The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Aussies play the nickname game

Johannesburg: Punter thinks Pigeon can win the World Cup but there’s a Wall in the way. Or, to put it simply, should they reach the final, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting will put his faith in strike bowler Glenn McGrath to make the crucial breakthrough.

If it’s against India, however, they will have to see off the challenge posed by Rahul Dravid.

For a team based on mateship, it’s not too surprising that it’s the world champion Australians who have the greatest number of nicknames. “A lot of mind-power has gone into some nicknames,” said Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist.

“Glenn McGrath’s nickname, Pigeon, came courtesy of his New South Wales teammates early in his career, when he was a skinny country lad. They felt that somewhere in the world there was a pigeon flying non-stop, as he could not land while McGrath used the bird’s legs as his own.”

It was Shane Warne who gave Ponting his label of Punter, because of his love for betting on the greyhounds while Colin Miller, though not part of the World Cup squad, is known as Funky because of his favourite song, Funky Cold Medina.

Gilchrist said he has picked up the name of Churchy. “A young autograph hunter once approached me and said: ‘Excuse me Eric Gilchurch, can I have your autograph'’ Not sure who he was thinking of, but Churchy seems to be what the lads feel I should answer to nowadays.”

Even the coach John Buchanan hasn’t escaped the name game. The players call him Ned since it was felt he looked like cartoon character Homer Simpson’s next-door neighbour Ned Flanders.

Matthew Hayden, with his dedication to physical fitness, is known as Hulk, while fast bowler Jason Gillespie, who was forced out of the squad here through injury, is Dizzy.

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