Why every nice girl loves a cricketer

As England's Ashes team welcome the arrival down under of their LBWs (that's Lovers, Belles and Wives), Harriet Walker considers the mysterious appeal of the men in white

Forget footballers and their predilections for prostitutes and powder rooms; kiss goodbye to the cauliflower ears and chunky-faced brayers that attend every rugby match; the new sporting heartbreaker is the cricketer, much to the surprise of, well, just about everyone, really.

The management of the England cricket squad in Australia have been downplaying the arrival in Perth this week of a flurry of lovely wives and girlfriends (and children), who had been banned from the tour for the first two Test matches. But eyewitnesses Down Under say that there has been a distinct lightening of team spirits since their arrival – and point out that the levels of glamour in evidence would be the envy of many a gathering of footballing WAGs.

England's cricketing WAGs – henceforward known, tentatively, as LBWs, or Lovers, Belles and Wives – made brief headlines last year in South Africa, where their visible presence at a seven-star hotel in Cape Town was alleged to have contributed to a humiliating defeat there. Hence the attempts to keep their profile lower this time.

But with news breaking over the weekend that Liz Hurley had separated from her husband, millionaire Arun Nayer, after pictures of her kissing Australian cricket star Shane Warne came to light, it's hard to avoid the observation that it's no longer just the footballers who have all the luck with the ladies.

But wherefore the allure of the cricketer? A game that lasts for days and weeks at a time, full of dodgy hats and noses the colour of iced gems, is hardly the adrenalin- and booze-soaked seduction fest that is football or the rugged display of machismo you get in rugby, after all.

There isn't even any brutish contact, just some running back and forth between two sets of sticks. And all those funny little fans marking off the scores with their tiny pencils...

Well, the mere mention of a tiny pencil in any romantic scenario is enough to put you off.

But they must have something going for them, because the bad boys of the gentleman's game have made more than enough slip-ups in their time. Shane Warne, for example, is no stranger to tabloid exposés after extra-marital flings with a British nurse in 2000, a stripper in 2003 and two (yes, two) models in 2006 – a pattern that helped him to lose his Australian vice-captaincy.

Warne aside, there's Kevin "Cheatersen" Pietersen, Ian "Botty" Botham and countless others, all of whom have been caught out for a sticky wicket or inappropriate use of the middle stump. Pietersen is now married to Jessica Taylor, formerly of reality TV show runners-up Liberty X, with whom he had a son last May (this is as close as cricket gets to Posh and Becks) but is known to have had a prior dalliance with Big Brother beauty Vanessa Nimmo, who he dumped by text.

Botham, meanwhile, managed to wriggle free of claims during the mid-Eighties that he and Miss Barbados had broken a bed during a bout of drug-fuelled sex on an England tour of the West Indies. But when Australian waitress Kylie Verrells revealed emails that referred to the all-rounder's "mighty Beef sword", the game was up and Botham issued a public apology to his wife and children.

So what is it that draws women to these (generally) quiet Casanovas?

There's the diligence and consistent application that the game so relies on, as well as the fact that all athletes inevitably have a bit of that alpha male swagger to them.

But the real answer lies in the missing link at the heart of cricket's current celebrity Venn: Hugh Grant. He's Hurley's ex-boyfriend and more recently used to date heiress Jemima Khan, who was in turn married to Pakistan cricketer, Imran. Grant, a huge fan of the game and former youth player, embodies its spirit and some of its finest attributes: someone educated, but a bit dirty, with a nice posh voice and a slow-paced existence somewhere deep in the English countryside. Voila.

The elegant, loping gait of a tall, lean man as he jogs across a sunlit arbour next to a country pub to a smattering of polite applause; the suntan set off to perfection by his whites; the garden party atmosphere, the tea-breaks, the antebellum dignity of cricket – this is why there's nothing like a good innings to get the heart racing.

That and the fact that cricketers are often away for three months at a time.

Bowled over: A brief history of cricket's LBWs

* Cricketers have been bowling maidens over ever since Florence Morphy followed England captain Ivo Bligh on the 1882 tour of Australia (the first ever attempt to "bring home the ashes" of English cricket).

* Many of cricket's most celebrated stars have had reputations as playboys, from Denis Compton to Colin Cowdrey, while the former Pakistan captain Imran Khan's short-lived marriage to Jemima Khan was a firm favourite with the gossip magazines.

* Stuart Broad, sidelined from the current series by injury, had a five-year relationship with actress Kacey Barnfield which attracted endless headlines about them being "cricket's Posh and Becks".

* Other famous WAGs of the current squad include James Anderson's other half, the model Daniella Lloyd, currently in the UK, where she has just given birth to their second child, and Kevin Pietersen's wife, the model Jessica Taylor. But followers of KP on Twitter will have noticed that he has seemed more interested in the imminent arrival of their young son, Dylan. "Today is the day... My boy is here!!!" he tweeted, when his loved ones arrived.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003