Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
Michael Clarke entered the dressing room.
"The king is dead, long live the king," shouted Brad Haddin.
"Hooray for Princess Michael," cheered Mitchell Johnson.
"Be quiet, Mitch," said Mike Hussey. "I told you your story about Pup riding to your rescue on a unicorn was only a dream."
"But it seemed so real," sighed Mitch. "The unicorn was kind, and pointed the right place to bowl with its little horn thing. And Princess Michael was kind, and not shouty like Mr Ricky was. And then we had ice-cream with flowers in it and nobody's mum got cross."
"It never happened, Mitch," said Hussey. "Just like when you dreamed that vast areas of this great country of ours were eaten by a big kangaroo and the only place left in Australia was Perth. Now shut up and listen to the new skipper."
"Hi everyone," said Clarke. "Now there's going to be a few changes around here. Firstly, I'm doing away with Gum-Chewing practice on the morning of a match day."
Haddin looked crestfallen.
"I know that Gum Hour was a big part of how Ricky did things, but it's time for us all to move on. Into an era of young, handsome men with all their fingers in working order.
"Now, I want everyone to mentally focus themselves in the best way they can. I'll be suggesting a few basic male grooming drills, perhaps some work in front of the mirror, maybe a bit on how to subtly attract the attention of a photographer when you're out doing something celeby with an attractive young lady."
Peter Siddle perked up and searched around for a notebook. Ben Hilfenhaus passed him a crayon.
"Obviously these drills won't be suitable for everyone," said Clarke pointedly. Siddle looked crestfallen.
"Some of the bowling unit," continued Clarke. "Might be more suited to a more grounded training schedule."
"Am I carrying your personal wardrobe up the stairs again?" he asked.
"Mate, it's important for the captain to look good," said Clarke. "And think of the fitness benefits."
"But surely you could at least take the clothes out of the wardrobe and put them in a bag, Pup?" asked Siddle.
"I mean Skip-Pup," corrected Siddle.
"I heard that Ryan Harris broke down because of the strain of carrying New Skipper's collection of women's celebrity magazines around for him," said Hilfenhaus.
"That is just not true, Ben," said Clarke. "They were not women's celebrity magazines. Some of them were actually male grooming publications with features about me. I'm going to reshape this team in my image, starting from the hair downwards."
"Because we're worth it?" asked Mitch.
"That's right, Mitch," said Clarke benevolently. "Because I'm worth it."
Ashes 1896 style, 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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