Rob Houwing

SABC strikes a CWC ‘six’

2011-02-25 09:02
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

SABC3, carrying a good chunk of the ICC World Cup live, did very well a few days ago to have Andy Moles as a studio guest in Johannesburg during the New Zealand v Kenya farce.

His presence for the desperately short-lived encounter – the Kiwis knocked off their flimsy target of 70 in eight overs at Chennai – was entirely appropriate as he has previously coached both countries.

So he gave great insight into the respective cricketing climates and cultures of the day’s protagonists, as well as some fascinating thoughts on Allan Donald and his current role as the Black Caps’ bowling consultant.

White Lightning had earned some praise from the commentary box, after all, for the great discipline and efficiency that characterised the New Zealand attack (some of their seamers were landing it on a tickey), even given the modest nature of their African opposition.

Moles, as well as fellow-guest Victor Mpitsang, also no stranger in Bloemfontein to AD’s influence, were at pains to point out that beneath the former Proteas great’s genial exterior lies a pretty hard taskmaster.

And the burly ex-opening batsman “Molar”, who had shared a dressing room at Warwickshire with Donald for well over a decade, also provided one of those “little gem” anecdotes that can go down so well during breaks in play.

It was to do with the unrelenting passion and desire that coarsed through Donald’s veins in his playing days.

Moles said that unlike other top-notch fast bowlers of his generation who operated on the county treadmill, Donald “pretty much never” dropped his pace significantly.

He said this was reflected one day when Warwickshire came back onto the field against Nottinghamshire for a new session of play and wicketkeeper Keith Piper didn’t stand back too far for the first ball from the shock bowler because he expected it to be the customary “loosener”.

Instead Donald sent down a vicious, rocket-like lifter which Piper rather painfully gloved high up: he took off his glove to see blood and a rather bent-back top section of a finger! Eina ...

*The SABC’s anchor on the day Moles and Mpitsang were guests was David O’Sullivan: I still slightly prefer him as a trusty, seasoned radio man, but perhaps that’s just my point of view.
Rob’s awesome foursome:

1. Cheetahs v Bulls, Super Rugby
Bloemfontein, Friday 19:10, M-Net, SS1 & SHD

If this meeting of sometimes bitter rivals is anywhere near as lively as last year’s encounter – it was also in Bloem – then we’re in for a decent dingdong. On that occasion, the opening round of the 2010 campaign, the Bulls got home 51-34 and by six tries to three. The champions will visit this time already one win to the good, after they just held off the Lions in Jo’burg. Expect the Cheetahs to come out smoking, even if they will stay underdogs – they come off defeat to the Sharks in a match where their game-plan was surprisingly gormless despite the adverse conditions on the day. At the very least, they’ll want to show a bit more verve. Another rugby must-see, outside of the busy Super Rugby programme: England v France, each unbeaten, in the Six Nations on Saturday (SS6, 19:00).
2. Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates, PSL soccer
Soweto, Saturday 15:30, SABC1, SS4 & HD

What a fairytale time for this distinguished derby to come around: as this was penned Pirates topped the table, two points clear of their great Soweto adversaries in second. It is possible that Ajax Cape Town will have leapfrogged both Bucs and Amakhosi by late Friday night, as they have a home date then with Free State Stars and a win does the trick. But this is a title-influencing humdinger all the same. There is no special “form” team because both come off draws -- Chiefs at Santos and Pirates at home to AmaZulu -- and maybe a point apiece is a likely scenario again?

3. India v England, World Cup cricket  
Bangalore, Sunday 11:00, SS2, SHD & SABC3

For a long time in the lead-up to the World Cup, this fixture has been hyped – and obviously so – as one of the biggies. And not just because it pits the populous and cricket-crazy home power against their former colonial rulers. Extra spice comes in the fact that India are so highly fancied by many for the trophy, and will want to show their steel against the ICC World Twenty20 champions (albeit that England are having a shaky old time of it at present in the ODI arena). They say the enforced switch to Bangalore from Kolkata could favour Andrew Strauss’s team ... we’ll see, eh?

4. Chelsea v Manchester United, English Premiership soccer
London, Tuesday 21:45, SS3, SH2 & Maximo

This game was to have taken place many, many weeks ago but the big freeze pushed it out ... now it’s on a slightly unsexy Tuesday night but ought to be compelling viewing all the same. It pits the defending champions against this season’s leaders. Disregard that Chelsea are all but out of the title frame: it will be a huge tonic and confirmation of their recent improvement if they can topple the Red Devils. I tipped 1-0 to the Blues on a hunch at the time the game was originally scheduled ... and don’t they say you should never change a bet?

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