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Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes

Flung phones, a pickled wildebeest and an alleged choke

A surveillance report from our man in the Centurion Park dressing room, disguised with a giant Hashim Amla beard

Alan Tyers

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Graeme Smith asked for a runner but Andrew Strauss didn't allow him one, South Africa v England, ICC Champions Trophy, Group B, Centurion, September 27, 2009
"Here's a deal. If you go to the press conference instead of me after this, I'll tell everyone you look good in red" © Getty Images
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The mood was sombre as squad members queued up for a post-match ice-bath and Heimlich manoeuvre from team physiotherapist Brandon Jackson.

Powerfully built No. 3 batsman Jacques Kallis appeared especially distressed. "There was a 35 not out off 176 balls with my name on it today and I blew it," he said. "I've let myself down, and more importantly I've let myself down." He toyed unhappily with a whole wildebeest pickled in cream for a while, before pushing it away only nine-tenths eaten.

Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah entered the dressing room to offer commiserations.

Herschelle Gibbs received a text message that caused him to react violently. "Steve Waugh wants to know what it feels like to have dropped the ICC Champions Trophy," he told the group, hurling the phone at the wall. It ricocheted towards Shah and appeared likely to strike him in the face, until Shah caught it comfortably. "Oh come on, what are the chances of that?" said Gibbs. "It's just not our day."

Strauss explained that the remainder of his team would not be coming to shake hands. He said that they were still in a state of shock at winning their third consecutive one-day international, with players variously composing their knighthood acceptance speeches, investigating freelance possibilities and having reinforcing hypnotherapy from Derren Brown via satellite link to make them continue to believe that they were still playing at Chester-le-Street.

Graeme Smith emerged from the shower and asked Strauss if he would mind chucking him a towel. Strauss refused politely but firmly, explaining that it was only to be expected that a chap would get wet if he went in the shower, and he was sorry but he'd just have to drip dry as best he could. Smith appealed to his own players for assistance, but none of them appeared able to perform even this simple task for him.

Coach Mickey Arthur appeared, rehearsing his press conference speech to himself. "I totally don't agree that there is a pattern of choking," he insisted. "This is an entirely different group of players to the ones who so-called choked it at the last tournament."

"And believe me," he added. "When we come to choke at the next tournament, it will be with a whole different group of players to this lot as well."

RSS FeedAlan Tyers is a freelance journalist based in London
Any and all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fiction (but you knew that already, didn't you?)

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Alan Tyers
Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.

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Alan Tyers Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.
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