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Pads, gloves, greasepaint

Movie roles that can be played by cricketers

Nishi Narayanan
14-Jun-2009
Chris Gayle with the World Twenty20 trophy, Lord's, May 31, 2009

Gayle practises his award-acceptance technique in preparation for the one that will come his way soon for perfecting a role once played by Arnold Schwarzenegger  •  Getty Images

The Godfather
Okay, so we cast him because he's 40, but no one who bludgeons the ball as hard and tears the bowling apart like Sanath Jayasuriya does can claim to be a peace-loving man. Organised crime hasn't had a strong leader since Michael Corleone went legal. Put your rings on, Don Sanathino, they're waiting to kiss your hand.
The Terminator
Since there aren't many international cricketers with incomprehensible Austrian accents, this one goes to the man with the cool Jamaican one, Chris Gayle. A man of few words, by his own admission, Gayle plays the expressionless unemotional cyborg when he bats, fields, attends press conferences, and enjoys a nap in the dressing room. The bling shades and diamond ear studs will serve to bring the Terminator closer to a 21st-century audience.
Rod Tidwell
He wants the money, he wants the love, and he wants to be the superstar of the team. A 16-year-old Kevin Pietersen was dreaming big dreams in South Africa when Cuba Gooding Jr played the loud, emotional, dissatisfied football star in Jerry Maguire. Since then, KP has often shown what a shoo-in he'd have been for the role: batting with an injured Achilles heel, sending a leave request with "I want to see my wife dance" in the "reason" field, and asking for love and an IPL contract in the same breath. Is there an Oscar for real-life characters?
James Bond
Now that audiences have accepted a blond 007, and he's got two films already, let's begin campaigning for a new one. Our eye is on a Kiwi; blond but shorter and hotter. Brendon McCullum - the name's Baz - can take on the secret agent's role with ease, having had a crash course in conspiracies, moles and international affairs during his captaincy stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chucky
AB de Villiers may not have the crazy eyes of the doll (part of a series called Good Guys) from Child's Play, but any casting director worth his salt can see how well the South African batsman with the choirboy looks would make a bone-chilling slasher by night, to go with his batsman-slaughterer persona by day. In the twilight hours, de Villiers changes his cricket whites for bloody overalls and pulls out a knife concealed in his bat handle, before going on a killing spree, targeting music critics who've been less than kind to his singing career. Yeah, AB, show them who you (really) are.
Benjamin Button
Or the one who ages backwards. Several Indian and Pakistani players could audition for the role, but if director David Fincher was a cricket watcher, he'd have ditched Brad Pitt for Shahid Afridi, who aims to set the record for the youngest player to retire when he turns 15 in 2019. No award-winning make-up artist required: Afridi will merely step in front of the camera and state his apparent age. Enough said.
Inspector Clouseau
Who can play a bungling policeman better than a bungling keeper? And one who, like Peter Sellers' character in the Pink Panther series, succeeds by accident at that. Dinesh Karthik joined India's World Twenty20 squad after Virender Sehwag pulled out with a shoulder injury. Clouseau falls down stairs, shoots fellow police officers in the back side, and appears convinced of his superior intelligence; Karthik falls to the ground without the ball in hand, shoots wide throws at the stumps, and appears convinced he can replace MS Dhoni as India's keeper.
The Last Samurai
There's more than one reason why Dirk Nannes' case for this role is as strong as the one for Test status for Netherlands. Like Tom Cruise's character, Nannes was born in one country but represents another; he plays alongside a group of men more at ease with agricultural produce than shots of that kind. And, of course, he speaks broken Japanese.
Robin Hood and his Merry Men
True, he is not the Prince of Thieves, taking from the rich and giving to the poor, but MS Dhoni and his boys have stolen a few victories from Australia and England. Not that we would suggest a movie for them just for that. It's the comical press conference the team had last week - in Nottingham at that - with the whole squad stuffed behind Dhoni on a dais, that inspired this entry, which is now making its way to Harvey Weinstein's doorstep.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Stick 'em up batsmen, there's no use guarding your wickets when Murali and Mendis walk into town and ask you to hand 'em over. Cowboy hats and boots may look out of place on the two soft-spoken Sri Lankan spinners, but the guns won't when drawn out by the flick of a wrist - faster than you can say Bolivia. But which of them can you picture dodging raindrops while doing some talking to the sun? Mendis, I say.
Charlie's Angels
Willowy beauties who can kick some ass. Stuart Broad, Nathan Bracken and Jimmy Anderson can give Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu serious competition when it comes to pouting and looking great in skinny jeans. And fighting the bad guys? That's what those bouncers and yorkers are for.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo