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There are Sachin Tendulkar fans and then there is Ratilal Parmar, who has spent a fortune collecting currency notes having numbers associated with the numerous landmarks littered across Tendulkar's career. Parmar's latest acquisition is a ten-rupee note bearing the number 240412, the date of Tendulkar's 39th birthday.
"I wanted to do something different. That is why I started collecting currency notes that match his records and important dates. I have kept track of his entire career this way," Parmar, 56, told Mid-Day from Morbi, a town in Gujarat, India.
Despite going to great lengths to accumulate his treasure, Parmar has met Tendulkar only once, during the Ahmedabad Test of 2010 against New Zealand. Parmar's desire now is to gift the unique collection to Tendulkar, of course, during a personal meeting. "I want to present Sachin with the notes associated with his milestones, especially the 100th international ton [Parmar has a note numbered 160312 which is the date when Tendulkar reached the record against Bangladesh in Dhaka].
Parmar has had to put a lot of money where his heart is. "This isn't easy to do. I must have spent nearly Rs 10 lakh [one million] to collect these notes," Parmar said. "I knew some people in banks and they would help me find notes matching a particular event. At times, I would have to plead with them." Now who said being a fan involved only emotional investment?
What happens when recognisable faces like Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav decide to go for a ride on the Delhi Metro? Chaos. The cricketers had been invited for a short ride by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation as part of a tie-up with IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils to raise awareness among commuters about making proper use of the public transport system. But a sighting of international cricketers in public generally descends into confusion and disorder in India. So it did at the INA metro station, as people pushed around for a closer view of the players, who made a quick exit a couple of stops later at the Udyog Bhawan station.
"The idea was to raise awareness about keeping the trains and platforms clean, not obstructing train doors and standing behind the yellow line [on platforms]. But there was utter chaos," a metro official told DNA.
As part of the tie-up with Delhi Metro, Sehwag and other Daredevils players will also feature in audio and video awareness messages to be played at stations. One wonders if that would lead to better commuting habits among metro users. At least there won't be any chaos.
Paul Collingwood's been in Australia, he's now in South Africa, and he'll soon be in India. But when he finally returns home to Durham, a huge honour awaits him. Collingwood, still the only man to captain England to victory in a global cricket tournament, has been chosen as a torchbearer for the London Olympics. Though cricket is not an Olympic sport, several cricketers have carried the torch before, and Collingwood is glad to join the list.
"The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event to take place in this country in my lifetime, and to be associated with it in this way is an honour and a privilege, not only for me but for my family too," Collingwood told the Sunderland Echo. "Sadly, since cricket is not an Olympic sport, I won't ever get the chance to represent Great Britain at The Games, but this is the next best thing."
Collingwood has been jet-setting around the world to play Twenty20 tournaments in the hope of making it back to the England limited-overs squad, a hope that despite evidence to the contrary he maintains is a very real one. Perhaps a little Olympics inspiration is what he needs. Faster, higher, stronger Paul.
On the free days during a tour, some players go go-karting, some go sailing, some go shopping; some run marathons. South Africa are playing the third ODI of their tour of New Zealand on March 3, in Auckland, but coach Gary Kirsten and Test captain Graeme Smith hope to make it to New Plymouth, more than 250km away, to run the Bayleys Mountain to Surf Marathon on the morning of March 4. The match on March 3 is a day-night game that could finish as late as 10pm, after which Kirsten, Smith, conditioning coach Rob Walter, physio Brandon Jackson and perhaps other members of the squad plan to leave for New Plymouth and get there at 4am, just three hours before the start of the marathon.
Kirsten has run just one marathon before and needs to run this race to qualify for the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, which he wants to participate in. He will run the full 42.5km race. To put that in perspective, he will be running the equivalent of 2113 lengths of a cricket pitch. This, in the middle of a tour. Smith, who will captain South Africa in the first Test, on March 7, plans to run half the marathon, with Walter completing the other leg.
The Mountain-Surf marathon is reputed for being one of the quickest in the world because it is largely downhill. That said, it is still a marathon in the middle of a tour.
