Team-Speak or A Goblin Footfall


“It remained as a goblin footfall, as a hint that all is not for the best in the best of all possible worlds, and that beneath these superstructures of wealth and art there wanders an ill-fed boy, who has recovered his umbrella indeed, but who has left no address behind him, and no name.”

It was the Season of Goodwill, 28th December 1909. Edward Morgan Forster was in the yellow drawing room reading to the assembled house guests.  The ink was barely dry on his afternoon’s work on Chapter 5 of what would become Howards End.

The day before, the Squire had summoned Third Man. “It is such a difficult time for a host.  His guests have tired of Christmas but not yet dressed themselves for the revelries of New Year’s Eve.”

In an effort to amuse them and provide some worthy entertainment he had directed Third Man and the blacksmith, (despite great difficulty and risk to life and limb) to fix one end of a considerable length of copper wire (newly arrived from Mr Marconi) to the weather vane of the church, and to string it across several hundred yards to the lightning conductor atop the western turret of the Great House.

“If my theory is right and if this black box that the Smith and I have been working on does the trick, we may all be able to listen to play on the third day of a future Test match to be played in Melbourne, Australia in 2013.”

It had taken a great deal of time finding a signal free of the ‘noise’ picked up from the intervening 104 years – a lot of bangs and whistles – but they had managed around dawn to catch a post day’s play interview some team-speak with England’s new wicket keeper, a nimble footed and ill-fed boy.

The interview had gone like this:

(Crackle, pop, bang schzzzz) do you think that with Johnson bowling so well and from over the wicket with the ball going away from you, it was a bit risky trying to drive at one that was already outside off stump?

“You don’t (schzzz, buck, sssssssz, crk) get runs if you don’t play shots.”

Do you think there was added pressure to score runs (krrrrawww, ssssssz, schzzzz) at the other end from Johnson?

“We’re confident (pop, tttthippp, sssssssz, crk) we can score runs at either end.”

“Ah,” had exclaimed Forster, “a goblin footfall.”

+ besides to E.M. Forster, Third Man is indebted to Tom McCarthy and his novel C for inspiration and for his generosity in allowing in the black box free use of various patented concepts belonging to the INS.

++ to be more explicit, the answers given by this vulnerable young talent reveals all that is wrong with Team England’s thinking and approach on the present (2013) Ashes Tour.

+++ win or lose tonight, a lot must change.



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3 responses to “Team-Speak or A Goblin Footfall

  1. 3rd man – this was one of things that really disappointed me about the play on the 3rd day at Melbourne. Pietersen was playing calmly and well and showing the otheres how to play on this pitch. Stokes had a rush of blood and holed out. We can forgive him in his 3rd match. Bairstow has played international cricket. He has faced fast bowling from Roach and Steyn, so he should know the ropes. He thrashed some boundaries off Lyon, suggesting that modern players do not deal in singles or know how to assess conditions.

    In this match, Pietersen has regularly shown the value of pinching singles, rotating the strike – scoring where and when you can without effort or risk, playing outside his norms. His 50 in the first inninhgs had at most 2 boundaries and one was a lucky escape. Bairstow thrashed at Johnson, firm-footed like Brian Luckhurst in 1975 against Thomson. Is he a real hope anymore?

    Pietersen consulted Bresnan and Broad and seemed to say that he would take Johnson….and they immediately thrash wildly at a non-turning off-spinner bowling round-the-wicket, in the style pioneered by Vallance Jupp, I believe.

    I wonder how much they would make if they had to face up to SF Barnes. It suggests that this team has disintegrated mentally – and the only ones still capable of batting are Cook and the much and unjustly abused Pietersen. They are the ones who have adapted to the surface – pushing singles…not driving unless they are right on top of the ball – the rest have been utterly clueless.

    It is deeply disappointing. The terrible thing is that Bell, a very capble batsman, seems to be unable to assess conditions before launching into ambitious strokes. He either bats in 1st gear or 4th – how did Chanderpaul and Sangakkara and Jayawardene learn how to cruise through the gradations and where did English batsmen lose them – mind you, the same can be said of the Australians!

    I will refrain from comment on the first hour of the day, where mindless bowling from Anderson and Broad allowed Haddin and Lyon to add 40 runs that should never have been completed.

  2. man in a barrel, thank you so much for this contribution – enormous in scale, and written before the debacle of Day 4.

    It took 20 years for England’s cricketing culture of 2013 to develop …

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