With a Lord’s Nursery End marquee crammed full with a thousand paying guests and sponsors hanging on his every utterance, England off-spinner Graeme Swann paused briefly before deciding on the correct words.
The charity audience was looking forward to what he would say about his upcoming first tour of Australia.
Team officials also waited with baited breath.
Months had been spent trying to make sure no one said a single word that could be construed as confidence, let alone arrogance, before the mission to retain the Ashes in Australia for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.
They knew the success of that part of the operation hinged on what Swann would say next.
“Well,” began the No. 1 spinner in world cricket, “the thing is, I’ll almost certainly be p—-d from Perth onwards because we’ll have won the Ashes by then.”
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