Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
Simon Katich, newspaper on his knees and tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth, worked quickly and diligently with his crayon. He crossed out "wayward" and "mentally feeble" and wrote "handsome" and "hostile".
He held up the paper for Shane Watson's approval. Watson read out the headline.
"Handsome And Hostile Mitchell Johnson Is Total Liability."
"What do you reckon, mate?" said Katich. "He always checks the Brisbane Morning Gallah. This should give him the boost he needs."
"Mate, it's nearly there," said Watto. "But it's missing a tiny ingredient. Like one of Haydo's koala gallbladder fricassees. Yeah, I reckon your headline needs just one key word."
He grabbed the crayon from Katich and scrawled. He held it up for Katich to read out.
"Look, Handsome And Hostile Mitchell Johnson Is Total Liability."
Katich nodded approvingly and began to sing "The Southern Cross" in triumph. Ricky Ponting entered the room, muttering to himself.
"Hello skip," said Watson. "We're working on the strategies for remotivating Mitch that you talked about."
"Are we bringing back flogging?" asked Ponting hopefully.
"Not corporal punishment, skip, mate," said Katich. "Media management." He showed Ponting the doctored newspaper.
"Bloody idiot, Katto," said Ponting. "You've left in the bit about him being a Total Liability. What happens if he sees this?"
"He'll probably lock himself in the dunny again," said Katich.
"Remember at Lord's when we had to lure him out with a bit of cake and a cowbell?" said Watson. "I thought we'd never get him on the paddock after lunch."
"I thought that was just because he was hiding from his mum," said Katich.
Mitchell entered the room. He tripped over a kitbag and spilled the cup of milk he was carrying. He hurled the beaker at the sink. It missed. Mitchell sighed.
"Look you blokes, we can't let him see these," hissed Ponting, gesturing to the pile of newspapers.
"Hi everyone," said Mitchell Johnson. "Is there cricket today?"
An idea struck Ponting. And they said he wasn't an innovative captain.
"Aw, no mate," he said. "No, it's the light. No cricket because of the light."
Mitchell peered out of the window.
"But it's all sunny," he said. "People have got ice-creams."
"That's right mate," said Ponting. "It's so sunny that it could be actually dangerous. The safest thing to do is for us all to get in this cupboard and lock ourselves in and hide until it gets a bit darker. Now, you go in first…"
Ashes 1896 style? 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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