AS I WRITE, it's the night before the cricket Test against India at Newlands and while you're reading this our Proteas may have already ended up in shit street or may have clinched a sensational series win — it's impossible to guess with this team.
The victory in Centurion was nevertheless good enough to remind us what format and style of cricket South Africans are best suited to: a pack of vicious fast bowlers and brilliant batsmen.
If I were Cricket South Africa, I would have had my committee on their knees begging Dean Elgar for another season or three of Test cricket.
It's fine to bring in promising young players but a lack of experienced older men spells trouble in any team sport.
But then again, when there are too many older players a clique is established which causes everything to clog up before and after their eventual exit, like the smelly drains in a decaying office building.
This story is familiar to South African cricket fans; too many crooks, cliques and shithouses. And that's only the players; let's not even start talking about the administration.
I'm as bitter as most traditionalists about T20 stealing Test cricket's sunshine, but on New Year's Day we heard our bank accounts emptying as the stop orders went off one by one on the phone.
It therefore makes me bitterly sad that an extremely watered-down Protea team will be leaving for a Test series in New Zealand because most of our best have to play in the SA20, but the stop orders are ringing non-stop.
Test cricket doesn't make money and pyjama cricket does.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the remainder of the careers of Tony de Zorzi (26), Nandré Burger (28) and David Bedingham (29). As Australia has been doing all these years, it seems South Africa has finally learned that Test cricket is not where you learn to build an innings.
These are more experienced players than the children who were regularly sacrificed in the past; yet many so-called “cricket fans" are asking where they have suddenly come from.
They have been around for a long time.
And if South Africans, like me, don't watch multi-day provincial cricket, we have little right to nag about things we know little about. The SA20 is the only thing that prevents the lights from going out.
I would even consider Only Fans as a side hustle these days, if only there were a market for emaciated pensioners who take their pants off.
However, as long as bread and jam become more expensive weekly I won't throw stones at those who become more morally flexible.
T20 Schmee20, professional sport is what it is and we are mostly jointly complicit.
Fortunately, over the festive period there was the customary World Darts Championship to delight in and I took the opportunity amid all the bad news about possible wars and likely elections in 2024.
If these bras were to advertise themselves on Only Fans, they wouldn't earn much more than me. They mostly just look like normal fat people, more specifically like the fat people you would see in your friendly local pub, and are mostly allowed to market themselves as they see fit.
But even darts can get puritanical.
The young Owen Bates, for example, started introducing himself as Master, wore a similar shirt and marketed darts as “Master Bates" until the world body and its sponsors put a stop to it.
Master Bates lost in the first round at Ally Pally in December but this obvious joke may have tempted the humble Charles Dickens almost two centuries ago with Oliver Twist.
Of course, some people you might run into in your local pub are pretty dodgy and that's why guys like Simon Williams are there — to jeer at you. (He reminds me of Bill Sykes, speaking of Oliver Twist.)
Then again, Rob Cross looks like a decent person but unfortunately also like a friend's annoying husband and therefore: BOOOO!
But there is so much less bullshit, politics and screaming advertisements around darts than around any other sport that it becomes irresistible.
The annual jollification is half sport, half beer garden in the Alexandra Palace and almost all the participants have another job. As well as a sense of humour and respect for their opponents. The oldest contender for the world title this year was 59-year-old Steve Beaton, former world champion and self-nicknamed Bronzed Adonis, whose entrance music is Stayin' Alive.
Unfortunately, the Bronzed Adonis went home as early as Master Bates.
Another cool top player, Chris Dobey, was defeated in the quarter-finals. His nickname is Hollywood because he thinks he looks a lot like Brad Pitt. Maybe — if you order this on Wish, are myopic and compare him to his colleagues.
The tournament has a packed hall during every session as well as rough northern European fans who can afford enough £5 beers to up the vibes properly halfway through the second game.
There's a very old guy who blared out the scores so loudly daily that you started fearing for his health. After the semi-finals, someone else had to take over.
The supporters, mostly in fancy dress, are predominantly more zef than me and almost all my friends. One idiot asked his girlfriend to marry him with a poster during the entrance of the players; another tried to advertise his electrical business in Croydon and a cell number in the split second the camera focused on him.
Here a journalist describes the vibe — please read at least to where the two sets of Teletubbies walk past each other.
But I actually wanted to talk about 16-year-old Luke “The Nuke" Littler, who at the time of writing had just reached the final, where he lost against the world's best, “Cool Hand" Luke Humphries.
Since I really only watch darts around Christmas, his breakthrough brought unexpected joy. Littler, who is apparently on at least one spectrum but has an aim that resembles that of Robin Hood and who can do mental arithmetic faster than any machine, made me scream as loudly as anyone in any other sport during the last few weeks.
He may have lost on Wednesday night but it doesn't matter.
He could easily become the best player the world has seen, but at 16 we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed he doesn't soon find out that there are much more fun things on earth than darts.
Here he is in action at 14:
The cup is named after the legendary broadcaster Sid Waddell, who did as much to popularise the sport as any player. Here are some of the best sayings of this old master, who can't be praised enough.
Entrance music for darts, please, the year has already been hard enough. One and all better than Sweet Caroline.
That of Steve Beaton, the Bronzed Adonis:
Mighty Michael van Gerwen, the eliminated Dutchman who was the pre-tournament favourite:
Ryan “Heavy Metal” Searle:
♦ VWB ♦
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