Finally somebody said it. On the first day of The Oval Test between England and Pakistan, the cheery Alec Stewart said: "The amount of waste created at a Test match is astonishing." Surely Alec, we couldn't agree with you more. But hang on. Alec, it seems, was talking about the waste recycling initiative in operation at the Brit Oval. With over 50 tonnes of rubbish expected to be generated by the sell-out crowds over five days, the new initiative aims to test thousands of cricket fans to make sure all recyclable waste is collected.
Forget all the verbal battles, last week saw the Aussies deliver a grand snub ahead of what's turning out to be the most hyped series of all time. Eric Hollies picked up 2323 first-class wickets but will forever be associated with the googly he delivered to Don Bradman in The Oval Test of 1948, denying him a golden average of 100. The cap he wore in the game, which Hollies had given to Australian opener Arthur Morris, went up for auction in Melbourne on Wednesday and was expected to fetch as much as US$23,000. The Aussies haven't forgiven him, it seems, and the cap had precisely no takers.
First the monsoons, then the bomb blast, then the speculation, then one team flying back home. Amid all the drama that unfolded in Sri Lanka, spare a thought for Dmitry Ratnayake, the 15-year-old star batsman from St John's College in Johannesburg. For Ratnayake, who was born in Kandy, his school's tour of Sri Lanka was undoubtedly special. His parents had also planned a trip to watch their son play in their mother country but sadly Ratnayake's dream was cut short when the Johannesburg council ordered the team to abandon their tour. As the senior team spoke about risks to their lives, Ratnayake would have none of it: "I am terribly disappointed," he told Mumbai-based tabloid Mid-Day. We wanted to play all our matches and now all of us are very disturbed. I was so happy when I landed in Sri Lanka."
As discussions raged about South Africa pulling out of the Unitech Cup, a set of first-class cricketers, demanding that their first-class team has their status restored, threatened self immolation. "If recognition to Bihar cricket is not restored in the August 16 meeting of BCCI," threatened Mrityunjay Tiwari, the president of the Bihar Cricket Association, "Twenty five first-class cricketers of the state will immolate themselves outside the meet venue." Who ever said first-class cricket doesn't matter. Drama unfolded on the day of the BCCI general body meet, staged at a five-star Chennai hotel. Nine members of the Bihar Players' Association were today taken into custody after they tried to stage a protest in support of their demands. All the effort, though, finally paid off with Bihar regained its affiliation with the board after six years.
Poor ol' Hashim Amla. As if Dean Jones's flying kiss wasn't enough, he was dragged into another controversy when he returned to South Africa. Copy Type Electronics, a distributing company, displayed an advertisement on a huge board on the N1 Highway in Johannesburg that read: "Thank goodness Amla didn't face a coolie kreeper." Now the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines 'coolie' as "an unskilled laborer or porter usually in or from the Far East hired for low or subsistence wages" but South Africans would know better. The word was earlier used by whites and other racist elements to describe the Indian community but the word has now been banned along with other racist terms.
Guyana won the inaugural Stanford 20/20 tournament but that is a mere detail. They also won one million dollars, yes US dollars, and each member of the team received a gold ring with 19 diamonds to boot. Narsingh Deonarine faced two balls, smashed a mighty six and pocketed US$25,000. And to top it all off Samuel Badree, the Trinidad legbreak bowler who conceded 37 off his 3.5 overs, received a swank Mercedes for being the most expensive bowler on show. OK, I made the last part up.
"Who is John Wright?"
Kapil Dev decided to ask this tricky question when quizzed about Wright's revelations in his recently-released book.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo