March 4, 2006

Bush hit by bouncer and fooled by googly in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - After all the security concerns
surrounding President George W. Bush's visit to Pakistan on
Saturday, he was first hit by a bouncer then fooled by a

But there was no call for worry, it all happened when Bush
tried his hand at cricket -- a hugely popular sport in parts of
the old British Empire, and nowhere more so than in South Asia.

Bush, an avid baseball fan, batted and bowled several times
on a practice cricket pitch set up in the grounds of the U.S.
embassy in the capital of cricket-mad Pakistan.

Students from the Islamabad College for Boys and the
private school Schola Nova, who included girls, looked on.

He got a quick lesson on how to hold the bat from Shaharyar
Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

"He's telling me the difference between baseball and
cricket," said Bush, a former owner of a Texas baseball team.

Then the president was coached while batting at the wicket
by Salman Butt, a member of Pakistan's cricket team, with
Inzamam-ul-Haq, the team captain, nearby to also lend his

Bush needed some help.

One ball pitched short, a bouncer in cricket terminology,
kicked up off the turf to strike the president on the shoulder.

Luckily, he was playing with tennis balls, much softer than
rock-hard cricket balls.

Bush was bamboozled again.

"I was fooled by a googly," he joked later at a state
dinner on Saturday evening.

The googly is a ball bowled across the batter, but which
turns back in toward him after it bounces.

Bush saved the best until last, walloping the ball high
into some trees.

"Not bad for a first time," one boy said.

Bush, in Pakistan on the last leg of a tour of South Asia,
was modest about his cricket debut.

"Haven't quite got the skills yet," said Bush, the sleeves
on his blue shirt rolled up.

Pakistan's most famous-ever cricketer, former
captain-turned-politician Imran Khan, spent Saturday confined
to his home where authorities detained him to thwart his plan
to lead a march to protest against Bush's visit.