What will the South African cricketers eat for breakfast on Wednesday? Slipping into enemy territory on the eve of the India-South Africa Test match, SUDHISH KAMATH gets into the meat of the matter
Spotting the Bengal Tiger stroll into the park, the opening bowler Makhaya Ntini went over to welcome Sourav Ganguly with a blinder. Right arm over his shoulder, the paceman said: “I’m lookin’ to keel (kill) him.”
Sourav smiled and posed for the photographers with Ntini, who with a little help from photographers, even obliged to speak in Tamil for the camera: “Summa addhuruthu ille.”
Ntini was in a jolly good mood at the Bring and Braii organised by South African Tourism at the Taj Connemara on Sunday evening. Braii (pronounced “bry,” like in “cry”), Afrikaans for barbecue (or roast) is a social custom in South Africa, when friends get together for a laid-back evening to indulge in some hard-core meat-eating.
Ntini wore the apron to toss up a few pieces of marinated chicken for the camera, doing a little jig to keep the mediapersons happy, occasionally pointing to his promotional T-shirt to say: “South Africa, the place to be.” Or just “Great place.”
A few minutes before that at the garden, he was trying to do the Macarena. He gave up and tried a little hip-shake, when prompted by the organisers to dance.
Medha Sampat, Country Head for South African Tourism, joined Ntini for a bit as other South African cricketers seemed to be content having a quiet dinner indoors.
A while later, Neil McKenzie and Morne Morkel were called upon to do their bit of braii for the camera. With Fillet Steak, Chicken Sevens, Chicken Sausages and Barra Kabab on the grill, there was plenty to keep the carnivores happy. Vegetarians helped themselves to Jacket Potatoes with Sour Cream and Grilled Polento.
With the DJ playing South African music, a fine mix of Afro-Pop, traditional South African folk, jazz, blues from popular bands ‘Malaika’ and ‘Freshly ground’, and Loyiso’s ‘Amplified’ R&B tracks, the flavour and the mood were impeccably African.
“When we get on that plane to go home, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’re going back to South Africa,” Graeme Smith, captain of the South African team, told the media earlier in the evening at the press conference.
“It’s a country we are very, very proud of. It’s an honour bestowed upon all of us to lead South Africa on the sporting field and hopefully, we will achieve great things. It’s wonderful to see that the tourism board is promoting South Africa. It’s a country we want to see grow,” he said.
“A lot of Indians don’t know that in their former lives, they were all South Africans,” said Francis Moloi, South African High Commissioner in India. “More than 2.5 billion years ago, the subcontinent of India was part and parcel of that huge land mass at the centre of the world called Africa. These two countries were one. And that shows you the connection that South Africa and India have. So we want more Indians to come to South Africa and experience our country,” he added.
The initiative to involve cricketers hopes to increase inflow of Indian tourists.
“They (the players) are well known,” explains Zolelwa Mukozho, Portfolio Manager for Asia and Australasia, South African Tourism. “Wherever they go they are recognised. Which is why the tourism board has roped in the cricketers to promote South Africa.”
After spending over two hours at the promotional event, the Proteas headed back to the bus, that had, in big letters written all over it, the catch-phrase: “Incredible India.”