South Africa v West Indies, The Oval, Pool B

Putting your shirt on the West Indies

Roving Reporter by Jenny Thompson at The Oval

Roving Reporter by Jenny Thompson at The Oval

September 18, 2004

Text size: A | A



Viv Richards: still da man © Getty Images
Enlarge

The Champions Trophy has thrown up a series of predictable results in the pool fixtures to date: this much we know. But on the outskirts of the concrete jungle that is The Oval, a Champions Trophy of a quite different kind is being played out.

Within the uninviting corridor of uncertainty that runs an ugly ring around the outside of the spectator stands, where food stalls, beer tents and other vending points are housed, national pride is at stake. And it is to be won or lost not on the flip of a coin, but at the ring of a till. This is the Champions Trophy of cricket clothing, where pounds replace runs - and the organisers are just praying for some close contests.

Let's get straight to the action, with an update on play so far. Some T-shirt minnows - Zimbabwe and USA - are still in the fight, although their luck could run out soon. India and Sri Lanka all returned surprisingly poor results: not many cotton items on sale for them. Australia, however, are looking confident in their big and bold primary-yellow tones, and are playing up their chances of selling success. They are currently second in the tournament for official country T-shirt sales. Meanwhile Kenya, Bangladesh and, surprisingly, Pakistan were not even invited to play as they were thought to be too unpopular.

Sales of England regalia made a bright start, before a mid-innings slump which required a thumping allrounder to rescue them. Enter not one, but two - and the chance to resolve a burning issue, finally: is Freddie Flintoff really the new Ian Botham? And it would appear that he is, although the result wasn't arrived at without a close contest. An oversight in ordering meant that Flintoff shirts missed the first Champions Trophy match at The Oval, allowing the old-timer Beefy to steal a march on the young pretender. But as soon as Flintoff entered the attack, he plundered many pockets and has now just crept ahead of Botham. Sales of Freddie T-shirts have been rocketing, although in fairness Beefy has done well in his retirement.

Dickie Bird was drafted into the England squad for a cameo - but it turned out to be a risky choice for the selectors, who will be kicking themselves as he is yet to get off the mark.

But today's big Oval battle concerned South African and West Indies, with the Windies upsetting the formbook and outselling their opponents five to one. The West Indies largely had the legend of Viv Richards, living on through the medium of 100% cotton, to thank. In fact King Viv, with his evocation of West Indies in their heyday, has helped his team top the table to date as the top-scorer for all teams in the T-shirt competition. Brian Lara, the other Caribbean representative, has proved distinctly unpopular, perhaps reflecting the fans' current disaffection with their team.

But they still came out in support of their nation today in numbers, although maroon blobs were only sporadically dotted around the ground among the green-and-gold ones. And, of course, the fans were not obliged to buy their caps, flags and T-shirts within the ground: many had come ready-prepared. And if West Indies fans were outnumbered, they sought to maximise their presence by blowing horns loudly and regularly, particularly in the members' section where, while they were busy tootling away unchecked, one poor chap using his mobile phone discreetly was asked to be quiet. Well, the sign did read "No mobile phones" and not "No horn-blowing".

This crowd, while spirited and enjoying good-natured banter, may have lacked the rowdy raucousness of Thursday's throng at The Oval after Australia had knocked New Zealand out of the trophy, but, given the injuries to some of the stewards then, this was perhaps no bad thing. Meanwhile, back on the outskirts of the ground it's like the good old days: King Viv reigns supreme.

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.

RSS Feeds: Jenny Roesler

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Jenny RoeslerClose
Related Links

    'I never stole money, yet I was given five years'

Half a decade since his ban ended, Maurice Odumbe continues to live with the stigma of corruption. By Tim Wigmore

    Younis Khan and the art of scoring hundreds

Numbers Game: Only five Pakistanis have scored 15-plus hundreds, but his appetite for tons matches that of the best

From oranje to green and gold

Netherlands' batting mainstay Tom Cooper dreams of playing for Australia, his country of birth. By Peter Miller

'Gilchrist always looked to take on the spinners'

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss Adam Gilchrist's adaptability

The bias of umpires

Scott Oliver: Understanding the historical trends in decision-making might help you deal with your own iffy calls. Or maybe not

News | Features Last 7 days

How India weeds out its suspect actions

The BCCI set up a three-man committee to tackle the problem of chucking at age-group and domestic cricket, and it has produced significant results in five years

A rock, a hard place and the WICB

The board's latest standoff with its players has had embarrassing consequences internationally, so any resolution now needs to be approached thoughtfully

Twin Asian challenges await Australia

What Australia have not done since returning a fractured unit from India is head back to Asia to play an Asian team. Two of their major weaknesses - handling spin and reverse swing - will be tested in the UAE by Pakistan

Kohli back to old habits

Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala

WICB must tread on eggshells with care

The WICB statement should cool down emotions and allow all parties involved to take the next step forward

News | Features Last 7 days