The pressure has been on for the last few days, as Cricket Australia has been on our backs to finalise our squad recommendations. There were hundreds of applications, and picking the cream for the selectors to consider has not been easy – The Prof, The Freak and I have been working day and night.
Anyway, here’s a selection of what we put forward. We’ll see if the selectors took any notice of what we said when the squad is named – and more importantly, if we’re in it!
The four of us would like to apply together to be the bowling group for the Australian team. It may not have been obvious to everyone that Dipsy has a doosra and Laa-Laa can hit a length. Po may be small but the round thing on her head is perfect for testing misshapen balls, while Tinky Winky can carry useful stuff in his handbag, and the triangle on his head is perfect for setting up the snooker balls when the team is out for some stick in a local pub.
We’d be able to help speed up the game as the third umpire would be able to redirect replays for the DRS to our tummies. Brilliant! “Eh-Oh!”
Great news! Wisden wrote to me guaranteeing a 28% lift in my career MVP rating this year if the operation to double joint my elbow succeeds. Muruli mentioned I would finally be able to give the new ball more revolutions getting to the batsman than it takes skipping to the boundary. Sri Lankan wit is still as closed to me as an old girls’ book club.
And that is my point. The only thing that divides us is an ocean of blue water, a bunch of unruly convicts, colonial pride, Her Royal Highness and an aging Prince.
I am an Englishman. I love spring summers and winter autumns. I love the dark, the depth of wintry cold, the tree-lined sunken lanes, the pebbly shores, the wash of history, this old island, this England. I am a patriot.
But I live for cricket and for Test match cricket in particular. I love the Ashes – the crowds, our Army, our team, winning in Australia and the sprinkler head. I was the X-factor in Team England’s spin demolition of The Men in Blue in India, a triumph beyond reach for others – winning, again, something that’s worth a quick mention.
I know that for you the dark of night must seem very dark indeed, and long, much like winter on the Russian steppes. I understand your pain yet I am magnanimous. I want others to share my success. And so I offer you redemption through high revolution spin.
Winning a Logie for Best New Talent means that I’ve got really Orssie Credentials for playing cricket – is that what the Ashes is for? Who died anyway?
The other thing I bring to the table is a great deal of cross-over brand recognition through my KFC spruiking. Someone said the “F” stands for “Fried”, but I wasn’t falling for that sh*t.
Assume I’ll be doing the team song?
I am from Bel Esprit – Helsinghe by Desert Sun, an exceptional royal pedigree. I am worth more pound for pound than a squad of chancy first generation Test cricket nags. My family includes stakes winners Muirfield Village, Russian Tea Room, Frosty the Snowman and Midnight Sun, each traced from the unraced Vain mare Song of Norway. Beat that!
I am seeking a less energetic profession. My manager suggested mud wrestling, travel writing, pearl fishing, or Arctic exploration paired with four tall black stallions. We settled on cricket because of its mature betting market.
I also flog a highly successful 9 piece grooming set that is more popular in Ireland and the Scottish midlands than SW’s discount sets of red jocks and eyeliners. The set includes the best selling ‘Silky Detangler Spray’, an eco-friendly oil free formulation that protects cricket whites from urine, grass and manure stains, and a high gloss waterproof hoof enamel perfect for damp conditions.
I bat at no. 2. I can hold an end for day’s as long as I have a chaff bag and high quality grass – I’m a big paddock mare. Cricket ovals are fine. I bat 3 yards outside the crease like KP, the English stallion. I accumulate runs slowly like Mr. Ed. Only Flat Stanley has more not outs.
Those who bowl to me end up bald and bleary eyed. How can one bowl sensibly to a horse, let alone a champion brood mare like me, and survive the animal liberationists and loss of twitter followers?
My name is Stanley Lambchop. My friends call me Flat Stanley after a heavy notice board flattened me like a pancake in my sleep.
Being flat is no disadvantage. I have been an excellent Batsman all my life. Bowlers cannot bowl easily to a batsman they can barely see. Bouncers and rib ticklers, leg slips and short legs are redundant positions. Spare fielders camp at deep backward square, or wander the outfield like brown’s cows.
Bowlers end up bowling full at the stumps because I bend with the wind every other delivery and frankly there is nowhere else to bowl. I am uncompromising in the V – whilst I am flat, my bat is not – and strike the boundary ball like Bradman. I hold the record for consecutive not outs for a no. 3 – 434 .
I do the team jobs no one else wants to do. I connect people well slipping into opposition team meetings to play a hand or two of scissor paper rock to sort the bowling order, swap player cards and travel tips. I attend Coach and Selector meetings to boost player communication, although I missed the last Coach-Captain meeting in Sri Lanka for the Black Caps. I field very edgily at silly, silly short leg. Batsmen find my shadowless fluttering close to the wicket immensely frustrating.
I am an excellent team player and don’t mind being under a drink. I am larger than life. When pumped up I tell a breathtaking gag. (My stammering sent a group of Egyptian tomb raiders mad. I landed days later on the Hudson with Flight 1549 taped to the exit door.) I am unique. You need unplayable men like me.
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You can read more from The 17th Man at ArmchairSelector.com