St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Tournaments St George's Park - This Reckless disposal of our national heritage must stop now
This Reckless disposal of our national heritage must stop now

Attempted sale of Champion Bat and Test ball just not how this game should be played.
By Ivor Markman

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of foreigners coming to our shores and raping us of our national treasures.

If they want to take home pieces of Africa let them go to our beachfront and let them support the poor hawkers who stand there day after day selling curios.

I write this in the path of the Champion Bat fiasco.

You are probably aware that the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club attempted to sell our most cherished cricket memorabilia to the Marylebone Cricket Club museum in London.

Can you imagine how the English would react if we went to London, secretly negotiated with one of their councillors to purchase Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, brought it back to Port Elizabeth, and then erected it in Market Square?

They would be outraged.

Why? Because it is their history and relfects their past, just as our future lies in our past

We have a terrible history, especially when it comes to human rights, but there are some good things that happened as well. It is because of our past that we are able to grow.

Our nation is determined never to repeat the tragedies of our past.

But in order to learn from our past we need to preserve it and remember it.

Museums are needed to educate our youth, but in order to attract the youth to the museums there needs to be artifacts.

But what if we don't have any artifacts? Therein lies our problem.

The Port Elizabeth Cricket Club tried to sell objects of national interest to the MCC ostensibly because they want to send their members overseas to improve their cricket.

If I was a member of the PECC I would call a Special General Meeting of the club members and call for the resignation of the entire committee for bringing the good name of the club into disrepute.

How dare the committee take an object that was given to them for safekeeping and attempt to sell it?

How does the committee of the club justify disposing of "their assets" without consulting the members? Surely their Constitution stipulates steps that need to be taken before such a sale can be transacted?

The 1876 Champion Bat and 1889 first Test cricket ball, (the first ever cricket match between England and South Africa was played in Port Elizabeth) have been kept there for over 100 years.

Now the PECC claim that because they had the objects for more than 30 years the law says that they own them and they can do what they like with them.

What absolute rubbish. They cannot unilaterally take possesion of the property unbeknown to the rightful owner.

The bat in question was entrusted to them for safekeeping, and as a result, whether it is for one year or 500 years they have no legal right to claim the 30 year possesion rule.

It is nothing less than an item on loan to them as it would be to any museum in this country.

If the PECC no longer wish to be custodians of the bat and ball, and by their action they have indicated that they are quite prepared to part with these items, they should seek some other South African museum who would want the privelige of safekkeeping the items.

How dare they take an item that is boldly inscribed "Presented to the cricketers of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope by the Municipality of Port Elizabeth" and claim it as theirs?

The PECC never played in the competition and in fact they had absolutely no connection with the competition at all.

Even the people of Cape Town recognised that the bat belongs in Port Elizabeth. Why else would they have given it to the PECC for 'safekeeping'?

Despite the pleas from all the cricketing bodies and being made aware of the feelings of the historically concerned community the PECC chose to ignore them all and to go ahead with their own objectives.

You don't do things simply because you can.

You do things when its the right thing to do. You don't do things simply because you think you can get away with it, even if you believe that the current administrators are not interested in looking after colonial items of national interest.

Now its time to do the right thing and to hand the bat and ball over to a recognised museum

Its time for the Eastern Province Amateur Cricket Board to register these items as objects of national interest. I believe it's time for the PECC to apologise to the people of SA for their rash and thoughtless behaviour.

Weekend Post
January 22, 2005.

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