It was hard to judge the mood of the touring party as we traveled to London on the team bus today. There was a little steely determination to be felt, a sense that 3-2 is a lot better than 4-1. A sense that history won’t judge our “all out for 60” debacle as harshly as it might if we bounce back and win the Fifth Test at The Oval.
On the other hand, the fact is we were outplayed in all departments (and that’s not just batting, bowling and fielding, but also menswear, hardware, underwear and small appliances) over the last two tests. The team is left wondering where the runs are going to come from, breeding a sense of foreboding that this tour could end up as a rather bad looking 4-1 loss. We might have lost 3-1 last time, but we took solace from the “coulda-shoulda” games that said we were close under the guidance of the freshly minted Coach2.0.
And so to London. Back to the scene of our triumph at Lord’s. Trapper is keen to return to the blistering form of that Test, and now that he is officially Captain-in-Waiting, he’s keen to make a strong showing. The Captain is keen to go out on a high, and that would include an attempt at nudging his average back over 50 after it has been in steady decline after his back, hamstring and peroxide bottle retired about 12 months ago. Mind you, it is true that former England Captain and master tactician Mike Brearley would have been happy to nudge his average back above 23.00 at the end of his career.
The Prof spent a good chunk of the journey juggling his iPad and phone. Eventually he put them away with a big sigh.
“Organizing our accommodation has been challenging,” he whispered. “With effectively two Captains and two WAGS, and one of them in the family way, it has been difficult to meet our own modest requirements in the team hotel.”
“Oh. Because they both want big suites . . .”
“Expect big suites, actually. And that leaves you and I with King Deluxe Parkview rooms at best.”
“They should be OK . . . .”
“Not if we’re going to do some business while we’re in London. And some entertaining. There are books to sell, merch’ to flog, interviews . . .”
The Prof dared to smile. “It’s all a matter of timing.”
“What have you done?”
“Parker rolled onto the forecourt with one of his best Rollers about an hour ago. He waved some cash around and said he was looking forward to enjoying his booked fortnight in the Royal Suite. The entrepreneurial Concierge filled his pockets and made the arrangements. Sir Captain and his expecting spouse have been moved to the seclusion of a hotel three doors down, we have the Royal Suite with its private entrance, and Trapper has the Presidential Suite with the panic room.”
“He’ll be in your King Deluxe.”
“Dare I ask how much this is costing?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll clear the mini-bar.”
“No, the suite? The bribes?”
“Don’t worry. The Players’ Pension Fund No.9 hedged against the Aussie dollar falling, so we’re flush with funds.”
“Not a bad time to retire and withdraw funds, if you know what I mean.”
“I hope the liquidity is there.”
“Don’t worry about that, 17th, it’s all in order.”
I get very nervous when he says “don’t worry” so much.