The Week That Was ... January 9-15, 2006 January 15, 2006

Kisses, nicknames and dead sheep

The Week that Was for Jan 9 to Jan 15 2006

Indian fans enjoying themselves ... but they better be careful in New Zealand © AFP
A kiss is just a kiss
But not where New Zealand Cricket is concerned. Over-zealous stewarding already caused a tirade of complaints - amazingly people objected to having bottles of water emptied on the ground and their sandwiches taken apart to check for ... well, we know not what - but when two ladies kissing was shown on the giant replay screen, to the cheers of those present, it was too much for a steward who told them to stop or they would be ejected. NZC have had a great week, upsetting many fans with their Draconian security measures and now alienating the gay audience. An NZC official dug himself further into a hole by explaining the pair had also been ... wait for it ... dancing as well. Enjoying themselves. Surely not. A spokesman for the Westpac Stadium admitted that no members of the public had complained but that the kiss had "upset two of my more sensitive staff". Sensitive security staff. The ultimate oxymoron.

Finger Licking Crawlers
Cricket Australia's half-baked idea to force players to have nicknames rather than their actual names on their shirts for Twenty20 matches rather backfired when New South Wales's Aaron Bird opted to have "Flu" as his sobriquet. The thought of Bird Flu sent Cricket Australia's marketing men into panic overdrive. Not because they thought it was insensitive in a week where people had died of the disease in Europe, but because the tournament's sponsor, KFC, the purveyors of quality chicken takeaways, might have got upset. Mike Selvey in the Guardian summed the nickname idea up nicely. He wrote: "I look forward to pictures of the twerps whose idea this was walking round the Gabba with 'Plonker' and 'Dickhead' inscribed on their backs."

It's so not your colour
The decision by CA to ditch the team's canary-yellow shirts ("It's Australian Gold my friend, and don't you ****ing forget it") for a greyer version offended the fashion conscious. "The yellow pads are fantastic, I'd love to use those on the catwalk this year. But the grey is just ... I don't know what they were thinking," gushed fashion designer Alex Zabotto-Bentley. One can only imagine what nickname CA would come up for Mr Zabotto-Bentley.

Tully Tiger - do not mess with him © Tiger Club

Not as cute as they look
It's always a crowd pleaser. Line up a load of mascots - the oversized freakish variety more at home in a Disney nightmare - and get them to race each other. What can go wrong? Lots. After a series of fights between mascots in England - and a race where the winner, Roary The Lion, Surrey mascot, was disqualified for wearing running shoes instead of massive feet (and his head fell off during the race) - there was an inevitability that things would go wrong in Tasmania during the Twenty20 interval. Sure enough, although Tyro Tiger won the sprint, replays suggested he had made a false start. Tully Tiger thought so and promptly lamped his fellow feline before being dragged off by stewards (who were probably bored with a lack of kissers to pick on). Cue my colleague Jenny Thompson, queen of the appalling pun. "He believed that his fellow beast hadn't fairly earned his stripes. But perhaps Tully was just a paw loser."

It's official so it must be true
Press release of the week came from Cricket Scotland who issued a bland missive claiming that Andy Moles had resigned as coach to spend more time with his family in South Africa. That would have been all well and good had the media the previous day not been awash with stories of Cricket Scotland's decision to back a few disgruntled senior players, as opposed to the man who in July guided them to the ICC Trophy and was rewarded with a two-year contract extension just four months ago. A failure to secure funding contributed to the problem, but at the very moment it has reached the top table, Scottish cricket seems hell-bent on ripping up the invitation.

Into Africa
Also on the move was Roger Harper, quitting as West Indies Under-19 coach after a month to take charge of Kenya (coincidently the job Moles walked out on when he went to Scotland). Harper faces a tough time as Kenya struggle to overcome the legacy of the old Sharad Ghai-led regime, but his main difficulty is that no-one wants to play his new charges. The main boards have ducked the issue, and while the ICC has tried to cajole and coerce Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to play ball, both have shown a marked reluctance. So Kenya, the 2003 World Cup semi-finalists, can only wait and hope. They have played only two ODIs since May 2003, and for all the ICC's good intentions in spreading the game, it seems pointless unless it can force boards to back the initiative.

Some of Shane Warne's team-mates weren't too sure about his new pre-match warm-up routine ...
Hair today ...
Fanny Rush, the artist who painted Shane Warne for the MCC, admitted this week that she found her subject "a very powerful and attractive man." Prints of the picture go on sale for charity this week, including the slight adjustments made to Warne's most sensitive area - not his hair - as it was felt the first version showed his as being, er, "too masculine". They say that baldness is a sign of virility. That could be of some solace to Warne, who has earned large sums for endorsing the Advanced Hair Studio, a company of whom Britain's Advertising Standards Agency this week said that they were "concerned viewers would be misled into thinking the advertiser offered a treatment that was more effective than it actually was." Warne's hair might head south, but at least we will be spared any more of that excruciating TV ad with him and Graham Gooch.

With all the ferocity of a wishy-washy parent who reacts to their offspring blowing up the greenhouse for the umpteenth time by threatening to start getting really cross, the ICC has fired a stinging shot across the bows of Zimbabwe Cricket after it moved last week to replace all white and Asian administrators on race and political grounds. Not really. Cricket's governing body has remained strangely quiet about fairly overt racism by the board - contrast that to the admirable speed with which it moved when Perth spectators abused South African players last month - although it did have a private chat with ZC chairman Peter Chingoka when the executives met in Karachi. To paraphrase a quote about being grilled by Sir Geoffrey Howe, a former British chancellor: "It must have been like being savaged by a dead sheep."

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo