India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 4th day March 19, 2017

The Ranchi daymare

What an Australian fielder might have experienced on day four, watching Cheteshwar Pujara go on and on and on. And then, those hellish eight overs to stumps...
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"You think they'd notice if we were to jump the stadium wall and slip away in the tea break, skip?" © Associated Press

Pick up the ball, move into leg-side ring fields, go and get a drink. Repeat. I'm wearing whites, standing on grass, with an Australian logo on my chest, watching Cheteshwar Pujara bat. I guess I'm in a Test match, for my country, in India.

Everything suddenly looks blurry to me. Is it Tuesday? Are we still in India? Is Glenn Maxwell really injured? Is that Steven Smith, or Virat Kohli? Maybe it's humanity itself... And why does everything I look at flick to square leg? I can no longer remember which one of us is Matt Renshaw, are we still out here playing cricket, or is this just a description of a bad Test match that a sports psychologist is telling us about while we're hypnotised to prepare us for India? Maybe I'm in my bed, and this is that dream I have when I eat an entire chunk of Roquefort, including rind, just before bedtime. Does Roquefort even have a rind? I don't know anymore!

Why is Steve O'Keefe fading like that photo of the family of Back to the Future? He's physically standing, yet his legs seem to be now made with dreams of a better life. Oh no, he has gone to the wrong position, he has to come back into the ring, and he's doing something that is between a slow jog and a drunk-leaning-forward-accidentally-into-faster-motion. Just in that time his face has completely disappeared.

Maybe he was thinking about the lbw shout when Pujara had possibly got a small amount of pad first (which Nigel Llong didn't notice) before the big edge (which Nigel Llong did notice). I was thinking about that, although I can't be sure it happened this Test, this year, or on this plane of existence. There was also the edge off Wriddhiman Saha that Matthew Wade had dropped only a few years earlier in a prologue to a book that was never written. I now cannot remember if O'Keefe and I are friends; I think we once skipped through a field at dawn.

Now Smith is misfielding a ball - that's a big deal, right, guys? He doesn't normally do that, does he? Should one of us have a cross face, or maybe look surprised. Have we been here so long Smith is now a poor fielder? Was he ever even a good fielder, or is that a memory implanted by the CIA, or Google. Usually I think of us as a unit; today, it's a fraction.

Why is Josh Hazlewood staring at a rough patch of grass for minutes at a time? What does this grass do, say, or show? Maybe it's zen grass. Maybe I should stare at the grass. Or perhaps I should squat down between balls like Nathan Lyon and play with it. Aw look, yeah mate, reconnect with nature, life will be simpler then... Like before I had an agent and my mate's all texted me when they wanted free tickets. I give away tickets to watch me; I'd never thought about this before - does this make me a product, an actor, a living entertainment vessel? Oh, this is deep, this one's going to fester.

Oh, a wicket, yeah! That's weird. Is this the first wicket ever taken in cricket? Should we shuffle in unathletically, mumble nothing more than "walla, walla, walla", stand in a circle for a while before moving back towards our positions of solitude? Yes, lets.

Oh, that crazy guy - or figment of my own hyper-real Ultra HD imagination - Sir Ravindra Jadeja! He's doing a sword celebration for his fifty. I think I remember my grandfather telling me that in the old days Australian cricketers would stare at this sort of thing disapprovingly and make passive aggressive comments. I wish I lived in those times. My grandpa also warned that under the Indian sun Australian men watched Indians for days, and this brought about an apocalypse. But that's just a scary fairy tale meant to scare me straight.

Loads of drama with a dollop of irateness? Has to be Virat Kohli, right? © Associated Press

Now the Indians are walking off. Is it over? Can we get the bloody hell out of here? I'm dying for a vegemite-covered, bake-bean-infused dim sim. Oh, right, we have to bat. Well, if we have to bat, why is Nathan Lyon just walking over to the far boundary to pick up the ball? Shouldn't he be running off? I mean, won't he be the guardian of the night, or whatever it is we call that position that makes no cricketing sense? Oh, there, he is sprinting, now he gets it.

Mate, this is hell. The spinning, the foot marks. R Ashwin's teasing bombs and Jadeja's endless grenades. Argh, Virat Kohli's mouth. The whole thing. This isn't standing around on an overcast day wondering about the very existence of reality; this is the real thing. Ranchi rockets, bloodcurdling screams and things that go bump in the night.

