Three years ago, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy watched a day’s cricket at The Oval, even spending some time on the Test Match Special. Arunabha Sengupta takes a look at the cricketing connections of Daniel Radcliffe.
August 23, 2009
Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy are not the best of buddies. Seldom do they come across each other without wands drawn in unveiled hostility. And flying over the Quidditch pitch on their broomsticks, they can fight each other violently over the golden snitch.
Yet, cricket brought them together. As the Australians gradually dwindled under a huge target, slumping to a mammoth defeat to surrender the Ashes, the two of them apparated at The Oval and spent the day among thousands of Muggles.
Daniel Radcliffe, famous for his portrayal of Harry Potter in the movies, and Tom Felton, who plays Potter’s arch enemy, Malfoy, also spent an enjoyable 20 talking to Johnathan Agnew on Test Match Special.
“Cricket has brought us together. It’s a unifying sport,” quipped Felton, when asked how Potter and Malfoy came to be seen together.
Both of them admitted to playing cricket as well. “I’m up for a few overs if they will put me on,” said Felton, before hastening to add, “I aim for the stumps. That’s pretty much it.”
When Radcliffe walked into the TMS box, Geoff Boycott exclaimed, “l’ll get a bigger wizard and change you into a mouse.”
Boycott also playfully struck him on the back of his head as he passed the actor on his way out. The famous lightning-shaped scar must have burned ominously. However, Radcliffe admitted that he deserved to be hit.
Indeed, the former opener did have an old axe to grind with Radcliffe, because of a prior incident – charmingly documented in John Agnew’s autobiography, Thank You Johnners.
I’ll ’ave that bloody wizard
During an earlier season, as Boycott spent his off-air time in the more spacious Channel 5 television box, Agnew had been greeted by a text message from the young actor. Sitting in his apartment in New York, Radcliffe had looked up the stats and made this amazing discovery – in One-Day Internationals, Agnew had a strike rate of 66.67 compared to Boycott’s 53.56.
Agnew was ecstatic. It was a rather negligible issue that his entire batting career consisted of 2 runs scored off three balls, while You-Know-Who had amassed 1082.
When Boycott returned to the box, Agnew began, “Welcome back, Geoffery. I presume you’d agree with me that a batsman with a strike rate of 66 must be a better player than one whose scoring rate is 53?”
Entire England held its breath as Boycott took his time to decide. And when he started by saying, “Well, that’s right,” Agnew claims he heard a loud cheer from the listeners sitting in the crowd just outside the commentary box.
However, after a short pause, Boycott added, “Mind you, I’d have to see how many times they’d batted to be absolutely sure.” And he obstinately stuck to this point. No amount of argument could dislodge him.
Finally Agnew handed him the piece of paper which carried the incredible piece of information, and its source. Boycott read it and exclaimed, “I’ll ’ave that bloody little wizard!”
The two youthful stars watched the match to the end, exulting at the fall of every Australian wicket, especially during a vital phase in the afternoon.
Andrew Flintoff, who was having an awful match, suddenly did the star-turn, hurling down the stumps from mid on to run out Ricky Ponting after the skipper had put on 127 with Mike Hussey. And moments later, Michael Clarke stepped out and played Graeme Swann hard to the leg side; and the ball ricocheted off short leg Alastair Cook’s knee to Andrew Strauss in the leg slip whose underarm shy caught the batsman millimetres short.
Captain and vice-captain run-out in quick succession, one after the other, at such crucial stage. Was the confundo charm in operation? One has to look through Radcliffe’s Pensieve to find out.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)