The week that was ... April 8 - April 15

Naughty, naughty, very naughty

The Week That Was ... April 15 - April 21

Jenny Thompson

April 15, 2006

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All right, flower? Ricky Ponting backtracks on Bangladesh's Test-worthiness © Getty Images
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Spectacular U-turn No 1 After what Bangladesh did to Australia in Cardiff last year, Ricky Ponting ought to have known that the Tigers can bite you on the derriere faster than you can say "Kangaruined". So you could just hear the smack of Cricket Australia foreheads being slapped back in February when he announced that Bangladesh did not deserve their Test status. But what's this? "Bangladesh deserve their Test status," he suddenly uttered ahead of the first Test this week, cricket's biggest about-turn since Shahid Afridi decided to impersonate John Travolta on the Faisalabad pitch. Good job the media managers wrote that script too, as Bangladesh very nearly authored a tale that was not so much unexpected as downright ridiculous.

Spectacular U-turn No 2 It wasn't just the skipper eating his words. Shane Warne found himself tucking into more than just his usual cheese toasties when he was force-fed a large slice of humble pie after a first-innings mauling. "I did say that players like Murali had taken a lot of wickets against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe whereas I have only played one Test against Zimbabwe," Warne said, no doubt also feeling the pinch. "But I did not mean to say that others were going after cheap wickets as had been made out to be." Leaving aside the fact that there is little other interpretation of this statement - what else did he mean? - Warne failed to pick up a single wicket in the first innings, returning bloated figures of 0 for 112 from 20 overs, his second-worst in Tests. He may have bounced back with 3 for 28 in the second innings, but by then he was already stuffed.

Ad-libbing like a pro Now to what was said on the pitch. Say what you like about the Australians' sledging, but even the most po-faced stuffy old suit should doff his bowler hat to a cunning marketing ruse that Adam Gilchrist has hit upon. His shouts of "Get one for the boys at Travelex" and "Phone home on 3 Mobile", a nod to the team sponsors, were picked up by the stump mikes. And it's already worked - look, we're even giving them a plug now. Of course such things soon become more tiresome than a Benny Hill marathon, but even this one-off was too much for an unamused Cricket Australia, whose damage-limitation operatives have been working round the clock recently. They immediately called on the ICC match referee to turn down the mikes when the ball is dead. The killjoys.



Riot in the thick of things - the fans at Guwahati get impatient after waiting a whole morning for play © Getty Images
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How was your day? Oh, it was a riot Fans turning up to the fifth one-dayer between India and England can't have expected much from the dead rubber and, when rains prevented the game from ever getting underway, the sensible thing would have been to pack up and go home. But no, rather than let this most damp of squibs be flushed away, these cricket-starved spectators decided to light up proceedings with a riot. They burned advertising hoardings, newspapers and placards and hurled bricks onto the outfield, eventually targeting the TV cameras and causing thousands of pounds' worth of damage. But why? Hang on - here's the Guwahati District Commissioner Avinash Joshi with an explanation. "The frustration was obvious," he begins promisingly, "because the spectators had waited since morning." Blimey - if they can't wait patiently for a few hours, then woe betide they ever get stuck behind a copper-counting granny in the slow queue at B&Q.

High flyer uses his head Harbhajan Singh knows a thing or two about flight and deception, and such knowledge came to his considerable aid after the washout at Guwahati. The next stop on the neverending one-dayer train was Jamshedpur and the Indians were due to take the bus. But this would never do for Bhaji who chose to join the England team on their specially chartered plane as the lads celebrated going 4-0 down with a rousing chorus of Ring of Fire. He only just made it though - after touching down at Ranchi, he had to burn, burn, burn it to the waiting plane where he made himself a wanted man with the rest of the Indian team, or at least an envied one, as he and the English boys gave it some air.

Lapping it up Another player up to unusual tricks is Essex's Ashley Cowan who, as part of his benefit year, is being sponsored by a lap-dancing club, The Cave. The club's communications manager Greg Lansdowne confirmed that so-called Cave Nights were being organized as part of an overall buxom package, and hastily justified how this sat with being a family club. "There are a variety of events in a benefit year," he said, "some of an adult nature and some for all the family. Ashley's Cave Nights will cater for the more mature end of the market." It sure gives a whole new meaning to the post-victory champagne.



Nice'n'Naughty's logo - but the shop, alas, is just too naughty for the north © Nice'n'Naughty Ltd
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Too sexy for their shirts It's not just the south that's getting sexy - or trying to, at least. In the naughty north, a local cricket club, Southport Trinity, signed up a sex shop as their shirt sponsor. But, like Essex, they are a family club - with four junior teams - and this was something which eventually led to the ECB persuading the league to make them pull out of the deal. Not before Trinity's club officials had gone to the lengths of making a detailed inspection of Nice'n'Naughty's wares to check them for propriety. How admirably thorough. The pleased officials had deemed the shop "highly recommended", although it's not quite clear what exactly they were recommending.

Nice weather for ducks Blizzards, you say? Must be the county season. Yorkshire were forced to travel through snowy conditions over the Pennines for a friendly against Lancashire. Elsewhere, Derbyshire and Surrey were forced to relocate to The Oval after a deluge in Derby left the County Ground under water. Why, oh why, try to play games in early April? Oh well, tune in again this time next year for exactly the same story.

Quote hanger "Year after year, the wonderful folks at the ICC assemble the world's best players and get them to play bad cricket. If they staged W.G.'s XI v The Don's XI at the Elysian Oval with S. F. Barnes bowling to Victor Trumper, they would find some way of making the occasion dismal. It's a gift, really: a form of anti-showmanship." - Matthew Engel, writing in the new Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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