January 12, 2009

Birds, briefs and Brian May

The winning underpants, Ganguly's new job and a flock of spreadeagled pigeons

Sadly it's not this Brian May set to play for the Queensland Second XI this week © Getty Images

Tubby wins 30km race
Okay, so Mark Taylor is unlikely to ever win a race over this distance unless a vehicle is involved. But his namesake did him proud this week. The inaugural Betfair Pink Pigeon Race featured 12 birds, all named for members of the Channel Nine commentary team. The contest, run in support of the McGrath Foundation, began at Glenn McGrath Oval in Narromine in country New South Wales and finished in the town of Trangie in the state's north-west. The winner by a mere three seconds was Tubby, a two-year-old dark checker pied cock, who got home in 52 minutes and 10 seconds, winning by a beak from Scoob (Simon O'Donnell). But that's where the drama started. The remainder of the birds took another 41 minutes to finish. In the words of Betfair's press release after the event "it appears an eagle may have 'spreadeagled' the field mid-race".

Putting forward the briefs case
So, you thought Australia's dominance over the past decade was built around Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath? Wrong. According to Tracy Bevan, the wife of Michael Bevan, it was all to do with the underpants that she and the late Jane McGrath wore as lucky charms. Apparently they sported no-frills Marks and Spencer briefs at all games. What a pair of wags. But during a fundraiser for the McGrath Foundation on day one of the Sydney Test, Mrs Bevan revealed she was doing her bit to reverse Australia's form by again wearing the underpants. And Australia won the match. Coincidence?

Spreading the cheer
In keeping with the fine traditions of the IPL, a new reality show is being launched to find a set of cheerleaders for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Shah Rukh Khan owns the team and his Red Chillies Entertainment production company is putting together the talent show, to be aired on NDTV Imagine this year. Reports have said that six cheerleaders will be chosen to be part of the IPL extravaganza this April. It also looks like Sourav Ganguly has been given the job of selecting the winners along with Shah Rukh. It's not a bad gig for a newly retired player, although we're not exactly sure what his choreographic credentials are.

Where else but Queensland?
We're not sure if the Cricket Australia Cup - the national second XI state competition - features song clips when players walk out to bat. But if it does then the batsman Brian May, who is from Queensland, appropriately enough, could bring his own playlist when he lines up against the Tasmanian Second XI this week. "Play the Game" when he takes the field, "Don't Stop Me Now" if he gets some momentum, "Another One Bites the Dust" when he is dismissed, and of course, if he hits the winning runs, "We Are the Champions". You can only hope that there's an F Mercury floating around in Queensland's club cricket who might one day get the call-up.

A licence to print Dhoni
It's impossible for people outside India to fully comprehend the esteem in which Mahendra Singh Dhoni is held in the country. But here are a couple of stories that help get the picture across. Dhoni's family has received an extortion letter that included threats to his family, and a complaint was made to police. All makes sense. Except that the complaint came not from Dhoni or his relatives, but from the president of the Dhoni Fan Club. The Jharkhand government has reportedly put 45 personnel on the job of protecting Dhoni's family. In other Dhoni news, kites featuring an image of Dhoni's face are flying out of the shops in Ranchi. One vendor said he prepares 1500 kites per day but regularly gets more than 2000 children trying to make purchases. Perhaps they can make do with the Dhoni brand firecrackers, sweets and chewing tobacco also on the market.

Headline of the Week
"From second fiddle to fecund Siddle"
The Age sends its readers to the dictionary after Peter Siddle's five-wicket haul

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo