Fallen idol at Maurice dance

WORLD CUP DIARY

AFTER their astonishing victory over West Indies, the Kenya team were more than a little surprised when Brian Lara walked into their dressing- room to join in their celebrations. He was welcomed by the Africans' captain, Maurice Odumbe, who joked that Lara must have come to have his picture taken with him.

Apparently two years ago Odumbe, who was playing in the South Wales league at the time, went along to watch Lara bat when Warwickshire played Glamorgan at Swansea, hoping to get a signed autograph of the Trinidadian.

ONE winner from last Wednesday's match was the bookmakers Ladbrokes. Kenya were offered at 16-1 to win the match but failed to attract a single wager.

THE Karachi Gymkhana Club, where England played a practice match on Friday, was a haven of peace in a settlement that has become known locally as the "City of Death" because of the sectarian violence that has overtaken sections of the city. At least until an over-eager announcer kept pronouncing judgement on some of the England players over the Tannoy. Comments such as "That's a wide and he knows it" and "That wasn't a very good over was it?" did not endear him to the visitors. Only an intervention by the team manager John Barclay stopped his flow, but by then it was too late.

SOUTH AFRICA'S success in the competition has caused unexpected financial troubles for the national broadcasting company, the SABC. Before the competition, the corporation's management had to decide which quarter-final Hansie Cronje's team would reach so they could select accommodation, which had to be pre-booked and pre-paid. Somewhat unpatriotically, they judged that South Africa were likely to finish second or third to Pakistan. The Proteas' five-wicket win over the group favourites last week has scuppered all those predictions and hotels at both the Bangalore and Madras quarter- finals have had to be cancelled (no refund) as well as flights to both venues. The cost of the misjudgement is so far estimated at pounds 33,000.

COCA-COLA'S latest advertising gimmick has hit problems at the World Cup. The soft drinks giants have been running a competition entitled "Fan of the Match", with prizes going to spectators with the best banner slogans. The standard of entries has been disappointing, a Coke spokesman confessed. "One of the problems in India is that people prefer to burn their signs instead of waving them."

THE Australian radio commentator Tim Gilbert was dragged back to earth, having soared to fame by occupying Richie Benaud's seat for half an hour when the man and his fellow TV commentators were unavoidably late for the start of Australia's game v Kenya. Four days later, Gilbert was forced to sit on the press-box floor for the game against India, organisers having refused to allocate him a seat.

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