A popular figure

Bermuda's brave bunch of men has their supporters. Most popular, to no one's surprise, is the left-arm spinning behemoth Dwayne Leverock. A summary of events by S. Ram Mahesh.

Sunday, March 11: The diary reprises its role from last year's tour of the West Indies . Sadly, it has little to do with popular demand. If it is, the diary is in the dark. Last it remembers, the diary left you, dear reader, on a note of shameless pretentiousness, with a fondness for namedropping. An excellent theme, and one worth pursuing. So this diary will cut the tosh about ridiculously long flights, and take you straight to when Michael Holding helped it in a spot of old-fashioned, spit-on-hands electricity work. Holding, for those who came in late, was one of the great West Indian fast bowlers. A bona fide legend. The incident happens at about 4 p.m. Jamaican time at Trelawny. All a twitter for the opening ceremony; naturally the diary's long strides aren't their usual graceful selves. They happen to knock out the piping on some telecom lines. As the diary sinks to its haunches — yes, diaries can have haunches if they have strides — and contemplates the mess, Holding contemplates the diary. Now an engineering education is excellent; it doesn't teach you, however, to deal with those blighters plastic piping. Holding, unencumbered by an engineering education, sinks to his haunches. "Bang them in," he says. The diary does his delightful Jamaican syllables a disservice by resorting to text. The diary tries banging them in with the incompetence it brings to every task it undertakes. No luck. So, Holding rolls up his sleeves, and proceeds to bang them in. Grateful, the diary makes its way to its seat where it knocks down the garbage bin. Holding covers his eyes.

Monday, March 12: A hell-raising ride from Trelawny to Kingston, undertaken in the death of the night, leaves the diary dilapidated. But, it's never too pooped to say good mornin' at the breakfast table. And the reply is distinctly Australian. John Archer, 67, is a retired headmaster. Never the most comfortable with scholarly elder gentlemen, the diary is wary. But, the name of Jaroslav Drobny breaks the ice. Who, Archer quizzes the dairy — small talk done with — was the Egyptian that won Wimbledon in the 1950s. The diary supplies the answer, and other background details — Olympic ice hockey medallist, touch player et al — and as Neville Cardus might have written, strangers embraced. Archer tells the diary he's here to see an old boy he taught. Dave Langford-Smith, who played for the New South Wales under-17 side, married an Irish girl, and now plays for Ireland, Archer tells the diary. Archer may have had something to do with Langford-Smith making the squad. "I remember I was at Belfast , travelling to London , when I saw a team of big fellas. I found that they were a cricket side, and asked them if they knew Dave. They said, they did," says Archer. "I told them Dave is a real good boy, and that if he makes the team, I'll travel to watch him play in the Caribbean . `You've certainly come to the right man,' came the reply, `for I'm the sole selector.'" Archer tells the diary many terrific stories. Of Doug Walters, who Archer narrowly missed playing with at St. George's in NSW, of Richie Benaud, who he saw a match with, of Ricky Ponting, who he once had dinner with. See — the diary never passes up an opportunity to namedrop, even if it's vicarious. Archer thinks the Australians behave abominably on the field; and that Sachin Tendulkar's 148 not out at Sydney was the best innings he has seen live. But, it's for Archer's bit on journalism that the diary is most grateful. "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story," he says.

Tuesday, March 13: The West Indies defeats Pakistan , and the diary rushes to catch the post-match presser with captains. A heavily-muscled man in white and black nips ahead of the diary; "Viv," comes the call. Sir Vivian Richards turns around, spots the dairy, says a quick, polite "Hi, how are you doing?" and turns back to take the lift. As if the diary would have the temerity to call Viv Viv. The call came from behind, it comes again, and Viv spots a friend.

Wednesday, March 14: The diary is no photographer. But, already it has captured the great Rohan Kanhai, who some observers thought was a shade better than even Sir Garfield, on film. In a bush shirt and dark pants, Kanhai is as slim as he was 32 years back — footage of the 1975 final was by a peculiar twist of fate shown earlier today. He doesn't suffer fools, so when a colleague asks the diary to click, it doesn't bother saying cheese. He's travelling to Guyana, he says, and his flight is boarding. Could we hurry up? The diary aims to please.

Thursday, March 15: Bermuda's brave bunch of men has their supporters. Most popular, to no one's surprise, is the left-arm spinning behemoth Dwayne Leverock. Giant cut-outs of his face are passed around in the sparsely populated Queen's Park Oval. But, the buccaneering Lionel Cann has a cult following that rivals Leverock. He hits Murali for six — captain Irving Romaine reckons the side will never hear the end of it.

Friday, March 16: Finally, it feels like a World Cup, says one senior journalist. Rahul Dravid — requested by another senior journalist to speak a trifle slower — addresses a press conference. Fifty microphones are stuffed in his face; forty heaving, sweating journalists crowd him. It's this familiar jostling to get in a position to best hear Dravid and simultaneously elbow a rival that so comforts the first senior journalist.

Saturday, March 17: What's all the fuss about Sachin Tendulkar becoming a comic super-hero? All the diary hears are disparaging comments. What are his claims asks one miffed comic-book fan. Perspective my comic addicts, perspective.

Malcolm Speed, CEO, ICC, makes an appearance in the press box. He keeps up a steady stream of chatter. "Where are you from? Bangladesh? No wonder, you're smiling. You from the Indian Express, ah, you've got to work hard, need a wicket now."