Kolkata: Dr Ali Bacher, still remembered as the face of cricket administration in South Africa, has confirmed that an attempt was made to recruit Indian players for a rebel tour – as reported exclusively by ThePrint Sunday.
The attempt happened in the latter half of the 1980s, Bacher told ThePrint by phone from South Africa.
“I will not take names, but can definitely confirm that loose, informal discussions did take place with some Indian players…
“However, nothing materialised and the discussions were naturally not taken forward at any level,” said Bacher, a former captain, who headed the Whites’-run South African Cricket Union during much of the two decades of isolation until 1991-1992.
In an interview published in ThePrint earlier Sunday, former Indian opener Arun Lal said he was offered big money to be part of an Indian XI and play in South Africa in the 1980s. But he turned it down.
The non-Whites’ South African Cricket Board was helmed by Krish Mackerdhuj, who was later given a diplomatic assignment.
Remarkably, both boards merged on 29 June 1991, just before South Africa was readmitted to the International Cricket Council.
Clearly, the winds of change, powered by the overall process of unification, covered cricket too.
Plus, there was the huge Nelson Mandela factor.
The rebel tours became a necessary evil as South African players were deprived of international cricket and the game had to be kept alive.
Seven rebel tours took place between 1981-1982 and 1989-1990.
Two teams each from England, the West Indies and Australia undertook such rebel tours. A team from Sri Lanka toured as well.
The phase of rebel tours continues to be a mightily sensitive issue in South Africa.
Bacher, who held key positions (CEO, MD and ED) in what is now Cricket South Africa, is almost exclusively credited with the organisational success of the 2003 World Cup.
The 2003 World Cup marked the end of two decades of Bacher’s innings as a cricket administrator in different bodies.
Among other things, the 77-year-old Bacher now hosts a widely-watched TV show.
Lokendra Pratap Sahi is a veteran sports journalist who has covered cricket across the globe for nearly four decades.