We were all set for our (almost) annual visit to Edgbaston for the first two days of the Test. Charlie “The Gent” Malloy had arranged everything. Front row seats in the Raglan Stand, digs at Harborne Hall, nets the night before the start of the Test at Harborne CC – even tickets for day two grub at the Spice Bizarre Indian Buffet (in honour of the Indian bowling attack).
This year, there were to be just the three of us; the third man being Nigel “Father Barry” White. Nigel is one of the elders of our Edgbaston visiting troupe, known as The Heavy Rollers, tag line – “causing havoc at Edgbaston tests since the 1990s.”
On the Monday before the game, I took a call from Charlie. “Bad news, Ged. It’s 50-50 as to whether I’m going to make it.”
I thought he meant that he was probably dying. “Chas, what on earth has happened?” I asked.
“Something gastric”, he replied. “More runs than Rahul Dravid.”
“Surely you mean that you have the Jonathan Trotts, Chas”, I quipped. He didn’t laugh.
We agreed that Charlie would cancel the Tuesday nets and try to join us later in the trip if he was able.
Nigel and I soldiered on. We had a tasty Chinese meal on Tuesday evening, cunningly avoiding the riots by remaining in Harborne. But it wasn’t the same without Charlie. We called him on the Wednesday morning.
“I’m feeling weaker than the Indian bowling attack”, he said. “I’m not going to make it today.”
So Nigel and I went to the supermarket and, at high speed, bought enough picnic food to cover all eventualities for the next two days (22 minutes, beating last year’s Ged and Chas supermarket picnic time trial by nearly an hour).
We got to the ground in good time to see the warm ups and settled in for the day. Later, we went back in to Harborne and enjoyed some tapas and wine. But the Wednesday had not been the same without Charlie.
Thursday morning, Chas called us just as we were setting off for the ground. “I’m feeling as weak as the Indian batting line up minus Dravid,” he said. “I’m not going to make it at all, fellas.”
Nigel and I got to the ground in good time, ate the remains of our supermarket picnic and just before tea we feasted on the bizarre Indian bazaar buffet. Very tasty. Later, we went into Harborne for some wine, but no food – we was stuffed. But the Thursday had not been the same without Charlie.
I called Charlie on the weekend to find out how he was feeling. “I’m feeling almost as weak as the excuses in a BCCI press release,” he said. “But don’t worry, I’m on the mend. You’re still up for the Edgbaston trip next year, aren’t you?”