Come to bite back
Last time it was South Africa-born Grant Elliot in the opposition’s batting ranks that cost the Proteas dear. This time, it’s the former opener from Jo’burg, Neil McKenzie, who’s been credited with the 5 over-59 run blitz in the end that helped Bangladesh score their second World Cup win over South Africa. Sport24.co.za reported that McKenzie, who worked with the last coach Russell Domingo, was let go in August 2017 when coach Ottis Gibson brought in his former Durham-teammate Dale Benkenstein.
McKenzie moved to Bangladesh as the Tigers’ batting consultant. Soon after the 21-run-win, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza told the news site: “He’s amazing. He’s been helping our batters so much for the last eight or so months … working hard with the boys.” McKenzie was a tremendous player against spin, but it was in the way the Bangladeshis neutralised South Africa’s pace bowling and the late-innings acceleration that made all the difference.
Everything’s gone topsy-turvy for the Proteas – an uncharacteristic bad start to the World Cup with two losses, their fast bowling coming apart (injuries to frontline bowlers and even pace backups), a captain’s howler comment against the opposition, run-outs at top of the order rather than from the tail, and a batting charade even before the popular ‘ch@#$’ word is rustled up. Now only if the eventual result could be upturned. Right now, bitterly, not playing for South Africa seems to be enough to be on the winning side.
Three measured strides, a heavy thump of his right leg onto the ground, his chest puffed out, West Indies pacer Sheldon Cottrell breaks into a stiff attention pose, before he lifts his right hand and salutes the departing batsman, as if he’s in the middle of a military parade. Only that he’s celebrating a wicket. At first many thought, he was imitating his senior compatriot Marlon Samuels’s patented style of celebration, but later he revealed he was thanking the Jamaican Defence Force, with whom he’s on duty when he’s not playing. “My celebration is a military-style salute. I’m a soldier back in Jamaica by profession, 11 years strong. Me saluting is just to show my respect to the Jamaica Defence Force. I just enjoy the saluting, enjoy playing cricket. I practised the celebration for six months when I was training in the army,” he revealed to the BBC.
In fact, he used to be regular among the army workforce manning the Sabina Park back home. “Never missed an opportunity. If I’m not in the team, the next best thing is to be in the stadium,” he says. Even before the World Cup, Cottrell’s celebrations had become a hit. So much so that in the CPL last year some of the batsmen, after hitting him for a boundary or six, would salute him. All of it, the burly Jamaican has taken in jest. “It’s fun yeah, you give it, and you get some back. It only pumps me up,” he says. Certainly, if he continues to be as penetrative as was against Pakistan, the celebration will lose much of its novelty by the end of the World Cup.
Big cats go after a Kiwi
Hundreds of memes of Brendon McCullum being chased away by big cats are doing the rounds on social media. “Congratulations to Bangladesh cricket team for amazing and great winning against south africa and condemn to Brenden Makkalam for his scandal talking to Bangladesh team (sic),” was one of the tweets along with an engineered image of McCullum sprinting away from a Cheetah (Not a Tiger mind you). Another one has a man with a tiger head driving the former Kiwi captain (in a saree) from a housing society! Some of these memes are peak cringe, but seem to amuse the makers and their lackeys on social media.
So here is why McCullum has become a target. He had recently revealed an image of his world cup diary in which he predicted Bangladesh winning just one game — against Sri Lanka. A while after Bangladesh beat South Africa by 21 runs, McCullum admitted that he had got it wrong. “Impressive performance from @BCBtigers to defeat @OfficialCSA. I expected SA to win but Bangladesh played well. In regards to my predictions, thanks for the feedback on getting this one wrong. Won’t be the last but average at the end will look alright I think. Can’t win em all,” he tweeted. But the steady stream of memes continued. McCullum may think twice before he tries to have the TIGER by the tail henceforth.
Tonked into Taff, 20 years apart
In recent times, quite a few cricket balls have been fished out of the River Taff that flows adjacent to the picturesque Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. Two aggressive Kiwi batsmen need to take blame for this predicament. Last week, during New Zealand’s World Cup opener against Sri Lanka, Martin Guptill sent leggie Jeevan Mendis’ delivery sailing into the river. That was not a one-off though. Precisely two years ago, during the Champions Trophy match against Bangladesh, the belligerent opener was in the thick of action once again, when he smacked Mashrafe Mortaza for a monstrous six over the stands and into the river. In fact, this trend was started much earlier by a certain Chris Cairns, when he danced down the track and tonked Shane Warne, during their epic heist at this venue two decades ago.
Kington’s Oval fame
A photographer did a Ben Stokes just behind the ropes and found fame at the Oval Sunday after he held a stunning catch during the Bangladesh-South Africa game. Ian Kington was parked at the Pavilion End adjacent to the steps leading up to the players’ dressing rooms, when South Africa captain Faf du Plessis went to his 50 with a straight six off spinner Mosaddek Hossain. As the ball came towards him Kington keeping hold of a large telephoto lens with his left hand, calmly pouched the ball with his right and then, grinning broadly, turned to show the crowd he had held onto the ball. “I had two frames (photographs) of him (Du Plessis) hitting the six and then the instinct is to look up and see where the ball is,” Kington told AFP.
“Obviously it’s quite tight for space where we sit and I couldn’t move,” the 49-year-old from Kent added. “I had my long lens camera in one hand and I just sort of reached up and it stuck and I caught it.” Kington’s not played a serious game of cricket. “My phone keeps going off. It’s nice to do something that means you’ve got a story to tell, but I guess that’s my five minutes of fame.”