and tears in his eyes…..

The article is published in full in the November issue of SPIN.

Read Full Post »

Oh dear. Mike Gatting and David Graveney took charge for one of the most spectacular and embarrassing misjudgements in sporting history.

The pair were joined by a host of other players wowed by the money on offer and frustrated at their treatment by the England selectors. All had agreed to travel in mid-1989 when the end of apartheid looked a decade off. By the time they arrived in January 1990, revolution was imminent.

As FW De Klerk released Nelson Mandela from prison and unbanned the ANC, and South Africa set off down the road to democracy, the most unpopular party guests in history were spirited home fearing for their lives. The rebel tours had finished as they had started: in abrupt, chaotic fashion.

Squad: Mike Gatting (captain), Bill Athey, Kim Barnett, Chris Broad, Chris Cowdrey, Graham Dilley, Richard Ellison, John Emburey, Neil Foster, Bruce French, Paul Jarvis, Matthew Maynard, Tim Robinson, Greg Thomas, Alan Wells, David Graveney (player/manager).

Schedule and results

26-28 Jan Tour match at De Beers Country Club, Kimberley. English XI (305 & 206/4d) beat Combined Bowl XI (152 & 105) by 254 runs.

30, 31 Jan, 1 Feb Tour match at Springbok Park, Bloemfontein. South African Universities (328/6d & 160/9d) drew with English XI (212 & 75/4)

3, 4, 5 Feb Tour match at Jan Smuts Stadium, Pietermaritzburg. South African Invitation XI (305/2d & 315/2d) drew with English XI (292/5d & 198/5).

8, 9, 10 Feb 1st ‘Test’ at Wanderers, Johannesburg. English XI (156 & 122) lost to South Africa (203 & 76/3) by seven wickets.

16 Feb 2nd ‘Test’ at Newlands, Cape Town. Match cancelled.

16 Feb 1st ‘ODI’ at Centurion Park, Verwoerdburg. English XI (217) lost to South Africa (218/5) by five wickets.

18 Feb 2nd ‘ODI’ at Kingsmead, Durban. South Africa (219/5) beat English XI (205/7) by 14 runs.

20 Feb 3rd ‘ODI’ at Springbok Park, Bloemfontein. South Africa (301/7) beat English XI (94) by 207 runs.

22 Feb 4th ‘ODI’ at Wanderers, Johannesburg. English XI (296/8) beat South Africa (162) by 134 runs.

Notes:
South Africa won the four-match ‘ODI’ series 3-1.
South Africa won the only ‘Test’.

Read Full Post »

1986-7 Australian XI

Omar Henry became the first ‘coloured’ man to wear a Springbok cap, South African-born Australian Test batsman Kepler Wessels returned home to a rapturous reception and Cape cricket was Packer-ised with pajamas and day-night fixtures.

Yet the action could never escape the bigger picture. Henry’s selection was marred by allegations of tokenism and Clive Rice’s win-at-all costs strategy produced more fireworks off the field than on. The rebel tours seemed to have run their course.

Squad: Kim Hughes (captain), Terry Alderman, John Dyson, Peter Faulkner, Mike Haysman, Tom Hogan, Rodney Hogg, Trevor Hohns, John Maguire, Rod McCurdy, Carl Rackemann, Steve Rixon, Greg Shipperd, Steve Smith, Mick Taylor, Kepler Wessels, Graham Yallop.

Schedule and results

17 Nov 50-over match at Oude Libertas, Stellenbosch. Australian XI (180/8) beat Boland (178/9) by two runs.

18 Nov 50-over match at Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch. Australian XI (198/8) lost to Boland Invitation XI (202/7) by three wickets.

21, 22, 24 Nov Tour match at University Ground, Bloemfontein. Australian XI (412d/9 & 100/1) drew with Orange Free State (367).

25 Nov 50-over match at De Beers Country Club, Kimberley. Australian XI (248/5) beat Griqualand West (168) by 80 runs.

27-29 Nov Tour match at Harmony Cricket Club, Virginia. Australian XI (347/6d & 128/5d) lost to President’s XI (215/5d & 261/7) by three wickets.

