… almost the width of Gatting
Melbourne. Boxing Day 2012. Some hotel somewhere.
The team has gathered.
Pup appears with the team list for the Test match due to start that morning and, like a swarm of bees abuzz with honey excitement, the players surround him.
There is happiness and disappointment, tears and tantrums. Starc slams a door as a murmur rumbles through the cream clad bodies Johnson?Johnson?Johnson?What? Really?
“Surely it’s a mistake, Pup?” someone whispers in urgent tones.
“It is a mistake,” comes the hushed reply, “Mickey couldn’t find the “S” on the keyboard. We’ll just have to live with it, ok?”
The lone figure of Mitchell Johnson is sitting in the corner, coffee in hand, touch-and-feel board book in his lap, completely oblivious to the events unfolding before him. A shadow is cast over Peter Rabbit’s cute and fluffy cotton tail; Mitchell looks up.
“We need you today, Mitch,” Pup says to him.
“Uh oh!” Mitch replies.
Move scene to the MCG: the sun is shining; the sky is blue. Mitchell is tossed the ball. He looks confused for a moment. The crowd laughs. Mitchell looks down at the ball; up at his Mum sitting in the stands with a box of biscuits for him and he can’t stop the tears coming.
Poor Mitchell. He knows, as everyone knows, that he’s passed it and that even the new kid could show him a thing or two.
A hand touches his shoulder. It’s Dilshan. “Fear not, Mitchell” he says sweetly (for that is Dilshan’s way), “several of my players and I are on the payroll of the ECB. We’ll let you have a few wickets so that Cricket Australia keep you on for the Ashes.”
Mitchell smiles and promptly takes four wickets. The collective sob of Australian cricket fans everywhere will echo across the land every Boxing day for ever and ever and ever …
And that, my friends, is how Mitchell Johnson joined Punter in the zombie patrol.