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Cricket Magic for Cricket Tragics

Cricket Magic for Cricket Tragics
By Dan Liebke • Issue #20 • View online
Excerpt from ‘Cricket Magic for Cricket Tragics’ by Glenn and Muller
Cricket magicians Glenn (McGrath) and (Scott) Muller are famous around the world for their award-winning shows that combine cricket magic with bawdy comedy. Here’s an excerpt from their slim but influential introduction to the art of cricketing magic, Cricket Magic for Cricket Tragics
Deceived In Flight
Now that you’ve mastered some of the more basic tricks - Steve Waugh’s never-ending red rag, the linked ball-testing rings, palming the coin toss, etc. - it’s time to progress to a more complicated trick. We call it ‘Deceived In Flight’. 
As with all cricket magic, the success of this trick depends on preparation, misdirection and countless hours of practice. But the reward for that effort is an illusion sure to amaze batters and spectators alike, like a Rishabh Pant innings or an over from Marnus Labuschagne.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll soon master ‘Deceived In Flight’.
Step 1
Move to the top of your mark, being sure to maintain your patter. (See Appendix A: Making The Patter Play for detailed guidelines on how to tailor your patter to your own personality, whether that’s keeping it light and fun or calling the batter a ‘complete f****t c*t’)
Step 2
Grip the ball with the seam between index and middle finger. Your thumb should be under the ball and your wrist cocked. The grip is the key to this trick, so practise using a mirror (borrow one from Marcus Stoinis if necessary) to ensure you get it right.

Grip at the top of your mark
Grip at the top of your mark
Step 3
Now you will commence your run-up. It’s often good cricket magic technique here to put the batter at ease by assuring them that all you have in your hand is a cricket ball. Demonstrate, if necessary, that you have nothing up your sleeves by rolling them up above your elbow. This will also help reassure the umpire that you are not a chucker.
Step 4
As you run in, maintain eye contact with the batter. At some point they will look down, tapping their bat on the ground as they wait for your arrival at the crease. If they are Steve Smith, they may fidget, suddenly step across their crease or begin needlessly shadow-batting. Do not be distracted. Focus on their eyes. The instant they look away is your opportunity to use your finely-honed sleight of hand skills. You may only have a split-second in which to act, so again, this is where your hours of rehearsal pay off.
Step 5
Once the batter is looking away from you, simply use your thumb to crack the shell of the cricket ball, which as you’ve probably realised by now is not, in fact, a cricket ball but instead a dove egg that you carefully painted earlier so that it looked like a cricket ball. This is the same dove egg that you took from your pocket after palming the cricket ball during your patter in Step 1.
Grip just prior to release
Grip just prior to release
Step 6
Continue to tear open the egg shell as you begin your delivery stride. By the time you release the ball, the shell should be sufficiently broken that the dove inside can fly out and away, amazing everybody in attendance. (Can newly hatched doves fly? There’s only one way to find out.)
And that’s the Deceived In Flight illusion. As always with cricket magic, it’s easy once you know how.
Next: Sawing the umpire in half
Behind The Scenes
This was an idea I had for my first book The Instant Cricket Library,  an anthology of excerpts from imaginary, unpublished and other hard-to-find cricket books.
The original idea as part of the enormous list I sent through to my editor was:
Magic tricks for cricketers - coming in to bowl and the ball turns into a dove, sawing the umpire in half, Steve Waugh’s never-ending red rag, the linked ball-testing rings etc
That was as far as I got with the idea then. But I thought it might be fun to go back and have a look at some of the mid-tier ideas that didn’t make the final cut of that book and flesh them out. (You do not want to see the bottom-tier ideas.)
Also, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired by this tweet.
Dan Liebke
Burns and Root look like a 19th century magician and the street urchin he sends out each morning to buy fresh doves.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Dan Liebke

Every Friday, I go through my big list of cricket ideas, and churn out a first draft of something I've got in there. It won't be polished. It may not be interesting. I make no promises. But I'm going to throw something up and see what works and what (infinitely more likely) does not.

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