30 Nov 50-over match at Harmony Cricket Club, Virginia. President’s XI (185) lost to Australian XI (149/9 from 39.5 overs) on faster scoring rate.

2, 3, 4 Dec Tour match at Jan Smuts Ground, East London. Border (358) drew with Australian XI (519/8).

6 Dec 1st ‘Day-Night International’ at Centurion Park, Verwoerdburg. Australian XI (238/5 from 44 overs) lost to South Africa (239/4) by six wickets.

8 Dec 2nd ‘Day-Night International’ at Wanderers, Johannesburg. Australian XI (149 from 40 overs); South Africa (3/1). No result due to rain.

10 Dec 3rd ‘Day-Night International’ at Newlands, Cape Town. Australian XI (85) lost to South Africa (86/2) by eight wickets.

10 Dec 25-over match at Newlands, Cape Town. Australian XI (153/5) lost to South Africa (154/4) by six wickets.

12-14 Dec Tour match at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. Eastern Province (117 & 125) lost to Australian XI (326/7d) by an innings and 84 runs.

17 Dec 4th ‘Day-Night International’ at Kingsmead, Durban. South Africa (183/9 from 48 overs) lost to Australian XI (153/4 from 39.1 overs) on faster scoring rate.

19-21 Dec Tour match at Kingsmead, Durban. Australian XI (227/2d & 238/6d) lost to Natal (234/3d & 232/4) by six wickets.

24, 26, 27, 28 1st ‘Test’ at Wanderers, Johannesburg. South Africa (254 & 182) beat Australian XI (142 & 245) by 49 runs.

1, 2, 3, 5, 6 Jan 2nd ‘Test’ at Newlands, Cape Town. South Africa (493 & 257/3) drew with Australian XI (496).

9-11 Jan Tour match at Jan Smuts Ground, East London. South African Invitation XI (165 & 121) lost to Australian XI (332) by an innings and 46 runs.

13-15 Jan Tour match at Jan Smuts Stadium, Pietermaritzburg. South African Universities XI (240/9d & 128/2) drew with Australian XI (448).

17, 19, 20, 21, 22 Jan 3rd ‘Test’ at Kingsmead Durban. Australian XI (264 & 339) drew with South Africa (350 & 143/7).

24, 26, 27 Jan Tour match at Centurion Park, Verwoerdburg. Northern Transvaal (315/8d & 217/9d) drew with Australian XI (281/3d & 219/7).

30, 31 Jan, 1, 3, 4 Feb 4th ‘Test’ at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. Australian XI (455/9d & 333/4) drew with South Africa (533).

7 Feb 1st ‘ODI’ at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. South Africa (316/6) beat Australian XI (310) by six runs.

10 Feb 2nd ‘ODI’ at Newlands, Cape Town. Australian XI (199/7 from 47.4 overs) lost to South Africa (188/2 from 40.3 overs) on faster scoring rate.

12 Feb 3rd ‘ODI’ at Centurion Park, Verwoerdburg. South Africa (237/9) lost to Australian XI (238/5) by five wickets.

14 Feb 4th ‘ODI’ at Wanderers, Johannesburg. Australian XI (175/9) lost to South Africa (176/6) by four wickets.

Notes:
South Africa won the four-match ‘Day-Night’ series 2-1.
South Africa won the four-match ‘ODI’ series 3-1.
South Africa won the four-match ‘Test’ series 1-0.

Read Full Post »

1985-6 Australian XI

The Australian tours had been a long time coming. The rivalry between the Springboks and Wallabies was the closest South African cricket had to rugby union’s battles with the New Zealand All Blacks. The arrival of a team in baggy green caps had been awaited keenly since the legendary 4-0 whitewash in 1970.

