Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

‘Nelson Mandela created a future for South African cricket’

Nelson Mandela poses with the South African cricket team for a photo in 1999 © AFP
Nelson Mandela poses with the South African team for a photo in 1999 before their departure for England to play the World Cup © AFP

By Ali Bacher

 

I was at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday. If I wanted, I could have made a couple of phone calls and got good seats for my family. But I preferred to be with the crowd. So my wife, my daughter and I took a bus to the stadium. Minutes after arriving at the venue, we were soaked. But there was no way I was going to miss Madiba’s (Nelson Mandela) memorial service. I was also privileged to hear Barack Obama speak. What an orator! And our president, Jacob Zuma, was ‘red-carded’. Thrice!

 

Madiba and I shared a very nice relationship. In fact, he wrote the foreword to my book. And on one occasion, he invited the whole family over to his Houghton home. After lunch, he took my grandchildren and placed them on his lap and started singing to them. He was a people’s man, an extraordinary man.

 

When he wanted to watch a game of cricket, he wouldn’t give me a heads up. His security officer would call me on match day and say, “The President will be there in 15 minutes!” I would then rush to get things ready. The first bunch of people he would meet was the catering staff.

 

On one occasion, I addressed him ‘Mr President’. And he said to me, “Ali, my name is Madiba.” I replied, “Sir, where I come from, we address people ‘Mister’ if we have enormous respect for them.” He retorted, “Ali, where I come from, if you don’t call me Madiba, you are not a good friend of mine.”

 

The year was 1995 and he came over to St George’s Park for a game. I was so happy to see him in cream-coloured flannels, a Protea blazer and a Protea cap. And just as I sat down next to him in the box, my daughter phoned me. “Ali, who are you talking to?” Madiba asked. I told him it was my daughter. “Let me speak to her,” he said and took my cellphone. A little later, his secretarial staff almost clobbered me. “You don’t let your daughter speak to the President just like that!” they said. They were right. But that was Madiba.

 

He was quite clearly the biggest fundraiser of our country. Every morning, he would read the financial papers and make a list of the firms making a lot of money. He would then phone their CEOs! “We have a rural village up in north and the conditions are so bad. It would be a nice gesture if you could donate two million rand,” he would request them. Nobody ever said no to Madiba. One CEO told me that whenever his personal assistant walked into his cabin saying the President was on the line, he would ask himself, ‘So how much is this phone call going to cost?’  For the record, even the South African cricket board donated a million rand to him! He had asked me, you see.

 

Madiba created a future for South African cricket. He got us into the 1992 World Cup. Mind you, we weren’t even a constitutional democracy then. And he wasn’t President. There were a lot of journalists present during a meeting and one of them asked Madiba about South Africa playing in the World Cup. “Of course, we must play.” The whole world heard that and we went to Australia.

 

— As told to Derek Abraham

 

(Dr Ali Bacher is a former South African Test cricketer who was their last captain before isolation. In 12 Tests, he scored 679 runs at an average of 32.33 with six fifties. Post retirement, Bacher became one of the most prominent administrators in the South African Board. He was their manager during their first tour after isolation in 1991 and was also at the helm when South Africa hosted the 2003 World Cup. The above article first appeared in DNA)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 20, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 23, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014  at Dubai

Delhi Daredevils won by 4 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014  at Dubai

Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 7 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Rajasthan Royals won by 4 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kings XI Punjab won by 6 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014  at Sharjah

Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 8 wkts

Photos

KKR vs DD match 6, IPL 2014 at Sharjah

Videos

Video Highlights: Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders wickets

JP Duminy scripts sensational 4-wicket win for Delhi Daredevils over Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014

Kevin Pietersen has no way back into England setup, says Paul Downton

Royal Challengers Bangalore coast to 7-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in IPL 2014

BCCI members to attend crucial meeting

IPL 2014: Anjinkya Rahane says he was confident of overhauling Sunrisers Hyderabad’s target

BCCI Chennai Super Kings Delhi Daredevils England India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kings XI Punjab Kolkata Knight Riders MS Dhoni Mumbai Indians Rohit Sharma Royal Challengers Bangalore Virat Kohli

Shashank Manohar to attend BCCI Working Committee meeting on April 20

JP Duminy scripts sensational 4-wicket win for Delhi Daredevils over Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014

Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab IPL 2014, Match 7 Preview: Teams aiming to maintain winning start

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Delhi Daredevils (DD) IPL 2014: Delhi still in with a chance; score 123/4 after 15 overs

Kevin Pietersen has no way back into England setup, says Paul Downton

Doug Insole: More than just an administrator

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: His words found their way even into the cricket world

Brendon Kuruppu scores the slowest double-hundred of all time

IPL 2014: Rajasthan Royals’ team composition vital for success

Kings XI Punjab’s local talent gives them an added dimension in IPL 2014

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

1 Posts | 0 Fans

Glenn Maxwell's 95, Kings XI Punjab vs Chennai Super Kings IPL 2014 Video Highlights

Chetan Bhagat: 2 States is quite close to me because the inspiration came from my own life!

JP Duminy scripts sensational 4-wicket win for Delhi Daredevils over Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014

Khloe Kardashian casually dating French Montana?

LinkedIn’s user base crosses 300 million mark

Know what it takes to save your skin during flights

Shashank Manohar to attend BCCI Working Committee meeting on April 20

Breeze, a fitness app that encourages users to walk

11 possible causes of coughing up blood

Also on cricketcountry.com