Viv Tufnell: Shield Cricketer and Complete A@#*hole

viv illustration

You know, a lot of people snipe me about the way I bat. They moan, “Viv’s like an public servant, plodding along, ball after ball, innings after innings.” They say I belong in the age of dinosaurs – that I make the likes of Chris Tavaré and Geoff Boycott look cavalier. “Grafters like Viv have no place in the modern game,” they snicker, or “Someone should tell Viv cricket’s in the entertainment biz.” This heckling reverberates from journos, opponents,teammates. They go on to complain that players like me are killing the long form game. They sermonize, “Viv has a responsibility to play as brightly as possible.” They blah blah this and they blah blah that. Well you know what? You know what the f@#* what? I’ve got a news flash for them: I’m not changing anything; I’m not changing a damn thing. A 34.3 Shield average and 5000 first class runs says I’ve got a winning formula. A rock solid contract with the Tassie Tigers says I’m valued for what I bring to the table. And what do I bring? Stoic rearguard actions batting at number 6 … nose to the ground uncomplicatedness as I grind out 28 runs every hundred balls. That’s always my sizzling comeback to them; that’s always me having the last laugh – even if no one’s ever stuck around to hear me have it.

***

Steve Phibbs, our Tassie wicketkeeper, thinks he’s a real comedian. I mean, he thinks he’s the funniest f@#* on the planet. “Hey,” he laughed the other day. “I’ve got your batting wagon wheel here, Viv: three thick spokes behind the wicket. Shit, if you could hit a few straight drives, you’d have an upside down peace symbol. But that’s not your thing, is it?”

Steve’s right: upside down peace symbols are not my thing. Neither is right side round peace symbols or any kind of peace symbol. In fact, Steve better watch himself coz making any sort of peace with him is definitely not my thing. Indeed, Steve is gonna find that out one day; he’s gonna find that out for sure. And when he does, he’ll be wishing he never messed with my … err thing.

***

I was on the phone the other day with my agent, Mick. Mick’s been telling me he’s been hawking me around in the IPL. Mick assures me there’s been some interest and that we should play our cards close to our chest. Yeah right, I thought. You know what Mick’s problem is? Mick’s problem is he’s a f@#*^d up strategist; that’s what Mick’s problem is. Mick’s problem is that he doesn’t think ahead. For example, take how he screwed things up for me in the first season’s Big Bash. When I wasn’t picked at the players auction, Mick’s strategy was it’d be best to save face. Mick said we should put out a press release stating that I wanted to concentrate on the long form game. “Viv wants to focus on Test selection,” Mick stated all I know what I’m doing like. “Viv wants to concentrate on honing his game with a view to future international opportunities.” Yeah, well what a balls up that was. What Mick failed to realize was that this T20 was gonna go viral; what Mick failed to foresee was that T20 was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and that his tactics would leave me marginalized. And now he says he’s trying to right the ship hawking me in the IPL. Pffff. You know what would right the ship Mick? A public apology. What would right the ship is you stating, “I’m Mick Sheldon, and I f@#* up cricketers careers.”

***

Every time someone goes nuts in the U.S. and starts shooting people, I’m on edge. The reason is this guy who turns up at every Bellerive match. The guy dresses in fatigues like Travis Bickle and has this thousand yard stare. Worse, he’s got it in for me. Every time I get out for a low score, he claps in this creepy way as I walk off. The clap echoes all round the ground and by Christ, it freaks the crap out of me. I’m telling you, the guy has well got me spooked. The really crazy thing, though, is how it’s begun to work in my favour. You see, the thing is, if I make runs, he doesn’t clap. I think his logic is if I get out early, he has been spared a day of watching my stodginess, whereas, if I bat for a few hours or so, his day has been ruined. Whatever the logic, it’s made me more determined to stay out there. And f@#* it’s worked. Ever since I started noticing this guy, my average has improved markedly. I mean, the guy has worked for me the way a carrot works for an ass. Still, it’s a double edged sword: I’m batting longer, but I do so feeling like there’s a periscope site on my organs. It’s very unnerving. Anyway, looking ahead, I only hope he doesn’t show up sporting a Mohawk. That and hauntedly repeating, “The horror, the horror.”

***

No one can graft a hundred the way I do. No one. Not Greg Shipperd, not Chris Tavaré, not anybody. I have made grafting an art form. Of course, it goes unappreciated. I’ve made 12 Shield centuries and not once I have got so much as a well done by our national selectors. I mean, you’d reckon after 5000 hard earned runs, they’d say, “Viv you’re on our radar,” or “Viv, don’t make plans this boxing day.” But no, nothing from them. Not a sniff. What it is is that they’re obsessed with big hitting, is the thing. Their problem is that they think the public is only interested in batting pyrotechnics. What they fail to realize is that the common man connects with what I do. I mean, a grafted century is a metaphor for a workaday existence. Nudging a run here and glancing a run there is symbolic of an honest 9 to 5 job. It’s emblematic of the toil of your accountant, your public servant, your invoicing clerk. “Damn it, I’m the cricketing incarnation of an office drone,” I said to Mick the other day. “Can’t the ACB see that?” Mick said, “So you want me to market you as an office drone? Is that what you’re saying?” I said, “You figure it out, Mick, you figure it out. That’s why I pay you the big bucks.” I then hung up in a huff, thinking that that would drive the message home.

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