Matthew Wade's date for the Allan Border Medal awards night, Julia Barry, wore a dress she designed herself and made by Shirley Keon from Keon Couture, while Mitchell Johnson's wife, Jessica Bratich, accessorised herself. How do we know that? Cricket Australia's commitment to make the awards night a glamorous event had them send out a press release with details of those attending and what they'd be wearing - in some cases down to jewellery and accessories. The event, held at Crown Casino in Melbourne, saw players and their dates arriving in 30 cars - the press release also detailing who would arrive in which car. And, hours after Oscar night, Hollywood was in attendance too - Shane Warne turned up to be inducted into the hall of fame.
Andrew Strauss recently said England needed to start winning cricket matches in all conditions, all over the world. A group of British explorers have taken that rather literally, and have beaten a Rest of the World side at the South Pole, in temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius.
The match was organised as a tribute to Robert Falcon Scott, a navy officer who led Britain’s first expedition to the South Pole in 1910-13, which ultimately resulted in his death and the death of the members of his team. Neil Laughton, a Special Air Service officer, who led a group of adventurers to the Pole, told the BBC he organised the match in honour of Scott because cricket was “quintessentially British and I wanted to do something that does not happen down here very often, if at all.”
In sub-zero temperatures, the players had to bat, bowl and field in the kind of gear Jonathan Trott would take a few hours to adjust. “Obviously it was very cold and difficult with all the bulky clothing to bat and bowl and slide around in the field to catch the ball but we managed it fine,” Laughton said.
The good news is that any time a cricketer complains he’s got cramps because of the humidity or that his fingers are numb because of the cold, he can be asked to stop whining and have a look at Laughton and his men. The bad news is that if ever you want to send a particular player to the South Pole, the teams are already full.
Australia opener Ed Cowan is everything but your typical cricketer. He can write, he can tweet, he can do fancy finance stuff. He’s even fielded in a Test match before he made his first-class debut, against Pakistan in 2005. But he cannot remember walking out to bat in the second innings of his debut Test at the MCG last month. Cowan had been so enthusiastic in doing warm-ups on the second morning of the Boxing Day Test that he got a sore back, which required a generous dose of painkillers. “Having hurt my back, I now know what it is like to bat high, because I had so much codeine in my system I cannot remember walking out to bat,” Cowan told TripleM Sydney radio.
Cowan then went on to reveal that he was also down a few beers down when he was called out of the SCG Members Bar as a substitute Test fielder in 2005. “I had had a few earlier that morning, but that was later that afternoon,” Cowan said. “I was sober - I would have been able to drive home. They did ask me if I had been drinking, I said no. It was only six balls and I did not touch one so there is no need to get too carried away.
“So I have done both. I have fielded with a few beers under the belt, and batted with a few too many Panadeine Fortes in the system.” Now that is an achievement that will take some downing.
What’s the best insurance against a medical emergency on the field? How about a playing XI made up of doctors? And it's even better if one of them happens to have a defibrillator handy. Harry Parkin, a businessman, suffered a heart attack and slumped to the ground unconscious a few overs into a game between local doctors and a football team in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England. According to Thisisdevon.co.uk, his team-mate Dr Richard Mejzner rushed to fetch a defibrillator from his car and revived Parkin, comforting him for 15 minutes until an air ambulance arrived.
Dr Mejzner’s timely intervention earned him praise from the local cricket club secretary Kevin Curran, not least because Parkin happens to be a big contributor to the club. "He is a well-known member of the community who does an awful lot for the club and everyone was completely shocked when this happened,” Curran said of Parkin. “He was nowhere near the ball when he collapsed. It was extremely fortunate there were a number of doctors around and one had this piece of equipment in his car – he may well have saved his life."
The match was abandoned and the incident has inspired the club to invest in a defibrillator. "We have all the basic medical equipment but this incident has highlighted just how important defibrillators are," Curran said.
The 2000th Test has attracted so much attention you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the biggest milestone to have occurred in the game. But for the 2000th to have occurred at Lord’s, a 1000th had to have happened. It took place at the Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad, Pakistan, a venue that now hosts wedding parties and serves as an occasional helipad. The 1000th Test, in which Pakistan beat New Zealand by seven wickets in 1984, remains the last one to have been played there.
