Of maidens, and forming partnerships
A relieved set of fans
Old Trafford, the Lancashire County Cricket Club's ground, hosted a huge Arctic Monkeys show last month, which was attended by over 100,000 people. However, the complaints from the Lancashire and Hampshire contingents during their four-day match in the days following the show were not about a dug-up outfield or a spoiled pitch as may have been expected, but rather the smell of urine that hung over the ground. Apparently many of the Monkeys' fans had relieved themselves on the grass instead of in the portaloos provided - to such an extent that parts of the pitch were flooded by wee. According to eyewitnesses: "Men were peeing into empty pint glasses and emptying the contents on the outfield, and women were squatting to pee due to long toilet queues." However, the organisers were blamed by a few for providing only about 40 toilets for the masses present, thus causing the smelly situation. "The main worry for the fielding side was when it came to having to shine the ball," Nic Pothas, the Hampshire wicketkeeper, observed.
Bowling maidens over
Speaking of Pothas, he was one of 11 Hampshire players who stripped down to their bats, pads and gloves for a calendar photo shoot in an attempt to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation. England allrounder Dimitri Mascarenhas was another. Although international stars Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne were not involved, the rest will have a month each to themselves on the 2008 calendar that goes on sale shortly for £9.99.
The covered pitch
Still in England: a cricket match between the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club was played on a pitch that "emerges" only once a year. The half-hour game started at sunrise on Brambles Bank, a sand bank that occurs annually on the lowest tide. The Yacht Club won by 10 runs after scoring 33 in the allotted five overs before the sea swallowed up the pitch. Inmates from Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight originally used to play on the Bank in the 1950s (their prison officers secure that their charges could not escape) but the sailing clubs took over the tradition in 1984. How does the curator keep himself busy rest of the year, one wonders.
Up your sleeve
Innovation has always been Australia's favourite pastime (other than winning cricket matches, of course). In yet another revolutionary step, the Australian cricket team will be wearing Adidas-manufactured sleeveless attire at the forthcoming Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa. Ricky Ponting praised the contemporary design and agreed that the new uniform blended in well with the Twenty20 idea. According to the manufacturers, the new uniform will not only provide players with increased muscle support and power (due to the aluminium coloured compression layer), the breathable fabric will keep them comfortable at any temperature and allow them to perform at their peak. How big a gap will this create between the mighty Australians and the rest of the sleeved world?
Forming a partnership
While Old Trafford reeked of urine, the administration at Hove was planning to install wedding bells at the ground since it had been granted a license to hold civil wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. Located close to the seafront, the oldest county ground in England will soon host wedding ceremonies overlooking the cricket pitch through floor-to-ceiling windows. With the covered premises and indoor lighting, even rain or bad light will not cause "matches" to be called off.
"I really admire what they do, but to be honest I don't fancy facing a ball at 89 miles an hour."
Dietmar Hamann, the Manchester City footballer (previously of Liverpool fame), talks of his interest in cricket ... from a distance
Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo