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Taking a punt on the Pigeon

Punter thinks Australia can win the World Cup but if the final is against India, they will have to see off the challenge posed by 'The Wall' ? Rahul Dravid.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2003 13:28 IST

Punter thinks Pigeon can win the World Cup but there's a Wall in the way.

Or, to put it simply, should they reach the final, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting will put his faith in strike bowler Glenn McGrath to make the crucial breakthrough.

If it's against India, however, they will have to see off the challenge posed by Rahul Dravid.

For a team based on mateship, it's not too surprising that it's the world champion Australians who have the greatest number of nicknames, most of them original, and all have had a regular airing as the team cruises through the World Cup.

"A lot of mind-power has gone into some nicknames," said Australian wicket-keeper and vice-captain Adam Gilchrist.

"Glenn McGrath's nickname, Pigeon, came courtesy of his New South Wales team-mates early in his career, when he was a skinny country lad.

"They felt that somewhere in the world there was a pigeon flying non-stop, as he could not land while McGrath used the bird's legs as his own."

It was disgraced leg-spinner Shane Warne who gave Ponting his label of Punter, because of his love for betting on the greyhounds while Colin Miller, though not part of the World Cup squad, is known as Funky because of his favourite song, Funky Cold Medina.

Gilchrist said he has picked up the name of Churchy.

"A young autograph hunter once approached me and said: 'Excuse me Eric Gilchurch, can I have your autograph?'

"Not sure who he was thinking of, but Churchy seems to be what the lads feel I should answer to nowadays."

Even the coach John Buchanan hasn't escaped the name game.

The players call him Ned since it was decided he looked like cartoon character Homer Simpson's next-door neighbour Ned Flanders.

However, the Australian team is most proud of fast bowler Brett Lee.

Although usually called Bing, since he is considered to be the best-looking player in the squad, the paceman has also picked-up the name of Oswald.

Apparently at the start of one game, the batting order was being read aloud, comprising Brett Lee behind brother Shane and all-rounder Ian Harvey.

Test skipper Steve Waugh announced the names - Lee, Harvey.....and Oswald came out of the dressing room.

Matthew Hayden, with his dedication to physical fitness, is known as Hulk while fast bowler Jason Gillespie, who was forced out of the squad here through injury, is Dizzy.

In a team where being manly is everything, it's just as well that Michael Slater wasn't selected for the tour - his name is Sybil.

"Being a reserved sort of bloke I'll take it pretty easy in the evenings and just have a few drinks," Slater once said.

"Then about 11 o'clock Sybil will come out."

Sybil refers to a film about a woman with multiple personalities - an apt movie for an Australian team with multiple talents.

First Published: Mar 14, 2003 13:25 IST