“A day of pure domination” yelled Coach2.0. “You little beauty!” he croaked drowning in joy.
Patience bled runs all day like melting snow bleeds new water in a Spring thaw. Not even the occasional flying cow could upset a heart-warming run of farcical old fashioned good luck that had the willow striking the straight balls cleanly to the outfield. DRS, the erstwhile 13th Man [Ed: no relation] for England, was sent from the field early, stripping Chef of the services of his most valuable player. The Prof says he organised an overnight fishing expedition in the Lakes district for D and a few close associates who manage the DRS to ensure a 5th day finish. The Manchester pie-makers have been causing trouble in the pastry Chapter of the Chamber and needed a helping hand. Prof was happy to oblige.
The field Umpires slept through the after lunch sessions unmoved, stuffing up when prodded with decisions so whimsical that even the sturdiest English monoglot [Ed: a fancier] stood to attention in disgust. Of course, the shine wore off this momentary braggadocio as the runs flowed past 200 and then 300. The Captain was back to his indestructible best. Trapper wore the face of the contented soldier knowing that he had prospered and dodged a bullet. Or two. Or three.
Patience, that oft-quoted standard-bearer and enchantress of all things British, hung limp like a heavy greatcoat from the drooping shoulders and bowed heads of the English XI at stumps. Jimmy and his loyal band of bruised bowlers had been blunted. The gathering aura of invincibility they had so innocently courted in the press dissipated in the warmth of a lost toss in a single day’s play.
“Tomorrow is clear,” said Coach2.0. “Grind them into the pitch until tea. Bruise and batter them into submission. Break their will!” It could have been any ordinary battle in 1916. The Captain took Trapper aside to remind him of the task ahead. “It is not done”, he said. “They are bowed but not crushed. 5/500 is the target.”
The twitter traffic made a 180 degree turn in the middle of the main street through the post-lunch period. Even CA had conjured enough resolve to protest to the ICC over the outing of Mr X, who wafted forthrighly at a ball but missed it – light could not bridge the gap. Study Trott’s face on a replay if you can tear your eyes away from the path of the ball, unsullied as it is by the edge of the bat.
The Prof was thoughtful. “I was on jury duty on a money laundering case. . . ” He lifted an eye towards me.
“Go on,” I said warily.
Prof explained that the accused ran a pet food shop. The prosecutor asked him why he deposited $10,000 into his bank account each week for 10 weeks. The accused claimed he had obsessive compulsive behaviour for the number 10. “Why do you only charge in round dollars?” he asked. “I cannot count except in 10’s,” came the reply. A psychoanalyst in shorts with a nose ring and ponytail claimed this was a common disease among money launderers.
“We all agreed to acquit,” The Prof said. “The case was hopeless. The accused needed help and an abacus. The prosecutor was a pimply Kid, and Defence Counsel was an old comedian. We debated it for an hour over lunch but the soggy egg sandwiches and dripping Ploppers endeared us to no one.”
“And the Judge?”
“He apologised to the Court Reporters and spectators. He was fed up anyway.”
“And the Umpires?”
“They do what they want, just like jurors. That’s why I sent them to the Lakes. We may as well have a hat stand.”
Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry
They stack the odds, still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive
It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger
OUT NOW – The Ashes Files 2013. The secret applications file that Cricket Australia assembled when they threw applications open to all comers. Ebook available at amazon now.
© 2013 Dave Cornford, Jeremy Pooley & Jock Macneish