Since being in Australia, I have once again been working on my bowling. A prodigiously gifted spinner in my youth, I shamefully neglected my art being as batting was my stronger suit.
However, the hard pitches here lend themselves to my wizardry and it pleases me to see batsmen perplexed by my variations.
Midway through the opposition innings, a partnership has developed. The captain has been trying to encourage some of his younger bowlers, but this is a man’s work.
Handing the umpire my cap, I smooth down my cream flannels. I look immaculate. I take the ball and eye the batsman. I have been analysing his game from my vantage point at deep square leg and I have identified several weaknesses. Now I will exploit them.
I take a couple of paces and deliver the ball, spinning it ferociously. It will pitch, beat the bat and strike the stumps. I can already see it in my mind’s eye.
But I have misread the pitch. Clearly it is much slower than I thought. The batsman leans back and cuts the ball for four. I let fly a huge, bestial roar. The game is on.
A bowler’s duel with the batsman is a chesslike game of cat and mouse and whoever blinks first gets to roll the dice.
I deduce that the quicker ball is what is needed here. I may be a spinner, but I have an arm like a runaway locomotive. I narrow my eyes and execute my plan.
It is a peach of a delivery and onto the batsman in a flash. His reflexes are too slow and the ball strikes him in the face, bringing forth a crimson gush of blood. I may not have his wicket, but I have his number now.
Criminally, the umpire rules it a no-ball and asks that I be removed from the attack on the grounds that I overstepped by 20 yards.
I kick the stumps at him and exit the field of play with the serene dignity afforded to only the very few. I feel I am a role model for the younger players, who, to a man, admire my restraint. Without question, they admire me and want to be me.