Being in the WC squad exposes you to the inner workings of the team, the beating pulse of high performance athletes, the cat’s eye, the smell of fear and the relief after a win.
The Prof was skimming through the sports writing of The Guardian. He had found an article on car chokes written by some mechanic who claimed he played for England in 2013-14. The article was over several pages broken by a group photograph of the World Cup captains above the caption ‘Choking epidemic infects CWC15’.
“Have you noticed how long and white AB’s teeth are?” Hollywood remarked leaning over the Prof’s shoulder.
“Enough to choke on, I would expect”, I replied.
Hollywood looked very fresh, now that he had resumed his rightful place at No6 successfully. Aspirations to bat at No3 again are firmly in the past. The whites in his eyes seem clearer, not the thick porcelain colour of a few days ago.
“And Morgan is smiling as if he has swallowed a bullfrog.”
“That photo must be pre-competition.”
“Here it is” the Prof said after a while “…the discussion on the choke.” He drew a long breath and read out the passage. Hollywood who is not one for reminiscing tiptoed backwards pointing madly to the Prof all the while, as if he were deranged and needed assistance.
I cut the definitions from the article referred to with a pair of sewing scissors I keep for such emergencies and pasted them in the diary.
Choke v. 1. A valve that restricts the flow of liquid in a manifold 2. To obstruct the flow of air to the windpipe, often by the introduction of a foreign object such as a white ball. 3. The process by which activity in the pre-frontal cortex leads an individual or team to under perform, a.k.a. over thinking.
Choking v. 1. When the choke is stuck in the closed position. 2. The MAXI gag choke popularised in Auckland during CWC15.
Choker n. As in sport, when a team squanders a favoured game position to lose, such as England whenever they score 300+ in ODI competitions.
Choke artist n. A frequent choker, such as South Africa in any ODI competition.
The article went on to describe the best chokes in CWC15 so far:
Standard choke: your car stops near a petrol station. It has run out of fuel. You didn’t expect to get to work on time for that meeting anyway (Pak v India).
Public choke: your old car stops on the bridge during rush hour blowing smoke from the bonnet. Passing drivers smile and raise a finger in the side window. You shrug your shoulders. No one is happy except the tow truck driver who rips you off. You feel gutted like any spectator when a game does not go the distance (AUS v NZ).
The ‘we are buggered’ choke: Waiting in a ticket line for 3 hours when the last ticket is sold (BAN v AFG, Canberra).
Choke weight: When SA officially becomes part of the de Villiers family.
Bowler’s choke: Any bowler who is a member of Club24 (24/over) (note 1).
A deliberate choke: We can’t speak of that anymore, but you can ask anyone north of the Indian border.
The article went on to offer two remedies for a sticky choke: (1) lift the bonnet and wiggle the butterfly valve; (2) put the car in park, yank the handbrake, and rev the engine. If this doesn’t work, call roadside service or the police. Don’t die wondering (AUS v SL)
The only difference between a choke and a collapse is that a collapse is genuine. 5/25 seems to be the norm in CWC15.
A choke is a dicky valve. Ask South Africa.
Note 1: Club 24 has its HQ in Johannesburg in deference to Herschel Gibbs who scored six sixes against the Netherlands DLS van Bunge in St Kitts 2006/07. Jason Holder is the current CWC 15 President and Stephen Finn is Treasurer. Mitchell Johnson (AUS v SL) is its newest member. The Club 24 honour roll during CWC 15 includes:
34 JO Holder SA v WI, Sydney [AB de Villiers (4nb62nb44426)]
30 SF Mire SA v ZIM, Hamilton [DA Miller (644646)]
30 JO Holder SA v WI, Sydney [AB de Villiers (266466)]
29 ST Finn NZ v ENG, Wellington [MJ Guptill (41) BB McCullum (6666)]
27 JF Mooney SA v IRE, Canberra [HM Amla (.24nb4646)]
24 MG Johnson AUS v SL, Sydney [K Sangakkara (444444)]