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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Johannesburg ~ some history - Gandhi connection as the 1st Test starts

He is no stranger and in fact belonged the same party and succeeded Nelson Mandela… but was booed by his own country men… now comes the news that those who booed President Jacob Zuma at Nelson Mandela's memorial service will be identified, named and shamed, SA Communist Party secretary is quoted as saying.  Speaking at an event to commemorate the life and times of Nelson Mandela in Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium, he said the party's Gauteng branch had been instructed to identify those who booed Zuma in front of the world's leaders.

For the visiting Indians all is not well – they lost 2-0 in the Onedayers – while the 3rd one was washed out by rain after de Kock made the 3rd century ….. now in the 1st Test starting today…. It is time Indian batting line up and the team dishes out a different performance….. it is also time the highly-paid foreign coach makes some impact…… it is stated that Duncan Flethcer hardly interacts with anyone except his bosses and the players, and the players have always been full of praise for him without being able to articulate how exactly he helps………………. One praising the other and in turn getting praised may be part of Corporate strategy ~ but offers little in Cricketing arena.  

Duncan Fletcher performed reasonably with the bat in his playing days, as the England coach was ruthless, result-oriented-  preferred pace, and didn't mind gamesmanship – in short ensured England wins….. now what is he doing after despicable  eight straight away defeats in Tests ~ and providing no clue in building a team for the future…. Indian batting line up of Dhwan, Murali Vijay, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni lacks experience and looks brittle.   Fletcher may not have any role in phasing out Gambhir, Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Ganguly, SAchin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman – but has done little in picking their replacements.  Attending press conferences and talking can be done by anybody – even those with no field performance.  It was claimed that Fletcher has knowledge of SA, its players,  conditions and will provide great support……….really nothing could be point out as a value addition by having him as a support in the dressing room.  He has a young side and their confidence has not been peppered the way Gary Kirsten did…

A general supporters role is of creating a good environ, ensuring good practice facilities and doing liaison work ….. a Coach’s role is far different ..  There is no point in endorsing achievement badges when India wins – one needs to analyse whether it is simply individual performance or any strategic move brought in thoughtfully by the exalted coach. 

It is just common knowledge that pitches in SA bouncy and SA cricket is synonymous with fast bowling… the just released book  of Drew Forrest is on 100 years of SA fast bowlers titled ‘the pacemen’  – which has bowlers from Krom Hendricks to Dale Steyna – 32 of them.  The book covers South Africa's quicks through the ages and across various divides, though some them never played test cricket.  Of them  Krom Hendricks was born more than 140 years ago in South Africa to a Dutch father and St Helenan mother, he never played a first-class match.  It is stated that his cricketing claims were ignored, and he was rejected on the grounds of his colour and religion. 

Now, today’s test is at Johannesburg, also known as Jozi, Joburg, Joni, eGoli or Joeys, the largest city in South Africa, by population., having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a  not situated on a river, lake, or coastline.[no Marine connection !]

 ~  it is the seat of the Constitutional Court, which has the final word on interpretation of South Africa's constitution, and is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province of the country.  The city is the source of a large-scale gold and diamond trade, due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills. Johannesburg is served by two international and one domestic airport. O.R. Tambo International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Africa and a gateway for international air travel to and from the rest of Southern Africa.  
In 1880s Gold was discovered  and triggered the gold rush. Like many late 19th century mining towns, Johannesburg was a rough and disorganized place, populated by white miners from other continents, African tribesmen recruited to perform unskilled mine work. The Second Boer War(1899–1902) saw British forces under Lord Roberts occupy the city in  1900. 

In Johannesburg is the  Constitution Hill precinct, the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa which has great historic significance and Indian connection as the hill was formerly the site of a fort which was later used as a prison. The Old Fort Prison complex is known as Number Four.  It was here  Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in the last century as also was Nelson Mandela. In 2012, visiting Indian President Ms Pratibha Patil unveiled a bust of Gandhiji at the prestigious Constitutional Court Complex.  Gandhi’s  great-granddaughter, Kirti Menon, who was the chairperson of the Gandhi Centenary Committee  is a Registrar at a Johannesburg university. 

One may not scent victory and happiness for the visitors  but to recall – India had an ecstatic moment in Dec 2006.  Indians led by Dravid won the Toss and were all out for 249 in first essay with Ganguly top scoring with unbeaten 51. Sachin made 44.  Shaun Pollock claimed 4/39 backed by Ntini with 3.  Steyn went wicketless.  India in fact played only 4 bowlers of which Vikramrajvir Singh (Who ??) was raw.  SA innings lasted only 25.1 overs and were surprisingly bowled out for 84 with Sreesanth taking 5/40 in 10.

Jaffer was again out soon and from 61/4, India recovered to 236 – thanks to a good innings by VVS (73); Sehwag (33), Ganguly (25) and Zaheer (37) were the other contributors.   The 70 run partnership of Laxman with Zaheer brought respectability.  Set to score imposing 402, SA were all out in 86.5 overs for 278.  Prince made 97.  Zaheer, Sreesanth and Kumble shared 3 apiece. India won by 123 runs and the match was over in the 4th day itself.  Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was the Man of the match.  History tends to repeat itself with remarkable regularity – which part of history, when and where does it repeat -  are of great  relevance and importance to us.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

18th Dec 2013.

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