The people were unhappy. A great shadow hung over the land, a sickness that ate away at the minds and souls of all who toiled thanklessly in the fields and sweated pointlessly in the offices.
Though food was eaten, it turned to ashes in their mouths. Though drink was drunk, it was as brackish water to their jaded throats. Though music played, they did not hear. Though the sun shone, they were not warmed.
All was sadness, for the people knew that their number six position was barren and blighted, and it filled them with sorrow.
For year after year, they had travelled to the playing fields, breasts swelling with hope that a new hero would emerge to take hold of the number six and make it his own. And for year after year, they were crushed with disappointment.
The six remained hollow, seeming to mock the people with its unbending refusal to let any man master its secrets.
Many had tried. The gallant Mitchell, clean of limb and swampy of descent, had strode into the number six spot, declaring to the world that he would make it his. He swung his mighty blade as hard and as swiftly as he could, but he found it made no contact with anything, and sadly walked back to his desert home.
Also essaying the task was a mysterious man named Cartwright, who cried that he would conquer the six once and for all, before discovering that he did not actually exist and vanishing forever.
The people were beginning to despair of ever finding a champion to take on the number six and restore it to its former glory, in the days of yore when runs flowed from the six like milk from a ewe’s teat, and names like Waugh, Martyn and to a lesser extent Symonds carved their names on the spot with pride. The people even found themselves longing for Watto, the Beast they had previously driven from the land out of terror.
And then came Maxwell. Who knew whence he originated? Some said that he hatched from an eagle egg atop a mountain in the days when the world was new. Some said he was born from the union of a lion and a snake, and had been raised by elephants in an underground city. Some said that he came into being when the sun and the moon made a bet that they could turn an exploding star into a responsible citizen.
What the truth was, no one knew; all they knew was that he was here, and he brought with him a great promise: the promise that when he was done, number six would bloom once again like the red flower of an inferno.
Some feared Maxwell, and sought to banish him.
“He is dangerous,” they hissed in their treasonous voices. “He will bring ruination to us all, he tempts the gods to punish us for our hubris by drawing their eye in our direction with his mad ambition and awkward bowling action.”
They painted Maxwell as a blasphemer, for he turned his hands in the opposite direction and struck his balls in ungodly patterns. The way of Maxwell was the way of sin, said the naysayers, and they left Maxwell standing forlorn outside the city walls; ready to save his people, but rejected by the very people to whom he had pledged the strength of his arm and the keenness of his blade.
Until finally, when all seemed lost, when it had been agreed by the elders and the youngers alike that number six would never again regain its glory, that we must simply accept the tarnish and move on with our depressing lives as best we can…Maxwell said no.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Ever since he was formed of rock and velvet by a devastating hurricane on the bottom of the sea, he had vowed that the number six slot would be his, and that he would bring peace and joy to the people once again with his firm grip and reversible wrists. And so he stormed those city walls, and struck down all who opposed him, and raising high his shining blade, he bellowed that freedom now must reign.
And the number six blazed forth with a heavenly light, and the people suddenly remembered what a beautiful thing the number six could be in the right hands.
For he played on both sides of the wicket, and he melded creative aggression with mature responsibility, and he endured where others fell with strokes both orthodox and audacious. And the people bowed before him and begged, Maxwell, never again leave us! Show us your useful offies next!
And the people promised that never again would they seek answers from false gods and mediocre all-rounders, when the real answer was staring them in the face all along.
And Maxwell smiled on the people, and blessed them, and struck a stunning inside-out six over long-off, and we knew that this was what they call… love.
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