On the Front Foot: England go on holiday but a night on the township still hits home

England have been on holiday. At the finish of the Third Test, the players, backroom staff, wives, girlfriends and children decamped from the hotel in which they had been staying for the splendidly appointed and equally splendidly named One and Only Hotel. There they have spent three relaxed days before the team fly to Johannesburg today to prepare for the Fourth Test. It can only be hoped that they have not gone so far into the comfort zone that they cannot be extricated come Thursday.

The advertised tariff for the hotel, though England will undoubtedly have cut a deal, is 7,000 rand (£586) a night. This is indeed the lap of luxury. Wives and children, of course, not only have air fares paid to join the chaps but are also entitled to a daily allowance for the length of their stay.

Andy Flower, England's coach, was asked at the post-Third Test briefing whether he was comfortable staying in a hotel where rooms cost more than most Africans earned. He replied in exemplary style. "I am comfortable with it. I am confident that this group of players can keep their feet firmly on the ground. I'm not that comfortable with the comparison to some of the poverty that you experience in Africa. And we've got to be a bit careful making those comparisons. Some of our families went out on the township tour yesterday and if anyone needs to be brought down to earth, that would be a great tour for people to go on." The players merit their break. It is to be hoped that some of them had a peep at a township themselves during it.

Prof's must-see exhibition

On the eve of the Cape Town Test, a group of cricket reporters was privileged to attend a gathering on the Newlands outfield. The genial host was the chief executive of the Western Province Cricket Association, Professor Andre Odendaal. A Cambridge graduate, who played in the rain-ruined Varsity match of 1980, Odendaal is the author of the seminal book 'The Story of an African Game'.

It is a great work, putting into perspective the contributions to cricket of non-white players in this country. Odendaal has helped in assembling an important photographic exhibition which will run at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool this year. 'Beyond the Boundary' is intended to explore the relationship between cricket, culture, class and politics. The game is conveyed as a legacy of British imperialism but also as a means of resistance against it. It opens in March.

Tampering is nothing new

Ball tampering made headlines last week but in Larry Tye's biography of the black baseball pitcher Satchel Paige, he writes: "Spitballs were outlawed in the Major Leagues in 1920, but for another generation Negro League pitchers kept dabbing saliva in a way that made the baseball squirt off their fingers like a melon seed. A little dab of hair tonic did just as well. So did sanding the ball with abrasive emery paper hidden in a belt buckle, or nicking the hide with a buckle, nail, fingernail, wedding ring or Coca-Cola bottle cap."

Hooray for Collingwood

In England's three rearguard actions in their past eight Tests, in which they have secured draws with nine wickets down in Cardiff, Centurion and Cape Town, Paul Collingwood has batted four minutes short of 13 hours for 140 runs while facing 532 balls. What a man.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there