24 April 2000
Pratchard: I'm rather optimistic today, Tom. We're on a winning streak after helping that nice Mr Irving win his libel case against that ghastly American woman.
Henderson: Irving didn't win, Jack.
Pratchard: Of course he did. He's even writing a book, What Really Happened At My Libel Trial But Wasn't Reported By The Zionist Press. Marvellous man, great mind. We don't often see you at the cricket, Tom.
Henderson: I've played some cricket in my time.
Pratchard: Where, at university?
Henderson: No. In my time. At Ford Open Prison. They had cricket, croquet, punting. Ah, happier times. I love the way it used to be played. No floodlights, a red ball, all whites.
Pratchard: It's not just non-whites you know. They've let women play as well.
Bickerthwaite: Right, we won the toss. It's a cracking pitch so I think we should bat. No flamboyance - batting is not an art, it's an ordeal ...
Henderson: I think we'll bowl actually Rodney.
Bickerthwaite: Never have I heard such nonsense since Gower's ill fated decision to turn to the spin of Emburey in the 1988 second test against Australia. I'm the captain and I say...
Henderson: I'll sack you if you don't shut up. Now who's best with the new ball? What about you Jack? Do you swing?
Pratchard: Tom, not in front of the partners. Although Mrs Pratchard has had her eye on Humphries in IT.
Henderson: Yet again, and I don't know how, you misunderstand me for comic effect. Can you swing the ball?
Pratchard: It would be hard. I tend to bowl underarm.
Umpire: The Firm won the toss and for some unknown reason have elected to bowl. I'd like to remind you all that my decisions are final. There is to be no over the top appealing. Last year a Gray's Inn XI took one lbw appeal to the third umpire, then on to the House of Lords. The game lasted two-and-a-half years and cost the taxpayer £1m. And we'll have no repeat of the fiasco last year with Linklaters - I've checked, you can't get an injunction against the bowling of leg spin. The laws are not the same as real law. That joke's run out of steam.
Pratchard bowls 17 wide balls before being stroked majestically through the covers.
Henderson: I've got it. Oh no. Where's the ball gone?
Bickerthwaite: You've put it down your trousers you great southern nancy. Quick, they've run nine already.
Henderson: Sorry Rodney, it is certainly a case of ball tampering though. Ha, ha, ha. Did you get my joke?
Bickerthwaite: Throw the ball you pudding! I'm getting the strangest feeling that you don't want the Firm to win this match. If you carry on like this they're going to score 200.
Henderson: 200? That's not enough for Mr Kwang Long Poo.
Bickerthwaite: Henderson. Have you been accepting money to fix this game? I'm shocked. You can cheat clients, lie to the OFT, deceive the court, steal from the partners but cricket is sacred. Now pull yourself together. Let's see if we can restrict their score to 154. Ermm, approximately.
Henderson: That's a rather specific amount Rodney.
Bickerthwaite: Have mercy on me Tom. I've fifteen bastard children back in Barnsley to feed. I tried to say no but... well, I'm very greedy. But after Pratchard's bowling we'll never fix their run target. There's only one hope - a spread bet on us to score slowly in our innings.
Henderson: Make the call.
Bickerthwaite: Hello, is that Geoffrey. It's Bickerthwaite. There's a simple grand in it if you can get down to London and spend all afternoon making eight. Brilliant.
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