Thursday, 30 September 2010

A cricket hall of fame..........

As the long dark nights of the winter beckon you can seek solace in Fantasy Bob's occasional series on sporting heroes.  Just to start us off here is his cricketing Hall of Fame - not in batting order.
  • Ian Botham - the ultimate all rounder, FB's loyalty was strained by a series of shocking Beefy hair cuts in the late 70s, but on his day an inspirational figure with bat, ball or at 2nd slip. 
  • David Gower - languid elegance at the crease, his cover drive a thing of beauty in itself.  Look at his average and then think of the bowlers he faced.  An electric fielder until he knackered his shoulder.
  • Sir Geoffrey - say no more - always a controversial choice so get your comments in quick - but for FB, Boycs is a true great - selfish, arrogant, obsessive not a team man but no one got in line better - if you wanted someone to open to save your life there's no other choice.  Oh, also worth his place for introducing the great phrases 'corridor of uncertainty' and 'my mum could play this bowling with a stick of rhubarb'.
  • Alan Knott - saviour in the lower middle order of many an English innings and the complete keeper.  Sans pariel behind the timbers.
  • Michael Holding - whispering death - FB saw him once at the Oval - man he was quick and it is true he just poured over the ground in his run up.  Without him Johnners' greatest line - 'the bowler's Holding - the batsman's Willey' - could not have happened.
  • Viv Richards - the master blaster - that swagger as he walked to the crease, those huge shoulders, that clip to mid wicket.  Simply the greatest.
  • Dennis Lillee - no other bowling action seems as perfect to FB (certainly not his own) - all raw aggression and horrendous moustaches.
  • Zaheer Abbas - a great when Pakistani cricket began to show its teeth.  Smooth as silk in puttting the ball just where it had to go.
  • Kapil Dev - showed the Indians that they could produce a pace bowler - played with such evident enjoyment.
  • Bishan Bedi - forget all this fancy leg spin stuff - Bedi was craft, guile and a threat at any time.
  • Imran Khan - exceptional leader - great fast bowler - really brought the inswinging yorker into prominence.
Well waddya think - this is not FB's attempt at a greatest XI of all time (although this XI could hold its own in the East League) just those cricketers who it was a pleasure to have watched in their heyday.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The National Trust for Scotland

Carlton followers will be looking with concern at recent reports about the National Trust for Scotland.  Facing financial perdition, this eminent organisation is contemplating modernisation - in Fantasy Bob's experience, a term that is characterictically a euphemism for disaster, dumbing down and the launch an up-dated web-site. 

Key among the proposals being considered is the disposal of a number of the Trust's properties.  Carlton fans wish to establish at the earliest opportunity the implications for a historical property of particular significance to them.  In recognition of his historical importance, Shaun Barnacle Barrett has been preserved for the nation by the National Trust since shortly after the First World War.  His hamstrings have been carefully conserved by the Trust's experts, extending the useful life of these artefacts byond measure.
The delicate condition of this historical relic has required a strict regime of limited exposure to the public.  However Barnacle is regularly on display during the tourist season - usually between the first and 21st over of the Carlton 4th XI innings.  On occasion, visiting tourists can be fortunate and observe Barnacle taking (or attempting) a quick single, a wistful reminder of times far off. 

The faded family motto can still be seen on his cap 'Form is temporary, class is eternal.'

It is vital that this monument is preserved for future generations to enjoy.  All Carlton friends and supporters are urged to join the 'Barnacle for the Nation' campaign to ensure he is not lost forever.

The historical monument in its finest glory.
Picture courtesy of Carlton CC picture library.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A sporting great

Readers will eagerly have opened this page, its title inviting them at last to expect something sensible and serious on an issue which is of abiding concern to them - sporting endeavour. 'No more about biscuits', is the cry that has increasingly been heard in the better parts of Edinburgh society and beyond.  Even Haris Aslam's interest in biscuits is reported to be waning.

