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July 10 – First Test – Day 3

The CA Media team didn’t know what to make of today, until The Captain summed it up nicely “Shit… shit, shit, shit.”

So the Media team released a video of Michael Clarke being hit in the balls in December 2012. It didn’t look that bad; he was batting with a box and it only cut him in half. He wasn’t fielding in slips without a box. And they toyed around with ball type sentences ‘No ball’, ‘odd ball’, ‘ballz up’, ‘hard ball’, ‘fat ball’, ‘one good ball is better than none’, ‘a ball in the hand is worth two in the bush’, ‘What ball is that?’, anything to distract the attention of the media from dissecting today’s performance.

At the team meeting Coach2.0 was at his philosophical best. “We have taken the 20 wickets we need to win. There is the small matter of scoring 412 but we can take our time.”

Someone in the back row added “Yes, we are in the box seat.” I think it was Darren, the team psychologist. The Prof had a quiet word with him afterwards, told him England was in the box seat and to go and get a reliable two day weather forecast. Coach2.0 then replayed the batting videos from the first innings. All we have to do is not get out before scoring 50. “Otherwise enjoy yourselves. The last time it was this bad was in 2013.”

The Captain finished off saying it would be good to sleep on it. It always helps unless you feel like you are about to be castrated.

After lights out The Prof, The Freak, The Marsh brothers and I climbed out through Sarah’s window and down the fire escape to the Prof’s Bentley. We drove to a country lane outside Cardiff to pick up a sack of fresh lambs balls and a couple of specially modified willow slingshots from The Captains bat maker. We dipped a few in a 1 litre tub of Taubman’s quick drying ceiling paint and fired them towards a barn door 100 metres distant. The first few missed completely but the next 10 hit the mark. A young lad with his girl ran off shortly afterwards followed by an angry farmer, or father, who fired a few shots of his own into the air.

“ I guess it will work”, I said.
“This will help” The Prof replied as Junior Marsh produced a bucket of Duke balls. They looked suspiciously like our kit balls. Each was numbered in white paint. The Freak was so pleased he offered the Marsh brothers first shots at a unnamed English hotel later in the evening. We all bundled back into the Bentley and bounced along the roads back to Cardiff.

The Hotel Chef’s lads were staying was near a park fenced by a long stand of oak trees. We spread out into the tree tops and synchronised watches for 1am – I mean The Prof’s watch. No one else had one. We had to peer through the gloom waiting for his hand signal. 1pm came and went. I was about to climb down from my hiding place when Sarah (it sounded like her) yelled fire. The first lambs balls hit Chef’s window and bounced onto the pavement below leaving marks on the window that looked a bit like a dog’s noses. The second volley hit the sash and split without any damage but woke up the occupant who poked his head out the window and told the world to sod off. Then we got the formula right. Dukes through the open windows; lambs balls into the closed windows. We were quickly unto our stride peppering the Hotel with all sorts of balls and other cricketing paraphernalia. The Hotel was soon ringed by every stray dog in Cardiff – more than double the crowd that normally protests against G20 conferences – for a late supper.

The dogs began to leave when the ground started shaking. “Earthquaaaake” Junior Junior Marsh shrieked as he jumped [Ed. Fell, according to the medical staff] out of his tree. Then the wind came. I stayed where I was and watched as the limping Marsh, his brother and the Freak hopped into the Bentley which fish-tailed down a back street followed by a large searchlight from the sky.

I took my time descending from my tree. I hit the ground hard, on my face. Some bloke said you’re nicked. What? I turned to face two blokes in black ski masks with machine guns. Shit!
“Yes, mate. That Hotel is hosting an EU Human Rights Convention. I’ve never seen lambs balls and Dukes fired from slingshots.”
“I’m from the local pound.”
“So those dogs are yours?’
“Yes. I’m against ball tampering.”
“Who owns the Bentley?”
I told them I was Edith Piaf and sang ‘Je ne regrette rien’ all the way to the station.

Sarah accosted me in the hotel around 6am. “Didn’t you see the Prof signal stand down.”
“No,” I said with a bemused expression. “All I heard was “Fire!”… That was you, wasn’t it?”
Sarah blushed. I had a thought that cannot be printed.
“Where are the others?”
“Trapped by a farmer and his daughter in a barn on the outskirts of town.”
“And the Prof?”
“Helping MI5 with their inquiries.”

Everyone is after us. Shit, shit, shit.

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