Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gin and iso-Tonics

Behind the Taj Hotel there is a long stretch of stalls known as Colaba Market. Haggling for some jewellery off these wise Indian vendors is a fine art, but I soon found my way and by the end of the stretch came away happy.

Many of the ex-England players out here have seen their fair share of markets during their touring years, but for Athers it's a more surreal shopping experience he can recall.

England were on a trip up the Khyber Pass in the early 90s and found themselves at a bazaar in the mountains. Not known at the time for their love of cricket in Afghanistan, the players were amazed at what happened next.

Athers and Nasser got off the team bus and ventured into the stalls. The former Lancashire opener takes up the story. "We weren't up for any haggling but remarkably and amazingly everyone knew who we were. They all had their little picture cards with Atherton, Hussain and Thorpe.

"These days the players don't really get out much. The ECB have their own security measures and seem to make it compulsory to keep the players under lock and key. I don't think it is necessary myself but that is the way it goes."


Which player will walk away from Mumbai with the sponsor's red motorbike as part of the man of the match prizes? Will Hoggy be seen doing another lap of honour to the dismay of BCCI officials, who now count the Wankhede as the governing body's new home?

Whoever it is, the tax will be waived on the bike as it is seen as a prize and not a gift. Four years ago, however, saw a different story when Sachin Tendulkar was gifted a Ferrari 360 Modeno by Fiat for equalling Sir Don Bradman's record of 29 Test centuries.

The 120 percent import duty was waived by India's Finance Minister after the car was flown in by Air France from Paris the following year. A high court notice was soon issued on the Little Master to pay the outstanding duty, but Sachin still had a fleet to choose from in his garage.


The Nobok Legends out in India like nothing better than to kick back with a gin and tonic after a hard day's stint behind the mic.

But their thirst was scuppered in Nagpur when there was no sign of Schweppes' classic yellow India tonic water. They even had to send out their tour operator to find a batch, but all a local could find were a load of Isotonic drinks.

A quick glance in the Taj Hotel bar says they'll be fine in Mumbai.