Rob Houwing

Klusener is SABC's surprise

2011-02-11 09:13
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

The SABC have pulled a rabbit from the hat with their revelation that Lance Klusener will be among their studio analysts at cricket’s imminent World Cup.

What? Is that the very same “Zulu” who used to be fearful of saying boo before the bright lights of the TV cameras whenever he won man-of-the-match and had to reluctantly abandon his reclusive intentions?

I recall from my days in the magazine world, too, how tricky it could be to try to coax the explosive all-rounder into doing a cover shoot; often he would only agree as long as certain conditions were met, like ensuring that it was a pretty orthodox cricketing rather than more racy “lifestyle” theme.

You got the sense while the photographer snapped away that he’d way prefer to have been on some remote KZN river with his beloved fishing rod, but I must add that whenever the camera had disappeared and I sat down to a quiet one-on-on interview with him, he could be both insightful and articulate. I would never have branded him “difficult” as such.

So it may prove a gamble worth taking by the national broadcaster and I, for one, will be intrigued to see whether ex-Country Districts boy Lance, now 39, gets to make any cutting observations during the event about the current Proteas squad boasting nobody remotely like him as a power-hitter down the order.

The Knights’ long-serving seamer Victor Mpitsang is another fairly bashful element to the SABC pundit mix for the World Cup, so anchor David O’Sullivan could have his work cut out getting these two to become animated!

At least there will be no such problems from hard-nosed Ray “Jet” Jennings and ever-bubbly Neil Johnson.

The SABC say they will “carry” 32 of the 49 World Cup matches, including all South African games live, which is obviously great news for non-DStv people, although reading between the lines it seems some “delayed live” occasions may be included.

Meanwhile Pommie Mbangwa and Robin Jackman being saturation provider SuperSport’s on-site representatives among the international commentary team assembled for the event was confirmed when that organisation hosted a dinner for various invited media in Bryanston this week – fittingly at an Indian eaterie.

It was a convivial evening with “The Raj” – you know, the guy who does the “Dale Steyn” and other dance moves as part of SuperSport’s promotion of the World Cup – hamming it up a bit.

I suspect he’ll have rather cooked his goose with the telly-watching public by the end of the marathon tournament, but perhaps that’s just my premature observation ...

Up-and-coming Derek Alberts, not yet the finished article as a microphone front-man but always personable and suitably motor-mouthed, handled an impromptu Q ‘n A with former South African World Cup captains Shaun Pollock and Kepler Wessels. For those who don’t know, Wessels has been indulging his second big passion to a healthy degree with his work behind a boxing mike; he was ringside with Brian Mitchell recently at the Baby Jake tribute event.

He confirmed to me that was always willing to do his bit for South African boxing if cricket commitments didn’t get in the way, and is also not averse to still giving the “bag” a pounding himself from time to time.

Remarkably lean and sinewy at 53, I reckon they could have done worse than appointed Kepler, a tough taskmaster, Benni McCarthy’s crash-course fitness trainer many moons ago ...

Rob’s awesome foursome:

1. Dolphins v Cobras, Standard Bank Pro20 cricket
Durban, Friday 18:00, SS2 & CSN

This is an appealing, top-of-table clash between the only teams to boast two victories thus far, although the Cobras – three outings beneath their belts -- have played an extra match and did suffer that solitary defeat against the Lions at the Wanderers. Just a reminder that Saturday’s South Africa v Zimbabwe World Cup warm-up is not being televised, but the Sunday clash between India and Australia is live on SS6 at 11:00. Apparently SuperSport were at the mercy of host broadcasters in not being able to screen the Proteas’ clash with their main African rivals, but the other game is spicier anyway and ought to provide a pointer to conditions in the tournament proper.

2. Stormers v Boland, pre-season rugby friendly
Cape Town, Saturday 18:00, SS2 & CSN

This Western Cape derby should get a few bums on Newlands seats, even if it will be a relief when Super Rugby hostilities finally break out a few days yonder! Allister Coetzee has seemed happy not to field a “first team” in pre-season activity -- the wisdom or otherwise of that may be revealed when his charges a little belatedly open their real-deal account later in the month. This is another experimental combo, although old favourites Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers get a gallop. Ireland v France in the Six Nations is a good alternative on SS1 at 17:00 if you fancy something just a tad more “competitive” on Saturday ...

3. Manchester United v Manchester City, English Premiership soccer
Old Trafford, Saturday 14:45, SS3, SH2 & Maximo

If this is half as exciting as last season’s equivalent derby meeting (4-3 to United after Michael Owen’s late, late clincher) it will still be good value. Third-placed City are five points behind their great foes and have also played an extra game, so victory has got to be their firm quest, you would think. Will leaders United still be shell-shocked from the Wolves reverse? Nah, the mere scent of a blue jersey will get their combative juices flowing. Oh yes, a reminder of a prime Wednesday attraction: Arsenal v Barcelona in a Champions League first leg round-of-16 tie (21:45, SS3, SHD & Maximo).

4. Orlando Pirates v Mamelodi Sundowns, PSL soccer
Soweto, Saturday 20:15, SABC1, SS4 & SHD

As things stand, it’s the perfect match-up as top-placed Pirates entertain nearest rivals Sundowns in a massively influential game. The Buccaneers are three points ahead, after 19 matches each, but if ‘Downs can win here they will also seize the lead because their goal difference is slightly better. Both outfits come off league wins, and Teko Modise quickly face to face with his old club adds further needle. Pirates edged the first-round meeting 2-1; a repeat would be a hammer-blow to Sundowns’ title challenge. Tighten your seatbelts.


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