Rob Houwing

Parnell to curb his wild side

2010-08-13 08:16
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

It would appear that Wayne Parnell, one of South African cricket’s brightest prospects, is back on-side.

The left-arm seamer, who may yet develop into a fully-fledged all-rounder for the country, made some unusually frank confessions during a mini-bonanza of cricket coverage on SuperSport 2 earlier this week.

First the channel had a live special programme at the event launch of the Airtel Champions League Twenty20, which then switched straight into a more routine broadcast of Standard Bank Inside Edge on Tuesday.

That industrious jack-of-all-trades Arnold Geerdts anchored the latter programme in the absence of Pommie Mbangwa, who was on duty at the typically glitzy launch of the looming T20 competition but later contributed to Inside Edge as a roving presence, still from the Sandton venue.

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of the double whammy, however, came while Parnell was among a cluster of Warriors and Lions players (they’re the duo of South African sides in the Champions League) “on the couch” with Mbangwa.

It’s not every day that you get the likes of non-internationals Werner Coetsee and Justin Kreusch providing cricketing insights on the telly, and the latter, in particular, came across as refreshingly bright and articulate.

But Proteas star Parnell still managed to steal the show, speaking with surprising candour about his self-confessed “ill-discipline” problems of last summer, when his issues included a one-match SuperSport Series suspension for “disciplinary reasons dealt with internally”.

Clearly the injured player, unable to represent the Warriors at the Champions League because of his months-long groin trouble (he is tipped to finally return to full steam in October) went through a bit of a “wild child” phase.

A tongue-in-cheek Mbangwa, for instance, kept asking him to what extent he would be part of the “party vibe” while Port Elizabeth hosts some games in the tournament, and Parnell, with a coy smile, kept emphasising he’d be “home early” and so on.

A little more seriously, though, the recently-turned 21-year-old – and youngest cricketer ever to get a CSA contract – revealed that he had done some “months of soul-searching” during his inactivity.

He said, among other things, he was “wiser now” and had “turned over a new leaf”.

If the former SA U19 captain is serious in that regard, both the Proteas and Warriors should see some fine spinoffs from Parnell in 2010/11 …

Rob’s awesome foursome:

1. PGA Championship golf
Kohler, to Sunday, mostly 20:00, CSN, SS2 & HD

Whistling Straits … somehow the name of this course conjures up images straight away of bent-over trees and buckled umbrellas in a wild wind, doesn’t it? Of course South Africa’s fast-rising Louis Oosthuizen, the Open champion, won’t mind a spirited breeze coming in off Lake Michigan, given the Mossel Bay youngster’s confidence in such conditions. It was interesting to note, though, that GreatOdds still had veteran Ernie Els (25/1) as our likeliest winner of the year’s last Major, with the “Goose” (28/1) also ahead of Oosthuizen at 50/1. Will we see Tiger’s current agony continue? This’ll be great watching, rain or shine …

2. Leopards v Sharks, Absa Currie Cup rugby
Rustenburg, Friday 19:10, SS1, CSN & HD

I still can’t quite bring myself to give the Lions a star billing (they’re improving, but nevertheless losing!), so instead of their Saturday date with the Cheetahs my pick is the unsung Leopards’ daring bid to upset the visiting Sharks in the Friday evening feature. They were extremely gutsy in bagging two log points in a 43-38 defeat to the Bulls at Loftus in the last round, after all. But can they lift themselves all over again? I’m not so sure, especially as the Sharks have some welcome flair back in their game and should get in comfortably enough. “Beast” on the bench with Pat Cilliers starting at No 1 is a wee mystery to me, though …
3. Western Province v Blue Bulls, Absa Currie Cup rugby
Cape Town, Saturday 17:05, M-Net, SS1 & HD

Ah, perfect timing. It’s a gap weekend in the Vodacom Tri-Nations, so a Province-Bulls match-up in the Currie Cup is just what the doctor ordered by way of prime-time compensation for oval-ball enthusiasts. On paper, you would think the log-leading WP will snatch this one, especially with their pack considerably less disrupted by Bok absenteeism than the visiting one. But complacency can be a killer, and it’s hard to imagine any Bulls side coming to Cape Town with mere belly-up intentions. A rosy gate is expected, and I have to tip Anton van Zyl’s troops … though they may not quite manage a bonus point here.

4. Liverpool v Arsenal, English Premiership soccer
Liverpool, Sunday 17:00, SS3, HD2 & Maximo

Laugh all you like about the demise of the England national team at the recent World Cup: it won’t have stripped much gloss off the 2010/11 Premiership, which starts this weekend and will be followed as obsessively as ever around the planet. By the time you read this, SuperSport’s 24-hours-a-day High Definition coverage of the “Prem” will probably have kicked in (the start was scheduled for 13:00 on Friday), on SS HD2. The Joe Cole-beefed Reds v Gunners is probably the most attractive weekend fixture, as champions Chelsea have a fairly low-key start at home to promoted West Brom. Mind you, pre-season has been notably poor for the Blues, so the Baggies may cheekily target a point. But oughtn’t get it, eh?

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