Having greeted him on various journeys to and from the stadium, first in Cape Town and then in Centurion, it was surprising to hear him say he wanted India to win the Test match at the start of play on the fifth morning. As much as it didn’t seem to occur to him that India’s best hope Virat Kohli was already back in the hut, what was more surprising was him not wishing for his home team to seal the series.
On further prodding, it finally came to the fore that he has been quietly supporting the Indian team ever since the support staff has arranged for drinking water for him and also the Indian team driver gave him match tickets to help one of his friends watch the game. Andre feels that for some in the South African unit, specifically one member, he is a part of the bus and not a part of the team.
“I have been travelling around with these boys for a while and even though the players are fantastic chaps, there is one official around, who, if he had his way wouldn’t even like to consider me as human. It is surprising how even though the players will be warm towards me, this official has a problem with me. I have been asked why I walked into the team hotel in the morning one of these days to order coffee for myself. This, after I was told by the hotel that it was on them. To be honest, I didn't know I didn’t even deserve a coffee after driving the players to the ground and back.
“Look at the Indian guys on the other hand. Not only do they treat their driver (Ronnie Moodley) with respect and welcome him to be a part of the team, they are the ones who ensure that I get my water bottles and cool drinks when we (Roonie and me) are waiting out in the sun as the team plays in the middle. Is it not basic courtesy to check if I need some water or something else? The Indian players are so warm that they gave the driver tickets to bring his friends and family and in fact, I used one of those as one of my friends wanted to watch the game,” he told CricketNext.
Asked why he didn’t ask for tickets from Cricket South Africa, he said: “On some days, I am given my lunch coupon at 2pm when the man designated to hand the coupon realises that he had almost forgotten. So, you might as well realise how it is. I have my friends in the Indian team to help me out if needed.”
Is that the reason he does not wear the South African jersey unlike the Indian driver, Andre said: “Obviously. I do not want to be now pulled up for wearing the team jersey when I am not a part of the team. I am happy in my shirt given to me by my company.”
First Published: January 18, 2018, 8:58 AM IST