I woke up to the faint but constant background noise of plane after plane lining up to land at Abu Dhabi. Their landing lights trailed off to the horizon. I counted 10 or more A380’s; just as many were jammed together to take off on a parallel runway in the opposite direction.
The Prof was taking coffee in the breakfast hall. Compared to my carefully orchestrated ‘newly awake’ appearance, he was attired in freshly pressed regulation strip and buried deep in The Times, his preferred global newsprint.
“Notice the air traffic?” he asked from behind the technology page.
“Been building since yesterday. 80 Air Traffic Movements per hour until the second test. By my calculation the biggest single city global migration ever witnessed.”
“How many passengers is that?”
“1m temporary arrivals just by aeroplane. Have you noticed the ports?”
“20 cruise ships a day not to mention those arriving by smaller craft from India on refugee boats purchased from the Australian Navy.”
I looked out into the Gulf. It was chock a block with floating craft of all varieties. In the other direction, towards the desert, a procession of camels traced several wavy lines to the horizon. There could not have been a spare camel or Bedouin taxi in Arabia.
“Where are they coming from?”
“70% come from the sub-continent – Pakistan, India, Bangladesh. There is a late surge from Sri Lanka.”
The Prof showed me his population movement app which displays real time cross-border people movements from every border checkpoint around the world.
“A mate ripped this off from Interpol. Hacked it straight off the bat.”
The app showed the world hot spots as red. A big red blob was centred over Abu Dhabi.
I looked towards reception. There was a line stretching out the front doors, which were stuck open. Maintenance staff was trying to fix it before the air con packed in.
“Every hotel is occupied. Every B&B and doss house is booked out. The Sheiks have built a pop up tent city in the desert with 3D printers to accommodate everyone. The economy gets a $5Bn shot in the arm over the next week.”
“The logistics must be off the charts?”
“Another 150,000 guest workers are arriving from Morocco tomorrow just for catering. 500,000 40kg bags of meal and flour are being flown in by USAF transports. UPS is shipping meat, fruit and vegetables. The RAAF is shipping 300,000 pies from Four & Twenty. Sheets are being flown in and out to washerwomen in Yemen. This is bigger than any natural disaster in Africa. The UN is calling it an emergency.”
The explanation was simple. A test loss to Pakistan, an event as rare as Halley’s Comet, raises international cricketing eyebrows. The prospect of a Pakistan clean sweep has sent the subcontinent delirious. And the slim chance of an Aussie wipe out has England and South Africa salivating. Even lesser lights like Germany and Ireland were starting to trend on the Prof’s little app.
I checked the news. The second test is being marketed as a crowd-sourced David and Goliath battle, a contest of spin and speed, soft hands and hard hitting, finesse and force, balls and ball-breakers. ‘Get there and watch a once in a lifetime pasting’ one promo said. Another said ‘Just Do It. Get on the [expletive deleted] plane today!’ The Barmy Army has renamed itself ‘Misbah’s Mutineer’s #RISE’. I scanned twitter. It was running faster than Piers Morgan’s mouth. My iPhone was hot just trying to keep up.
Dad phoned in the evening. He said all the airlines, even Qantas, were booked out. Capacity was being pulled off the high value ‘brain drain’ trunk routes to Silicon Valley to service the demand for flights to Abu Dhabi. He thought it would provide the boost Tony Abbott’s Innovation Policy needed.
Apparently, the ICC is investigating footage from the first test to check if Pakistan played too well. The BCCI isn’t happy about the loss of revenue to Abu Dhabi and is blaming CA for throwing the game. CA’s Integrity Unit switchboard shut down after receiving calls of aliens landing in the desert. They clearly don’t buy the idea that we missed the straight balls.
Cricket is so unpredictable.
ps. We trained well in the nets today. Coach2.0 let us pad-up before batting. Personally I wasn’t bothered. Hitting the arm balls is easy.