Day 4 – Third test – Mohali
Coach and Warnie facilitated a structured ‘6 Thinking Hats’ discussion this morning over breakfast on the topic “Dismissing the Men in Blue”. The squad split into genome profiles: bats, ball-ers (sub-profile spinners), and Rejects. Team management sent an apology – they were at a spin class. When we finished, the front wall was covered in multi-coloured post-it-notes. Warnie then expertly re-arranged them as a twin pair of floating jocks, drawing on his recent study of pointillist painting in Paris, just to hold our interest. According to the flyers on our seats, his new briefs had taken hold, prompting him to deliver monographed packs of ten to each of the Men in Blue.
After much discussion, he labelled the first pair ‘Seriously’, the second pair ‘Man Overboard’. ‘Seriously’ was conventional yet seemed to shape like a sine wave with a higher thigh cut and deeper slung trough. I took this to mean greater certainty of outcome yet more difficult for the XI to execute. The green and white notes were brief, exhorting the bowlers to lift it, swing it, cut it, spin it, catch it, leg it. The red and black splotches in the trough showed no one was up to another wicketless session. Yesterday, the press reported spikes in call center traffic from the wives and girlfriends at the PCA ground to check income protection policies and disability payout rates.
The second pair contained the X factor fueled primarily by witticisms from The Freak, Mr Darcy and The Reserve. Apart from unsettling the Men in Blue with a really hot samosa, tampering with their kits or the ball, or using more subtle psychological terror (sledging, shadowing, mankading, underarming), the consensus was depressingly simple. “Is that it?” Puff mumbled. “Don’t think 400 is ‘high performance’. It’s 800 on this pitch” shot back Coach. The rumble was on after that. Coach emerged at various points trying to get Darren’s attention, his shirt in tatters, before he was sucked back into the melee. It ended as quickly as it began, by my reckoning as soon as Coach’s pink boxer shorts saw the light of day. The Captain blew his whistle, leading the team onto the bus single file, in the right pressed strip, with not a word to the underage journo’s or the paper boy they were hounding for a quote.
Airing team grievances seemed to work. India was skittled for a comparatively modest 499, TLM, MSD and the spin stable put in their place by simple steady bowling. The Freak shared the applause at the change of innings. His new combination doosra, carrom, in-swinging out-swinger slider (the Bobble Ball) that he crowd-sourced via the paper boy at the Hotel seemed to do much of the damage, although it was clear that the bowlers had all worked hard to give Lucky plenty of game time early in the second dig.
The dressing-rooms were chock a block between showering bowlers trying to slip soaps into spare kits and the top 6 padding up, while waves of dirty water sloshed underneath like a Newfoundland tide. The Captain had been off earlier – a ‘back complaint’ – as a result of which he was ‘unsuited’ to bat at 3. Lucky struck pay dirt at long last, managing to cheat the percentages to score healthily behind the wicket for a breezy 50. The Men in Blue led by the man with the ‘tash’ and ‘the fastest deb test century’ made an honour guard to celebrate. He came off the ground smiling uncontrollably like a Cheshire cat. The dressing-room door was locked and boarded up. A sign, hanging by a rusty tack, read “Too late”. We were giggling inside with party hats, cupcakes and balloons expecting a bit of fun. It scared the devil from us when he strolled through the barred door hands apart as if he walked on water. The Freak said he looked like KP, the English firebrand and essayist.
The Prof has worked out how to use the skin fold calipers. We should get a sensible result for this test.
Aus 408 India 499 Aust 3/75
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© 2013 Dave Cornford & Jeremy Pooley