The Aussies are twenty for one
The tension at Lords is palpable.
Excitement runs through the crowd
Like a member of the Barmy Army with a tray of pints
Desperate to get back to his seat from the bar
The Queen watching from the Members Enclosure
Is as thrilled by the prospect of an Aussie humiliation
As is everyone else in her commonwealth
(Except, possibly, the Antipodean ragamuffins themselves)
She stays her pint of Fosters halfway to her lips
Her bag of Walkers cheese and onion remain unrustled
Anderson pounds in
And Ponting is OUT
Absolutely, undeniably, incontrovertibly OUT
Caught by Strauss in the slips.
Her Majesty is on her feet
And begins to totter towards the steps.
An aide makes a grab for the pint glass and the bag of crisps
But Now she is gaining speed
And vaults the white picket fence
The stewards, suddenly aware of what is happening,
Are caught in a dilemma.
Should they wrestle the intruder to the ground as instructed
Or remove their baseball caps in humble obeisance?
That moment’s hesitation is enough
Her royal highness has evaded the cordon
And has crossed the boundary rope
And is on the hallowed turf
The players, the umpires, the whole crowd stands aghast and instantly silent
She is racing towards the middle
Discarding cardi, blouse and skirt
As she goes
The moment of silence extends second by second
Even Father Time swivels away
Unable to look.
Now she is on the square
The sun glinting off her second-best tiara
And there goes her bra and pants
Although, sensibly, she is keeping on
Her stout brogues
Because there is still some damp on the outfield.
And any dints on the wicket
Will only help Graham Swann
When he wants to make it turn
Later in the innings.
Thirty odd thousand mouths hang open
And, for some reason the electronics
In the Sky cameras have ceased to function
So the world outside misses the spectacle.
In the Test match Special Box
Aggers’ mouth hangs open,
Blowers manages a “My dear old thing”
And Sir Geoffrey has staggered to his feet and is saluting wildly.
Now behind the Monarch comes Prince Phillip
And in an extraordinary display of solidarity
The Admiral of the Fleet Uniform
Joins the other royal garments on the grass
And we are treated
To a display of the Crown Jewels
Undreamt of since the Coronation.
Hand in hand, their Majesties
Vault the stumps
A picture that remains for ever un recorded
By the thousands of photographers
Fingers frozen solid over unclicked shutter buttons
In bemused horror.
Her Majety’s eyes meet those of the recently dismissed and shocked Ponting
But there is no royal clemency there
Her small sneer says it all
“Walk wallaby” and she jerks her thumb towards the pavilion steps
And the dyed in the wool republican
Retreats his eyes wide with new found respect
For the House of Windsor.
Together, the Royal Couple
Have reached the far boundary rope
And are disappearing through the press box.
The equerry briskly removes the royal garments
(outer and under) from the field
As if it were an everyday occurrence.
Ponting continues his sad march to the pavillion
Troubled by conflicting emotions.
The next batsman, Hussey, emerges
Into the profound silence
The only man in the ground
To have missed the whole thing
Because he was busy buckling on his pads
“How’s it playing, Skip?”
His Captain eyes him glassily:
“If only you had balls like that Sheila.”
Hussey shrugs unsure of what that means
Play resumes at 20 for 2
And a subdued crowd
Settles down for the afternoon’s play
Forever unsure of what they have seen.