July 21, 2008

Girls gone wild, girls on guard duty

Napier gets a call from Elton John, Queensland players get PlayStations, and a chauvinist gets put in his place

Lisa Sthalekar tells Ed Kavalee what it takes to be a member of the Australian women's team © Cricket Australia

Women on top
When Ed Kavalee, a radio jockey with the Australian FM station Nova 100, went on air saying he could score a hundred against the Australian women's team, he may not have expected the likes of Lisa Sthalekar, Emma Sampson, Sarah Edwards and Emma Inglis to take him up on his wager and prove him wrong. Fawkner Park in Melbourne was the stage for this unlikely battle of the sexes, which was held to mark the announcement of the 2009 women's World Cup. Kavalee went out to bat against a side comprising the four national cricketers, six lucky listeners, and one of colleagues, but things began to look less than rosy when he faced a barrage of short balls from Sampson, getting hit on his forearm, hip, wrist, and the side of his helmet. He somehow waded through, but after being dismissed on 34 by Sthalekar, he was a changed man. "I think I've mentioned that they can't bowl, bat, field or throw, or play sport in general, really. I now take back all of those comments whole-heartedly," he said.

The best job in town
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has dealt with the travails of fame quite admirably, but he was left red-faced in Kolkata last year when an over-enthusiastic college girl slipped though his security cover and showered him with kisses before she was forcibly separated from him. To avoid more such incidents while Dhoni takes a break in his hometown, Ranchi, the district police have added five policewomen to his security detail, with one specific duty: keeping his female fans at bay. A job that will be coveted by quite a few star-struck maidens, one would think. "It's certainly an enviable assignment," said one of the lucky cops, "especially since many of our colleagues are usually assigned to escort politicians."

Greatest hits
Graham Napier, the Essex allrounder, smashed a record-breaking 152 not out from 58 balls last month, an effort that won him a few new fans, but he was taken aback when one of them turned out to be Elton John. "It was a pleasant surprise to receive a call from Sir Elton John and to learn that he'd enjoyed watching my recent innings on television - especially as I'm a big fan of his music," Napier said. "I've enjoyed quite a few unique experiences over the last few weeks but this has to be up there near the top!" Coincidentally, Napier's Sky Sports profile mentioned Elton as his favorite musician. The mutual admiration was evident: Sir Elton had asked his agent to call up the Essex County Cricket Club and get Napier's number.

Cricket crooks
Four framed bats used by Don Bradman, worth AUS $10,000, were stolen from a sports complex in Darwin last week, along with a framed Viv Richards bat worth $3000. However, the police believe the thieves will have a tough time selling their loot. "It would be difficult [for the bats to be sold], I would imagine, certainly in this country, but we'll see how we go," Gavin Kennedy, the Darwin watch commander, told ABC Radio. "I've got faith that we'll narrow it down, and hopefully we'll come up with some suspects."

PlayStation power
In a bid to stay ahead of the competition, Queensland have bought 20 PlayStation portables (PSPs) for their team, which will be used by players to review their own performances. The consoles have been customised by former Queensland fast bowler and current bowling coach, Joe Dawes, and each have a slot for a memory card with video data of training and match situations. "With the PSPs, the players will be told to go away and build their own game plans," Dawes said. One hopes they don't get distracted by what the devices are actually meant for: gaming!

What's your name again?
When you go by the name Aaron Ruff-Cock, you're bound to attract attention, even if you only play in Division Two of the Shropshire Cricket League. One wonders just how Ruff-Cock dealt with school bullies; but things seem to be looking up for him at the moment. Last week he scored a valiant 96, lit up by 18 fours and a six, while batting for Montgomery in their away game against Tibberton.

Headline of the Week
"Aus he? Aus he not?"
Cricketnext.com on the selection of Darren Pattinson for the Headingley Test, despite having spent the last 24 years of his life in Australia

Ashok Ganguly is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo