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Nov 24 – Third Test – Day 1

Coach2.0 has been out of the limelight so far this summer pondering the high wire of team transitions. Start too early and you end up torching potential like a Salem witch hunt; misread it and you fall 300m from the high wire above Trump Tower. So he red inked the careers of the fallen, ruled a line under the final sentence “I survived when so many didn’t” and turned the page in his Diary. He had a smile on his face. For the moment the demons of doubt are buried with the dead.

Today was full of little moments.

The Capping Ceremony  

It is commonplace for a retired player to present the baggy green to a debutante. Everyone says the right thing and claps. They really mean it. The real capping ceremony happens after the new boy participates in an OUT. The new boy thinks he has done well and the crowd roars their appreciation. The players though seize their chance and clamber onto him. Everyone tweaks his bum. At one time, players used to stuff newspaper down their backsides to cushion the blow until this was banned when a spectator said he could see the page 3 girl through a player’s whites and the newspaper sued for breach of contract. It wasn’t very practical either to drop your trousers before the start of play to prove you weren’t trailing paper.

Everyone studs your feet clambering to smother their sweaty fingers in your hair gel if you do something good. Hair gel is better than mints. New players use a ton of it. They are the drug mules of the team. Keeping the shine on the ball is a team effort.

The team physio advises each new player to work out the cricks in their necks before play because their head gets a royal battering. Christmas and the Marketing team practice with the newbies using their stiletto’s as studs and pins as tweakers all the while telling them to not to roll their eyes or sway once the players drift away to their positions. Most importantly they are not to respond aggressively to any untoward advances. In the crush of bodies it’s too hard to identify a stray hand or tongue even with sophisticated heat sensors and forensics.

The cap itself gets stained early in this melee so a newbie can expect his pride and joy to look like a mottled forage cap pretty quickly. A new player is considered to do well if –

  • he can keep his cap on his head during the capping ceremony
  • the brim has only the single bend he put in it at the presentation
  • he can keep it on his head a few games later. The velvet draw string bag is just for show.

Basic Arithmetic  

All rule breakers have that bit of innate genius. Faf knows the laws of cricket and how to skate them. It was lucky he was at the non-strikers end. It was lucky the Umpire was in hearing distance. It was very lucky The Captain has a loud voice. It was lucky Faf was ready to declare.

Puff was fair at high school maths. He loved the questions about train timetables. The timetable he got wrong today was waiting too long to get back on the ground. The Captain’s loud voice last landed him in trouble at school when he turned around to the brainy bloke behind him and asked for the answer to the timetable question. This time Faf heard him ask the Umpire if Puff could open if Faf declared in the next 6 minutes. The Captain could see what Faf was thinking and thought it was unsafe to continue. The Umpire shook his head.

Faf doesn’t like maths. He heard the train come into the station and climbed aboard as soon as the doors flew open, like any innocent man. He had no sympathy. If you holiday in Syria expect to be shot.

Puff didn’t know what to say. Was it his fault? He looked at The Captain’s big mouth going up and down and realised that one’s thoughts are best left in the sheds. The Captain blamed him. The bowlers blamed him – they want a public apology. His mate Mr X, who he often hello’s on his way back to the sheds, blamed him.

When Puff entered the dressing room he was water-boarded for 20 minutes then told to pad up and sit in a corner of the balcony to reflect. He cut a lonely figure. Christmas took pity on him and said he could watch the OLED in the dressing-room if he could piece it together.

It didn’t matter in the end. Mr. X and Rickshaw survived unscathed. That’s lucky.

And Plopper is still on a high after jagging his first wicket in a billion suns. According to Wicky, that’s really lucky.

SA  9/259 dec. Australia 0/14

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