Cullinan's behaviour towards Iqbal Khan
CULLINAN -- no apology.
EAST LONDON -- Star South African cricketer Daryll Cullinan flew into Johannesburg international airport yesterday with an ugly race row hanging over his head.
Cullinan reportedly refused to apologise to a touring Durban journalist for calling him "a nasty, piece of work" and a "f...ing racist" during a scathing 15-minute tirade, in full view of the team's manager, in the journalist's hotel room in Pakistan, from where the South African team returned yesterday after a highly successful tour.
Under the headline,"Race insult mars tour of Pakistan", the row was the front page lead in last week's Sunday Tribune.
The report, written by the newspaper's sports editor, Gary Lemke, says United Cricket Board managing director Ali Bacher said he had spoken to Cullinan "and told him what he had done was wrong and instructed him to make a sincere apology".
"I told him he had no right whatsoever to go into a room and behave like he did. Cullinan acknowledged it, but the unfortunate thing is his view is shared by a lot of cricketers."
Cullinan, a product of Queen's College in Queenstown, reacted strongly to a newspaper article written by the Independent Group's representative on tour, Iqbal Khan, and reportedly swore at him in Khan's room in a requested meeting with the team manager, SK Reddy, who is also president of the Natal Cricket Union.
Bacher said he had received a fax from Kahn detailing the journalist's concerns over the incident.
In the fax, Khan said: "Cullinan arrived around 6pm as requested by SK Reddy and for 15 minutes he verbally abused me -- saying I was vindictive, I did not know what I was writing about, I did not have the respect of the players in the country, nor of the South African team. He then went on to read a paragraph from The Star which described his innings and scores and the opinion that Shane Warne would be awaiting his arrival with glee (on the December tour) in Australia.
"I was told continuously that I was a nasty piece of work and he also said the team spoke to me to blow smoke up my ****. Just as Daryll walked out he called me a f...ing racist. SK Reddy was flabbergasted at the way Cullinan addressed me in my room and apologised to me later," Kahn wrote to Bacher.
After being instructed by Bacher to apologise, Cullinan and Reddy met with Khan. "I am aware of a fax that has been sent to the UCB. I'm not apologising for what I said. I'm apologising for my behaviour and the way I handled it," Cullinan said, on tape.
Bacher said Cullinan was not in any breach of contract and wouldn't be disciplined, other than the telephone call instructing him to apologise. "I'm disturbed by it and I can understand Khan also being disturbed. South African cricket has received good press from their country's journalists. I reiterate: Cullinan was wrong and he knows it. If he doesn't apologise, shake hands with Khan and be sincere about it, let me know."
Bacher admitted that had the incident involved a high-profile English cricketer and a British journalist "the story would be front-page news in all the English papers".
The war of words started when Fanie de Villiers arrived as a tour replacement in Lahore, bringing with him a copy of the article to which Cullinan took offence.
Lemke noted: "It could be argued Cullinan could have been found guilty of breaching his code of conduct as a contracted cricketer of the UCB. Players who verbally abuse other players or match officials normally receive hefty fines and-or suspensions."
In his column in the same issue, Lemke, a former Daily Dispatch racing editor, writes under the headline: "You should remember that respect is a two-way street, Mr Cullinan":
"I'm stunned that no less a figure than Bacher failed to discipline the player for his 15-minute outburst in Khan's hotel room in Lahore.
"He said he had spoken to Cullinan, who acknowledged he was wrong and that he had told the batsman to apologise. The 'apology', taped, is full of sarcasm, arrogance and carries all the signs of someone who achieved the miraculous feat of having been able to squeeze his head through the hotel door.
"There is no doubt about it. In England, even the United States, Cullinan would have already been on his way home. Second prize would have been a hefty fine and a suspension.
"Of course, we all accept that not everything is written and there have been countless occasions when things said in the heat of the moment, or late at night, or early in the morning, haven't made print.
"So, why did we publish the Cullinan outburst on the front page today? Because respect is a two-way street and as a role model to thousands of aspiring cricketers, the player has a duty to perform -- not only on the field of play, but off it as well.
"If he had called Ali Bacher a "f... racist", as he referred to Kahn, what action would have been taken? Okay, so that's his boss. What about an umpire, a fellow player -- a spectator? Why is it that by and large sports journalists in this country are bracketed with second hand car salesmen.
"Players have to remember that they are placed on pedestals by the media. The media can also take them down. It's a harsh reality, Mr Cullinan."