TELFORD VICE, Sydney
CLEARLY, security standards are slipping at the World Cup. On Wednesday, for instance, a bloke wearing a smirk, too many tattoos and a dead hedgehog where his hair should have been made it all the way onto the outfield at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
That his name was Kevin Pietersen shouldn’t have made a difference. But it did, and the England wannabe was allowed to behave as if he owned the place even as preparations for the quarter-final between SA and Sri Lanka buzzed busily all around.
Not that KP was the only non-playing notable in a sharp suit putting himself about the SCG on Wednesday. From Shane Warne to Shaun Pollock, Mike Hussey to Michael Vaughan, Stuart Clark to Sanath Jayasuriya, Mark Waugh to Rahul Dravid to Allan Border to Brian Lara, they were all out there – and all except Jayasuriya in the cause of paid punditry.
Jayasuriya, who has more time on his hands since his position as deputy minister of postal services was returned to sender when de-elected president Mahinda Rajapaksa discovered democracy can be a bastard, was there as Sri Lanka’s chair of selectors. Which hasn’t stopped him from training almost as hard as the players this week.
Waugh, meanwhile, is that rare thing among headline acts, at least according to one source: “You get the feeling he is more interested in you than in himself.”
A cricket ground is a strange place in the hours before a big match, a hive of everything and nothing, a time of breathless, expectant industry in which the bride is readied for the groom. People who have real jobs scurry about with cameras and cabling while the “talent” stand there fiddling with their earpieces and trying not to sweat through their jackets.
Then, after an age of scurrying and another of waiting, it all comes together for a few minutes in which the famous people tell you and your mates what you have already said to each other. That done, the scurrying resumes in reverse to clear the field in time for play.
The by now sweaty suits retire to the boundary for what they probably consider a well-deserved natter among themselves. About what? Probably what they have just told their audience, who had said it all to each other in the first place.
Then, after toss and more talk, the game starts – not a moment too soon.