The South African Croquet Association recently announced that support for the sport is beginning to dwindle as the number of players has dropped significantly. They suspect this may be due to the cessation of the government subsidies, but I think there may be deeper issues that are causing the dramatic decline.
For one, the strongest generation of Croquet players were all ex-Rhodesians. Most of these people knew Cecil John Rhodes personally. They also drank too much Gin and Tonic. Although good for fighting Malaria, it isn’t as good for the liver or the brain. I’m sure if someone were to do a study of the G&T’s per capita, the results would show a decline here too. If they survived, the war, the malaria and Bob Mugabe, then “old age” (pronounced alcoholism) is slowly getting the rest of them.
There is also a supposed link between the cane used for the mallets and the sudden drop of Croquetors. it is believed that arthritis and repetitive strain injury may have been the cause of this. The cane used to make the mallets of old, was the same cane used to beat servants. One might find that the servants shouldn’t have been playing Croquet during work hours anyway, and so deserved the beating. It may also not be so much the actual cane causing the arthritis and strain, but rather the beating action.
The decline in servants has also played a significant role in the sports demise. In colonial Africa why would you setup your own hoops, fetch your own balls or pour your own drinks. That would be way too much effort, and is exactly the reason why you have servants in the first place. Unfortunately, due to the slaves being malnourished, they too have died. This is highly upsetting as most of them didn’t ask for permission, and deserve a beating, except that there is no point in flogging a dead slave.
When these problems are paired with the demise of names such as Reginald and Bartholomew, it is no wonder the sport is struggling to find people of the right stature. Without class the game has nothing, and without names like Reginald and Bartholomew, there is no class.
Unfortunately, when our black brethren took over as rulers of England’s last outpost, the course of history was changed forever. When Mr Mandela was writing the constitution, unfortunately Croquet wasn’t at the front of his mind. He can be excused for this, as he had bigger issues to worry about I’m sure. Things like emancipation of the blacks deserves a place higher up the list than Croquet, but unfortunately there it seems that no thought was given to Croquet players at all. We won’t mention the fact that this is against a Croquet player’s rights though, Mr Malema might nationalise the remaining playing greens that the Association has.
So it is a sad farewell to a bygone era, that has been left behind by modern times. A new world where ritual beatings and doing manual labour yourself have replaced the age old tradition of getting someone else to do it! Goodbye to the remaining colonialists! And your sport, at least you still have the Inanda Cricket Club.