February 15, 2010 in H
Paul stood proud at the crease in the middle of the MCG. Seventy five thousand people were looking on with bated breath. If he could hit a six off this final ball he would win the game. No, not just win the game; he would lift the spirits of the Nation. He would make this miraculous comeback complete. He wasn’t worried about the pressure. This is what he’d wanted all his life, the burden of everything his team had strived for now rested on his broad shoulders. On this final ball.
The wind died down. How could such a huge space seem so claustrophobic? The crowd grew louder and louder as the bowler turned to begin his run up. He marvelled at how the collective cheer of seventy-five thousand people really did sound like blowing air into cupped hands brought up to your mouth. Paul was facing his nemesis. He’d lost his wicket to this bowler every time they had played this series. This man knew how to get him out.
Paul felt a drip of sweat escape from the rim of his helmet, annoyingly dripping down his nose competing for a fragment of his attention. It was a fragment Paul couldn’t spare. The bowler was running in at full speed now, his face a mask of focused hatred. Paul forced himself to go through his routine. Keep your feet apart, a step forward, a half back lift of the bat. He saw the ball leave the bowler’s hand. A leg cutter pitching short. ‘I’ve picked this.’ He thought as he instinctively rocked onto his back foot, completing his back swing. The rest of the stroke took care of its self, all he had to do unwind.
Paul hit the ball hard, sending it screaming into twelve rows back into the stands over the square leg boundary with a shattering crash. He ran down the pitch jumping like a man possessed. The crowd went wild. The journey ended. The hero announced. Paul looked at the bowler and saw him pointing towards the boundary swearing. That’s when the stand behind the bowler turned back into the garage. The square leg boundary morphed back into the house. The shrieking of Paul’s mum’s voice silenced the cheering.
“Paul! What have I told you about playing cricket close to the house? You’re going to pay for this window out of your pocket money.”
The bowler reached Paul, took the bat from his hands. “Window on the full is out. I win.”
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