Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
Jimmy Anderson brought the meeting to order, banging on the tabletop with his Nintendo Wii controller. Ian Bell came trotting over excitedly.
"Are we playing Nintendo Wii Tennis on the Nintendo Wii?" he asked. "Excellent! Bagsy be Tiger Tim Henman. You know something? They said Ian Bell didn't have the temperament for top-level console playing. But the Ian Bell you see today is a very different player to the one what struggled with the mental side of Nintendo Wii on his emergence onto the scene a few years ago."
"No, Belly," said Jimmy. "No Nintendo today. And get out. This meeting is just for members of The Bowling Attack. Draw the curtain behind you on your way out."
Bell trudged off, pulling the sheet that served as makeshift curtain behind him, cutting off one corner of the dressing room. A cardboard sign pinned to the wall read: "England Attack Clubhouse: Leeder @JimmyAnderson9. No ENTRY!!!!!!!!! KEEP OUT!!!!!"
Bell looked at it sadly, and went back to practising his shadow boxing in front of the mirror.
"Right lads," said Anderson. "Now, bad result obviously. But how can we improve for Melbourne? By getting into their faces more, that's how."
There was a murmur of approval. Chris Tremlett crushed a beer can on his head in a macho fashion, but with only moderate success. Standing on a handy ladder, an England physio discreetly patched up the bleeding cut.
"Now Finny," said Jimmy. "You got in some good sledges but a lot of your abuse was a bit wide of the mark. I used to be like that. Just spitting swearwords out at random. Remember to focus on your key areas. What are the key areas, Finny?"
"Call their mum a bad name, stare hard, say they're rubbish at cricket."
"Good lad," said Jimmy. "But let's have a look at a video replay of you against Brad Haddin."
Graeme Swann produced a cameraphone and showed it to the other bowlers. They watched.
"Okay Finny," said Jimmy. "So you've walked past Haddin at the end of an over - good work on the excellent filming, by the way, Swanny."
"I've been on a training course," said Swann. "I'm going to host my own bantertastic chat show once I finish cricket. And film it too. And direct it. I'm going to be a banter auteur."
"I don't know what that means, but it sounds like top banter," said Jimmy. "Now look, Finny. You've walked past Haddin, you've got in a nice accurate dig about him being a see-you-next-Tuesday. But then you've just tried to over-complicate things by asking him "How's your sister?" in a sarky way, while also adding that he enjoys playing with himself a bit too much. All good areas to hit, but you've just loss your radar a bit. And what's the result?"
They watched the cameraphone.
"I've said to him 'How's your tosser, sister?'" said Finn sadly.
"That's right," said Jimmy. "No good at all. Don't be down on yourself, Finny, but you've still got a long way to go before you're abusing opponents with consistent accuracy. For the next Test we might go with Bres, see if he can offer something a bit different."
Bresnan woke with a start, dropping his Scotch egg.
"Tha's nobbut a gret fookin Jessie," shouted Bresnan, to nobody in particular.
"I didn't understand a word of that," said Tremlett. "The Aussies won't even know what he's trying to say."
"Given how well the abuse worked last time, that might not be a bad thing," said Anderson. "Meeting adjourned."
Ashes abuse, 1896 vintage, in WG Grace Ate My Pedalo, a Victorian cricket annual by Alan Tyers and illustrated by Beach. Order here and here. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)
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