The Starting XI: Controversial Cricketers

Cricket may be a gentleman's game, but often those who play it are far from that, and behave in ways that shock, both on and off the field. Here are 11 moments and players that generated less than positive headlines.

Cricket may be a gentleman's game, but often those who play it are far from that, and behave in ways that shock, both on and off the field. Here are 11 moments and players that generated less than positive headlines.

<b>1. Warne vs Hudson</b><br>To say that Shane Warne is an outspoken guy is an understatement, but his antics at the Wanderers in 1994 will stand out as one of his more astonishing moments. Riled up by the vocal South African crowd at the Bull Ring, Warne dismissed the calm, unassuming Andrew Hudson by bowling him behind his legs.

Then, instead of celebrating like a normal cricketer, Warne proceeded to repeatedly swear furiously at Hudson, screaming in his face, and pointing him on his way back to the dressing room.

The leg-spinner's fury was eventually calmed by wicketkeeper Ian Healy, who grabbed him away from the batsman, but Warned was handed a massive fine for his outburst and later said that the incident was one of his most embarrassing memories.

<b>2. Fire in Harare</b><br>Zimbabwe batsman Mark Vermeulen made headlines around the world in 2006 when he set fire to his country's cricket academy and Harare Sports Club. This was the last in a long line of incidents, many of which were connected to a serious head injury he suffered in 2004.

Vermeulen was a controversial and high-maintenance figure before his skull was cracked by an Irfan Pathan bouncer in 2004, but his subsequent behaviour went past annoying, like refusing to travel with the team, to violent.

Before the fire, he was banned by the ECB while playing for Werneth in Lancashire after he got into a fight with a spectator. He was banned for 10 years, and upon his return to Zim the fire incident occurred.

The case against him was dismissed in 2008 on the grounds that he was mentally ill at the time, and he went on to briefly play for his country again in 2009, using his salary to rebuild the sports club.

<b>3. Sreeslapped</b><br>In 2008, after an IPL match between the Kings XI Punjab and the Mumbai Indians, Sreesanth found himself on the receiving end of India team-mate Harbhajan Singh's ire. Mumbai had lost three games in a row, and the young fast bowler apparently went up to his elder colleague and said 'hard luck' or some such sentiment.

Bhajji, annoyed at the whippersnapper's audacity, slapped him across the face, causing Sreesanth to spend the post-match presentation in tears on the sidelines. Though Sreesanth tried to play down the incident, Singh was suspended for the rest of the tournament, and the Indian hierarchy also banned him for five ODIs.

<b>4. Fredalo</b><br>Andrew Flintoff was one of England's more colourful captains, and loved a good party, even when in the middle of a series. Most memorable, and hilarious, was when he had to be rescued by lifeguards after falling off a pedalo.

The incident occurred during the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, when he and some team-mates got drunk after a match, and Freddie failed to find his feet aboard the little paddle boat in the middle of the night.

The incident led to him being dropped for the match against Canada two days later, and he and the others involved were also fined. Flintoff was stripped of the vice-captaincy, and coach Duncan Fletcher revealed that is was not the only disciplinary incident he had to deal with.

<b>5. Texting the ECB's patience</b><br>Another former England skipper is the ever-intriguing Kevin Pietersen, who finds himself on the outside looking in after a series of <i>faux-pas</i> and foot-in-mouth comments.

Where to start? KP's never been short of a headline, but this summer saw the ECB finally lose patience with the temperamental batsman, after he retired from limited-overs cricket in May because the schedule was apparently too hectic.

He then demanded to play a full IPL season, tried to get out of playing in the Tests against New Zealand next year, threatened to quit Test cricket after the second match against South Africa, released a PR video despite the ECB telling him not to, texted some derogatory comments about his skipper to Proteas players, and used the phrase "It's tough being me," which was probably the worst of it all.

<b>6. Gayle Force</b><br>The ECB will probably be on the phone to their West Indies counterparts soon enough, after they had to deal with similar demands by their star batsman Chris Gayle two years ago.

Gayle also wanted to play a full IPL season, which made him a rather large amount of dosh, and he wanted to be allowed to play in Australia's Big Bash League, as well as other lucrative T20 tournaments. And when those were done, he would consent to play for the Windies.

The WICB, never very good at dealing with their players in the first place, refused to make concessions, so Gayle quit and went to make his fortune as a big-hitting mercenary for the next 14 months.

It was only after the Windies dropped to desperately bad levels, and Gayle missed his maroon kit, that various politicians and officials sat down to thrash the matter out earlier this year.

Gayle returned to ODI cricket against England, and then to the Test side in July against New Zealand. The ECB will be hoping they won't have to do without KP for quite as long, and that his return is just as successful as Gayle's has been.

<b>7. Pitch Pirouette</b><br>Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi has had many moments of controversy in his career, but one of the more memorable was when he tampered with the pitch while playing against England in 2005.

A gas canister had gone off at the ground and play was halted as the smoke cleared, and Afridi was recorded by the cameras twisting his heel into the pitch, scuffing the surface with his spikes as he turned in a full, balletic circle.

As a result, he was banned for one Test match, which he did not appeal. Two years later, he was again banned after being caught on camera brandishing his bat at a spectator as he walked off the field. He was handed a four-ODI ban, which the PCB felt was harsh, given that the fan was shouting abuse at the player.

Oh yeah, let's not forget about the time he was caught (on camera!) chewing on the ball in 2010, after which he claimed he was 'smelling the ball'. He was banned for two T20 games as a result.

<b>8. Akhtar Admin</b><br>Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar almost makes KP look like an obliging employee of the year. The Rawalpindi Express has so many controversial moments that it's tough to choose just one.

In 2003, while playing in a tri-series in Sri Lanka, Akhtar was caught tampering with the ball and was subsequently banned, and later that same year he was forced to miss three matches after hurling abuse at South African spinner Paul Adams.

His most high-profile and long-term saga involved performance enhancing drugs. In 2006 he and fellow paceman Mohammad Asif tested positive for Nandralone and banned for two years. The players denied the charge, saying they took