Friday, 27 August 2010

Cormac McCarthy reports from the second day at Lords

See the boy. Born these eighteen years past in the time of Imran. And like Imran, he is a cricketer. What a time it was this morning to see him bowl. To watch a boy with the red sun spinning in the universe of his own delivery.

Not much of play possible in the day previous to this. The ground now wet by the cloud’s own googlies. Rain like none seen in these parts for some time. The groundsmen protect the pitch overnight with a wheeled contraption. Strauss the day’s sole slaying one short of forty and another one short of forty one.

The first over of the day given to the boy. That young slight thing not yet prone to the tears of men but tied to the tears of a childhood he will not see again. First two balls are good but the third is the one they will talk of in Islamabad. Cook gone again. His ashes in ashes so they say though it is not the done thing to speak of such things before a second innings. Though in his own walk back from the crease his eyes spoke not of ashes but of cinders. A burnt Christmas lunch at his mother's. Sympathetic telegram from one they called Trescothick. The unused sunblock crusting in the car boot.

Pietersen, Collingwood and Morgan. All men of the same company. All taken by the boy without so much as a run between them. Sitting ducks. The umpire’s finger raised like a sermoniser’s. Three men fallen to a child. The stripling tires, the captain rests him. A man named Trott steps forward and adds runs with the man Prior.
The man Trott and the man Prior walk on the umpire’s signal towards lunch. Ninety seven runs on the board and half the team already vanquished, such has been the work of the boy.

What is a sandwich but some foodstuffs placed between the parameters of two slices of bread? None can doubt it. Though others experiment with pancetta and Panini, whores of wheat from some land not yet familiar with Wisden, the cucumber green as an outfield lies between thick slices of bread carved from the same whiteness as a wicket keeper’s pads. The flask of tea a joyous sign of some benevolent God not yet revealed.

I will reach my millennia, says Trott, gazing out across the meadow as he descends once more unto the field of battle. But the boy, now fully rested, returns with the afternoon sun hot in his earth-scorched maw. Released with speed and guile, he takes out Prior. And soon Swann is gone and the angelic one they called Broady stepped into the line of fire.

And now these two men begin to score runs, they bat away the redness of the sun, the light that sat with the boy now a scorched shadow in his own dark hands, the clapping of the members becoming louder and more appreciative as the man Trott and the boy Broad begin to build a partnership. A century follows in those floodlit minutes after tea. And then another. And the end of play fallen upon the batsmen, bowlers and fielders. Walking away to the gunfire of the crowd’s approving hands, the boy’s work all but undone and Trott one short of a century plus half that score again and a record eighth partnership just two away. Forecast good for tomorrow, though I’ll have to catch the fucking highlights on Five.

Sorry, I meant to say, the red evening canvas spoke of wickets and runs once the stars had spun themselves another hemisphere hence, though the witnessing of sport would only be a listening to as the man Murdoch set the tariff in these parts and it was higher than most poor folk could stand.

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