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Monday, September 3, 2001

"Wickets are like wives—you never know which way they will turn"

Narayanan Madhavan

INDIA'S former opener Navjot Singh Sidhu is playing anything but a straight bat in his new role at the microphone.

Test batsman-turned-television commentator Sidhu is spicing up the broadcasts with comments such as: "Wickets are like wives; you never know which way they will turn."

The turbaned and bearded Sikh, coming out with other remarks like "cool as a cucumber" and "it’s not over till the fat lady sings", has had India’s cricket-crazy fans asking for more.

So much so, he now has a fan club on the Internet. Sidhu’s style has often had former England all-rounder and fellow commentator Tony Greig responding in jest, peering around the stadium and looking for the idiomatic fat lady.

The expression "it ain’t over until the fat lady sings" was used by a US. broadcaster in the 1970s in a basketball series, likening a sporting encounter to an opera.


Nuggets from Sidhu’s hilarious commentary have now been posted on the site www.sidhuisms.com that is launched by India’s SET MAX TV channel, a unit of Sony Corp.

The Web site will have a ‘Sidhuism of the day’ and a countdown of the most popular Sidhuisms, with prizes for viewers.

SET MAX is screening live India’s current test series in Sri Lanka, and executive vice-president Kacon Sethi said: "Indians play and watch cricket from the heart — and that’s exactly the way Sidhu speaks about it in the commentators’ box."

Chandigarh-bred Sidhu has this season spawned expressions that appeal to those familiar with Indian sights and sounds.

On Sri Lankan batsman Romesh Kaluwitharana, Sidhu said: "He is like an Indian three-wheeler which will suck a lot of diesel but can’t go beyond 30 (probably kilometres per hour)."

Sidhu spares no one, even if he is patriotic.

When Indian captain Saurav Ganguly got out for a low score against Zimbabwe, he said: "He looks like a brooding hen over a China egg. Because nothing will come out of it."

In a career spanning 51 tests, Sidhu scored 3,202 runs at an average of 42.13, with nine centuries. He also averaged 37.08 in 136 one-day matches.