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An intoxicating day to remember

I remember the 10th of November 1991 vividly. Midmorning I started to prepare for what promised to be an extended, enjoyable and undisturbed occasion. A handful of mates were coming around and I busied myself with important chores as beers needed to be chilled and seasoned lamb primed for the Weber. The plan was to thoroughly enjoy a momentous occasion and celebrate joyously with quantities of golden neck oil as we were enthralled by happenings from afar.

The time was soon upon us and my couch was filled with some thirsty teammates from my Northern Transvaal playing days. The lamb was slow-cooking to perfection and the air was punctuated by that familiar irresistible aroma. Apricot-seasoned lamb was always a winner, unless you were a vegetarian like the Perfumed Steamroller! All was set and it was then that I ignited my recently purchased television set.

The unmistakable dulcet tones of Trevor Quirk engulfed the air as glasses were raised to what seemed a miraculous happening. There we all were, transfixed on what was beaming into my living room from the giggle box. The grainy pictures made identifying familiar players a little testing. That didn’t matter. ‘India was bound to be dry and dusty’, one lone voice chirped. Another added that ‘of course the pictures won’t be clear from the other side of the planet’. We strained our eyes and took it all in as though this was the first time we had ever seen such a sight. It was. It was true international readmission to a game we were slaves to. It was marvellous.

We were captivated as we watched fanatical scenes from Eden Gardens in Calcutta as an historic one-dayer was about to unfold. We simply were astounded. Nearly 100 000 people were crammed into what appeared to be a dilapidated stadium that offered little comfort to spectators. Thousands of miles away we were okay. The beers were ice cold and the lamb was cooked. Even my white bull-terrier was beside himself with excitement about this occasion, or so I thought, until I realised our wicketkeeper was clandestinely feeding him biltong.

We watched enthralled as South Africa batted first and simply did not get enough runs. We witnessed the grit of Wessels as he almost single-handedly ensured some sort of total was posted. Later we screamed and shouted and toasted the brilliance of a young gun we had all faced. We welcomed the explosion of Donald to the world stage. We did that five times as he ripped the heart out of the Indian top order.

Ah yes … I remember it well. The heady, intoxicating days when South Africa were championed unconditionally and absolutely by India and welcomed back to the international stage after decades of isolation. The mutual respect, camaraderie and solidarity were there for all to witness and admire.

That was then.

I was looking forward to 24 intense days of riveting cricket against the brilliance of that foe this summer and all that would be absorbed over an invigorating 60 days. If I am lucky now, I might get 13 days.

How sad.

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