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The West Indies squad was given an early taste of Wellington's famous wind as they landed into the city on Sunday and it left some of them joking that they'll take the bus next time.
The flight from Dunedin needed two attempts to land into gale-force winds leading Darren Sammy to tweet a picture of himself looking distinctly uncomfortable. "#neveragain do I want to land at Wellington airport..so scary," was his accompanying message.
By all accounts he was not the only one a little unsteady as they left the aircraft. Even some New Zealanders on the same flight commented that it was one of the roughest they had known.
"I don't suppose anything can prepare you for that," Ottis Gibson said. "It was a little bit scary, I've experienced it before myself in South Africa but a lot of us haven't. There were a few finger nails chewed down to the bitter end. But the pilots do every day so they know what they are doing. It was experience."
And although it would be a six-hour road trip to Hamilton it has already been suggested. "It has been mentioned," Gibson said. "But we've recovered from it now. For some it was good fun, for some a bit terrifying."
No, we're not talking about the Ashes. This particular match took place 'down under' in a more literal sense. Down under a mountain, in a slate mine, in Lake District - a mountainous region in northwest England. Two village teams, Threlkeld and Caldbeck, were involved in the game, widely believed to be the first underground cricket match.
Honister Slate Mine hosted the game, a fundraiser, amid a network of underground tunnels inside the mountain Fleetwith Pike. And if everyone on hand had to wear hard hats it was because of the 2000ft of rock and slate above their heads, not because a flurry of sixes were expected - there were no designated boundaries in the match and the batsmen had to run all their runs, resulting in a middling target of 28 from six overs for Caldbeck to chase. The team made light work of it, winning with 10 balls to spare.
With England and Australia contesting the second of back-to-back Ashes series, the action on the field has become increasingly heated. For different reasons, controversy has also enveloped the official computer game, Ashes Cricket 2013, which was handed a thrashing by consumers comparable with England's defeat at the Gabba and has since been withdrawn from sale.
Licensed by the ECB and Cricket Australia, the simulation produced by 505 Games was originally planned to coincide with the Ashes series in England. Despite a five-month delay in production, the publishers were able to launch Ashes Cricket 2013 in conjunction with the return series Down Under, only for severe problems to be revealed.
Released last Friday, initially for PC, gamers have reported numerous glitches, with videos being uploaded to YouTube showing incompetent fielding, batsmen making unlimited runs, shots disappearing at bizarre angles and mysteriously claimed catches.
A 505 Games statement said: "The development of Ashes Cricket 2013 has been fraught with challenges almost from the outset. The chosen developer, even with their many years of cricket game development experience, was unable to overcome the unexpected challenges that the chosen game engine threw up, even with multiple extensions to the development schedule.
"As the licensee and publisher of name for Ashes Cricket 2013, 505 Games would like to apologise publicly and sincerely to our licensors, the ECB and Cricket Australia, and their respective partners/sponsors, who have been nothing but patient and supportive of us throughout the challenges this project has presented, and who, ultimately, we have let down. Our deepest apologies, however, are reserved for the fans of cricket and cricket games worldwide."
The ECB also released a statement, telling the BBC that it was "extremely disappointed". Those who bought the game will be offered refunds.
In a further twist to the age-old rivalry, the developer blamed for the problems, Trickstar Games, is an Australian company - but it seems both sides dropped the ball on this occasion. Oh, for the days of Brian Lara Cricket.
What do you do if a beach ball flops onto the field next to you at an international cricket match? Nothing. Photographer Patrick Hamilton learnt that the hard way at the Ashes Brisbane Test, when he was escorted from his spot on the boundary by security for tapping a beach ball that fell onto the ground back to the crowd a few too many times.
An award-winning local photographer, Hamilton eventually earned the right to continue to take his photos from the stands after a bit of negotiation with security. The security personnel, of course, earned their fair share of boos from the fans for being party spoilers. And the fans, it is likely, lost a beach ball in due course.
When Mohammed Shami began his demolition job on the West Indies batting line-up yesterday, the visitors weren't the only ones worried about the Test coming to a premature end. With every passing wicket, the fans' cheers were accompanied by an increasingly saddening realisation that it was probably going to be the last time that the Eden Gardens faithful would get to see Sachin Tendulkar on the field.
The disappointment was felt most by the Cricket Association of Bengal, which in a bid to provide Tendulkar a grand farewell, had planned for three aircrafts to shower 199 kg of rose petals - or roughly 400000 flowers - over the prize-distribution area, creating a two-inch thick carpet of petals.
