“If Dick Nyren taught Third Man one thing it was ‘Never sledge an alpha male, Third Man,’” opines Third Man to Camera 1.
“Lor’, will they never learn?” offers Johnny Small, his corporate shirt already sticking uncomfortably in the humidity of a November Brisbane morning.
“Of course we Georgian cricketers would have employed the verb smut or to smutter,” elucidated Davy Harris, his silk neckerchief, as ever tied around his ample waist.
“To shower in soot, literally.”
“Many’s the time we carried a bag o it on t’Down,” said Silver Billy queuing for his turn.
“Aye, nothin’ better than ‘Ambledon soot. Rare stuff.”
“Would you say this was Nipper Broad’s most significant contribution to the history of t’Ashes?” linked Tommy Walker from pitch-side.
And so they filled the air between our continents with their jolly reminiscences.
“Is anyone out there?” no one asked.
The Squire had gone to bed at 11.45 before the start of play. He’d seen enough: England upright and eagerly accompanying their National Anthem; Trott launching into the second verse before being ‘sent back’ by the lively Root; Australia feigning the bravado of their ARU cousins, arms linked with the frailty of a daisy chain – deep Terror in their eyes; without exception.
Off camera: “What’s Lehmann said to them this time?”
Off camera: “They’re stuffed before they start. Smith 5, Smith 5, Smith 5. They could reverse the order and make more runs.”
– How shall we fill our nights?” the poet asked.
– Following Will o the Wisps. *
* A Will o the Wisp resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths.