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Diary of the 17th Man – Mar 16

Day 3 – Third Test – Mohali.

It’s hard to believe how far you can fall in one day of cricket.  The mood at lunch today was amazing – like we’d just won the Ashes – such was the relief at having made it past 400 on the strength of a couple of notable nineties.  Racking up 400 in the first innings of a rain shortened match should mean that a draw is the worst possible outcome that awaits.

By the end of the day, all our noteable achievements – mainly mine, of course – were being swept around the empty stadium with the chip wrappers in the breeze, blown away by the Indian openers. If only one of the Condemned had done their homework on the subject of “Not letting Dhawan become the new Sehwag in one innings.” Nothing we tried worked, especially telling the Captain that Rocket Man should be bowling. He knew that already. Stemming the flow of runs on this pitch was about as difficult as poking a cat out from under a verandah on a rainy day with a wet piece of rope.

The dressing room at the end of the day’s play was so quiet we could hear Prof’s brain ticking over, trying to work out what exposures he’d have to lay off over night.  No-one had to say it, but everyone knew it.  If India bat like that tomorrow, then declare at the end of the day 200+ ahead, we could be in for a sticky time on Day 5.  The Condemned had concerned looks on their faces, but I bet they’re glad they’re not in the frame for adding another “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” to their resumes.  You can’t say that The Reject Club didn’t step up.  Apart from Gipper, who had a shocker. Comment of the day went to Mr Bean: “Well done, Gips, you’ve perfected that straight ball!”

On the way back to the hotel, the mood lifted a little thanks to The Freak, who reminded us of the team tradition when a player gets out on 99.  I kept quiet through the whole thing – I certainly wasn’t volunteering my razor, my secret stash of golden syrup or the contents of the feather pillow I’ve been carrying around with me all this time.  I don’t know why Rocket Man has 99 Luft Balloons on his iPod, but it was on at full volume all the way back to the hotel.

There were three team meetings tonight. Three!  I didn’t hear a word. I just sat there, dreaming of what might have been, seeing the Ump’s finger in the air.

Dad’s email was short.  “Bradman never got out in the 90s while going on 29 times. Mind you, Slats did it nine times, and you only once.  Well done, son.”

Aust 408, India 0/2,830

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© 2013 Dave Cornford & Jeremy Pooley

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