Training was on early today, to avoid the worst of the heat, and again fairly light. The bowlers are being treated very gently with only one thing in mind – having enough energy to take 20 wickets in the heat over the next 5 days. [Ed. Can we make that 3 days, please? ] The Natural is still a bit ginger on his perenially sore knee [Ed. As against being a bit ginger, like UnLucky, Bell and Stokes], but got up to full speed by the end of the session, doing his best “wardrobe on rollerskates” impression and getting Puff and UnLucky to hop around a bit. He will play. As for Tatts, he’s as cool a cucumber, and has completed to design of his “Man of the Series” celebratory tattoo in readiness for the inevitable.
All hell broke loose near the end of the session when Jacka – our non-resident 12th man – copped it on the thumb from an English trundler in the nets. Known as a quiet and retiring fellow – especially on the field – Jacka was not backward in letting the poor guy have it with both verbal barrells.
We again met Dennis by the pool later in the day, and he said The Barmy Army are really struggling with the heat. The idea that today’s 36 deg c is going to be followed by four straight days of 38 is just beyond their comprehension. The fact that they spent today huddled close to airconditioning vents in shops, bars, hotel rooms and the black and chrome trendoid rip-off establishments that pass for cafes in Perth doesn’t bode well for tomorrow. There’ll be nothing between them and the fierce WA sun except some sunscreen and the shadow of a trumpet.
The whole mythology around “The Fremantle Doctor” – the cooling sea breeze that comes in off the ocean sometime after midday – has got the Barmy Army all confused. Apparently a bunch of the Barmies went down to Fremantle by train this morning “in search of the Doctor.” They split into three groups and this is what happened.
Group 1. A helpful young man directed the group to a medical practice operating in offices above a second hand book store. Having produced their medical insurance documents, each was subjected to a rigorous examination. They escaped back to the light with their eyes watering and prescriptions for a bunch of potions and pills from “Gina’s Epothecary,” an alternative medicine shop and right-wing think tank just down the road.
Group 2. One hopeful asked “Where’s the Doctor?” while staggering around the Fremantle Markets. A helpful stall holder – who was selling trinkets and natty brooches made out of used Nespresso containers – took them to a dark corner of the market hall behind a stall selling figurines made from stuffed cane toads. [Ed. Be it noted that the invasive little bastards haven’t made it ot WA yet.] There they met a fortune teller who was dressed in the style of Tom Baker’s Dr Who, but with a scarf made of shredded up cricket balls. He proceded to tell their fortunes, predicting a 3-1 series win to Australia and four cases of heatstroke. They thanked him politely but were reluctant to oblige when payment was requested. After the ensuing skuffle, one of them ended up in the medical centre Group 1 had visited, for the removal of a painfully inserted Sonic Screwdriver.
Group 3. This group at least got closer to finding the Doctor. They were directed by a person dressed as koala collecting money for “Fly-in Fly-out Orphans” to head west. The trudged towards the ocean, past the boutique brewery, the art gallery and a fish and chip shop – each of which relieved them of a wad of their Aussie dollars. Following directions they walked along the breakwater past the moored boats, all the way to the end. They closed their eyes, stood as still as they could and imagined a cool, light breeze from the South West kissing their cheeks. One of then thought they felt it and yelled “I found the Doctor!” They opened their eyes to see that the waft of cool air was actually escaping from the airconditioned cabin of a 70 foot Cruiser as it slipped by, on it’s way to an important [Ed. And tax deductible] mining industry business meeting on Rottnest Island. Several Cabinet Ministers waved cheerfully from the rear deck as the boat headed off into the haze.
They all returned to their hotels in the city with empty wallets, a bad case of sunburn and no sign of the The Doctor. Pretty typical visit to Perth for international tourists.
The real stuff starts tomorrow, and who knows how the test will unfold? I wouldn’t want to be batting last on the pitch – it’s likely to crack up under the blasting heat and turn into a spinners’ paradise with more cracks in it than in any alleged logical argument sprouted on air by Warnie. On the other hand, batting last could easily be on Sunday not Tuesday.
3-0 in three days anyone?
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