The week that was ... April 23 - April 29 April 30, 2006

SAD, senility and nudes

The Week That Was ... April 23 - April 29



A hovercraft dries the early-morning dew while autumn mist shrouds the floodlight pylons and cloud completely obscures Table Mountain. Just a typical 'summer' day in Cape Town © Getty Images
Seasonal Adjustment Disorder Only a fool would schedule the Winter Olympics for mid June in Austria or beach volleyball for December in Brighton ... or a Test match for April/May in Cape Town. It may be deep into autumn in South Africa, but the relentless pressures of the international calendar have meant that South Africa's Tests against New Zealand have had to be scheduled well into the off season. It has hardly been surprising that the poor light, early-morning dew, and even fog, have dogged the match. The authorities in South Africa lay the blame firmly at the door of the ICC, whose unlamented Super Series forced the situation. "It was never our intention to play cricket at this time of the year," growled a board official. The ICC acknowledged the issues but added that "it should also be borne in mind that such events generate valuable revenue for our Members which help them not only sustain their domestic game but also develop it." Next week the two sides head for Johannesburg where it will be drier but colder and daylight in short supply. Somewhere this has to stop, otherwise the cycle of endless matches, many at increasingly daft times, will erode the game's ethos. Even Canute only tried to stop the tide and not shift the whole earth on its axis. But then again, he didn't have the Future Tours Programme to contend with.

Senile discrimination Imran Khan might be a politician, but he managed to alienate the pensioners' vote in one fell swoop when he criticised the ongoing Seniors tournament between India and Pakistan. It wasn't the presence of a convicted match-fixer, nor the rather expansive waistlines that bothered him, so much as the old fellas keeling over. "I fear that any of the seniors might face a heart attack," Imran said, before adding that "most of them are above age". Aside from assuming that anyone over 35 should be sitting in a bath chair and not eating solids, it rather misses the point that a Seniors tournament tends to attract an older participant. Oh, and it makes you wonder if Imran wasn't invited to the party.



Nude cricketers celebrate Anzac Day © The Northern Star
Just when you wanted a cover up Bizarre event of the week came in Australia where Anzac Day was celebrated by a game of nude cricket on North Belongil Beach in New South Wales. The publicity-craving Free Beaches Australia group staged the stunt ... sorry, game ... and perhaps it served them right that it rained, which rather put the damper on the accompanying sausage sizzle (seriously). The oh-so-predictable press quips about middle stumps abounded, but spare a thought for one player. "This is my way of showing I'm thinking of the Anzacs," he said. "The only problem is I don't have anywhere to pin my father's medals."

The equal greatest In an exchange of mutual sycophancy not witnessed since Mother Teresa met the Pope, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan finally met this week in an event entirely unconnected with promotion for a new film Bachchan is working on. To cut a long story short, Bachchan said he wanted to meet Dhoni, but Dhoni replied that it would not be proper for someone of the film star's stature to come down to him. When the two finally met, Dhoni gushed: "I have idolised only two persons since my childhood. One is Sachin Tendulkar and the other is Amitabh Bachchan. I am now playing with Tendulkar and today I got a chance to meet you as well. I will always cherish this day of my life." Not to be outdone, Bachchan replied: "I am your die-hard fan. I was desperate to meet you." Somehow it's hard to imagine the same scene being played out between Shane Warne and Dame Edna Everage ... but then again ...

Just fancy that ... "We will honour our commitment to organise the Champions Trophy this year but want the tournament to be taken off the calendar in future. Since the ICC takes away a major part of the revenue, the tournament is a financial burden on the country which hosts it." Indian board official in February 2005. "It is a very important event for world cricket and we are looking forward to work in partnership with ICC to deliver an exceptional tournament." Sharad Pawar, BCCI president, in April 2006. The decision on who will host the next World Cup was due to be made by the ICC today, but this clearly had nothing to do with the 180 degree about turn.



Tony Blair opens the 1999 World Cup, his only real forray into cricket ... until it became trendy with the Ashes win last summer, that is © Getty Images
Land of hope and glory A survey by the government-backed Icons Online, costing (or perhaps more accurately squandering) a remarkable million pounds, asked people in England to nominate things that typified Englishness. It was heartening that in between The Hay Wain, Hadrian's Wall, the pub and the miniskirt, appeared cricket. That might not have gone down too well in government circles. At the Wisden dinner earlier this month Kate Hoey - the rarest of beasts, a former sports minister who actually liked and supported sport - admitted that her attempts to sell cricket to Tony Blair and his cronies when she was in the cabinet (between 1999 and 2001) fell on deaf ears as they preferred the mass appeal and trendiness of football. With local elections this week, these days the government probably needs all the help it can get.

Pretty Vacant Unlike some other cricketers (mainly slow left-armers from north London), Darren Gough is making the transition from player to mini celebrity without becoming irritating. After his winter success in Strictly Come Dancing it was this week revealed he will sing a line in an unofficial football World Cup song by punk band Koopa. The line should not tax him too much - he will chirp "Ner, ner, ner, ner". Essex team-mate Graham Napier was clearly impressed, noting the band were "young enough to be his kids".

Eh by gum There was a moment to savour at Fenner's for those (older?) cricket lovers who tire of the endless gum-chewing among players. Richard Clinton, son of Surrey's ultimate limpet, Grahame, was munching away during the game between British Universities and the Sri Lankans when, according to the Daily Telegraph, his tooth "imploded under the strain of his furious gum-chewing" necessitating an emergency visit to the dentist.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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