Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
An ear-splitting shriek rang out over the training ground.
"Not my face! Not my face! Oh please God no, not my face!"
Andrew Strauss sighed.
"It's okay, Broady," said the captain. "No more boxing, I promise. You can stand over there and practise looking tough, and we're all just going to do a little bit of catching practice with this cricket ball."
"A cricket ball?" said Andy Flower. "That's pretty revolutionary, Andy. Would the guys not be better served with a session on their key skill areas? Aikido or platform-diving, for instance?"
"Look, I'm not saying martial arts and the forward somersault pike don't have their place in international cricket," began Strauss.
"Well, Tim Bresnan's showjumping has gone right downhill," said Flower. "He simply must work harder on his horsemanship and dressage if we're to have any hope with that Kookaburra ball."
"That horse," said Bresnan. "I think there might be summat wrong wi' it. I got on it like you said, Coach Flower, and it started wheezing and crying in sort of pain. And then it collapsed and one of the lads in the England support team-"
"He was a vet," said Ian Bell. "Like a doctor for animals. I seen about it on Blue Peter."
"Aye, a vet," said Bresnan. "The 'Official Team England Vet To The England Cricket Team' he said he was."
"Absolutely key member of the backroom staff, is Dr Herriot," interjected Flower. "Worth every penny."
"So this vet bloke put a green tent around the horse and said it was better this way, and it would be going to a better place where he wouldn't feel pain anymore."
"Is that what happened to Sidebottom, Coach Flower?" asked Steve Finn.
"Ryan is still very much part of our plans," said Flower. "Especially if Kevin manages to pull off that sponsorship deal with the dogfood company."
"Erm, well, let's not concern ourselves too much with that sort of thing," said Strauss. "Now who's for a jolly old game of cricket?"
"Not for me, thanks," said Pietersen. "Can't stand it. But my goodness, this Pedigree Chum is delicious, It certainly refreshes the parts other fast-medium left-armer-based dogfoods cannot reach."
"Can't we just play with the cricket ball?" said Finn.
He crouched in readiness to catch.
Across the other side of the ground, Chris Tremlett saw Finn and smiled. Too soft for international cricket, was he? Lacked the nasty streak? He cracked his knuckles. He began his run-up, gathering speed as he did so. Finn waited, oblivious. Tremlett drew back his fist.
Dr Herriot sighed. He reached for his medical kit. And still five weeks until Brisbane…
Check out a free sneak peek of Alan Tyers and Beach's new book WG Grace Ate My Pedalo here. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)
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