December 22, 2008

No bias, no entry, no degree

Supersport takes on Channel Nine, Langer gets pulled up, aid for schoolgirls, and an umpire yet to graduate

After being part of the Western Australia dressing room for years, Justin Langer was stopped from walking across the front of it © Getty Images

The battle of the airwaves
The pre-series talking up is no longer restricted just to the players. Ahead of South Africa's tour of Australia, Supersport, a South African cable channel, aired an advertisement promoting its commentary team as "unbiased" compared to Channel Nine's pundits. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the ad features Ian Chappell, Michael Slater and Tony Greig, who are shown commentating during Graeme Smith's hundred at Edgbaston earlier this year. Instead of acknowledging the effort, the three can be heard criticising Smith for his selfishness at not declaring. Supersport offers its viewers the alternative of Pommie Mbangwa and Brett Proctor.

Alfie takes a diversion
The security staff at Perth's WACA are sticklers for the rules. One official recently stopped former Australia opener Justin Langer, who played over 100 first-class games for Western Australia, from cutting across in front of the players' dressing rooms without the required accreditation. He asked Langer to take the long route around the players' pavilion instead. Langer protested briefly but eventually took the high road.

All hail Lord Dhoni
If cricket, as is repeatedly stated, is a religion in India, it can't be long before temples dedicated to its superstars come up around the country. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's fans have taken the lead, announcing they will construct a temple for their "god of cricket" in his hometown, Ranchi, beginning January 14. "Dhoni is god for us," a fan was quoted as saying in the Hindustan Times. "With his entry in Indian cricket, Jharkhand was put on the international map. People here are recognised due to him. We get respect in other states. Dhoni has changed the face of Indian cricket." Is he the only god to apply for a gun licence?

A tale for the holidays
Christmas came early this year for some Auckland schoolgirls after people from all over New Zealand sent in money to fund their trip to the national intermediate school cricket finals two weeks ago. The New Zealand media reported that the Viscount School girls' team needed NZ$5000 to travel for the tournament. The story had such an overwhelming response from readers that there was extra money left over for equipment and uniforms. The Mangere Cosmopolitan Club, in the suburb where the school is situated, donated $5000 on its own. "I had trusts ringing me up from Wellington, people with family trusts from the South Island and little old ladies saying, 'I want to go down to my bank to see if I have $20 to give you'," Keith Gayford, the Viscount principal, told the Manukau Courier. The team reached the final, where they lost to Wellington's Raora Intermediate School, coached by former New Zealand player Gavin Larsen. "It's a good lesson for the kids to learn. Even when you work hard all year - and these girls had worked really hard to get there - sometimes you still don't win," Gayford said.

Undergraduate umpire
Women's cricket took another positive step in a different part of New Zealand's North Island, where 19-year-old Lauren Doherty became Taranki Cricket Association's (TCA) first female umpire in over a decade. Doherty, a university student who played junior cricket in the region, was introduced to umpiring by her mother, who is the TCA's director of women's cricket. She stood in her first game, a senior-grade fixture, last month and said the experience had been good so far. "[The players] are all pretty good-natured," Doherty told the Taranki Daily News. "You get the usual stick if you make a call and they don't agree with something you've ruled on, but I haven't had any bad reaction - not yet anyway."

Christmas music
Dwayne Bravo's Christmas plans include paying tribute to a group of Caribbean musicians in his hometown, Santa Cruz, in Trinidad and Tobago. Bravo, along with other residents of the town, will pay tribute to the Lara Brothers, a parang (a type of folk music with Caribbean and Latin cultural influences) music group from Santa Cruz that has been in existence since 1945. The week-long event will include efforts to sensitise the public about the musicians through the media, a motorcade in Santa Cruz on December 28, and a function in Cantaro on December 30.

Headline of the Week
"Harmy's in a stu over axe."
The UK's Daily Star punningly reports Steve Harmison being replaced by Stuart Broad for the second Test in Mohali

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo