With the Ashes not just lost but squandered, strewn across the British Isles like tattered little bits of nothing, Australia's Test captain, Michael Clarke, has decided to call time on his international career. After losing the fourth Test, and pretty much their marbles too, the Australians have decided not to prepare for the fifth and last Test. "It's not as if any of the prep has done the boys any good" chirped coach, Darren Lehmann.
At first, the articulate Michael Clarke said he failed to lead from the front. But then realising that it meant nothing as he had only demoted himself down the order continuously, he swiftly corrected himself - "It may not be wrong to say that I failed to lead from the back - I started off as a top order batsman, but now I'm pretty much a middle order bat, what is my position - five? Six? Hard to tell really, the wickets fall so quickly, especially when we got knocked over for 60, I was in before Boof could say Pup!"
Pup continued in the same remorseful way - "If I overstay my welcome any more, I might end up as a tailender. Also because of these constant niggles with my back, and the lack of advancement in medical science and the inadequacy of those painkillers, my wretched back was just that. You tell me, with a back this bad, how can you lead from the front or for that matter, the back? Yeah, I'm asking you?" He snapped at an Indian reporter who insisted on asking if a farewell Test at his home ground, the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) might not have been an appropriate way to bid his billions of fans adieu.
"Guys like you would like it if I played my farewell Test at the Wankhede, right? But we Aussies are different. We're not a sentimental lot, really. We drop our heroes when they lose their "A" game, and quite often when they're at the top of their game. I say this with the greatest respect for Sachin Tendulkar but if he was leading a bunch of losers like my mates, he would've called time on his career too after an England series. 60? Honestly how does a team get dismissed for 60?"
The Indian reporter further persisted if Clarke saw any changes in the team for The Oval and would the captain contemplate dropping himself further down the order or from the team altogether. Clarke showed immense patience when he said, "No, next question." Not satisfied, the reporter snapped at Clarke, "What about bowling some left arm spin; don't you think your spin might be more useful to the team than your batting?"
Clarke took a deep breath, and then asked the reporter earnestly, "Why are you such an a**hole? Next question." An Aussie reporter asked the same question to which Clarke said he'd like to turn his arm over one last time if his back permits.
Other questions from the presser:
Any regrets? "Yes, not playing another five years."
Indian reporter (again): You recently said that Chris Rogers started off again at 35 and you... "Next question."
Future of Australian cricket: "It's in good hands, I've seen Steve Smith take some blinders at slip."
Darren Lehmann vs Mickie Arthur as coach: "It's all down to the homework, isn't it?"
Indian reporter (again: About Chris Rogers... - "Next question."
You recently said that if Chris Rogers could start all over again at 35... "Yes I did say that, it varies from player to player, doesn't it, mate?"
Indian reporter (again): Is Sachin Tendulkar the greatest batsman you have ever seen, even greater than Sir Don? "Well, I haven't seen Sir Don bat... Next."
How's the back, Pup? - "I can stand it, but it's worse when I sit down for long."
Indian reporter (again): When you got married there was a photograph of your wife on a horse; will you be taking to horse rearing now? "Nay (neigh)... Next."
Do you see Haddin and Watson back for the fifth Test - "Yeah, quite honestly, I see a complete overhaul from our last misadventure... except for me."
Indian reporter (again): Your favourite IPL franchise... "Has to be Pune since it's the only one I've played for..next"
Sri Lankan reporter: Sangakkara will be playing his last Test against India; where do you rate him among the modern greats... "Amongst the very best."
Indian reporter (yet again): If Pune Warriors returns to the IPL, will you also consider returning to the IPL... "Will you just back off, mate?"
Michael Clarke will retire from international cricket at 34 years of age. Imagine.
(However plausible this might sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)
First published here