Disaster tumbled into the second day with the same unstoppable force it had on the first morning at Edgbaston and before it at Cardiff. In hindsight, Lords was like a false Arctic thaw, a splash of warmth before darkness closes in and every living thing hugs the earth until winter spends itself.
Unrepentant, disaster has rolled on like a vicious plague, spilling its cargo of hurt, anguish, despair, disintegration and sapping heaviness to every corner of every players kitbag. Every thought of every waking day, every minute at night is consumed by it, especially in the half-sleep before dawn when your mind tortures you beyond belief. Temporary relief only comes with the sun and the hope of a better day ahead.
Yet there is no better day ahead. This is The Plague of which Camus knew well.
I imagine the sleeping bodies behind the doors of this hotel and hear their even breath as the clock ticks on. There is no rewind, no recompense, no action now that can stave off defeat, ignominy, shame, retreat or retirement. No return. Our mental dislocation is complete. We have been outfoxed, out planned, out thought, out seamed and out swung, out batted and, worst of all, politely out sledged under the grey skies of an English summer.
I showed The Prof the 7 letters The Captain has received from Cooky so fat inviting him to drinks. “It’s not the invitation that eats him up or Cooky’s long words” he remarked. “What kills him is not responding, a reminder of another dark day. It eats him up.”
“Has he seen a shrink?”
“They all have.”
“Do they, you know, use those ink card things?”
“As it happens yes.”
Apparently, The Captain told the shrink she was crazy to think spilling arterial blood into a saucer would help his neurosis, or his dodgy back. To every card he replied stoically “Winning the Ashes in England”, including the picture of a loved one falling through a cloud trying to find a parachute that isn’t there. Trapper didn’t even turn up to his session. The Prof said his session turned into a game of scrabble. His word ‘psychopath’ won, in the end. He left her in the foetal position on her fluffy floor rug and called for help.
The scuttlebutt tonight is consumed by the identity of the 8 members of this touring party Ricky Ponting says are unlikely to play another test (or series) for us. Punter is, as he says with a wry smile, out of it now. But he is taking, perhaps, some unnatural delight in these events.
The Freak and I sat down and drew up the list. Here are the first four:
1. The Natural (knee)
2. Wicky (took a rest… part of the old middle order)
3. UnLucky (pre-announced)
4. Hollywood (form… part of the parenting middle order)
The next four is anyone’s guess, excluding the Prof and I. Maybe The Captain – take your pick.
Oh. Was there a plan for today? Yes. Plans A-E were all about staying at the crease. Plan F… well, that was to pray for more good luck than the 3 dropped catches and 3 no balls caught in slip before stumps. Not even a bookie would count on that.
Did the plan come off? Yes, compared to 60, 7/241 is 4x better, but we are still 91 behind. As they say if someone runs past you on the track the best way to catch up with them is to wait until they lap you.
Only UnLucky and Puff (50’s) can hold their heads high today, and Adam (& Eve) who is 48no. But the billy cart is a long way down the hill heading towards the gutter.
With 3 days to go and 3 wickets in hand salvation is no closer than it was at Thermopylae in 480 BC.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae!
(Lord Byron, Don Juan)
Aus 60 & 7/241. England 9/391 dec. (We are in a box awaiting burial in a corner of England far from home.)