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As England's tour of Bangladesh came to a predictable close, the president and chief executive of ICC did an impromptu meet-and-greet session with the Dhaka crowd
November 12, 2003
It was certainly one of the more unusual walkabouts of recent times. Think Michael Jackson at Berlin Zoo, or Crocodile Dundee just about anywhere. The Dhaka hordes had an entire ICC delegation at their mercy, but did they fire a single squashed banana over the railings, or rattle a single plastic bottle off a big cheese's bonce? Not a bit of it.
Monday's crowd may have been wound up like a spaniel with a tennis ball, but today's was a much more placid gathering - aided, no doubt, by a match that held their attention for longer than the first ten overs. Even so, it is hard to imagine Ehsan Mani and Malcolm Speed conducting a meet-and-greet around the perimeter of Lord's - especially if they had to reach between the barbs of a security fence to do so.
It was a strange procession, but undoubtedly a well-received one. They pressed the flesh and made their small-talk - and somehow remembered not to wander in front of the sightscreen - before halting at deep midwicket for an impromptu photo session, much to the glee of the clamouring figures in the crowd behind them.
In fact the only person who seemed the remotest bit put out was England's 12th man, Ashley Giles. "Mind out, mind out - cricket match in progress," he muttered, as he dashed through the melee with England's drinks.
Gilo had a quite a good point. As Mohammad Rafique and Manjural Islam Rana thumped Bangladesh towards their highest total of the series, the local press box was a chorus of "oohs" and "aaahs". Of course, nobody in their right minds believed Bangladesh could win - perish the thought - but it was refreshing to be heading for a non-drubbing of a seven-wicket defeat for once.
Throughout the media stand, there was a distinctly end-of-term atmosphere. A plantation's worth of business cards were exchanging hands between deliveries, while all non-essential equipment was being stripped and stored by the beaverish support staff. Even the surly gateman was able to drop his guard and permit free movement between the stands, despite (or perhaps because of) the presence of so many bigwigs.
The end, when it came, was predictable enough - two thumping Flintoff sixes and a clean sweep of the match awards, and off the crowds dawdled. They might have been disappointed at yet another defeat, but at least they met the president.
Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be accompanying England throughout their travels in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
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