Monday, June 18, 2007

A team of Bonds

When I was growing up, James Bond was my biggest hero and I’ve never really worked out why I’ve never got the part.

Thus spake our new cricketing knight, Sir Beefy.

So how would it be if we were to compose a cricket team of players who could potentially play the role of the immortal secret agent? (Just to make the exercise manageable, I consider only current players or players who have retired in the last year or so.)

The straight-talking, hard-as-nails New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming gets pride of place at the top of the order. And as captain, notwithstanding the presence of another worthy in the team. Fleming seems such a natural leader that one can’t see him playing under anyone else. May be Ponting can take over in the one-dayers, if Fleming so prefers.

Forget the century on debut, forget the six centuries before the age of 23, forget the still-not-quite-there-but-working-hard-on-it fielding, Alastair Cook justifies his selection by virtue of his serene demeanour and his school-boy looks. We can re-launch Bond for a different viewer audience, can’t we?

Would have been the captain if not for Fleming, Ricky Ponting walks into this team for his ability to pick up a fight wherever he goes, and come out triumphant. Except that he demolishes his opponents so ruthlessly, there may not be much of a contest. So may be just for one film or two.

I was tempted to pick Graeme Smith here, but I am not sure he would like to be in the same team as Fleming and Ponting, hence let’s go with Hershelle Gibbs. Gibbs’ athleticism would enable him to dodge those bullets and other missiles that Dr. No’s henchmen would hurl the Bond’s way. But watch out, he may just “drop the bomb, mate” on to his own feet, might Hershelle Gibbs.

India’s representative into the squad, Yuvraj Singh comes in for his smooth aggression (notice how the new Yuvraj scores aggressively but mostly in the “V”?) and his mercurial fielding.

Dwayne Bravo, and Fleming earlier, are names that were suggested by a follower of Cricinfo’s running commentary. His sauve looks makes Bravo a good candidate for the role. And his new-found consistency with the bat doesn’t hurt either. His slow ones with the ball are perhaps a good cricketing equivalent of “shaken, not stirred.”

The wicket-keeping Bond, Kumar Sangakkara comes in as much for his cricketing ability as for his erudition and the ability to get under the skin of his opponent.

Can we leave Mr. Hollywood out when discussing the ultimate macho man? Of course, we won’t give Shane Warne a cell phone. Or even if we do, he won’t be able to text from it.

This Bangladeshi has really come a long way as far as his cricketing prowess is concerned. And the strong shoulders, courtesy his swimming across the Padma river every day, will come in handy when Mashrafe Murtaza as Bond has to swim across the Atlantic Ocean to nab the villains.

Will a smiling assassin make a good Bond? This blogger thinks so. Tall, gentle-looking but lethal with the ball, Mohammed Asif’s reported off-field shenanigans adds colour to his character.

With a name like that, can we miss this Shane out? And Shane Bond’s smooth, splendid bowling action and the corresponding results don’t come in the way either. It’s just that he may not be fit enough to do too many films.

The twelfth man, A B de Villiers comes in as much for his electric fielding as for his one-legged exploits in the World Cup game against the West Indies. After all, Bond will have to fight when the chips are down.

Picking the umpires was easy – Simon Taufel and Aleem Dar almost pick themselves up, what with their (mostly) flawless judgments, elegant presence and fire-freezing glares. Another one with a similar glare, Steve Bucknor, would be the third umpire – not all his decisions may be impeccable, but the “slow death” he hands out to batsmen can chill the bones of even Dr. No.

And considering that his statement started off this post in the first place, Sir Ian Terence Botham would be the coach of this Bond XI.

Now if only we can find a team of Bond villains to pit this squad against.

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