Guys, this is Ali. He is a batsman,' Fred said to the other players who came for practice. Apart from Philip, there was a beefy guy called Peter and a spectacled spinner called Steve. I forgot the other names instantly. Fred screamed, 'Five rounds everyone. Close to the boundary line, no shortcuts.' The first two hours of our Australian practice was the practice of death. Five rounds of the academy grounds equaled twenty rounds of Nana Park and fifty rounds of the bank's courtyard. After the run, we did innumerable sit-ups, pushups and crunches. Three personal trainers supervised five students each. The first lime I groaned, one came running to me. The next time he said, 'Cut the drama, mate.' We came to the pitch after endurance training. I told them I was no player, but I had to field anyway. 'Here, bowl,' Fred tossed the ball to Ali. 'He doesn't really bowl,' Ish said. 'I know, give it a burl,' Fred clapped his hands. Philip took his fielding place at the boundary near me. 'What's burl?' I asked him. 'Aussie slang, mate,' Philip laughed, it means give it a try.' Ish offered to be the wicket keeper, but Fred told him to stay at the slip instead. Ali's bowling was no match for these state level players. Roger slammed the ball towards the boundary several times. Once the ball came between Philip and me, and we had a tough time catching it. 'Rattle your dags, mate,' another fielder shouted at me. No one had to translate 'hurry up' to me. I threw the ball back. What was I doing in the middle of this Australian ground? As the day progressed, so did my Aussie vocabulary. 'Onya' was short for 'good on you', which meant well done. An easy ball was a 'piece of piss', while a good one 'packed a wallop'. The mosquitoes were 'mozzies', and soft drinks 'coldies'. When I took a loo break, Philip broke into some more slang. 'You got to siphon the python, is it?' It started to get dark. 'Pack-up time,' announced Fred though Ali hadn't batted yet. Fred raised his eyebrows at a glum Ish in the locker room. I am fine,' said Ish. Omi and Ali were taking a walk outside the dub. 'Fair dinkum?' Ish looked up from his wooden stool. 'He is asking if you are telling the truth,' I showed off my newfound linguistic skills. 'When is practice tomorrow, Fred, in English if you can,' Ish said. 'You a whinger?' Fred said. 'Whinge means...,' I said as Ish interrupted me. I know what whinge means, can someone please explain the point of calling a batsman from thousands of miles away and not making him bat?' Fred smiled, 'Oh, you wanted your little discovery to bat. What for? So he can hit a few sixes. You want the kid to be a show-off from day one?' That's not what I...'
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