"Our aircraft are two-seater Cessna-152 light-engine planes capable of carrying around 30kg of flowers at a time," Saket Agarwal of Trans Bharat Aviation told Metro. "We would have made more than one sortie each to airdrop the 199kg of flowers. It would have been such a spectacle."
The CAB officials had pulled nearly every possible string in their efforts to pull this off. Besides getting permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, and clearance from air traffic control at Kolkata airport, the government also had to give its approval. This, according to a CAB official, "isn't possible over a phone call".
"We were looking forward to this occasion as a lot of hard work had gone behind arranging this ceremony for Sachin," CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey said. "That we had to cut it short is a setback."
Dickie Bird was most admired and respected during his 24 years as an international umpire and now he is being raised to a higher status. By five feet to be precise. Not the real thing but Bird's statue in his hometown of Barnsley. The move comes after his bronzed index finger was being used to hang a variety of interesting items on including pants, condoms and chip boxes. Bird has been seen removing rogue items from his own statue but said he didn't mind what people were doing and saw it as a sign of respect that the statue had not been damaged.
"We are not going to stop it," Sculptor Graham Ibbeson said about a plinth that will be erected beneath the statue. "What we are going to do is make it a little more difficult. We are raising him up where he belongs.
"On Friday and Saturday night everybody who wobbles home from the town after a few sherberts seems to gravitate towards that finger, with knickers, brassieres, condoms, whatever. Dickie has been seen occasionally cleaning the debris off himself, so it needed to be done. It's horrible when people are abusing it like that. It is a bit of fun but it is a bit inappropriate."
The cricket team that shoulders a billion hopes? No, we're not talking about India, but cricket's new converts - the Vatican. With ecclesiastical records numbering members of the Catholic church at around 1.2 billion worldwide, the ICC, in their bid to expand the game, would sure welcome the news of the Vatican being interested in cricket.
And that's what it seems to be, with the Pontifical Council for Culture announcing plans to form cricket teams - one for men, made up of priests from around the world, and a women's XI comprising nuns. Australia's ambassador to the Vatican, John McCarthy, a former SCG Trust member, is helping to put the teams together, and hopes to organise a match against a Church of England XI.
Cricket, McCarthy said, was already popular in Rome, with priests and religious arriving there from around the world, and the Vatican's teams would draw on talent from everywhere cricket is played. "Internationally one would have a team representing the Vatican drawn from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies," McCarthy told Vatican Radio. "We are looking for Sri Lankan, Indian or Pakistani sisters who have played cricket and if they are found, they certainly will be invited to join the [women's] cricket team."
In a case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", cricket in Sri Lanka has gained a convert from the world of athletics, thanks to an evangelistic prod from Dinesh Chandimal. National javelin record-holder Sachith Maduranga shocked the track and field community in Sri Lanka when he retired from his sport at 23, last month, citing his frustration at the lack of recognition for his achievement. But weeks later, he has turned his attention to cricket - which is the country's biggest culprit for robbing other sports of their limelight.
School-mate Chandimal had reportedly suggested that Maduranga try his hand at fast bowling, and he has since been working in the nets at the Premadasa Stadium to some success, according to fast bowling coach Anusha Samaranayake.
"He averages between 130-135kmph without any difficulty," Samaranayake told The Island newspaper. "The only concern is his bowling action which he said he would like to work with us to improve." Maduranga said he had not yet fully committed to a career in cricket, but a bowler of his description will be a boon to Sri Lanka's sparse fast-bowling stocks.
He might have been one of the greatest players to have ever played cricket but Ricky Ponting has been told that he has been wasting his time with the sport. That's because he has quite an aptitude for golf and many observers have suggested Ponting should have a crack a playing professionally now his cricketing days are over.
Ponting was told by nine-time major winner Gary Player that "The way you hit the ball, you're wasting your time playing cricket." A handicap of +1 and a career low-score of 66 give credence to that claim and fellow Australian cricketer Dean Jones believes Ponting could become a dual international. "He hits it super-long, he's a great putter and he just loves golf," Jones said. "He spends time with his mate Marc Leishman, he has dozens of sets of golf clubs - I've seen his garage. When he's not playing cricket, he lives and breathes golf."
The next time he gets a wicket or finds himself on a winning team, Dwayne Bravo could well break into the same dance moves that he's been busy learning on movie sets these days. The West Indies allrounder, who plays for Chennai Super Kings, will be appearing in a promotional song for the Tamil film Ulla.
On Monday, he tweeted pictures of himself getting makeup touch-ups and posing in his costume, looking the part of "Chennai's newest film star", as he calls himself.
