Coach2.0 issued firm instructions to the catering staff that breakfast would be simpler for the remainder of our stay in Birmingham – we arrived in the team dining room to find a whole lot of WeetBix, yogurt and fruit, and bugger all fried pork products. The younger members of the squad [Ed. Yes, there are some] were not happy not to be chowing down in their Midlands middle-cut, while The Freak was grinning from ear to ear, a banana in each hand.
The Prof had just texted room service arranging for a more appropriate meal to be served in our suite when Coach2.0 appeared with a gross of tennis balls.
“Quick fielding drill, chaps.” He fired the balls in all directions, his tennis racquet flicking back and forth faster than a politician signing up for a tax-payer funded trip. Whenever a ball bounced out of an outstretched pair of hands, he yelled “GIVE ME FIVE!” The room went silent when Junior Junior March tried to “high-five” him after dropping a catch into a jug of orange juice. “FIVE PUSH UPS!” Coach2.0 said, putting JJ right in short order. We cut a strange looking crew once each of the squad had about ten tennis balls in our pockets.
“How long is this going to go on for? Our eggs will get cold,” said The Prof under his breath, but Coach2.0 wasn’t messing about.
“Bus to training leaves in 20 minutes. Don’t be late!”
We managed to eat our eggs, get dressed and make it to the foyer just in time. Coach2.0 gave us a pretty full-on talk on the bus, then the training session was what one puffing over 30 year old described as “vigorous.”
Back on the bus, we were mainlining the salty sports drink of our choice when someone yelled “What’s with all the hooters?” We turned to see another 165 cm tall owl by the side of the road. It’s an awareness raising campaign for the kids hospital, with all the owls being sold off to raise cash in a few months.
“No, no and NO!” said Sarah, obviously thinking what we were all thinking. Anyone with the title Head of Marketing is born to be ignored, and it wasn’t long before we’d grabbed one and installed it on the back seat of the bus. I put in a call to Tubby Taylor to see if he had a spare pair of creams floating around – no one at current playing weight would have anything near big enough.
High spirits returned for just a few moment, but then we saw some newspaper stands shouting out the gloomy headlines from Edgbaston.
It’s Day 4 so just checked the score. England still won.
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