Silk's magic carpet

CARPET shops abound in Pakistan. To the uninitiated and casual browser, the choice is almost as daunting as the haggling that traditionally precedes the sale. This can involve long and protracted negotiation, and patience is essential. This, of course, is difficult in the face of cunning salesmanship, as Waqar of Peshawar, the Carpet Palace's very own Arthur Daley proved. Waqar sold Graham Gooch, Allan Lamb and our own Derek Pringle several carpets during the 1987 World Cup, and England's recent stay there proved even more lucrative.

Many players patronised the shop but the keenest customer of all was Denis Silk, the chairman of the TCCB.

Silk was clearly smitten with the bright bold patterns of the Russian Bokharas. So smitten, indeed, that he bought no less than 11 of them. And he seemed determined to add to his hoard when he arrived in Rawalpindi. Waltzing straight into the hotel carpet shop, he was taken aback to be instantly greeted by name. Apparently the shop in Rawalpindi is run by Waqar of Peshawar's cousin.

TRAVELLING between venues at the World Cup has provoked almost as much discussion as the games themselves. So far the record lies with one of the television commentary teams, who took 34 hours to travel from India's match in Gwalior last Wednesday to Visakhapatnam (also in India).

The journey apparently started with a train journey to Delhi, followed by a flight to Calcutta in order to board a smaller plane to Visakhapatnam. It was clear that something had gone wrong when TV coverage commenced with the Australian player Michael Slater doing the pitch report and a radio commentator doing both his own and the TV slot until Tony Greig and Co arrived - jet-lagged.

VIEWERS of that game will also have noticed the competition's most creative sponsorship so far: twinkling in Shane Warne's ear was a gold stud bearing the Nike logo.

THE South African coach Bob Woolmer was the victim of a cunning hoax in Faisalabad. The South African team have fines meetings on a weekly basis which every player is expected to attend in fancy dress according to a chosen theme. Last Monday's theme was "Sumo wrestler" but the entire team, without telling their coach, decided to ignore it. They all arrived at the meeting late and in normal attire. Woolmer, who had pitched up for the meeting on time, was naked but for a decorously draped hotel towel. His face, according to the players, was a picture, and they now live in fear of his revenge.

INDIAN restaurants have succumbed to World Cup fever. Among the dishes on offer are Sachin's Starter (chicken), and Azharuddhin's Fantasy (mushrooms). To wash them down: the Wasim Akram Special (vodka), Shane Warne's Googly (gin and orange), and Donald's Rider (gin and lime). And the umpire Venkataraghavan, who has so far not called for the third umpire on the pitch, did so the other day at a restaurant. The Third Umpire is a huge bowl of ice cream.

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