Rob Houwing

SABC's silly CWC blunder

2011-03-25 07:59
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

For a while, it looked as though the much-maligned SABC was going to earn a broad level of praise over its generous free-to-air screenings of live Cricket World Cup matches.

Let’s face it, there are many, many countries either showing very little live CWC activity or none at all on standard TV, instead those with the luxury of satellite television commanding a monopoly of the match-day entertainment.

It was always known (correct me if I am wrong?) just ahead of the tournament that Auckland Park would show live some two thirds of games, with a heavy emphasis on Proteas fixtures – all of those – and fellow African challengers Zimbabwe and Kenya.

And the SABC coverage has mostly been quite decent, if you factor in the “extras” like studio discussion ahead of, during and after live action.

The ultra-confident, articulate and vivacious Kass Naidoo has done much of their Jo’burg anchoring, even if there is good reason to query the appropriateness of a pretty senior employee of Cricket South Africa performing that role and deftly using the opportunity to bang the “Pure Protea” drum ... more about that another time, maybe?

But the quarter-finals suddenly became a bit of a grey area (I suspect rather unnecessarily so) and quickly enraged SABC viewers as they discovered via a rolling message across the bottom of the screen, while they settled expectantly into their comfy chairs, that “due to contractual obligations” the first two QFs (Pakistan v West Indies and India v Australia) could not be shown.

Newspapers quoted SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago as saying they “only found out this week” which quarter-finals they could show, in terms of negotiations with chief South African broadcast rights holders SuperSport.

At least he confirmed that the remaining two “quarters” (including vitally South Africa v New Zealand) would, indeed, go out live on terrestrial TV.

But two questions here: first, how come finalisation of the quarter-finals deal came so late, considering that the dates had been known for donkey’s years? (Permutations could have been done if necessary to work out who would be playing who, even if the participating teams were unclear at the time of discussions.)

And secondly, surely there ought to have been time enough for SABC to get a bit of a public relations charm offensive together, alerting various media – including this known regular sports television columnist, for instance! – that although the first two QFs would not be shown, the hallowed Proteas would get their guaranteed time in the TV sun?
(That very assurance would have appeased many people fast.)

Funnily enough, it’s SABC 3’s non-sports watchers I feel the most sorry for, because instead of plugging the several-hours-long Wednesday and Thursday vacancies with more “normal” programming, they instead showed full versions all over again of much earlier CWC matches.

The word “crackpot” does come to mind ...

Rob’s awesome foursome:

1. South Africa v New Zealand, World Cup cricket quarter-final
Dhaka, Friday 10:30, SS2, CSN, SHD & SABC3

Three red-letter matches from glory! That elusive trophy seems so close for the near machine-like Proteas ... but of course it is also so far away, with just one “pothole” along the knockout way capable of breaking their ankles and hearts. It will be a bitter disappointment if they bow out to the limited but never-to-be-underestimated Black Caps: just imagine the furore it will generate back home. The funny thing is that, win or lose, South Africa appear to be a team on the ODI “up” again. But it will count for nothing among the peanut gallery, for whom it’s ICC silverware or bust. No pressure then, lads. For the record, I believe Graeme Smith’s team will win with relative comfort. 

2. South Africa v Egypt, Afcon soccer qualifier
Johannesburg, Saturday 20:05, SABC1

Here’s hoping Ellis Park is heaving for a Bafana Bafana (well, for the time being) game of real consequence, and that a bit of the World Cup 2010 magic is recaptured in the process at one of the key tournament venues a year ago. Just a reminder of where theses teams stand in FIFA rankings terms: Egypt lie 35th, with only Ghana (16th) and Ivory Coast (25th) the African outfits ahead of them. South Africa are 46th, although between Saturday’s protagonists lie a five-strong flock of other continental challengers. I have an unusually chipper feeling about this one for Bafana ...

3. Australian F1 Grand Prix, motorsport  
Melbourne, Sunday 08:00, SS2, SHD & Maximo

F1 fans must be particularly revved up for the belated season opener, considering the Bahrain disappointment. But now the real deal has finally arrived, and expect a strong turnout for the street circuit spectacle at Albert Park in sport-crazy Melbourne as Red Bull’s already confident-sounding Sebastian Vettel opens his defence of the driver’s title. Those who know the Victorian metropolis will also know that four seasons are possible in one day, and at very short notice, but when I last looked the prospect was cool, partly cloudy and calm weather so it ought not be a lotto-like splash-fest and we’ll get a proper early idea of favourites for the campaign ...

4. Crusaders v Sharks, Vodacom Super Rugby
London, Sunday 17:00, SS1, CSN & SHD

Some readers will know that I rather solidly tipped the Sharks, in pre-season, to be the best-performing South African side in the competition. That little Chiefs hiccup hasn’t helped my cause – nor, indeed, has the Stormers’ unbeaten status thus far! – and now John Smit and company go into battle against a bang-in-form Crusaders outfit at neutral, novel Twickenham. The Cantabrians were awesome in trouncing the Highlanders by around 30 points last time out, so here’s hoping if you’re a Sharks fan that they experienced a mini-peak there! Presently Lambie-less, the men from Durban will do well to edge this one ... but if they do, their title valuation will have been done no harm at all.

Read more on:    cwc

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