Cricket Australia (CA) this week announced its introduction of Duke Cricket balls, rather than the Australian made Kookaburra’s, for the second half of the 2016/17 Sheffield Shield season including the Shield Final. The introduction made in an effort to prepare Australia for the 2019 Ashes Series and the ending of our long run of outs in the UK dating back to 2001. In a The Sportress exclusive we have obtained a transcript of the Cricket Australia meeting in which this decision was reached.
In attendance at CA’s offices in Jolimont:
CA Chief Executive: James Sutherland (JS) Team Performance Manager: Pat Howard (PH)
CA Board Member: Mark Taylor (MT) Chairman of Selectors: Rod Marsh (RM)
National Coach: Darren Lehmann (DL) CA Head of Cricket Operations: Sean Cary (SC)
PH: Nine Hundred and Ninety-Eight. Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine. One Thousand.
JS: Pat! What are you doing?
PH: Oh. Sorry Guys. Didn’t see you there, just finishing my bicep curls.
Pat Howard sets down a pair of dumb bells as the other attendees file into the conference room.
DL: Nice mankini Pat.
PH: Boof, I’ll have you know this is not mankini, it’s the cutting edge of high performance wear.
DL: Getting your tips on high performance from Borat are you? Might explain why we can’t keep our fast bowlers on the park.
JS: Now, now you two. Thank you gentlemen, we have gathered you all here to brain storm how we are going to win back the Ashes in 2019. Ideas?
RM: I was reading the Greenfield Post[i] the other day and they mentioned that Usman Khawaja wants to change his surname to Marsh and play for New South Wales. Maybe all the players could do this?
DL: (Shaking his head) Rod, I think you’ll find that’s satire.
RM: So, Bryce Gibbs hasn’t requested a trade to the Adelaide Strikers?[ii]
Marsh shows Lehman his I-Pad displaying the Greenfield Post’s Trade Week article.
DL: Seriously?!?! No.
RM: There goes the plans for him opening the batting with Davey Warner while Shaun Marsh recovers from his hamstring. What about this The Sportress report on whether Shane Watson is a Mutant or Demon?[iii]
Lehmann places his head in his hands in exasperation.
PH: Don’t read anything those guys write, they’ve got no idea.
Rod Marsh exhales deeply in relief.
RM: That is good news Pat, I’m not sure I could pick him if he was a mutant or a demon. How’s his recovery going by the way?
PH: Recovery? Who cares? Watto’s retired Bacchus.
RM: Shit really? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Don’t worry, we’ll just move Henriques up the order. This selecting business is easy.
MT: How hot is it in here?
PH: Sorry guys, I was doing Bikram Bicep Curls. It is what I’ve had Pat Cummins and Jimmy Pattinson doing all through their rehabs.
MT: I think we need a little less Bikram and a lot more Fujitsu in here.
Taylor opens his mouth to speak again, but is interrupted by everyone else in the room
All: Fujitsu. Australia’s Favourite Air. We know.
JS: We do know Tubby, so please stop with all the bloody emails. I don’t know where else I can stick one of the bleeding things and the power bills are through the roof.
The doors opens and in bursts a panting Shane Warne.
SW: Sorry I’m late for the bikr…. What’s with the sausage fest Pat, I thought you said we were doing Bikram Yoga.
Before Howard can answer Rod Marsh interjects.
RM: Is that part of the rehab Warnie? How’s the shoulder feeling?
SW: Are you asking me to make a comeback Rod? I don’t know, I’m definitely better than any spinner you’ve got but, I’ve been retired for nearly 10 years.
RM: Why didn’t anyone tell me Warnie was retired?
JS: Get out Shane, we’re having an important meeting here.
Warne leaves the room, but sticks his head back in to ask,
SW: It’s pretty bloody hot in here, anybody thirsty??
ALL: Get out Warnie!
SC: I have an idea.
JS: Ok Sean, let us have it.
SC: You know how our players have no idea how to play the swinging Duke ball?
DL: Yes. No need to remind us
RM: Duke ball? When do we play against a Duke ball?
SC: Good one Rod. What if we had them face the Duke ball more often?
DL: That is a great idea. You’ve gone with my proposal for more First Class matches on Ashes Tours?
SC: No that is unfeasible, the Poms won’t go for it.
JS: Are you crazy Boof? If we spend more time in England, when would we play ODI’s in India.
DL: Ok, are you proposing regular ‘A’ Team Tours of England?
