THE Proteas arrived in Durban yesterday for the second ODI against India at Kingsmead on Sunday with the knowledge that Nelson Mandela will be spurring them on to great heights.
Current bowling coach Allan Donald was a member of the first post sporting isolation South African cricket team and remembered Mandela as the greatest person he had ever met.
“I remember meeting him at the Wanderers in 1993, ahead of a Test against India,” he said. “He was remarkable as he had time to speak to all the players and when he reached me, he asked what the Free State was like. He knew things about all the players.
“His speech to us in 2003, before we took on the West Indies in the 2003 World Cup fired us up like nothing before or since. It was about the importance of the game and the legacy we were leaving behind. It was delivered with such calmness and authority.”
Jacques Kallis said it was a sad occasion and Mandela had done a wonderful job for South Africa. “He had a huge impact on people’s lives and no doubt, he will still look down and take care of SA.”
With tributes such as these, the Proteas will be playing for Mandela and the nation tomorrow in Durban.
More cricket tributes
“Madiba was an inspiration to the Proteas in the same way he was to other South African teams. As Protea captain I was very privileged to spend some time with him and I vividly recall telephone calls I received from him wishing us luck before a big match. His words will stay with me forever as they were not only relevant to cricket, but also to life.” — Graeme Smith
“We often felt, especially in my early days in the Proteas, that Madiba showed personal interest in the team and us as individual players. His memory will not only inspire us in our current series against India, but also to stick together as a team representing a nation into the future.” — AB De Villiers
“A big thank you for what he did for sport and cricket. He gave me my chance to represent South Africa and when I met him on a few occasions, I was blown away by his aura and presence. He understood sport as a language of unity that crossed boundaries.” — Andrew Hudson, SA Cricket’s convenor of selectors.