Dr Ali Bacher and Gerald Majola, the past and current chiefs of South African cricket, yesterday hailed South Africa’s six-wicket victory over Australia in the first Test in Perth yesterday, calling it the greatest moment in South African cricket history.
Kevin McCallum writes in IOL that Majola, the CEO of Cricket South Africa, admitted he had tears “rolling down my face” shortly after JP Duminy scored the winning runs for South Africa at the Waca Ground yesterday morning.
“I’m still speechless, but these are tears of joy, tears of celebration. To see this team get what they deserve is the greatest day for us as South African cricket lovers,” said Majola. “It’s the best-ever Christmas present I have ever had. My mother, who I am very close to, even she has never been able to give me a present as good as this”.
Speaking in Perth shortly after the win, Graeme Smith, the team captain who scored a century on Saturday, agreed that he wanted to spread the festive joy: “We know there have been loads of people waking up early to watch and the support from back home has been outstanding,” said Smith. “I hope they take this as an early present and may they have a good Christmas and enjoy the festive time.”
Majola has been one of the stauncher supporters of captain Graeme Smith and coach Mickey Arthur. When Arthur and former CSA president Norman Arendse conflicted over the selection of the team, Majola backed Arthur up. Majola has also ensured that the team have wanted for nothing, providing them with one of the biggest support teams in world cricket, including former England coach Duncan Fletcher as a consultant.
“I have to thank the public for their support for the team, which has been overwhelming,” said Majola. “Importantly, I must thank my board for all the backing they have given me in providing this team with what they need. They have been unstinting in their belief that we have something special here. I’ve been in constant contact with Mickey and (after the fourth day) I told him that I had this funny feeling we would win this Test. He told me that we would win it.
“We have done what few other teams have done before and now we need to push on and win the series. Then we will host them here next year for a wonderful series. Mickey has been working for this since he took over as coach. The plan was to beat Australia in Australia and become the number one Test-playing nation in the world. If you look at what this team has achieved this year already, with the series in India, the win over England in England, they believe in themselves.”
A bone of contention in South African and, indeed, international cricket circles, has been how Australia have hogged the lucrative Boxing Day and New Year’s Day part of the calendar. Majola said that would change.
This will be the last day we play them on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day in Australia,” said Majola. “We have told them that we are not going to play there on those days again, unless there is a rotation. It’s only fair that we play them in front of South African cricket fans over the holiday period as well.”
Bacher, who played in South Africa’s 3-1 Test series win over Australia in the 1966/67 season, and then captained them to a 4-0 series win three years later, described it as South Africa’s “best win ever”.
“This is South Africa’s finest ever cricketing moment. To chase down 414 is a tremendous achievement,” said Bacher, “Graeme has done extraordinarily well as captain and batsman. His batting under such tremendous pressure with a bad elbow speaks volumes for the man. I’ve always been an admirer of his and he has grown since he became captain at just 22 years of age. Can we win the series? Yes. I said before the Test that Australia are no longer invincible. If South Africa show the same spirit and application they did in Perth then there is no reason they cannot win the series.”Tweet