December 26, 2010

Highways, Twitter boxes, cattle, Cluedo

What connects these fine items? The fact that they all figure in the most quotable quotes of 2010

Ashes banter

"I couldn't have more faith in the boys. The matches will be close but I'm tipping a 5-0 whitewash."
Glenn McGrath's predict-o-meter seems to be stuck on its 2006 setting

"Size obviously does matter. We've got cover in the bouncy areas, but people who can swing as well."
Geoff Miller provides an innuendo-laden take on one of the tallest attacks ever selected for an Ashes tour

"It should be the Empire XI. They got any Poms in their side?"
The variety of nationalities in the England team does not miss Allan Border's scrutiny

"The really annoying thing is that nobody has asked me whether I want to make a comeback."
Talk of Shane Warne coming out of retirement to rescue Australia's Ashes campaign leave Richie Benaud indignant that he is not being considered

"He's on Twitter saying sorry for not walking? Mate, if he did that in our side there'd be hell to pay. AB would chuck his Twitter box off the balcony or whatever it is."
Michael Clarke's Twitter apology for trying to hide an edge leaves Mark Waugh livid

Scathing sarcasm

"He deserves the contract to build national highways."
Despite scoring a hundred, Harbhajan Singh is not very pleased with the curator of Hyderabad's flat pitch for the Test against New Zealand

"I think Sehwag is probably the best offspinner in the Indian team. He has a clean action and also spins the ball."
Some things in cricket change. Others, like Bishan Singh Bedi's ability to rip into spinners' actions, don't

"Oh boy, two runs off the over. They're hammering it."
Jeff Dujon lays it on thick during a particularly excruciating partnership between Dwayne Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul

"The thing about that World Cup is that it goes on for years."
Stuart Broad is positive he will recover from his Ashes injury in time for the World Cup… or for its latter stages at least

"Has your goalkeeping improved?"
The first thing Wasim Akram asked Kamran Akmal when the latter paid him a visit

"From the way these two batted, you'd think they'd been picked for England but were playing for South Africa as double agents."
Geoffrey Boycott takes a dig at the origins of some of England's players while assessing their poor form

"Harris, can you turn a doorknob?"
Not a very flattering placard marked out for Paul Harris at Newlands. Harris took out Andrew Strauss next ball

"If speeches were that important, Winston Churchill would have made a great captain."
Ian Chappell on the merits of the team huddle and what goes on inside it

Startling revelations, candid admissions

"I want to clarify that this nightmare thing was a joke. Sachin is the best batsman of my time... but I am not scared of him, or anybody for that matter."
Twelve years after getting caned in Sharjah, and giving birth to an enduring urban legend, Shane Warne plays down the effect Tendulkar's assault had on his sleep

"I never dared to break the glass of his house while playing cricket as I used to be extremely scared of him."
Bowlers' reputations do not ruffle Virender Sehwag, but he is wary of Sushil Kumar - India's world champion wrestler - who grew up in the same locality as him

"I remember him saying to Modi, 'I'm worth X amount of dollars'. Modi laughed at him."
Matthew Hayden, in his autobiography, recounts an exchange between Lalit Modi and Michael Clarke

"I think more people get enjoyment out of watching me bowl than bat."
Simon Katich agrees he's not the most attractive wielder of a bat around

"Getting up in the morning and putting on a pair of underpants is important for me. And I think a lot of people think like that."
Shane Warne subtly hawks his new underwear range

"I don't know why I am here for the [MCC] Spirit of Cricket lecture"
Jeff Thomson is candid while recounting a face-off with Colin Cowdrey (in whose name the lecture is held) during the 1974 Ashes


"I will pay anything, even go to the theatre, to watch the innings 100 times. I have already reserved a CD to watch it anytime I want."
Virender Sehwag is ready to stake everything for a replay of Sachin Tendulkar's epochal ODI double-ton

"How many wickets has he got? 792. He's confident then, one more Test."
Michael Clarke predicts, correctly, that Muttiah Muralitharan will finish his Test career with 800 wickets

"It was a huge surprise when they announced on the tannoy I'd got the record. There were a few Aussies even more surprised than me! It put a smile on my face."
Paul Collingwood, like most others, is surprised that he has more one-day runs than any other England player


"When you can watch Inter Milan v Barcelona, why on earth would you want to watch Chennai Chunderers v Delhi Dipsticks?"
David Lloyd is clearly not a fan of the circus

"Touched by the solidarity on the streets of Monaco. Touched by the solidarity for IPL. One day F1 too will have IPL following."
Really Mr Modi? Really? That obscure motor sport better get ready: clearly it has never ever handled such a huge following

