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Photo feature

Are you having fun?

Cricketers want you to let them entertain you

Nishi Narayanan |

© Patrick Eagar/Getty Images

L alit Modi might have made us cringe when he introduced "cricketainment" into the game's lexicon, but he wasn't half-wrong. Sure, cricket is a contest of great sporting skills, full of subtlety and beauty, but we're also looking to be entertained when we watch it. And cricketers know that.

On England's 1976-77 tour of India, their captain, Tony Greig (above), decided that half the battle would be won if the crowds were on his side. He played to the gallery, doffing his cap, getting down on his knees, falling to the ground in mock alarm after hearing a firecracker go off, and even indulging in crude gestures, much to the delight of those in the cheap seats.

© Patrick Eagar/Getty Images

Derek Randall (standing) and another fielder follow their captain's example and make a human wheelbarrow in Madras, where England beat India by 200 runs to win the series 3-0. India managed to win the fourth Test, in Bangalore, but even so, Greig led his team on a lap around the ground to greet the spectators.

Phil O'Brien / © PA Photos

Randall again, fooling around with a gigantic bottle of whisky after a one-day game for Nottinghamshire in 1991.

Hamish Blair / © Getty Images

At the peak of low-rise fashion, in 2002, David Saker took to mocking the 1990s trend of high-waisted trousers that it had replaced.

Paul Rovere / © Getty Images

Shane Warne endeared himself to crowds with a signature doffing of his hat - even after he had devastated their team's line-up.

Stu Forster / © Getty Images

There wasn't much for England to enjoy on their 2005-06 tour of Pakistan, where they lost the Tests series 2-0 after their Ashes high. Enter Kevin Pietersen to try to lighten things with a sumo pose while fielding in the batsman's eyeline in Lahore.

Saurabh Das / © AFP

Tear in my pants? I'll flaunt it, says Ricky Ponting. But does he know that he'll only make it bigger with that pose?

Hamish Blair / © Getty Images

Punishment can be entertaining: England players bend over after losing a game during practice, Edgbaston, 2009.

David Cannon / © Getty Images

Merv Hughes not only entertained the spectators but usually got them to go along with his stretching exercises at the boundary.

© Patrick Eagar/Getty Images

Here, in 1993, Big Merv makes the acquaintance of a dog that strayed onto the Trent Bridge outfield, just before Hughes was to bowl the first ball of the Test. He managed to get hold off the critter and have it taken away from the ground. Photographer Philip Brown, who was at the match, writes on his website: "Fellow snappers including the doyen Patrick Eagar thought it was my dog 'Molly' but I have never taken a dog to a Test match! Not yet anyway."

Jason O'Brien / © Getty Images

Players who return beach balls to the crowd are usually met with cheers. What about Misbah, who chose to test the strength of one?

© Patrick Eagar/Getty Images

At The Oval in 1981, Dennis Lillee was having problems with people moving about in front of the sightscreen at the Pavilion End. Umpire Dickie Bird writes in his autobiography:

"I kept shouting to the crowd, 'For goodness sake, please sit down. Then we can get on with the game. You're holding us all up. And so it went on. Moving the sightscreen here, moving it back, going down to the attendants, appealing to the crowd, and I was getting more than a little fed up with it all. Suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder. It was Lillee. He took off my white cap, put it on his own head, and started directing the stewards in moving the sightscreens, right there in the middle of a Test match."

Ross Setford / © PA Photos

Umpires can be fun too: Cyril Mitchley gives West Indies batsman Philo Wallace a yellow card after he had to leap out of the way to avoid being injured by a shot from Wallace in Bridgetown, 1997-98.

Cameron Spencer / © Getty Images

Say what: Glenn McGrath urges the WACA crowd to get louder, 2006.

Adrian Murrell / © Getty Images

Don't rile the West Indian bowlers; tease their fans instead. Ian Botham follows sage advice at the Kensington Oval, 1985-86.

Matthew Lewis / © Getty Images

Could Andrew Flintoff have been the originator of the "Champion" dance, back in 2008?

© Associated Press

What's Virat Kohli doing here? Dancing? Exercising? Aerobics? It reminds me of a childhood memory I possibly share with Kohli, who also studied in Delhi. Standing outside the classroom, singing with an arm stretched out, "May I come in, ma'am?"

Nishi Narayanan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

 

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  • POSTED BY cheguramana on | February 11, 2017, 14:47 GMT

    Nice one....has any cricketer done cartwheels on the greens ?

  • POSTED BY Unnikuttan on | February 10, 2017, 13:57 GMT

    Jumping Javed and Kiran More

  • POSTED BY ssraza on | February 10, 2017, 6:45 GMT

    Thanks for sharing such a great article, but how can you missed out Javed Miandad. He was offered a traditional cap from a spectator in a match in Peshawar, and he wore that cap in entire match then in 1989. You can write a book on his acting in the ground I suppose. Anyways good luck next time.

  • POSTED BY Vivek.Bhandari on | February 10, 2017, 2:57 GMT

    "May I come in, ma'am?" really took me back to the childhood days :D, also "Ma'am, may I go to the toilet?" :D

    Btw there's a clip on YouTube wherein Ronnie Irani had fun with the crowd in an Australian ground; it looked almost like the Merv Hughes photo (the earlier one)

  • POSTED BY SEKHAR_TPC on | February 9, 2017, 20:44 GMT

    How about Suresh raina imitating billy bowden, that was so funny too :D