Busiest man in broadcasting?

2011-11-11 09:19

Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

I sometimes wonder how Neil Manthorp, as prominent a multi-tasker as you will find in cricket media worldwide, does it.

He is one of those journalists who wears a variety of caps on international match-day: alternating between TV and radio commentary booths for the SABC (clearly, like me, he appreciates the fine qualities that still exist in radio ball-by-ball), occasionally scuttling up to the media centre to bash out a piece on his laptop, and also fielding short-notice calls on his smart-phone from radio stations across the planet firing questions at him if there’s been especially high drama at the game he’s at.

Of course Thursday’s 23-wicket frenzy in the South Africa v Australia Test at Newlands had us all on the statistical/landmark hop – even Cricinfo stuttered and threatened to crash at times during the carnage – so I can only imagine it was a particularly active day for “Manners”.

Oh yes, and just for good measure he nonchalantly presented me and a few other hacks with hot-off-press copies of his latest (there have been a few), 350-page book on the game: “The Proteas: 20 Years, 20 Landmark Matches 1991-2011” (Mercury).

Compiled over the course of several months – and involving lots of “phone and email harassing”, as he puts it, of players, ex-players, coaches and administrators – it brings back to life anecdotally many of the national team’s headiest days since the return from isolation.

Of course his choice of games was always going to be a subjective exercise, but there aren’t many surprise omissions I can think of from his eventual pick, and I am pleased to be able to say that “I was there” for at least four of them, including the drama of Edgbaston ’99 at the World Cup and South Africa’s first new-era Test match against the West Indies at Barbados in 1992 – a particularly treasured experience.

Manthorp himself has covered more than 30 overseas tours with the Proteas and every home series in the past 20 years, so is ideally qualified for the task.

I promise I’m not just saying this because I know him well: it’s a good memento to place on the shelf for people who have followed the national team’s sometimes smooth, sometimes severely potholed road since 1991.

There are some nice-touch, “different” perspectives, too, like his getting Ros Goldin, CSA’s former head of marketing, to recall through her eyes the fatal Kingsmead run calculation botch-up at our maiden home-staged World Cup in 2003 and the impact the Proteas’ sorrowful exit had on their foundations and plans for it.

The book was unveiled on Thursday, even as jaw-dropping events took place at Newlands, and to mark exactly 20 years since that first ODI against India in Kolkata with Clive Rice at the helm.

Er, rapid little revised edition, Neil? 

Rob’s Awesome Foursome:
1 South Africa v Australia, 1st cricket Test
Cape Town, to Sunday 10:30, SABC3, SS2, SH2

As this was written – not long after the day-two mayhem on Thursday – there was only a miniscule chance we’d get any weekend play at all, with the best hope of Saturday activity a Friday drizzle-fest that was looking just as unlikely! It’s a shame the Test has scuttled so dramatically toward a crazily early finish, especially as television sports fans don’t have much rugby to get engrossed by at present unless the Heineken Cup is your fancy – there’s plenty of that on SuperSport. Mind you, here’s my chance to also punt Sunday’s penultimate F1 Grand Prix of the season at Abu Dhabi – it’s at 15:00 on SS5, CSN, SHD and Maximo. 

2 Warriors v Cape Cobras, 1-Day Cup cricket
Port Elizabeth, Friday 15:00, SS6 & CSN

This competition has been quite weather-affected – the luckless Dolphins doubtless consider that an under-statement – and there’s a good likelihood, according to the trusty Nordic website I get my meteorological info from, that things will be rather stop-start for this one too! And that would be a pity as it pits the two best-placed teams on the log against each other. Indeed, the Warriors and Cobras have been limited-overs leading lights domestically for a while. Despite a certain rival attraction at Newlands, names like Richard Levi, JP Duminy, Owais Shah, Robin Peterson, Johan Botha, Wayne Parnell and Makhaya Ntini still spice up the St George’s Park encounter.

3 South Africa v Ivory Coast, international soccer friendly
Port Elizabeth, Saturday 15:15, SABC1

The visit of Africa’s premier side to the Friendly City ought to ensure a good vibe at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, especially as they have named a squad (albeit Drogba-less) that contains most of the rest of their blue-chip players ... Yaya and Kolo Toure, Gervinho and Kalou, for example. I am feeling a bit iffy about Bafana Bafana this year, rather suspecting that they have regressed a little since their respectable World Cup. They’ve promised to play attacking football against the Ivorians, but of course that could leave them porous at the back. Maybe a draw would be a satisfactory enough outcome for the host nation.

4 England v Spain, international soccer friendly
London, Saturday 19:15, SS3, Maximo & SH2

This is about as “glamour” a friendly as you will get ... England against the defending World Cup champions at Wembley. The Spaniards are also back at the top of the FIFA rankings after a brief stint where they were leapfrogged by the team they beat in last year’s stormy Soccer City final, the Netherlands. England lie seventh on the ladder and will be seeking revenge for defeats on both English soil (1-0 at Manchester in 2007) and in Seville (2-0 in 2009) the last time these powers met. The last Wembley clash was at Euro ’96, when England won on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes.