Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cricket's 20/20 minnows getting raw deal

Dear Haroon Lorgat, Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council,
         You and the rest of your Council are bowling underhand googlies to the minnows of cricket. You can’t get more unfair than that?
         The Twenty 20 World Cup needs to be revamped completely.
         You opened this year’s tournament in Sri Lanka with a match that was complete rubbish because the teams were so mismatched. And spectators and millions of TV watchers around the world still had to look forward to another seven of these one sided games. 
         As the hosts Sri Lanka set the ball rolling with a pathetic match, which was hardly a great advertisement for this version of the game. They thrashed Zimbabwe by something like 80 runs in the format of the game where even the very best sides seldom score 200 in an innings.
This was followed by one humiliation after another for the lesser teams.
         Zimbabwe got an even bigger thumping in their second match when South Africa reached their meagre 93 without losing a wicket. So they found themselves knocked out completely when some teams hadn’t yet played a match.
Brendon Taylor & AB de Villiers
         Brendon Taylor Zim’s best batsman, his side’s wicket keeper and skipper made a duck against Sri Lanka and a miserable 3 facing South Africa. The Zimbabwe Herald described the batting as downright kindergarten stuff.
New Zealand beat Bangladesh by 59 runs. Ireland scraped together 123 for seven wickets, which was easily passed by Australia for the loss of just three wickets.
         Afghanistan showed a glimmer of hope for the underdogs against India. But deplorable catching let them down and they lost by 23 runs. In their next match against England the wheels came off completely with England hammering 196 for a win by 113 runs.
         You can imagine how these losers must have felt. Sorry I don’t think you can, otherwise you wouldn’t have put together such an unequal contest.
         The huge areas of vacant stands testified to how wrong you have got it. And for us TV watchers it was equally depressing seeing cart horses in the same races as high priced thoroughbreds.
         You start with four sections each consisting of two high power teams and one rabbit and they have to play one another in their sections to decide which eight go on to the next round. And as the rabbits have virtually no chance of winning, all they can realistically expect is to have their already poor self esteem crushed even further before being put on a plane home, when the tournament hasn't even reached the halfway stage.
         Is this really the best way to encourage the growth of cricket in the countries where it is still in its infancy?
         Why not have two parallel tournaments, one for the eight top ranked teams and the other one for the eight best minnows. This would introduce an element of real competition in all the matches and make it far more likely that all the games would be worth watching.
         And more importantly it would allow the members of the lesser teams to come away with their pride intact and a determination to go on promoting the game in their respective countries.
The International Rugby Board’s, Sevens World Series has got the right idea. It has a Cup Final with finals for lower level trophies so that teams of different standards have a reasonable chance of avoiding having to return home empty handed.
         Jon, MD of the Sports Ideas Factory, whose only knowledge of cricket is that a Chinaman is a ball that goes through the chink between the stumps.

P.S In the picture of South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers (in green) consoling Brendon Taylor, the Zim captain looks on the verge of tears like all of us. These matches were a crying shame and a blot on the game.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lindy Widan, better than the best dentist ever

Dear Dental Patients,
Dr Lindy Widan was the best dentist ever after she phoned me the day after she had taken a tooth out just to make sure I wasn’t bleeding to death.
         Now she’s better than the best dentist ever.
         How many doctors do you know who happily correct their mistakes free of charge?
         Not many I bet.
         Well that’s the kind of thing our Lindy does.
         I had a very rocky molar which had to come out. These things happen when you are 95. And hidden by the tooth was a pointed piece of bone which I only noticed a few days after the extraction and the gum had healed over it.
         No problem Lindy had me in the chair once again to remove the protrusion free of charge. And boy did she battle. Most people would have said my mouth was more than big enough but Lindy had a job getting the bone cutter or whatever they are called into my trap.
         Shortly afterwards she sent me to their dental hygienist by mistake too soon after my last appointment. The result was I arrived to be told my medical aid would only pay if I had it done months later.
         Medical aids are never short of reasons not to pay. But of course they are always looking after the interests of their members.
         No problem Lindy, who has her rooms in the Medicross Medical Centre in the Tokai suburb of Cape Town, agreed to do it herself for free. As I said to her when I arrived, Aren't you sick of treating me for nothing. I hope you haven't got behind with your bond.
         If every doctor followed Lindy’s shining example it would only enhance a profession that has too many practitioners thinking more about money than the welfare of their patients.
         Thanks again Lindy, you are a STAR.
         Jon, who is not exactly a dentist’s gold mine because his Fangs ain’t what they used to be and there are not many left. 
P.S. It's not Lindy in the picture but I needed an illustration.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mandela Money Scandal

Dear Poor People of South Africa,
         You may not know it but you are very much in the majority in this once first world country that your African National Congress Government has stuffed almost out of sight in just 18 years. So voting them out is the only way to improve your lot.
         All your leaders are good at is feathering their own nests and promising you houses and all kinds of services when they know they have no intention of providing them.
         It’s obvious to everyone except the fat cats in your Government that you have now had enough of broken promises, not to mention all the corruption that has seen the money that should have been spent on uplifting you being stolen on a massive scale.
         At various places all over the country you are trashing the place; setting fire to Government buildings and rampaging through the streets because you are so sick and tired of having your pleas for basic services ignored.
Monument to waste
         But still your blinkered Government won’t see or listen.
         It has just announced a new series of bank notes, none of which will do you any good. They have Nelson Mandela’s head on them which the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gill Marcus claimed reflects South Africa’s pride as a nation and pays tribute to a much loved icon.
         What utter rubbish. They don’t pay tribute to him at all. They merely remind us of how his ANC Party has, in the 13 years since he stepped down as the country’s first black president, destroyed all that he stood for. 
         Even something as mundane as the issuing of these notes was a slap in the face for you poor people because the Reserve Bank decided to waste R32-million on a communications campaign for them.
         Yes that’s right R32-million. That could have built 700 or more decent houses for you people currently living in tin shacks, or it could have been used in other ways to better your lives.
         Had Nelson Mandela still been President instead of an ailing 94 year old do you think he would have wasted money like this on notes that everybody will have to use anyway, when so many of you are starving, without homes or jobs.
         And to mock Mandela’s legacy even further who do you think the Reserve Bank had posing for pictures to promote this icon’s image? None other than our current President Jacob Zuma and Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, both of whom have a record of appalling morality that is the very antithesis of what Mandela stood for.
         The two of them could not have done more to destroy everything that Nelson Mandela stood for.
Zuma a man to bank on
         Zuma, who became President in 2009, has the following achievements to put beside Mandela’s. He was acquitted of rape in 2005 and in the same year he was sacked as Deputy President by his predecessor after corruption allegations surfaced in connection with the country’s $5-billion weapons acquisition deal. Charges were dropped just in time for him to become president on the grounds that there had been political interference.
         Winnie’s CV sinks even deeper into the mire.  In 1991 she was convicted of kidnapping and assault after one of her apartheid activist, associates was murdered. On appeal her six year jail sentence was reduced to a fine and a two year suspended jail term. The 1997 Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that the abduction and murder by her body guards had been carried out on her instructions and that she had initiated and participated in assaults. But as far as the murder was concerned she had merely been negligent.
Gill Marcus & Winnie in the money
In 1994 she became Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture in the country’s first black government. Just 11 months later corruption allegations surfaced and she was dismissed. In 2003 she was convicted of 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft and sentenced to five years in jail. She escaped being locked up once again on appeal when a Judge decided she should only get a three year suspended prison sentence because her crimes were not for personal gain.
 As a current ANC member of Parliament she earns nearly R800 000 a year, but is notorious for hardly ever attending Parliament. The Independent Electoral Commission allowed her to run in the 2009 general election despite her fraud conviction.
 Of course it had nothing to do with the fact that she had such a large following among you poor people that she was known as the Mother of the Nation and the ANC needed her vote catching ability.
It’s time you understood that South Africa has nothing to be proud of if these two are the best roll models the Reserve Bank could muster to launch the face of  Nelson Mandela.
Just what the R32-million will be spent on remains to be seen. But if history is anything to go by a lot of it could end up in the pockets of rich ANC big-wigs.
As sure as hell none of your protesting masses will see a cent of it.
Jon, who intends sticking up one of the notes as a reminder of how not to run a country.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Paralympics - the most baffling sporting event ever

Who won, do you think?

Dear Paralympics viewers,
         This must be the most baffling sporting event ever.
         It’s got nothing to do with the competitors who deserve every accolade they can get for the gutsy way they put themselves on the world stage of the London Paralympics.
         But if they are quite happy to do this what’s the point in having television commentators telling us viewers that they don’t like to dwell on the disabilities of the competitors by explaining exactly what is going on.
         Don’t they realise that by entering these games all the athletes are doing their level best to be treated as normal people and as such they don’t need the protection of condescending TV experts.
         The result is that viewers are left scratching their heads when they see a race on the track with what appears to be two perfectly able-bodied woman running miles ahead of the following pack of obviously blind athletes each attached to their own guide to keep them on the right track.
         It was hardly a surprise that the two in front got gold and silver with one of the attached runners coming in a distant third for a bronze. Imagine what an outcry there would have been in the most recent Olympic Games if Usain Bolt had been forced to run tied to another athlete to even up the odds for the other runners.
         The Paralympics race I have just referred was just as absurd. How do you think the completely blind runners must have felt knowing that they were in an event in which their handicap ensured that they had absolutely no chance of winning gold? Yet nobody, including the commentators, seem to have seen anything wrong in this travesty of fair play.  
         In a shot-put event a huge Russian wins gold ahead of two much smaller men. He stands towering above them to receive his medal while they sit in their wheelchairs (See Pic). It looked like another shocking match by the organisers.
         In the swimming the unexplained races made the games even more difficult to understand. Two women who can walk are beaten for gold by one in a wheelchair. A one armed man wins when all his rivals have two arms.
         And on the track a double amputee woman, blade runner gets gold ahead of another one who had lost only one leg.
         You could go on and on about how athletes with very different disabilities often found themselves competing with one another.       
         You would think that if you have the whole world to choose from you would be able to put like with like otherwise we might as well just have one Olympic Games for everybody, because even in the games for the able-bodied the majority of athletes compete knowing they haven’t a hope of getting a medal.
         Jon, a Fair Play Advocate who has won numerous Olympic Golds – in his dreams.