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.

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

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?