Simon Haydon's tenacity
Thursday 26 November 2020
I worked with Simon in London, we covered the annual Bislett Games together in Oslo when he was the local correspondent and I was the athletics writer and he and Barbara entertained me and our respective children to dinner in Wellington when he was Reuters man in New Zealand.
In 2007 I helped report on the cricket World Cup in the West Indies, a disappointing tournament overall but one made eminently endurable by the endless beaches and potent rum punches. The latter may have played a part in the decision by the England vice-captain Andrew Flintoff's decision to ride a pedalo into the open sea at four o'clock in the morning.
At the final between Australia and Sri Lanka in Barbados, the teams left the field because of rain and bad light with three overs remaining. The three international agency reporters - Simon working for the Associated Press, Julian Guyer of Agence France Presse and myself - checked the rules, realised Australia had won because they were ahead on run rate and had bowled the minimum 20 overs and filed accordingly. Then while officials were preparing for the victory ceremony we watched in horror as the teams returned in pitch black conditions under inadequate lights and went through the motions for three overs after which Australia were proclaimed champions.
Match referee Jeff Crowe was sent out to explain to an angry press corps what had happened. He admitted the match officials (himself, the two onfield umpires and the two reserve umpires who included South African Rudi Koertzen) had made a mistake but refused to say how and why. Simon was unrelenting, demanding an explanation, as we watched in silent admiration. Crowe finally admitted it was Koertzen who had insisted the players needed to complete the final three overs or resume the game on the following day. "Rudi had the loudest voice," Crowe explained.
"What happened in Barbados that night briefly constituted one of the worst experiences of my working life," Julian says. "While I'm sure the truth would have come out eventually, it was Simon's tenacity that ensured we had an answer on the night itself, something hugely appreciated by all his fellow reporters." ■