Sunday, 10 October 2010

EXTRACT: Spinner

Chapter Three

David headed down towards the river to turn on the irrigation before the sun came up. He had a thick piece of bread dangling from his mouth and Jess watched the bread rather than him as she trailed him on his morning jobs.
The irrigation was a clever system of pipes and taps, which came up from the river to water a couple of paddocks where they grew fruit trees and some melons. If things got dry, and they were already very dry this year, they could move some of the hoses and pipes to keep some feed going on higher paddocks. If the river held. His grandfather said, ‘If the river goes, and it does every twenty years or so, there’s no good pumping dirt.’
To save as much water as they could there were taps at virtually every juncture of pipe. It was David’s job of a morning to turn every single tap on, then half an hour later, turn them off. Each tap was big and hard to turn. He liked to think of it as part of his bowling practice, for the years of turning and turning back had considerably strengthened his wrist and fingers. David crouched by a tap. ‘Donald to Windsor … and he bowls.’ He turned the tap sharply. ‘Bowled middle stump.’
Jess came up and prodded him with her snout and David gave her a bit of crust. He knew he shouldn’t. ‘Don’t pet the dogs. They’re working dogs. You want a pet, move to town.’ His mother had ruined a good working dog when she was young. She kept giving it biscuits and petting it and playing and mothering. The dog took to sneaking off to her in the day when it should have been working sheep. ‘What did you do, Grandad?’ David had asked. He half expected his grandfather to say he’d shot the dog or locked his mother in the tool shed or something like that, but the old man had simply coughed and spat before confessing, ‘I wasn’t tough enough on her and she kept the dog. It was already spoiled by then.’
David turned angrily on Jess, ‘Go on, git. Git out of it. I got work to do.’
Jess’s ears dropped and she skulked off, but she didn’t go far.
David reached another tap down by the river. He tugged before it gave, but then turned, allowing the canvas hose to fill, like a huge snake breathing in. As David went to the second tap, some twenty yards on, he returned to his commentary. ‘And Mr Donald moves in to the English captain, and he bowls. The ball is spinning viciously in the air. One can see it spin from the stands. It bites on the pitch and spins. Longford is reaching. No. It’s past him. He’s out. Longford has been bowled, out for forty-nine.’
David waved his hands in the air, making a scratchy crowing sound, like the crowd cheering when it’s heard down a telephone line and into the wireless.
Jess joined in, barking with the crowd noise.
David was now approaching the next tap. ‘Windsor, imperious as ever, regards young Donald as he comes in to bowl.’
David’s grandfather felt that Windsor was susceptible to spin because of his open stance.
Jess had moved now. She’d taken up her position at the next tap along the line. As David came forward, she shuffled back low on all fours seeming to wait for the next dismissal.
‘He bowls. It’s the skidder.’
Jess barked.
David made the crowd cheer as he moved to the next sprinkler.
David and his grandfather had been working on strategies to bowl at all the great batsmen in the world, especially the English. David’s grandfather said there were few quality spinners in the world today and so batsmen were not practised at playing them. David wondered if the war had killed all the old spinners as it had his father.
David bowled out Proctor and continued spinning his way across the paddocks, bowling out batting line-ups from around the world to the adoring barks of Jess.

Spinner is available now.

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