“I don’t know who this is, but please exit this party line” I yelled into the mouthpiece of the Hotel phone.
I was mid-conversation with Thea back home. She was not happy. The new sprinkler system we (she) had installed last week was going crazy during the night. Sprinkler heads had been popping up in the front lawn and garden beds all evening. The local dogs and cats were beside themselves. It was no longer safe to take a piss or dump in the neighbours composted gardens anymore. And boys and girls who had climbed out their bedroom windows to cavort in the flower beds were assaulted by a bucketful of cold water.
“It’s outrageous” Thea was saying. “I caught a few pairs, animals and people, I mean adults, in the floodlights when I turned then on. The whole neighbourhood was awake”
“The eastern suburbs of Sydney can be like that. And it is Spring.” My voice trailed off.
“Are you still there?”
“Yes. What can I do about it?”
“Install a face recognition system and publish the offenders on Ashley Maddison for a start. I recognised a few. You know the barrister, down the road, with the cougar next door.”
“I remember. They ate all the curry puffs at our moving in party. Odd couple.”
“She yelled out sorry as they left. I suppose that’s something.”
The line went dead after that. The Prof knocked on my door. He looked very pleased with himself and handed me some closely typed script saying it was from his mate Dennis who had kindly taken notes of the English awards night in Soho. It was splashed with beer and something sticky.
“That was me”, The Prof confessed. “Breakfast marmalade. Sorry.”
I was about to protest but the thought of my gardens being used as park benches for recreation every night in Spring had me shifting from leg to leg.
“I thought you might like it for the Diary?”
A smiling Prof is more than I can stand. “I best get to it then. Thanks.” and pushed him out the doorway.
Dennis always leaves a small note.
“Dear Prof and your 17th mate,
The allegory runs deep. I cannot remember the last time I drank less watching a test for fear of missing another Aussie collapse. How anyone can write this up without mentioning a domino is beyond me.
Best to you and yours,
I unfolded the two pages of note paper Dennis had used to record the Awards and copied them into this diary entry.
The Investec Player of the Series Award: Stuart Broad, for an unbelievable, never to be repeated, ‘oh my golly gosh, not me, bashful’ game of chance look you expect from an English bowler for his Trent Bridge 8/15 (I still can’t look at the scorecard) to clinch the Ashes. [Ed. At least it wasn’t Jimmy.] Sure, it’s a batting award, but the bowlers won the Ashes.
The GM Batmakers Award: Adam Lyth, for “using a branded bat.” That takes balls for a bloke heading back to the County to rebuild.
The Brick Lane Bowler’s Batsman Award: Moeen Ali, for “batting at No8 with the technique of a No3″ with a beard that flapped like an old windsock.
The British Airways First Class Hostess Award: BA Stokes for “the most fifties (2) of all players who also scored 3 ducks in 8 innings.”
The Umpires Award: AN Cook, for “the best guard of honour in a test match for a losing opposition Captain down on his form, ever.”
The Bob Willis ‘No Idea’ Award: SCJ Broad, for “playing every match (5), most overs (143), most maidens (34), highest number of wickets (21), best average (20), best economy rate (3.05 runs/over).” Out-performance is outstanding. It can’t be denied.
The Return of the Jedi Award: ST Finn, for “a comeback beyond his wildest dreams.” 12 wickets in 3 matches at an average of 22.70 with his best 6/79.
The Abbey Road Award: JM Anderson, for “swing”. And the bowler who did as much as anyone to end the career of Brad Haddin with ‘that over’ in Cardiff (Watch it on YouTube). Jimmy sat out the last two tests. He said he didn’t want to cause any more damage. He was already the highest English wicket-taker, ever
Most Deceptive Arm Ball: Moeen Ali, “Floaters take wickets”. The Boy Root thought he deserved this award, but we distracted him with an all day sucker and a free tube of zit cream.
The Headmasters Prize for Consistent Effort: MA Wood, “I look up to Peter Siddle, a seamer like me.” Alastair and Jimmy stood up and clapped the lad off the stage. Back room wicket takers deserve recognition.
The Assisted Reproductive Technology Association Award: AN Cook, for taking one in the slips in the gentleman’s area, and staying on the deck in the knees locked position until the pain subsided and those standing around him stopped laughing. Does it hurt that much? Jimmy says Alastair is soft.
The Kensington Palace Award: BA Stokes, “The only time England have used a fourth slip in recent memory, and I grabbed at one. It stuck. Unbelievable.” We all shook our heads in disbelief. That line of slips looked good. “Four slips, I still can’t believe it,” Alastair said.
The Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak Award: GS Ballance and JM Bairstow for “sharing the load as the extra batsman at No3 and no 6”, when the ECB could find no one else. “I did ok. I’m proud. We won!” (Bairstow. Ballance is still trying to work out why he was dropped.)
The Surrey CC Pitch Award: JC Buttler, for “wicket-keeping and appealing strongly without losing voice.” There were so many appeals it would have tested a professional singer.
The National Gallery Modern Art Award: The Oval Pitch Doctor, for “thumbing his nose at ECB pitch edicts and thinking a car and an old painting was worth the effort.” Andrew Strauss said he never instructed anyone to green a pitch. Even if he did, it didn’t work.
The Brendon McCullum Chirping Award: “In the end we didn’t need it. The Aussies were so old, collapsing was just a lot easier than inventing a decent sledge.”
The Land Army Publicans Award: IR Bell, for “scoring as many single run innings as he did half centuries.” Alastair was just happy that someone stepping into the breach at no3 without complaint to face the new ball.
The Ninja Prank Award: Jimmy Anderson, for “authoring all 5 drinks invitations, and a few more that didn’t make it past the team censor.”
The Chairman of Selectors read out a statement from the Prince of Wales, Charlie, saying how good he felt to have spruced up the team before Cardiff with a personal appearance. Speaking to small groups was what he liked best. That way he can engage in a bit of salacious banter of the kind that makes grass grow under your feet.
Then the drums rolled and rolled and rolled. Andrew Strauss, ECB Director of Cricket mounted the stage. He said a few words about the way the series had been played. I think he used the word collapse on at least 10 separate occasions, and VICTORY once. IT WAS ENOUGH. When it was quiet again, Adrew announced 2 final awards
The Coach’s Award: Michael Vaughan (and Bumble as a consolation prize), “for his multiple appearances on Channel 9 without taking the mickey on camera or asking Shane Warne to bend over”. Off camera he loved every minute. He has such a nice upbeat perspective in contrast to the Channel 9 crew who were warned to stop swearing off air at the fall of each Australian wicket
A short break followed while Alastair took the stage to present the final award:
The Captain’s Coach Award: Trevor Bayliss, for “winning an Ashes series against his own countrymen” and being excused from prosecution under the Foreign Fighters Citizenship Amendment Act despite the protestations of the Hon. Tony Abbott, MP, PM
The place went wild after Alastair held high the little Urn again to the strains of Jerusalem and Rule Brittania. Everyone behaved like they have all series. I doubt if cricket was ever so boringly pedestrian.