Sunday, July 13, 2008

Say Hello to the Hero

There are some sporting events that for whatever reason stick in your memory never to be forgotten. My earliest such memory was the phenomenal run out of Inzamam Ul Haq by a then relatively unknown South African named Jonty Rhodes. I was watching the 1992 cricket World Cup game in 2 Tobi Lodge in Sea Point, next to my late Granny, when Jonty took off like superman to get Ul Haq out (see here). I went crazy and naturally, Granny was ecstatic as another Pakistani wicket had been taken. South Africa went on to win the match by 20 runs and Jonty's run out would be the start of his meteoric ascent to being arguably cricket's greatest ever fielder. Ever since that play, he's been my favorite cricketer and I had followed his career eagerly.

So when Haaretz printed an article about Jonty playing for the Israeli team in a 3 game series against India A in July, I immediately made plans with a close mate to be a part of at least one of those games. The first game was scheduled for July 13th, a Sunday, and we decided that would be the game we'd attend. We arrived at the game at 10:30 and until we left 6.5 hours later, Gidon & I had a blast.

From offering Jonty a beer ("It's not Castle but it's not bad"), to discussing his famous run out ("I tripped on my shoelaces"), to being the only noisy fans (out of around 200-250 spectators), to being interviewed for the Jerusalem Post (see relevant 'clipping' below, or click here), to being filmed & interviewed as the 'English hooligans' for Channel 2 (the short clip, here) and Channel 5+ (pics & video below, sorry about the quality!), to asking the Irish umpire if he heard us ("Course we heard you, we heard 'Oh it's all gone quiet over there' loud and clear!"), to offering the German umpire bamba ("This stuff is pretty good!", he got the rest of the bag after the game), to chatting with Adam Bacher ("You guys are great, thanks for the support"), to getting a 10 person wave with an old man participating ("Let them make more noise, it's part of the game," Stanley Perlman, the Israeli Cricket Association's chairman, claimed) to losing our voices cheering throughout both games, it was just a lovely testament to a fantastic, albeit one sided, game.

As for me, I got to meet and chat with one of my childhood heroes ... What a great ambassador to the game ... Come on Jonty!

From the Jerusalem Post:

One supporter, Avram Piha from Jerusalem, is a native of Cape Town. "I've been a huge fan of Jonty since I was a kid, so I had to come," he said. "It's great that a world class player came to Israel to help the sport grow."

Piha helped to lead a small but enthusiastic cheering section. He admitted, "the fan base is small, and foreign-born, but events like this help."

From the 5+ interview

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