According to Rajan Madhav, the film's director, Bravo agreed as soon as he was offered the chance to shake a leg under the arclights. "Our producer approached him through a common friend. He is known for his freestyle dancing and we want to capitalise on it. Show him the way the audiences would love to see him on screen," Madhav told IANS.
Now there's an off-the-field PR opportunity the IPL franchises never dreamed of.
Lights, camera, action time! Chennai's newest film star ;-) pic.twitter.com/jxkBmhoqUJ— Dwayne Bravo (@Newbigdog) October 7, 2013
Guy Whittall, the former Zimbabwe allrounder, put up an uninvited guest for a night earlier this week. The house guest followed the rules of etiquette too, remaining quiet, not putting the family out, not even snapping at the feet dangling invitingly in front of its nose ... A well-behaved, eight-foot, 165kg Nile crocodile, it was, which spent the night inches away from Whittall at the Humani Ranch, the Whittall's game reserve in southeastern Zimbabwe.
The crocodile had made its way into Whittall's house from a nearby river and, presumably, spent the night under his bed. It was only discovered by a housemaid in the morning, who understandably screamed bloody murder as Whittall breakfasted in the kitchen. "The really disconcerting thing about the whole episode is the fact that I was sitting on the edge of the bed that morning, bare foot and just centimetres away from the croc," Whittall said later. "It came from the Turgwe River, which is a couple of kilometres from the house. They often wander about the bush, especially when it's cold and raining. I think he liked it under the bed because it was warm."
Whittall called in his co-workers at the reserve and the croc, after a bit of wrestling, was returned unharmed to the wild.
It's common nowadays for international cricketers to interact with fans via social networking platforms like Twitter. Shahid Afridi has taken it one step further by announcing a special mobile number to stay in touch, and not surprisingly, he was inundated with calls and text messages an hour after the number went live. According to Afridi, he had received as many as 80 calls and 275 messages. He intends to chat regularly with his fans during his spare time. "I have opened an account to keep in touch with my fans around the world and I took this step as hundreds of fans meet me and complain that they can't reach me to show their sentiments," Afridi said. Afridi, who has been a crowd-puller since his Pakistan debut in 1996 at 16, recently opened his official Twitter account and now has over 35,000 followers.
Google has a tradition of using its homepage to celebrate significant events with a funky doodle that incorporates the word "Google". Anniversaries, national days, and other dates of importance - such as the last day of the Canadian penny - are commemorated. Birthdays are also given a special place on the world's favourite search engine and today was the 187th birthday of John Wisden, the man who gave us the red brick bible that has become the definitive record of cricket. Why his 187th birthday was chosen remains unclear but Wisden joins Jackie Robinson (94th) - the first black player to play Major League Baseball - and Cecilia May Gibbs (136th) - the Anglo-Australian author and illustrator - to have obscure milestones celebrated in a sketch.
Where would you find Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden rubbing shoulders every day - on the field and off it - with Sehwag, Sachin and Yuvraj? In Thangachimadam village, about 550 km from Chennai, whose good folk have reflected their passion for cricket by naming their children after their favourite players. "In a recent cricket match, I hit a sixer off the last ball when we needed just one run to win," Steve Waugh, a class eight student, told Times of India.
Sehwag, Sachin and Yuvraj are siblings named by their father George after his favourite cricketers. "Everyone in the village and in the school knows my sons only by these names," said George.
Not just cricket, the net's been cast farther to WWE as well. "When my nephew was born a year ago, I suggested he be named after Irish wrestler Sheamus," Castober, a 20-year old from the village, said. "My brother-in-law is very pleased with the name." Sheamus will have Big Show for company.
Names, though, are no guarantee of sporting excellence. Sachin, for example, has showed zero interest in cricket. "I hope Sehwag and Yuvraj will not disappoint me," their father says. Big Show has similar news: "I don't know whether it is because of my name, but I am not good at cricket like my friends Steve Waugh and Hayden."
For a man who was famously averse to unnecessary exertion during his playing career, Ian Botham has chosen a charitable pursuit that doesn't quite fit the 'Beefy' legend. For almost 30 years, Botham has undertaken walks for charity, and while it's not quite like hitting a hundred while hungover, it has proved worthwhile enough for Botham to announce he will embark on another, this time in Sri Lanka. The walk, lasting eight days, will start on November 1.
Having teamed up with the Laureus Foundation, the Foundation of Goodness and Tharunayata Hetak (A tomorrow for youth), Botham will walk from Killinochchi, in the heart of Sri Lanka's former northern war-zone, to Seenigama - a village ravaged and rebuilt after the 2004 Tsunami. Proceeds will go towards providing sports equipment and facilities to young Sri Lankans in the north and east of the country.
"Walking through the 40 degrees heat and the humidity will be a great challenge, and it will be a testing factor," Botham said in Colombo on Thursday. "It's going to be like nothing I have ever attempted before and it's going to be my most demanding ever.
"I have really strong connections with Sri Lanka and I know if I can raise a lot of money it is going to do so much good for young people here, I am determined to make a success of it," he said.
Botham will not lack for good company. He will be joined by the likes of Shane Warne, Michael Vaughan, Sourav Ganguly, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene on different days of the walk.
Having spent eight years of his life swinging a cricket ball for the Australian cricket team, Nathan Bracken has now set his sights on a different pitch: politics.
Bracken, who is Australia's second highest wicket-taker among left-arm quicks in ODIs, announced on his Twitter account on Sunday that he would be running as an independent in the Central Coast federal elections for the New South Wales seat of Dobell against former Labor MP Craig Thomson.
''I guess it got to the point where I didn't want to be the person that sits in the cafe saying 'oh jeez I wish I'd done this', or 'this should change','' Bracken said, according to Australian newspapers.
While he has Champions Trophy and World Cup medals in his kitty, Bracken remained wary about his chances of registering similar levels of success in the new arena immediately, while identifying youth unemployment and high school drop-out rates as among the issues that need addressing.
"I want to be somebody who gets out there and stands up and says let's try and change things, let's try and move things forward on the Central Coast for the betterment of the people who live here," Bracken, a 10-year resident of Central Coast, said.
The 1997 ICC Trophy win represents an important stepping stone in Bangladesh's cricketing journey, as it allowed them entry into the 1999 World Cup in England. Their wins over Scotland and, more notably Pakistan, during the World Cup were the catalyst in their achieving ODI and Test status in 2000. So one would imagine that the trophy would find prime space in Bangladesh's trophy cabinet. However, as New Age reported, it has only just arrived on their shores, 16 years after the fact. Media reports suggested the trophy had been stolen from the trophy cabinet but the BCB then said it hadn't received it in the first place. And that's not the only snafu, as the Bangladesh Cricket Board has also been landed with a bill of 5000 dirham (approximately $1300). A small price to pay, perhaps, for the trophy that set them on their way.
Dale Steyn's rhythmic run-up, his skills at shaping the ball both ways to leave the batsmen in a tangle and his angry celebrations are sheer theatre for cricket fans. But now the fast bowler is set to take it to another level. Steyn spent the last week shooting for Adam Sandler's new movie Family Moon, also featuring former basketball player Shaquille O'Neal.
"I was probably more nervous than playing in front of a packed cricket ground," said Steyn who plays a South African cricketer in the movie directed by Frank Coraci, due to release next year.
His tryst with tinsel town also included a dinner at the Sandler home where Adam was waiting with the perfect welcome. "When I walked in he was wearing the Proteas shirt. That was pretty cool," Steyn said. "It was an amazing experience and I would enjoy the opportunity if it came my way again."
Assam Cricket Association secretary Bikash Baruah has discovered just how difficult it is to step into former India captain Sourav Ganguly's shoes. Baruah had reportedly distributed a picture of himself sharing a dais with Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. Newspapers in Guwahati had run the picture with a caption that quoted Baruah as saying he had asked the actors to set up an IPL team to represent India's northeast.
Upon further investigation, though, it was revealed that Baruah had doctored the picture. The original had featured Ganguly with the two actors, and Baruah had had his face superimposed on Ganguly's. For his canniness - or that of his Photoshop expert - all Baruah ended up with was an FIR, filed against him by India's Freelance Journalists' Association.
Australia are copping it from all sides. If it's not bad enough being 2-0 down the Ashes, with some of your batsmen barely able to score a run, now they are being offered a game by Germany who believe they are more at Australia's level.
In a light-hearted tweet from The Deutscher Cricket Bund the offer was made for Michael Clarke's team to make the short trip over.
Mostly recently, Germany have been playing in ICC World Cricket League Division 7 against the likes of Ghana, Nigeria and Bostwana. By Monday, the message had been retweeted more than 700 times although one of Germany's batsmen, André Leslie, was slightly less taken by the suggestion.
@Cricket_Germany most retweeted tweet ever? Easy for you to say. I'm the one who'd have to face Harris, Starc and Siddle though!— André Leslie (@andreleslie) July 22, 2013
As things stand, Australia are still set to take on Sussex later this week rather than Germany. They can, of course, regain the Ashes by winning the next three Tests.