Cow Corner

Police called in to investigate Shonky Shankar

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Worcestershire have sacked a cricketer who apparently tricked his way into earning a professional contract with the county side.

Police are now investigating the astonishing case of Adrian Shankar, whose contract was terminated just over two weeks after he joined the county when his apparent web of lies started to unravel.

Shankar not only lied about his age - claiming to be 26 rather than 29 - but has also made a string of other bizarre claims which helped him land a contract with the county, who drafted him straight into their first XI.

In his time he made two appearances, getting bowled for a third-ball duck in a 40-over clash against Middlesex at Lord's and failing to finish a first-class match against Durham after badly injuring his knee.

And it was after the injury that Worcestershire's suspicions were raised, leading to the player's sacking.

"It quickly became evident that documents provided in order to satisfy the club's obligations to the England and Wales Cricket Board were unacceptable," Worcestershire said in a statement.

"This documentation has now been passed to West Mercia Police for investigation and no further comment will be made by the club while the investigation is taking place."

Though full details are yet to emerge, Cambridge graduate Shankar has been weaving an extraordinary web of half-truths and lies.

Shankar claimed he was 26 years old when Worcestershire signed him on May 11, but if that were true he would have been just 14 when making his second XI debut for Nottinghamshire in 1999.

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He also claimed to have been the leading run-scorer in a Sri Lankan domestic Twenty20 series last winter, the Mercantile League, claiming to have averaged over 50 and saying that he faced top players as he did so. But a Cricinfo report found that many players he claimed to have faced were actually playing elsewhere at the time.

He also claimed to have scored three successive centuries in longer matches, but there are no records of the achievement in any of the game's extensive online results archives.

Those apparently imagined performances - which were key in winning him a spot at Worcs - are just the start of his fantasies.

Shankar also reportedly claimed to have played tennis to a national standard as a junior, and that he was signed up by the Arsenal youth academy at the start of Arsene Wenger's tenure as manager.

Over the last decade he has played 21 first-class innings with an average of 19.70, a total which was boosted enormously by the 143 he scored in the 2002 Varsity Match - a score amassed against bowling which the Cambridge coach described as "unbelievably bad".

When that Varsity match innings is taken out of the equation, his average drops to 13.21.

After playing for Cambridge University he went on to play second XI cricket for Sussex, Middlesex and Lancashire (he is pictured, left, in Lancashire kit in 2009), with the latter county keeping him on their books for two years before he moved to Worcestershire.

When he originally signed for Lancashire - who also thought he was three years younger than he is - the club press release quoted his Cambridge coach Chris Scott as claiming that he was "one of the finest young players the side had seen since John Crawley".

Scott told cricket website Cricinfo that he had said nothing of the sort and phoned Lancashire to tell them as much.

"He was a poor player and there's no way I would have recommended him," Scott told the website.

Lancashire appear to have merely amended their press release rather than check up on the player, while Worcestershire seem to have been equally remiss checking up on Shankar's claimed achievements in T20.

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