Day 5 – Third Test
Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin’ seems to fit
So I just did me some talkin’ to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way he got things done
Sleepin’ on the job
Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’
[Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head by B.J. Thomas}
“If England have ‘retained’ the Urn today let it be because of prior possession, not because they won it.” Coach2.0 said thumping his hand on the desk. “We were this close,” he said, closing his pudgy fingers to within an almost hair’s breadth. He glanced at Lucky who was trying to jam a loose strand from the trunk of his well-loved corduroy elephant through the eye of a needle.
“That bloody close we were,” he said subconsciously opening his fingers to corduroy elephant width. “On the ropes they were! Apart from the weather”
“Are you kidding me?” broke in the Met Office lad Sarah had hired on Saturday. “That was a howling gale that was always gonig to hit us Day 4. You were never going to win. Pre-ordained. No escape. Nothing I could do.”
Coach played a ‘best of’ tape from the last 4 days which put us in better humour. “Demolish them in Durham,” Coach 2.0 quipped. The Bowlers echoed these sentiments from the row behind us.
“Let’s slay them next time.”
“Rip them to shreds.”
“Give them nothing, not a damn thing.”
“Give them HELL” yelled Plopper “I’ll give HIM [Ed. KP] merry Hell, a beam ball and a box ball in the same spinning over!”
The conversation paused, as it does when a small child first shows a clarity of understanding and eye for the main chance by uttering a fulsome oath that is both well-timed and arrestingly off-key, or when one has inserted a gutter line of Shakespeare in a schoolhouse musical. Each of the batting pigeons turned to him with a cocked eyebrow, a display of choreographed feather dusting that seemed to be clicking now at the right time, just like their batting. The bowlers (after today’s effort pigeon-shooters might be better) had cocked both eye-brows in studied confusion.
“I’ve only ever heard you say “shit, shit” under your breath when KP hits you for six,” said Puff, recalling the verbal tongue lashings he and Plopper gave the Indian top order in Delhi [Ed. That had worked well!]
“That would be two sixes,” The Captain replied.
“P is for Plopper,” The Freak explained to Plopper, hiding his disappointment that even a simple alphabetical instruction requires coordination. “It wasn’t your turn. We were up to N for Natural. it ws his turn to speak!” he whispered. “It’s T for ‘The Natural’. P is before T,” Plopper whispered back, offering him a hand of bananas. The Freak was not amused, and went a sunset crimson – the crimson one expects on a normal Manchester summer’s day! He consulted his playbook and made a mental note to move The Natural to the T’s until he realised that the alphabet would never be used properly with so many “Mr’s” and “The’s”, and shook his head.
“We’ll take charge of the sledging campaign” said Puff and Hollywood together in a moment of coaptation. There was a pregnant pause: “…with Wicky” added Hollywood. Coach2.0 wiped his sweaty palms with the small hand washer he keeps for this type of unedited decision – he used it liberally during the DRS ‘incidents’. Prof thinks he suffers from hyperhidrosis. I doubt this. I had the same ailment in the after lunch session today when I needed a double six to win ‘The Third KFC Reject Backgammon Test’. I lost to Lucky who rolled 8 consecutive doubles. Dumb luck may be finally turning for us if the feather-edge from KP’s bat and subsequent review is any indication of fairer weather.
The English met us at the post-match reception full of glee. ‘Retaining’ the Urn was on their lips, sewn on their team shirts right underneath their Test number, on the OT coasters, on the special hand-crafted Persian red carpet ordered months ago (as Swanny tells it), on the labels of the Champagne, and on the ‘Victory’ orange cake we were all served. There were no speeches. After all, the match was a washout and it was clear WE were winning.
One of the MCC Board showed The Captain and I his photo of the Urn describing it in great detail. The Captain choked a little. He had “rain [Ed Urn?] in his throat” he said and deftly excused himself to chat ‘urgently’ with Chef. He flicked his wrist en route to The Freak, The Prof and I mouthing “Get their sparkies”. He nodded to Hollywood who flicked the lights. A screen appeared on the back wall. “Roll the tape” The Captain said raising his glass for quiet. A 3 minute slow-motion clip began of each of the 13 English wickets to fall. This cut the laughter to a risible trickle, apart from the chin washing from Trotty and KP, and glad-handing from Jimmy and Swanny who know they got out of gaol. Not to be outplayed (except here), Chef played his tribute to us. After that it was beer, bananas and pies.
We lifted the sparkies from the England Team bus as instructed until we discovered that our bus was disabled in the same way, not by the English but by a couple of Geordie lads on a University Treasure hunt. “That will be worth a million points,” The Freak said.
“Less points than nicking the Urn,” I replied.
Aust 7/527d. and 7/172d., Eng 368 and 3/37 (and panicking)
Choose your own adventure as far as video goes today:
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© 2013 Dave Cornford, Jeremy Pooley & Jock Macneish