Fantasy Bob can only bend the knee, tug the forelock and oblige.  Putting all further talk of biscuits well behind him, he wishes to use this precious space to encourage his readers - all 3 of them - to share his admiration and enjoyment of a true sporting great - PG Wodehouse.

A number of PG Wodehouse's early works are based on or make reference to cricket.  These are regretably hard to come by in bookshops, although the excellent Gutenberg project recognises their worth as great works of literature and has prepared on line versions.  Reputedly the finest of Plum's cricket works, 'Mike' can be found on this link.

But FB thinks that Wodehouse's long series of stories on golf are the pinnacle of his sporting output.  In these stories he describes the impacts of sporting activity at all levels on the human psyche in a masterly fashion.  In the week that sees the Ryder Cup the attention of even the most resolute of Carlton's cricketing minds may be distracted by events on the links.  It is therefore appropriate to look to Plum's work for some wisdom.  Here are a couple of shining examples taken from a formidably wonderful short story called 'The Magic Plus Fours'

'Sudden success in golf is like the sudden acquisition of wealth.  It is apt to unsettle and deteriorate the character.'

'[Golf's] great service to humanity is that it teaches human beings that, whatever petty triumphs they may have achieved in other walks of life, they are after all merely human.  It acts as a corrective against sinful pride.  I attribute the intence arrogance of the later Roman emperors almost entirely to the fact that , never having played golf, they never knew that strange chastening humility which is engendered by a topped chip-shot.  If Cleopatra had been outed in the first round of the Ladies' Singles, we should have heard a lot less of her proud imperiousness.'

Eternal truths - and for Fantasy Bob equally true if you substitute batting for golf. 

There are pages and pages of this stuff.  A true master.   In FB's opinion, as stylist of the English language, Wodehouse's command of line and length is bettered by only a very few players.  Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh and possibly George Orwell.  Test quality players all.  Do try him.  He is also very funny.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Running away to sea

Fantasy Bob is at sea this week - 'Yeh, yeh,' you will be thinking, 'Just like when he's at the crease.'
But this is the real thing he is taking a cruise in the Irish Sea on a yacht like this one - 72ft of real boat.

Ignore the legend on the hull here - obviously FB not going as a youth, but on a trip arranged by his good friends at sportscotland Cumbrae.  It is one of Fantasy Bob's many hidden talents that he is a yachtsman of some modest accomplishment. 

There is lots to commend in the work of the Ocean Youth Trust whose yacht this is.  Have a look at the good work they do.

In an interesting test of his computer skills, FB think he has pre-programmed some more of usual rubbish to appear on this blog during his absence.  Enjoy.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The mystery of Fraggle's trousers

How pink do trousers have to be before a chap notices that they are not this season's coolest shade of blue; that they are far from that sober gentlemanly black; that they could not even, with artistic licence, be described as grey?   This short tale of human frailty suggests that this could be an interesting subject for psychological research, since there are evidently wide variances between individuals.

With the end of the cricket season, the recognition dawned on our unassuming hero, all time Carlton great and Scotland star batter Fraser Fraggle Watts, that his wardrobe was deficient in the stride department.  Reduced to a crumpled selection of tracksuit bottoms and grass stained whites, it presented sartorial limitations that could no longer be tolerated by the elegant man about town such as he.  In short, his style was being cramped.  New kegs were required, and a trip to the shops would be necessary.  Fraggle prepared carefully.  Extensive research on this internet thingy identified the process of entering a shop, trying on possible leg coverings and exchanging money type stuff for the right to carry them home.   He was sure this was a skill that he could master - he had, after all, faced Brett Lee.

After fruitless explorations in Waterstones, Boots and Ann Summers, Fraggle eventually entered a gents outfitters.  Perhaps it was then that panic set in.  Or perhaps the shop's lighting was fashionably low, dim enough for the umpires to have offered the light.  Or perhaps Fraggle was distracted by his engaging banter with the attractive sales girl.  Or perhaps the incessant beat of the latest hit of Portobello rap star Dizzeee Khartah in the background took control of his mind.  Whatever.  What happened next is lost to Fraggle's memory.  He woke woozily several hours later, his purchase clutched securely in his hand.  But something had happened. A pair of trousers that he firmly recalls as being a shade of navy blue verging on black had mysteriously turned somewhat brighter.  Trying them on again in the privacy of his room, there could be no argument.  There was a distinct absence of blueness. They were decidedly on the pink side.

Fraggle was stuck.  The social event of the year was only an hour away and preparations for the Carlton CC dinner were reaching their zenith.  As popular skipper of the club, Fraggle could hardly call off in the manner of 3rd or 4th XI players at the height of the summer who find the beach beckoning.  He had even prepared his speech.  He would have to risk it. 

'Perhaps no one will notice,' he thought to himself as he buckled the belt on his new bags.

 Of course they did notice, with varying degrees of sarcasm and fellow feeling.  Many were too polite to comment.  But the evening was nevertheless a triumph and no one will ever know the truth of what happened in the shop at the moment of purchase.  Was the intended purchase really blue?  Had a cruel trick been played on our unsuspecting hero?  This is how legends and myths begin.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Miliband of brothers

It was in the 1970's that the Australian selectors had to choose between the captaincy skills of brothers Greg and Ian Miliband.  What a dilemma to have - both had awful moustaches, both were capable of scoring big runs and both were fine close to the wicket fielders.  It was a close choice but it was Ian that won out and led the team to successive election victories. 

A similar challenge has just faced the selectors of the Labour Party CC, forced to choose between David and Ed Chappell.  Neither has a moustache, neither has scored a Test century and neither is noted for snaffling them up in the slips.  Nothing to separate them. But Fantasy Bob understands that Ed has just won by the narrowest of margins and will lead his side in the coming test series against the Condems CC.

The All Time Great Biscuits XI

Here is an extremely rare team photo of the All Time Great Biscuits XI  .  Taken at HQ prior to a crunch match.

It took Fantasy Bob many years devoted searching in the memorabilia stores to bring this picture to light.  On finally encountering it  Fantasy Bob enquired whether an autographed version was known to exist.  'Don't be silly', he was told, 'biscuits can't write'.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

And that's tea.........but watch the chocolate cake

All this batting, bowling and fielding is very fine, but what makes a game of cricket the perfect way to spend an afternoon is tea. 
For Fantasy Bob tea is special, almost holy; it is the one part of the game he has mastered - maybe not to Test standard since the egg mayonnaise does occasionally slide to the floor via his whites, but he still performs at the tea table to a level of competence well beyond his batting or bowling.  There have in his career been many great teas, where home baking has left him stunned by the choice and reluctant to resume play.  Sadly there have been many teas which can only be regarded as failures and an insult to the concept.  FB has even seen the pretence of potato crisps attempting to mask the absence of coronation chicken sandwiches.  Protests to the authorities need to be considered in such circumstances .  League points should certainly be deducted.

Of course any tea worth its stripes will have chocolate cake.  Here is where danger lies. Fantasy Bob noted a newspaper report recently about scientists who had sequenced the cacao genome.  Cacao is of course the source of chocolate.  FB is unsure why anyone would do this, but that is another poinnt.  Apparently humans and bananas share about 50% of genetic material and FB suspects that the cross over with the cacao plant must be higher.  Indeed several people he knows, top order bats mainly,  seem to be nearer 100%, having acquired all the characteristics of chocolate cake.  How could this be?  FB suggests this must be an instance where some of the founding principles of modern genetic theory no longer apply.  Can learned characteristics be inherited?  Current theory says no - but FB's observations on a wide range of subjects leads him to believe that this may not apply between the cacao genome and the human genome.  In layman's terms, the more chocolate cake you eat the more you take on its genetic identity.   
So juniors be warned - don't overindulge.  Leave the chocolate cake to FB - his genes are beyond further damage.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Edinburgh International Festival 2010 - a retrospective

'Hang on there, Fantasy Bob', you're thinking, 'that's a bit of a change of subject compared to rubbish about biscuits playing cricket.'

