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Stumping Ms Goretti

By Ashish Magotra in Johannesburg
February 17, 2003 13:33 IST
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Maria Goretti, as everybody and his nephew now knows, is one of the presenters Set Max has lined up for the World Cup. The former MTV veejay has a little segment called "Stumped", in which she meets the game's idols and icons and tries to catch them on the wrong foot with questions about anything but cricket.

How would Maria fare if a cricketer turned up at Ms Goretti's door and asked her a whole lot of questions about the game? Would she pass the test or would she flunk? Since the ICC's code of conduct doesn't permit cricketers to indulge in such histrionics, we decided to check it out ourselves.

After around 20 minutes of talking to her, I came away convinced....

That Ms Goretti has a very clear idea of what she is in South Africa for: "I am here to entertain and do stuff other than cricket and tell people about the place. Educate them about the place and just have fun in general."

That Ms Goretti is at least honest about what she knows (or does not know) about cricket: "I have always watched the game but knew nothing about its technicalities."

That even though Ms Goretti knows even less about hit-wicket, run-out and wide, she is at least sincere in her reply: "I agree I know nothing about the game."

That if Ms Goretti knew something, it was the names of a few players, which was why her eyes lit up: "I am a very big Tendulkar fan just as everyone over the world is. He's a small, little power-packed house."

That Ms Goretti actually knows something most people don't: "One thing I have realized by meeting all these great players is that they are so down to earth, so modest."

That Ms Goretti has her own favourites, like Brett Lee and Daniel Vettori: "I loved his (Vettori's) curly hair, before he had them cut. A pity really."

And  Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram, in that order: "Akhtar is not good-looking but there is something about him. I can't put my finger on it. And Wasim is such a gentleman."

And Shaun Pollock and Herschelle Gibbs: "Even when the South Africans were losing to the West Indies, Pollock maintained his calm and that's what I like about him."

Maria's colleague, Sandhya Mridul, who is also the host for "Stumped", knew nothing about cricket till three months back but when the offer came, she decided to put her house in order and try and learn as much about the sport as possible.

She also reckons that the way India are playing they are not much better Bangladesh. When she said this, I thought she actually knew something about the sport. So it was question time again and guess what, she came out better than Maria.

Okay, she found hit-wicket too technical to explain, but she was able to define a wide and a run-out. She is glad she knows about cricket and even happier for the fact that she now knows one cricketer from the other. Her favourites happen to be Jonty Rhodes, Shoaib Akhtar, Shane Bond and Brett Lee, for the aggression they show on the field.

Surprisingly, no Indian in Sandhya's list!

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Ashish Magotra in Johannesburg