CrickiLeaks: Mike Gatting

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'Extracted' from Mike Gatting's autobiography in 'CrickiLeaks: The Secret Ashes Diaries'. Copyright: Alan Tyers and Beach

Old Trafford, June 4th 1993
What a day. I knew it was going to be a tough one as soon as I got to the dining room and saw that Merv Hughes had beat me to the fried bread. He’d had the bear’s share of that, the greedy fat Aussie sod, and there was hardly enough left to mop up my fourth fried egg. I was reduced to sticking my streaky unsmoked (unsmoked since the health kick – thanks for nothing, Dr Killjoy) between some bits of black pudding to fashion a makeshift sandwich. But that’s international sport: you have to react to changing environments, think on your feet. At times like this, I always say to myself. “Gatt, firstly: think of that emergency Branston in your kitbag and b) at least we’re not in Pakistan.”

Hardly surprising then, that I didn’t have the best day in the field, probably my blood sugar was low after the reduced breakfast. Athletes’ bodies are not the same as ordinary people’s and a disruption in your refuelling regime can really throw you out of kilter. I think I got over-hungry, like when you’re over-tired and can’t sleep, and I couldn’t get anything down me for the rest of the morning’s play. Even the hog roast I had the twelfth man bring on at drinks tasted funny, and I barely touched my second haunch of venison at lunch. or the baked beans. Cheeseboard? Not for Gatt today. Yeah. That’s how badly I was suffering. Even Beefy was sympathetic, in his way, and tried to cheer me up with a couple of pints and a listen of his favourite Mrs Thatcher Sings The Hits of Elton John cassette. It didn’t do any good.

All in all, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself by the time I came out to bat. To be quite honest with you, I didn’t know a lot about Shane Warne – I heard he could put away an XXXL Mighty Meaty in a pretty warm order, but other than that I was in the dark about his abilities. He was licking his lips as I took guard and I suppose it was the tiredness and the hunger but my vision sort of went blurry, like Tuffers said you go after one of his roll- ups, and with that bright blonde hair and that sweaty red face and the pink tongue sticking out, he looked more or less exactly like a sherry trifle. I’m partial to a bit of trifle and I was just thinking about getting after a really good one with a nice wafer biscuit or a couple of sausages to spoon it up with when he’s ripped one and next thing I know I’m stumbling back to the pavilion in a sort of daze.

I got back to the dressing-room and they were all saying, “Jesus Christ, did you see that?” and I said: “Too right, they’ve got a bowler who can impersonate puddings at will,” and I think if we’re honest with ourselves we lost the series there and then.

More about ‘CrickiLeaks: The Secret Ashes Diaries’ here. Buy the book here

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