On the Front Foot: World's gone mad when South Africa's cricketers are not at home

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The Independent Online

Apologies are offered immediately. This, of all places, should be a zone entirely free from you know what. (Incidentally, is it not strange that the whole shebang is being reported as though nobody has ever set foot in this strange place called South Africa for a sporting event before?) But avoidance, sadly, is not possible.

Spare a thought for South Africa's cricketers, who while the attention of the globe is on their country, are in the Caribbean for an extremely low-key Test series. It was the subject of a lament from inside the camp before play began in the First Test in Trinidad on Thursday. The bulletin read: "When Bafana Bafana kick off the tournament against Mexico at Soccer City on Friday, the first ball of the second day of the First Test will be about to be delivered. Apart from the focus on the cricket there are so many other emotions in the Proteas' camp: the excitement that can be felt thousands of kilometres away in the Caribbean and is so evident even via the medium of television screen ... the frustration and jealousy that they cannot be part of the live event ... most importantly of all the pride of being a South African when our country is the point of focus of the entire world." Put bluntly, of course, the players want to be at home not in paradise. Blame the Future Tours Programme, which must be obeyed as if it was Rumpole's wife. Or bless cricket for standing up for itself. Trouble is, a South African victory at cricket will have much less resonance at home than their defeat at football.

KP the county stalwart?

Apologies also to Kevin Pietersen. It was implied here last week that he had played only one Championship match for Hampshire. That is true since he began playing Tests but after he first joined the county in 2005 and was trying to stake a claim in the England Test team, he played six matches. He started with a duck at Hove, lbw to James Kirtley, and made three more but, crucially, also scored two hundreds before his selection. Soon, and still perversely, he will become Hampshire's most-capped player. Their cricketers have played 232 Tests for England, third fewest among the counties. The top three are Surrey (1,219), Yorkshire (1,210) and Middlesex (1,084). Surrey and Middlesex, struggling in Division Two, have other matters to worry about.

Over and out for Rudi

The Test between Australia and Pakistan at Headingley next month will be Rudi Koertzen's last engagement as an international umpire. By then he will have stood in 108 Tests and a record 208 ODIs. He might be remembered for his misinterpretation of the regulations during the rain-affected World Cup final in 2007, but he remained a favourite of players. He knew how to handle them and that compensated for poor decisions. He could perhaps be seen as a "not outer". In Tests in which he has so far stood, there have been 4.8 lbws per match compared to the 5.9 and 5.6 respectively of the world's two leading umps, Simon Taufel and Aleem Dar.

Oh no, Pattinson's back!

When Josh Hazlewood was called up to replace Mitchell Johnson in Australia's one-day squad, his replacement for Australia A was James Pattinson. This opened the possibility of brothers playing Tests for different countries for the first time. James's brother, Darren, played one match for England in 2008, having been born in Grimsby. James does not have dual qualification.