We were all out on the field before play began listening to Coach2.0 make it clear what was expected today. There was no holding back. It reminded The Freak of 2013 just before Coach1.0 dropped his bundle and was replaced by Coach2.0. How quickly the wheel has come full circle. The English must be thinking the same thing.
When it is all going to shit in a handbasket, maintaining a positive frame of reference that makes any sense is hard. Events once easily dismissed re-emerge reconstituted with a seductive but mistaken interpretation of motives and actions of those around you that pulls you like an unforgiving tide. Indifference to anything that does not affect you walks down the high street with the new found resolution of a wealthy man. I looked around the assembled players. Most were scuffing the ground or shifting their caps back on their heads wondering how this was going to end. Everyone knows each other’s age and reconfirms it in their heads; no one wants to end up in the Sheffield Shield on the cutting room floor.
Tensioning consistent high performance is no easy thing. The signs of weakness have been around for a while. I’ve made a list. Some are more subtle than others:
The feather edges
- Someone removes your pullover from the back of the chair and takes your seat at breakfast. You have to sit by yourself amid the laughter
- The salt shaker has a dodgy top. More laughter from the other table
- Coach2.0 sits next to you and asks how you are going. You give him the salt shaker
- Roommates are reshuffled. Your new roomie cries at night
- The new batsman calls you through for a single to face the 3 balls before lunch
- A collapse is on. Someone has pissed in your kit
- England win the Ashes. Andrew Strauss returns KP’s call
The culture of entitlement
- The WAGS aren’t happy. A fox is in the chicken coop
- Ex-players dump a culture bomb on The (ex)Captain
- Ask George Bailey about his treatment by Ch9 during CWC15. Ask Warnie
- Plopper complains he wasn’t selected for the ODI team
- Everyone assumed Wicky would play at Edgbaston
- Ch9 gives The Captain a gig. Ask Warnie
- Trapper tells everyone he is not like The Captain. He is retiring no23.
Not everyone believes they are entitled. UnLucky just thinks he has been lucky to play (est.) 42 tests, and Candice has told Puff he is lucky he has been appointed vice-captain. Hollywood says he has had so many opportunities he can’t accept any more titles.
Trapper doesn’t believe he is entitled to the captaincy or that this team is entitled to win another game this tour. He must have been speaking to Coach2.0, and that was why Coach2.0 was speaking to us. The Freak, who knows he is not entitled to anything, slipped me his pocket dictionary when Coach2.0 had finished. Entitlement n: the belief that you deserve special privileges.
Reality has a strange way of reshaping perceptions. Out in the middle the batsmen collapsed again to 5/87, and again the lower order rescued the batsmen to leave us 9/312 when the game was declared a draw. I batted down the order, playing late as UnLucky had told me to, and striking every ball in the middle. I was happy to rotate the strike. As soon as I reached 40, I jumped down the wicket, played a square drive at a full ball and was stumped. I always wanted to do that. Besides, I would feel ungracious if I was to disentitle the top order in any way, by going on to score 50 or a big ton. I have faith that I can safely leave that to the bowlers who don’t feel so inhibited.
My average of 40.0 remains as it was. I like round numbers. Dad will breathe a sigh of relief. Amid the carnage of this tour he can hold his head high in the backyard [Ed. Apparently, the yardies finished the new 8 foot fence around the yard yesterday. The neighbours couldn’t see him if he jumped.]
The Prof batted after me. He was well out by tea LBW for 23. He said he was testing a new pair of pads with carbon fibre ribbing and finally received a stump ball he could pad up to. He didn’t care. Being the Chairman of the Player’s Pension Fund is an entitlement – it’s in the constitution somewhere.
Northampton 9/396, Australia 9/312 (draw)