The Week That Was ... March 13 - March 19 March 19, 2006

Logos, fish, bats ... and shower action

Martin Williamson looks back on the week ending March 19, 2006

Dean Jones: not one for cheap stunts © Getty Images
The Dean and I Dean Jones is an acquired taste - and one that seemingly has yet to be acquired by many Sky Sports viewers who find his consistent over-the-top delivery a bit too much in the early hours. But Jones has another string to his bow - shameless mouthpiece of the Indian board - and he was in his element during the post-match presentations at Mohali where he gushed at length about the BCCI, only stopping short of awarding its vice-president Lalit Modi the Man-of-the-Match award. It was all a contrast to David Gower's compèring in the previous Test at Nagpur where he looked as if mentioning sponsor after sponsor was not high on his list of priorities. As for the BCCI logo, it is taking on Coca-Cola brand ubiquity, with some commentators even wearing shirts with it on during the Test. Sky's old guard, Ian Botham et al, steadfastly refused to play ball.

Tonight, Matthew, I will be ... Pre-match team-talks are usually routine affairs where videos are shown of opponents, as Matthew Hoggard admitted in his column in the Times. But there was a full house in the Taj Mahal hotel on Tuesday when the new TV advertisement featuring Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff was the main feature. The pair, naked from the waist up, were seen serenading each other in a shower, with the kind of banter not heard since the Shane Warne/Graham Gooch replacement hair abhorations on TV last summer. "Everybody was either staring in disbelief or cracking up with laughter," Hoggard grinned. "Wisely, an embarrassed Flintoff declined to offer any explanations or excuses. His silence spoke volumes."

A tough few days in store for Messrs Speed and Mani © Getty Images
We are the world This weekend the great and good of world cricket head for duty-free Dubai for the quarterly get-together of the ICC executives. It promises to be lively (even if the best the watching world can hope for is a bland press release or two) for this is the first time that the new Indian board, who have overtly challenged many of the ICC's activities, sit down with their peers. The unloved Supersubs are likely to be ditched, Powerplays will be reviewed, and future venues for major tournaments will be discussed. The original venue for this assembly was Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, but it was quietly switched when it became clear that might not be such a good idea given the state of the game over there. And with Peter Chingoka, Zimbabwe Cricket's chairman, expecting some tough questioning, it might be harder to get stroppy with a man in his own backyard.

Land of confusion It appears what is banned in one place isn't in another. Wisden Cricketer editor John Stern, watching for the magazine and Cricinfo in Mumbai, noticed that Owais Shah used a Kookabura "Beast" in making his fifty on the first day of the Test. John thought the bat was banned, but he checked with press-box colleague and ICC arbitrator Gus Fraser who found out from Dubai that the bat was not so much banned as not wanted, and batsmen had been given time to sort out replacements. So John called his deputy editor, Ed Craig, who was in Johannesburg (our globetrotting knows no bounds) who in turn asked Ricky Ponting, whose use of the Beast started the whole thing off, for his views. "He can't use it he'll be suspended," Ponting replied. When told Shah had wielded it to good effect, Ponting chirped: "He scored 50 today using that bat, really? Guess what I'm using in Durban then!" Well, at least that's clear.

I was only joking Mark Richardson might have sent spectators to sleep when he batted, but it seems he was a wag off the field, so much so that he agreed to take part in a spoof row with Stephen Fleming after a post-match interview. So good was the pair's acting, that the clip, apparently intended for a local cricket show, leaked onto the web where it was flagged as a genuine spat. The media piled in and an initial disclaimer from Sky TV executive Martin Crowe was treated with skepticism, as was Fleming's own explanation. Only when the full clip was released by an embarrassed broadcaster did the spoof become clear. Move over, Jeremy Beadle.

Bob Woolmer heads off after losing out to the softballers © AFP
Ball-park incident Cricket may have been heralded as the new football, but now it seems that softball might be the new cricket. Bob Woolmer wasn't best impressed in the build-up to Friday's first one-day international against Sri Lanka, when his team rocked up to their practice ground in Colombo, only to find a softball match in full swing on the middle pitch. His players weren't too bothered - some of them even joined in - but Woolmer himself branded the mix-up as a disgrace. "When you are an international touring side wanting a centre wicket and can't get one," he fumed, "it looks a little strange." But his indignation wasn't shared by his employers, who warned him for speaking his mind, adding that such utterances could mar the good sporting relations between the two countries.

Carping on A strange story reaches us from our man in Johannesburg about a national player in Zimbabwe who late last year claimed the coach threatened to drop him ... because he had done better when the pair fished together!. The story emerged after the player wrote to the then national selectors airing his grievances, but they did not act because at the time it was actually unclear who the official coach was. It seems that the said coach must have taken fishing lessons, because the player is now firmly established back in the national fold.

The only way is up Bullish talk from Mick Lewis on his return to Australia after being pummelled into the record books by South Africa - his figures of 10-0-113-0 were the first three-figure total in 50-over ODI history. "That's just the nature of the beast isn't it?" Lewis explained. "Some days you have a great day, some days you have a shit day. That's life mate, it is no big concern. It won't worry me." But one suspects that the next time he steps up to bowl for Australia in an ODI, or for Durham in the Championship for that matter, those figures will be lurking somewhere in his thoughts.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo