Enjoying the Cricket World Cup? Divert yourself with this high-quality trivia from The Bluffer’s Guide To Cricket, available here.
As players as diverse as scrunge-faced New Zealander Lou Vincent, ill-fated Hanse Cronje and the three Pakistani cricketers banned for something called spot-fixing know, sharp practice in cricket can be a career-ender. But there is more than one way to bluff your way across the crease, some more laudable than others. Cast your eye across these four cheeky characters and decide whether they merit a dismissal.
Basil D’Oliveira lied about his age and changed the world
The gifted South African known as “Dolly” played brilliantly for Worcestershire and England, his example doing much to combat racial discrimination – and he did it all on a bluff. Banned from representing the country of his birth because of the colour of his skin, D’Oliveira gained British citizenship and a place in the Central Lancashire side Middleton thanks to legendary cricket commentator John Arlott. But he was too old to move up to county cricket – so he simply moved his birthdate by a decade, making his test debut in 1966 at the ripe old (secret) age of 38.
If he hadn’t bluffed about his age, he’d probably never have been picked for England. The international row known as the D’Oliveira Affair – in which South Africa cancelled an England tour because the ‘coloured’ D’Oliveira was playing – would never have occurred. And South Africa would never have been thrown out of world sport. And apartheid might never…
The Moral: Bluffing can change the world….
Allen Stanford took world cricket for a ride
Texan billionaire ‘Sir’ Allen Stanford landed on the turf at Lord’s in a helicopter, bringing with him a glass chest full of banknotes to announce a £20m Twenty20 series between England and an all-star West Indies side, the ‘Stanford Superstars’. Cricket’s elite fawned on him, which became rather embarrassing later when Stanford was stripped of his knighthood and imprisoned for defrauding his investors in a £7m Ponzi scheme. Before his trial, Stanford’s lawyers claimed he was suffering from ‘extensive retrograde amnesia’ – in other words, he couldn’t remember a thing. Hmmm.
The Moral: Bluffing with large sums of money is known as ‘fraud’.
Unemployed labourer Karl Power makes England Test debut
Many people dream of walking out to play for England. In 2001 a notorious sportsman-impersonator from Manchester did just that. Having already sneaked onto the pitch with Manchester United in the Champions League, Karl ‘Fat Neck’ Power hid in the gents at Headingley and then strolled out in full helmet and regalia. When he took off said helmet to reveal the bluff, it was noticed that even police and stewards joined in the applause. The Black Grape song ‘Fat Neck’ pays homage to him.
The Moral: Bluffers who have a laugh and do nobody any real harm are generally quite popular.
Better known as Archie the Inventor from ‘Balamory’, cherubic TV presenter Jupp bluffed his way onto England’s 2006 tour of India by pretending he was working for BBC Radio Scotland and the Welsh newspaper, the Western Mail. But the radio station refused his calls and the newspaper lost interest when the only Welsh player was sent home. Stuck behind a pillar during the Second Test at Chandigarh, he wondered why he’d travelled 4,000 miles to write for nobody about a thing I cannot see.”
The Moral: Bluffing doesn’t always work out the way you intended.
Discover more wheezes from the world of leather and willow in The Bluffer’s Guide To Cricket, available here “Great fun – a perfect book for all those who love cricket, or want to pretend that they do.” Boris Johnson