Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fancy that

There was a time on England's tours when the team and management wore fancy-dress for their Christmas dinner.

Most players took to it too: Mike Gatting as Henry VIII, Beefy as a convict, Daffy DeFreitas as Diana Ross and Joey Benjamin (right) kneeling on Sesame Street-style carpet. Alec Stewart told me he came with just a fishing rod once (Rod Stewart) which wasn't the best if we're honest.

The tradition seems to have waned over the years and, if it did make a comeback, I'm sure the current team could dress up as themselves if they were short on ideas.

It seems the fancy-dress idea was first coined by Mike Brearley during England's 1976/77 tour to India and the dinner was shared with the travelling press. There are some photos which have stayed in the memory over the years too. Boycott dressed as Prince Ranjitsinhji, Beefy as Gandhi and JK Lever as Maggie Thatcher. Read Frank Keating's fun yule piece here.

And if you want to know how Aussies celebrate Christmas, there is a Lonely Planet piece on beach cricket here. Beats the fog and rain.