Leading Edge: Summer of love ends, India, Australia await

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE in Hamilton

HAVE a guess who said this: “I didn’t see any of our management getting into fights with media. The people are fantastic. We’re fortunate in that we’ve played some decent cricket and got some good results. But it has been nice to be involved in a contest that’s been fairly played and where players have a lot of respect for each other and for the game.”

Don’t know?

Here’s a clue – it wasn’t Virat Kohli, Steve Smith or any of the overgrown brats who have been bringing the game into disrepute in India these past few fraught weeks.

It was Russell Domingo, who knows when he’s dealing with people who have manners as good as his own. That’s how the make them in Gelvandale.

Which is a long way from New Zealand in terms of geography and genteelness. But not on the scorecard of common decency.

People of all shapes and sizes, races, colours, creeds and walks of life, on the field and off, showed the South Africans that decency in New Zealand.

In the Dunedin and Hamilton tests the weather prevented keenly poised scenarios from reaching satisfying conclusions. The Wellington match was all over in three days like some torrid affair.

And nary a nasty word was said nor a dastardly deed done in the throes of it all.

That held true to the end, when Faf du Plessis and Kane Williamson paused between their press conferences at Seddon Park on Wednesday to arrange that fine thing: a dressingroom drink.

“See you in about half-an-hour,” Faf said.

Kane, as is his wont, said it all with a nod and a smile.

Contrast that with Kohli – who said not long ago he considered some of the Aussies his “really good friends” – vowing “you won’t hear me say that ever again”.

Or Smith admitting “at times being in my own bubble and (letting) my emotions slip”.

Good thing Kohli will miss at least some of the Indian Premier League with a shoulder injury: the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad he captains includes Travis Head, Billy Stanlake and Shane Watson, Australians all. 

Even the press felt the Kiwi love. They arrived at lunch at the appointed hour on Wednesday only to find catering staff packing up to make way for the press conferences that would take place in the same room far earlier, because of the washout, than on preceding days.

Deny reporters their free lunch at your peril, particularly in these days of self-importance on anti-social media.

But, before anyone had a chance to voice a complaint, much less type it out, an empath from the catering company apologised for the bother and whisked the hungry hacks upstairs to dine with the WAGs, who smiled cheery hellos.

Of course, it won’t last.

The Indians are due to arrive in South Africa sometime next summer – they haven’t had the good manners to say when – and will proclaim their superiority in all departments and be aghast at any dissent.

Then the Australians will turn up and do much the same, albeit more subtly, less irritatingly and without being horrified that not everybody thinks so.

Both teams are likely be trailed like a bad smell by tabloid television types whose idea of a story depends on, at best, interviewing their own cardboard cutout reporters and, at worst, starting scuffles in airports.

But the cricket should be good. Small mercy.

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