After the debacle of the World Cup, and the leaks from the England Dressing-Room, some snitch (who shall remain nameless) revealed just how your fearless correspondents had managed to get both audio and video tapes of what had been presumed to be private discussions between Captain Vaughan and his troops. As a result, security has been tightened to the extent that we are powerless to infiltrate the sanctum – a shame you’ll all agree. However, some desperate undercover work has enabled us to bring you details of an evening chez Michael following the hideously bad performance at Trent Bridge. Our thanks go to our anonymous helper, and we hope you all enjoy what is a revelatory meeting with some key players in the England side.
MV: Honey I’m home – how are the kids?
Mrs MV: Sssh – I’ve only just put them to bed with a few sweeties to keep them quiet.
MV: Oh my Christ – you’ve not raided the pot of jelly-beans for them, have you? You know those aren’t for kids – they are weapons of mass destruction in my secret war.
Mrs MV: No, no, don’t panic – I used the jelly-babies. You said you didn’t need them anymore.
MV: Thank fuck – anyway, I forgot to tell you a few of the lads are coming over tonight. We’ve got to work out what the bastard fuck went wrong against India – did you get the giant bag of Pick ‘n Mix I asked for?
Mrs MV: Yes, yes, darling, everything’s in place. I checked for bugs and I’ve drawn all the curtains too. You’re quite safe.
(sound of doorbell ringing)
MV: That’ll be Ali – I asked him to come early. The others should be here in the next 10 minutes. I’ll talk to him in the kitchen, show the rest into the lounge, then man the look-out, and if you see Peter Moores approaching, activate the escape route for the lads.
(Mrs MV opens door to Ali Cook, shows him into the kitchen where MV waits – a gentle look on his face, then she retreats to await more furtive arrivals)
MV (jovially): Ali, come in boy, come in. Tea, sweeties, a little tube of pastilles perhaps? (his face changes – almost Jekyll and Hyde-like). What the bloody fuck did you think you were doing, you arsehole? Christ Almighty – The Telegraph of all places. To go and tell the world that our next weapon is the pastille? You fool, you absolute fool. How do think I feel now? I’ve gotta think up a new plan, I’ve gotta explain to the lads who’s fucked it up. Why (MV drops head into his hands and begins to sob), why Ali? Are you working for Them? Just get the fuck into the lounge now, sit in the corner chair, and don’t fucking open your mouth unless I tell you too. OK (doorbell rings again). The lads are here. Keep that lip buttoned. And you can stop that fucking Bambi look right now – it works on the Npower girls but not on Michael Fucking Vaughan.
MV: Hi boys – come in, sit down – no not the corner chair Belly, there’s someone sitting there. Anyone want a drink? No, good – glad one lesson has been learned. So we’re here, on our own, and not all of us (thank fuck none of you blew the whistle and told Mooresey that we’re meeting tonight), just to have a captain’s man-to-men with some of you responsible for the disaster at Nottingham. You all know exactly what I mean and let’s get to the main items.
Number One: Sweeties. Now I don’t know for certain who stuffed AD’s trouser pockets with the damned things but someone owes him a tenner for the dry cleaning. Pounds not rands KP. And give him the money for Gods’ sake, he’s bullying Jimmy enough as it is
Number Two: Batting - Colly don’t look like that – get back to reading the Brearley book, you’ve a lot of work soon. Michael Vaughan was the only batsman who played well, Michael fucking Vaughan – and you all know what happens when Michael gets upset. And if you get all Geordie on me, I’ll just remind you what I did to Harmison – yeah?
Ah, fuck’s sake KP: if you must bring food, eat with your mouth closed – I can see the flavour from here. I think I speak for us all (well, Belly for sure) when I say that we need you to get back in the runs. And it would help if you didn’t speak in Afrikaans to AD – yes, we all know the story about the lion in the playground, but, fuck Kev – I thought we’d got over that in the Caribbean. Getting all exclusive with Al doesn’t build the Team.
Last tonight, before you go:
Bowling: well, Ryan – You’re a haircut away from a contract son, so go and do it – I read that fucking article “The Locks of Sidebottom”. Christ’s sake, do we need another prima donna in the side?
Monty – Just stop signing the photographs and for fuck’s sake when you have to, just scribble your initials – there’s no need for these long personal messages, they’ll have us all doing it. Good stuff, but there were times when you were quicker than Ryan, so slow it down. There’s a youtube clip of Tendulkar being bowled by a slow, flighted delivery at Trent Bridge on the last tour that shows you how it’s done.
Chris – Stop texting your dad for a moment please. For a 21 year old, you did well, really well. You’ve a lot of potential there. Speak up! You’re 26 next month? I can’t believe it. Okay, not a bad show but I’m still looking for a bit more pace – use your fucking height for Christ’s sake.
That’s it for tonight. I could get into keeping, but Matt, I haven’t the strength. You’re not the worst I’ve seen – fuck, I had to captain Jones – but you’re not the best and if you want to stay in white, bugger off to the nets.
The lads gather up their pads and pencils, start shuffling out, cautiously in case Mrs MV has slipped up and not alerted them to the presence of their esteemed coach, but all is well.
One player remains behind – he’s worried because MV hasn’t singled him out for censure.
Ian Bell: Michael, please sir, what am I to do? Why was I invited here tonight with the big boys?
MV: Ian: sorry kid, didn’t see you there. Just do your best, boy, do your best. Class is permanent, form is temporary. I believe in you, I love you, I really do.
In a moment, scarily reminiscent of The Godfather, little Belly-Boy gets down on one knee and kisses the heavy gold ring Michael has recently taken to wearing.