Yes, dear readers, occasionally we have to raise our eyes from the frivolous and the everyday to concentrate on the eternal - not Barnacle Barrett playing out another maiden over, but those things other than cricket that make our life on this planet worthwile. 

Despite its programme ignoring the creative possibilities of cricketing themes (a long standing failure which Festival fans might have thought could be corrected when an Australian was appointed Director) the Edinburgh International Festival is central to Fantasy Bob's cultural life.  Over the years he has attended many great and life enhancing events at Festival time.

This year the absence in the programme of serious cricketing material was again shamefully obvious.  By comparison the Fringe did a bit better - since Test Match Special's very own Henry Blofield was performing.  Unfortunately other commitments meant that FB could not attend Blowers' show.  But he did as usual sign up in April for a range of drama and music on the EIF.  (FB is not a great fan of modern dance which seems to be everywhere, like some cultural equvalent of T20.)

Yet again opera was almost as poorly represented as cricket.  Porgy and Bess was adequate, but no more.  FB felt vindicated in avoiding Montezuma when the reviews panned it.  Bliss sounded interesting but couldn't be fitted into FB's schedule.  FB considers that platform performances in the Usher Hall are a poor second and rarely signs up.   Such has been the barrenness of recent opera programming, that it seems many many years since Scottish Opera's triumphant Ring Cycle or Abbado's awesome Parsifal.  This just isn't good enough, says Fantasy Bob.  Damn the expense.  It really is about time that EIF returned to a proper commitment to great opera. 

The drama programme brought several companies from the New World.  But there was no presentation of anything recognisable as a great classic of world theatre through their eyes - a weakness in FB's opinion.  No Shakespeare, no Chekhov, no Miller, no Greeks.  An obscure work by Tennessee Williams was as near as we got.  FB sat through this (Vieux Carre) without much enjoyment.  As this work confirmed to FB, there are usually reasons why works are obscure.  The failings of the National Theatre of Scotland's Caledonia have already prompted FB's comment in a match report.  Sin Sangre by the Chilean company Teatrocinema had its moments, but for FB any production where the audience comes away wondering about how it is done is a failure.  (This company's style is to make stage works look like movies - and very clever it is too, but what really is the point?)  The Sun Also Rises was taken from Hemingway's early novel and at 4 hours was too long by at least an hour and a half.  It seemed also to focus on bullfighting for some reason when cricket would have been a much better choice of metaphor. Maybe it was the fault of his choices, but for FB this was far from a vintage drama programme.

By contrast the music programme delivered.  It was good to see the return of large orchestral works to the music programme and this is where FB found his highlights this year.  The final week gave us 2 Mahler symphonies - 3 and 8.  The 3 was played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra from Amsterdam whose string section may well be unrivalled.  The 8 was a home grown performance by the BBCSSO with home choirs and imported singers.  Together they simply blew the audience away.  Truly life affirming and inspiring.  FB also heard some fine Bruckner, Shostakovich and Strauss (Richard not Andrew).  But it was the Mahler that made the final week's concert going magnificent.  More of this please.

Monday, 20 September 2010

What all these Australians are for

Fantasy Bob was struck on his fleeting visit to the Carlton 6 a side tournament the other weekend by the fact that the Carlton over 25s team was composed of 4 Australians and 2 persons of English type origins.  Such is the strength in depth of Scottish cricket. 

But this got FB thinking - an unusual event in itself, and always a prelude to danger.  Could Carlton field an all Australian XI?  Never mind about why they would want to do such a thing, the minds of selectors are regularly overcome by such fanciful notions masquerading as strategic thinking or player focussed development. 

Could such an XI be raised?  Meticulous research in genealogy sites has come up with the answer.......... yes - but only if all the Fitch-Rabbits were selected ie Tobyn, Mum and Dad.  It would be a match for any side in the area.

But it demonstrates that the Australian population in Edinburgh is reaching worrying levels.  And yet there is not an exclusively Australian cricket team?  As a species they are not usually shy, retiring or modest.  Fantasy Bob has long found this suspicious.  At last, through careful decoding of seemingly innocent internet traffic Fantasy Bob has discovered the reason - it links to a highly secret strategy central to Australian foreign and defence policy.  (One is tempted to use the word dastardly but that went out of the English language with the death of Biggles author (Capt W E Johns).)

Under the Ponting ( Retribution on the Poms for Ashes Humiliation) Law which was passed in secret 2 years ago, highly trained Oz agents have been infiltrated into unsuspecting host clubs across the UK masquerading as travellers, students even overseas amateurs.  These are mere disguises.  Our dinkum mates are sleepers  lying in wait. 

At a predetermined signal - most probably timed to coincide with Alistair Cook's first lbw for 0 in the coming Ashes series - they will rise, the mask of friendship and good humour will drop and they will taunt their new found and trusting team mates mercilessly for the next 3 months with cries of 'What's it like to be such s****?' and similar witty rejoinders.  The collapse of home morale will be total. This prospect is appalling, the Blitz or the winter of discontent of the 1970's will seem a holiday compared to what is to come. 
Now the plot is rumbled you will realise the refurbishment of Trident has been deemed necessary.  Its missiles could be crucial in getting Ponting away from the crease, because our attack seems more suited for English conditions than those in Oz.

But we must take more urgent measures - your country needs you.  Careless talk costs wickets.  Nothing short of full mobilisation can avert disaster. 

Write to the Queen and plead with her to intervene so that Alistair Cook is allowed to return to writing Letter from America - and not wreck our nerves by looking good for 2 overs before shuffling across the crease.  Repair Vaughan's knees.  Repair Flintoff's knees.  Repair Onions' knees.  (Can we get a reduction for buying in bulk there?).  Give KP a slap, take his Twitter away and get him focussed.  Whistle down a mine and see if a Larwood comes up............. Anything.   We are running out of time.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Livingston I presume

In an idle moment today Fantasy Bob perused the Cricket Scotland website and discovered a report commending Livingston CC for having 2 teams promoted this season.  Very well done them - particularly since one of their number turns out for Currie and Balerno on occasion.  But as the Carlton faithful know this feat is matched by at least one other club in ESCA this year.  And they have achieved it despite the handicap of having Fantasy Bob in their ranks.  We look forward with keen anticipation to similar recognition by the governing body.

In praise of Currie and Balerno CC

Readers will be astonished to learn that Fantasy Bob has another cricketing loyalty in addition to Carlton.  They might well ask what team could be desperate enough to call upon the services of a has been such as he.  But FB's commitment to Currie and Balerno CC predates his arrival at Carlton by several centuries (in the temporal sense, nothing to do with batting of course).

Indeed, it was from the obscurity of the C&B team that FB was plucked to the big time by celebrated Carlton recruitment agent and cafe entrepreneur Akeel Aslam.  In a game on that epicentre of good wickets - er....... the Meadows, where else - FB was playing for C&B in an evening match against Price Waterhouse Coopers Carlton.  Opening the bowling, he quickly despatched 2 Carlton stars with phoney PWC residential qualifications - Guy Williamson (whose shame has been such that he has barely been seen at GL since) and young Boydy (who still wakes in the night as a result of this traumatic fate). C&B strode to victory.  Akeel, standing as umpire, inquired whether FB fancied a game at the weekend now and then.  He has turned out every weekend since.  Whether he has fulfilled the potential that Akeel saw in his play is another matter.

Currie and Balerno play evening T20s through the season and a fine body of cricketers and gentlemen they are too.  Unfortunately they have no website, but they can be found on that modern Facebook thing.  Last season they won the Metcalfe Trophy (no, FB had never heard of it either until it was won ); this year FB thinks they won the mid week league again.  So, having FB in their ranks does not seem to hamper them unduly.

But C&B came a bit unstuck this year in the various cup trophies, coming up against Standard Life twice.  FB played only in the first contest.  He came on first change and made the tragic mistake of snaffling SL's opener in his first over.  This brought one of Carlton's all time greats to the crease - Rob Thornton. contest - FB ended up 4-0-1-48 (ouch).  R Thornton 100+ in 15 overs as SL racked up 190.  C&B did well to get to 140.  So in FB's defence it was a belter of a batting track............

All power to FB's many friends in the Currie and Balerno ranks - see you in 2011!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The mysteries of religion

As many may have guessed from his stern Calvinist outlook, Fantasy Bob was brought up in the Church of Scotland - well, not in the Church obviously but in line with its teachings.  He thus finds it difficult to understand some of the practices of other faiths - eg leg spin bowling.  However in our multi-faith, multi-cultural society he just has to get on with it.  As a moral relativist he accepts that there can be different interpretations of the lbw law in different circumstances - although he likes to think that when he is the bowler appealing, even the most sceptical humanist will recognise the power of the revealed truth and raise his finger.

But he is mystified by the recent news that on his visit to Birmingham this weekend, prospective Carlton overseas amateur Ben Ratzinger (see previous posts) is going to beatify Cardinal Newman.  Now FB doesn't know what beatification involves - he assumes it has something to do with being put near the top of the batting order, so he is unlikely to be a candidate. 

But that is not his concern.  Why is sometime Carlton 3rd XI skipper Grant Newman being given this honour?  Grant has had an excellent first season with the Arrows, is a decent all round bloke (even though Australian) and his match winning innings in the last league game of the season was quality.  Commendation in the match report would have been enough for most Carlton players, but Grant (aka the Cardinal) has been deemed worth of greater glory.  Good luck on his special day - let's hope he finds Ratzinger's bowling to his liking.  Fantasy Bob and the rest of his Carlton team mates will be expecting miracles from the Cardinal next season.

Haris' Biscuits XI

Critics have said that it is outrageous the manner in which Carlton match reports have from time to time suggested that star wizard leg spinner Haris Aslam might be partial to the occasional biscuit.  Fantasy Bob would like to apologise on this site on behalf of the author of those scandalous reports for any offence caused to Haris.  But if biscuits are not so important in Haris' life, they are certainly central to FB's.  He spends many hours in search of them and musing on their qualities.

What if biscuits played cricket?  Ah, I hear you say, at last a serious subject, something to challenge the grey matter.  What would the all time great biscuits XI look like?  Fantasy Bob has combed the archives statistics and biscuit tins and made many agonising decisions to come up with the following which he is confident could hold its own against any team in any conditions.  In batting order:

1 Jacob's Cream Cracker - dry as dust - Sir Geoffrey! - a real Boycott of a biscuit
2 Club Chocolate - chunky and solid - the Graeme Gooch of any side
3 Blue Riband - a biscuit with style and exceptional leadership qualities - Michael Vaughan in every respect
4 Fox's Gipsy Cream - smooth and sophisticated - a ringer for David Gower
5 Custard Cream - the Paul Collingwood of biscuits - hard working, unspectacular but reliable
6 Digestive - the all rounder - can go with cheese or sweet - Ian Botham to a T
7 Jammie Dodger - sticky and flexible - must have been created in Alan Knott's honour
8 Garibaldi - a little exotic, a bit fruity - a  king of spin - Jim Laker in fact
9 Rich Tea - the unsung hero - will put in the hard overs - a biscuit modelled on Mathew Hoggard
10 Hobnob - will get that extra bounce out of any cup of tea - Steve Harmison on a good day
11 Ginger Nut - the perfect opening bowler - fiery and hard - Fred Trueman as ever was

PS - Jaffa Cake although undoubtedly a talented cricketer in the Ted Dexter mould could not be selected since it does not have a residential qualification as a biscuit.  

Selection is exclusively on merit as a biscuit - comparisons are with the greats of English cricket.  These are British biscuits after all -  it would be an insult to their heritage to compare them with Australians

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The search for the overseas amateur

Could there be any truth in the rumour that Ratzinger will be the Carlton overseas amateur next season?  Apparently, Ben, as he is known to his team mates, is a fan from afar of all Carlton's doings and a keen reader of the website.   He has friends in the vicinity of the ground.  A recent match report first brought these facts to light.  He says that he is a top order batsman, very orthodox, used to being on the back foot.  His helmet is a little bit pointed and jewel encrusted and his bat has a strange crook like shape.  It is made by Mitre.  Sunday games might be a problem for him.  Apparently he has visited Edinburgh recently, but to his disappointment was unable to find the time for a net with Drummo, so we might have to take a leap of faith with him.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A discourse on a particular bit of willow....

By now you will have admired for long enough the photo above of Fantasy Bob striding confidently to certain doom with all the insouciance of one of the 500 going into the Valley of Death.  To relieve the boredom you may be wondering 'That looks a damn fine bit of willow in the man's left hand.  I wish I knew more about that bat.' 

Well, let me tell you about it.  It's a Gray Nicholls Nitro 4 star (ie not top of the range so the willow has some blemishes).  It was purchased last year at the Sports Warehouse in Leith - a purchase made necessary when FB's previous timber was cracked badly by a yorker in the nets from Carlton batting icon Keith Murray (see match reports and judge for yourself).  It cost a fortune. Litigation is still in progress to attribute responsibility for this gross act of vandalism.  

LH is printed on the top of the handle.  More than one junior has innocently said to Fantasy Bob, 'But you're not left handed.................'.

Fantasy Bob has used a long handle for many years - the original reasoning - uncertainly reconstructed from a fading memory trace - was that this would allow a more upright stance.  Who knows whether that was important?  An equally valid and more likely reason for the original purpose was more opportunistic in that a fine Gray Nicholls Scoop (remember them) was on sale half price at the right moment.  Half price when money was worth something.  It just happened to be a long handle.  Now that Scoop was a real bat, a Rolls Royce, and lasted many seasons. 
But technology moves on and bats these days are very different in shape than in the days of Scoops.  The Nitro is completely excellent - and Keith Murray should be thanked for making its purchase necessary.  FB's is light (2.8) but looks and plays heavy.     Its shape is distinctive with a very high spine.   It has an astonishing middle. Just what FB needs.  As the GN blurb says:

Designed and developed in conjunction with some of the World’s finest players (not Fantasy Bob obviously), the Nitro has made a big impact on the international scene. Unique shoulder and toe contouring gives the Nitro an impressive look and feel. Its steep spine running from splice to toe allows an imposing profile full of power. A natural bow gives every player the control they strive. 

Er..................The control they strive?'d think they would have a proof reader.

On looking at the Gray Nicholls website, Fantasy Bob made the world shattering discovery that the Nitro is now endorsed by Mark Ramprakash.  Well, new readers will not be aware of Fantasy Bob's relationship with the great batsman and ballroom dancing star.  You are about to find out. Carlton readers will be sick to death of hearing of it.  They'll want to find better things to do with their time than read what comes next.

In 2009, Fantasy Bob played in a charity 6 a side tournament in aid of WaterAid at the Oval.  His team - got together by his chums at Scottish Water - was assigned the great Ramps as pro for the day.   And a pleasanter chap you could not hope to meet. Unfortunately the day was severely curtailed by heavy rain (ironically appropriate for WaterAid you might think) so FB's team got only one game in the middle of that wondrous stadium.  And what a game.  Asked to open, FB went well for once, using the Nitro to positive effect.  At the end of the 5 over innings the giant Oval scoreboard read Fantasy Bob 24 - Ramprakash 10.  Really, on my life. (Witnesses can be brought to attest to this seeming impossibility). 

Although no photo exists of the scoreboard there is a photo of FB and Ramps - more flattering, it has to be acknowledged, of Ramps than of FB.

But the point of this seemingly endless witter is that last year Ramps' bat was the Powerbow.  FB knows this for a fact, since he had an earnest conversation with the star about it and his approach to customisation.

This year Ramps is endorsing the Nitro. 

There can be no other reason than that he saw what the Nitro can do in the hands of a master like FB and he liked what he saw. 

