Viv Tufnell: lies, excuses, arseholenessness
By Peter Zitterschlager
You know I’m pretty sick of fielding at batpad. Dave, our captain, has been putting me there ever since he found out my grandfather didn’t die. Like he’s really trying to get me killed, I tell you, especially when you consider how ordinary our spinner is.
Naz Mancini, as you well know, bowls gentle little offies for us. On the flat decks at Bellerive they sit up and say ‘smash me’. Worse, they now say, ‘smash me straight into Viv!’ I mean, I’m coming off purple and blue some days no thanks to Naz. Like, he really needs to develop a doosra, or an arm ball, or something. I mean, anything that doesn’t say smash the f@#* out of me would be great.
I pleaded with Dave to put me anywhere else, but he won’t have it. “After pulling that shit, Viv, you can rot.” What sort of captaincy is that? Letting your underlings rot. Dave, really needs to look at his man management skills. Leadership encompasses forgiveness, understanding and a tolerance for the different sorts of characters that are under you wing. What Dave needs to realize is that my claiming that my grandfather died is all related to a pathological problem or something. I mean, it’s probably linked to environment or socio economic factors or genetic predisposition, you know. Like, Dave has got to get more sophisticated about his captaincy, damn it. He really needs to come to terms with the fact that I’m quite possibly the victim here – me … a victim of circumstance. Until he does, though, I’m working with Naz like f@#* to get that doosra going.
I tried to picture the worm that runs shieldstats.com.au the other day. I imagined he’d be a spotty faced, socially awkward type with way way too much time on his hands. I mean, to research and analyze a statistic like “The most runs snicked through slips,’ you’d have to be spectacularly geeky. You’d have to be as girlfriendless as you were covered in acne. You’d have to be as computer nerdy as you were indoorsy. Shit, you’d have to be someone who’d have John Buchanan pinned up on your bedroom wall (and not in Queensland cricketer mode – in analyzing on his laptop mode!)
The worm at shieldstats.com.au has me at the head of just such a table. He footnotes the table with a claim that these statistics were compiled from data obtained from the States. Apparently, he gets the batting wagon wheels for each player from team analysts. Our team analyst is, of course, batting coach, Greg Merta. In short, a man who wouldn’t know a deftly steered ball to third man from shit.
Greg, maliciously and defamatorily, attributes just about every shot I play through that region to a snick. Is that so Greg? Like where is the recognition for balls I’ve steered though this region. Yeah that’s right, a great deal of the runs I score through slips are deftly steered that way. How come that’s not been footnoted? I mean, where’s the recognition for subtly played back cuts and skillfully guided balls to third man. Where’s the recognition of the myriad of nuanced shots I’ve expertly cultivated batting with an open face? Nowhere.
I emailed Mr Shieldstats.com.au to protest vehemently about Greg’s analysis, and got a paltry “I’ll look into it.” 3 months later, he’s still “Looking into it.” In the meantime I’m languishing at the top of his libelous table.
You know what I’m gonna do this week? I’m gonna email him again. I’m gonna tell him I’m about to set up a site called bloggerstats.com.au. I’m gonna say the first table I set will be headed by him. It’ll be titled: “Most acne cream used in the ‘looking into’ of a stat.” I’ll then say, “Look into that you f@#*.”
Eamon Gallagher, as you well know, bowls medium pace for us. And I mean, medium pace. I tell you, it tears me up to see opposing batsmen gorging themselves on his bowling. Like, it’s a real help yourself to a double ton when Eamon’s in the attack. A real walk in the park
Eamon, for all his shortcomings, happens to be the only teammate I can half stand. Actually, that should be quarter stand, coz he shits me 75% of the time, but let’s not split hairs.
Eamon is like a big stupid dog who you can really maltreat and he’ll still like you. I guess that goes for most fast bowlers, coz they’re usually pretty dim, but with Eamon, it’s even more the case. Indeed, Eamon is an extreme example of just how dimwitted fast bowlers are, so much so, that I’m always playing tricks on him. One time Mick and I duped him into depositing $10,000 into a Nigerian account I’d set up. We sent him an anonymous email the way the Nigerians do, and ten minutes later, Eamon thought he’d made the most shrewd financial investment of his life. It was a real pisser telling him later, too. You’d never have thought anyone could be so crushed not actually being in business with African royalty. It still kills me to think about it.
