October 7, 2008

Baseball, golf and a little bit of cricket

Baseball comes to Somerset, Vaughan picks up his clubs, and Warne names his top 100

Into the swing: Michael Vaughan tries his luck at a different sport © Getty Images

Stepping up to the plate
The season didn't quite finish for Marcus Trescothick with Somerset's defeat against Lancashire, but a few days later he was picking up a very different bat. As part of his benefit year a baseball game between Trescothick's team, The Bangers, and the Great Britain national side took place at Taunton. Eighteen tons of soil were brought into the County Ground to create a baseball diamond for the star-studded match, which included former England players Graeme Hick, Robert Croft, and Ashley Giles. Time for some home runs to replaces sixes.

Screen test
Pakistan's players haven't had an awful lot to do cricket-wise of late, so they have had to find other things to fill their time. The film industry, usually a favourite haunt of Shoaib Akhtar, has come calling for the captain, Shoaib Malik. He will star alongside his real-life girlfriend, Sayali Bhagat, in a yet-to-be-titled movie. "I met Shoaib at a five-star hotel and narrated a love story that I had in mind," director Wilson Louis told the Khaleej Times. "Shoaib is known to be an introvert, but we clicked immediately."

Extra problems
Staying with the movie theme, all is not well regarding Hansie: the Movie. The film about the former South Africa captain has hit screens, bringing in R1.5million in its first week, which is no better than other local movies. However, the bigger issue is that a number of extras who worked on the film have yet to be paid because of financing problems. Jens Rabiega, one of those extras, was far from impressed. "I think it runs in the Cronje family to try to screw people over," he told the Saturday Star. "The thing that angers me is that it comes across as this big Christian movie which is all about God and stuff, but they don't have the decency to pay us."

Fore instead of four
Every year, in the first week of October, the worlds of sports and showbiz collide at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, a golf event where some of the most famous celebrities in both fields brush shoulders. Some take it more seriously than others, but it's always worth keeping an eye out for who you can spot. There are regularly attendees - such as Hugh Grant, Ian Botham and Steve Redgrave - and this year cricket is well represented. Aside from Sir Ian, there's Michael Vaughan, who will have hoped for more success with his golf swing than his cover drive brought him this summer. Kapil Dev has flown in before his ICL duties (wonder if he's asked Vaughan about joining), and Shaun Pollock is making an appearance too. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the 19th hole.

Odd numbers
Just when you thought he'd gone quiet, Warnie's back in the news. He's publicising a new book, Warne's Century, where he picks out the 100 greatest cricketers he has played with or against. It's an extension of last year's top 50 - nothing like an original idea. But this latest exercise is interesting, not least because he explains why Arjuna Ranatunga has made the list and why Mark Waugh is rated ahead of Steve. More interesting, though, is noting those who have slipped since the 50 was named. Jamie Siddons, who never played for Australia, was at No. 50 in the first list and this time he's at No. 100. Harsh, considering it's not as though he's had a chance to do much wrong in the interim.

Krejza's comedown
Jason Krejza has come from nowhere to be on the brink of one of toughest challenges in the game: bowling offspin at the India top order. His performance in the warm-up game against the Board President's XI won't have filled him with much confidence, his final tally being 31 overs for 199 runs. And he is already finding out that being an international cricketer means all parts of your life become exposed. Two years ago he had his drink spiked in a nightclub, which resulted in a positive cocaine test - details of which newspapers dug up last week. Everything was smoothed over with Cricket Australia and the incident is now well behind Krejza, who will be hoping for a high of a different kind when the first Test starts in Bangalore this week.

Don't count your chickens
Looking at all the bronzed bodies on any Australian beach it's easy to see why it's thought of as a country of fitness fanatics and healthy living. However, Australians aren't immune to weightier issues, and now obesity experts have called on Cricket Australia to end its sponsorship deal with KFC. "This advertising uses the standing of cricket and its players to endorse and promote unhealthy eating habits, one of the major root causes of obesity in Australia," professors Stephen Colagiuri and Ian Caterson told the West Australian. Clearly, you can't have your chicken and eat it.

Headline of the Week
"Expanding balls cause discomfort for Aussies"
AAP finds that the Australians are having a few issues with some vital equipment in India

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo