Tigers, Tendulkar and the cavalier trio: Richard Gibson

I would love to have a peak at the Hampshire Academy scorebook, to check how a half-hour delay during last month’s Southern Electric Premier League match against South Wilts was officially recorded.

How wonderful if TIGER STOPPED PLAY was displayed, even though technically that was incorrect.

You see, less than a month before the Rose Bowl’s Test debut, it was the subject of an extraordinary security alert. The match on the nursery ground was halted following a reported sighting of a white tiger on an adjoining golf course.  So players and umpires took refuge in the pavilion as a major-scale police operation began. Armed officers were sent to the scene along with a helicopter and thermal imaging cameras.

When no body heat was detected police moved in and found a life-sized cuddly toy. A police spokesperson said officers had responded as if it was a real incident, close to junction seven of the M27. “We sent some local officers and they confirmed they were looking at it and it was looking at them. Everyone who had seen it, thought it was a real tiger,” the spokesperson said. “The safety of the public was the number one priority.”

Contingency plans to close the motorway were put in place, and animal experts from nearby Marwell Zoo were reaching for their tranquiliser guns when the match officials were given the all-clear to continue. South Wilts won by three wickets.

Of course, there are occurrences of wildlife intervening at the highest level – a swarm of insects led to fielders diving to the turf in England’s Test defeat to Sri Lanka in Kandy in 2007-08 while a young Anthony McGrath had to dodge a deer on the loose as he fielded in the deep for Yorkshire during a County Championship contest at Abbeydale Park, Sheffield, during the mid-1990s.

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Sachin Tendulkar has the chance to create splendid symmetry this summer by hitting his 100th international hundred on English soil. He will arrive with his career total at 99, having struck his first in a Test match at Old Trafford in 1990.

The 38-year-old Indian superstar’s secret to churning out three-figures scores? Never being content with his achievements. “When you win something or score a century you say you are happy, but not satisfied,” he told Sky Sports magazine.

“Satisfaction is like engaging the handbrake and hoping a car moves forward. I am not satisfied yet with my career and what I have done.”

Sounds like the perfect cue for Bumble’s famous commentary catchphrase.

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What of history-making Barney Gibson since his Yorkshire debut? Well, in the same month the 15-year-old became English cricket’s youngest first-class cricketer, he followed up with a couple of matches in Bradford League club Pudsey Congs’ second team.

Yorkshire are keen to stage-manage his progress and the truth is that there are a handful of wicketkeepers between Gibson and the county first team, including Eddie Wilson, grandson of World Cup-winning footballer Ray Wilson. It just happened that exams and revision pushed him to the front of the queue against Durham University.

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The England and Wales Cricket Board will be under pressure to revert back to 50-over cricket, following the ICC’s endorsement of the established one-day international format post-2011 World Cup.

Although counties remain keen to retain the 40-over competition, the ECB’s cricket committee are pushing for uniformity for domestic and international cricket and a change is anticipated for the 2012 season. Cricket Australia have already backtracked on their tinkering with limited-overs cricket – the 45-over split-innings format of 2010-11 was scrapped this week.

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There can’t be many club sides in the country able to call upon three former Test players every Saturday. But ex-Surrey trio Usman Afzaal, Alex Tudor and Saqlain Mushtaq are all on board West Indian Cavaliers’ title push in the Nottinghamshire Premier League.

Unsurprisingly, the Cavs have been up with the pacesetters this season but slipped to third place with a rare defeat, to Kimberley, in the final weekend of May, despite an Afzaal hundred and three wickets from Tudor.

Follow me on twitter: @richardgibson74

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