No, no, I'm being too dramatic. We've been watching the same guy bat since Rasputin was a nipper. Surely this pitch is deader than the concept of video stores? I'll just watch to make sure. Yes, there he is, the bull David Warner, smashing a couple of cut shots. This pitch be chill. Time to have a shower, put on some UGG boots and listen to some soothing King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

Whoa, what was that? Who was that? Oh, that's what Matt Renshaw looks like. Did he always look so terrified? I'm sure it's nothing? There it is again! Has someone left a bunch of thumb tacks on the pitch? Damn, now they're getting to Davey Warner too, that inside edge, that pad, that everything. Now Davey be running at the ball like a lunatic; he could have got bowled, caught, stumped, and probably six other modes of dismissal off one ball. Now they're screaming for an lbw. This is not supposed to be happening, man.

Woah, there it is again, what the hell. Game over, man, game over. Take out the cartridge, turn off the console, pull the power plug out of the wall; I don't want to do this anymore.

Argh, what the hell was that, did it go through the stumps? That was both poisonous and venomous, Renshaw's stumps must be staying up out of pity.

Oh no, oh no, oh no, no! Aw look, this is not happening, did you guys see that? No? Of course you didn't, you're all watching this from under the physio table. Let me tell you what happened: the ball, like, it well, hell, it came from, I mean, hell, I wasn't really watching either, but that's Davey Warner's stumps there laying on the ground. Oh, but I see Kohli has injured his arm again... Ah, no, he hasn't, it's another bloody trick.

How could this happen to our Davey, the bull... He's a weapon, what a specimen, he's bloody elite. If it could happen to him…

Someone just push Lyon out there. I know he doesn't want to go, but we strapped a parachute to him, he'll be fine. Hell, I don't care, just push him.

They're screaming again, and, oh my God, umpire Gaffaney is twitching his right hand! Oh, he's just putting that damn earpiece in again. That was close, we really got to talk to him about that, that was like the worst... Oh my God, Lyon's out! He's gone! That's it, everyone run to the bus, they can't make us go out there.

I want to go back to the start of the day; I want to stare at grass; I want to doubt reality; I want to see Puajra bat again. I want to do anything but this. Make it stop!

Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricketmad1981 on March 20, 2017, 14:37 GMT

    Wow what wonderful piece of writing,thank you Jarod jee for such wonderful writing, i am a your big fan now. You are great writer Jarod jee!

  • arunrajaram on March 20, 2017, 6:52 GMT

    Jarrod at his best. Awesome read :):)

  • solidsnake7 on March 20, 2017, 6:40 GMT

    There were times in that article I forgot about the cricket itself and felt I was in the trenches in the Ardennes, praying for dear life amidst the screaming incoming shells. Wonderfully evocative writing, and a very brave attempt. The second half of the article especially was breathtaking, capturing the genuine horror and listlessness the Aussies would have gone through.

    I have one more reason to thank Pujara now.

  • arupsbt1988 on March 20, 2017, 6:27 GMT

    The Aussies should have jumped the wall and slipped away during the tea break. That way they would have - prevented Wriddhiman from getting his third hundred, Pujara his third double hundred and Sir Jadeja, from mesmerizing them 8 overs before stumps.

  • TestCricRox on March 20, 2017, 6:07 GMT

    Awesome, brilliant....wow...thoroughly enjoyed.... As an indian fan, hope there is an equivalent for our years of 'staring @ the grass' or 'pushing the tailender/nightwatchman with parachutes' lol ..... CRICMYSTIQUE ON MARCH 19, 2017, 23:16 GMT - well said....do think it is 'well bowled, sanjay' or something very similar.... am indian but even if i was a neutral - that swordplay with the bat by Jaddu is awesome....bringing it out of the sheath and all...hilarious....just goes to show there is place for characters in this sport without the ugliness and repetitive chest thumping send offs....happy to say jaddu, umesh yadav and quite a few play with fun, with joie-de-vivre....always smiling even when things go against them.....wish a few of our guys would play like them.....and yeah enjoying watching the rookies -cummins, renshaw - again what a delight -service with a smile for these guys coming back... jarrod - looking forward to many more such gems from you...

  • cricfan00951386 on March 20, 2017, 4:51 GMT

    What a gem of an article!

  •   cricfan7346319811 on March 20, 2017, 4:49 GMT

    This is awesome article. Too funny. I correlate this with Matthew Hayden's feelings on that Kolkata test where VVS and Dravid showed stars.

  • Gamechangers on March 20, 2017, 3:51 GMT

    Going by the article the player seems to be Marsh Handscomb or Cummins. Most likely to be Marsh as it seems to be written from a batsman's perspective and he was the one most likely to gum gor Lyon going as nightwatchman

  • cricfan0455145794 on March 20, 2017, 3:47 GMT

    One of the best articles written in cricinfo! Simply brilliant!