The Ashes – Third Test, Day 1: Black swans at the WACA

Australia v England
WACA ground, Perth
Third Test
Stumps Day 1 – England 4/305  (Malan 110*, Bairstow 75*)


(In writing this, I imagined John Clarke and Bryan Dawe playing the roles below – DJW.)



Long-time sports interviewer Desmond Troyer is joined tonight by a consultant to the Cricket Australia executive.


Interviewer: Thanks for joining us, John.

Consultant: Good evening.

Interviewer: Is that your real name?

Consultant: Of course that’s my real name, Desmond. We’re off to a funny start, aren’t we?

Interviewer: John, would you say that things at Cricket Australia are going well for you?

Consultant: Well, yes, as a matter of fact things are going beautifully. Beautifully.

Interviewer: Why do you say that?

Consultant: Well it doesn’t take much imagination, Desmond. Look, we’re smashing the Poms, we’re raking in the cash, we’ve made a triumph of marketing over sporting contest in cementing that buffoon of a twilight cricket concept Test to Adelaide – I mean – it’s all upside. What a summer.

Interviewer: What a summer. No ramifications from that pay dispute, then?

Consultant: What a summer. I bought that second property at Coogee for 3.2. An we’ve still got the Big Bash to come. 

Interviewer: Ahh, yes. Lovely. But we’ve seen cracks, haven’t we? Public relations cracks. 

Consultant: If you’re talking about the sledging, there’s no problem. It’s all about creating interest. It’s an old tactic. You see, Desmond, we do that to get tongues wagging.

Interviewer: Do you direct the sledging?

Consultant: Have you heard of Pavlov’s dogs?

Interviewer: I have. Look, aside from the sledging, John, we hear a rumour today of spot-fixing occurring in Test matches involving Australia. That’s potentially very serious.

Consultant: Ahh, yes, well, that’s bullshit.

Interviewer: Is it?

Consultant: Of course it is. Test matches are much too high-profile for the average spot-fixer. They would much prefer to ply their trade in a non-descript T20 game. It’s theoretically easier. 

Interviewer: But by that rationale, imagining that they could influence a Test match, wouldn’t that attract more money? 

Consultant: Well, I suppose so, yes. But, look, Australian players would never be party to anything like that. 

Interviewer: But it doesn’t have to look like much at all. It could be as innocuous as a dropped catch at first slip. 

Consultant: Yes.

Interviewer: Or even diving too far at third slip, to ensure that, for instance, no wickets are lost in the final session.

Consultant: I get it, yes. But, look, all Australian players are shown videos about this stuff. They are educated. And they are paid too much to be tempted by gambling money. I think only players from poorer countries would be tempted. None from Australia. I mean, Desmond, we are not a nation of gamblers.

Interviewer: Well John, what about players from other countries? Are they educated?

Consultant: I can’t comment on them.

Interviewer: OK. So, are all the players in the Big Bash League Australian players?

Consultant: No, no, no – Desmond, no. We attract the very best – from right around the world.

Interviewer: Right.  

Consultant: Right. The best. It doesn’t matter where you’re from – we want the best.

Interviewer: It’s not the first time, John, that a whiff of gambling has passed Australian cricket.

Consultant: And I bet it won’t be the last, Desmond.

Interviewer: That’s very good, John. Previously, in a much more naïve time, Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were penalised for discussing mere pitch conditions with a bookie, or a go-between, at least.

Consultant: Yes, I remember.

Interviewer: So if even pitch conditions are useful to a bookie, what else might be of interest?

Consultant: You tell me, Desmond. From my understanding, this gambling is all about trying to predict events. And the more unlikely the event, the more money it is worth. The black swan event is extremely lucrative. So it’s the unusual things we need to watch. The bowler pulling out during his run-up, the batsman taking guard in an unusual way – those things are red flags.

Interviewer: How would you rationally describe Mitchell Marsh’s selection? Mitchell Starc has a higher Test batting average than Mitchell Marsh. M Marsh has barely bowled this summer. And yet selectors drop Handscomb. And not only that, Glenn Maxwell is told that he needs to make runs in the Shield to be considered. He then makes 278 and 96. But the same selectors favour M Marsh – who has made 47, 38 and taken no wickets. 

Consultant: All of that is spot on. But Desmond, just months ago – with Renshaw, Handscomb, Burns, Khawaja, Ferguson, Maxwell and Maddinson all floating around, you would not believe the odds on both Marshes ever again being selected in the same Australian Test team.

Interviewer: Juicy odds, John?

Consultant: Unmissable, Desmond. Unmissable. Do you know Coogee?

Interviewer: John, thanks for your time.



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Absolutely superb OBP ! V v clever with subtle sledging as well

  2. One of your best. A script for John Clarke ( RIP ) and Bryan Dawe surely!

  3. Thanks OBP and thanks Shane.
    Very kind.

  4. I can just imagine Clarke and Dawe doing that.
    Well played, e.r.

  5. I think I brush up very well in all that, E Reg.

    Stayed on message. Nailed all the talking points. Managed to avoid mentioning the war….errr…. the pay ‘negotiation’.

    Should be able to hit Jimmy S up for my Chrissie bonus after that.

    Much appreciated.

    Yours sincerely. #snoutinthetrough

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    ” I think only players from poorer countries would be tempted. None from Australia. I mean, Desmond, we are not a nation of gamblers.” Laughed out loud at that ER. Very, very funny piece. But sad too….

  7. Paddy Grindlay says


    Absolute rolled gold!

  8. Very nice piece. “Have you heard of Pavlov’s dogs?” was probably the highlight for me.

  9. Thanks Paddy, Daniel.

    We’re probably all Pavlov’s dogs.

  10. Yep – this is elite.

  11. Brilliant stuff, David! During my career I got to meet the late John Clarke and Bryan Dawe on several occasions and just know they would adore, embrace and diligently do justice to this cleverly imagined script of yours.

    Picture this, me waking up early in Fremantle on Thursday morning excited about taking the train from Freo in to Perth Central to attend the momentous first day of the Ashes Test swan song at the WACA, turning on the television and being greeted by Sunrise’s headline breaking news of the match fixing ring from the U.K. Oh vey! Talk about controversy. I was intrigued to see how the rest of the day would unravel…

  12. (morning of Day 5)
    Interviewer: John, one more thing. Are groundstaff also educated about match fixing?

    Consultant: Ground staff? They wouldn’t be involved. Ha- only in a cover up.

    Interviewer: Thanks John.

    Consultant: Get it?


  13. Peter Warrington says

    Tee hee, especially Day 5!

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