Magical Realism in Cricket Part IV – Great Expectations

“There you have it, Gentlemen,” says the old Essex and England warrior, Graham Gooch taking the stage, weathered, stooped and coiled by tendon-tightening age like the veteran of many a campaign that he is.

“What your beautiful mother told you on her bended knee, Cookie; what your father bowling endlessly to you on the Cape repeated time and again, Trotters; what your teacher drummed into you in that posh school Skip; what your coaches yelled at you during all those throw downs, Belly … was wrong!”

“From now on it’s not ‘watch the ball’, gentlemen, it’s ‘expect the ball’.”

At this point Andy Flower takes up the theme. “It’s increasingly clear to us that the Indians have been perfecting predictive techniques for years, imagining the ball so intensely that they’re able to cheat time a little; learning to opening their minds to let the future in.” 

“Blessed if I know how else we can explain Sunil’s mastery of West Indian pace all those years ago?” interupts Gooch.

“Very good, Goochie. For every long hour that Sachin spent in the nets, we think Achrekar had him spending two more sharpening his ability to read those visual cues and make the right predictions.  What moving ball hitters have been doing instinctively for centuries, what according to C.L.R. James a batsman like George Headley did through the night before each innings, the Indians have begun to do deliberatively, scientifically, systematically.”

In what is obviously a choreographed presentation, Strauss seamlessly takes the floor.  “We are fairly certain that the Aussies have been using their time in India this winter to work up their own knowledge and put into effect drills to enhance the predictive capacity of their batting.”

“Looks to be doing them a lot of good, Skip,” interrupts the iconoclast, Bresnan.

“It may not appear to be working well, but we should expect a period of transition, is that right Doctor?”

“What’s the evidence base for this?” asks the team boffin, Collingwood.

“Dr Kuhn here is pretty sure that they have their own magician and illusionist working with them.”

“Yes,” adds Kuhn.  “I feel sure that they have been using the rather controversial work of  Mark Changizi.  We’ve been looking through all the recordings for any glimpse of him but we’ve drawn a blank so far, although, there are indications from peeps through to the back of their dressing room that various practices are being used.”

“Have we tried to get anyone into their camp?” asks Morgan.

“I’m sure you know why I can’t answer that, Eoin.” “We do, however, have someone keeping an eye on their Centre for Excellence for us, but I’m not at liberty to reveal any names at present.”

“Right then, enough of this idle speculation,” concludess the old Essex warrior. “I want all you batsmen down stairs, full equipment, in five minutes.  We have some new tricks to show you don’t we, Dr Kuhn?”

“And remember what Nelson flagged at Trafalgar, ‘England Expects …’”

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