It was good to escape the hurly-burly of PuffGate this morning and head west to Belfast for the Australia A Game tomorrow. We’ve had to sit through the explanation of a whole new layer of “Player Behaviour Expectations”, imposed in the wake of this week’s controversy. As we trotted out of the team meeting, lugging our shiny, new, leather-bound “Behaviour Manuals”, The Prof had things summed up pretty well: “Stay off the turps, don’t punch anyone.” I added staying away from ridiculous Australiana themed pubs, anywhere in the world. He just laughed, signed his copy of the manual and sent it off to the mate of his who’s a dab hand with ebay.
We kept track of the England V Sri Lanka game en route, and that dampened the mood. It’s hard to see the results falling Australia’s way in the remaining few days of the Champions Trough. It’s all up to that version of the Australian Team – we’re off to play with the few Irish players who haven’t defected to England.*
The whole afternoon was spent sucking mints and spitting on cricket balls. Anyone watching would have thought we had a disgusting habit, but the less said about Wicky the better. We were trying different techniques for loading up globs of spit with high glucose concentrations, to see if we can get a ball to shine and then go reverse the way Jimmy A does day after day, and Broad does on the rare occasions when he applies himself to the task. Red tongues and a dangerous sugar rush was all we seemed to have to show for it. We left the bowlers to see who was responsible for the best prepared balls and had a batting session with the bowling machine.
I didn’t even open my “Welcome to Ireland” pack until we got back to the Hotel – at TEN O’CLOCK and sober as judges, I might point out. Just poking out of a chunky brochure – Great Pubs of Belfast – was a single sheet of white paper.
“You’ve got the wrong mints. Deep Third.”
“Same paper, same pen,” said The Prof on close examination when he arrived in my room. “Same guy.”
We agreed that, as the bowlers had been quite despondent after their session with the doctored balls, this message may have some value. We were about to head off in search of a kiosk when Prof grabbed my arm. On top of the mini-bar was a collection of overpriced goods, including a pack of mints.
“Ever seen these?” he said excitedly, shaking them in front of my face.
“Never,” I replied.
“EXACTLY,” he said, wild-eyed. “I’ll tell everyone to buy the packets from their mini-bar, and we’ll test them out tomorrow.”
When I politely pointed out that mini-bar purchases aren’t covered by team expenses, he scoffed. “Stuff that! The fate of the Urn depends on it!”
*If I have in anyway offended or inflamed any Irish-English sensitivities, all I can say is that it’s Puff’s fault.
© 2013 Dave Cornford & Jeremy Pooley