Out on the field, Eamon bowls a heavy ball. Mostly coz he slobbers all over it. I mean, he actually licks the ball to help keep its sheen. It’s disgusting.
Eamon’s best figures, as you’d well know, are 9 for 33. It is of course is the best bowling figures on debut of all time. His figures since then are hardly flattering: 74 wickets over 4 seasons at an average of 48. I mean, I don’t need to ask you to do the math on that, do I? It’s obvious he’s only still in the team coz of that freakish first match. Like have you ever seen someone dine out on the one achievement for so long? Still, he’s half likeable … 25% of the time.
Me and the Tassie batting coach don’t get along. In fact, he’s the fifth batting coach in a row I haven’t seen eye to eye with. But before you read anything into that, remember it takes two to tango.
Our current coach, as you well know, is Greg Merta. Greg is always at me about why I set the bowling machine on military medium. As has been my custom for years, I set it to fire out balls at a cosy 124 k’s. I have good reason for this too. Batting at 6, you’re usually coming in against a attack that is a little worn out. After 40 to 50 overs or so, their pace is down and the intensity isn’t at its highest. Also, these days the best bowlers are usually away on national duties. Like you rarely cop pace like Brett Lee anymore. So, in short, what I’m basically saying is I’m trying to simulate the usual conditions I bat under, OK. All perfectly logical if you ask me. Anyway, I’m explaining all this to Greg the other day and he shakes his head. He tells me, “Mate, how are you gonna get any better unless you stretch yourself.” He then walks off in a huff and spends the whole afternoon with the young punks from our academy. I tell you I could have smashed him. And the next day I almost did. During some training drills that morning, he told me he didn’t want me mixing with our juniors anymore. He reckoned I was a bad influence for them. He then said if he saw me anywhere near them, he’d thump me. I tell you I was frozen with rage. Who the f@#* was he to make threats like that? I mean where the f@#* is he coming from standing over me like that? As he then walked off, I gave him the bird. I don’t how the f@#* he sensed it but he did. He spun around and I quickly withdrew my hand. He subsequently gave me a death stare and then continued on his way. As he walked off again, I swore my revenge. Before the week was out, I’d corrupt one of his precious young underlings. Damn it, I’d have one of them turning up late, taking short cuts and getting all attitudinal. The question was, which one?
Dave D’Boer, as you well know, is Tassie’s captain. He’s also a merciless bastard who has me fielding at batpad. But I’ve got biggerish fish to fry than addressing that right now.
Dave, like all captains, takes it all a little too seriously. It sooooooo shits me. I mean, ever since he was given the gig, he’s been reading books on Napolean, Swartzkopf and co. Jesus, I think whenever I see him doing it. You’re not invading a country, mate. You’re working out how to rotate your seamers; that and where to put your fielders. Get a grip.
In the three seasons Dave has been at the helm, he’s made one shrewd decision: bowling me. Yep, the one time he put me on for my partnership breaking skills, my deceptively quick medium pace worked like a charm. Shit, if it wasn’t for the freakish wind gusts assisting the three sixes hit in that one over going 30 seats back in the stand, they would have gone straight down long on’s throat. Dave, of course, failed to recognize this and took me off after that one over. In turn, he extinguished the one time his captaincy burned brightly.
Dave, like all captains, is always tinkering with the field. I tell you, when he had fielding me at third man, nothing irked me more than when he’d wave at me to move a yard. ‘And another half a yard,’ he’d wave, ‘and another …. no no, back a bit the other way.’ At the end of it all, I’d be right back where I started. And exhausted as f@#*.
When Dave isn’t wearing out his fielders, he’s thinking about ploys to get out opposing batsmen. It hasn’t proved to be his specialty.
