“The banter took a lighter turn when both teams were invited to the residence of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Pant got a photograph of himself clicked with Bonnie Paine, wife of Tim, and their children – “accepting” the babysitting challenge”

Let me run a quick recap. Rishabh Pant and Tim Paine got engaged in harmless banter during the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India. When news broke out that MS Dhoni had been selected for the ODIs against Australia, Paine was quick to point out that this meant Pant may be replaced.

“Tell you what, big MS is back in the one-day squad … should get this bloke down to [Hobart] Hurricanes. They need a batter,” quipped Paine, before asking Pant directly: “Do you babysit? I can take my wife to the movies while you watch the kids.”

The next day Pant called Paine a “temporary captain” who does “only talking, talking”.

The banter took a lighter turn when both teams were invited to the residence of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Pant got a photograph of himself clicked with Bonnie Paine, wife of Tim, and their children – “accepting” the babysitting challenge.

The act won hearts. What Paine and Pant basically did was to follow up on a quote. There has been several precedences of this, of which there is a list.

1. Grovel!

 At Jamaica in 1976, Clive Lloyd unleashed a battery of fast bowlers on India. The pacers aimed for the batsman as much as for the wicket. Bishan Bedi was forced to declare the first innings at 306/6. Five men did not bat in the second.

Cricket would change for the next two decades as West Indies’ four-pronged pace attack would demolish one batting line-up – physically and otherwise – after another.

West Indies were supposed to tour England shortly after the Jamaica Test. England captain Tony Greig did not think much of them. He told in a television interview: “You must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top are magnificent cricketers. But if they’re down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey [Brian Close] and a few others, to make them grovel.”

Greig should have chosen his words more wisely. He should have remembered two things: first, the West Indian side consisted almost entirely of African-Americans; and secondly, Greig himself came from South Africa, where apartheid was still prevalent.

One must also remember that this was the mid-1970s, when immigration had become an important topic of discussion in the British Parliament.

The inevitable followed. Despite missing a Test, Viv Richards got 829 in the series. Gordon Greenidge and Roy Fredericks topped 500. And of the 91 wickets to fall to bowlers, the four fast bowlers – Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Wayne Daniel, and Vanburn Holder – shared 84. All four averaged under 25.

West Indies won the series 3-0. But before that, towards the evening of the penultimate day of the series, Greig walked to the section of The Oval where the West Indian fans had been cheering loudly all day and dropped to his knees. He then crawled a few steps.

“For three or four paces he has, in his own words, grovelled,” narrated Tony Cozier on BBC.

The Sun published the photograph the next morning.

Image Courtesy: The Sun
Image Courtesy: The Sun

2. The edible solution

In his preview of the 1983 World Cup, Wisden Cricket Monthly founder-editor David Frith had written that he would eat his own words if India won the tournament.

You cannot blame Frith. India had won one out of six matches in the previous two editions, against East Africa. They had lost to even Sri Lanka, not a Test-playing nation at the time.

David Frith. Image Courtesy: Alchetron
David Frith. Image Courtesy: Alchetron

But India ruined the prediction by winning the World Cup.

Unfortunately, Wisden Cricket Monthly’s immense popularity had helped the edition reach the other side of The Atlantic. Among his readers in New Jersey was one Panwar Man Singh.

Now, in a letter to the magazine, Singh demanded Frith ate his words – literally – though Singh “would allow him to lace it with chocolate, and wash it down with ale or stout” and that he would wait for “a picture of him with a tankard in one hand and the small cutting in the other before he ‘eats his words’.”

Sure enough, the next issue of the magazine carried a photograph of their editor gnawing on a copy of his article. Accompanying it were the words “On behalf of thousands who nurtured similar views on India’s World Cup chances, the Editor devours the offending paragraph.”

3. A mother-in-law

Ian Botham had left the Pakistan tour of 1983-84 early due to a knee injury. His short stay had been, for whatever reasons, unpleasant. Later that year, he told in a radio interview that “Pakistan is the sort of place every man should send his mother-in-law, for a month, with all expenses paid.”

The comment was not taken lightly in Pakistan. Things reached a stage where employees of the Hilton Hotel, Lahore, where the England team was put up, threatened to go on a strike.

Embed from Getty Images

Botham fell for a duck in the final of the 1992 World Cup. Before he could leave the humongous Melbourne Cricket Ground, Aamer Sohail made himself heard: “Who’s coming in next? Your mother-in-law?”

Eight years after that, Botham travelled to Pakistan with Jan Waller, his mother-in-law, presumably with all expenses paid.

4. Best served cold

When Shaun Pollock walked out in the 2003 World Cup match against Sri Lanka, Kumar Sangakkara unleashed one of his more famous sledges from behind the stumps: “Lots of pressure here for the skipper, yeah? He’s going to let his whole country down now if he fails. Lots of expectations, fellas. The weight of all these expectations, fellas. The weight of the country, chaps. Forty-two million supporters right here, depending on Shaun…”

The matter was buried for fourteen years, but Pollock had not forgotten. He finally had his chance in the 2017 Champions Trophy. By then both men had migrated to the commentary box.

[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQupTOyrSqk [/fve]

As has been the problem for some time now, Sri Lanka had been going through an unfortunate run. At the same time, Sangakkara, retired from international cricket was having a dream run for Surrey.

So Pollock began: “[Upul] Tharanga banned, [Angelo] Mathews maybe going to get banned, [Kusal] Perera out injured. Now we’ve just got to ask the question to Kumar Sangakkara:

“All the expectations of your country sit on your shoulders. Twenty-one million people, all depending on you. Will you answer the call, and come back and play in the quarter-final against Pakistan? All the country’s expectations on your shoulders.”

Best served cold, as they say.

5. Windows 04

Lord’s, 2004. Shivnarine Chanderpaul was batting out of his skin to save the Test for West Indies on the final day, when a mini-collapse ensued at the other end. Tino Best walked out at the fall of the seventh wicket.

[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL_ySD6bDBk [/fve]

Best scored three. Then he prepared to face Ashley Giles. Then Andrew Flintoff tempted him from first slip: “Mind the windows, Tino.”

As if on a cue, Best stepped out for an almighty slog – and was stumped by some distance.

Best’s autobiography came out twelve years later. Sure enough, it was titled Mind the Windows.

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