Bridgetown, Barbados: Wives and girlfriends of England’s World Cup footballers proved more successful than their highly-paid, under-performing menfolk when it came to breaking records last year.
While their men toiled under the German sun, the girls did England proud as they shopped and shopped and spent 55,000 pounds in one famous, 60-minute retail blitz in Baden-Baden.
The comparatively sedate world of cricket may not boast comparable riches, but the partners of the world’s top players are definitely in the same league when it comes to glitz and glamour.
Top girl is, or rather was, South African supermodel Minki van der Westhuizen, nicknamed Slinky Minki, who was voted the world’s sexiest cricket WAG last year during her relationship with South Africa captain Graeme Smith.
The 22-year-old, who has now split from Smith, topped an on-line poll of more than 10,000 fans organised by the Stick Cricket website.
She was awarded the ICC, or International Cricket Cutie, Trophy beating Madhi Muralitharan, wife of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah, into second place.
Haley Bracken, wife of Australian World Cup seamer Nathan, came third.
Top English WAG in the poll was Liberty X singer Jessica Taylor, the fiancee of Kevin Pietersen.
Stick Sports director Chris Berry said of last year’s poll: “Minki is a cricket fan’s dream woman. She’s sleek, sexy and with a successful career to boot.
“Cricketers attract a finer class of WAG. While football is a game for chaps copping off with Chavs, cricket is a game for gentlemen going out with goddesses.”
Cricket relationships also attract pressure, a situation not helped by lengthy tours; the current World Cup lasts the best part of two months.
Smith’s split with van der Westhuizen preceeded a similar break-up for teammate Jacques Kallis who had dated former Miss South Africa Cindy Nell for three years.
Long spells away from home create intense strain.
“It feels like my life is starting and stopping all the time,” Haley Bracken told the Daily Telegraph in Australia.
“It does get hard to cope with at times, going to parties by myself when everyone has their partner with them. And when he’s back home, it’s hard to fit back into a routine because I’ve got used to being on my own.”
She’s also not blind to the temptations of the road.
“I’d be naive not to worry about that,” she said. “There are always going to be girls who think the guys have a glamorous lifestyle and will want a piece of it.
“But I understand that that just goes with the job. And at the end of the day, I’m the one he comes home to.”
There will be no temptations for the England squad at the World Cup where wives and girlfriends have been welcomed by national coach Duncan Fletcher.
“We’ve done it on previous tours and on some of the tours when they’ve arrived we’ve put in some very solid performances,” said Fletcher.
“India was a good example a few years ago when we were losing 1-0 in the Test series and the wives arrived and we ended up drawing the series - they do help when they arrive.”