How many times Dave has put in a fly slip, or a silly mid on, or a leg gully, or some f@#*^d up fielding position that batsmen never hit balls too, I’ve lost count. In short, his ploys are an appalling waste of resources. I mean, thanks to Dave’s ineptitude, we’re technically playing a man or two down. Thanks to Dave, opposing batsmen get to cash in on a field with more leaks than the Titanic. It’s as bewildering as it is distressing.
Lastly, Dave couldn’t call the toss of a coin correctly to save his life. I mean, that’s the most important job for a captain: getting the f@#*^g toss right. No thanks to Dave, Tassie are forever batting on raging turners on the fourth day. Like he needs to put away all these books on Napoleon and take up an interest in 2 up, damn it. Maybe that way, he’d call heads right once in a while.
There’s a very good reason why Slazenger have lost a lot of market share to other sporting manufacturers. They have bad ideas … absolute shockers.
Mick and I were meeting their marketing arm this morning about my box idea. Like there Mick and I were thinking we were on the cusp of something revolutionary. “Today the box, tomorrow the world,” I said. Mick quipped, “Very Berlin 1939, Viv.” I liked the comparison and laughed.
Greg Delves, Slazenger’s marketing exec, then walks in all marketing exec like. It’ a swagger then says trophy wife, 60 foot yacht and very small penis all in the same sentence. (I told Mick that later. He liked the comparison and laughed.)
“So Gentlemen,” he then bellows, “thanks for making the time this morning.” Mick and I nodded in acknowledgement of his courtesy manner. “Yes, really great that you could find the time in your schedule.” Mick and I now smiled, again pleased with his manner and in thinking this was more his territory than ours, happy for him to steer the way. He then points at this bat. “So what do you think?” Confused, Mick and I look at this bat, which we’d hitherto haven’t noticed, on the coffee table before us. “It’s a great idea isn’t it?” he then adds all enterprising and smug. It’s then that I notice something. The bat has my signature on it’s edges – not on the face of the bat, but on the small surface area on the edge. “We want to market all our bats with the Tufnell edge,” he then says. “Coz, you know, there’s a perception that no one has more luck with edges than you. What do you reckon?” I looked at Mick. Mick looked at me. We then both looked at the bat. We then both looked at Greg. I then told Greg to f@#* himself.
On the way home, Mick gets a text from Greg over why I’m so upset. “Take a f@#*^g guess,” I cannon. “I mean I’m not a f@#*^g joke.” Mick tells me to calm down and then tells me Greg has sent a text saying $50,000. That made me a little less upset, but then it hit home that I don’t put a price on my dignity. It was then that I realized I actually do, but it’s a lot higher than that. “My dignity is worth 100,” I tell Mick to text back. We then wait for Greg to text his reply. And we wait. And we wait. And Mick starts to fidget. And it gives me the shits. And I tell him to leave my f@#*^g dash alone. And Mick does. And then he can’t help himself and fidgets again. And I lose it. And still we wait. And still nothing comes. And then we get back to Bellerive. And Mick is still textless.
Later on, I consoled myself that it was just as well the text never came. I mean if I took the money for that, I’ll be putting my name on NQR’s NQR merchandise next. In continuing to dwell, I then think who the f@#* do Slazenger think they are proposing they can market a bat with my midis touch, anyway. Like it’s as if they’re saying these bats will guarantee edges falling short of slips, or wide of slips, or well the f@#* clear of slips. “It’s takes soft hands to do that,” I say out loud to myself: “soft hands and a pure heart.” And thinking myself poetic, I gazed off into the overcast Hobart sky.
So that’s Slazenger for you: having a brilliant idea gift wrapped for them (like my Box thing) only to be distracted by novelty and gimmickry (like their f@#*^g bat.) No wonder their losing market share to their competitors.
Greg Merta, our batting coach, lives to make a difference. I mean nothing means more to him than molding Tassies up and coming players. Nothing. That’s why it’s gonna be so sweet f@#*^g one of them up.
