By Timmy Hancox
Leave while you still have all your teeth and don’t yet need the hearing aid. In sport it is very important to retire before you get retired by your team and handed a brochure for Shady Pines Retirement Home and a catalogue of trendy Zimmer frames. Percy Montgomery has recently retired and at a time when he still made the team without grumblings about being selected on reputation. No coach wants to drop a star, but at what cost must the star keep being selected? You don’t want to leave the emerging talent out in the cold or they might get sick of waiting and pull a Kevin Pietersen on you before you can say Clyde Rathbone.
India’s cricket side is a prime example of needing an injection of youth. The most recent change in the line up was to recall 36 year old Sourav Ganguly to join Sachin Tendulkar (35), VVS Laxman (33), Rahul Dravid (35) and Anil Kumble (38). A blind squirrel, or perhaps even Kas Naidoo could see the problem here! But who would want to be the Indian convenor of selectors who is remembered for being stoned to death for dropping Tendulkar? The Australians, on the other hand, seem to have found a knack for picking aging spinners in a vain attempt to fill the Warne void. Bryce McGain, who is the new Aussie spin doctor – I mean bowler – is 36 years old already! While another Aussie Shaun Tait retired at 24 earlier this year, or should I say threw a temper tantrum until the selectors took note of him and suggested that he should stop sulking and attend a training camp.
Ollie Le Roux is another example of a fine retirement saga, as he was dearly loved by the Kings Park faithfuls for many years, until the Sharks told him that his contract would not be renewed and maybe he should retire. To be fair he was a little long in the tooth at the time, but the burly prop forward had other plans and enjoyed a few top class seasons in a rejuvenated and trophy-winning Cheetahs team. A front row forward with such a long career – aka a chiropractor’s nightmare. Speaking of props, the man himself, Os Du Randt, retired for some years from injury before his remarkable comeback to win a second World Cup. After the final in Paris, he happily re-retired to his farm in the Free State, and when Jake White came knocking for the end of year tour, he shook his massive head – which in an accomplishment in itself for a man without a neck. When asked what he was going to do now that rugby is finished, Os simply smiled and said he wants to sit on the farm and listen for the rain. And I wish all the best to the hero who must have grown up when meat was cheap.Cheers to that.