"[Lalit Modi] obviously wants IPL to be the best and the most special thing in cricket. But to get that you have to look after your cattle, you can't just keep driving and whipping them."
Andrew Symonds has some advice for the [now former] commissioner


"It'll be the Hilly and Billy show."
That's what Billy Bowden thought, little knowing three no-balls would steal his and Tony Hill's thunder at the fateful England-Pakistan Test at Lord's

"Can't you just speed it up a little bit, because we struggle to fit it into the super slow-mo replays."
Rudi Koertzen gets some advice on his signature "slow death" signal from a television producer

Skills of the non-cricketing kind

"Everybody knows I can dance well and I can bowl fast too. There are only a few bowlers who can do that."
Sreesanth flaunts a rare combination of talents

"Fred had an unbelievable ability to put six bottles of beer in his mouth at once and down the lot. Quite remarkable."
Michael Vaughan is quite impressed by Andrew Flintoff's ability at parallel processing

"There aren't any bunnies. I haven't found my Daryll Cullinan yet."
Shane Warne struggles to find suckers at the poker table

The unlikely couples

"You're never going to see as much hugging as what you did with Matt Hayden and Justin Langer, so we won't be raising too many eyebrows in that regard."
Shane Watson assures us he and Simon Katich are unlikely to match the man love of their cuddle-happy predecessors

"When he and Muralitharan get together, all they talk about is cricket. They are like Mr and Mrs Cricket."
Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming thinks Michael Hussey has found his match

"They are friends and love each other. That brought them so close together."
Shahid Afridi puts an interesting spin on the mid-pitch altercation between Harbhajan Singh and Shoaib Akhtar during the Asia Cup

"Really it was just me and him coming together and there was contact. I'm not that silly. I'm not going to head-butt someone with a helmet on."
Mitchell Johnson on his mid-pitch run-in with Scott Styris


"No I was just trying to smell it, how it is feeling."
Shahid Afridi's initial response when asked whether he was trying to bite the ball suggests that he smells with his teeth

"Perhaps Afridi didn't appreciate the lunch he was given in Australia."
Graeme Smith offers reasons why Gnawgate may have happened

Acerbic criticism

"I'm not interested in what he has to say. Who is he? He's a nobody."
Kevin Pietersen becomes the latest addition to the We Don't Rate John Buchanan club

"He'll bring something to the table. Cluedo, perhaps."
Despite Kevin Pietersen's efforts, Shane Warne remains the most vocal of the Buchanan-bashers

"The way the Guyana's Amazon Conquerors played in their first Champions League game, they will not overcome a stream, much less that great river."
Colin Croft is about as impressed by the Guyana team's full name as he is with their on-field performance

"Pollard, in my opinion, is not a cricketer."
Michael Holding does not rate players who excel only at Twenty20

The deterrent

"I will slap any bookie who will come near me, big time."
Harbhajan Singh plans to deal with bookies the way he once dealt with Sreesanth

The Freudian slip

"I've got no confidence whatsoever that he'll come back and play very well in the near future."
Andrew Strauss was sure proved wrong by Alastair Cook by the end of the year, in Australia

The least-noticed similarity

"We've got a little bit in common... I love golf."
Shane Warne doesn't have to try hard to come up with a non-controversial trait he shares with Tiger Woods

The confused abbreviation

"When I last saw him, he asked me to explain the BMW rule. I said that the first thing he needed to know was that it was called LBW."
Kabir Khan, the Afghanistan coach, reveals what happened when he met the country's president Hamid Karzai

The ignored coaching tip

"Didn't we teach you to keep the ball on the ground in the academy, Michael?"
Ian Chappell jokes with Michael Hussey about his match-winning innings in the World Twenty20 semi-final

The semantics-related rant of the year

"What is a doosra? The other man in a woman's life is a doosra. The other woman in a man's life is doosri. So basically, doosra is unethical, immoral and illegal."
If it's about the doosra, it's got to be Bishan Singh Bedi

The Tendulkar appreciation society

"I have joked before that there is a good chance that I might retire before Tendulkar."
MS Dhoni may have made his debut 15 years after Tendulkar, but is not sure who'll hang the boots up first

"He has been in form longer than some of our guys have been alive."
Daniel Vettori is boggled by the number of years Tendulkar has been at the top

And finally …

"Hansie Cronje. Honestly. I got out to Hansie more than anyone... I never knew what to do with him."
Sachin Tendulkar names the bowler who troubled him the most, and it's not McGrath, Murali, Warne or Wasim

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo