September 16, 2007

S Rajesh and Andrew McGlashan at the 2007 ICC World Twenty20

Dancing to the beat of Twenty20

ESPNcricinfo staff
The dancers at Newlands keep the fans entertained, England v Zimbabwe, Group B, ICC World Twenty20, Cape Town, September 13, 2007
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If you've failed to notice the dancing cheerleaders in the World Twenty20 so far, you haven't been watching. The colour, noise and party atmosphere of this event has been led by khaki-clad dancers throwing shapes and getting the crowd going every time a boundary is hit. At the Wanderers, they've been kept fit.

"We love Sri Lanka, they make us work," says Jazz, 28, a female dancer from Cape Town. Ian, 23, one of her podium partners, is not so sure. "When the weaker teams play it is better, we get a breather."

In fact, the Twenty20 workload came as a surprise. They knew they'd be dancing every boundary and every wicket, but they didn't think it'd be that busy. "The opening was a rude awakening because we didn't think there would be too many fours and sixes, then first ball and we were dancing," explains Ian.

"You have to get into the whole vibe of things, and have a party with everybody else otherwise the day seems to take forever," says Ian. Jazz loves her audience: "The crowd are really getting into it, they have started counting us in - they scream 5, 6, 7, 8 - and then we start jiving - it's very cool."

But do they like cricket? They are all professional dancers, selected from over 150 applicants for this gig, the audition was all about dancing and less the sport. Ian admits that it never really struck a nerve before: "I knew about it and the rules but I didn't enjoy the game, now the Twenty20 series is much more exciting, you can watch more. I will definitely go now. I wouldn't watch a five-dayer that would bore me - a day-nighter would do me."

Jazz is a fan and seems to enjoy the daily free tickets: "It is more exciting when you are at the stadium. And we have to watch the cricket when we are working otherwise we don't know when to go up!"

"It is important it looks good. The Rugby World Cup opening this year was appalling, it was rubbish and it was a world event. We are hosting the 2010 football World Cup, it is important to give a good impression of South Africa and what we can organise," says Ian.

So they're going to be busy? "There's loads of work for us - it is Africa time now," shouts Jazz.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of the Wisden Cricketer

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