It’s been pretty quiet for us lately. While The Prof has been slugging it out for QLD in the Shield final, pity the head for PR for QLD cricket trying to get some column inches this week and drum up some sponsorship for next year.
ScratchYourBallsGate has taken over, and makes HomeWorkGate from my first tour all those years ago look like a minor blip – not that it felt that way at the time, especially as I made a rare Test appearance in its wake. (“What started out as a regulation team meeting this morning turned into a Quadruple Eviction episode of Big Brother.”) Last weekend I was taking a breather after a pretty uninspiring season with NSW and an unexciting end to the Sydney Grade season. (It would have helped if the Firsts had spent more time getting into the finals than reading @gradecricketer on twitter).
Anyway, we got the call from CA. While three other players were being called up “officially” (Rickshaw, Third Degree Burns and The Big Show) to have their averages and girlfriends’ reputations savaged by Rabada and co, there was major concern for the team as a playing unit.
“Will they be ok?”
“Will they do something silly?” [Ed. Unlikely to exceed their recent efforts, surely.]
The wise heads decided to fly The Prof and I over to Joburg as “Culture Consultants” to the team. Who are we to turn down a couple of weeks work in the current climate and the state of our careers? If anyone thought we weren’t on the lookout for work, they might start sniffing into the distributions from the Players Pension Fund #9 – and we’d rather they not go there, it would push the Banking Royal Commission off the front page. [Ed. I thought The Captain and the Vice had done a good enough job of that already].
Needless to say, the show ponies were up the front of the plane while we were stuck anonymously in Premium Economy, sworn to secrecy. We got to talking about Great Ball Tamperers We Have Known, and the experimental trousers that someone allegedly prototyped for England as the headed to Australia in 2013 came to mind. That pair of strides had an invisible zip built into the side of both legs, which seemed a bit “obvious” in the wake of South Africa’s “zipper gate” in Dubai that year. On the other hand, there were almost undetectable special abrasive panels built into the side of the legs, which were discussed at length over the last case of Perrier we could talk our way into. The main drawback appears to be the nasty rash wearers inevitably develop over the course of a day’s play – regular chaffing is surely enough to have to cope with.
Who knows what Camera-on Banned-croft would have got away with if the “Leadership Group” were innovators instead of being as dumb as a sack of wet mice.
As the plane headed into land, the reality of it all hit us. “Did you see how many OLED TV’s there are second hand on ebay this week,” asked The Prof.
“Leave it out. King Devereux has been banished, leaving a hole in the middle order the size of Punter’s bald patch. If we’re not careful, it will be 1-3 before we know it. Before Sunday, even.”
The Prof and I raised a glass to each other. We’re up for it. It’s going to be an eventful week.
Read the tour diary of the 17th Man’s last tour to South Africa: