The stump microphone has been a great boon to cricket – helping umpires hear a knick, providing commentators with things to talk about, documenting evidence in case of conflict. At the same time it has also been a constant source of entertainment for the more discerning cricket viewer (or listener), thanks to the endless babble of wicketkeepers. You haven’t experienced a cricket match completely if you haven’t had your ears accosted by Nayan Mongia’s ‘Aai ga’, Kamran Akmal’s incessant ‘Shabaash, shabaash bhai’ and Kumar Sangakkara’s ‘Niyamaai’. From bowling tips to funny quips, from sledging batsmen to encouraging bowlers, the stump mic has given us memorable one-liners, hilarious sledges and some of the funniest moments on the cricket field. Presenting the five funniest stump mic quips, in no particular order, captured in the 2000s.
1. Dhoni reminding Sreesanth about the absence of his girlfriend
Let’s start with India’s Captain Cool, who seems to handle his fielders’ lack of concentration is his typical cool manner. In a Test match against New Zealand, S. Sreesanth appeared to be sloppy in his fielding position, which was promptly noticed by the skipper and his non-existent girlfriend had to bear the brunt of it. MS Dhoni was heard saying "Oye Sree udhar girlfriend nahi hai, idhar aa ja thoda (Hey Sree, your girlfriend isn't there. Move ahead.) Looks like Dhoni sure knows how to keep up the mood of both his team and fans!
2. Sangakkara attempting to motivate Pollock
The Australian art of sledging seems to have inspired Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara to a great extent. In his own words, ‘Sledging, as pioneered by the Australians, is a measured comment designed to get a reaction out of a player. Not to abuse someone or use obscene language.’ Here we see him ‘encouraging’ Shaun Pollock during a 2003 World Cup match, by reminding him of the expectations of the home crowd, with his tongue firmly in cheek, eliciting a smile from the staid Pollock as well. Who would have thought that sledging can be both subtle and sophisticated!
3. Flintoff riling Tino Best to give up his wicket
England all rounder Andrew Flintoff is known for a number of things – his Ashes achievements, his alcohol exploits and his habit of constantly talking up to opposition players. Many will remember him as being the source of Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes at the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 Championship, as it was Freddie’s banter that drove Yuvi to pummel the hapless Stuart Broad over. But his exchange with the West Indies’s Tino Best during a Test match had the opposite effect. He kept yelling ‘Watch the windows, Tino,’ pushing the tailender to charge forward against Ashley Giles, getting stumped in the process. Freddie was so delighted by this effort that he couldn’t stop giggling for the next few minutes!
4. Kaif spouting statistics at Mohammad Yousuf
An India-Pakistan match can never be complete without some hearty banter exchanged between the two teams, be it Javed Miandad-Chetan Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar-Abdul Qadir or Gautam Gambhir-Shahid Afridi. This particular incident is funny not because of the sledging, but because of the deadpan-commentator manner in which India’s Mohammad Kaif delivers it. Pakistan’s star batsman Mohammad Yousuf was having a patchy day on crease when Kaif, in the slips, starts discussing Yousof’s match stats in an emphatic fashion. ‘87 ball khel lee, ek bhi chauka nahin maara,’ (he has played 87 deliveries but hasn’t scored a single boundary) he says, gesticulating around, while Yousuf smiles benignly.
5. Dhoni informing Jadeja about the role of fielders
We started with MS Dhoni, so let us end with him. The Indian captain has uttered several gems behind the stumps that can perk up even a boring match, memorable being this advice about teamwork – ‘Vijay apna hi fielder hai use catch lene ke liye hi aage rakha hai, off mein bowl fenk.’ (Vijay is in our team; he is placed in that position to take a catch, keep bowling on the off-stump) and referring to England’s Ian Bell as ‘ghanti’ with calls of ‘Ghanti bajaao iski’ (Ring this bell) and ‘Ghanti ko leke jayenge’ (Let’s take Bell’s wicket). My personal favorite however is Mahi informing Ravindra Jadeja about the role of fielders, in a Test match vs New Zealand. ‘Ye ghoomega toh Pujara ko isiliye idhar rakha hai, voh udhar taali bajaane ke liye nahi hai’ (If the ball turns, I've kept Pujara in the slips for catching only; he's not standing there just to clap). Yes, that’s how ‘cool’ the captain can get when the job isn’t done well!