“You are almost institutions in this squad,” Coach2.0 replied as The Prof, The Freak, The Natural and I quit the bar. “Get ready for November.”
The Captain nodded. “There is much yet to write,” he said solemnly. We shook hands.
The Natural is on his way home tomorrow, business class courtesy of Emirates unless The Prof manages to upgrade him to First Class. The airline told him First Class was booked out by ‘the stars’, but would see who could be “bumped” to make way for “an Ashes hero.”
“We can bump Beiber and Kardashian,” the booking manager said. “Some of the English players are travelling with us. Shall we bump them as well?”
“To the rear seats next to the bathrooms?”
“In the middle of a row of four.”
“I’ll shift Sarah and Darren back to premium economy then?”
“Excellent. And make sure they’re sitting together. Many thanks.”
The Prof says The Reject Club likes to look after their own, even when they hit pay dirt in the Test XI.
* * *
A reconditioned jeep collected us at the airport and drove us through the smiling madness of the local markets along a windy coast road to a high class establishment on Sandy’s beach.
“Private but not out of the way,” the welcome blurb stated. “Rest and recreation to suit every preference, even Triangle devotees.” A hand written PS. noted that the Annual Bermuda Triangle Convention was on in town.
“A strange choice of holiday destination by The Prof, ” I mentioned to The Freak, who was pacing out our deck leading to the ocean.
“Perfect for my run up,” he said. “We’ll check the Triangulars at the Convention. The Prof has the tickets.”
Another Triangle nut I thought. Worse than the shape-shifters in England. I leaned back in my banana chair and pulled my floppy hat over my nose.
At dinner, The Prof shared the tales of his [Ed. ‘our’] business ventures. [Ed. About time!]
He listed the profit from each investment fund as follows:
No. 3 Fund: Reconditioned Dukes – Profit £4.5m, sold at a discount in exchange for a £8m convertible note in a start-up venture in India to “enhance reverse swing in the old ball,” led by the Chennai paper boy’s uncle’s uncle’s brother.
No. 4 Fund: Registered Charity selling home wares made from used cricket balls, pads and bats in Africa. Bats are used as cladding to build houses and bat handles are used as door and window braces. Shredded pads are used as insulation. Ball covers are used as all purpose trousers. Prof sold the venture to Bill Gates for USD$20m. [Ed. Bill is expanding his charity empire]
No. 5 Fund: The Prof exercised the convertible note quickly then sold out to the ECB after Manchester for £80m payable by equal instalments to 2018.
No. 6 Fund: Several ventures including the Sainsbury’s pie deal (profit: £1m), and the DRS app. which found a world wide audience early before selling to a multi-billionaire in India. Profit of £800m.
No. 7 Fund: purchase of Marriott Hotel chain. Ongoing.
“Not bad”, I said as The Prof bundled us into the jeep and the driver sped off in sunglasses on the darkest of nights towards town, rastafarian music blaring from the console.
We arrived at the airport. A US military transport was waiting for us. The Cargo commander waved us on. “The mission is to search for Flight 19 that disappeared in the Triangle on Dec 5 1945,” he bellowed as the transport roared down the runway. “It’s part of the Convention.”
The Freak watched the instruments with the on-board military scientists. The transport banked into a storm at 6,000 feet towards the heart of the Triangle where Flight 19 lost radio transmission. The instruments were solid despite the turbulence.
“Man, that’s heavy.”
“Check the windows!”
The pounding on the fuselage and wings was like a drum roll. The Freak was speechless. The transport lost altitude, see-sawing in the turbulence of the storm. The instruments went crazy and flatlined.
But we made it back to the airport and inspected the damage in a nearby hangar. The transport was dimpled all over. “Like baseballs,” the captain said in his mid-west drawl, “but the red marks?”
“Marks only made by the stitches of a Duke,” replied The Prof as he ran his hand along the fuselage. He thought back to the damage his inside leg suffered the last time RocketMan managed to get one through his defences and avoid his thigh pad.
“Battered by cricket balls, not hail. Red balls.”
“It’s about India,” The Freak said.
” . . . and England, the Ashes in England,” I added.
And the way back, to the home series in November.
It was only later, lounging by the pool at the resort, that The Freak told me he had authored the bracketed editorial comments in this Diary. I guess I can bank that as some sort of endorsement from one of the XI. Maslow should be pleased.
COMING SOON – The 17th Man: The Ashes Diary – Part 1 – England 2013
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