It is the very near future. The “Illawarra”, a patrol boat of the RAN, is patrolling the Indian Ocean between the coast of WA and Java to secure the Australian border against so called SIEV (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel) boats. A boat has been sighted by a search plane and the skipper is talking to his crew.
Skipper: Men, a SIEV has been spotted and we should be rendezvousing with it within thirty minutes. You are all aware what is required of us. Firstly, our primary mission is “stopping the boat” and secondly, search those damned illegals for a suitable person or persons who can be of assistance to win the “Ashes” for us this year in London. It is our damn duty to assist the ACB (Australian Cricket Board) in this endeavour.
Is this understood ?
All together: Yes, Sir !
Half an hour later the “Illawarra” is side by side with the SIEV. Four sailors, with guns at the ready, jump on to the wooden fishing boat, which is packed with asylum seekers. There are men, women and a few children. They all look anxiously to the patrol boat and the men with their guns. They all know their future will be decided here on the high sea. While one sailor enters the wheelhouse the other three surround the asylum seekers and point their guns at them. From aboard the patrol boat all actions are being filmed.
Able Seaman (shouts): SIEV is secure, Skipper !
Skipper (shouts back): Can you see any body who looks like he could be a cricket player?
Able Seaman (now calling out to the passengers): Any of you playing cricket?
The asylum seekers look dumbfounded, don’t seem to understand.
Able Seaman : You know, CRICKET ? (He takes his HK417 and uses it like a cricket bat and repeats, now louder) CRICKET?
One woman on board lifts up her baby and pleads.
Woman: My baby hungry!
Skipper: For Christ sake, Miller record it! This might be another ‘Baby over Board’ incident! Canberra will go nuts over it.
When a sailor jumps to her to assist her the woman instinctively pulls the baby closer to her chest.
Skipper (looking over the people spotting a tall guy who had his arm raised):
Able Seaman, have a look what that man wants. He might be the solution to the ACB’s problem.
Able Seaman: I don’t think so, Skipper. He looks more like a Taliban to me, with his black turban and his beard.
The Able Seaman goes to the bearded man, bends down to him and talks to him quietly. After a moment he comes up again and shouts to the Skipper.
Able Seaman: Skipper, we are in luck. He is our man! Says he’s played cricket in Pakistan.
Skipper: Good work, Able Seaman. “The Ashes” is as good as in the bag.
Able Seaman (gestures to the man and when he reaches him tells him):
Your worries are over, Mate. You go straight to London with a new Aussie passport and win the “Ashes” for us. That will give the Poms a bit of a surprise. (He slaps the Pakistani man on the shoulder. He turns back to the other asylum seekers and tells them with glee)
And for you lot, it is Manus Island or back to Indonesia. What is it to be?
After helping the Pakistani man onto the patrol boat the sailors jump back on to their vessel.
Skipper: Full steam back to Darwin!
(As he walks back to his cabin the radio operator sticks his head out of a porthole.)
Radio Operator: Skipper, the Admiral says, ‘Well done’ and the parliament is now in emergency session to pass a bill to turn our man into a sort of Aussie Imran Khan.
Skipper: After a good shave he might just fit the bill!
As the “Illawarra’ speeds back to Darwin the wooden boat, full with desperate asylum seekers, bobs up and down in the light swell. Some women are leaning over the railing and vomit. One young Afghani man jumps over board and starts to swim.
copyright Peter Hannemann