For this is the time of year that - Ashes aside - Mrs FB's well ordered mind goes into overdrive. This morning she came in off her long run, in every step as purposeful as Mitchell Johnson's.
'Dearest heart,' she said, using a short pitched term of endearment which always raises alarm in FB’s mind. He is on the back foot before her arm comes over. ‘have you thought about Christmas presents?’
‘Well.......,’ FB played with as dead a bat as he could muster, narrowly avoiding trampling on his wicket.
Mrs FB’s next delivery might have been fired by Mitchell Johnson himself.
‘So you don’t have any ideas about what you would like to give me?’
FB swayed back but felt the air move as the ball missed his chin by a nanometre. The safety of the pavilion seemed many miles away.
Some imagination – if not courage - was clearly required.
As he marked his guard again, FB recalled that last Christmas he and Mrs FB had purchased a painting together and agreed that half of it would be their Christmas present from one to the other. A satisfactory outcome for all concerned. The household has this week taken delivery of a planet sized TV set which had cost a sum approximating the GDP of a small African republic.
‘………..why don't we give each other half of the new TV set,’ he said, by some miracle his bat found the line of the ball’s trajectory.
Mrs FB followed through right down the wicket, her forceful gaze not moving from FB's blinking eyes.
Mitchell Johnson’s pace increased.
‘You must be joking.’ Pause. ‘You know I need a new coat.’
‘But you’ve got 4 coats.’
‘5 actually. My winter coat is 4 years old.’
‘Er…..and so?’ FB was retreating towards the square leg umpire. He lamely tried to avoid the delivery; the ball thudded into his glove and looped up to the arc of close fielders. His fate was sealed.
No batting order could have resisted such a devastating piece of pace bowling.