Nothing like a big upset – so kudos to Zimbabwe
IT FINALLY came in the early afternoon on Tuesday.
Left arm orthodox bowler Wellington Masakadza, a member of Zimbabwe’s famous cricket dynasty, delivered a pearler against Ariful Haque, inducing him into a top edge. The ball skyed to keeper Regis Chakabva, who caught it and promptly claimed two of the wickets as keepsakes. The catch was more than a mere wicket, more than a mere win. For Zimbabwe, it was a milestone, a moment of pure history, Bangladesh’s final wicket giving them a 151-run win.
Such joys have been fleeting in Zimbabwe’s recent past. The triumph in Sylhet was their first away Test win in 17 years, when Masakadza was still in Grade Three. They had lost 16 successive Tests overseas.
They had scarcely enjoyed greater success at home, their last Test win in Zimbabwe coming five years ago against Pakistan.
What’s remarkable is how Zimbabwe have been able to sustain their support throughout this time. Their supporters have kept coming back to the well, more in hope than expectation, and have slipped away into the night with disappointment a constant companion.
It’s a perilous place to occupy in sport, for what underpins the integrity of every match is the contest itself. We all have our favourite teams, but no-one wants to see a walkover. Sport loses its essence if we know who is going to win every time. It also loses its appeal.
This explains why the Boks’ recent win against the All Blacks in Wellington was so critical. The famous rivalry had lost its edge, diluted by NZ’S extraordinary dominance. Resigned indifference had taken hold among Bok fans.
What followed the big upset was heightened interest. The intrigue was back, fans flocked to Loftus Versfeld and TV viewers tuned in.
Had form and expectation dictated interest in the recent Currie Cup final, few would have bothered watching. Western Province had slayed everyone, among them the Sharks, and were heavy favourites to lift the trophy. But the capricious nature of sport, married to the evident complacency of serial winners, played its part as the Sharks produced a muscular performance that shocked the rugby community.
The integrity of every tournament should be underpinned by this possibility. Say what you like about the PSL. It has spice and intrigue and any team can generally beat the other. There are no sure things, notwithstanding that the traditional big teams tend to stand the test of time. The English Premiership is much the same. The better teams tend to gravitate to the top, but you can never exclude the possibility of a fairy tale, as Leicester so wonderfully provided in the 2015/16 season.
Or Red Star Belgrade, who this week won their first Champions League game in 26 years, against Liverpool.
The point is that sport must retain the capacity to surprise, to evoke wonder. Happily, stroppy Zimbabwe threw out the form book to remind us of this sweet truth in the most emphatic way. FOR its 51st edition, the Mother of Hard Enduro has undergone an ‘extreme’ make-over.
With an all-new route, the 2018 Motul Roof of Africa will provide riders with a challenge that’s worthy of being the next edition of Africa’s oldest offroad race.
Taking place in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho from December 5-8, the Motul Roof of Africa is all about extremes: southern Africa’s highest peaks and passes, and its most beautiful alpine scenery.
With two thirds of this year’s route having never featured in the Roof before and the remaining third consisting of areas that have not featured in the race since 2010, even the most experienced of Hard Enduro riders will find themselves facing new and unfamiliar terrain.
There are also plans afoot, still to be confirmed, for Round the Houses to be moved to a new, spectator and traffic friendly venue on the outskirts of Maseru which promises to offer an exciting start to the weekend’s racing.
Motul Roof of Africa event organiser, Peter Luck, commented that, “With an all-new route, we’re honoured to have the chance to respect the heritage of this race, while still offering Gold, Silver and Bronze riders new challenges and the opportunity to explore previously unseen corners of Lesotho.
“It’s a fresh new approach to the Mother of Hard Enduro, and will prove that the race is definitely not getting soft in its old age.”
He adds, “We have also reviewed the documentation and scrutineering process and have streamlined this as part of the improvements to the Roof this year.”
As the title sponsor for the third consecutive year, Motul area manager for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mercia Jansen, explained: “We are thrilled to be associated with this prestigious event again. Our brand is all about innovation and we are very excited by the changes that have been put in place for this year’s event, we know competitors and spectators are going to have a fantastic experience at the 2018 Motul Roof of Africa.”
“Motul lubricants help riders obtain peak performance from their motorcycles – exactly what they will need if they are to triumph in the 2018 Motul Roof of Africa”, Jansen said.
Details of the new route, the documentation and scrutineering process will be released soon.