Short Story Contest #189 Theme: "Ashes" courtesy of @Blighters Congratulations @ranjit23das for your first medal, winning for an engaging sports story and a clever take on the theme. ________________________________ Century Sam (590 words) Sam had felt the rush of wind and the whizzing sound many times before. A second later he heard the crack of the cricket ball against the stump. There was a huge gasp from the crowd and then a loud roar from the Australian supporters. Their flags and banners waving wildly, they began to chant ‘Century Sam’ in mock admiration. Sam did not need to look at the umpire to know he was out. Head down, he tucked his bat under his arm and began to take his gloves off and make the long walk back to the pavilion. Shaking his head, he smiled to himself. The England fans thought it was a smile of disbelief at what had just happened. “You saw it first on Sky Sports ladies and gentlemen. Wow Peter, that was a shock,” said the first commentator to the other speaker, as the television showed a dejected looking figure trudge off the cricket field. “Yes Simon, it beggars belief. Sam Cooper, the England captain out for a duck. I was expecting him to hit another century for England but now he’s out that really puts Australia in the driving seat.” “Absolutely Peter. England unlikely to retain the Ashes now with Australia having amassed such a huge score in their first innings. I can’t understand it. The man nicknamed ‘Century Sam’ out for nought. He seemed to lift up his bat at the last minute and almost allow the ball to hit the wicket. It’s a school-boy error,” commented Simon. “I simply can’t believe it either. What was he thinking?” rhetorically asked Peter. “Yes, and the techies tell me that Australia’s fast bowler, Kim O’Toole, only bowled at a lowly speed of 83 kilometres an hour. Well below the high 90’s he normally bowls at,” informed Simon. “It’s been a few years since I retired but maybe I should don my whites again Simon because that was a ball Cooper should have knocked out of the park,” chortled Peter. “Seriously though Sam Cooper, the player, has been below par this tournament and as England captain some of his decisions have raised eyebrows,” remarked Simon. “I agree Simon. That howler of a dropped catch from Sam was poor but his selection of spin bowlers over pace bowlers practically handed the first innings to Australia on a plate.” “Well folks, the tweets are coming in thick and fast and most are not singing Sam Cooper’s praises. I’ll read out a few of them right after this break. Stay tuned to Sky Sports for all the Ashes action. More from Peter Brown and myself, Simon Wall, in just a few minutes.” As the commercials began Pak Dong put the television on mute and reached for his phone. He texted the password to his banker. Within a few minutes the banker would transfer one million US dollars to Sam Cooper’s very secret, offshore bank account in the British Virgin Islands. A small price to pay given that Sam’s dismissal had earned the betting syndicate a handsome sum in bets. If Sam could ensure Australia won the Ashes he would be rewarded with another five million. It was three in the morning in Kuala Lumpur and it would be a long night for Pak Dong but with over a hundred million riding on England losing he could not afford to sleep. It was unlikely that Sam Cooper would retain the England captaincy after this debacle but it had been worthwhile grooming him over these last few months; very lucrative indeed.