Normal is boring

The gentleman’s game has had its share of enfants terribles who have added colour and spice to cricket’s biggest stage. Here’s a look at the wild things of international cricket, and the antics that built their legend. Firebrands
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Updated on Feb 17, 2011 06:19 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

Jumping Javed
Javed Miandad (Pak) vs Ind in 1992 League phase
Apart from being one of the best batsmen Pakistan has produced, Javed Miandad was an astute tactician. Among the first players from the sub-continent who knew how to give it back to his opponents, Miandad is famously known for his frog jump in the match against India at the 1992 Benson & Hedges World Cup. Put off by India wicketkeeper Kiran More’s constant appealing, Miandad protested to the umpire, complaining that More’s chatter behind the stumps was disturbing him. As the over came to an end, the Pakistani batsman did the unthinkable, imitating him by jumping like a frog while the erstwhile India selector could only stand and watch. Despite his theatrics, Pakistan lost the match to India, however, they went on to lift the title.

Open sesame
Ian Botham (Eng) in 1992 World cup
By the time the 1992 World Cup arrived, Ian Botham was already past his prime. But the fighter that he was, Botham never gave up and instead, tried his hand at opening the batting. He gave it a try against New Zealand in the 3-match one-day series just before the World Cup. The all-rounder came out successful and England whitewashed the Kiwis. The English team management continued with the tactic of using Botham at the top in the World Cup too. He started badly falling for low scores against India and West Indies but a half-century against Australia and a 47 versus Sri Lanka made the critics sit up and take notice of Botham in a new, unconventional avatar. Botham continued with his good work and by the time the event had wound its way towards the climax, he had played a huge role in England reaching their third World Cup final.

‘Warne’ing pill
Shane Warne (Aus) at the 2003 Cup
Shane Warne didn’t get the nickname ‘Hollywood’ for nothing. His long-list of antics could put most movie stars to shame. Of course, wrists that could spin the ball in a way never seen before ensured he could get away with almost anything — from sending a nurse raunchy texts to drowning in a pool of alcohol. However, at the 2003 edition his ways finally caught up with him as he was sent back after failing a pre-event dope test. Warne, always the insouciant one, pleaded that his mom gave him pills ‘to lose weight’ ahead of a TV appearance.

Paunch no bar
Dwayne Leverock (Ber) vs IND In 2007 league Phase
Robin Uthappa’s weighty problem can be blamed on this 280 lb jailor from Bermuda: for Uthappa was the batsman whose healthy edge was pouched by a flying mountain — err, we mean Leverock — at first slip during the 2007 World Cup. No wonder Uthappa could never see any correlation between size and athleticism. After taking the catch, Leverock ran across the ground in jubilation. It helped that he lived above an Indian restaurant and his favourite dish was beef korma.

Bad boy roy
Andrew Symonds (aus) vs Pak in 2003 league phase
With a list of convictions as long as his once-famous dreadlocks, Symmo is the quintessential bad boy. Breaking curfew on the eve of a match and getting drunk? Check. Being a disruptive influence in the dressing room? Check. However, his skill set made him a perfect fit for the ODI format. In the 2003 World Cup opener against Pakistan, Australia were in dire straights before Symonds turned things around with a destructive 143. In the 49th over, after two Waqar Younis beamers, the burly Aussie went down the track and a heated verbal confrontation ensued. Umpire David Shepherd intervened and doused a fiery situation.

Sultan gets a royal pasting
Sultan Zarawani (UAE) vs RSA in 1996 league phase
As it was with Maharajahs during the early years of Indian cricket, captaincy was Sultan Zarawani's birth-right — he was made UAE skipper because he was the only native in a team full of expatriates at the 1996 World Cup. The owner of more than a dozen sports cars including a Ferrari and a Lamborghini is remembered for going out to bat against Allan Donald wearing a floppy hat and getting hit on the head for his ‘bravery’. He batted on to complete an excruciating duck.

Ace of pace
Shoaib Akhtar (pak) in 1999 World Cup
Talked big, but did not perform on the biggest stage. Was in the Pakistan team that made it to the final of the 1999 World Cup before being thrashed by Australia. Four years later, he talked up his chances against Sachin Tendulkar & Co. ahead of a crucial tie against India and went for 72 in 10 overs. Missed the 2007 edition through injury, though rumours said it was because of a failed private dope test. However, if there is one memory that sticks it’s of a young Shoaib going full throttle at the 1999 World Cup, with the only aim — breach the 100 mph barrier.

2 fast, 2 furious
Colin Croft (WI) vs pak in 1979 semi-final
The man who would have bounced his own grandmother if he thought there was a wicket in it, had his best World Cup moment in the 1979 semi-final, where he sent back Zaheer Abbas, Majid Khan and Javed Miandad in 12 deliveries to derail Pakistan's chase. An air traffic controller during his playing days, he qualified as a pilot later. Chucked his West Indies career by going on a rebel tour of apartheid-divided South Africa in 1982. It wasn’t just the batsmen who were at the receiving end, umpire Fred Goodall was shoulder-charged by Croft during a Test in New Zealand after turning down his appeals one time too many.

Lankan lion roars back
Arjuna Ranatunga (sl) vs aus 1996 final
Ever the maverick, Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga was one of the first players to counter the Australians, who till then had a free run in the mind games department. Australia had already upset Sri Lanka by refusing to play their 1996 group matches citing security reasons. Before the final in Lahore, Ranatunga dubbed Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne as over-rated. And he proved his point during the final where Warne failed to control a flipper, his potent delivery, which turned into a full toss. Ranatunga pulled it for a six and then stuck his tongue out at Warne. Howzzat?

Watch out for these characters at the 2011 World Cup

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