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July 31 – A Truce Before Hostilities

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It was good to wake up from a long, deep sleep this morning, with no fire alarms or secret midnight missions to interrupt my slumber.  If I was playing in the 3rd Test, I’d be feeling ready.

At the team meeting this morning, Coach2.0 declared that there would be no more whinging about English groundsmen doctoring pitches to suit the home side – even though we had all seen the toaster burns on the Old Trafford pitch.  He had a good point – the Top 6 are vulnerable against swing and spin, so what is a groundsman to do, spoilt for choice as he is?

Most of the day was spent at Old Trafford, getting familiar with the atmosphere and running through some fielding drills.  There was a short net session, with the batsmen and bowlers attempting to have some last minute influence on the selectors.  [Ed. For all we knew, Coach2.0 pulled the names out of a hat last night.]   This left plenty of time for hanging around holding a Sharpie ready to sign an autograph at a moment’s notice. To say we weren’t in high demand would be unkind to tickets to Day 4 of a Shield match at Bellerive Oval.

july 31 noteI got back to my kit to find a slip of paper poking out of the useless little pocket at the end of the enormous bag.  It’s the sort of place that harbours off-season bananas and other science experiments.  I knew straight away what it was, and looked quickly around.  There was no sign of anyone other than our team’s entourage and a school tour group marching with as much precision as a drunken rabble towards the home team dressing rooms.

Let’s call a truce before the hostilities resume on the pitch – we all need our beauty sleep.  Especially KP, whether he plays or not.  Deep Third.”

“I didn’t think you had anymore pranks organsied,” I said to The Prof on the bus back to the hotel.

“No, but they might be worried about copy-cat crimes.  Not much I can do about it, really,” he said, before returning to a complicated looking spreadhsheet on his laptop.  I ignored my requests for an explanation.

The night before a Test can be pretty tense, with nerves and petty rivalries always simmering just below the surface. Team Management always tries to organise something to take our mind off things, although these are often quite lame and don’t do the trick.  Tonight was an exception, with a musical tribute to the Manchester Sound playing a couple of short sets after dinner. The band weren’t bad, although at one stage we had to restrain UnLucky, who reacted badly when his dreamy dance sequence was interrupted by The Kid shouting to be heard over the wall of sound with something like “I think my mum liked these guys.”

Just near the end, Plopper made it to the stage and somehow managed to con the microphone out of the hands of the rather self-absorbed lead singer.  He issued instructions to the band, who launched into a note-perfect rendition of a song by The Smiths.

” . . . I was looking for job, and then I found a job.

and Heaven knows I’m miserable now.”

Plopper hit every note, although did not manage to channel Morrissey’s mystical moves in any meaningful way.  But still, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.




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 byThe 17th Man. (US/UK)

© 2013 Dave Cornford, Jeremy Pooley & Jock Macneish

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