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And you thought footballers were bad... Mark van Dijk rummages through the tabloids to reveal cricket's naughtiest away games
Mark van Dijk
And you thought footballers were bad... Mark van Dijk rummages through the tabloids to reveal cricket's naughtiest away games.
Shane Warne - 2000
Few cricketers have had as much trouble with their ... um ... middle stump as Aussie legend Shane Warne. In 2000 he hit the tabloid headlines when he was caught pestering British nurse Donna Wright (who, like Warne, was married) with a series of smutty phone calls and voice messages. Warne, who was playing in England for Hampshire at the time, was stripped of the Australian vice-captaincy as a result.
Dodgy accent? Check. Ashes-winning innings? Check. All Kevin 'KP' Pietersen needed to complete his English cultural assimilation was a tabloid kiss-and- tell with some publicity-hungry minor celebrity. And ... check. During the fourth Test at Trent Bridge in 2005, Brit rag The People ran an interview with one of KP's conquests, Big Brother 'beauty' and fellow-South African Vanessa Nimmo. Pietersen had dumped Nimmo by SMS after a stormy, one-month affair, and - in true tabloid style - Nimmo spared no detail of their intimate moments. "Kevin was desperate for sex and kept pester- ing me all day," the jilted lover revealed. "I certainly wasn't hit for six by his performance," the spurned woman claimed. "Kevin Cheatersen," the muck-raking tabloid giggled.
He was a successful and popular England captain, but - thanks to his tell-all autobiography and his infamous tête-à-tête with umpire Shakoor Rana in Faisalabad - the selectors were looking for an excuse to sack Mike Gatting. The 'sack', and Gatting's alleged activities in it, gave them the opportunity they were looking for. Tabloids The Sun and Today accused Gatting of shenanigans with a barmaid, Louise Shipman, in his hotel room during the first Test against the Windies at Trent Bridge. Gatting denied the story, but the England bigwigs dismissed him anyway. They explained that they didn't think Gatting had actually slept with the lass, but look, he shouldn't have had her up in his room.
Cricketers and cell phones ... will they never learn? New Zealand fast bowler Daryl Tuffey ran into a spot of cellular bother in March 2005 when two English tourists allegedly used their mobiles to allegedly film Tuffey allegedly having sex with a 23-year-old Christchurch sales representative. We say 'allegedly' because, despite all the hype and despite all the scandal, the English tourists went into hiding immediately after the story broke, the woman involved insists she's never met Tuffey, and no video clip has ever been forthcoming.
Akram and Mushtaq
Pakistan threatened to walk out of their South African tour in February 1998 when bowlers Mohammad Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq were 'mugged' outside their Sandton hotel. Both players were hurt in the incident. But the louder the Pakistanis complained, the more rumours began to circulate that Akram and Mushtaq (who hadn't made any sworn statements to the police about the mugging) had, in fact, picked up their black eyes and chipped teeth in a bar brawl at a local strip joint called Club 69 ...
Shane Warne - 2003
Warne's made a habit of being caught out at the ... ahem! ... Member's End. In August 2003 UK tabloid The Daily Mirror quoted stripper Angela Gallagher (gently labelled "a 38-year-old mother-of-two from Melbourne") as claiming that he'd been bombarding her with raunchy text messages. "It wasn't just text messaging ... they were extremely full-on sexual messages," said Gallagher, who - much to her lawyer's delight -- passed a polygraph test on the matter. Gallagher's claims came a few weeks after similar claims by 45-year-old South African Helen Cohen Alon (who was jailed a year later for trying to extort money from the Aussie spinner). Gallagher said that she'd seen Alon's story and "said to my husband, 'That is the same message that was sent to me on my phone.' I thought 'This person must make a habit of doing this to women.'"
The Temple road brothel
The 2005 Wisden Almanack reported - with a barely concealed schoolboy grin - that Sri Lankan police had raided a unique brothel in Temple Road, Mount Lavinia, which for the past 10 years had been catering purely for professional cricketers. A cop posing as a cricketer had apparently cracked the case by making a 500 rupees booking, before his colleagues swooped and arrested eight girls (all in their 20s) and their 78-year-old madame.
Russell Warren and Toby Bailey
... or Russell Warren and Toby Bailey's fiancée, to be precise. Warren sparked off the mother of all dressing room feuds when he started dating Bailey's bride-to-be after (or before, depending on whose side of the story you believe) she had broken off their engagement just two weeks before they were due to be wed in 2001. Trouble was, Warren and Bailey were teammates at Northamptonshire, and the post-breakup fallout caused such unpleasantness that Warren was eventually forced out of the Northants side after protests from the other players.
Just before jetting out to a tournament in Singapore in 2000, Shahid Afridi, Atiq-uz-Zaman and Hasan Raza were caught entertaining a group of young ladies in their Karachi hotel rooms. The players insisted that the girls had merely "come to collect autographs" ... but the PCB didn't believe a word of it. All three players were fined and banned from the upcoming ICC hampions Trophy event in Kenya. Poor old Afridi took it the hardest: "My father, other and brothers have been very critical of my actions," he wailed. "They have been reprimanding me since the incident came into focus. It will be very difficult to turn around my career after this but I will surely give it my best shot."
Shane Warne - 2006
In May this year, barely a year after yet another phone sex scandal (will he never learn?) Warne was pictured in the British tabloid The News of the World with two 25-year-old models during Hampshire's Championship match against Middlesex. "Shane blew our minds," claimed one of the young ladies, MTV presenter Coralie Eichholtz (left). "He was so fit. I'd give him top marks for more than satisfying us." Warne's wife, Simone, had by this point filed for divorce, and was unavailable for comment.
West Indies - 2005
What would a cricketing sex scandal be without a mobile phone connection? When the West Indies crashed out of the 2005 VB Series with five defeats in six matches, sponsors Digicel - who'd just inked a five-year, $20-million deal - blasted the Windies players for having "more telephone numbers of women than runs". In a leaked memorandum, Digicel representative Richard Nowell claimed that on the eve of the Windies' match against Australia in Brisbane, he'd heard numerous doors banging and female voices along the players' hotel corridor well after 1am. "As a former professional cricketer and having toured with England on three occasions, I know men need to have fun while on tour," Nowell said. "But not at the expense of their performance. Even in Perth, the most crucial time of the tour, one player had flown in a girl from Adelaide."
This article was first published in the December 2006 issue of The Wisden Cricketer (South African edition)
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur