BY CLEMENT DU PLESSIS
STATISTICS can tell the whole story, certainly in the case of Faiek Davids.
Rugby – Hewat (student 1984-86); Primrose (club, since juniors).
City and Suburban (Board) from 1984-87.
Western Province (Board) 1988-90.
South African Rugby Union (Saru, National) 1989-90.
Cricket – Primrose; United; Green Point; Hanover Park.
Western Province Cricket Board 32 matches, debut 18-20 February 1984, Saait Magiet, Armien Jabaar –captains (Provincial cricket).
South African Cricket Board 87/88, 1990/91 Saait Magiet – captain (National cricket).
He also played cricket in the Netherlands for a club called Quick and Bloemendal in the post-apartheid years.
Denoting the years he played cricket and rugby at the highest level during sporting isolation in South Africa (1970-1991).
But what the super-talented Faiek Davids left out was a number of other noteworthy sporting achievements.
Moreover his ability in athletics.
(main photograph is the 1986 Hewat Athletics Team)
His natural talent as an athlete was clear while a student teacher at the Hewat Training College during the politically turbulent times of the 1980s.
His prowess in the high jump as a physical education student under the watchful eye of Andy Daniels, the physical education lecturer, became apparent at Hewat. He took the trips to the intercollege athletics meetings to Paarl in 1984, to the Vygieskraal Stadium in 1985 and to the Green Point Track in 1986.
Reader of the game
But Davids had no intention in becoming an athlete in the mould of Nazeem Smith, a fellow student at Hewat – the crack South African sprint champion. Even in rugby, Davids was very quick off the mark at outside centre – a brilliant reader of the game, who was intent on playing rugby at high speed before the opposition could reorganise themselves.
Being quick off the mark on the rugby field, combined with his natural agility and flexibility had been some of the attributes that had helped him in the high jump event.
To everyone’s surprise, Davids had cleared 1,90m in the high jump at the Western Province Colleges meeting at the Vygieskraal Stadium in 1985. The winning height, by a recognised and provincial high jumper in Willem Jansen of the Bellville Training College in rainy conditions, was 1,94m.
In an interview in the Afrikaans print media at the time, Davids said, ‘athletics was too demanding and required far more training than rugby and cricket’.
He was selected again to the Hewat team in 1986 as the first-choice high jumper. Andrew September, an older athlete and former SA high jump champion at Hewat, had qualified as a teacher by 1985 and registered for a BA. Phys Ed degree at the University of the Western Cape.
Davids was on the trip to the Green Point Track for a rare South African Colleges athletics meeting. He competed in the high jump at the Track in the august company of Thaabiet Abrahams (Peninsula Technikon), the multiple Boland, WP, SASSSA and SAAAB record holder and the evergreen Andrew September (UWC) who had a prolonged athletics career in the 1980s at club level.
The highlight for Davids on the day was when he gave the Hewat 4x100m relay team a great start for Smith to finish it off in winning style.
Gifted in many respects, he made do with playing in the streets, like many in the area, owing to the dire lack of recreational and sports facilities, even while a student at Hewat.
“We played in the streets and ‘parks’ after school and college in the 1980s,” he said.
He only embarked on intensive training in later years as he prepared for the rigours of senior cricket and rugby.
With some application and emphasis on athletics, Davids would probably have scaled the heights he did in rugby and cricket.
He certainly had the basic speed at centre for the City and Suburban Rugby Football Union and, on the wing, at the highest level of rugby with the South African Rugby Union (Saru), an affiliate of the South African Council on Sport (Sacos)
Born in Lansdowne, he attended the nearby Portia Primary School. From there he enrolled at Oaklands High School in Racecourse Road, Kenilworth, now rebuilt on the same premises with the entrance on Chukker Road, Lansdowne.
He achieved much of his sporting achievements while still a pupil at Oaklands at centre or with the bat and ball in hand.
“I was fortunate to have had my brother Faizel showing me the way to sport. We chose sport over the street life of gangsterism. There were role models who lead from the front. Players like Saait Magiet,” he said.
Magiet, of course, was a well-known cricket and rugby player.
For some inexplicable reason, having attended one WP schools’ rugby trials, Davids did not represent senior schools at rugby, although he had played in all of the age groups at Cities level, making his debut at senior level in 1984 at the age of 20.
This could be the only blot on his sporting copybook.
But fate intervened.
South African sports unity was forged in 1991, opening the way for admittance (not re-admittance) to international cricket (and for SA sport in general) with a lily-white team travelling to Calcutta, India under the captaincy of the now late Clive Rice. Rice had brazenly supported and played in the rebel tours to South Africa, propped up by the managing director of the South African Cricket Union Ali Bacher.
“In 1991, our country made its first historic tour to India with Clive Rice as captain. I did not get an opportunity to play because of the colour of my skin,” said Davids who played the sport at the highest level in the fold of Sacos.
Wrote a newspaper: “Cricket South Africa (CSA) should have taken the chance when former President Nelson Mandela and Bacher first fast-tracked SA back into the international fold in 1992 . Faiek Davids, a hard-hitting Cape Flats allrounder who never got the opportunity to play for his country, was taken on that historic tour to India. But instead, a man like Clive Rice, who openly supported and played in rebel tours to South Africa during apartheid, took the field in those matches in India. We [South Africa] should have included Faiek and showed the world that South Africa had really transformed. But instead, a lily-white team was fielded and Faiek ended up being a tourist. ”
India won the three-match series 2-1 under the leadership of Mohammad Azharuddin.
The trip to India in 1991, by the white South African cricketers, was a bad example of sporting diplomacy and discredited the impending democracy of 1994.
- Faiek Davids is a former sports master of Alexander Sinton High School and current assistant cricket coach to Ashwell Prince at the Cobras, Newlands.