The Heavy Ball

The lemon-flavoured joy of being No. 1

Two England players bask in the delight of their new-found status. Or not

Alex Bowden
Andrew Strauss after England are confirmed No. 1, England v India, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day, August 13, 2011

"I say, we've topped the Test tables. That's absolutely topping! Top stuff! Marvellous. Pip pip"  •  AFP

Andrew Strauss and his butler, Carruthers, are standing in the drawing room.
Strauss: It feels fantastic, doesn't it, Carruthers? I'm seeing the world in a whole new way.
Carruthers: What feels fantastic, sir?
Strauss: Being No. 1, of course. Don't you feel it? It's like every little thing in life is suddenly coloured with joy.
Carruthers: I wouldn't know about that, sir. I'm just a humble butler, who despite an unchanging facial expression somehow expresses condescending amusement at his employer at all times.
Strauss: Even this water tastes better. It tastes sweeter somehow.
Carruthers: It's flavoured water. You never normally drink flavoured water, sir.
Strauss: It tastes like success.
Carruthers: If success tastes like elderflower and lemon, I'm sure you're right.
Strauss: This country is a wonderful place to be right now. How's your family, Carruthers? I never ask about your family.
Carruthers: Truth be told, we're struggling, sir. My salary is less than spectacular and Algernon and Bethany are being forced to make do with last year's croquet mallets.
Strauss: Ah, Algernon and Bethany. They're your dogs, right?
Carruthers: If you wish, sir.
Strauss: If only they understood the magnitude of our achievement in climbing to the top of the Test rankings, but I guess that's the curse of being a dog, isn't it? You can never appreciate the finer things in life.
Carruthers: I'll give them your good wishes when I tuck them into bed tonight.
Strauss: Carruthers, what's this I'm drinking again?
Carruthers: Elderflower- and lemon-flavoured water, sir.
Strauss: I feel that perhaps it is too sweet. Could you water it down a touch for me?
Carruthers: I could add some salt? The salt of 50-over underachievement, perhaps?
Strauss: I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that?
Carruthers: Nothing, sir. I didn't say a word. I was far too preoccupied with the dilution task with which you had entrusted me.
Strauss: Quite.
Meanwhile, in Castleford, Tim Bresnan bounds into Townville Miners Welfare Club.
Bresnan: It's me! Is anyone going to get me a drink?
Des: Get out of it. Who do you think you are?
Bresnan: Well, I'm one part of the best Test team in the world.
Des: You're nowt but an ingrate, I tell thee. Comin' in 'ere and givin' it all that. Where were you?
Bresnan: When?
Des: On Saturday. It were Stan's birthday.
Stan: Aye, it were me birthday. Where were thee?
Des: His 60th, no less. Come on. Out with it. Where were thee?
Bresnan: Well, I was in Birmingham. We'd just beaten India to go top of the Test rankings.
Des: Ee, Stan, you 'eard this? Birmingham!
Stan: Birmingham!
Des: La-di-da, look at me, I think I'm so much better than everyone else. I'm going to go and live the high life in Birmingham, like I'm the king of fashion or summat.
Stan: Who does he think he is?
Des: On Stan's birthday, no less. Ingrate.
Stan: Ingrate.
Bresnan: Sorry.
Des: Aye, well sorry doesn't cut it, sonny.
Bresnan: How about a pint?
Des: Aye, go on then. Mine's a mild. Stan'll have a mixed.

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?