Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
Waqar unveiled the poster.
"Top-order batsmen, we want YOU for the Pakistan cricket team," it read.
"Any takers so far?" asked Salman Butt. "Please say there are."
"We had one bloke in for a look," said Waqar. "He's a student, lives in Birmingham. Opens the batting for Perry Bar Thirds in their Tuesday League. He'd definitely be an improvement on what we've got."
"Nice," said Salman. "Ask him if he's free for the next two Tests?"
"Nothing doing," said Waqar. "He's going on holiday to Butlin's in Minehead with his mum and dad."
"Mum and dad? How old is he?"
"He's 12," said Waqar.
"Shahid Afridi years or real years?" asked Salman.
"Real, unfortunately," said Waqar. "His mum and dad won't let him go all the way down to London on his own."
"Shame," said Salman. "What else?"
"Well, we had this girl in, about seven she was. She wasn't bad. Decent defence, plenty of ticker. Rounders is more her game, really. But it's a no-no: some of the lads seen her catching the tennis ball in practice and got a bit intimidated."
"Too right," said Salman. "We can't have the boys being shown up in fielding practice by a seven-year-old girl."
"Yeah, not again," said Waqar. "And get this: she wasn't even scared of the ball."
"Blimey," said Salman. "Impressive stuff. Can she teach the boys? Get her in as fielding coach?"
Waqar nodded and gestured for a pen to make a note. Salman threw one over at him, but it bounced off the edge of the table, rebounded and hit Umar Amin. Umar began to cry.
"Anyone else?" he asked
"Well, we've had two more applications. But they sound like a couple of chancers to me: Test averages of 50, played 150 Tests between them."
"Too risky," said Salman.
"Mo something and somebody Kahn," said Waqar.
"Nah," said Salman. "Shot in the dark, innit. Better to get a youngster in."
"Yeah," said the coach. "Actually, the board have sent one lad over."
"Oh yeah?" said Salman. "Any good?"
"Well, he's never played cricket before as such," said Waqar.
"So much the better," said Salman. "He won't have had a chance to be affiliated with any faction."
"That's my thinking."
"We don't want another bloody row on our hands," said Salman. "Umar Akmal's already threatening to go on strike."
"Oh yeah?" said Waqar. "What now?"
"Says that new keeper dropping all the catches is taking a job that could be filled by a union-recognised Akmal," said Salman. "Says we're doing his brother out of a day's work. Reckons it's a striking matter."
"One out, all out?" said Waqar.
"Yeah," said Salman. "Same old story."
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