Cricketer’s army salute becoming image of World Cup
NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Sheldon Cottrell turns around, strides forward three paces, comes to a stop and makes a salute.
A proud soldier from Jamaica, Cottrell is not marching with his fellow troops at the barracks back in Kingston.
No, Cottrell is in the middle of a cricket pitch in central England, celebrating taking a wicket at the World Cup.
In what is quickly becoming one of the images of the tournament, the 29-year-old Sheldon — a fast bowler for the West Indies cricket team — is marking the moment he gets a batsman out by showing his respect to the regiment he serves back home.
“It’s a means of telling them thanks for your loyalty and support,” West Indies team spokesman Philip Spooner. “He is a cricketer but he still sees himself as a soldier.”
The salute came out three times on Thursday — once after taking an extraordinary catch on the boundary — during West Indies’ group game against Australia at Trent Bridge.
Jubilant teammates gathered around Cottrell to watch his unique performances after getting out David Warner and Glenn Maxwell with his left-arm deliveries, with Andre Russell joining in as they fell backward after finishing the salute.
It came out again after Cottrell dismissed Steve Smith, Australia’s danger man, with a one-handed catch on the boundary. Because he was about teeter over the boundary rope, Cottrell tossed the ball in the air, wheeled out and then back in the field of play, before collecting the ball again.
Cottrell’s efforts were in vain, though, as Australia eked out a 15-run win.
The salute has become wildly popular at the World Cup, with schoolchildren lining up at Trent Bridge to receive a demonstration of it by Cottrell this week.
“One, two, three; stop; salute!” barked Cottrell, who became a soldier as a teenager — long before he made his first-class cricket debut for Jamaica in 2011.
Cottrell, whose Twitter handle is @SaluteCottrell , has been one of the best bowlers at the World Cup, getting figures of 1-18 in four overs in West Indies’ big opening win over Pakistan before adding 2-56 against Australia in its 288 all out.
He has played 16 one-day internationals for West Indies, making his debut in 2015. He also plays Twenty20 cricket for West Indies, but hasn’t played a test match since 2014.
There is no requirement for Cottrell to get signed off by his regiment to feature for the West Indies — playing cricket is regarded as national service in the islands where the sport is so loved.