"It's disappointing to see the condition of Niaz Stadium. With no international cricket in Pakistan and facilities unused, it had to happen," said former Pakistan spinner Iqbal Qasim, who played in the 1000th Test. "There's no comparison between Lord's and Hyderabad, even the players didn't know about the occasion and it is only now we know that ‘Oh, we were part of the 1000th Test.’"
Pakistan were unbeaten in 12 games at the Niaz Stadium. It was there that Javed Miandad and Mudassar Nazar shared a record partnership of 451 against India in January 1983. Miandad was left stranded on 280 when his captain Imran Khan declared and then proceeded to demolish India with 6 for 35.
The ground fell into disrepair later with no international match being played for more than ten years. The PCB regained possession of it in 2007 and it hosted a one-dayer against Zimbabwe in 2008 but matters seem to have gone downhill again for what should have been a celebrated venue.
Ireland’s reputation for being giant killers has claimed another victim - that gentle giant Munaf Patel. Taking advantage of India’s week-long break between games, Munaf and his wife went to the cinema, to watch the Bollywood thriller Saat Khoon Maaf (literally, “Seven Murders Forgiven”, about a woman who murders seven husbands). It was the evening England were playing Ireland and the murders on screen coincided with the mauling in the stadium. Just after the second murder, Munaf got an emergency call from the team camp – get back to the hotel and get your eyes on the game.
“I was called back to the hotel to watch Ireland (as they beat England). I saw only two murders in the theatre, but ended up watching many more during the Ireland-England game,” Munaf told The Indian Express, referring to Kevin O’Brien’s innings. Given that India take on Ireland on Sunday, Munaf would have been forewarned of the damage O’Brien can do – and maybe claim a few on-field victims of his own.
When was the last time the name “Indi Commandos” brought to mind the image of a cricket team? Never. So the Kochi IPL franchise must have had the novelty factor in mind when they bestowed their team with that strange choice for a name. In a league where the other franchises have stuck to city or state-based names to try and appeal to some sort of regional fan loyalty, Kochi’s queer combination of a pan-India identity and a combat unit hasn’t impressed many.
"Is this an indicator of a lack of identity or is it simply that the franchise owners' loyalties lie outside the state and the city for which the team was bought in the first place?" an irate fan posted on the team’s Facebook page. "Thumbs down for this ... omg …!! After all these months ... this is what you came up with ... shocking," another post said. Fans also aired their dismay on Twitter. One slammed the side by posting "IndiComman'Doomed" while another pointed out that "going commando is the practice of not wearing underwear under one's outer clothing".
The franchise had loftier intentions when they zeroed in on the name. "Indi stands for an independent Indian cricket team that will go ahead to win a billion hearts," their statement read. "Commandos stands for an elite fighting squad, renowned for attacking with speed, stealth and deadly power."
There might be more brickbats coming the Commandos’ way. Reports saying that they may play most of their matches outside Kochi, the city for which they won the team bid, have drawn flak from fans. But with the name they have, resisting the verbal missiles shouldn’t be an issue.
There will be less buzz of the onomatopoeic kind at the World Cup. The Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) has announced deployment of spray teams to wipe out mosquitoes at the city's two stadiums, one of which will host the opening ceremony, while the other stages six World Cup matches.
"Mosquitoes have been breeding alarmingly in recent months so we have taken special measures to kill mosquitoes in the stadiums and for three kilometres around them," health chief Brigadier General Nasir Uddin told AFP. "Our special teams headed by DCC officers have been spraying extensively in every open space, drain, pond and sewer to make sure no mosquito can breed. We want to ensure a mosquito-free World Cup for spectators." Areas near hotels used by teams and supporters would also be sprayed. Malaria is usually restricted to rural areas of Bangladesh, but dengue fever is common in towns.
After the World Cup opening ceremony in Dhaka on February 17, the tournament kicks off with Bangladesh taking on India in the city two days later. The World Cup is the biggest event that Bangladesh has hosted since its independence in 1971, and Dhaka and Chittagong are in a race to get squeaky-clean before the tournament begins.
Authorities have already evicted beggars off Chittagong’s streets, ordered worn-out buses in both cities to “get fit, smarter and painted” and asked residents along Chittagong’s main roads from the airport to the city to paint their homes and shops. Now that Dhaka’s latest move is a mass termination of mosquitoes, it remains to be seen how Chittagong will strike back.
