What had attracted his interest in the weekend’s proceedings provided an interesting insight to the somewhat Machiavellian thought processes that drive the Silent One to look beyond the obvious indelibility of the scoreboard and delve into other layers of what it is that drives us to accept the importance of sport as an essential spice to the human condition.
“I would like to make it plain at the outset,” he began, an introduction that spoke ominously of the miasma of obfuscation that was sure to follow, “that I am not expert on sport unless it involves baiting a hook or loading a rifle.”
At this there was an unheard, but palpable sigh of relief from the gathering. At least, the collective feeling seemed to run, the Silent One had spoken the utter truth and anchored his feet on solid ground.
It was, not to put too fine a point on it, a false dawn.
“I am intrigued,” he continued, “about the amount of fuss being generated about two men in two very different sports.”
This, the normal suspects thought, had possibilities of developing into something interesting. It was to prove just that.
“First, let us examine the sublime talents – and I am persuaded by the experts among you that they are indeed in this category – of AB de Villiers.
“Now while I do not pretend to understand the intricate nuances of cricket, there is something magnetic about watching a man playing the kind of shots he seems to be able to manufacture almost at will.
“But as exciting as AB’s innings against England undoubtedly was, I must make one observation. South Africa only won by a scant three runs – not, I am sure you will agree, a comfortable margin.
“And, I must ask myself, what would that margin have been if those shots had not come off. Where would the Proteas have been then?”
Having got that off his chest, the Silent One looked about to ascertain who was responsible for the next round, pointedly holding his now empty glass to the light. A fresh libation duly arrived and, refreshed, the Silent One turned his attention elsewhere.
“Then there is the question of Victor Matfield coming back after two years of so-so commentating, to captain the Bulls again.
“I repeat that I am no expert on the game of rugby, but I remember Matfield as someone who towered above the crowd in almost every game he was involved in.
“You could hardly miss him, running with the ball in hand, ruling the lineouts and making tackle after tackle. The Matfield I saw against the Chiefs was a 36-year-old just doing the best he could.
He had, for my money anyway, sadly faded back into the herd.
“Surely,” said the Silent One collecting his scattered belongings prior to departure, “even highly-talented cricketers have to accept that the dictates of the team come first.
“And even great lock forwards must reach the realisation that they have been outjumped by the passage of time.”