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Dec 26 – Day 1 – Fourth Test

The Captain agreed. He said he would win the toss and bat on a pitch smoother than a bowl of yellow jelly and chock a block with runs. The Captain won the toss and signalled to the dressing-room.
“What did he say?”
“We’re batting and bowling,” Sarah said looking at Coach2.0 who was massaging his head.
“What?”
“Bowling.”
“He said he was going to bat? Check him for heatstroke when he comes in.” Coach2.0 tapped Darren on the shoulder as he turned away muttering something about temptation and the Garden of Eden and reciting the definition of game plan.

The English top 6 were all padded up ready to go. They stood at the window jumping up and down and gesturing wildly to Puff and Hollywood, both of whom grabbed the binoculars. Puff was the first to offer comment.
“That’s KP and Bell in the clown suits”
‘But what is that in the background. It’s do dark in there.”
“Don’t know. Looks like a Ouija board.”
“Ours?” They both looked at each other. India and the summer in England were never far from their minds. They zoomed in.
“Nope. Theirs.”
“That looks like a bloody witch doctor, matey. Check the back wall.”
The back wall had XII voodoo dolls stuck with long shiny toothpicks.
“The fridge doll has 4 pins in the left knee. Oooh. Must be sore.” Puff turned to look for The Natural who was rubbing liniment into his knee. He didn’t look happy.
“Is that a witch doctor?”
Hollywood put the glasses down.

Everyone heard about it but such is the confidence of a winning team that the XII quickly forgot about it. Play was quiet in the middle. When Chef fell early after a bright start [Ed. Again and again] English wickets tumbled regularly. The Freak, Tatts and The Natural did the job again bowling simple line and length. The English resolution crumbled as surely as a sandcastle in an incoming tide.

KP offered some resistance aided by the 12th Man [Ed. Unnamed. No one remembers the 12th Man] who caught him 5 metres inside the boundary and backward stepped like a square dancer until he fell over it. Six. The Captain showed no emotion. The Prof was on the phone just as quickly. The 12th could not have fallen over the rope if he had been blasted out of Big Bertha in a circus opener.

And someone who had curly hair and a gentle personality dropped KP soon after at mid wicket. Mr G always smiles and spits on his hands after misfiring.

KP swallowed a bunch of flies and a pair of wasps on the way through to a stuttering 50 after tea. He drowned them in a litre of sponsor’s fluid some of which he regurgitated onto the pitch like a cat with a fur ball. Sarah and I thought it looked like chunks of fly encrusted fruit cake and leftover pumpkin. A wingless wasp was trying to make a getaway with his lifeless mate in his mouth [Ed. Wasps pair for life] until The Freak inspected it at the change of over and signalled for medical assistance. Sarah gave him an imperious thumbs down. She hates wasps. The Freak hesitated until he received my message. “Spike the wasp.” The creamy smear it made on the pitch marked out a no go zone for our bowlers in front of leg stump. Tatts sought permission to bowl with antiseptic gloves for protection, but The Captain shook his head.

The Freak said KP was fine after that. Good enough to be 67 not out at stumps, with the weight of England’s forlorn hopes of a 4-3 series lead resting on his shoulders.

All the record crowd of 90,800 odd saw a decent Boxing Day’s test cricket, mostly Australian except for Bay 13.

England 6/226.

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