A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

One of the Great What Ifs, #7: Ben Stokes Had A Pot Noodle And A Wank

Posted on January 10, 2018 by in Opinion, Tests

 

PRE-TITLE SEQUENCE

A camera follows Giles Clarke around his hotel room. From various props and shots, it is obviously in Sydney. He makes a phone call. He shaves and combs his hair. He changes from a dressing gown into his trademark bad suit. We see that there is cricket on the television, but it is out of focus. We see him jot a few words down on the pad of paper next to the telephone. He turns the TV off, and we cut to TITLE SEQUENCE.

SCENE 1

FADE IN:

INT. LOCATION #1 – EVENING

It is early evening in the bar of a mid-market chain hotel. Various men in their 20s and 30s are standing and sitting down, chatting. Most are wearing tracksuits.

JOE ROOT

Alright boys, final roll call for an evening on the beers, who’s in and who’s a big girl’s blouse?

ALEX HALES

I’m in, skip.

JASON ROY

Could be, Joseph, could be.

ALEX HALES

Anyone seen Stokesy?

JAMES VINCE

He said he’d be a bit late, he’s got to apply some aftersun to his bonce.

TREVOR BAYLISS

If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a hundred times, get rid of that manky arm bandage and invest in a hat.

JONNY BAIRSTOW

Hear hear.

JOE ROOT

Five minute warning.

JASON ROY

Got your ID Joe?

JOE ROOT

Piss off.

Everyone laughs, a few players clink their beer bottles. Enter stage right, Ben Stokes.

BEN STOKES

Alright lads, what’s up?

JAMES VINCE

Here he is, old skanky scalp. How’s the head?

BEN STOKES

Not too bad ta. Hey, Jonny Boy, how’s yours?

Jonny Bairstow gets up from his sofa and greets BS by pushing his forehead into BS’s face.

JONNY BAIRSTOW

Have a look for yourself mate.

BEN STOKES

Calm down, for fuck’s sake Jonny.

JASON ROY

That’s it chaps, taxis are here.

ALEX HALES

You coming Stokesey?

BEN STOKES

Nah, Halesey, think I’ll stop in and catch up on Games of Thrones.

ALEX HALES

Your loss. Hello, is that reception? Susan? Oh, hi. Can you make pornography come on my telly please? Oh, that’s very nice of you. Thank you.

Several of the players make their way out of the bar area, leaving BS and a few others behind. BS yawns, nods at his remaining teammates and walks back to the lifts.  The camera follows him. Once inside, he slouches against the mirror and sighs. As the lift door shuts, we fade to black.

 

SCENE 2

The camera focusses on a cricket scoreboard, showing the score of 163/4. We hear the voiceover of a cricket commentator.

JONATHAN AGNEW

Joe Root trudges off slowly, his bat hanging despondently by his side.

MICHAEL VAUGHAN

I think Joe Root will be disappointed with that.

JONATHAN AGNEW

Yes, the Barmy Army are giving him a modest round of applause, growing in volume as Ben Stokes jogs out from the dressing rooms, swirling his bat around like some kind of dervish.

Snippets of commentary follow, over a montage of stills showing Ben Stokes batting.

JONATHAN AGNEW

That’s a vicious shot by Stokes, straight down the ground.

SIMON MANN

He hit that tremendously hard and the ball skidded through Mitchell Starc’s hands for another four runs. England move on to 302/5.

GRAEME SWANN

I wonder what KP would think of that shot? (in a South African accent) Hi, I am Kevin Pietersen, and that was a great shot, like I would play.

JONATHAN AGNEW

There it is! Another century for Ben Stokes!

 

SCENE 3

INT. LOCATION #2 – MORNING

Steven Peter Devereux Smith is wearing a Cricket Australia blazer, baggy green cap and cricket whites.  He is standing in front of seated teammates in various states of dress. Some clutch cups of coffee, swig water, stretch, etc. Sunlight shines through the dressing room window, until Darren Lehmann sits down; his head casts the room into shadow, apart from a beam of light upon #Devereux.

DEVEREUX

One hundred and thirty five years ago, eleven men from this desolate isle made history against their imperial masters.  Those eleven men returned to the red soil having forged the foundations of our great country; the Ashes of jolly old England amongst their possessions. From that day of 1882, the empire began to crumble and Australia was born. Gentlemen, the road has not always been flat. For every Trumper, Bradman and Warne, we have had to fight a Hutton, a Botham, a Vaughan.

PAT CUMMINS

Aw mate, Vaughany’s a tosser.

DEVEREUX

That be true, fair ocker. But let me continue. Australia has always faced setbacks. Australia has always had to strive hard. And yes, we have to fight. What we have seen from Stokes has been miraculous, but miracles don’t last forever. There is a long way to go, and we will fight. Every day, under burning gold sun, we will fight. Until we are blue in the face and until we are on our knees, we will fight. And then, perhaps only then, we will advance, Australia fair!

DAVID WARNER

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

CHORUS

Oi! Oi! Oi!

DEVEREUX

Gentlemen. Let the cricket commence!

NATHAN LYON

Er, Smithy, don’t you have to toss up first you dag?

DEVEREUX

Aww no, I fucking forgot to fucking toss up didn’t I, you fucker.

 

SCENE 4

We see footage of Ben Stokes bowling, peppering various Australian batsmen with short-pitched deliveries with snippets of commentary over the top.

GEOFFREY BOYCOTT

Go on lad!

JIM MAXWELL

And Stokes has another one! Australia just doesn’t have an answer to this spell of top-class fast bowling.

We see Stokes clean bowl Nathan Lyon with an inswinging yorker, to the roars of the crowd. Stokes is mobbed by his team-mates before a final shot lingers on his face, beaming with pride.

 

SCENE 5

INT. LOCATION #3

The camera focusses on a wooden chair in an immaculate looking hotel room. A TV is audible in the background.

SPORTS REPORTER

and not long after the lunch break at Sydney, the inevitable happened. Stokes remained undefeated, again, his bat as wide as the Harbour Bridge, his average as high as Uluru.

Although the camera does not move, we see a pair of legs enter the shot and slowly climb onto the chair.

SPORTS REPORTER

At the other end, Steve Smith had fallen to the floor, his hands in the dust, his head bowed. The images will linger for all who were there today, the great cricketer reduced to tears.

The figure spends a few seconds moving slightly. They then kick the chair away and their legs hang in the air, swinging slightly side to side.

SPORTS REPORTER

For a split second, all was quiet and strangely serene, as if no-one knew who had won. But with the umpire’s finger silhouetted against the southern sky, the crowd (or half of them) erupted in cheer and song. Australia the victors, four Tests to none. Stokes was excellent throughout, but England were a one-man team; Australia meanwhile may have had eleven men on the pitch, but had more than 20 million standing beside them just off it. And none stood taller than Steve Smith.

The camera remains focussed as the legs kick slightly before going still. The camera pans out to see a crumpled double-breasted grey suit jacket on the floor.

 

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