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Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 13:38 GMT

Divided loyalty for lucky charm
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in East London

Daan van Bunge was back in the pavilion by the time his good luck charm had taken her seat within Buffalo Park.

Tracy Francis, Holland's Sri Lankan charm
Francis: Rooting for England from the Dutch camp
She had been there when he had scored 62 against India at Paarl - only two runs light of the highest score by a Holland player at the World Cup.

But she was between hotels when the opener squirted England bowler Jimmy Anderson to gully in the sixth over.

And then there was a question of her allegiance.

A 20 year-old Sri Lankan, she had openly admitted to the Holland team, including her boyfriend Van Bunge, that she would be supporting England.

"He will forgive me,"Tracy Francis chuckled. "We met at the ICC Trophy in Sri Lanka five months ago and have gone from strength to strength."

It is an unlikely story.

Daan van Bunge
Van Bunge was not in the runs against England
At the ICC Trophy, Tracy, a presenter for the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation, interviewed the Holland captain, Roland Lefebvre, and soon discovered that she was being pursued by another Dutch player, Nick Statham.

Somehow a relationship with Van Bunge, also 20, blossomed from there.

And now she is following Holland around the World Cup, gathering interviews for her programme Spotlight on Personalities.

"I live in Colombo, he lives in Voorburg, in Holland," she said.

"We see each other every three months, but he will be joining me in Sri Lanka for a week at the end of the World Cup before heading back to England to spend six months at Lord's with the YMCA.

"Or should that be MCC? I can never remember.

"Before he left with the team, he told me that I was his good luck charm but I was delayed getting to the ground because I was switching hotels so I did not see his innings.

Matthew Hoggard even took me out to lunch - he is so sweet
Tracy Francis

"But he is right. I am a good luck charm.

"I am a devout Christian, which he is not, so I told him before the India game that he must look up to the heavens if he reached fifty. And he did.

And - how can we put this? - Tracy's charms do not end there.

For her radio programme, she has interviewed Dutch and Sri Lankan and English players.

"I interviewed Matthew Hoggard, Alec Stewart and Marcus Trescothick," she said.

"All three were very sweet. I think Alec is like a father figure to them.

"They answered all my questions the way I wanted them to. They took their time and were relaxed about it.

"Matthew Hoggard even took me out to lunch. He is so sweet - adorable, a little kid really."



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