THERE are going to be so many long faces and thick bottom lips dragging along South African office floors this morning we should probably be grateful Pirates didn’t beat Chiefs on Saturday.

The fact that Chiefs’ only goal came from a hideously obvious off-side we’ll not even discuss.

But, hey, brilliant work from Pat Lambie to help the Sharks bury Western Province on Saturday, and absolutely awesome batting and leadership from Graeme Smith and his Proteas.

It cannot be easy staying motivated in an empty stadium so far from home but, boy, does Smith have buckets full of the qualities that a national side needs in its leader.

I get teased about my support for Lambie but if there was any doubt after the Currie Cup final that he is the best fly-half in the country with ball in hand then it’ll be concentrated in Pretoria.

I say the best fly-half, not the best place kicker. He missed a few and he needs to kick for poles more in big matches. We had to teach Percy to place-kick reliably, so why not Pat? But how often does a guy miss four kicks and still get the post-match praise he so deservedly did? And his pack didn’t have its way for all of the match either. As for Pieter-Steph du Toit, wow! When he and Eben Etzebeth finally form our national lock pairing there’ll be nothing to touch them for years.

At least we still have sovereignty over our rugby.

We clearly don’t any more over our cricket. It is run from India by Indians. Because, literally, the guy who runs Indian cricket doesn’t like the guy who runs our cricket, the Indians have stuffed up the South African summer tour by keeping it short. Where is the government in all this? What the board controlling Indian cricket has done is to tell the country with the leading Test team to go and get stuffed. And we thanked them for it! How low will we bend for the Indians? We should refuse to play against them until they apologise for their disgraceful behaviour.

As it is, the Indian government is already mad as hell with our government for a recent string of perceived insults and slights. We could survive standing up for ourselves.


HANG ON. I’m not so sure any more about Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy statement the other day. As a manager facing the need to cut a mountain of cost out of my business, I’ve looked at all sorts of ways to wriggle out of it. But if you have to cut you can’t just save. You have to cut.

He didn’t do that last Wednesday. All he cut were some official perks that sounded good politically ahead of an election. He kept the fiscal deficit steady but that’s that like juggling and balancing on a ball. What if the US tapers and the rand runs? The fact is he can’t cut anything ahead of the 2014 elections. Even the hint that a call might be made on moving Parliament and the seat of government closer together turns out to be nothing of the sort. They’ll try to take fewer flights.

And then Sapa was reporting that he said on Friday that it was the "news flow" (us, the media) that was responsible for South Africa’s negative credit ratings. This is a favourite theme of his. We’re negative and, worse, useless. Though if we’re useless, why would all those clever ratings people take the slightest notice of us? "If you want to shoot this country down, carry on with the news flow," Gordhan is reported to have said. "Alternatively, change the narrative and talk about how we are going to co-operate to put this country on its proper growth path.…"

Which is all well and good, but it’s sadly just more words. If you’re not in the government how do you get heard? I’ve lost count of the number of proposals business has put into policy deliberations only to be ignored.

There’s a good example in the Letters to the Editor in Business Day. The wine business is directly threatened — along with jobs, national prestige and marketability — by the government’s disingenuous campaign to ban the advertising and/or marketing of all alcohol products. Yes, I have family in the sector but I’d say this even if I didn’t. Everyone in the alcohol, marketing and media industries knows this is going to entrench big players and make it impossible for small brewers, wine labels and farms to grow. Everyone knows there’ll be job losses, let alone years of opportunity costs.

This to satisfy a puritanical minister who wants the "news flow" about drink-induced violence in South Africa to stop. We all do. But advertising doesn’t create alcohol abuse. We might as well ban car advertising because people drive dangerously. The health minister attacking advertising for domestic abuse is about as useful as the finance minister criticising the newspapers for our country’s falling credit ratings. This Christmas would be a good time for both men to read Don Quixote.