View from the Sofa: Pat Cash made to pay at last for bullying behaviour towards a disabled ballboy

The Last Leg, Wimbledon Channel 4, BBC Radio 5Live

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Now that Wimbledon is over, the abiding memory of the tournament is when that player got his Karmic comeuppance for intimidating one of the children who collect balls.

No, not Novak Djokovic and his apology for shouting at a ballgirl during his fourth-round win over Kevin Anderson. We’re talking about Pat Cash, who was revealed last week to have once bullied a disabled boy at the Sydney Indoor International.

Yep, you read that right. And the bombshell was dropped on The Last Leg, the latest series of which began on Friday.

Adam Hills, the host, was discussing Wimbledon with panellists Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, when Djokovic’s outburst came up. Hills said he knew how the ballgirl felt, before recounting the tale of when he was a ballboy.

“Ivan Lendl had a habit of rubbing sawdust on his racket,” he said. “And it was the ballboys’ job to sweep it up between points.

“Pat Cash came up to me before serving, pointed at the floor and looked at me. ‘You missed a bit,’ he said. Then he stood there and watched as I swept it up. The lowest point of my life.”

Widdicombe was shocked. “You were wearing shorts, right?” he asked. “So he would have seen your prosthetic?”

“Yep,” Hills, who was born without a right foot, replied, before gesticulating, while expanding on the embarrassment of being made by a tennis star to sweep the floor in front of a huge audience. His gestures led to an oh-so-conveniently placed tin of sawdust being knocked from his desk. And guess who was backstage to come and sweep it up?

Cash came out and dutifully cleared the mess, looking genuinely sheepish before hugging his Australian compatriot with a “how you doing, good to see you, mate”. It was a brilliantly executed set-piece, especially for a show that is broadcast live.

It was not the best of weekends for Cash, who was on Radio 5Live to call the women’s Wimbledon final on Saturday. Russell Fuller had manfully negotiated the interminable pomp which serves as a preamble to the players actually appearing on court with some wry descriptions of crowd members and some background facts on the umpire (that he held our interest during something which would be dull even if we had pictures should be worthy of a pat on the back) before introducing Cash.

As the players, Serena Williams and Garbine Muguruza, began warming up, Fuller asked Cash, a former Wimbledon champion, what Muguruza, a first-time finalist, would be thinking. Would the nerves be jangling?

“Well...” Cash began with a loud exhale. “Sorry, Pat,” Fuller interrupted. “We have to cross to Cardiff again.”

Cash got half of another word out before Pat Murphy came on air to relay yet another Australian wicket (their fifth, as it happens) falling in the first Ashes Test. You can imagine the scowl on Cash’s face at not only having his first utterance of the day interrupted, but also by the stinging news that his fellow Aussies were being trounced in the cricket.

Karma indeed.

Comments