Prison Image by Unsplash

Prison Journalism: The charity game

David van Nek was incarcerated in Pollsmoor Prison from 2013 until 2015 and participated in the restorative justice programme.


Prison Image by Unsplash

Let me hit you with some good news. I remember the day we played against rich guys from Pretoria in a charity game. There was one rich guy from Ghana; he was the main sponsor. We tossed, we won, and then the match we had finished. I think we scored 188/4 in 25 overs, but one fact bothered me—didn’t like this rich guy. When the visiting side came to the prison, all the other players were on the bus. Yes, his name was Patel. I don’t remember his surname. Okay, the overs are finished; it’s them that have to bat. Their opening batsman scored both 40/48. This guy came with a cap. He batted at number 4. Guess what? Our captain told Big Boy to warm up. The captain knew that Big Boy never liked Patel. I think that was the 17th or 18th over, that guy came with a cap, sunglasses, and a watch.

The Confrontation on the Field

Big Boy asked the captain, “Must I give him the special one?” That is the short ball. Big Boy finished his first over. Kraai started his over; now it’s Big Boy again. On one of the turns, the guys screamed like a shebeen queen. The second over started outside off, the third hit against the elbow, the team doctor was by the batsman. 4th ball, a shot against the head, that guy fell face first. Broken Ray-Ban, but one thing, he stood up, he fought his battle. This guy is lying face first on his back. Big Boy came and told him, “I don’t care what Ferrari you drive, what penthouse you stay in now.You are playing with the big boys.”

The 5th ball, outside off stump, the poor guy was not sure about his stumps. The last ball, the middle stump flew out; it missed Sawas, our keeper. We won that game by 40 runs. That was a game that I will never forget. If you can watch “The Longest Yard”, it’s almost like that, but this is about a rich boy wanting to teach us the gentleman’s game.

Aftermath and Reflections

When they told us about Patel’s medical report Umpire Carl said to us, “Guys, easy on the guy. He’s the sponsor.” This guy had never played a game of cricket; this is a businessman. Big Boy said, “Be careful how you play cricket.” Some of those rich boys who came to visit us ended up being good friends. I used to have his numbers on my old phone. Sawas, our wicketkeeper, is working full-time for Patel’s brother in Silverton. Big Boy Pat is a driver for one of Patel’s friends. Marcus is security at David’s supermarket. Some guys are in the North West. Okay, right, until next time, goodnight.

DISCLAIMER: Submission published as received

Should you wish to assist in the rehabilitation of former inmates and help put money into the pockets of those who have struggled to earn a living during and after incarceration, click HERE 

RESTORE is an NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa, providing inmates at Pollsmoor Prison with restorative justice opportunities.

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