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Book on ‘choker’ Proteas irks players

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By Patrick Compton And Iqbal Khan

Former SA cricket captain, Shaun Pollock, was taken aback on Thursday when told that his picture appears on the cover of former cricket writer Luke Alfred’s new book, the sarcastically titled: The Art of Losing: Why the Proteas Choke at the Cricket World Cup.

Alfred, the former sports editor and cricket writer of the Sunday Times, joined Cricket SA (CSA) earlier this year as a member of its communications department.

His latest book details South Africa’s failings at the Cricket World Cup since the team’s debut in 1992, and attempts to explain why they have never won a knock-out match in the competition.

Pollock, as captain of the Proteas squad, who had “choked” in the rain-interrupted ICC World Cup game against Sri Lanka, at Kingsmead, in 2003, said he does not often think of that dreadful evening.

“It’s not something you keep bringing up. But if anyone is going to write a book on these issues, the least they could do is inform the person concerned that they would be using their picture on the front cover. It shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Pollock said.

He questioned the reason behind writing a book on South Africa’s “choking” at major international tournaments.

“Why write a book now?” he asked, but admitted that there may be people around who would perhaps like to read about it.

“We had a great side in 2003 – a team with the ability to succeed,” he added, “but we did not get over the line. There are so many wonderful teams in the world and they, too, fall short at the crucial moment. That’s sport.”

Lance Klusener, who was the star of the 1999 World Cup in England, was not available for comment as he was on a flight from Bloemfontein to Durban with the Dolphins squad.

Klusener was involved in the infamous run-out at Edgbaston, Birmingham, with Allan Donald in the tied semi-final against Australia.

Proteas manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee, on Thursday described the title and front cover (showing the notorious Klusener and Donald run-out) as “unfortunate and misleading”. The “c-word” has been used, with increasing frequency, ever since SA notoriously tied their semifinal against Australia in the 1999 World Cup in England.

Because of previous results, Australia went through to the final, and beat Pakistan.

Moosajee said the current team had had its fair share of success over the past few years, particularly the fact that it had held the number one ranking in all three formats of the game at the same time.

“We are currently the No 1 ranked Test team and I think we can’t be judged because of past failures.”

Did he think it was embarrassing that a CSA employee had authored the book?

“That’s for the administrators to answer,” replied Moosajee. “I’m not in a position to answer that question.”

Alfred was appointed by the current chief executive, Jacques Faul, a decision sanction by the CSA board.

It is understood that his appointment was controversial within CSA circles after his highly critical coverage of the Gerald Majola bonus payments scandal.

The publication of the book comes at an awkward time, with the Proteas in the middle of a tough Test tour in Australia.

The squad is currently on a break before the second Test in Adelaide next Thursday, but it is understood that some are “infuriated” by the book. – Pretoria News

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