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The Ali Bacher story: From interviewee to interviewer

Steve Waugh again calls for players to undergo lie detector test

Dr Ali Bacher

Calcutta: From being among the most high-profile of sports administrators and sought after for interviews, Dr Ali Bacher is now himself interviewing high-profile sportspersons!

Clearly, interviewee to interviewer is some change in stance for the right-hander.

It’s interesting that In Conversation, the show he hosts on SuperSport, took off with Sachin Tendulkar’s interview on India’s 2010-11 tour of South Africa.

They are on excellent terms and the interview was recorded at Dr Bacher’s residence in Johannesburg, between the first and second Tests.

“Sachin was, well, very good... Before the recording, he met my family and was absolutely charming... Sachin made my mother-in-law Esther, who turns 97 in September, feel like a queen,” he recalled during a one-on-one with The Telegraph on Friday.

“Look, the Sachin interview was supposed to be a one-off, but the producers liked it and suggested I carry on... I’m contracted to the channel and have done 13 more interviews,” Dr Bacher added from Johannesburg, chuckling almost.

He’s 71.

A former South Africa captain, Dr Bacher’s innings in cricket ended with the very successful completion of the 2003 World Cup, of which he was the executive director.

Before that, he’d been the United Cricket Board of South Africa’s managing director and was the face of his country’s cricket during its readmission into the International Cricket Council, back in 1991.

The Board has since been christened Cricket South Africa.

Dr Bacher has, in fact, just returned home from England after interviewing cricket’s elder statesman and icon, Steve Waugh.

“Steve and I spoke for an hour in the last Ashes Test, at Lord’s...He was fascinating, something which didn’t surprise,” he said.

According to Dr Bacher, on eradicating fixing, Steve reiterated what he’d told this Reporter in London two years ago — that the captain and a couple of seniors “voluntarily go through a lie detector test.”

That would help “restore credibility.”

The Steve interview will be telecast after the producers have procured the footage to accompany it.

Besides Sachin and Steve, he has interviewed cricketers such as Jacques Kallis, Norman Gordon (at 101, the oldest Test player alive); non-cricketers like Oscar Pistorius, Penny Heyns (who set the Olympics pool ablaze in Atlanta, in 1996).

Dr Bacher’s interview with double leg amputee Pistorius, who created history during last year’s London Olympics, but has since been charged with murder, was before he made bold headlines — of the positive and, then, the negative kind.

“I was shocked to read and hear what happened (to Pistorius’ girlfriend, the stunning Reeva Steenkamp)... But a judicial process is on and, so, I shouldn’t be commenting,” he declared.

Pistorius is set to be back in court on August 19.

Dr Bacher pointed out that Sunil Gavaskar had agreed to be interviewed, for In Conversation, “in the near future.”

That should be another winner for SuperSport.