Ever since Brett Lee dismantled my ribcage in December, my cricketing credentials have been the subject of significant global ridicule.
So it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation from Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham to captain his side in a star-studded charity game on the Caribbean island of St Kitts today.
Particularly when Beefy informed me that my opposing captain would be Brian Lara – one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the game.
I boarded the bus this morning with teammate, England fast- bowling legend Darren Gough, and found Mr Lara sitting opposite me. ‘Morning, Brian.’ ‘Morning, Piers.’ ‘Feeling nervous? ‘What about?’ ‘Me bowling at you.’ Lara smirked. ‘Not really, no.’ ‘Well you should be.’ Gough burst out laughing. ‘Morgan, are you on a death wish? This bloke battered me for ten years – you’ve got no f***ing chance, son!’
The 20/ 20 game was a sell- out – 8,000 very excited locals, 99 per cent of whom had come to watch the great Brian Lara bat. Beefy tossed the coin and I called ‘Heads’ correctly. ‘You can bat,’ I told Lara. ‘What’s your thinking, skipper?’ asked Beefy, on camera. ‘ To get Brian in as fast as possible, so I can get him out.’
‘There’s more chance of me becoming Pope,’ said Ian, ‘but good luck.’
Around the 12 over mark, Lara walked to the crease to join his batting partner, recently retired England spinner Graeme Swann – and the crowd went wild. I walked over and put my arm round him. ‘Welcome, Brian. I’m bringing myself straight on to bowl and I’m going to get you out.’
Lara treated each one of my first six balls like unexploded hand grenades, blocking them all.
‘ Mate, it’s not a Test match,’ I sneered.
First ball of my next over, Lara danced down the wicket… and smashed it straight into the hands of a fielder standing 20 yards away.away I’d got him, for nought. The crowd fell silent, as I screamed ‘YEESSSSS!!!!!’ and charged around with all the calm demeanour of an enraged rhino with a spear in its back. An incredulous Gough ran up and high-fived me. ‘I don’t f***ing believe it!’
Now, you might imagine this game couldn’t have got any better for me. You would be mistaken. I came in to bat with my team needing 40 runs to win and promptly smashed it straight up in the air, only for the fielder to drop a simple catch.
It was Brian Lara. To try and atone for his abject performance, Lara brought himself on to bowl the last over. Needing eight runs to win with just three balls left, I belted him for six and four to win the match.
I put my arm round him again as we walked off.
‘How can this possibly get any worse for you?’ I asked. ‘You could steal my girlfriend at the party later,’ he groaned.
I reached the dug- out and saw Beefy sitting with his head in his hands murmuring, ‘What the hell have I done?’ Minutes later, he was forced to present me with the manof-the-match award.
Lara’s girlfriend, a stunning 24-year-old Miss Scotlandwinning model called Jamey Bowers, tried to console him on the bus to the party. But as they hugged quietly in the front row, Bob Marley’s Three Lit t le Bi rds began blaring on the sound system…