Saturday, October 8, 2011

CricLit – The Sum-erset Of All Fears

SCCC-IA agent Alfonso Thomas
Tom Clanc-ingdownthewicket comes to the fore in this CricLit entry, lending his pen to a thriller that would put the world on a precipice. Perhaps one from which it might not recover as a new world order threatened to break into existence…
Chapter 17
The days were shorter now back home, Alfonso told himself. It wasn’t that the season had gone on late in India, just that days were shortening back in England. The earth’s orbit around the sun, and the way the axis of rotation was not perpendicular with the plane of the… ecliptic? Something like that.
The team coach dropped them off in front of the Chennai stadium, and he walked in, wondering when the last cup had been, aside from the 2005 Twenty20 Cup, when Graeme Smith was in flight and outlined by the Oval floodlights. Blackbirds.
About the only good news was that he didn’t bring the video of the CB40 final or the Friends Life T20 Finals Day – but that wasn’t quite true either, was it. He brought no videos home, but it was less easy to clear out the mind than to clear out the dressing room at Lord’s or the Rose Bowl or wherever…
Alfonso heard the sounds of the Chennai crowd, the TV was tuned to ESPN Star. The Mumbai dressing room was making noises. Toshiba Power Sixes. He walked into the Somerset dressing room to announce the team.
“Alfonso!” Kieswetter ran over to deliver his bat, followed by a plaintive appeal. “Alfonso, you promise we can win this tournament?”
Oh, shit… the kids were back in school and there was the matter of the other game up in Bangalore. Somerset had to, had to, had to… when! When could the run break loose. The semi finals were now half-done, and Somerset were currently his baby and the England players had come out a week behind, and he had to get them over the line if it was going to end this trophy-less run.
“I’m going to try, Craig,” Alfonso promised his wicketkeeper, who was too young to understand about any obligation beyond Somerset’s promise.
“Alfonso, you promise?”
“I don’t know.”
“Game time,” Trego announced. ” And tomorrow’s the Final day.”
Alfonso hugged each of his team mates, but the exercise in affection merely left a nervy spot on his conscience. What sort of a captain was he turning into? The start of the 2012 season was next April or May, and who could say if Somerset might have a trophy, finally, to their name for that? Better find out
Better find out the date of the Friends Life T20 and CB40 finals so that he could schedule it now. Try to schedule it now. Alfonso reminded himself that little things like promises to his team mates on the matter of trophies were – little things!
God, how did this ever happen. He watched the players talk in their dressing room, then himself headed out to the umpire. The toss was won. He elected to bat, before walking back to his team. He was banking on Trego and Kieswetter now. It was much more likely they’d get a good start, and his other batsmen were also more selective in their shots of late. The cool boxes held a bag full of – Red Bull, wasn’t it.
About where Lucozade Sport had been twenty years earlier. The taste in question was very fruity, to mask the amount of sugar it had, and lack of alcohol content, which wouldn’t have done any favours.
Alfonso looked at the scoreboard. If he were very lucky, Somerset might get 140/150 on the board before the Mumbai Indians chased. He needed those runs. At the ground, he lived on the hope that Somerset might win and his system was becoming saturated with expectation. Once he’d been able to nap in the dug-out, but no longer. By the start of play, his system was wired, and by late afternoon his body played a strange melody of fatigue and nerves that sometimes left him wondering if he were going a little bid mad.
Well. As long as he asked himself that question… A few minutes later, a wicket had fallen. Pity the sun had dried out the pitch. Trego had beaten himself for pace – he’d planned to be there for at least an hour, but… it was always something for Somerset, wasn’t it?
When he walked, there was that look of discomfort from the dug-out. On the way into the dressing room, he opened the locker door to pull a Jelly Bean from his kit bag. These he chewed and washed down with an energy drink, starting off his third bottle in less than 13 overs.
Trego was no longer there, though he’d left some foundation on which for Somerset to push on in the powerplay. Alfonso watched and saw some good running between the wicket. It was fine. He took the team sheet and flipped the batting order around, making the power-hitters his priority. Jos Buttler was now coming in next.
Alfonso settled back into his chair and allowed himself a smile. It was working. Going hard at the start would be the resurgence of Somerset’s trophy hopes. Shop owners in Chennai were loading up Scrumpy in anticipation of the extended stay of their English tourists. The team, explained Tresco who’d opted to stay in the town of Taunton, was after all of fairly decent potential with good players. The Champions League was a tour that would prove this. Champions League? Alfonso thought. Well, why not?
It’s worth it, Alfonso told himself. You helped bring that about. You helped make that happen. You took tickets, and if nobody else knows it, the hell with it. You know. God knows. Isn’t that enough? No, Alfonso told himself in a quiet flash of honesty.
So what if the idea of Somerset winning a trophy had not been completely original? What idea ever was? It had been his thought that would make it happen in Chennai, his captaincy had gotten the team through this far, his… he deserved something for it, some recognition, enough for a little footnote in Somerset’s history book, but would he get it?
Alfonso snorted into his Red Bull. No chance. Kieron Pollard, that clever chap, would be hitting everybody to all parts when Franklin, Symonds, Kanwar were all done with it. If Alfonso ever tried to get his bowlers to get them to play straight, it’d look like a poor line, bowling either to leg or off side – and not a good length.
Cheer up Alfonso. You’re still alive. You have the CB40, you have the Friends Life T20. You have the County Championship.
Pete Hayman for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Pete on Twitter @petehayman

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