Dina Taljaard was denied an opportunity to compete at the Olympics in 1968 and then the World gymnastics championship, for no fault of hers. Her country, South Africa, was banned from sport because of the apartheid policy.
So when her son got a chance to play at the cricket World Cup, she flew down from Johannesburg to India, taking along with her daughter and grandchildren. She is glad she did: she could watch her son, Sybrand Engelbrecht, scoring a superb 70 lower down the order against Sri Lanka here on Saturday.
She was also there at Dharamshala when the Netherlands scored a historic win, against South Africa. “I decided to come to India when Sybrand was selected in the Netherlands team,” Dina, dressed expectedly in orange, told The Hindu at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium. “It has been a great experience and exciting to watch him play at the World Cup.”
Engelbrecht had played for South Africa in the Under-19 World Cup in 2008 in Malaysia, where he took a couple of incredible catches, one of which was off the bat from a certain Virat Kohli, but retired from cricket eight years later. Then he moved into a career in finance and did an MBA. His job took him to Holland and he returned to cricket.
Dina is delighted that he is doing what she could not in international sport. “It was heart-breaking to miss out on the Olympics and the World championship,” she said. “We had already been in the UK and France and competing and then we were stopped. But when you are young, you really don’t know the full implications. Like me, many South African athletes, from various sports, were denied opportunities to take part in the Olympics and other prestigious international events.”
Among them were some cricketing greats, like Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock and Mike Procter. “A whole generation suffered,” said Dina. “But you cannot change that. I am really happy that Sybrand has got to play in a World Cup, and my grandsons, both keenly into cricket, have loved watching their uncles perform.”