Sunday, 31 October 2010

An Ashes Hero

Fantasy Bob thinks it urgently necessary to restore the reputation of the great fast bowler Richard Wagner as an Ashes hero. It is not for nothing that Wagner was once regarded as the Dennis Lillee of the opera house.  But despite this accolade, FB finds that the significance to the Ashes of Wagner's great gesamtkunstwerk, The Ring of the Nibelungen has constantly been disregarded by the critics.  Why?  After all, at the end of the final piece in the cycle, Gotterdamerung, as Brunnhilde throws herself on her beloved Seigfied's funeral pyre and the walls of Valhalla crumble into the Rhine, the whole world has been rendered to Ashes. 

Wagner - master of the full pitched delivery
This should be a clue.  But no; facile and over-clever critics suggest that the work is an indictment of the impacts of capitalist greed on the qualities of love and honour.  Other even more facile and self-regarding interpreters see it as the radical endorsement of capitalism as an engine to overthrow the corrupt established order.  But for FB, the Ashes is what it is about.  

The work is deep in symbolic meaning, and FB suspects that this is the problem.  One mistake in recognising the true reference of the symbols and you are lost.

FB's analysis starts from the ring itself - conventional interpretations are shockingly literal minded and see the ring as ...er a ring that will bring mastery of the world to its owner.  FB's detailed analysis of Wagner's writings allow him to dispel this nonsense.  Examination of early drafts, and the pre-medieval sagas that were Wagner's source materials, demonstrates clearly that the ring represents Michael Vaughan's knee cartilage. 

Once this clue has been unravelled, it all falls into place.  In the early part of the cycle we see how the mighty hero Seigmund Botham finds a weapon (ie a cricket bat) left in a tree by his protective father (ie Brearley) and goes on to score 149* at Headingley.   Later and in possession of the cartilage Vaughan is triumphant - he is master of the world.  But evil dwarf Alberich Ponting continues to plot and manages to steal it and the cracks appear in the world.  A hero is required to regain the cartilage.  He must know no fear. That hero is discovered as Seigfreddie Flintoff.  Once these facts are established, it is obvious that Gotterdamerung is a highly prophetic representation of the 2006-7 series when the cartilage is lost forever and Seigfreddie is undone.  Some later critics recognise this and suggest that a fifth work was in planning in which Seigfreddie would search the waters again for the ring using a pedallo.  FB is more sceptical of this suggestion.

Yes, it all makes sense doesn't it?  But don't take FB's word for it.  The Ring Cycle is Test Match Quality -one of the highest achievements in sport.  Wotan's farewell to Brunnhilde is one of the greatest overs of fast bowling ever delivered.  Richard Wagner is a top Ashes hero. Try him.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Baked to Ashes

It is time that Fantasy Bob should draw all 3 of his readers attention to the approaching Ashes series.  He was sharply reminded of the imminence of the contest by seeing reports that Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting has sent a desperate message to his opposite number Andrew Strauss as he completed his packing for the trip.

Dont forget to pack the urn, pleads Ponting. 

What does this say about the state of Australian cricket As his readers know, FB considers cricket without tea to be no cricket at all.  He therefore finds it deeply worrying that the Australian authorities have misplaced a piece of equipment so central to providing tea.  FB understands that it is not only in the urn department that they are struggling, but cakes and sandwiches could be a problem for them too.  Since the retirement of world class sandwich makers Warne and McGrath, the Australian tea table has looked decidedly bare. 

English coaching staff have been quick to recognise this vulnerability in the opposition.  The controversial team bonding camps and training sessions have prominently featured baking.  Unfortunately this backfired when Jimmy Anderson was injured in an over-vigorous session of Fairy Cake preparation.  Working with Chris Tremlett, they apparently went too hard at the creaming of the butter and sugar.  Anderson may be out for the first test. 

The impacts of reverse swing
Coaches were quick to defend their approach to the camps, The lads were working well together, and had got the mixture to that essential light and airy texture.  Jimmy's injury was a bit of a blow, we think that it was sudden reverse swing by the spoon that did the damage.'

'Chris is very upset and it spoilt his session on frosting later that day.   But the important thing is the lads know that they need to concentrate on their basic skills if they're going to bake at the highest level.'

Commenting later Geoffrey Boycott said, 'My mother could have baked that cake with a stick of rhubarb.' 

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Ashes

Enough of the trivia that is usually found on these pages.

The boys are on the plane.  The warm up games start next week.

Fantasy Bob's sensational coverage of the Ashes tour will begin tomorrow.  He will leave no stone unturned, no source unquestioned, no biscuit uneaten in his search to bring you the inside story into this great sporting adventure.

Starting tomorrow - at a blog near you - don't miss it.

Cricket in the movies

The Guardian newspaper has just run a series on the greatest movies ever made.  In successive days, they reviewed a different genre - romance, horror, thriller and so on.  All very interesting to Fantasy Bob, who used to be a bit of a movie buff.  But the series is incomplete.  There was no review of cricket movies.  An unforgivable failing on the part of the Guardian.  Yet again FB has to fill the void.
Here is his list of the top ten cricket movies (not in batting order):
  • The Third Man - fielding on the boundary in war ravaged Vienna
  • Blade Runner - the nightmare of an injured batter in a futuristic setting
  • Batman - the first appearance of the caped crusader at the crease
  • Ashes and Diamonds - the great Polish director Wadja's take on the struggles between England and Australia
  • The Beast with Five Fingers - a phantom spin bowler terrorises a whole community
  • The Big Sleep - a movie dedicated to an innings by Chris Tavare
  • Brief Encounter - Gatting faces Warne
  • Fatal Attraction - Michael Douglas plays Alastair Cook who can't resist flirting with the ball slanting across him.  Rabbits get cooked
  • How Green was my Valley - a Welsh club struggle to prepare a firm batting wicket
  • Shane - a lonesome leg spinner rides in and saves a town from a gang of flat track bullies.
Actually, cricket movies are few and far between - FB is aware of a movie made from an Australian mini TV series about the Bodyline controversy which had its moments but would never be a contender for an Oscar.   There is a fine Indian film Lagaan  about cricket during the Raj.  The classic Hitchcock The Lady Vanishes has the wonderful Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford obsessing about the latest Test Match score, but no action.  There was also an episode of Morse where Lewis had suddenly to rediscover his swing bowling skills to confound a murderous group of drug runner. And that's about it.

