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The wild ‘Bruce’ chase

cricket Updated: Dec 18, 2011 01:39 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar
Hindustan Times
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In some circles word spreads like wildfire, especially if those circles are full of squares.

A fine example would be the happenings over the past three days at the Manuka Oval here. The identity of one of the newer members of India’s support staff, a long-limbed, middle-aged, white-skinned man with a thick chevron moustache and a BCCI cap to cover the onset of male-pattern baldness, left many befuddled, including a bunch of Indian and local scribes. “Who could that be,” murmured one of the journos. “Wait a minute, that’s Bruce Yardley, the moustache is a dead giveaway,” replied, one in the bunch.

Theories proliferated as to what one of Australia’s most successful off-spinners, and also the former coach of Sri Lanka, was doing in the Indian camp. "He visited the Indian camp in the 2008 tour as well," said one scribe inaccurately.

“I believe Dhoni specifically asked him to be here to counter the Nathan Lyon threat,” said another. Indeed, 7-Test old Lyon is giving sleepless nights to a bunch which has well over 100 Test tons. Doesn’t seem all that implausible, does it?

Pragyan Ojha was bowling in the nets on that day, and was seen talking to ‘Bruce Yardley’. A bunch of journalists went up to him, asking, “Pragyan, good effort today, so how were the tips from Yardley? They say he’s the one who helped Muttiah Muralitharan develop the Doosra. Any particular ball he asked you to work on?” A perplexed Ojha, who doesn’t come across as the most historically-aware cricketer, just shrugged his shoulders.

For the next two days, with the warm-up match against CA Chairman’s XI on, all attention was on the action in the middle. But, sure enough, on Saturday, ‘Mr Yardley’ was back on the scene.

To put all doubts to rest, one went up to India’s media manager, GS Walia. “Who is that?” one asked, pointing to the man referred to as Yardley. “That’s Evan Speechly, the newly-appointed team physiotherapist.” ‘Nuff said.