It is not in the league of the ‘cleansing’ that Beijing undertook before the 2008 Olympics, but the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh has announced its own sprucing-up plans ahead of the World Cup. Manzur Alam, the Chittagong mayor, wants hundreds of beggars to be kept off the city’s streets during the tournament. But that would mean a temporary loss of ‘livelihood’ for the beggars, and Alam plans to compensate around 300 of them with a daily ‘wage’ of 150 taka (about two dollars).
“Bangladesh is a host of the prestigious event. A lot of tourists will be here, and they don't like to see beggars," Alam told AFP. The mayor plans to meet the beggars' representatives to discuss the payments and other benefits such as free food and clothes. "We want to treat the issue as humanely as possible. Many of these beggars are disabled and many have families and their children are studying in schools and colleges. So obviously, they must be compensated well."
According to a 2005 study, Bangladesh has about 700,000 beggars, with those in urban areas earning an average of 100 taka a day from donations. The South Asian nation is hosting the World Cup for the first time, with Chittagong getting two matches while six will be played in the capital Dhaka. Guess who could be watching the games on a paid leave.
The Barmy Army - that merry group of travelling England fans - are facing a hindrance to their expected revelry in Australia during the Ashes from unexpected quarters, the currency market. The Australian dollar appreciated considerably against major international currencies recently, and a British pound is now worth just A$1.60, compared with more than A$2 last year. The trip to Australia will now cost 36% more for England fans, according to a report in the Guardian. It means pricier hotels, meals, transport, match tickets and, crucially, beer.
Dave Peacock, one of the founding members of the Barmy Army, was unfazed and said the relative weakness of Australia's team made up for the increased strength of its dollar. "The dollar might be lot stronger, but the Australian team is nowhere near as strong as it was four years ago, and our team is on the way up. This is probably the best opportunity we've had since 1986-87. People aren't going to like paying £5 a pint. I think they will still go to Australia, but maybe cut down on a couple of pints a night."
Four years ago, 30,000 England fans travelled to Australia to watch their team getting thrashed 5-0.
A rare day when rain stayed away from Mumbai’s monsoon tournament, the Kanga league, was livened up by some outrageous umpiring according to a Times of India report.
The first incident was when the ball was ‘lost’ in the grass following a shot from a Koli Combined XI batsman. With the fielding side Amar CC searching for the ball, the batsmen completed four runs and were attempting the fifth when the ball was ‘found’, and a run out effected. Amar CC’s joy was cut short by umpires Vishwasrao RM and Anil Pawar who recalled the batsman, judging the fielders had deliberately delayed the throw after finding the ball. They also awarded Koli XI four runs. Amar CC protested, demanding a dead ball as a neutral verdict.
After twenty minutes of commotion, the game resumed. Three overs later, so did the chaos. Devidas Koli defended a delivery and then used his bat to stop the ball from rolling onto the stumps. A loud appeal followed and Pawar raised his finger. A livid Koli refused to budge, and Pawar cancelled his decision. After some time, Pawar declared Koli out and cancelled his decision once again. Koli was at the receiving end for one last time, as Pawar adjudged him caught behind off a turner that Koli didn’t edge. An exasperated Koli walked up to Pawar and touched his feet. “There was enough space for a football to pass between the bat and ball. Thank you,’’ Koli said. For the record, Amar CC progressed after taking the first innings lead.
The Butcher era is back. Only, this time it will unfold on the stage instead of on The Oval pitch. After years of entertaining fellow brethren at the Professional Cricketers' Association annual bash with a vibrant mix of rock and soul, Mark Butcher has come out with his first album called Sun House. The album has been written, played and released by, yes, Baz himself. According to the Independent, Butcher has lined up several gigs around London to promote his album.
Butcher has always had the makings of a singer. He wrote and sang a touching ballad You're Never Gone at the memorial service for his team-mate Ben Hollioake. He might even have been humming one of his songs to himself during 'that' Ashes innings of 173 at Headingley in 2001, as he made short work of the target of 315.
He was seen doing duty for BBC Radio during England's third Test against Pakistan in a well-pressed grey suit and silk tie that did not quite go along with his rock star avatar. Butcher, who turns 38 on August 23, seems to be well on his way to challenging Brett Lee as cricket's ultimate rock star. Watch out Binga.