The maid & the toothbrush

MONTY PANESAR'S grandparents were in Mohali to watch the Test.-PICS. PTI

Mohali sticks in my mind because back in 1984-5 when I tour the country with Gower's team we make a trip to CHANDIGRAH for a one-day international game that is almost halted by rain, writes TED CORBETT.

March 6: If this diary has any claim to fame it is for the quality of its anecdotes. This week I hear one that is irresistible. You will remember that Dean Jones, the Australian batsman, finds fame with a double century that almost wins the tied Test in Madras. Well, this is the background. Overnight Jones is 60 not out, pumped up with not only his own expectation but the hopes and ambitions of his captain Allan Border, the next man in. Jones cannot sleep. He plays every shot in his mind's eye, he gets out, he reaches his first Test century to the rapturous applause of the crowd; and then at 5 a.m. he eventually goes to sleep. Two hours later he awakes feeling, as you do in these circumstances, absolutely wretched. He goes down to breakfast full of irritation and snaps at the waiter who asks what he would like. "Eggs `n' coffee." No please, no thank you; Dean Jones is too annoyed. Along comes the glass full of coffee. The waiter produces an egg, breaks it on the edge of the glass and pours the raw contents into the glass. I draw a veil over the next few minutes in case some of my readers are of a delicate nature. Anyway, Dean goes back to his room, cleans his teeth, picks up his gear, and heads for the team bus. He is late and gets a volley of abuse from Border. As he listens, apologetically, Jones realises that he has left his wallet on the bedside table and rushes off the bus back to his room. The door is open, good that saves a few seconds, where's the wallet; oh, it's over there and it seems to be all right, but hey where is the maid? Then he spots that the bathroom door is open and sees that the maid is using his toothbrush to clean her teeth. Once again I draw a veil over what was said. Then Jones goes back to the team bus and says: "Listen, fellas, do you know what I found? The maid was using my toothbrush to clean her teeth!" At that point, all talk of the match is forgotten, as every player leaves the bus and goes to pick up his washbag. "Just you take note," says Jones, "if you see an Aussie player in the sub-continent, he will always have his washbag under his arm."

March 7: Mohali sticks in my mind because back in 1984-5 when I tour the country with David Gower's team we make a trip to Chandigarh for a one-day international game that is almost halted by rain. But dare the two teams refuse to play even though at its best the ground is still covered in water? If they don't appear the people who wait 15 years for this event will not be happy. Eventually a 15-over match is played in appalling conditions; at least there is no riot. This time my trip is memorable because three-quarters of the way from Delhi it is clear to me that the coach driver is in danger of falling asleep. After he almost drives into the back of a bus I persuade him to stop and at least have a cup of tea so that the sugar rush keeps him going for the rest of the trip.

March 8: As the players go through their final practice session ahead of the second Test I fall to wondering when the warm-up is coming to cricket. Back home the stars of the Six Nations Rugby tournament — teams from the British Isles and France — get ready for their turn as substitutes by riding exercise cycles on the touchline and, of course, football substitutes almost announce their arrival on the field by dashing up and down the touchline and in baseball the bullpen is where pitchers warm up to keep their arm loose. Is there a place for the controlled warm-up in our game or is the convention that the 12th man is also the drinks waiter too firmly entrenched to change?

The Panesar family also met Harbhajan Singh and it was discovered that both belonged to the Ramgariha sect.-

March 9: A newspaper publishes scathing criticism of the super-sub system; just what you might expect from Geoffrey Boycott. But the picture alongside this column does not look like Boycott. Why no; surely it's Ian Chappell, who is just as ferocious a critic of the lax ways of cricket administration. The next day an apology appears but, as a newspaperman, I wish I had a hiding place in the editor's room when the culprit is found.

March 10: Some people are finding it difficult to work at Mohali. Not All India Radio who complete their agreement with the Indian board who promptly try to shoo the BBC out of their nice comfortable box which means they start in the press box, go to an unreachable part of the main building and have to switch again on the second day. Harsha Bhogle, an old friend, is also finding it hard to work. He has an exclusive contract with ESPN, which means that he receives large amounts of money for sitting around waiting for them to order him to work. He and I and David Gower, who all earn their living in the most pleasant way, meet and exchange ideas on the ease of life. I always believe Gower has a golden life but I begin to wonder if Bhogle is not even more blessed.

March 11: Monty Panesar's family who live about 60 miles from Mohali are particularly keen to ask Harbhajan Singh how their boy is faring so they go to the Indian team hotel. He is very gracious to them and tells them that Monty is "a good bowler and has a future in Test cricket." During the conversation it emerges that both families are from the Ramgariha sect of the Sikh religion and this makes Harbhajan very pleased; not just two Sikhs in opposing teams but two men who are of the same sect, too. It is such an enchanting conversation that Harbhajan almost misses the team bus. That is the friendly side of cricket but why is it that on the England side their most popular player is unable to answer the question on everyone's lips? Why is the new Flintoff baby boy to be Corey? Wild speculation continues and I think we must hear soon.

March 12: The Nawab of Pataudi arrives in Chandigarh where he expects to meet a number of other former Indian captains. Perhaps it is not surprising, in view of all the controversy, that Sourav Ganguly stays away. Someone asks Tiger Pataudi what is the correct form of address for the wife of a nawab. "In my case," says the great man, "it is correct to call my wife Tigress." We na�ve Europeans from time to time misidentified Indian faces; I once mix up Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble. So it causes a big laugh when one of the journalists thinks he is addressing Wasim Jaffer only to find he is talking to V. V. S. Laxman. The same man later walks right past Tiger Pataudi without so much as a glance.