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Justin Nurse swims in the pool below the gym South Africa players train at when in Cape Town. He has been a big fan, and when he came across Smith after his retirement announcement, he couldn't hold back his tears. He pays an emotional tribute to the man at 2oceansvibe.com
I can't help myself though. I choose the moment when he finishes a phone call to go on over there and thank the man. I'm searching for an in - not "I'm the T-shirt guy." I mutter something about how I play soccer with Bouch at Bob's place (interpret: I'm not a crazy fan - yes I am), and how I just want to thank him for all that he's done for South African cricket. And then I just break down. I start bawling my eyes out, right there in front of him and his wife. I can't help myself, and it is pathetic to see. Blind one, as we used to say back in the 90s. I'm trying to tell him how I was with him when he came out to bat with a broken hand, how I also followed those angling sliders from Zaheer Khan that got him time and again...
Mervyn Westfield went from county cricketer to criminal after being caught up in spot-fixing while playing for Essex. He has spent time behind bars, but is now rebuilding his life by warning others of the dangers of being sucked into a murky world. He will also resume playing cricket this season, at club level in Essex, and is not feeling sorry for himself. In his first significant interview, he speaks to the BBC's Joe Wilson.
He never spent the money and didn't even carry out the spot-fix correctly, but the stark fact is he took £6,000 to deliberately bowl badly. It was a decision which eventually left him in one of Europe's most secure prisons. At Belmarsh, he learned how to live alongside murderers and exist on 10 minutes of outdoor activity a day. "Whatever punishment they gave to me, I had to take it," he said. "I did wrong and got punished for it. I've just got to accept it.''
Writing for NewStatesman, Ed Smith profiles Kevin Pietersen, narrates his personal experiences with him, and wonders if people will miss him now that he is banished from the team.
I have never seen any batsman impose his willpower as Pietersen could. Where Sachin Tendulkar was a genius of skill, Pietersen is a genius of self-belief. His confidence and desire filled the whole arena, relegating the other players to the status of pawns. He could be gauche and socially awkward, but that doesn't explain why people took against him. There was something more innately domineering about Pietersen, a quality that transcended language or manners, as though he could succeed only by putting other people down.
Saurabh Somani, writing for Wisden India, sheds light on some young women from Afghanistan who made a long trip to cheer for their team during their historic win against Bangladesh.
A group of 24 young women from the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, an eight-hour bus journey from Fatullah, have occupied seats in stands packed to the brim with Bangladesh supporters. The fatigue of the journey is forgotten and the strain on vocal chords kept away. They've come here because it's a Saturday and there are no classes. No encouragement can be loud enough for their history-making team during the one shot they have of cheering them on.
Hassan Cheema, writing for the Nightwatchman, illustrates how Pakistan viewed and defined themselves through the successes and failures of Sachin Tendulkar.
It seems odd to argue that a foreign sportsman could have such a far-reaching influence on a country's youth, but the view that Pakistanis had of India - and by extension of Tendulkar - is unique. Their attitude towards the Indian team was how Pakistanis proved they were Pakistani, as the post-Zia nation over the last three decades went from isolation, and in search of recognition, to a place the world knows about - not necessarily for the right reasons. It's no coincidence that at the time the rest of the cricketing firmament prostrated before Tendulkar, a major Pakistani news channel ran a segment about how Javed Miandad, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf were each his equal.
In the Sydney Morning Herald, Greg Baum says David Warner deserves praise and not censure for his comments on South Africa's ability to reverse swing the ball.
Not every cricketer can be Rahul Dravid. Not ever cricketing utterance can be a Mike Brearley-style dissertation, nor should be a Clarke-esque circumlocution. Warner, unable to dissemble, most often tells his see-ball-hit-ball truth, and pastiche notions of ''respect'' be damned. The least that can be said of his approach is that it is crazy-brave: it is he who stands in the 22-yard front line, facing an attack doubly rearmed by a new ball and fresh slight.
As long as Warner's gibes are not personal, nor demean innocents, what harm is in them, except to a spurious ideal of respect? Impugning professionalism is as old as professionalism. Separately, it is mystifying that work to coax a ball to reverse swing is regarded as a sin. Ryan Harris, in distancing himself from Warner's stance, inadvertently bore him out. ''You've got to do something with the ball, everyone does it,'' he said. ''They handled the ball better than us.''