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A Geordie All-Rounder: 38 - Divided Beaches

Continuing his autobiography, Malcolm Scott brings more stories from his cricket coaching days in South Africa.

On the way back to Queenstown, David and I had some car trouble somewhere in the great Karoo desert. Steeley said it was a faulty petrol gauge but I had my suspicions that he just forgot to fill the petrol tank. He had to hitch a lift to the nearest town, which was miles away, whilst I sat in the car wondering what my fate might be, especially when I saw a party of tribesmen walking nearby and looking at me. Fortunately they passed by; David returned and we eventually made our way back to our colleges.

Looking back, the country's apartheid policy was more apparent during that Christmas holiday. Prior to that all I had observed around Queenstown was that most of the African women were cooks or servants in white homes and the males were either labourers or unemployed.

They were centuries behind western standards. For example, one of the young girls who served in the college restaurant was missing one day and I asked where she was. I was told "She dropped a baby on the lawn the other day so she won't be in for a day or two." This was without any support or medical assistance.

Opposite our lodgings was a train station and periodically a group of Africans from the Queenstown area would gather together for a long trip to the Transvaal to work in the mines. Always present was a priest, who would wave some kind of incense, or good luck potion, to see them on their way.

I saw many instances of the apartheid policy. The buses had large notices indicating non-whites were to sit at the back with whites only at the front. The beaches were also divided and the hotels catered for whites only.

I nearly got into big trouble during that Christmas in Cape Town. We were playing snooker in a large pub after watching the Test Match. I was in competition with a huge Afrikaner and foolishly allowed the conversation to drift into politics. I maintained how unfair it seemed, to me, that in their own country, millions of Africans didn't have any rights and were governed by a few white Afrikaners and British.

My huge Afrikaner snooker opponent just exploded. Grabbing me by the throat he called me "a liberal English bastard". "We were here two hundred years before you lot, so keep your noses out of our country", he continued. After informing him "I did know the history of Africa, and unless he wanted another Boer War to put me down immediately". Surprisingly, he did. No more politics I vowed.

Weekends were busy times at Queenstown. I travelled with the college cricket team, often by overnight train, to places like Bloemfontein to play other colleges. Then on Sundays I played for Queenstown. We travelled by car to distant places, enjoyed the game and afterwards piled into a huge communal bath. After many Castle and Lion beers, and boy could they drink, we travelled home to await the next game.

All good things come to an end and the following March I was back on board the S.A. Oranje heading for Southampton. This time I shared the journey with Derek Shackleton, Hampshire's great swing and seam bowler.
I did receive an offer to return to Queen's College the following year but romance intervened, and as I was now over 30, it was time to think of a more secure occupation. I shall, however, never forget those six wonderful months in South Africa.


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