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Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
The Durham dressing room rose for a rendition of the official team anthem, "You Shall Have A Fishy For Your Little Dishy And A Canny Nice Family Atmosphere Likes" and Steve Harmison called the meeting to order.
"Lads," said Harmison. "I want to pass on all I've learned as an England bowler to Onionsy and Plunky here and help them in any way possible as they prepare to go on tour."
Onions and Plunkett became attentive and stopped attempting to bowl Scotch eggs into the open mouth of a snoring Ian Blackwell.
"The first thing to remember about abroad is that it's often hot, the food can be dodgy and the tea- and coffee-making facilities leave a lot to be desired," said Harmison.
"You've got to keep your wits about you, too, as there's foreigners out there as'll rob you blind given half the chance. And that's to say nothing of the hideous diseases you can pick up from a cheese salad, and on top of all that, they try and make you play cricket the whole time.
"I'm obviously devastated not to be in the England squad but I accept the decision," he confirmed.
Will Smith's phone rang.
"Sorry, old chap," said Smith into the phone. "In a meeting now. Yah. Yah. Some of the fellows are getting a few things off their chests, bless them. Yah. Oh gosh, yes, it's all very democratic and whatnot. Anyway, must dash. As for the Championship money, I should stick the whole lot in Asian derivatives and pork bellies. Ciao."
Ian Blackwell awoke with a start.
"Pork bellies?" he asked.
"False alarm, I'm afraid, Blackie," said Smith. "Sorry, Harmy, do go on."
"As I was saying," continued the not-retired former England spearhead. "I in no way issued any ultimatums…"
Liam Plunkett raised his hand.
"It means you refuse to do something unless someone gives you something you want, Plunky," explained Will Smith.
"Oh right," said Plunkett. "Like when The Colonel said he'd only sit through watching Colly make a gritty 13 not out off 198 balls against Derbyshire if he could have another bucket of pina colada and a blindfold?"
"Quite so, Plunky, quite so," said Smith. "Carry on, Harmy."
"As I say," continued Harmison. "I never issued any ultimatums and I definitely didn't say I'd only go to South Africa if I could open the batting, not bowl, and Wor Freddie could come over as Official Team Mascot And Social Secretary.
"It just remains for me to offer my commiserations to Plunky and Onionsy for their England places."
"Congratulations, Harmy. Your congratulations," said Smith.
"Thanks skip," said Harmison. "It means a lot."
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