New redhead Dimi Mascarenhas served up a fiery spell of bowling to match his new hairstyle and smiled: I may have to keep it now.
The Hampshire all-rounder turned in terrific figures of three for 19 to send his side to t20 success over Somerset in the first game of their defence of the competition they won in such style last summer.
But the former England star believes a bottle of hair dye and some impromptu home styling with his hairdresser wife Nadine has given him a new look and his side a new lease of life after their stuttering start to the campaign.
Mascarenhas, who was named man of the match last night at the Rose Bowl, said: ‘I’m trying to copy my wife Nadine.
‘It’s her hair colour and I went with it to see if it could get us a win. But I might have to keep it now!
‘She’s a hairdresser, she did it for me and it worked. So I’m definitely keeping it at least for a couple more days.
‘We’ll see how we go now and, if we get on a roll, there’s every chance it will stay for a while.
‘I’m surprised I didn’t get too much stick from the rest of the lads – they were pretty impressed.
‘It’s all a bit of fun and we needed it because we haven’t won too many games.
‘It was good to put a smile on people’s faces.’
While he was sporting a new tint, Mascarenhas looked to have rediscovered some of the old magic with the ball after missing almost the whole of last season with an Achilles injury.
The dismissal of Marcus Trescothick in his first over was a key moment, and he followed it up with four excellent overs as he helped restrict Somerset to 145 for seven – a target the Royals knocked off with a degree of comfort.
Mascarenhas said: ‘You go in with the new ball and need to set the tone.
‘You are usually up against their best players, but to nick out Trescothick in my first over was a great thrill and set us on our way.’
While Mascarenhas was the star, fellow all-rounder Shahid Afridi was left kicking his heels on the sidelines after Pakistan Cricket Board revoked his permission to play.
And while the Royals are hopeful he will be eligible to play in Friday’s clash with Surrey, there is now a distinct possibility he may not be able to play in the competition at all.
Skipper Dominic Cork said: ‘It affected things because we had set up a side to play three spinners and the tactics had to change. We will wait and see if we are able to play Shahid at any stage in this competition.
‘If not, we will look at other options, and if there are no other options, we still have a squad strong enough to do well in this competition.
‘But we started the game well and I was really pleased with the performance. It showed we’ve got guts and character in this side.’