Not yet Tied, But Testing

It started when Tony Abbott won the toss and decided to bat. The pitch had a bit of movement in it, but with careful application there were runs to be had. The opponent was disheveled having just changed captains following a bloody coup some two months before. The previous captain left reluctantly after an emotive and tearful farewell, the knives in his back protruding through his suit coat. Questions were being asked, “Why don’t they remove the knives?”, and “Who put the knives in anyway?” But there they stayed for all to see.

The mutterings of discontent from Gillard’s camp were loud and blunt. Abbott knew if he was ever going to beat this mob it is now. He was a rank outsider just a few months back but Kevin’s loss of form and sacking (from Julia’s team) has given Tony a sight. He steels himself.

Gillard knows he’s a formidable opponent despite the lack of technique.

Abbott applies himself well. Most of his early runs came with straight bat shots between mid-off and mid-on. He leans on the bat and lets the ball come off at its own pace. Tony knows this will be a marathon. He starts slowly and methodically. The field isn’t sure whether to come up or stay back. Tony has them nonplussed. They weren’t expecting this.

Usually he’s a nervous starter is Tony, but once he gets set many opponents tend to underestimate him. He accumulates runs like Katich; grafting, determined and disciplined. All of a sudden he’s away. No one is really sure how he does it. At this point he tends to open up the shoulders. Runs begin to flow from the horizontal bat shots. The gully gets dropped back to deep third man and Tony milks the gap. He pulls anything short through mid wicket, or even goes over mid wicket. Give him half a chance and he’ll put you over square leg as well. The crowd loves it, the media circles and writes complimentary words about him. Tony’s on top.

But with each blazing square cut or full bodied hook shot those in his change room begin to get edgy. They’ve seen it before. Tony has the attack at his mercy. He’s plundering the incompetent opponent. He’s smile is increasing in size. He looks a winner. Then he acts rashly.

On 74 he does it, that senseless, loose play; a backward sweep then an attempted flick through mid wicket against the leggie. It’s dangerous and unnecessary. He survives but only just. At the end of the over his batting partner has a chat with Tony to calm him down as they both attend to a bit of mid pitch gardening. The conversation takes place from behind helmet grills and with heads down. It’s a secret admonishing for Tony; a Claytons reprimand. After all he is the captain. He can’t be blasted in public.

“Tony!” yell his supporters from the grand stand, “Tony, settle down. Mid-off to mid-on Tony!”

Meanwhile those supporting Gillard are getting very jittery. They don’t understand the bowling attack.

“Bring on the real Julia!” they plead from the outer.

But the captain (whose face no one has ever seen) won’t listen. The real Julia stays at third man. The other Julia is bowling without venom. The ball is hitting the pitch and sitting up for Tony to belt and whilst Tony is somewhat restrained he’s still taking the bowling for plenty and occasionally hitting Julia back over her head for six. It’s getting embarrassing.

The real Julia can’t take it anymore. An animated conversation takes place at the end of twenty five overs. The real Julia demands the ball, insists on being given the ball. It’s an unsightly public spat but the real Julia wins the day. The captain (face shrouded under a large sun hat) relents. The real Julia strides to the top of her mark.

“Now you’ll see some real pace bowling” she’s heard to yell to Tony.

The change in the game is instantaneous and palpable. Tony continues to smile and stride around the crease but he’s wary now. Some of his bluster has gone.

The real Julia immediately attacks the batsman. Tony is fending them off his hips and throat. The umpire signals “no ball”. The real Julia is somewhat rattled but persists. She can’t understand why some of her team mates aren’t putting in as hard as she is. The media smells a rat and commences writing about a rat. The rat never emerges but its smell permeates the game.

After 50 overs Tony’s team has made 238. It should have been more but it could have been less.

Now the real Julia must face the bowling. She scratches around looking awkward and out of rhythm. She decides to slow the game down. Every time Tony attacks her off the long run she steps away and holds up her hand to the umpire, palm first, like a pedestrian crossing attendant.

Tony goes crook. “This is a soap opera” he yells. But the umpire stands unmoved.

Some of the real Julia’s team mates have gone missing.

“Where’s Wayne?” someone asks, “and where’s Baldy?”

“Who?”

“You know, Baldy. What’s-his-name” (dances around like a lunatic)

“Oh you mean Garrett………… don’t know.”

Her team is relying on polish and reputation to get them through. It might not be enough.

The real Julia settles in at last. She hits a few boundaries but they come as a result of miss-fields rather than sweet timing. She doesn’t care, she’ll take them anyway she can.

Has she left herself enough overs? She begins picking off the runs but the target doesn’t seem to be getting closer. She’s playing it like Michael Bevan used to; leaving it to the last possible moment to launch an attack. Or is she? Does she have an attack left in her? Does Tony have her measure? Can the real Julia start hitting a few over the top of the fielders?

With two overs to go the real Julia needs 12 runs. How did she get this close? Tony must be cursing those few slow early overs. Tony is still bowling a tight line and length. Julia lashes out but finds the fieldsman. She lashes again. Same result. She won’t make it. But then the inexplicable happens. Tony bowls a wide, gets angry and bowls a wild delivery that goes over the keeper’s head – four byes!

The real Julia finds heart and continues to pick off runs. One ball left and Julia needs four runs. It’s been an improbable comeback but arguably she shouldn’t have been in such a tight spot to begin with. Tony bowls, the real Julia needs to lay bat on ball. She swings, she hits.  The ball comes off an inside edge and flies to the left of a fieldsman. He needs to stop it or it will go for four and the real Julia will win. If he stops it he can restrict her to one and snatch a mighty victory.

The fieldsman throws himself sideways ………………………..to be continued.

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Get meaning from catching a beautiful curling wave. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sopranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.

Comments

  1. David Downer says:

    Very clever Dips …I take it the fieldman is Bustling Bob Katter??

    DD

  2. DD – it could be a West Australian called Hasluck.

  3. My mother used to say “greens are good for you”

  4. I know what you are going to say now Dips.

    All that fibre gives you the s—s.

  5. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Yes, very clever Dips. How ironic that we have such intrigue now after such a disappointing campaign by the major parties.

  6. Phantom – actually I was going to say that I prefer a nice juicy eye fillet, but your comment is much better!!

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