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My wife's leaden-footed performance behind the stumps made it pointless to attempt my subtler variations. Anyway, after two overs the telltale twinges announced that my knee was about to go. Finally, attempting a doosra, I painfully dislocated my thumb.

So much for my dream of becoming history's oldest one-day international cricketer (by 30 years over - you can look it up - Nolan Clarke, of The Netherlands).

Knowing another tragic likely to be tempted by possible openings in the Australian XI, I called John Howard's house to see how he was going. Janette answered.

"He's lying down," she said.

"I'll try his cell phone," I suggested.

"He won't be able to pick it up," she

said. "He's lying down on the gerberas.

He's breathing fairly often but mainly groaning. It's his back. I warned him against trying the doosra."

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