We won a dead match in a dead series. Cricket is an unpredictable game. Woooppeee. Coach2.0 put it all into context at the team meeting. “L, L, L, L, L, W.”
I think it was Maddison Avenue who piped up and said, “If we include the 5-NIL ODI losses that is L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, W.”
“You should be proud of your contribution,” Coach2.0 reminded him. “You added a lot of energy.” Maddison blushed like a suburban street in the early morning sun.
Darren, the over-worked team Psychologist, added some perspective. “And they didn’t have the Steyn-remover or ABdV on the park.” He thought this was the sort of positive self-talk from which a team always benefits. “How good were those run-outs!” The lights dimmed. It was pitch black except for the crack of light from the double doors at the back. Then the tape began to roll. The first thing I heard was a spectator calling Faf’s grandmother a mint-sucking (you supply the next words, because I am bound by the team code). Then something about Adelaide’s male pole dancing troupe, then some animated allegations about Cardinal Pell and Nick Xylophone and the price of on-ground beer from someone who sounded like the anti-Christ. Adelaide crowds are seasoned stump speakers. Faf must have thrown them a few mints. Someone then blew a whistle and a baby’s rattle hit the deck near the fence.
Quiet was restored in time to hear the next part of the tape. “Yeeeessss.” Rickshaw was sitting next to me. A million hands tapped him asking in hushed voices if that was Puff (vc) calling a quick single.
Puff turned around and yelled. “Yes, that was me you bloody urchins. Shut up.”
“I didn’t realise you were so sensitive.”
Puff wanted to face his accusers but couldn’t find the light switch. It was as black as an OLED.
“No. no. Noooo.”
“That was me if anyone is listening,” Rickshaw whispered.
“I heard that.”
“Yes. Run you [expletive deleted] run.” On the tape, Puff was screaming like a banshee with a mouth full of water.
At this point, the tape was slowed. The audio guys had worked hard to expose the next part of the exchange.
“Why are you coming? No means no. No run.”
“It’s my call debutante. Run”
Rickshaw took a couple of half-hearted steps down the pitch like a man with a broken leg, and stopped. Puff skidded to a halt. A car hitting a tree does the same thing. His engine was still running when he called “Yeeeesss Deborah, yes, yes.”
“I said No. I’m not doing it. No.”
A millisecond ticked by.
“Because, because…. The fielder has the ball. Yes, the fielder has the ball!”
“What? I said run!”
“No. Bavuma has the ball.”
Puff was mouthing something in the front row. It sounded suspiciously like “Come on, honey. Run!”
“No. no. Please. Don’t come any closer. Go back…”
There was a whiz on the tape. Presumably it was Bavuma flinging the ball to de Kock who lifted a bail off ever so gently. I mean he had so much time anyway. The overhead projector started up like an old generator and showed a confused Puff stranded mid-pitch with his green draw strings flapping. As he stomped away ripping his gloves off (in contrast to ripping his velcose), the tape rolled again.
“No run. Straight to a fielder. Are you mad?”
“No. Just the vice-Captain.”
Someone in the front row giggled
Bavuma told me later he thought of reporting Puff for abusing a debutante but he had a performance enhancing mint in his mouth and thought this would complicate matters. Bavuma has big eyes.
Someone behind me (a bowler) whispered in a loud voice that it is common for a debutante to get a blanket AVO against senior top order batsmen who wanted to run them out.
The Captain wanted to support his vice-Captain. “I got run out too…”, he said plaintively.
Mr X has a pearly white smile and cleared the air of any confusion “No means NO. If there is NO RUN, preserve your wicket even if you make your Captain look like a plucked goose. You might go on to score a big hundred like me.” He was looking very happy. Positive self-talk can do that too you and contextualise a second innings duck. Who is going to remember that? So we all pounced on him and ruffled his hair.
The lights went on and music blared from the big black speakers on the side of the stage. Then the Veronicas came on one by one shaking themselves down to the adulation of the front row. “Congratulations! A big booming win after a bunch of big losses. Are you ready to party?”
We were. First on the stage was Plopper, like a lizard after a long drought.
South Africa 9/254 dec and 250. Australia 383 and 3/127 (by 7 willing wickets. We could have chased anything.)