The sun, sea and cricket in Durbs

CityPress - - Voices - Paddy Harper voices@city­press.co.za

Test cricket’s kinda like pol­i­tics – a bit of schem­ing and luck, and the game changes

Wed­nes­day evening. I’m whipped.

An af­ter­noon work­ing at the beach with the Small Lah­nee, the Big Lah­nee’s (that’s Mrs Harper to you) nine-year-old tor­nado in tow while she went to the hair salon has put paid to me.

I’d al­ready been in way less than show­room con­di­tion be­fore hit­ting the beach.

The Small Lah­nee’s been around since school hol­i­days started and has been keep­ing the Big Lah­nee and Mis­ter H (his ter­mi­nol­ogy, not mine) on our in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive toes. Nine-year-old boys have a spe­cial kind of en­ergy that only long evening ses­sions in the ocean can take the edge off of.

A fes­tive sea­son and a Box­ing Day cricket test spent in the com­pany of de­viant bas­tards like the Gheng­i­na­tor, JahNoDead and Jik­i­jela has bro­ken me. Badly. All three of them have joined the flood of Gaut­engers who de­scend on Dur­ban’s beaches in Mercs ev­ery De­cem­ber.

Jik­i­jela’s from the Cape Flats via Went­worth, JahNoDead’s a Stanger boy and the Gheng­i­na­tor hails from Eff­in­g­ham, but they’ve all set­tled in the Cen­tre of the Uni­verse and have been throw­ing them­selves around my city with the care­free frenzy of up­coun­try repro­bates on hol­i­day since they got here. Not that the beach was their pri­mary des­ti­na­tion, al­though JahNoDead does get in a swim or two.

The three of them are big test cricket fans. And keen sta­dium drinkers. I’m not good at al­co­hol dur­ing the day. It puts me to bed too early. And makes me the kind of stupid I pre­fer to be when it’s dark. That hasn’t stopped those three though, and I must con­fess to get­ting stuck in on Box­ing Day, un­like the Proteas.

I dig test cricket, though. I used to think cricket was some elit­ist rub­bish – the re­sult of go­ing to Dur­ban High School in the early 1980s, I guess. I’m not a fan of the one-day game or the bang-bang version, but long-form cricket has bit­ten me, mainly thanks to hang­ing out with the Gheng­i­na­tor, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be on Box­ing Day than Dur­ban for the test.

Test cricket’s kinda like pol­i­tics. There’s a lot of long-term plot­ting in­volved, scrap­ing up the dirt on the op­po­si­tion and work­ing out their weak points. Things are never what they seem. A bit of schem­ing and luck, and the course of the game can change three or four times ev­ery day.

Back to the beach. It’s boil­ing hot and we’ve wrapped up our in­ter­views. I whip off my shirt and hit the wa­ter where the Small Lah­nee’s been keep­ing him­self oc­cu­pied. It’s mag­nif­i­cent.

There are worse ways to earn a liv­ing.

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