Ashes Diary of the 17th Man – Jul 12

Day 3 – First Test

Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown;
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.
(Hamlet, 3.2.208), Player King

Coach was unusually reflective in the sheds after stumps. Blood oozed from his bandaged hands. His knee was encased in ice. He was a picture of peaceful profundity. “Great bowling. Up there on the stumps all day. Miserly. Niggardly. Slowly, slowly catch the monkey,” he said. “I don’t believe in fate or luck. Stick to the plan. It will turn for us.” Lucky took the opportunity to bend over to untie his shoe laces, again, and managed to duck under a swinging stress ball from the back row. “Dumb luck,” someone offered.


The Captain took over. “The DRS is not for use on the half-call. Save it for the obvious f….,” he cleared his throat… “errors.” He smiled and sat down satisfied that his new communication style was working. We all nodded sagely. No one had a bleeding clue. Each of us resolved to play on the same way as before. Darren wanted to say something about fate and luck, but Sarah give him that scalding teacher “Don’t you dare!” look.

The front row set to work deciphering the carefully written notes on the Ouja board RocketMan had picked up at the fire sale of Coach 1.0’s memorabilia last month. There was much to absorb. Roots, a few guys called Kevin, the Chef, Druids, Runes, Glastonbury – very weird stuff. Fate undoubtedly lent a hand.

The back row played a game of Russian roulette with a box of redheads, a penny bunger and a plastic sprinkler head. Mr. Darcy had some idea although The Kid’s skill and use of teeth was a real surprise. At the back, Trapper tried to interest others in a round of blackjack.

“No way. It’s dodgier than Le Tour [Ed. allegedly] I always bust early.”

“Counting is hard. You can get used to it.” Fate.

17th Man Web BroadI understand Stuart Broad could not believe his luck. He walked off at stumps believing he did not hit that ball.  “The umpire never gets it wrong,” he told a friendly journo. “He was correcting for Joe Root and Trotty yesterday to bring fairness back into the game.” Apparently Broad spent big on lottery tickets after stumps and really cleaned up. Root and Trott were by his side [Ed: allegedly] when he collected – motivated by a strong sense of fated entitlement.


The Prof, The Freak and I pondered the day’s events over a few lagers in the late evening. The “what if’s” held no value compared to what was now on the scorecard. The who offered more for idle minds.

“Anyone speak to the Umpires?”

“They never speak to the media. It would be a nightmare. There is nothing to explain that would benefit from explanation. Could Maradona explain his ‘Hand of God’ World Cup goal? Could the ref?”

Hand of God Adam 1

“No” I said.

“Lucky fate,” The Freak added grimacing.

“The rules are the rules. I didn’t hear The Captain recall Root or Trott to the crease.”

“No. And Broad decided not to walk. He expected to, but just waited there. Not his fault.”

The Prof was pensive playing an imaginary Umpire’s media conference in his mind ….

“That snick?” [Aust journo]
“Which snick? There were so many.”
“The Trott snick.” [English journo]
“Alleged snick.” [A journo]
“No. The Broad snick.” [Aust journo]
“Alleged snick.” [English journo]
“I don’t recall that ball. There were so many. Even the square leg umpire didn’t see it,” – the square leg umpire had neatly moved out of camera range. “The DRS’s were spent. Erasmus was asleep. The sun was a marbling unforgiving furnace out there. The pitch was like the fires of Dante’s hell. I was swaying like a cobra in an Indian bazaar.”
“What?” [Aust journo]
“It was late in the day. It was bleeding warm. I needed a drink.”

“So it’s all down to climate change then?” The Freak concluded.

“Uh, huh,” The Prof replied. “And they need a carbon tax.”

“I’ll pray for rain then?”

“That might be best.”


Eng 215 and 6/326, Aust 280

Meet the Squad here

OUT NOW – The Ashes Files 2013. The secret applications file that Cricket Australia assembled when they threw applications open to all comers. Ebook available at amazon now.

OUT NOWCoach2Coach – The story of Australia’s chequered prepartion for the 2013 Ashes, as told by The 17th Man. (US/UK)

© 2013 Dave Cornford, Jeremy Pooley & Jock Macneish

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