SC: God no, that seems like a lot of hard work.
DL: We’re going to encourage our players follow the leads of Chris Rodgers and Mike Hussey and play County Cricket?
RM: Laughs. How would playing First Class Cricket in England give us any indication of a player’s ability to play Cricket in England?
Marsh then proceeds to point his index finger at Lehmann then at his ear and begins to twirl it, while laughing uncontrollably.
SC: Good one Rod. No Boof, quit interrupting, we are proposing something much better.
MT: We are going to coach our players to let a few outside off-stump go through to the keeper?
SW: Good one Tubs. Are you guys thirsty yet?
Shane Warne is standing in the doorway replicating his 1997 Ashes, celebratory dance with a magnum of champagne.
JS: Warnie! What are you doing back in here?
PH: Are those Playboy jocks? Why are you only wearing your Playboy jocks?
SW: It’s so warm in here. Tubs you couldn’t sort out a Fujitsu or too for this place? You do enough of those bloody ads. Fujitsu. Australia’s Favourite Air.
MT: That’s my line Warnie, don’t you ever say that again. I don’t need you taking food off my table.
JS: Out Warnie! And put your clothes back on.
Warne leaves again. After chugging the magnum.
JS: The forum’s yours again Sean. Spit it out.
SC: Thanks James. Let’s use the Duke ball in the Sheffield Shield.
RM: Wait, what.
SC: Let’s use the Duke ball in the Sheffield Shield.
RM: I heard you Sean, I just didn’t know there still was a Sheffield Shield competition.
DL: If Steve Waugh was still alive he’d be spinning in his grave. I think he’s right when he says that it has nothing to do with the ball.
Shane Warne bursts back into the room
SW: Did someone say Steve Waugh? He couldn’t even tie Mark Taylor’s shoelaces.
JS: How many…
Mark Taylor interrupts the chairman
MT: I think we should listen to what he has to say.
SW: Mark Taylor is Australia’s greatest ever Captain, I’m the best captain Australia’s never had and Steve Waugh is the worst captain ever. If that isn’t bad enough he is possibly the worst person ever too.
Warne passes out and begins to snore loudly.
MT: I’m sorry, I should have expected that.
DL: Sean, that is crazy. That would be just as useful as if the Poms used the Kookaburra over there to prepare for a series here.
SC: I know. We’ve planned for that. Here is how we get around that…
Cary pauses uncomfortably, presumably for dramatic effect.
SC: We won’t sell them any Kookaburra balls.
Lehmann begins banging his head on the boardroom table.
DL: That wasn’t what I meant. The ball won’t play the same here as it does there. The atmospheric conditions are different, the pitches are different, the grounds are different.
SC: That’s why we have worked all winter with Dukes to produce a ball that is suited to Australian conditions but also mirrored the look and feel of the English Test ball.
DL: So your plan is get the players used to playing against the English Duke ball by playing against a different Duke ball?
SC: When you say it like that it sounds crazy, but we trialed the new ‘Australian’ ball directly against the England ball in a few matches in Queensland
DL: And they both behaved the same, didn’t they?
SC: How did you know?
DL: Because the conditions are more important than the ball!!
SC: Thank you.
DL: It wasn’t a compliment.
JS: So we are all in agreement then? Pat?
PH: I have no idea. I was a Wallaby.
JS: I’ll put you down as a yes. Sean, it was your idea, so a yes from you?
SC: Definite yes from me James, if I could vote twice I would.
JS: I don’t think that’ll be necessary, but we’ll see. Rod?
RM: Ok, yes from me. But I don’t know why you’re asking me. The Sheffield Shield has nothing to do with my job.
DL: The inmates are really running the asylum. I’ve had enough of this shit.
Lehmann throws his chair against the wall and storms out.
JS: I’ll put Boof down as yes then.
JS: Well they Yays have it, no need for you to vote Tubs.
MT: No worries, I’ve always said it was a team game.
RM: Can it Fujitsu boy.
JS: Good work guys, I think we’ve just single-handedly won back the Ashes. Or whatever five people doing something is. Quintuple-handed?
Champagne corks start popping
JS: I’m going to have to get on the phone. With all this preparation in Oz, we can probably shorten the England tour and squeeze in a few more ODI’s in India. Ca-ching
Sutherland attempts to leave the room but is interrupted by a man carrying the box in the door way.
JS: Who are you?
Man with box: I have Mr Warne’s Hawaiian Pizza.