Gatting to lead rebels again in suing South Africans
Published: Saturday, January 4, 2003, 0:46 [IST]
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London: Former England captain Mike Gatting is to lead his ill-fated 1990 rebel cricketers into battle again though this time it is against the people who hired them, the South African Board, it was reported on Friday. Gatting told the 'Daily Mail' that the then governing body of South African cricket the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) and its head Ali Bacher had failed to pay the 10,000 Pounds ($ 15,000) they owed the rebels, which was to pay their tax bill in England. Legal action could prove highly embarrassing for South Africa who are a month away from hosting the World Cup and Bacher in particular, who is managing director of the World Cup. While Bacher said he believed he and the SABC, now the UCBSA, were on good legal ground, Gatting claimed the contracts he and other senior players like spinner and two-time rebel John Emburey and opener Chris Broad had signed gave them a cast-iron case. The tour was a total disaster for all concerned. Gatting, who agreed to lead it after being informed he would not captain England in the West Indies, and tour manager David Graveney, who along with Bacher had organised the recruiting of the players, were forced to return home after a month of protests greeted them wherever they went from anti-apartheid demonstrators. Graveney like Bacher has risen to the top of domestic cricket administrators since then and is now head of English cricket and a firm advocate that England should not play in Zimbabwe in the World Cup because of President Robert Mugabe's government's human rights abuses. While Graveney is believed not to be involved in the action, Gatting is determined that he and the players receive their dues. "We (the rebels) have since been told that, because the tour lasted only a month, the South Africans felt we had been paid an awful lot of money, so why should they pay the tax as well. "But I had it written into my contract, like everyone else, that my fees should be tax-free and the South Africans agreed to pay whatever taxes were due. It was the UCBSA who called the tour off, not us - and they also decided not to go ahead with a second tour a year later." Gatting, whose tenure as England captain was marred by his stand-up row with a Pakistani umpire and a one-night fling on the lawn of a country hotel with a barmaid, said they deserved such high fees (around 60,000 Pounds for two tours) because they risked receiving three year international bans. "The size of the tour fees was meant to compensate for the loss of the earnings during any ban. From the day that tour started we knew we were going to be banned for three years and that is why we now expect our contracts to be honoured," he said. Gatting's tour was the last of the rebel versions - there had been an English one before that including Graham Gooch and Geoffrey Boycott and a West Indian squad under Lawrence Rowe as well as an Australian tour led by former captain Kim Hughes - as the apartheid regime crumbled beginning with the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.