It is with sheer reluctance that Shanghaiist brings itself even to utter the word “cricket”. We’re still in disbelief at Australia’s loss to England in The Ashes. Arriving at work on Tuesday morning in drizzling rain and having relinquished the little urn, we finally understood what it feels like to be a Pom.
(At this point, readers from non-cricketing nations who are unfamiliar with silly mid-ons, flippers or reverse sweeps might want to take solace in Bill Bryson’s comment: “I don’t wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game.”)
Shanghai fans of this odd game are likely to be spending much of the coming weekend at the Shanghai Cricket Club in Jinqiao, where the International Cricket Sixes is being held. The three-day tournament not only features 16 teams from across Asia but five “legends” of the game. They are:
Sir Vivian Richards: (pictured) The Master Blaster. Gum-chewing assassin. West Indian superstar who smashed just about every attack out of the park for the duration of the 80s. Sir Viv was the main attraction at the Shanghai Sixes last year. (Until he spoke at the dinner, that is. If Viv batted like he gives a dinner speech, he’d have averaged 5 in Test cricket, not 50).
Dean Jones: Feisty Aussie batsman of the 80s and 90s who’ll be remembered for two things: asking West Indian paceman Curtly Ambrose to remove his wristbands because they were distracting him (nice one, Deano …), and making his epic double century in the heat at Madras, including an on-field bout of vomiting which would have done Gary Johnston proud.
Ian Healy: Arguably Australia’s greatest wicketkeeper/batsman until the arrival of Adam Gilchrist. Perhaps best known for his sledge of overweight Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga (when Shane Warne had been trying to tempt the batsman out of his crease to drive, Heals piped up: “Put a Mars Bar on a good length. That should do it”).
Derek Underwood: A fraction before Shanghaiist’s time, but “Deadly” was the world’s leading spin bowler for most of the 60s and 70s, finishing with a shade under 300 wickets for England. Particularly lethal on a sticky wicket. (Any of you non-cricketing readers still with us?)
Omar Henry: Omar who? (To be fair, the career of this South African cricketer — the first non-white player to represent his country — coincided mostly with apartheid years, which meant he was denied international matches.)
Cricket aside, one of the highlights of the Shanghai International Cricket Sixes is the Gala Dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, held on the Saturday night of the tournament. And because Doug Walters isn’t around this year, the booze is bound to last longer.
16-18 September, Shanghai Cricket Club, Jinqiao, Pudong (Lan’an Lu / Biyun Lu, near the Jinqiao Carrefour). Free entry. More info here.
Image from smh.com.au.