Tuesday, December 30, 2008

South Africa cricket

When I was 8 years old, India won the Cricket World Cup by beating the mighty West Indians. Then the West Indians came to India, played a series of matches and thrashed the Indian team right proper. Around that time, Thums Up, the cola company, came up with some prizes including "flickers" of cricket stars, tiny cricket balls and cricket bats. We had to collect Thums Up bottle caps with cricketers' pictures for a long time to get any of those prizes.

In collecting those, I started recognizing most of the players from the cricket teams of the day -- Botham, Lillee, Holding, Marshall, Richards etc.

Somebody did explain to me at the time that the South Africans couldn't play against other teams because of some complicated reason. They also said that South Africa was far and away the best team in the world -- even better than West Indies. Yet another older buddy convinced me they were physically superior. Since I'd seen the almost-7 ft Big Bird Joel Garner (W. Indies) in action, I figured the South Africans were all at least 8 ft tall and bigger and stronger -- superhuman really -- and I was forever curious about them.

So when Hansie Cronje and boys started playing cricket in the post-apartheid days, I was mighty disappointed. They were decent cricketers, but not physically very impressive. They did have Jonty Rhodes -- that freak of nature -- but he was NOT 8 ft tall. So I dismissed them as irrelevant in the big cricketing scheme, even though they came close to being the best sides in the world many many times since their return from the wilderness.

Now things are different. They are the best side in the world -- the team to beat, the No. 1 side. I just wish they had some 8 footers though. At least a couple. That would make them perfect.

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