St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Tournaments St George's Park - Controversy around Champion Bat takes turn for the worst
Controversy around Champion Bat takes turn for the worst
Ivor Markman

The controversy surrounding the sale of Port Elizabeth’s Champion Bat and the ball from the first Test took a turn for the worse on Monday night when the committee of the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club decided to go ahead with the sale of the valuable cricket mementos.

PECC President Terry Reid said that based on the legal advice from a firm of attorneys, who told them that seeing they had had the bat in their possession for more than 30 years, they accepted that they are the legal owners and they are now going to continue with the sale.

He declined to name the firm of attorneys.

Murray Brown, club manager of PE Crusaders Sports Club, who has the bat at his home, is to take the bat to the Marylebone Cricket Club’s museum in London at the end of February. The flight is to be paid for by the MCC.

The president of the United Cricket Board, Ray Mali, was disappointed with the PECC’s decision and said “EPACB must use all the structures at their disposal to prevent the sale. Nobody can just dispose of them like this.

“That is our history, they cannot sell these items to obtain quick money. The Champion Bat is what linked us in the past and allowed us to play together. There are things that bind us together and we must not throw these things away for a few shillings and pennies,” he said.

“The national body (UCB) is there to protect our assets for future generations. If it means going to court, then we’ll go to court to protect these artifacts.

“If the club has financial problems they must appeal to the UCB through the EPACB for assistance. "

EP Amateur Cricket Board president, Raymond Uren, said “These guys have a fight on their hands. We must do everything to stop the sale. Our legal advisers will be sending them a letter. It’s gone beyond EP.

"We have powerful  connections and will communicate via the International Cricket Council with the (English cricket controlling body) England Wales Cricket Board to stop the sale.

“The PECC must realise that at the time of unity it was agreed that all artifacts coming from the old cricket boards would be placed in a proper museum.”

Bayworld historian, Jenny Benny, said the decision to sell the items was morally totally unacceptable. “How can individuals benefit from a national asset? It’s not there just for them, its here for the whole country.

“It’s appalling. I don’t see how one small body can make a decision about items that belong to the whole nation.

“From a business point of view it is very short sighted to sell your assets. Once they’re gone  they’re gone and there’s nothing left This is instant gratification, instant money, that’s all it is.

“If these items were in a bona fide museum they would never be sold.

“As these items are over 100 years old, have they obtained the proper export permits? You can’t just ship our national heritage out of the country.”

When asked whether he had obtained an export permit in order to comply with law, Reid said “I was not aware that we required a permit. Obviously if that is a requirement we will have to get it.”

Benny also questioned how they valued the bat.

“We have no idea of the value of the bat,” said Reid.

“Maybe its worth more. No valuation was made on it. We though it was worth about £10,000 but when an offer came in at that amount (£8,000) we accepted it. We didn’t want to get it valued on the open market.”

The PECC intend investing the money and using the capital.

“The reasoning behind this is to have sufficient capital so that interest earned on that capital can be utilised for the development of our club cricketers.

“We want to set up a twinning scenario with an overseas county or club setup, where we are able from a PECC perspective to pay for one of our players to go and play overseas and likewise host one of their players in their off season.

“Our current money covers our current projects. We have a Golf Day planned for February 26 to cover a shortfall between existing revenue and expenses,” he said.

The Herald
January 19, 2005.

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