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Diary of the 17th Man – Mar 24

Day 3 – Fourth Test – Delhi

It’s hard to know whether or not to be relieved that it was all over so quickly.  Even though there were brief glimpses today of how we could have won a consolation Test, each time they were snuffed out by a rampant India – with the ball, and then with the bat.

In spite of the on-field heat yesterday, the Indians were very magnanimous to invite us to their rooms at the end of play. It was a real eye opener – the visiting team dressing rooms had been good enough, but the home team rooms were palatial.  The BCCI had obviously decided to reward the players with a big celebration.  It was like a Bollywood set in there, with wild dancing and music – MSD told Hollywood this was just the warm-up act and urged us to stay longer. Even the stand-in Captain knew we could only take so much force-feeding of humble pie, leading us away after a polite few drinks. We really needed to lick our wounds in private. The ground staff knew this and thoughtfully refused our bus entry into the security area.  We had to drag our sorry arses and kits out past to celebrating crowd – who let us know who had won the contest with a solid round of chirping and flamboyant hand gestures.

Call Centre Brian was on the phone again. “How’s the cricket looking for tomorrow?  I haven’t seen the score…” he lied. I humoured him with “We’ll be pressing for a win. How about the Black Caps?”  What was I thinking?  He fired back with “Pretty much the same.  274 in front, 7 wickets in hand. England don’t have KP for the chase, and Boult has the ball swinging around like a dummy door in a Wellington howler.  We’re doing our best to soften them up before the Ashes. Anyway, best of luck.”

It looks like I might be stuck here until Wednesday – the flights were all booked months ago by someone who was wearing the rosy coloured glasses that made them expect the last test to go 5 days.  Even if they can arrange the tickets, the airline won’t have had a chance to stock up with the supplies they need to keep us well lubricated on the long flight home.  Under normal circumstances, there isn’t that much VB in the city, but with most of the squad staying in India for the IPL, they  should be able to arrange something.

I’ve been appointed to the committee tasked with nominating the team awards for the end of tour dinner tomorrow night. There’s a fine line to walk between having some fun together and rubbing a poorly performing team member’s nose in the fact that their career may be over. That will keep me busy all day tomorrow.

Got back to my room.  All I wanted was to have a long shower and wash away the dust. Sitting on the bed was a plucked shuttlecock.  Must have been Kohli – a good effort, I must admit.  I picked up the plucked bird, pulled the curtains aside and threw it out the open window.  It sank like a stone into the courtyard below.  I looked out to see it wasn’t alone.

Australia 262 and 164. India 272 and 4/158.
India by 6 wickets.
India 4-0

© 2013 Dave Cornford & Jeremy Pooley

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