August 4, 2008

Shaves, stoppages, sprees

A cricketer has his house damaged by a jealous husband, Bollywood calls for Asif, and Pakistan' captain has a close shave - in public

Squeaky clean: Malik is the 'Pakistan Gillette Champion' © AFP

The best a man can get
Roger Federer, Rahul Dravid, Thierry Henry, Tiger Woods... and now, Shoaib Malik. The Pakistan captain joins these illustrious names in sport as the latest brand ambassador for Gillette. At a promotional campaign in Karachi, the "Pakistan Gillette Champion" shaved on stage, after which he went on to read dutifully from the script: "A good close shave makes you feel you can do anything and be the best at everything," Malik said. "The product helps me fulfil this desire by giving me the confidence to be at my very best." For a change, we just might have a performance enhancer that is, thankfully, not a banned substance.

Catch 'em when they're unemployed
There's no such thing as an out-of-work international cricketer in the subcontinent anymore. Even if you don't belong to that neck of the woods, trust some Bollywood director or producer to lasso you and perhaps discover a talent you never thought you had - as Brett Lee could testify. Mohammad Asif may be disgraced with repeat drug offences, but that hasn't stopped him from making a foray into the film industry. Asif has apparently been picked to act in a Bollywood movie called Mein Aur Meri Himmat (Me and My Courage), and is, according to the film's scriptwriter, "quite serious about a career in films". The role was originally for fellow fast bowler, the equally-controversial Shoaib Akhtar, but the producers reportedly lost patience after Shoaib failed to honour his commitment to the project. The Pakistan Cricket Board, meanwhile, has said it has no knowledge of Asif's Bollywood ambitions.

Sachin Tendulkar, too, is set to make a movie appearance - in a religious film called Vighnaharta, based on Lord Ganesha. The director of the film confirmed that Tendulkar will share screen space with several other Bollywood stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty and Sridevi. It's likely that Tendulkar will play himself.

Ants marching
If you thought you'd heard all the bizarre reasons for stopping play, you've got another think coming. A friendly between Crouch End Calthorpe and Hornsey was abandoned recently after a swarm of flying ants invaded the pitch. The ants covered every inch of the players' clothing, reportedly. Crouch End's secretary Simon Tanner, said, "If you can imagine ants in your hair, in your ears and in your eyes, and you're trying to concentrate on a cricket ball coming at you - it was very disconcerting." A pity though, as there were only eight overs left in the game.

Cops reach out
Cricket's catching on in New York City, thanks in no small part to the raging success of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, a bestselling new novel with cricket in post-9/11 USA as its backdrop. The city's police department, the NYPD, is doing its bit by organising a Twenty20 Cricket Cup at Brooklyn's Gateway Cricket Ground, as part of an outreach program for the benefit of various ethnic groups in the city. Raymond Kelly, the police commissioner, was present at the coin toss for the first match. The tournament attracted over 100 youngsters aged 14 through 19. Not surprisingly, a majority of those who signed up were of either Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian or Caribbean origin. A warm gesture from the cops allright, but one that raises the question: will players guilty of dissent end up in the slammer?

Running amuck
Somerset cricketer Neil Edwards' home in Taunton was trashed by a jealous husband who believed Edwards was having an affair with his wife. John Matthews, a builder who had carried out work in Edwards' home, went on a destructive rampage after his wife confessed to having an affair - though Edwards denied that it was with him. Prosecutor Jeremy Oliver said Matthews acted on the "spur of the moment" and undid all the work he'd done on the property. Matthews admitted at a Magistrates' Court that he caused more than ₤ 5000 worth of damage: he sawed a bed in half; cut up curtains, poured expanding foam down toilets and the bath, and poured creosote over furniture. He also stuck a note on Edwards' front door which read: "You have had your fun, now take the punishment. If you play with fire, expect to be burnt. This is Phase One - I will meet up with you to carry out Phase Two." To be continued, then.

Headline of the Week
"Bat man play like jokers"
Wales Online fumes at the poor showing by England's top order in their second innings at Edgbaston

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a staff writer at Cricinfo