For some time I have lived under the
incorrect assumption that health-related issues played a significant role in
the departure from SuperSport cricket commentary cubicles of veteran sage Robin
But then, early in the New Year, I bumped
into the affectionately-nicknamed “Silver Fox” at my local convenience store
and was gratified to hear him pronounce himself “fine, absolutely fine” after
his already-reported battle with throat cancer in 2012.
Indeed, so fine that he confided he’d be
right up for a microphone gig ... if only he could get one.
The only time I’ve heard his agreeably
gravelly voice more recently has been in occasional radio advertisements where
he laudably draws attention to Mercy Ships, the international charity operating
a hospital vessel that provides vital medical care in places on the planet
where it is in notably short supply.
But in his staple, lifelong passion of
cricket? Jackman’s presence in the SuperSport ranks has completely dried up,
both in domestic and international match terms.
He confirmed, diplomatically but with a
certain hard-to-hide ruefulness, that he “was retired” by the Randburg-based
broadcaster (crucially, I surmise, as opposed to “had retired from”).
Perhaps he has somehow been deemed too old
at 71, but since when has age been an impediment to wisdom and rich value in
the fine art of cricket commentary?
Remember it’s a game that appeals to all
ages, for various reasons, better than most ... and India-born Jackman has a
veritable trove of memories always worth hearing. The former England seamer has
played, coached and/or commentated at lofty levels all over the planet.
His associations with South African cricket
itself are lengthy, going back to a heyday for the Currie Cup, and seldom less
than wholly enthusiastic, either.
When they have the likes of Messrs Holding,
Wessels, Haysman and Pollock at their service - the case for much of the
current Sri Lankan series - SuperSport naturally aren’t shy of quality and
expertise in the booth.
But I also firmly believe, now knowing the
truer reasons for his absence, that space could and should be found anew for
Jackman – and arguably more urgently at franchise level where certain new or
“experimental” voices, alas, sound about as droning as a squad of road-repair
machines disturbing your sleep with their monotonous rumbling on a nearby
Let me add, too, that the Sport24 desk has
fielded inquiries again this season about his dormancy ...
Rob’s weekend awesome foursome:
South Africa v Sri Lanka, third cricket Test, Johannesburg, daily to Monday - 10:00
CSN & SABC3
The combination of Hashim Amla’s 100th
Test match and the Proteas’ pleasing decision (to my mind, anyway) to sacrifice
a spinner and facilitate a first peek at tearaway Duanne Olivier at this level,
more than makes up for the fact that this is a dead-rubber affair. Let’s not
forget that it is also the last chance to see the national side in whites at
home this summer, as a full tour of New Zealand is not too far away in
February/March. Weather prospects for the two weekend days – especially
Saturday – looked a little dicey, which may regrettably impact on gates. But
perhaps the game will be well advanced, as they say, by then anyway?
Open golf, Johannesburg, daily to Sunday - 09:45
(but SS6 from Sat)
“Just incredible the number of people
streaming into Glendower to see one Northern Irishman smack a little white ball
around,” tweeted one seasoned golf scribe who’d clearly got in early on the
opening day of the Open. No prizes for guessing the reference to the swift cult
following commanded by a certain Rory McIlroy! His presence has unquestionably
done wonders for the appeal of the latest edition of this time-honoured event,
and few will be complaining if he isn’t hugely in the title picture at an
advanced stage of Sunday …
United v Liverpool, English Premiership soccer, Manchester, Sunday - 18:00
Of course ardent football fans will also be
monitoring the start of AFCON 2017 in Gabon, but it is minus Bafana Bafana, and
I have little doubt many South Africans will be hugely diverted on Sunday
evening by the tasty matter of Man Utd v Liverpool, an enduring fierce rivalry
in the Premiership. Spicing the occasion more is that second-placed ‘Pool seem
genuine title contenders this season. Meanwhile the Red Devils may be as many
as 10 points off leaders Chelsea in sixth, but they are on a run of six matches
with maximum points to boast, so this toughie comes at a pretty good time for
them. Tip? Sorry, nothing more adventurous from me than 1-1.
v England, first one-day international cricket, Pune, Sunday - 10:00
Admittedly conditions in this series should
differ significantly from those looming in a jam-packed English summer, but the
three-game roster will nevertheless be of bigger than usual interest to the
Proteas and their supporters given what is upcoming in mid-year for the
national side. SA play England away in a bilateral ODI series, and then go
straight into the Champions Trophy in the same country – yes, another
opportunity to try to bury that lingering ICC major-tournament bogey. Keeping
an eye on the Indian limited-overs side is also relevant because that team
provides the opposition in one of the group games at the event for AB de
Villiers and company. It is the possibly decisive closing one at The Oval on
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing