Saturday, December 05, 2009

You tacky thing

Remember this quote -

"I can't deny that fifty thousand pounds tempted me to join the English cricket rebels on their tour of South Africa. But one thought kept flashing across my mind: I could never have looked my mate Viv Richards in the eye this season..."

It was the quote that sealed Ian Botham's status as a hero amongst an entire generation of cricket fans in the early 80's - yet after it was published in The Sun, Botham was livid and said that he never authorised its publication, and Sir Geoffrey described the quote as 'puke-making' and said he'd never trust Botham again.

This is just one of a whole series of juicy revelations in an excellent new book by a bloke called Peter May (no, not that one) called 'The Rebel Tours - Cricket's crisis of conscience'. (Amazon link here)

The word conscience in the title is telling, because what soon becomes clear when reading it is that not one of the England players who went on one of the rebel tours (John Embuery went on both of them) had any conscience whatsoever, or at least were quite happy to sell it for the Krugerrand on offer.

Very few people come out of the story well - apart from Michael Holding and Vincent van der Bijl. It's a tale of venality, hypocrisy, blindness and cynicism, which is illustrated as early as the first paragraph of the Acknowledgments where there is this gem of a line -

'Numerous players across all tours were invited to contribute but ignored or declined my enquiries; only one offered the unimprovable, irony-free response, 'What's in it for me?'

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