As I touched upon in an earlier grab, Greg and I don’t see eye to eye. As you also might recall in that grab, Greg had told me to steer clear of impressionable young players coz he feels I’m a bad influence. That, of course, pissed me off. In fact, as you might remember, it pissed me off so much, I swore I’d corrupt one of his precious underlings. The question was which one?
17 year old Paul Buhagiar is somewhat of a wunderkind. He hails from Devonport, or Launceston, or Burnie or one of those northern towns that are so envious of us Hobartarians. Paul, however, doesn’t have an envious bone in his body. What he does have, though, is a lot of raw talent: raw, malleable, easily corruptible talent.
It’s confession time: I have been giving bad advice to Tassie’s young bats since … well forever. The minute the selectors identify a young player they want to fast track into our team, I do everything in my power to stymie the punk. And can you blame me? It’s my position in the team they’re after. It’s my number 6 batting spot that their greedy young eyes covert. I mean this is not my debilitating insecurities talking here; this is an appreciation of Darwinian natural selection talking. At least that’s how I explain it to my shrink.
The most promising career I ruined was Mark Febbraio’s. Mark was earmarked for the state team at the age of 16 and by the time I was done with him, he didn’t know his off stump line from his leg. Like I really meddled with every aspect of his game: his grip, his stance, the way he’d dance down the wicket to spinners. After 3 weeks of my tutorage, I had him batting like Glen McGrath (and scoring like him too!) It was a real hatchet job, and one he never recovered from. (He now sells insurance from a call centre in Bangalore, the poor bastard.)
In now targeting Paul Buhugiar, though, I will be doing so with extra vigor. It won’t just be his technique I’ll be meddling with, it’ll be his attitude and his dedication. My aim will be to manufacture a public disgrace that will reflect on Greg’s management of our academy. My aim is to orchestrate a scandalous faux pas that’ll end up on the front page of the Mercury, one that’ll then have the state’s administrators in crisis talks over Greg’s stewardship of young talent. But how to do so?
Whenever I return to club cricket, I play Joe Hollywood. I turn up in mirrored sunglasses and a leather jacket. One time I even turned up in Mick’s helicopter*. But I can’t do that anymore coz Glenorchy’s curator gets all narky when you land on his pitch.
My favorite thing about playing club cricket is acting as though it’s beneath me. In particular, I as a rule don’t field. When the other team bats, I lie and say I have been summoned to attend a crisis meeting at Bellerive, or I’ve got an upset tummy, or I’ve got a urgent family business, or one of the 20 other excuses I rotate to bamboozle the flatfoots at Glenorchy. Indeed, the last time I fielded was 5 years ago, and thinking about it makes me feel the way the Queen must feel whenever she picks up Corgi poo. I mean Royalty and workaday things just don’t go together, do they?
In the clubrooms, I rarely fraternize with the Glenorchy players. I find them all starry eyed and gushing and overwhelmed about my feats in shield cricket. Their inability to be themselves around me makes me as uncomfortable as rock stars must feel whenever they’re caught in elevators with their fans. Like it really can be quite claustrophobic when you have everyone hanging off your every word and fussing over every little thing you do. It’s got so that I have Mick trying to arrange for them to partition the clubroom so as to segregate us shield player(s) from non shield players. Mick says they haven’t got back to him yet.
Batting in club cricket is a real lottery. I mean it really really is frustrating. Like how is an artist like me supposed to express myself when the ball darts all over the minefields these amateurs call cricket pitches. Worse, there is such a lack of accountability about it too. Like all you ever hear from Paul Bursich, the Glenorchy curator, is, “Well stop that f@#* from landing his helicopter on my pitches and you’ll get a descent one?” My response to that is, Paul, that was 4 years ago, and the damage caused is almost negligible now. My response is, get out the heavy roller and get on with it. And nothing in it for spinners OK … or for the seam.
*Mick has a commercial Helicopter license and occasionally gets his hands on one of the choppers from his Dad’s fleet. It works as great for marketing his clients as it does for picking up chicks, he says. Hmmm, that’s so Mick.
To be continued … or maybe not.