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Diary of the 17th Man – May 15

With the English summer kicking off in earnest tomorrow with Day 1 of the First Test against NZ, it seemed like a good time to have another look at some of the applications for the Aussie Ashes Squad – these ones all from Kiwis. They must think we can go one better than their home series 0-0 triumph.  It’s just as well the Selectors didn’t invoke the “Russell Crowe” rule and claim these guys – the Kiwis would have had zero test experience on English soil.


“Daniel Vettori”
I will be frank. I’m planning a holiday in Victoria after the IPL and the boys said they knew of a short-term opening. I did an odd-job like this one 20 years ago picking summer boysenberries in Marlborough. At night, I slept in the fields under the Southern Cross. Spinning in your team on an English wicket will be much easier than spinning in mine. You might feel we’re not the full quid this side of the ditch. TaylorGate rolls on and on like an Irish lament or a Presbyterian Church service.  Every week or so another disaffected luminary lobs 6 column inches of bile into NZCricket to keep it bubbling along. I wasn’t going to mention it but I should. The competition for the most TaylorGate related column inches in an 8 week period closes in June. First prize is an 3 month summer holiday to England, all-expenses paid.  I’m fairly hopeful.  Just in case you are wondering, as many here are, I haven’t broken bread with Macbeth since the first Test in Sri Lanka when he asked me about ‘team selections’. But I did tape the discussion. Allegedly.
In closing, I know I can spin the ball any way you want, which is more than I can say for your top 4 finger painters. Shane is a great friend. I saw him on the slopes in Val D’Isere in 2007.  He’ll be writing to you soon.  I’ll need to bring bring my own trainer, masseur, dietician, publicist, essayist, tiki, gold chains, beer and special energy fruit if that’s ok. I’ll need another 6 seats. My family – all 15 – want to come. That’s 21 seats + me, the Spinner’s Spinner 2009.

“Ross Taylor”
I can bat in a team that sometimes wins. I was Captain for a while. The alleged Coach sacked me as Captain during the Tour of Sri Lanka. Allegedly. He called me in ‘to discuss team selections’. He needed to sack me now, he muttered, on the off chance that everyone who already knew, including my Mum, talked over the back fence to the very few wildflowers which did not.  Allegedly.  “Mum’s the word then bro’ until you hear from the paper boy. I’ll announce it then,” he said smiling. Next it was “You can front the press conference, by the way. Just say you don’t have all the facts – you never will – and can’t answer any questions.” Hysterical. I cannot recall the next 19 instructions, or Coach’s call a few weeks later saying he only meant to sack me as the pyjama Captain. Allegedly. A clutch of ex-players said they were bemused by these antics.  Thanks.  But it’s hard to hear the voices of reproach or disdain – or reply to the Coach’s public statements that he didn’t mean to do it the way he did it – when your head is dangling from your shoulders.
NZCricket has cleared my secondment for the 5 Ashes Tests in England. They said they want England to win, but need Australia to put on a decent show for the good of the game. My Mum’s hairdresser says that by then the silks will have communicated to the Board of NZCricket what ‘conflict of interest’ means, and I can initiate a class action.

“NZ Coach”
He played second grade once, then began a coaching career which has gone off faster than a moon shot.  At 38, he’s the Black Caps’ Coach, preferred over 500 highly credentialled globe-trotting South Africans, 200 IPL stars, and 4 heavies from Trinidad.
His resume reads like an offensive line backer’s play book.  One lucky season ‘up the middle’ in Otago, an ‘in and out’ to the end zone coaching Kenya’s 2080 World Cup Winning X1, and a yellow hanky ref’s call ‘pure NZ’ pedigree seems enough to jag the gig of a lifetime.  It takes prescience (who is the King), persistence (landing an invite to the King’s table), performance under pressure (flattery) and a one-off experience (shiny tankard) to win the field.
Don’t play King of the Castle with him – he is a formidable, aggressive tactician.  Some argue that this showed through in a better performance in the home series against England.
Coach prefers fielding at deep third man so he can communicate with the skipper using yellow semaphore flags instead of gesticulating across the pitch, which he considers shows a disdainful disregard for the feelings of others.  He mutters a lot about miscommunication, headaches and Banquo’s ghost.  But don’t be misled. His calls from the middle for quick singles are unmistakeably clear.
If things go bad, confiscate his diary and little black book of witches prophesy.  He understands his charges well enough, is a passable raconteur at a feast, nurturer of blossoming cricket talent, and can hear a lilting mandolin from a mile off.  He is a master, a fox, a hound, a contemporary team player.  He says he needs Ross to play in his team even if they only communicate across the 38th parallel.   I doubt he will be much trouble to anyone.
pp Bazz

“Martin Crowe”
People outside NZ say I was a great Test batsman. I averaged over 50 until my knee packed up.  I live on Mount Olympus with Sir Paddles Hadlee.  When I speak, players listen. NZCricket doesn’t, but that’s no surprise. Anything rational is beyond them.
I can’t run quick singles anymore. I will need a runner for every game. A bowler will do – no spinners, only quicks, preferably Siddle or Starc. They will be padded up anyway and know how to concentrate for a few hours. Most of my runs come in easy 2’s or 4’s.
I’ll need special padding in the knee roll and 20 hours in the nets with your quicks just to get my eye in. I’ve dyed my hair and lost a few stone knowing that a second player with a world class average and wit is precisely what you are looking for.
I’ll walk when I’m out. I haven’t met a decent player yet who doesn’t know when he’s out. Forget DRS. I’m with GillChrist on this issue.
In exchange, I need 4 extra seats (for emerging NZ talent) in business class…….I will also run two 6 hour batting classes en route with the talent. MSD offered me his private jet, which has a bowling machine, but his plane needs a long runway and I prefer to travel with my squad. I will send through my accommodation selection and dining preferences on appointment.
Martin Crowe


Applications Cover final

The full Applications File for the Ashes Tour 2013 will be available soon as an ebook.  Register here to be the first to know!

© 2013 Dave Cornford & Jeremy Pooley

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