The predicted rain came today, bringing with it a bunch of “if onlies.”
- If only we’d made it to the end of the day yesterday and forced a face-saving draw.
- If only we’d tee-d off and scored 416 in a day to win.
- If only the Euro-zone hadn’t bent all the rules to let Greece join in the first place.
With no chance of Team Management being able to organize accommodation for us in London at short notice, we were stuck in Cardiff today and tonight.
Coach2.0 organised an indoor net session for us. Several of the batsmen were sent in to bat without pads, presumably so they could practice not using them as a first line of defense. The Coach then handed out a special set of new balls to the bowlers – they were some sort of special “swinging dukes” he’d picked up in a weekend market behind the hotel.
Soon the air was filled with the sound of raised seems cutting through the air and yelps of pain as leather thwacked onto shin bone.
“Stop backing away, you cry-babies!” yelled the Coach after a few minutes.
Mercifully, The Prof and I were both allowed to wear pads for our sessions. We were waiting nervously when Coach2.0 approached us.
“Right you two. I want to see what you’ve got. There are places up for grabs in this side, and I want the fringe players stepping up, do you understand?”
We nodded to his back as he went to supervise the application of ice packs to Hollywood Watson’s shattered lower limbs.
“Do you think we’ve got a chance of playing at Lords?” I whispered.
“None,” said The Prof. “He was just saying that for the benefit of the Top 5. Make sure they know they have to pull their socks up.”
The test bowlers seemed to lose interest as soon as we took guard – they don’t see much point in terrorizing the non-playing tourists. The local net bowlers, on the other hand, were keen to impress, and gave us a good work-over. I’ll need to cleaning the edges of my bat after I’ve finished writing this.
The “No win, no party” rule was enforced with vigor tonight. Our final dinner in Cardiff was in a private dining room of the hotel. The food was okay, but there was no alcohol and the mood was subdued. An early curfew was imposed.
There was no sign of Darren, and no pork on the menu.