September 24, 2007

Colly's costly lapse and Humpty-Dumpty Freddie

Collingwood ends up in an inappropriate area, Mahi goes online, the choke's on you, and more

Col-lap-se : Paul Collingwood wonders what hit him © Getty Images

Gotcha, Colly
What is it with England captains giving the tabloids mileage points in the middle of major tournaments? Remember Fredalo? The sequel arrived a few days ago when, the night before England's Super Eights match against South Africa, Paul Collingwood was spotted in Mavericks Revue, a lap-dancing club in Cape Town. The Sun, an English tabloid, reported that he walked in looking really relaxed and was seen drinking at the bar. The story goes that on realising where he had landed up, Collingwood left after drinking one beer. We'd like to think it was the fastest beer he had ever gulped down.

The ECB wasn't amused and promptly fined him £1000. To add insult to financial injury, England were beaten by 19 runs in their next game against New Zealand - one in the course of which Collingwood questionably chose not to give Andrew Flintoff a fourth over.

Collingwood later said that his companions the night of the club visit weren't "massively close friends". One shudders to imagine what would have happened if they were.

You must be choking
"I don't think there's really time to choke." said Shaun Pollock before the ICC World Twenty20 got underway. "Everything happens so quickly." They proved to be words that would come back to haunt him at the business end of the tournament when, true to form, after having breezed through their earlier matches, South Africa dialled P for Panic when they ran into India in Durban in the Super Eights, and struggled before falling short of the 126 that would have guaranteed them a berth in the semi-finals. And yes, there was plenty of time to choke.

At least, with just a day left in the championship, we've probably heard the last such faux pas of the tournament.

Freddie's fat man
Andrew Flintoff's near-perpetual absence from the England side these days may not do them any favours, but there are some who aren't complaining. Flintoff, at home nursing his fragile ankle, is among 15 celebrities helping to raise money to fight breast cancer by auctioning artworks they had created. When asked to draw a doodle with the theme "What makes you smile" Flintoff produced one of Humpty Dumpty with a cricket ball and stumps, called "Freddie's Fat Man" - a good-natured dig at the artist's considerable size.

The Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Bingo Association joint auction has already raised £ 2.5million and they hope to soon reach the three-million mark. Freddie doesn't guzzle those beers down for nothing, you know.

Anything but cricket: Tendulkar with Sania Mirza in Kolkata. Click to enlarge


Mahi goes online
A first-time visitor to Jharkhand can be forgiven for thinking Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the presiding deity of the state. His face stares at you everywhere you look, from music albums to packets of gutkha. Brand Dhoni, which took a bashing after India's World Cup exit, is back with a bang now with the man leading India to the final of the World Twenty20, as well as edging out several senior players in the race for the one-day captaincy. One college student, who reportedly cut off his long locks in shame a few months ago, said he was growing his hair back as a tribute to his hero. The Dhoni gutkha brand and music album are back in demand after a hiatus. What's more, he now has an official website as well. So what's next in the pipeline? A Dhoni-designed motorcycle? Watch this space.

Say no to cricket
It's hard to keep Sachin Tendulkar away from sport for too long. While the Indian Twenty20 team was away, organisers of the Sunfeast Open tennis tournament in Kolkata invited him to play a round of tennis as part of an all-star cast including Mahesh Bhupathi, Russian Maria Kirilenko, and footballer Bhaichung Bhutia. Indian tennis star Sania Mirza had the privilege of being the chair umpire. Tendulkar and Kirilenko took a 2-0 lead before Mirza rather kindly stepped in and helped their opponents, Bhupathi and Bhutia, equalise by calling faults on correct shots just to spice things up.

Later Tendulkar and Mirza spoke to the media and revealed just how they admired each other to pieces. While the press were firmly told not to ask Tendulkar any questions related to cricket, especially the issue of the captaincy, one journalist couldn't help himself. "Do you want to get into trouble?" Tendulkar asked him, tongue in cheek.

Costly drop indeed
John Howard, the Australian prime minister cum self-confessed cricket tragic, had reason to smile during his appearance at a school fete in West Ryde, Sydney, when informed that his son Tim had scored a century in grade five of the Sydney Morning Cricket Association. Howard junior opened the batting for Bali XI against Sword Merchants at Rudd Field in Belfield and scored 102; and later, when speaking to Howard's spokesperson, insisted that he tell his dad it was a park game and "not the Pura Cup". Opposing captain Ben Jones said Howard "showed a lot a resolve, like his old man". He added that Howard was dropped on 99. We don't know yet if he walked up to the fielder and remarked: "You just dropped the prime minister's son, son."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo