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The Ten: Celebrations

by Wisden Staff

The moments of genius that happened just after moments of actual cricketing brilliance.

10) The Beefy stump grab
First unveiled: v Australia at Edgbaston, July 30 – August 2, 1981

A classic. Sweaty Beefy – thick brown patches staining the armpits of his skin-tight shirt – bulldozes through Terry Alderman’s defences at a sweltering Edgbaston to finish the match with a game-changing spell of five wickets for one run. He’s just done something ridiculous, again, and he needs a scalp to prove it. Running through the pitch, he uproots the off-stump and sprints for the pavilion, swirling the spear around his head as the Brummie mob, mad with 
heat and Ashes fever, bursts forth to smother their man. A manic, caveman performance: a wild man for wild days. As much about the Eighties as Jim Laker’s handshake was the Fifties.

9) The Gus Logie high-jump high-five
First unveiled: v Pakistan at Perth, December 19, 1981

Gus Logie was a cricketer distinguished by two things. The first was his superlative close fielding;
the second was the fact that he was absolutely tiny. When he stepped
 out onto the pitch it looked like Joel Garner and Courtney Walsh had been told to let their little cousin 
play with them. Despite this, the
 wee lad was great value in the field, plucking screamers out of the air with indecent regularity and producing a natty line in madcap arm waving, but what truly endeared this diminutive trooper to us was his unrelenting desire to get in on the habitual round of high fives that followed a wicket. Sprinting up to the (inevitably gargantuan) bowler responsible, Logie would launch himself miles into the air and enthusiastically lay one on his teammate, all the while grinning like he’d just won the lottery. What made this all the more brilliant was the way that none of the bowlers ever, ever made it easier for him by holding their hand at anything less than head height. A triumph for the vertically challenged everywhere.

8) The Paul Nixon one with the people
First unveiled: v Australia at Sydney, February 11, 2007

Picture the scene: a demoralised England have just been annihilated 5-0 in the Ashes, they have a 36-year-old wicketkeeper making
his international debut in the first ODI of the CB Series and the Aussies are crowing as only they know how. Yet somehow England manage to win the whole thing, and the preternaturally cheerful Nixon is 
at the heart of it all; chirping away behind the stumps, driving the Aussies to distraction and bringing some much needed team spirit to the fold. And what did the wily old-timer do to commemorate this remarkable achievement? He celebrated by stage diving into the delighted England fans and having a right old good time. Well played lad.

7) The Shoaib Akhtar funky chicken
First unveiled: v England at Faisalabad, November 20-24, 2005

It would become a favourite of Pakistan cricketers everywhere, but that old showman Shoaib Akhtar is the bloke credited with first noticing that Kevin Pietersen’s rigorous arm stretching whilst at the crease is slightly reminiscent of a chicken plumping its feathers. Having dismissed England’s premier batsman for an even and typically belligerent 100, Shoaib chose to announce his discovery to the world via a kaleidoscope of waggling arms and frenzied foot movements. KP was, unsurprisingly, a bit non-plussed.

6) The Sreesanth whirling dervish
First unveiled: v South Africa at Johannesburg, December 15-18, 2006

Even before last year’s revelations, they didn’t come much livelier or eccentric than Sreesanth; a cricketer by day, a psychology student by night, with a little bit of break dancing thrown in for good measure. He was, to put it politely, a character, but sadly, despite swinging the ball miles at 85mph, this outrageous celebration following a huge six off Andre Nel is still arguably one of his most famous moments on a cricket pitch. Whilst it’s certainly an exciting moment for any tailender to slam a fast bowler straight back over his head (especially when it’s Nel), to then dance past him whilst waving your bat around like a demented rag doll may be taking it a little bit too far. Still extremely funny though.

5) The Freddie shirt waving extravaganza
First unveiled: v India at Mumbai, February 3, 2002

Andrew Flintoff seemingly took note of Botham’s Edgbaston euphoria and decided: ‘Well, I can go one better than that’. Tired of the fat lad tag that dogged his early career, he celebrated leading his side to an epic 3-3 one-day series draw in India by running the length of the pitch, whipping off his shirt to let the world see what all the fuss was about. Even Fabrizio Ravanelli in his pomp couldn’t have bettered it. Brilliantly, the less than thrilled Indian captain Sourav Ganguly took Fred’s performance as a personal insult and chose to avenge this slight after his side secured a dramatic victory in the 2002 NatWest Series final, mimicking Fred’s bare-chested antics from the comfort of the Lord’s balcony. Touché sir.

Brett Lee cleans up Fred at Trent Bridge

Brett Lee cleans up Fred at Trent Bridge

4) The Brett Lee messiah complex
First unveiled: v England at Trent Bridge, August 25-28, 2005

Not content with a standard celebration, Lee decided to have a Jesus Christ Superstar moment after pegging back Flintoff’s off-stump during the 2005 nail-biter at Trent Bridge, collapsing to his knees before exploding upwards to stand bolt upright with his arms spread wide, his head tilted back to face the heavens and his mouth gurning furiously. It was both messianic and primal, and any Englishman who saw it instantly cacked himself from nervous tension. Fortunately, Matthew Hoggard played the most unlikely cover-drive in history to plant him through the covers and shatter the image of Übermensch-like physical superiority, but that fact takes nothing away from what ranks as one of the most exhausting celebrations ever seen in sport.

3) The Nasser Hussain three-fingered salute
First unveiled: v India at Lord’s, July 13, 2002

Only Nasser Hussain, five-and-a-half feet and not much more, could have had the balls to offer out two of cricket’s biggest bruisers (and Jonathan Agnew) in front of 20,000 Lord’s aficionados. The England skipper was never a natural one-day biffer, but what he lacked in muscle he made up for in fight. The problem was Hussain had been struggling for runs, and the media – specifically Agnew for the BBC and Bob Willis and Ian Botham in the Sky box (you’d never find Nasser up there…) – were on his back about his position at No.3 in the order. At Lord’s, against India in a classic one-dayer, it all came splurging out. Hussain had scrapped and scythed his way to a century
 and turned to the media centre with blood in his eyes. Offering his back to the three amigos, he pointed to the big three emblazoned on his back, further underlining his point with a three-fingered gesture. This is me, he was saying, this is what I am, so up yours. After retiring Nasser had the photo put up in his study. “It summed me up,” he explained.

2) The Dave Mohammed shoe phone (amongst others)
First unveiled: v Middlesex at Antigua, October 30, 2008

The master celebrant. Not content with simply living off the name Dave Mohammed, this lad cornered 
the market in cricket celebrations. We had the blunt yet effective Roll On The Floor, when Dave celebrated 
a wicket by crabbing about playing hands, knees and toes with himself, or alternatively you had The Patriot’s Game, when Dave pulled out a huge Trinidad & Tobago flag from his pants and started whirling it around his head like a crazed gypsy magician. But for us, nothing can touch the majesty of Dave Mohammed’s Shoe Phone.

If a batsman had the temerity to leave his crease before finding himself dismissed, Dave removed his shoe, pretended to dial a number and then began speaking into his shoe as if 
it were a phone. As one AOC staffer noted: “The sheer genius of the shoe phone is that in the history of people wearing shoes, which is a pretty long one, nobody has ever taken it off and pretended it was a phone.” We rest our case.

1) The Michael Slater lid kiss
First unveiled: v England at Lord’s, June 17-21, 1993

You see it all the time now, but back 
in 1993 there weren’t many cricketers who had the front to make a century at Lord’s and celebrate by making 
a move on his helmet. But this was Michael Slater, a young Aussie jack- in-the-box playing his first match at Lord’s. The boy wasn’t one for English reserve. In reaching an electric maiden Test century on day one, he jumped, punched the air, and landed a juicy one right on the Australian badge at the front of his lid. It was spontaneous and brilliant. And though you see it
 all the time these days, especially with Premiership footballers looking for 
a new contract, it all started with the little Aussie livewire who just couldn’t stop himself.

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