I'd heard a bit about Duncan Fletcher from some of the England players. They spoke of an enigmatic guru figure who seemed able to sense just what was needed in any given situation. It wasn't so much the details of what they said that had impressed, so much as their tone of voice. Their soft, respectful way of speaking indicated nothing short of awe.
Gathered in that room, all sat in rows facing the front of the room, the squad was bubbling with excitement at the prospect of finally meeting the great man. Somehow sensing that his arrival was imminent, the conversation died down and as we stared at the door, there appeared that familiar figure.
The clothes were a different colour, but the look was the same. The collar turned up on his polo shirt, the broad-brimmed hat, the huge sunglasses, the distinctive jowls. He walked to the front of the room and turned to face us square on. Impassive behind his dark glasses, he remained silent and still for a minute that seemed like an hour, then he turned and walked out again.
We had met our coach, and looking round the room at my team-mates I could see renewed excitement in all of their eyes.
The training session
Like many charismatic visionaries, Fletcher had remained detached and aloof. It made his appearances even more momentous for their rarity.
I have been struggling to deal with balls angling in at me recently and had been having an unproductive net session when Fletcher appeared. Spotting my frustration, he approached the net in which I was batting. The bowlers immediately took a few steps back to accommodate him. He stopped by the bowling crease and turned to face me. Beneath his broad-brimmed hat, he stood impassively, his dark glasses giving no hint as to what might be going on in that giant mind of his. He moved not one muscle and said not one word, but after a minute that seemed like an hour, I felt the difference. I knew what he was telling me: I needed to keep my head still and my eyes on the ball.
He turned and walked away. I beckoned for a dumbstruck bowler to bowl at me, and after the Fletcher magic receded, he was able to. The ball struck the middle of my bat and I knew I needed to practise no more. I strolled from the net a bigger man.
The strategy meeting
With a tour of England looming, one of the major questions has been how we should go about dismissing Jonathan Trott. As he's a relatively new player, we're yet to establish a firm plan for how to bowl at him.
MS says that Trott plays across his front pad early in his innings and that we should bowl straight at him. I believe that we should immediately confront Trott with spin upon his arrival at the crease. Our discussion descended into bickering, but we quickly fell silent when we saw a distinctive silhouette in the doorway.
In his broad-brimmed hat and dark glasses, he was inscrutable. Facing directly towards us, he said not one word. After a minute that seemed like an hour, we somehow came to know what Fletcher was thinking and it was the perfect solution.
When he turned and walked away, Dhoni and I spoke almost at once: "We'll bring on a spinner and have him bowl at the stumps." We shook our heads in admiration of the bejowelled great we were blessed with. It was easy to see why the England players had such awe for the man. He was almost a god.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket. The quotes and "facts" in the piece are all made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?