Reliving Madiba moments

Reliving Madiba moments

Three days after his death, Nelson Mandela dominates the conscience of South Africa. It’s quite understandable, as the great leader has touched almost every heart in the Rainbow Nation.

Before the second one-dayer started here on Sunday, both Indian and South African teams paid their respects to Mandela, a part of the week-long State mourning. But away from the Kingsmead cricket ground, some men, who were fortunate enough to come up close with ‘Madiba’ remembered him fondly.

Lance Klusener, one of the premier all-rounders in the mid and late 90s, was the driving force behind South Africa’s comfortable march in the 1999 World Cup held in England, rattling up quick runs and producing some lively spells.

Klusener still cherishes the moment when Mandela, then the President of South Africa, called him personally to congratulate after a close win over Pakistan. “It was a really a surprise for me to get a call from the president of the nation, and it was quite unexpected. I never thought he would have been following a game of cricket because as the head of the nation he would have had lot of other pressing works to attend to.

“But when I got a call from him after the match, it was a big surprise, and obviously was very happy because a great man like him was following our performance in that tournament.

Yes, he spoke to me in Zulu then (then SA cricket board head Dr Ali Bacher told Mandela that Klusener spoke that language) and I still remember those days,” said Kluesener.

Similarly, former fast bowler Makhaya Ntini got a call from Mandela ahead of his 100th Test match against England in 2009. Ntini was one of the few coloured cricketers to have represented South Africa and first to achieve that milestone. “It was a touching gesture by Madiba. I think he was quite old at that stage, close to 90 I guess, but still he found time to make a call and congratulate me on my 100th Test. His message was very clear, and urging me to keep playing on and bring good name to South Africa,” said Ntini.

Allan Donald, the former SA pacer and currently their bowling coach, remembered his first meeting with Mandela. “It was back in 1993, during our first home series against India after we returned to the international fold, that I met him for the first time. He gave a message to us, nothing political, but urging us to play fair and win matches for the country. He also knew a lot of details about the players in our squad, and he was quite aware that I am from Free State. He has been a great inspiration for me.”

Comments (+)