The Ashes are ours – oh to be back in Australia to rub their noses in it. As it is, I'm in Indonesia where very little cricketing news filters through. Fortunately, however, my phone-tapping equipment works wondrously and I spend the tropical nights scanning the airwaves for interesting conversations. Imagine my excitement, then, when I chanced upon a call between ex-England cricket captain and all-round South African, Kevin Pietersen, and the Aussie captain, Ricky Ponting, who has been sidelined from the last Test with a "finger problem".
"Hey, Ricky – KP here, you busy or can we talk?"
"Hey, KP, thanks for calling, mate – no, I'm not doing much at the mo, just ... stuff, you know, mostly a lot of uncontrollable weeping, and I'm having some problems with an angry mob at the bottom of my garden. The bastards have burnt my yuccas down and they're shouting stuff out about me being deported to the UK."
"Sorry to hear that – I heard the Queen was seriously thinking about a New Year's Honour for you to thank you for your services to English cricket."
"Spare me, KP – I've heard them all before."
"I'll bet you have – I hear you're not playing in Sydney. Have you been canned already?"
"Oh no, it's a really bad finger injury. I'm actually really gutted about it, mate."
"Yeah, I can imagine – you would definitely have wanted to have been there when we win the series and really humiliate you properly."
"Very funny, KP – it's a proper injury."
"Finger is it? I'd have thought everybody else would have the finger injuries, what with them busy pointing at you and laughing."
"Have you just called to be an asshole, KP?"
"Pretty much, yes..."
"Fair dos. I imagine that you lot are having a couple of beers and celebrating?"
"Yes, it would be fair to say we've had a few brews. I got really pissed last night and ended up calling Warney and he got all weepy on me, going on about how Hurley had given him the boot and thrown his clothes out on to the street after he mentioned plastic surgery..."
"Right ... he's taken that badly, apparently. Was there anything else, KP? It's just that the mob are at the back door now and I need to start loading the air rifle."
"Yeah sorry, Ricky, I'm just going on about myself and you've got all these problems. It's weird how our respective captaincies have turned out, isn't it? There's you with the early glory and now it's all ending in tears. Me, on the other hand, I got out right on time. I just decided that the right thing would be for me to pull out and concentrate my not inconsiderable skills on my batting and not muddle my head with other people's silly problems."
"What are you talking about? You were booted out because you were behaving like an arse."
"No way, mate – I made a conscious decision to stand back and let Straussy do the legwork while I worked on the bigger picture. Sometimes leadership is all about knowing when to not do it."
"What planet are you on, KP – you were booted out and then Straussy did the job properly and that's why you lot got on top of us."
"No, you've got it all wrong, Ricky – if I might say so, that's been part of the problem with you, all fixated with tactics and strategy and stuff, that's why your batting went to pot. I could easily have been a great captain – in fact, I could have been the greatest captain in the history of England, maybe the world. I wasn't after that, however, I wanted to concentrate on the real gift God gave me – the ability to hit a ball into orbit."
"You're sounding like a total arse, KP..."
"I am not going to apologise for my talents, Ricky. I am what I am. I have an unbelievable strategy brain and trust me – Straussy was asking me stuff all the time about what to do, who to bowl, where to put people. I just told him what to do and then thought some more about my batting and how good I was. I wasn't there to hog the captaincy glory, I just wanted to do my best and then strut about like a proud peacock in charge of his own destiny and that of the great English peoples."
"Listen, mate, I think you've lost the plot ... I've got to go, they've broken down the door and they're only a thin piece of pine away from me now."
"OK, great talking to you about myself, Ricky – I'm going to stare at my face in the mirror for a couple of hours..."Reuse content