(The Original)

Amateur Scribe

Privates on Parade

ECB

The England cricket team went paintballing as part of a team-bonding session near Birmingham on Tuesday.

England, who suffered a 2-0 defeat in Pakistan late last year, have not won in India since David Gower captained a trip in 1984/85.

"It's going to be extremely difficult but this team reacts when thrown a challenge," said Michael Vaughan.

BBC Website 1st February 2006

A muddy field just off the M6

0800 hours

Vaughan: Right, listen up everyone. This, as you know, is the final debrief before our mission to India. Present are Captain Michael P Vaughan and his “Team England” squadron. Sergeant Giles is taking the minutes as usual.

Giles: Yes Sir!

Vaughan: Now what we’re looking for here is the final push. We’ve done the training, practised our manoeuvres and shared the good times and the bad. This is the real thing – let’s finish the job. Stay focussed, support each other and I have no doubt we’ll be sipping Gatorade in Bombay by teatime.

OK, tactics. First and foremost, I'd like you all to welcome Private Panesar.

All: Hello Panesar.

Panesar: Hello.

Vaughan

Captain Michael Vaughan takes aim during the England team paintballing session

Vaughan: Now he’s new to the squadron, but should prove jolly useful in our reconnaissance. We’ll give him a rickshaw and let him infiltrate the enemy camp. I want you to figure out just what tricks old Kumble has up his sleeve, Panesar. Befriend him, pretend you’re a long-lost school chum or, better still, a relative. Shouldn’t be too hard. Use that local knowledge of yours.

Panesar: Er, I’m from Luton, Captain.

Vaughan: That’s exactly the kind of woolly thinking I’d expect from Shaun Udal. Look Panesar. You think you’re in this squadron because of your orthodox left-arm finger spin? No Sir. We’ve got Sergeant Giles for that.

Giles: Thank you sir…

Vaughan: Shut up Giles.

Giles: Very good sir.

Vaughan: Now then Panesar. You’ve got a turban and a bloody great beard, let’s bally well use it to our advantage.

Moving on. The artillery – Harmison, Jones and Hoggard – the donkey work will be on you. I want you sweating blood out there, men. Think about the greats - The heroes who consistently put their country before themselves. Think Nelson. Think Douglas Bader. God dammit, think Gus Fraser. No giggling at the back there Hoggard, this is serious stuff.

Hoggard: Sorry Sir, Harmy just farted.

Vaughan (suddenly angry and right in Harmison’s face): Look, you lanky string of Geordie piss. You may have got away with your childish antics during the Ashes campaign with the goodwill of the nation behind you, but out there on the Sub-continent you’d do well to remember that we are very much on our own and there’s only one thing that will get us through. Have you any idea what that is, Private?

Harmison (nervous): Er, my Playstation 2?

Vaughan: Discipline, Harmison, discipline. Breaking wind in front of your colleagues may seem the height of amusement now, but I can assure you it will not be quite so funny when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are approaching a double century stand in Madras and it is 38 degrees in the shade. Any bright ideas as to what you’d do in that particular situation? Corporal Jones?

Jones (desperately trying to keep a straight face): Don’t panic, don’t panic!

Vaughan (exasperated): Again with the Dad’s Army shit. By all means break out the dubious comedy when we’ve won the series, but God help you if any of you go wicketless, because you’ll be out on your arse, no questions asked.

Speaking of which… I want to talk to you about an extremely complex new tactic that we have been working on. Top brass are very excited about this and codenamed it Operation Salvation. It is a multi-faceted contingency plan for when the chips are down and I won’t bore your tiny little minds with the details, but it can roughly be translated as “if in doubt, give the ball to Freddie.”

Flintoff: Aye captain.

Vaughan: Aye indeed, Frederick. On top of his regular duties, we have also secretly enrolled Private Flintoff in the SAS and given him an extremely dangerous mission to “get the wood on Sachin” very much as he did with Gilchrist. I want you to live and breathe Tendulkar for the duration of the tour, Private Flintoff, do you think you can do that?

Flintoff: I’ll certainly try, Sir.

Fred

Private Flintoff: Indian assignment

Vaughan: Do your homework. Stalk the man – never let him settle. Follow him around, break into his house, wear his clothes and sleep with his wife. I want you to inhabit Sachin Tendulkar. I want you to be him. And on the pitch I want you to destroy him. Understand?

Flintoff: Er, how about I just employ a persistent line on and around off stump and hope he nicks a few?

Vaughan: Fair enough, whatever works for you. Now, you boys in the infantry, bear in mind Private Flintoff will require substantial protection from enemy fire, so I don’t want you folding like a deck of cards like in Pakistan. Pitch your tent and defend it to the death. I’d thank you to be mindful of the fact that a few booming drives to the boundary followed by some stodgy footwork and a regulation edge to second slip just before lunch on the first day does not constitute an acceptable innings. I’m talking to you, Corporal Trescothick.

Trescothick: It worked for Gower, Sir.

Vaughan: Don’t get smart with me, sonny. Anyway, they eventually court-marshalled Gower after the Tiger Moth incident if you remember – I don’t want anyone to think they’re invincible.

Bell (raising hand reluctantly): Sir, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.

Vaughan: What is it Bell?

Bell: Well Sir, I’m just a bit worried about the food, Sir. Mum says they don’t do fishfingers or beans on toast, and that I might get a funny tummy. Sir.

Vaughan: Come on now, Private Bell. Be a man. We’ve all had the squits at some time or other – it’s like a rites of passage thing. Do you think the old campaigners from tours gone by used to let a little Delhi Belly stop them from padding up in the trenches? Suck it up. Any man on my team with soiled trousers will be sent straight back to HQ. Think you’re irreplaceable? Robert Key has the constitution of a concrete rhinoceros, and don’t you forget it.

Right, moving on…

Giles (aside to Vaughan - inaudible whisper)

Vaughan: I see. What’s this I hear about smuggling dolly birds into the barracks after lights out, Pietersen?

Pietersen: You snitching bastard, Ashley.

Vaughan: How many times do I have to tell you that pre-tour non-marital relations are strictly forbidden? Now drop down and give me twenty.

Pietersen: But Sir, she’s in Liberty X…

Vaughan: I don’t want to hear it. Keep it in your jock-strap, soldier. Oh, and get a haircut.

Now remember men, Field Marshall Fletcher has extensive experience in the colonies - he’s wrestled tigers with his bare hands and blown away many a native with his trusty elephant gun. Make him proud, OK? Right then - Dismissed.

Trescothick: Let’s hope none of us are “dismissed” too often when we get out there, eh Captain?

Vaughan: I’ll do the jokes, thank you Corporal.

Bell (blankly): I don’t get it…

Vaughan: You will, Bell. Frequently. Stupid boy.

Dad's Army

Photos Copyright bbc.co.uk

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