The Heavy Ball

This, that and the other. Mostly the other

Highs and Lows

Pollard, Prasad and the Night of the Flying Ants

Prodigies, insects, sagas and a minister of state all feature in our look back at the highlights of the month gone by

S Aga

Text size: A | A
Groundstaff try to clear another invasion of flying ants, Australia v New Zealand, Champions Trophy final, Centurion Park, October 5, 2009
The Champions Trophy semi-final: being optioned for a horror movie soon © AFP
Enlarge

The Second Childhood of the Month
Hamilton Masakadza, once the youngest maker of an ODI hundred, slipped quietly back into prodigy mode in October. So what if it was against Bangladesh and Kenya: you can't sneeze at nearly 600 runs at 85, including two 150s.

The Odd Couple of the Month
India's minister of state for external affairs, Twitter-enthusiast and unrepentant patron of five-star hotels, Shashi Tharoor, and veteran Scottish Formula One driver David Coulthard were the star attractions at the Victoria-Delhi Daredevils Champions League game. Chaperoned about with avuncular pride by Lalit Modi.

The Celebration of the Month
Also involving Mr Modi, who strode out beaming, waving a Trinidad and Tobago flag, after that country's team won their Champions League semi-final against the Cape Cobras. And to prove just how big a deal it was, the camera reverently cut to him, away from the T&T players.

The Comeback of the Month
MS Dhoni, you old butcher, you, where were you hiding all this while? In the Nagpur ODI, where he made 124, India's captain trotted out many of the bespoke shots that he made his name with circa 2005. The tennis-forehand thwack down the ground? Check. The yorker scooped out of the toes and shovelled past the bowler? Ditto. The whirling punch that deposits the ball over long-on for six? Present and accounted for.

The Unstoppable Maniac of the Month
Speaking of butchers, what about that Kieron Pollard? When he wasn't coasting along at a modest strike rate of 300, in the league game against New South Wales, he was spanking 23 off 13 against the Eagles, or 31 off 14 against Deccan. And almost taking the most extravagant catch we've seen in some time: in the semi-final against the Cobras, Pollard caught Justin Ontong on the boundary, saw he was about to go over, flung the ball away - about 10 metres in, because what's life without a challenge? - dashed back and dived full stretch to take it. Alas, the TV umpire ruled he may have grassed it. After the tournament, New South Wales and South Australia vied lustily for his services, before SA signed him - the better to put the bash in Big Bash, one presumes.

The Rude Diwali Gift of the Month
To India's bowling and fielding coaches, Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh, who were sacked unceremoniously from their posts and learned about it through a press release. Also to Rahul Dravid, who was dropped from the ODI side, presumably being surplus to requirements for the Australia series on batting-friendly home wickets.

The Déjà vu of the Month
A saga in Pakistan? You don't say. First, a member of Parliament accused Younis Khan and Co of having fixed their semi-final against New Zealand in the Champions Trophy, before turning around and denying he said so. Younis, not one to take things lying down, tendered his resignation, which was promptly rejected by the PCB chairman, Ijaz Butt. Younis then proceeded to have a "detailed discussion" with Butt, a few days after which the country's sports minister said the government would not interfere in the matter. The next day Butt rejected Younis' resignation afresh and declared he would stay captain till the 2011 World Cup, whereupon Younis proclaimed he was happy to return and Shahid Afridi proclaimed he was sick of the thousand and one stories doing the rounds about a rift between him and the captain. All of which moved Younis so much that he declared he was open to the idea of returning to Twenty20 internationals. Dynasty has nothing on this.

Shane Watson is on top of the world after slamming the winning runs, Australia v New Zealand, Champions Trophy final, Centurion, October 5, 2009
Shane Watson pretends he's Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic © AFP
Enlarge

The Comedy Stoppage of the Month
Dogs stopping play is old hat. Bees? Been there, done that. Flying ants, though? Now there's a twist. For about 10 minutes at the start of Australia's innings in the Champions Trophy semi-final, it was The Night of the Creepy Crawlies. With wings. Ground staff ran about with spray guns to little avail, the England players took themselves off the field, and umpire Billy Bowden jerked and twitched to get rid of a bug that had slipped down the back of his shirt - or maybe it was a new move he was practising.

The Ravi Shastri Medallion of the Month
It don't matter how they come as long as they come. And that's doubly valid if they come extra absurdly - for instance, when you're trying to play a flick-scoop and the ball takes an inside edge, sneaks through your legs and down to the third-man boundary. Take a bow Matthew Wade for a sterling effort in the Victoria-Cape Cobras Champions League game.

The Centurion of Centurion
Inspired by the name of the venue no doubt, Shane Watson produced the third and fourth hundreds of his ODI career, both unbeaten, against England and New Zealand, in the space of four days at the business end of the Champions Trophy.

The Touche of the Month
Harsha Bhogle's shiny, newly acquired hair is officially fair game for jokes, now that the man himself seems to think so. Daryl Harper got a dig in during the Deccan-Somerset game last month. In the course of an interminable exchange on the commentator-umpire audio hook-up, Bhogle said something to the effect of being at risk of having his job taken away by Harper. Whereupon said umpire pulled his hat off, exposing a gleaming bald head, and said, "I'll need to get a hair transplant for that first, Harsha."

The Forthcoming Attraction of the Month
The Bank Alfalah Cool & Cool Cup between Pakistan and New Zealand. A series so unspeakably cool, they had to name it twice.

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email this page to a friend Email Feedback Feedback Print Print
More in The Heavy Ball
RSS FeedAll
  • ESPN
  • ESPNF1
  • Scrum
  • Soccernet