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July 23 – London to Sussex

All we wanted to do was get out of London and away from the scene of the Second Test, but no matter how hard they tried, Team Management weren’t able to organise a bus out of the joint before today.   We left Hollywood and UnLucky behind for some intensive net sessions at the hands of a mysterious batting coach, while Rocket Man along with his shattered back and psyche were left in the care of someone else. The three of them waved us off from the hotel window with sad looks on their faces.

As soon as we arrived in Hove, we were summonsed to a team meeting. Mr Bean had not even had time to unpack his Matchbox car collection, which is the kind of disturbance to routine that is not a good thing for him his current fragile state of mind. When all around is crumbling, you need the little things to hold onto – and he hasn’t even told his mum that he didn’t get her the Queen’s autograph, as promised, at the start of the Lord’s Test.  I fear Mrs Bean Senior has already booked a series of speaking engagements around the local schools, RSLs and Probus Clubs, with the advertised title “My Son, The Queen and I.”

In the meeting, the whole mood was different.  Coach2.0’s veneer of matey bloke-ishness had given way to a dark brooding countenance that reminded me of the father of a friend of mine, who used to coach us in the Under 9s.  After losing our first three games in a row, with sundries the top score, he lost his patience with us. By Christmas our weekly training sessions felt more like a boot camp, but it paid off as we were undefeated after the Christmas Break and won the flag in the end.    Sundries still go the batting award, though.

ddarksideIn any case, it was nothing like what Coach2.0 had in store.  There was a brutal detailed analysis of each batsmen, including video (slow motion and freeze frame) of their dismissals, with hawkeye, hotspot and Snicko all used to paint the tale of woe.  There was a detailed discussion of every DRS referral decision made. Not even The Captain was spared. Lucky was about to pipe up about how he got robbed on some decision or other, but Coach2.0 silenced him with a glassy stare.

It went on and on.  There were a couple of points in the presentation, when the going was getting particularly tough, that I expected Darren to stand up and contribute, but he kept his own counsel at the back of the room. It was only on the way out that I noticed that he had been bound, gagged and gaffer taped to his chair.

At the end, Coach2.0 made it very clear that what was to follow was two solid days of training until three day game against Sussex starts on Friday.  No site-seeing, no parties, no dining out.  Casual team activities in the evening at the hotel, and early to bed.

Was this ever a party?  If so, it’s over.


OUT NOWThe Ashes Files 2013. The secret applications file that Cricket Australia assembled when they threw applications open to all comers. Ebook available at amazon now.

OUT NOW: Coach2Coach – The story of Australia’s chequered preparation for the 2013 Ashes, as told by The 17th Man. (US/UK)

© 2013 Dave Cornford, Jeremy Pooley & Jock Macneish

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