COVID forces stop at SA and New Zealand socials

THE lack of social activities on the South African cricket tour which ended earlier this week in New Zealand is said to have left many former players frustrated.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place and professional sport played much more disciplined than in previous years, players had very little time to enjoy some time away from the game.

South Africa and New Zealand are fierce competitors on the sports field, but love to socialize after a game and discuss sporting matters with a drink in hand.

The social aspect was certainly not neglected during the first cricket tours between these two countries after South Africa’s readmission to the international scene.

With their captain Ken Rutherford in the lead, the Kiwi cricketers took full advantage of the famous South African hospitality during their tour in 1994/1995.

In fact, Rutherford was a little frustrated with some of the younger members of his squad, who struggled to keep up with the many parties between games.

At one point he even described his team as “still socially underdeveloped”, probably an ironic statement, but he clearly expected his friends to follow him on the social front.

This tour took place in an era before social media, but Rutherford and his companions still had a lot of explaining to do when they returned to New Zealand.

Kiwi administrators were unhappy with some of the off-field incidents in South Africa and inquiries were made.

They were particularly unhappy with what they had heard about recreational smoking during a visit to a winery in Paarl.

There were many theme nights on the tour and it wasn’t strange to come across players dressed as famous people in the team hotel.

Rutherford is a horse racing fanatic and brought some of the players to accompany him to South African race tracks whenever they had free time.

Like any decent punter, he got upset when his bets didn’t pay off, but he got even more upset when he was the victim of a bad umpire on the cricket pitch.

The umpires didn’t have the best of days at the Cape Town Test and Rutherford and wicketkeeper Adam Parore were furious at the decisions they received at bat.

Rutherford had choice words for the referee and was ready to watch the replay of his dismissal later in the locker room with the TV remote in hand. Pieces of this remote are apparently still missing. A vending machine fell victim to Parore’s wrath.

Where New Zealanders and South Africans meet, they talk about rugby and it’s no different on a cricket tour.

South Africa quickly circled New Zealand after Rutherford’s side visited and did a bit of ‘spying’ for the Springboks a few months before the 1995 World Cup.

One of the players, Eric Simons, was spotted during an All Black practice with a video camera and coach Laurie Mains amicably asked him to put it away.

Maybe Simons had enough inside footage because we all know who won the Cup that year.

Joel C. Hicks