Graeme Pollock, now past 40, decided to delay his retirement for the reunion and the opposition looked strong on paper. Captained by Kim Hughes, their bowling attack in particularly had pedigree: Rod McCurdy, Rodney Hogg, Terry Alderman, Carl Rackemann and John Maguire might all have been in England for the 1985 Ashes but instead pursued the rebel route. For the Springboks, Clive Rice was installed as captain which led to a rapid escalation in aggression – opponents and umpires alike faced a mean machine.

Squad: Kim Hughes (captain), Terry Alderman, John Dyson, Peter Faulkner, Mike Haysman, Tom Hogan, Rodney Hogg, Trevor Hohns, John Maguire, Rod McCurdy, Carl Rackemann, Steve Rixon, Greg Shipperd, Steve Smith, Mick Taylor, Graham Yallop.

Schedule and results

22, 23, 25 Nov Tour match at Ramblers Club, Bloemfontein. Australian XI (345/8d & 301/5d) drew with Orange Free State (319 & 76/1).

27 Nov 50-over (day/night) match at Technikon Ground, Pretoria. Northern Transvaal (211/9) beat Australian XI (204) by seven runs.

29, 30 Nov, 2 Dec Tour match at Berea Park, Pretoria. South Africa Board President’s XI (150 & 126) lost to Australian XI (186 & 91/5) by five wickets.

4 Dec 50-over (day/night) match at Wanderers, Johannesburg. Transvaal (269/3) beat Australian XI (211/6) by 58 runs.

6-8 Dec Tour match at Jan Smuts Ground, East London. Border (168) drew with Australian XI (236/8).

11 Dec 50-over (day/night) match at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. Australian XI (222/7) beat Eastern Province (217/9) by five runs.

13- 15 Dec Tour match at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. Australian XI (382/9d & 101/1d) lost to Eastern Province (235 & 250/8) by two wickets.

17-19 Dec Tour match at Oude Libertas, Stellenbosch. Boland (271 & 159/6) drew with Australian XI (456/9d).

21 Dec 50-over match at Newlands, Cape Town. Australian XI (260/4) beat Western Province (212/9) by 48 runs.

23 Dec 50-over (day/night) match at Kingsmead, Durban. Australian XI (234/6) beat Natal (206) by 28 runs.

26-29 Dec 1st ‘Test’ at Kingsmead, Durban. South Africa (393 & 203/7d) drew with Australian XI (359 & 32/2).

1-4 Jan 2nd ‘Test’ at Newlands, Cape Town. South Africa (430 & 202/5d) drew with Australian XI (304 & 224/4).

6-8 Jan Tour match at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. South African Universities (219 & 237/5d) drew with Australian XI (220/9d & 203/9).

10, 11, 13 Jan Tour match at Berea Park, Pretoria. Australian XI (229 & 326/2d) beat Northern Transvaal (190 & 340) by 25 runs.

16, 17, 18, 20, 21 Jan 3rd ‘Test’ at Wanderers, Johannesburg. South Africa (211 & 305) beat Australian XI (267 & 61) by 188 runs.

24 Jan 1st ‘ODI’ (day/night) at Wanderers, Johannesburg. Australian XI (197/5) beat South Africa (151) by 46 runs.

26 Jan 2nd ‘ODI’ at Kingsmead, Durban. South Africa (221/6) lost to Australian XI (224/6) by four wickets.

28 Jan 3rd ‘ODI’ at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. South Africa (223/9) beat Australian XI (151) by 72 runs.

30 Jan 4th ‘ODI’ at Newlands, Cape Town. South Africa (234/9) beat Australian XI (210) by 24 runs.

1 Feb 5th ‘ODI’ at Wanderers, Johannesburg. Australian XI (185/7 from 49 overs) lost to South Africa (189/5) by five wickets.

3 Feb 50-over match at De Beers Country Club, Kimberley. Australian XI (219/9) lost to Griqualand West (221/4) by six wickets.

5 Feb 6th ‘ODI’ at Berea Park, Pretoria. Australian XI (272/6) lost to South Africa (273/4) by six wickets.

Notes:
South Africa won the six-match ‘ODI’ series 4-2.
South Africa won the three-match ‘Test’ series 1-0.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »