December 8, 2008

Ten no-balls and Ten10

A Pakistani bowler has a nightmare, Dhoni struggles to fit in his exams, and Derbyshire's players get some beauty tips

Cricket goes on: As England pondered whether to resume their India tour, the locals in Abu Dhabi enjoyed a match of their own © Getty Images

A day to forget
Some days a bowler just has to admit he's had a bit of a shocker, but Zaid Mir took it to a whole new level when he managed to concede 31 runs without actually bowling a legitimate delivery, in a match in the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Twenty20 memorial tournament in Pakistan. Mir sent down 10 consecutive no-balls, giving the batsmen 10 consecutive free hits, ending with figures of 0-0-31-0. If Mir had continued, the innings may never had finished, but he suddenly came down with a "leg strain", according to the scorer. That sounds like an euphemism for embarrassment. Perhaps more surprisingly, though, Mir's team, Port Qasim, still managed to win by nine wickets.

Dhoni's delayed test
You'd have though Mahendra Singh Dhoni's life would be stressful enough: captain of India, A-list celebrity and general hero in his own country. But he's trying to squeeze in some exams as well. Dhoni, who is enrolled as an undergraduate in a Bachelor of Commerce programme at a college in Ranchi, could not sit for his first-semester examinations. Goodness knows why - he's only been beating Australia, playing a one-day series, and preparing to face England in a Test series. However, help is at hand. "We are planning to give special assignments to Dhoni so that he can prepare himself. A special examination will be conducted for him," Father Nicolas Tete, principal of the college, said. Dhoni's immediate test, though, is to continue India's winning form against England.

Music to your ears
Listen up all aspiring bands in Yorkshire. The county side are looking for local talent to compose their theme song for the 2009 season. The official release said anything goes: "The club is looking for music of all genres, from classical to rock, easy listening to indie, to reflect the highs and lows of the cricket season." Last season a local group called Loose Chippings came up with the imaginatively titled "Yorkshire", which became the team's Twenty20 theme tune... until they were thrown out of competition.

Mr and Mrs Bond smile for the cameras © Getty Images

The youth of today
It sounded like such a good idea: get young troublemakers off the street by encouraging them to play cricket. That was the plan with Birstall Village Cricket Club's new clubhouse, and all was going well until it was vandalised by a group of yobs. "They've caused thousands of pounds worth of damage," junior coach Andy Corbett told the Leicester Mercury. "We are trying to get kids off the streets and encourage them to play cricket rather than cause trouble. These lads must be local - it is really disappointing. I have defended young people and then this happens."

Say it with... an Aston Martin
After suffering a virus in India, Michael Clarke is back in full health, in top form, and confirming his credentials as Australia's next captain. Life's pretty good for him at the moment, and the same can be said for his girlfriend, Lara Bingle, who has just taken delivery of a flashy Aston Martin. The new toy has reportedly set Clarke back A$300,000, but clearly nothing is too much for his girl. It's certainly an expensive way to try and quash rumours that the couple have called off their engagement. Or maybe Clarke just wants to be able to borrow it from time to time and announce, "The name's Clarke, Michael Clarke."

A clean cut
County cricketers get up to a variety of interesting (and not-so-interesting) pursuits during the winter. Some do a spot of DIY around the club, others fly off for sunny climates and some enrol in university. Now, it seems, some open beauty salons. Last week the Derbyshire trio of Garry Park, Graham Wagg and Tom Lungley, along with their partners, cut the ribbon to open Madoka Laser and Beauty, a laser hair removal clinic, in a Derby city-centre shopping complex. Expect some perfectly manicured players at the County Ground next season.

How short can you go?
Twenty20 has changed cricket beyond recognition, possibly for good, but just how short can you make a meaningful cricket match? The odd Five5 that rain has caused has felt quite farcical, with neither batsmen or bowlers really knowing how to approach it. Now cricket fans in Dubai will get a taste of the middle ground as a Ten10 Eid tournament is staged in the emirate. "It is the first time such a tournament will be held under our auspices and it will be interesting to see the impact of it," Farooq Seddiqi of the Dubai Cricket Council told Gulf News. "It will be the right type of a tournament, especially during Eid." At least it takes out those boring middle overs.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo