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Page 2

Irfan encouraged to low-five

Also: Uthappa's existential doubts, Prasad's commentary return, and more

R Rajkumar
John McEnroe didn't quite know how to react when informed he was a source of great inspiration to one Virat Kohli  •  AFP

John McEnroe didn't quite know how to react when informed he was a source of great inspiration to one Virat Kohli  •  AFP

This article is a work of fiction
Tennis players try to make sense of cricket
For a brief window of about a week or so every summer, when the culminating stages of the Wimbledon tennis season overlaps with the start of English cricket's own main event, there occurs a unique, if unsettling phenomenon: visiting tennis players and their unsuspecting fans are exposed, while innocently flipping through the channels on their hotel TVs, to a strange spectacle they don't quite know what to make of: Test cricket.
Some of these innocents, vaguely troubled by what they see, immediately change the channel, whereas others can't help but stare, transfixed with horror and yet unable to look away. What exactly goes through their minds? What sense do they make of what they see? This reporter took to the streets of SW1 to find out.
Eugenie Bouchard: Seriously, is every sport played in this country required by law to have its athletes wear all white? What is wrong with you people?
Novak Djokovic: Does the ball they're using really have no air in it? Like, not even a little bit?
John McEnroe: You cannot be serious.
Rafael Nadal: Eh… why are those poor people being made to wear trousers in this heat? Don't they, ehh, how you say… chafe?
Nick Kyrgios: What the **** are you asking me for? Why wouldn't I know what cricket is? Let me guess: I don't look Australian enough for you, is that it? Well is it? Hey, don't you walk away from me when I'm talking to you.
Roger Federer: I know who Sachin Tendulkar is. He's a friend of mine. That's because I'm worldly.
Garbine Muguruza: Qué?
Serena Williams: Aw, thanks for asking. Yes, I did in fact design this outfit that I'm wearing. The back of the skirt is cut in such a way that it accentuates the sight of my--- What? Oh. Cricket? Huh. Oh, cricket! That's the one where you use a giant hammer to roll a ball through miniature goalposts in someone's backyard, right?
Andy Murray: Don't look at me. I was all for Scottish independence, remember?
Prasad brings bowling philosophy to the commentary box
It hasn't all been smooth sailing for Venkatesh Prasad in his unexpected comeback to commentary at the Harare Sports Club. In between mispronouncing the names of Elton Chigumbura ("Chigumba") and Tinashe Panyangara ("Panyang"), the former India pace bowler literally hemmed and hawed over his words, as though Aamer Sohail himself were seated next to him in the commentary box.
Prasad later insisted he hadn't been mispronouncing the names but intentionally abbreviating them, "to make it easy for the listener", and further clarified that he liked to bring his particular "philosophy of fast bowling" to everything he did, and that commentary was no exception. "Why do something properly," he said, "when you can get away with some kind of weird approximation of it?"
Irfan asked to give more low fives than high
Not for the first time, Mohammad Irfan has been encouraged to think of his team-mates before celebrating the fall of a wicket with them. The bowler, who made his comeback from injury in the first ODI against Sri Lanka recently, has been singlehandedly responsible for numerous injuries to his team-mates - most of them side strains, back problems and a gamut of inferiority complexes - as they put their bodies through unnatural positions in trying to reach up to high-five his outstretched telephone pole of an arm.
"We've asked him to practice the down low, or low five, instead of the typical high five in an attempt to curb the spate of injuries," confirmed coach Waqar Younis.
American fan cheering USA apparently serious
An American man who was discovered cheering his country's cricket team during a World Cup T20 qualifier in Belfast recently was apparently serious, according to reports.
When asked if it was possible he was being even the slightest bit ironic when shouting "USA! USA!" from the stands during his team's match against Nepal, he replied in the negative. "Far from it," said the man, who had committed to the idea of being a hardcore American sports fan to the extent of having painted his face in red, white and blue and worn a T-shirt emblazoned with an outsize logo of a major sportswear manufacturer. "I'm here to support my country."
Incidentally, when he was asked what exactly he was supporting his country at, he just kind of stared blankly.
Uthappa not convinced he isn't part of A team
Robin Uthappa is still not entirely convinced he isn't on an A team tour, despite seeming evidence to the contrary. The team jersey, for example, certainly looks like the one he used to wear a long time ago. On the other hand, what's a Dhawal Kulkarni? And what is Harbhajan Singh doing in the team again?
Of course, Ajinkya's there, so that's got to count for something. But who are those people on the coach's roster? He's never seen any of them before. To be fair, though, the hotel is just as good a place as they would be staying at had Sachin Tendulkar himself been in the team. But what's to be made of the fact that there's no free internet in the rooms unless you pay for it out of pocket? And that there was no real traditional Zimbabwean greeting (whatever a traditional Zimbabwean greeting is) when they first entered the hotel - these things would have been taken care of if they were a regular non-A team, right? Was he reading too much into things? You know, sometimes he had to admit he missed the IPL; say what you will about it, you could at least be sure of your status.

All quotes and "facts" in this piece are made up, but you knew that, didn't you?
R Rajkumar tweets @roundarmraj