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Cricket news - When Dwight Yorke carried drinks for West Indies

Dwight Yorke - Manchester United's Champions League title winner-turned-West Indies drinks man... all inside a week's time

It's May 30, 1999. Manchester, United Kingdom.

Your place in the ICC Cricket World Cup hinges on whether you and your stellar cast of West Indies cricketers can get a result against the game's dominant force, Australia.

Things don't look good. At the halfway stage, you've suffered what would later be called the Attack of the Pigeon.

Glenn McGrath has ripped through your batting lineup, taking 5 for 14 and removing your captain in the process; a man named Brian Lara who just so happens to be the best batsman on the planet.

Pige's prophecy has manifest itself.

That outrageously arrogant sounding pre-match column now just looks like the foresight of an incredible player returned to the top of his game.

Ridley Jacobs has managed 49 but Shivnarine Chanderpaul (16) is the only other man to muster double figures as you're skittled out for 110.

Curtly Ambrose's superb 3 for 31 offers some hope but you're slowly sliding out of the World Cup.

And this is despite the best efforts of an Australian team that later admits it wanted to help you through to the Super Sixes over neighbours New Zealand on net run-rate, knowing they'd carry both you and an extra two points with them into the next stage of the tournament.

It's Elite Honesty, just given a rough polish with some sandpaper.

You could do with a drink, maybe some words of encouragement to stage a late comeback of the same ilk that, four days ago, Manchester United pulled off against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final, sending the city of Manchester into a delirium that is still felt and will be feverish for quite some time yet.

"Come on, pull your socks up," comes the pep talk as you and your West Indian colleagues gather for the second-innings drinks break at Old Trafford.

You have to laugh in response because when you look up, it's far from Sir Alex Ferguson delivering the speech.

But it is coming from one of his now legendary charges; a fellow Caribbean Islander showcasing his recently granted freedom of the city.

"I just chatted about cricket and told them they needed to pull their socks up. It was all good fun really," Dwight Yorke, Champions League winner-turned West Indies drinks carrier in less than a week, recalls to Cricbuzz.

"It was the best time of my career and certainly it was a historical moment for Manchester United. It was just a case of everything coming together at the right time. West Indies was touring, we had won (the Champions League) and Manchester which was just buzzing. With me being a Manchester United man, it was just a no-brainer to have me around and it was just great fun."

Not even Yorke's great friend Lara was in on the hijinks, put together by sponsors Pepsi who saw the opportunity to wheel out an Old Trafford hero in front of its cricketing namesake next door.

"There was some surprise. The players as well were really comfortable with me around so I think everybody saw it as some really nice, light-hearted fun," Yorke continues.

"The cricket was there in Manchester and [Pepsi] wanted us there. It was a good idea for me to drive the drinks trolley out and chat with the West Indies boys that I know very well. My best friend is Brian Lara so they got some good mileage out of that."

Yorke's long association with Caribbean cricket goes back to those days growing up with Lara in Trinidad and Tobago, where two of the most recognisable names in West Indian sport became friends at just six years old.

And according to Yorke, they spurred each other on in their respective climbs to the very top of their professions.

"He was always very good at cricket and I was pursuing football and we never thought we'd make it this far, but we would always drive each other on," said Yorke, a batting all-rounder when he played cricket as a kid.

"It was just two young boys from the same country with aspirations of making it out there in professional sport. I never expected Brian to go on to do what he did in world cricket and certainly from my perspective, I didn't expect to be part of the best club in world football.

"We have a long history and a history not too many people can say they share with their best friend. We couldn't have written the script any better ourselves."

Indeed, looking back at this moment in sporting history now, it feels like a perfect storm for all involved even if the Windies would limply exit the World Cup at the hands of McGrath & Co.

In the 16 days between West Indies' first and last games of the competition, Yorke and United celebrated their final league game of the season by lifting the Premier League trophy, won the FA Cup and then produced one of sport's most memorable returns from the brink to clinch the Champions League.

And the 47-year-old still looks back fondly on the role that his drinks carrying played during what was the pinnacle of his career.

"As a group of people, most were slightly older than me but as an era of West Indies cricket they were one of the big boys of world cricket. And to have those quality players and be part of the changing room with those guys was incredible because they were all legends in their own right," added Yorke.

"It was just a really good moment in sport in terms of where Manchester United and West Indies cricket were concerned. It was all nuts."

It will be almost 20 years to the day that West Indies take on Pakistan at Trent Bridge in their opening World Cup match. Three weeks later they will be at Old Trafford once more and finish their Group Stage campaign against another dominant ODI force, India.

West indies will be hoping that this time around that they don't need some dubious run-rate manipulation to keep their campaign alive.

And if they need a hand with the drinks, we know a guy.

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