Clarke stumped

Michael Clarke is generally known to face the media with aplomb. But there are times when even a buoyant person as the Aussie skipper gets flummoxed. By Shreedutta Chidananda.

As Australia captain, Michael Clarke is used to handling all sorts of difficult questions, but there is one that leaves even him somewhat red-faced. “Michael, you have had tremendous sex throughout the...tremendous success...” Too late. The press room bursts out laughing. Steve Smith and the Cricket Australia media manager are in stitches.

“You might have had that as well, I don’t know,” the reporter says. “How well do you know me?” Clarke asks, grinning. “That’s a question for my wife.”

Lady at the wheel

The Diary has spent some six weeks in Australia and New Zealand, and has been in a few dozen taxis but it has never encountered a lady at the wheel. Until Sydney. Nazneem is a woman in her thirties, who moved here from Bangladesh 11 years ago. “I read on Facebook that there was an umpiring conspiracy to help India reach the semifinals,” she says. The Diary says that is not true.

“People in Dhaka are very angry about it.” The Diary says it’s happy for them.

Nazneem was working as a packer in a warehouse before someone recommended that she join a taxi driver training academy. “I went there, paid them half the fee, and signed up. But then, everyone said I shouldn’t do it, from my Bangladeshi neighbours to the uncle who runs a corner shop. My brother-in-law even offered to go to the academy and demand my money back but I refused. I passed out and then started driving a taxi.”

The hours are long and the job challenging but Nazneem is happy being her own boss. “I don’t know much about cricket,” she says as the Diary reaches its destination, “but I wish Bangladesh win the next World Cup.”

The Diary is not one to crush a lady’s hopes. Neutral support for NZ

India’s exit leaves its fans shattered. Many had travelled to Australia, having purchased tickets to the final, in the hope of watching their team there. These supporters have now either off-loaded their tickets or have decided to watch the final anyway having flown this far. “We will support New Zealand,” says Vishal, a banker from New York. “Anyone but Australia.”

Such feelings have not escaped Brendon McCullum’s attention. A day ahead of the final he is asked of the support he is likely to receive from neutrals. “I’m pleased you touched on that,” he says. “Because I reckon we might have the home crowd tomorrow actually. I think it’s probably no secret that most of the other teams around the world would probably want New Zealand to win over Australia. So hopefully, we’ll get a good smattering of support tomorrow, and I’m sure the Indian guys will certainly be rooting for us.”

Don’t shoot the messenger

The reaction to India’s semifinal loss has mostly been sane back home, but one TV station has, it turns out, gone overboard. There has been a massive backlash, particularly on social media, against the station’s harsh criticism of the Indian team.

The Indian community here is aware of the goings-on. The station’s reporter in Australia is rudely heckled by one man with “Shame on...” chants during her piece to camera. Don’t shoot the messenger would be the Diary’s message.