Anaphylaxis is an acute allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive. Like losing. Maybe not the fact of losing – this is the fourth consecutive loss so it hurts as much as stepping on a rusty bail and copping a tetanus booster in the bum from some unfeeling quack. Nah. The sensitivity is to losing in Perth to an under strength South African side full of ‘village’ bowlers. The embarrassment rides through your subconscious like a runaway freight train.
None of this deterred The Freak. He and Junior Junior Marsh were busy lifting a few kegs of the South African brew, from the ice baths where the Proteas stored them, onto the team bus. They think they can make a killing selling them on the roadside on the way to Kings Park later on.
Faf was very kind to us all during the post match celebrations. I asked him about the declaration to start the conversation. I was with Puff who isn’t a great conversationalist, especially after losing. Faf said he wanted to declare earlier in the day and give us a real chance to bat long but he couldn’t bring himself to shut down Vern when he was having so much fun. Yeh, yeh. Against a full strength bowling attack. Yeh, yeh, yeh. Anyway it was hard to decide when to declare. There were so many things to consider:
- the request from Cricket Australia to push the match into the last session on day 5 (late declaration),
- putting the knife in (early declaration, early finish),
- extended batting practice for his lower order (late declaration),
- listening to Warnie & Tubbie (early declaration, to get them off air) and
- his own thoughts (winning).
He realised quickly that it didn’t really matter, so he talked to the Coach and took his advice.
Puff didn’t take to kindly to this. Bavuma joined the conversation. He could see Puff was turning red so he apologised for running him out and smiled revealing his perfect pearly white teeth. Puff took this in good grace – running another batter out on 97 raises all sorts of conflicts of interest and duty. He was thinking about how much better the contrast of black and white was on his OLED.
It was time to go. The Captain had had enough. His dog whistle brought us all to attention for the South African national anthem.
I caught up with the Prof on the team bus. He had paint all over his hands and was missing one of the lens in his spectacles.
“Tough session in the nets?” I asked with as much respect as I could tolerate.
“I thought we had agreed -no more pranking?”
“I couldn’t stand that bloody Castle stuff. I had to do something.”
I followed The Prof’s gaze out the window and across the car park. The side of the South African bus was dripping with paint but we could easily make out the words VILLAGE PEOPLE.
“That is edgy.” The bus went quiet as it does on a Qantas Flight that hits turbulence.
Someone began to bang on the bus so I opened my window enough to see a mass of hair in a tank top staring back.
“Don’t you freaking losers understand that offending someone is against the law?”
“Section 18c Racial Discrimination Act for God’s sake.”
“Sorry, we only play 11 and I’m the 17th Man.” I replied. I wasn’t going to take offence easily.
“18c toe rag!”
“It’s 18d buddy.” That was Puff. 18d is his area. He knows how to sledge.
“Who are you?”
“Never mind who I am.” Christmas, the new Head of Marketing who is not one to take a back seat returned fire “Mark Nicholas…. Listen honey. Go back to University. I’m sure you have something better to do.”
“Get lost. You’re one of the bombshells that follow these losers around like a puppy on heat.”
Christmas was temporarily lost for words. “You must be bipolar. Are your parent’s here?”
“No. Why the [expletive deleted] am I talking to you. Where are your parents?”
“I’m here,” said Coach2.0 grinning.
By this time enough of a crowd had arrived to fill a lecture theatre on 19th century art. A couple of the taller lads had paintbrushes and a fat girl in breeches was lashed in brown paint. It could have been some other substance. It was certainly thick.
Coach2.0 yelled to the driver to get moving before these thumb-suckers barred the exit.
The Prof thought he had stirred up a solid hornet’s nest until the message beep on his iPhone. It read “We are all global villagers. No hard feelings. Looking forward to Hobart. Faf.” A photo was attached of the back of our bus rolling out the WACA gates emblazoned with the words VILLAGE LOSERS.
“That has to be 18c as well, right?”
“Maybe 18d, fair comment.” That was The Captain.
He is still in shock.
(The Prof spoke to The Freak and Junior Marsh around 9pm. They are doing well selling Castle to out-of-work miners looking for a cheap night out. The big sign ‘Come and knock my Castle over’ they had staked on the roadside was a winner. A pair of under-worked hairdressers, the type with fishnets, short leather skirts and thick lips, even asked them out. Then all their friends and a few wierdos with hard hats turned up. The Castle was knocked off in an instant. That’s what Perth is like these days. Hungry.)