South African off-spin bowler Pat Symcox was the guest speaker at a meeting
of the Cricket Society of South Africa at Houghton Golf Club, Johannesburg
on Tuesday May 28th.
Symcox was introduced by test umpire Cyril Mitchley who revealed that Symcox
also holds provincial colours for Squash and Badminton as well as being a
lawn bowler and fisherman of some repute.
The off-spinner rooms with swing bowler Fanie de Villiers when on tour, and
in addition to his bowling duties is held responsible for making sure that
de Villiers - who is the South African player most fined for tardiness - is
on time for team meetings. He gave some amusing insights into off-field,
on-tour life including the story of how the team's bio-
kineticist Paddy Upton arranged four wake up calls in the course of one
night for skipper Hansie Cronje during the recent World Cup. Cronje gained
revenge the next morning: Whilst dishing out anti-malaria tablets to the
squad he slipped Upton two sleeping pills. The training session that
followed ended with Upton being left asleep on the outfield in 40 degree
heat after a "visualisation session".
Symcox named Graeme Hick, Steve Waugh, Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammed
Azharuddin as the batsmen that he personally rated. He considers Azharuddin
to be very under-rated and feels that any spin bowler will be made to work
harder than usual when bowling to the Indian skipper. When asked his opinion
of Mark Waugh he agreed that the younger twin was a very good player but
mentioned a weakness in his cover drive as being a notable chink in his
When asked if he felt that slow bowlers improved with age, Symcox agreed but
opined that this trend was changing due to the sheer volume of games played
in the modern era. He used as his example Shane Warne, just 26 and with an
uncomplicated action but already battling finger injuries and arthritis.
Asked about the future of South African cricket he named the three recent
test debutantes Kallis, Adams and Pollock as being stars of the very near
future. He made the interesting point that it may be Adams who decides who
the long term successor to David Richardson
Symcox feels that Adams will continue to improve his craft and that as he
becomes more important to the team it could well be the man who keeps
wicket to his googlies and chinamen at provincial level, Paul Kirsten,
who will emerge as Richardson's heir apparent and eventual successor.
Finally, Symcox was asked about the potentially arduous 1996/7 season,
with nine test matches and as many as 25 one day internationals, that
faces the South African team. He assured us that the national team
loves to play cricket and considers it a great privilege to represent
their country. "As long as we keep those two thoughts foremost in
our minds" he said, "we cannot become stale or jaded".