There is always one, and in this team it is usually Wicky. We were still having a leisurely breakfast at about 9 when he shambled through the lobby of the team hotel, heading for the bus and what he thought was an imminent team departure.
Finding himself alone in the marble-veneered portico, he was looking confused when the Captain sauntered in from his morning run. [Ed. He doesn’t need to suck up to anyone, who knows what he’s up to].
“Mate, it’s a day-nighter. Remember? It’s a 10.30 off,” he said, patting Wicky on the back.
Wicky mouthed something that wasn’t “Noice, Ga-ree” and trudged back inside to a loud cheer from the bircher muesli crowd.
An hour and a half later, we were sitting on the bus, waiting for … you guessed it, Wicky. The door was shut tight right on 10.30, and the bus edged away into the traffic. Coach2.0 is a stickler for these things, and there is no waiting around for latecomers. [Ed. Coach1.0 was a stickler for things as well, but look where HomeWorkGate got him. Coaching Pakistan!] We caught a glimpse of Wicky as he ran through the lobby and smashed straight into the glass doors that didn’t open at the pace required to let him escape unharmed.
At the ground, the Captain called correctly and we settled in for the day, resolute in our agreement not to go and make a guest appearance at the cess-pit swimming pool at mid-wicket.
It was a good tough day of cricket, but after the dinner break, The Prof was getting increasingly agitated. He avoided me through the evening session and I was only able to get to the bottom of it on the bus back to the hotel.
“What’s up?” I ventured.
“Pitch-siders,” he said in a whisper, looking around furtively. “Several of them.”
“Really? Never really understood that whole thing.”
The Prof shrugged. “Did you hear the nick?”
“The one where there was no appeal?”
“That’s the one. The pitch-siders heard the nick and laid a monster bet at good odds that Devereux wouldn’t ton-up before the ball reached the wicket keeper’s gloves.”
“How did they do that?”
“They set up little program routines on the betting sites taking into account the state of the game – they just have to press a button depending on what happens, and get the bets in before the live reports are processed overseas – they’ve got up to seven seconds.”
“That is organised.”
“They were high five-ing and singing “We’re in the money” and didn’t even notice the lack of any hint of “Howzat!””
“They packed up and went home. No money left.”
“Prof, do you know these guys?” I asked.
“Which guys?” He lost interest and put his headphones on.
Australia 3/288, Pakistan 2 drops and one non-appeal.
This work of fiction © Dave Cornford and Jeremy Pooley