An Australian anecdote ... or two
Former Australian players love their anecdotes. West Indian legends prefer to talk of matches or other players - at least the ones I encountered - but Australians remember the little stories.
Former allrounder Allan Davidson loves to tell a story. He was in India in the early 1980s and visited his old friend Vijay Manjrekar in Bombay. He is halfway through the story even before we have introduced ourselves. "And Vijay shows me two boys who are interested in cricket. One was his son, Sanjay, and the other was a little fella called Sachin. The same guy who's wearing a floppy hat today. Yes. And I showed Sachin how to bowl seam up. He ran up with those small steps even then. Good enthusiastic boy."
Rodney Hogg, the former Australian fast bowler, has been at the opening two Tests as a guest speaker. On both occasions he's narrated how he spotted a young Shane Warne. As captain-coach of Waverley-Dandenong in the district competition in 1989, Hogg watched his batsmen hammer the St Kilda bowling attack. Suddenly, with his side 1 for 125, on came a new bowler. Nobody seemed to know the bowlers name, though, not even the scorer. 'We went from 1 for 125 to 8 for 165, and this little fat turd [what we called him] had got four wickets for hardly any."
A year on, as Warne was going to make his Victoria debut, Hogg made a prediction in Truth newspaper. "I wrote an article saying Shane Warne would take 500 wickets." And the Truth couldn't handle the truth. Hogg was sacked. "I got the sack because they thought I was writing a load of crap. Actually the paper was only crap. Maybe they knew I was about 200 wickets short." And Hogg can't stop chuckling.
When the former Australian prime minister John Howard walked into the dressing room, Andrew Symonds made a habit of asking him for a tax-break. Howard was at the game on the first day but it was Kevin Rudd, the current PM, who walked into the dressing-room. ""It was good to see the PM," Brad Hogg said later. "But I don't know if Andrew got to ask him about the tax break like he did to John Howard."
The scorer at the SCG announces the exact time when a batsman gets out. "Brad Hogg was out at 1:56," she said before quickly adding, "The new batsman, walking in at 1:57, is Lee". Stunningly every single Australian batsman is out in the middle the minute after the earlier one leaves. There are unfounded rumours that India plan to utilise the three minutes before walking in. It's all just to rattle the Australians. Sourav Ganguly, who made it a habit of walking out late to the toss in the 2001 series, has been teaching the rest the finer points. Unbelievable.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo