JP Duminy of South Africa walks back to the pavillion after being dismissed by Rubel Hossain of Bangladesh during the ICC World Cup Cricket Group B match between Bangladesh and South Africa at Shere-e-Bangla National Stadium on March 19, 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh
JP Duminy of South Africa walks back to the pavillion after being dismissed by Rubel Hossain of Bangladesh during the ICC World Cup Cricket Group B match between Bangladesh and South Africa at Shere-e-Bangla National Stadium on March 19, 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

 

Johannesburg, April 20, 2011

 

It only comes round once every four years, but SATV’s gameshow, ‘Who Wants To Score a Run?’ has once again been a ratings success with the South African public.

 

Hosted by popular cricket commentator Pommie Mbangwa, the critically-acclaimed show has been a massive hit with fans from Pietermaritzburg to Pretoria. The premise of the game show is preposterously simple: It’s cricket, with a wicked twist – score runs, but in a must-win, knock-out scenario.

 

Since its premiere just a month ago, South Africans have been tuning in to ‘Run’ in their masses. Francois du Plessis, 26, was one of the contestants on this year’s edition: “It was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. The spotlight is right on you, and random people even come up and sledge you while you’re out in the middle! What the heck does ‘Mate, you just dropped the World Cup’ have anything to do with me running out AB [de Villiers], anyway?”

 

Much like the ‘Millionaire’ version of the game show, this edition features three lifelines: UDRS, shaking your head in vigorous disbelief so as to instantly negate any appeal, and a post-match media whitewash. For example, instead of being described as ‘bloody awful’, Duminy’s cut shot off Nathan McCullum was described in the next day’s Cape Town Times as “a vicious, spinning delivery from the bowler.”

 

The show has not been without its fair share of criticism, however, as many have accused the show of indulging in the misfortune of others. The punishments have come under considerable scrutiny, with failed contestants forced to run between the wickets with Allan Donald for all eternity, or spend an evening listening to Herschelle Gibbs narrating his autobiography.

 

On the other hand, prizes for winning contestants include a post-match interview with Ravi Shastri, an opportunity that previous winner Hashim Amla described as “life-changing; because Shastri is a tall customer.”

 

“I really think I should have been given a chance on ‘Run’ this year, I’ve been there, done that,” said a beleaguered Mark Boucher, as he shook his head, watching this year’s contestants self-destruct from the comfort of his East London sofa.

 

In Johannesburg, ‘Who Wants To Score A Run?’ has been a time-honoured family tradition in the van Zyl household since South Africa’s maiden World Cup sojourn in 1992. Grandfather Trevor said: “We’ve learned to take the World Cup in good humour – how else could we survive the abrupt heartache of the 1992 semi-final and my second heart attack in ’99? So we just gather round the TV when the Proteas are playing, and laugh along. What could be more thrilling than the tantalizing yet unattainable premise that South Africa could win a big match?”

 

Speaking in his trademark italics, host Pommie Mbangwa said: “Oh my goodness, can you believe it?! South African fans are absolutely lapping up the chance to watch their heroes prove themselves on the world stage? Deary me, JP, what have you done?!”

 

Colin Ingram, 25, was a prospective contestant who was overlooked for this year’s edition: “I thought I had the talent to at least lose as gracefully as this year’s batsmen – why be satisfied with a last ball run-out, or Duckworth-Lewis miscalculations? I would have tried a double pirouette reverse-sweep, or got timed out in the toilet,” said Ingram, before adding: “We know we’re going to screw up, so why not make it interesting?”

 

Despite the show coming to an abrupt end last month, producers are already scouting for the next edition’s crop of contestants, by filling young domestic cricketers with self-doubt, anxiety, and the belief that if they want to win, they will lose. 

 

(This article is reproduced with permission from AlternativeCricket.com. AlternativeCricket is currently developing a scholarship for young Afghan cricketers. You can follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/alternativecricket) and Twitter (twitter.com/altcricket)

 

Pictures © Getty Images