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Posts Tagged ‘Gatting fiasco’

For Cricinfo today Martin Williamson writes on the seventh and final rebel tour to South Africa. As with his previous piece on the 1982 tour, it will not be unfamiliar to Rebel Tours readers.

PS No such thing as bad publicity? Not Another Cricket Blog does not need to read The Rebel Tours to be filled with self-righteous indignation.

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We are in the new issue of Sports Illustrated, India. No, sadly not the swimsuit issue, but with an article on the final, disastrous Gatting tour and South Africa’s subsequent international return at Eden Gardens:

In a cacophony of noise and smoke, firecrackers joining forces with Calcutta’s early morning smog and humidity, Mohammad Azharuddin shook hands with Clive Rice. The India captain tossed a coin and invited his South African counterpart to call. “I now know,” Rice said afterwards, “how Neil Armstrong felt when he stood on the moon.”

The magazine is out now.

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Batting For Apartheid

We have an article in today’s Sunday Times in South Africa:

Early in 1990, England cricket captain Mike Gatting and his team began one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the game: the seventh rebel tour of South Africa….

Read the full piece here.

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As England’s tour of South Africa continues without incident, it is easy to forget that, two decades ago, a side of English players led by Mike Gatting was trudging a similar route across the country.

Martin Williamson reviews The Rebel Tours for Cricinfo today, awarding it four stars. Unless you’re talking luxury Dubai hotels, that’s a resounding recommendation.

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Beware rebels without a cause

How are we remembering the Noughties? As the decade nears its end the retrospectives are being written. Who was the best player, what is your Select XI, which was the greatest game?

But enjoyable as the old exercises always are, it is impossible to define a decade in these terms. Special moments belong to a certain time and place, as in Headingley ’81. Special players are quite the opposite – Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara or Shane Warne might just as easily be crowned ‘Player of the Nineties’ as ‘Player of the Noughties’.

In the long term a decade is as likely to be defined by off-field events, issues that cannot compete with a moment of on-field brilliance but which influence the future to a far greater degree. So it is that the Packer affair foreshadows any reflection on the Seventies, and so it will surely be with the Noughties.

It has been a decade for the professionals. Just as the game changed forever on 9 May 1977 so it did again on 24 September 2007. India’s T20 World Championship win produced the Indian Premier League and various other oddities, not all of which required action from the US Securities & Exchange Commission. More will follow, whatever the BCCI have to say about it.

For the first time in history the professional cricketer enjoys full emancipation, earning income comparable with that in other leading sports and without the patronage of his national board. While they do not compare to Tendulkar, Lara and Warne as cricketers, it may be Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chris Gayle or Andrew Flintoff who come to characterise this decade.

In concluding this Cricket365 series there is a point worth making on this theme of ‘remembering history’.

The rebel tours themselves are scarcely remembered. The players who wanted to take part have generally ignored our calls, demanded money or insisted they would write their own account. In one sublime instance, a prominent former rebel and media personality said, ‘I don’t want to talk about them. And you can’t mention that I don’t want to talk about them.’ Andrew Marr eat your heart out.

Rebel tourists and their supporters have argued it is impossible to be judged impartially, that the ‘rebel’ tours cast them unfairly as villains. But this is a semantic distraction – as with those who protest Tony Greig’s Packer ‘defection’. East German refugees were defectors; those who support Aung San Suu Kyi are labelled rebels. Context is king.

The reality of the tours explodes the notion that this was a simple business proposition. Although the players had been free to accept the offers as bankers and jewel-traders were, the source of their income might have given pause for thought. Professional sportsman, it turned out, was not a job like any other.

As alluded to earlier, this is not an episode that cricket recalls so gladly as Packer – or as gladly as it undoubtedly will freelance professionalism. But the rebel tours remain one of the most important episodes in the game’s modern history.

They are a reminder that sport occupies a privileged position and that the game’s new freedoms bear serious responsibility. Giles Clarke declared cricket to be like any other business and was soon throwing his arm around Sir Allen Stanford. Others who also ignore history’s lessons will suffer the same chronic embarrassment – and worse.

This is the end of a decade and the start of an exciting new era, one in which leading professionals will enjoy unprecedented freedom and earning power. Still though, money isn’t everything. Graeme Pollock, the greatest cricketer to compete in the rebel series, played his entire career as an amateur.

  • A version of this article was first published by Cricket365.com on 24 November, 2009. The ECB first refused and then ignored requests for interviews with David Graveney and Mike Gatting, who now occupy senior strategic roles at Lord’s.

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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’.

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