Taha Hashim revisits the best and worst post-match celebrations – the games that are played after the final ball is bowled. First published in issue 25 of Wisden Cricket Monthly.
Ganguly takes his top off
No, Sourav Ganguly never graced the cover of Men’s Health; but his torso was shown to the masses when India defeated England at Lord’s in the 2002 NatWest Series final. While Mohammad Kaif and Zaheer Khan embraced each other in wholesome fashion out in the middle, Dada went mildly berserk on the balcony, swinging his shirt around his head, seemingly possessed. The display followed on from Andrew Flintoff’s own shirt-off escapade months earlier in Mumbai after a close England win. Not the most elegant sight but you’ve got to admire the brazenness of Ganguly’s riposte.
Pakistan march on
Another Lord’s special. In 2016, Mohammad Amir returned to where everything had gone so horribly wrong. But this was a different Pakistan side, one under the responsible stewardship of Misbah-ul-Haq, and it was the skipper who kicked things off, celebrating his first-day hundred with a salute and push-ups: a tribute to the Pakistani army officers who helped the national side prepare for the series. It got even better after Amir bowled Jake Ball to complete his fairytale: the Pakistanis lined up in formation in front of the Lord’s pavilion – Younis Khan the man barking out orders – and out came the push-ups, with the salute the cherry on top. The dark days of 2010 were long gone.
Jim Laker does it his way
You’ve just taken 19 wickets in a Test match. Nineteen. No one’s ever done that; it’s doubtful they ever will. You’ve got to party hard, right? Jim Laker didn’t. No, he simply shook hands, took his sweater and trudged off the field. And things didn’t get rowdy later, either. On his way home, Laker stopped off at a pub for a drink and some food. People around him, unaware of greatness in their presence, watched Laker’s unprecedented feat on television. That’s called playing it cool. In an age where Imran Tahir wheels away at dismissals in lost causes, such cool-headedness feels like a lost world.
Michael Clarke v Simon Katich
Michael Clarke versus Simon Katich. Julio versus Nerd. The great cultural battle of Australian cricket. As Australia celebrated victory over South Africa at the SCG in 2009, drinking away in their dressing room, Clarke was in a rush to get his teammates to a bar in the city, having made a booking. Late into the evening, with the team song ‘Under the Southern Cross’ still not sung, Clarke’s agitation to get things moving became clear, and an unimpressed Katich grabbed him by the throat. Unpleasantries were said and two years later, Clarke’s ascension to the Test captaincy was followed soon after by Katich’s removal from the Test side. The left-hander didn’t mince his words: “You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that it’s not just the selectors that had a part in sending me on my way.”
England take the proverbial
Well, it’s just a bit weird, isn’t it? After a comfortable 3-0 Ashes series win in 2013, a number of England’s players were reportedly seen urinating on The Oval pitch as others cheered on: an act more befitting of a university rugby team.
Giving the finger
What is it about lifting the urn that inspires such idiocy? As Steve Smith’s men celebrated their Ashes series win in early 2018, it was hard to focus on their cheers and fist pumps. Rather, the eyes zeroed in on the design of the podium, with four fingers raised by a hand emblazoned with the Australian flag. The St George’s Cross covered a clenched fist on the other side. Subtle. Revenge was served this summer, though. As Tim Paine’s men vociferously celebrated retaining the Ashes at The Oval, the words behind them were in bold: Series Drawn 2019.
First published in issue 25 of Wisden Cricket Monthly