It was 1.35am somewhere in Hobart. Constitution Dock was across the water somewhere. The pub opposite threw a dull glow into the room I was sharing with Plopper. The air stinks and the air-con rattles. It felt like the opening to one of those trashy novels somewhere in one of those fly-over States in Trumpsville with a cheap bed and a glass of whisky. I reached for it but it wasn’t there. I looked across to Plopper. A red ball peaked out from under the corner of an old pillow. Plopper was snoring. He had a horn like a Nantucket steamer. I was going to whack him with a pillow but he needed the rest. Who put us in this room anyway?
I went for a walk. The night Porter recognised me by name. Then I remembered The Prof had introduced us the night before. That’s when I found out everyone else was staying at the Hilton in town. The Porter is a nice enough cad. He asked me if Plopper was going to be selected. That got me thinking. All of us, even Christmas, thought he still has a solid toe-hold on the number 11 spot. Yet The Captain hasn’t explained why he didn’t bowl him until after lunch on Day 3 in Perth. No one knows. Coach2.0 certainly doesn’t. Plopper is still wondering what he did wrong. Maybe it was his run in, or his loop wasn’t right, or he bowled from the wrong end, or he ate the last potato cake at breakfast instead of offering it to The Captain. He must have done something wrong. If only he could figure it out.
Darren had a long session with Plopper in the Hotel basement after the match in Perth. It was a strange interview location full of noise and dust. Maybe that was the point. Plopper said he was sneezing so much he could neither hear nor understand anything Darren said. [Ed. That might have helped]. Hell, he said he wasn’t even sure it was Darren. His interlocutor seemed more petite and articulate, someone with Hillary- like stature. There might be something in this. No one will ever know. Trumped. The Prof is a constant source of hard rationale advice on sensitive occasions like this. During their consult beside the pool, The Prof put a lazy hand on Plopper’s shoulder, trumped him in the solar plexis and said there was nothing to worry about. The system is rigged. All spinners suffer from paranoia. [Ed. I imagine this is what Bill told Hillary.]
Even Warnie, who stays in an upper class triple suite up the road, asked the Prof and I why The Captain had turned off the two-way pitch mic he normally uses to receive tactical instructions from the commentary box. Flying solo like that is a dangerous business for a new Captain during a tense match. What’s the point he pleaded of having two brilliant cricketing brains like him and The Captain (ret.) offering their best advice on air together, all day, when they can’t influence the game? Trumped. Yeh, it’s tough being a commentator.
The Captain (ret.) asked the same question by text. What was going on? Pup didn’t really understand. Why wouldn’t The Captain want his advice? Trumped. The only reason he wanted the Ch9 job was because he lacked confidence in The Captain’s tactical competence. He was doing it for the team.
The Captain doesn’t read the papers, watch the news or tweet. Yes, he had turned off the mic when the commentary team began to pillory his tactics. Why listen to uninformed claptrap from ex-players. Ex-players are like ex-partners. Trumped. They tend to gang around longer than they are wanted. Double Trumped. Coach2.0 thought this was a useful insight.
It was 2.40am.
Plopper was sleeping so fitfully I couldn’t stand the snoring any longer so I clubbed him with a spare pillow.
“What did I do wrong?”, he mumbled.
The air-con still rattles.