The Week That Was

Stolen goods, missing ladies and a flying roof

A prize catch, a coin-toss gone wrong, and a statesman spinner

Mathew Varghese

Lara Bingle won't be looking on from the stands while Michael Clarke tours India along with the Australian team © Getty Images
What a steal
There have been some unusual reasons for cricket matches to be halted (some of which are recorded here), but thieves haven't been known to be among them. Until now, when Daisy Hill, this year's winners of the Bolton Cricket Association League in England were robbed of the opportunity to celebrate their season-ender against Darcy Lever.
It all started when 23-year-old David Gleave discovered during the tea interval that his mobile phone was missing. More shock was in store. The thieves, who had got access to an unlocked changing room, had also got Gleave's car keys and absconded with his Saab. "I couldn't believe it, I was in a state of disbelief and I'm gutted," Gleave said. "I've only had the car three months and they've taken it without a thought of the inconvenience it has caused." Gleave's team-mates ran off the pitch when they heard of his predicament, and decided to forfeit the game as they were too stunned to carry on.
Australia gives India the snub?
It's not only Andrew Symonds that Indian fans won't get to watch on Australia's upcoming tour of India but also the wives and girlfriends of the touring party. Security issues weren't the hurdle, and no, the WAGs weren't being punished for ill-timed fishing trips. It's just a matter of routine Cricket Australia policy: companions can only travel on one overseas tour during a season. "Last year the players took them to West Indies during the World Cup," the board's public affairs manager Philip Pope told Mid-Day, "and this season they will be allowed to be accompanied by their wives and girlfriends during their tour of South Africa." South African WAGs had their fair share of publicity during their India tour earlier in the year, and if Lara Bingle and Co go along to South Africa next year, camera-persons could have their hands full trying to capture images from on and off the field.
More tales from the sea
We don't have details about Symonds' infamous fishing trip yet but we do know what a few others caught off Darwin during the series against Bangladesh recently. Brad Haddin, Brett Geeves, James Hopes and Merv Hughes left for a charter from Cullen Bay, but the star of the show was Cameron White, who Greg Shipperd, White's coach at Victoria, believed should have been preferred to Shane Watson as Symonds' replacement. White caught two fish weighing in around 10kg each. "White did well. He's a pretty good fisherman," the charter's skipper told the Northern Territory News. "We only hooked up two bigger ones that day and he pulled in both." The waters also seemed to calm the generally boisterous Hughes. "I love fishing. I never confessed to being good at it," he said.

Mascots would do well to stay away from the toss in the coming season © Getty Images
Who let the mascots out?
With his side relegated to Division Two of the Pro40 competition, Stuart Law, the Lancashire captain, might want to devote some time to practising his coin toss during the off season. In their final game, against Somerset, who clung on to be among the top flight, Lancashire were shot out for 156 after Somerset won the toss, but things could have been different, as Law revealed later. "The coin hit the mascot on the shoulder and came down heads. [Justin] Langer had called tails," he said. "So I did the right thing and it came down tails the second time. I should have picked the first one up and walked off." Wonder which side's mascot was the guilty party.
Selling for a premium, selling for nothing
Whatever some players may say, the India-Australia Tests are surely not matching the Ashes in one aspect: the price to watch a game. Edgbaston was the first venue to release tickets for next year's Ashes, and the £75-per-day tickets for the first three days were lapped up in no time. The Daily Telegraph in Australia even found one being offered online for £375 by ticket scalpers, more than five times the actual price. At the other end of the spectrum is the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA). For the second Test between India and Australia in Mohali, the PCA will not only provide free entry for all five days to students in the region, but also food on the house. PCA president IS Bindra, who is also principal advisor to the ICC, said he expects around 5000 students to turn up daily. Prices for regular tickets have been slashed as well.
Lilat Lodi
Time magazine recently asked its readers to rate a pre-selected list of 36 sport executives on "a scale of 1 (the absolute worst) to 100 (sporting genius)". There was one figure from cricket, an apt reflection of the changing times in the game. Alongside Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, FIA's Max Mosley, and the NBA's David Stern was Lalit Modi, the chairman and commissioner of the IPL and recently appointed chairman of the Champions Twenty20 League. Modi figured 16th, with a rating of 50 (No. 1 had 80). A few glitches, though. Time initially misspelt his name as Lilat Kuhmar Modi, and while they got Lalit and Kumar right in the rank list, they replaced the "M" in Modi with an "L". Maybe a Major League Cricket will set things right.

Matthew Hayden was caught by Ellyse Perry (right) off Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (left) © Cricket Australia
Australia's latest spinner
During the course of the week a few members of Australia's men's and women's teams spent a day in Australia's parliament. Kevin Rudd, the prime minister, showed his love for cricket was no less than that of his predecessor John Howard, and rolled up his sleeves to send down a few deliveries in the Parliament House's office courtyard. Spin was Rudd's skill and he did manage to get Hayden to hit one straight to Ellyse Perry. "It was a bit distracting, actually," Hayden said. "He had the Brad Hogg tongue in the side of the mouth."
"I think he must've got wind of the fact that we're looking for a couple of spinners," Ricky Ponting said.
Harbhajan's new turn
Talking of spinners, Harbhajan Singh and a few other Indian players will feature on new dance show Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, which pairs them with female showbiz stars. Wasim Akram will host the show with former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen, and Harbhajan will compete against Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth (is more drama in store?), Dinesh Karthik, and former India players Vinod Kambli and Nikhil Chopra. Harbhajan's partner will be Mona Singh, who played Betty in the Hindi equivalent of Ugly Betty. "We both've really rocked together," he said.
There's a flipside as well. "Now I'll hear stories saying I am dating Mona. It is so funny. They link me to [actor] Geeta Basra. Is it a crime to go out for dinner with a friend? I've many women friends - that doesn't mean I am dating them all." But Bhajji, aren't the two of you dancing partners?
Chinese care for Sir Viv
A genuine case of generosity. The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium at North Sound in Antigua was built as a gift by China, and the Chinese have even taken up the task of maintaining it. A portion of the roof on the South Stand was recently damaged by strong winds, and the benefactors have already sent for replacement material, while six technicians were sent to assess the loss.
Questions were asked about why the roof didn't hold up, whereupon an official from the Chinese embassy explained: "We considered hurricanes coming to Antigua and we agreed that we must have a strong structure and that even if the roof was weak and the wind blew it off, the structure would be good. Roof maintenance is cheap, but if the structure gets damaged, it is very expensive." Still, considering hurricanes hit the region regularly, the Chinese could be in for some steep bills in the long run. "The stress of a hurricane is very high... Even if you have a strong structure, strong roof, you cannot know how strong a hurricane will be," the official said.
Headline of the Week
"The case for Watson is elementary"
You don't need to be a Sherlock Holmes to figure out a replacement for Andrew Symonds, according to Wide World of Sports

Mathew Varghese is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo