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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Q&A: Ali Bacher
Ali: The Live of Ali Bacher, is available from Penguin, priced 14.99
As captain of South Africa, Ali Bacher led his side in one of their most dominant periods in the late 1960s.

As head of South African cricket he steered the country through controversy to consolidation. He invited rebel tours to the country while it was isolated because of Apartheid but remained at the helm when the laws were repealed.

He was a close confidant of Hansie Cronje but had to manage the crisis following the then-captain's revelations in 2000 of his involvement with match-fixing and.

Bacher was also head of the organising committee of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa before retiring.

His biography Ali: The Live of Ali Bacher, is available from Penguin, priced 14.99.


Q. Nelson Mandela describes his admiration for you in a foreword to your biography. How much did that mean to you?

A. He is a remarkable man, South Africa's greatest ever son and an icon.

Like so many other ANC [African National Congress] people who were in prison or in exile, his capacity to forgive his oppressors is remarkable.

He is an inspiration to every South African.


Q. What has been the proudest moment in your career in cricket?

A. The unification of South African cricket in 1991.

For decades, centuries sport in South Africa was segregated.

In 1991 for the first time we were part to a process that established for the first time one non-racial, united cricketing body.

The ANC in particular utilised this impending unification of cricket to show white South Africans that white and black can live together.


Q. What is your greatest regret and is there anything you would have done differently?

A. We have made many mistakes. I've always tried to learn from my mistakes but I would have gone down the same pathway.


Q. Looking back, would you still have organised the rebel tours in the 1980s?

We saw during the Gatting tour the anger, bitterness and hatred of many black South Africans
A. In the early and mid-80s many white South Africans, including myself, lived in a cocoon. If black people wanted to demonstrate against a rebel tour the police would have thrown these people into jail.

In the early '80s these matches took place in an atmosphere of tranquillity.

It only dawned upon us, when for the first time in 1989 it became legally possible for peaceful demonstrations to take place.

We saw during the Gatting tour the anger, bitterness and hatred with which many black South Africans saw these tours.

Had we known in retrospect we would have thought twice about those tours.


Q. How much of a shock was it when Hansie Cronje revealed his involvement in match-fixing? It must have been difficult to keep your personal feelings apart with somebody you were so close to.

I said at the time Cronje erred grievously and he knew it but deep down I felt sorry for him
A. Those revelations shattered our country. He had huge respect across the country - white and black.

I said at the time that he erred grievously and he knew it but deep down I felt sorry for him.

I knew that he went through tremendous pain and anguish over his involvement.

In terms of crises in world cricket there was the Bodyline series, the Packer revolution and the match-fixing scandal. This might have been the biggest crisis ever.

One had to put aside one's personal feelings for the survival of the game.


Q. The World Cup was the climax of your cricketing career. Do you think it achieved all of its aims?

A. We set out objectives and I'd like to think they were realised.

We wanted it to be bigger than cricket - it was about black empowerment, job opportunities, enhancing the tourism industry, providing a safe and secure event.

It was a wonderful feeling to get involved in such an exciting project.

The country rallied behind the event. The World Cup will be known for the volunteers. I can recall volunteers crying when it came to an end because it meant so much to them.


Q. You were directly involved in England's row with Zimbabwe during the World Cup. How do you see it now?

I don't believe you can ask a cricket board to make a very serious political judgement
A. Last year the England team did not go to Harare because [they said] it wasn't safe. I want to know what's happened now [they say] it's safe.

On the morality issue I don't believe you can ask a cricket board to make a very serious political judgement - it's got to be an instruction from the government.

The individual has a right to make a judgement from a morality point of view as you've seen with Stuart MacGill and for [British athletes] in the Moscow Olympics.


Q. Does it feel odd now to take a step back from day-to-day involvement in cricket?

A. Not really. Cricket has been fantastic to me so I'm content.

I've retired as a professional administrator. If down the years people want my contribution I'll give it serious consideration.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Ali Bacher
"In the early to mid-'80s many white people lived in a cocoon"



SEE ALSO
Government cannot ban tour
06 May 04  |  Cricket
Cronje 'could have returned'
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