So, do you think there could be a career for Fantasy Bob at Gray Nicholls?

Carlton colleagues will stifle a yawn at this point and observe with appropriate langour that it has not taken long in the life of this blog for that bloody photo to be used yet again......................

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Following in the footsteps of Beefy

Fantasy Bob has been hindered from posting in this blog type thingy due to the extended fixture schedule of Carlton Cricket Club.  This has taken up his limited creativity. Suggestions have been made that his avid readership - both of them - have been conspiring to add fixtures to the schedule to keep the match reports coming.  Judge for yourself whether their conspiracy has been worth the effort - the reports (which are the usual old rubbish) can be found in the usual place. 

But despite this, attention turns slowly to other things.  Last week Fantasy Bob was taken out of the thrift laden world he inhabits daily, by way of a golf outing to the opulence of Archerfield.  You may wonder how to define opulence in these days of material indulgence, but when the pile in the carpet in the changing room is thick enough to lose a ball in, you're probably getting near.

Now, Fantasy Bob is living proof that the techniques of cricket and golf don't necessarily mix well.   Of course, he has no technique in either.  But his long career of cover drives deep into the gorse demonstrates that while having the hands ahead of the ball in cricket can help keep the ball on the deck, in golf it simply keeps it in the crap.  So it was with limited expectations that he teed up.  Those expectations were fulfilled.   But golf reporters throughout the world were forced to record a personal best in that Bob retained his ball until the 17th hole when unaccountably it decided to bury itself in the bushes some distance from its intended line of flight.

But thankfully Archerfield is not a wholly cricket free environment and Fantasy Bob's self pity as he noted his score after only 4 holes would be higher than his batting average this season, was assuaged by the fact that among Archerfield's membership is none other than Sir Ian Botham - Beefy himself.  It is of course Beefy who has been Fantasy Bob's cricketing inspiration throughout his career in his self styled genuine all rounder persona.  Unfortunately, fewer of Fantasy Bob's long hops have returned top Test batsmen to the pavilion and his hard hitting middle order batting has frequently delivered the 00 without the 1 to precede.   But, but, but a man needs his heroes and Beefy is firmly up there in FB's pantheon.

Also up there is Ludwig van Beethoven, unjustly overlooked by the selectors but a significant opening bowler in his day.  Outside his performances on the pre-Romantic cricket fields of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Beethoven was of course something of a musician.  Celebrated during his early career in Vienna for his astounding improvisational skills (which so reports have it was also a feature of his batting) he was regularly bashing the ivories for assorted companies of toffs.  On one occasion, so the story goes, he was generating some heat from the keyboard but the sussuration of toff talk in the room became just a bit too much for him to bear.  Getting to his feet he slammed the lid of the keyboard shut and stomped to the door declaring 'Gentlemen, there are many of you, but there is only one Beethoven................'  Now that's what I call style.

Well - will the Pope really visit Grange Loan this week?  Someone has planted a rumour...............

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Coming to the blogoshere soon............................... 

Fantasy Bob's current witterings can be found on the pages of the Carlton Cricket Club website masquerading as match reports for the 4th XI but occasionally for the 3rd XI and the Sunday XI.   Fantasy Bob has been told that they have a growing following in the club and more widely.  He finds this hard to understand because the reports are generally a load of old rubbish but they do find links to cricket and cricketers in many unexpected areas of human activity.   A recognisable cast of homegrown characters appears in these reports as well as some of the great figures in history.

With the 2010 season drawing to a sad but - for Carlton at least - successful end, Fantasy Bob has been led to believe that there might be scope to present more widely his views of the world and the importance of cricket to civilisation.  After all, if the coming Ashes Tour doesn't bring something to witter about, then things have reached a very sad state. 

So postings will start soon.  I hope you enjoy.  If these pages don't occasionally amuse or divert then there will be no point at all.  Comments questions and responses will be more than welcome

Anything that you find on these pages will be Fantasy Bob's own opinions and imaginings - they will not represent the policy of Carlton Cricket Club.