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Diary of the 17th Man – Mar 13

Test Eve

What a day!  The team has been in lock-down since HomeWorkGate broke.  We’ve only seen fleeting glimpses of The Captain, Coach and Head of PR, rushing between interviews, briefings and crisis meetings.

Even though several of the squad are in need of his services, Darren has not been sighted for over 24 hours.  Despite the rumours, I’m pretty sure he hasn’t ducked off to Rome to take part in the Papal Conclave.  If he did (he wears red robes to bed) I guess he’ll be back soon.

Today’s practice session was the toughest so far, with a new determination evident in the squad. The three suspended players on tour, now known as The Condemned Who Might Fire Blanks, have thrown themselves into training with gusto. The quicks gave the bats (including the Prof and I) another bean ball work over disappointed the Coach refused to create a formal night watchman role up the order.  Mid-morning the squad let out a huge cheer as one – it appeared to the naked eye that Plopper had actually turned a stock ball.

Fitness concerns aren't confined to hammies, groins and cheekbones
Fitness concerns aren’t confined to hammies, groins and cheekbones

Gipper is the only member of the squad who’s a little down in the mouth.  It looks like he’ll be carting the drinks tomorrow, while the team is cobbled together with all-rounders and substitutes.  Kerry O’Keeffe tweeted that the team scorer was in the frame, subject to a fitness test due to a paper cut. We all had a good laugh until The Freak managed to convince our scorer that The Coach had tweeted it, which led to a very embarrassing encounter between the scorer and the Equipment Officer – a good sort.

The team won’t be announced until tomorrow.  I could get a run – my debut! No-one has said anything, but during lunch today one of the support staff made a joke of measuring my head with a long white shoelace.  Not sure where they’ll get a baggy green from – the three that were in the Coach’s safe will be auctioned off for TLM’s testimonial next year.

This is what I’ve dreamed of ever since I hit my first “four” in the Under 9s – even though the only reason it made it to the boundary was that it went straight past a kid playing with his matchbox cars in possum poo.  (Mr Bean has been a worthy friend and competitor ever since.)  There have been plenty more since.

But it will be bitter-sweet.  You’ve got to be in it to win it.  It doesn’t matter that I might be in only  because The Condemned are out of it – they’ll be back, unless I can score a ton on debut.  No pressure.

Forecast for tomororow: Morning showers.

© Dave Cornford & Jeremy Pooley

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