Regrettably, baseball has a much greater movie heritage.  In FB's humble opinion the greatest baseball movie - by far - is Field of Dreams.   In fact, even though it stars Kevin Costner, it is possibly the greatest sports film ever.  Enjoy.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A blow for human rights

The UK Supreme Court decision this week that suspects in Scottish criminal cases had their human rights denied when they were not given access to a lawyer when detained by the police without charge has far reaching implications.  Emergency legislation is being passed by the Scottish Parliament to rectify the anomalies.

Fantasy Bob understands that East of Scotland Cricket Association supremos are taking no chances in the light of this decision and will be making emergency changes to their competition rules.  Henceforth, any batsman being subject to an LBW appeal will have the right to legal representation before the umpire makes a decision.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Thatch

It was 1980s stand up comedian Ben Elton who, in his motor mouth monologues, immortalised Thatch as the embodiment of all evil.  Thatch was of course then Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher.  Elton was a darling of the political left at that time - and he got well stuck into Thatch and her colleagues such as Normo Tebbs.  Elton is now reviled by those same fans as having sold his soul by scripting dire musicals based on the work of Queen.  Sic transit gloria. 

Fantasy Bob hears you saying 'Er.......and what exactly has this got to do with anything?' 

Well, Thatch came up again in a recent conversation FB was having with Carlton's doughty groundsman Magnus Moon.  MM is a true artist of the greensward, producing pitches of the highest quality at Grange Loan week in week out.  No praise is high enough for his work.  
  FB was asking Magnus about the secrets of his trade. 

Ben Elton

Our doughty groundsman

'Wage constant war on Thatch', said the great one, and it all came back to FB. 

The sparkly suit, the big red glasses, the motormouth.

If FB squinted his eyes just a little, it was not our doughty groundsman standing before him, but Ben Elton himself.  It was uncanny.

 'Thatch is the enemy.' 
FB didn't want to appear ignorant but he was unsure how pursuing a vendetta against a former prime minister could have any impact on the consistency of bounce at Grange Loan.  However he will seek enlightenment and report further.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The CricInfo all-time World XI


That wonderful website CricInfo has just published its all time world XI.

It is -  Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Viv Richards, Gary Sobers, Adam Gilchrist, Malcolm Marshall, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Dennis Lillee

In a manner familiar to club selectors the world over, they have also published 2 other teams, the Second XI:

Sunil Gavaskar, Barry Richards, George Headley, Brian Lara, Wally Hammond, Imran Khan, Alan Knott, Bill O'Reilly, Fred Trueman, Muttiah Muralitharan, SF Barnes

and the 3rd XI, aka the Readers' XI

Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Gary Sobers, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath

(FB assumes the 3rd XI is playing on the Sunday since all but one of its personnel are involved in the other teams).  The link above sets out some of the processes used to determine the teams. The comments section is also very active.  Enjoy.

Fantasy Bob finds it hard to disagree too much with any of these choices.  It is good to see some greats from the pre TV and T20 eras in the First XI.  All these players are legends of the game and can justifiably take their places in FB's own hall of fame.  Nevertheless, FB expects all Carlton loyalists to take up the keyboard to lament the overlooking of Watts and English.

FB hopes that CricInfo will soon turn their attention from such trivia as this to more important matters such as the continuing need to establish greatest biscuits at world level of all time.  FB confidently expects to be invited to join the judging panel.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

J'aime Paris

Fantasy Bob has returned safely from a pleasant week in strike and demonstration torn Paris. 

On his itinerary were visits to a number of the great cultural venues of the world including the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay.  FB was shocked to discover no pictures in either venue of any cricketing importance.  In FB's eyes these venues are therefore seriously overrated, and unsuspecting visitors to these so called museums should be clearly warned of the absence of cricketing content. 

FB had looked forward to his visit to the Louvre and viewing the works of Leonardo da Vinci who he believed to be one of the great originators of the game.  Apparently reference can be found in his sketch books to the doosra, although it is commonly misinterpreted as a helicopter.  The doosra was not considered technically possible during the Renaissance and so was lost to cricket until rediscovered by Murali. That's how far ahead of everyone Leonardo was.
Come on Leonardo - hit out or get out


But you would never know that from this museum. 

Leonardo is represented in the Louvre by  the Mona Lisa.  It is hugely small - the picture right is in fact life size - and a permanent scrum of visitors taking photos of it does not make it easy to view.  FB does not really understand why hordes of people go into a museum to take a picture of a painting rather than look at it properly, but he accepts that he might be old fashioned in this respect.

The Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile has been the subject of much speculation over the centuries.   FB is confident he has found the answer.   A study using  emotional recognition software (yes there is such a thing)  has apparently suggested that the Mona Lisa's emotions were 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry.   This is exactly the emotional blend in a batsman surviving a huge  LBW appeal.   Obviously the Mona Lisa was watching Leonardo get through a sticky patch in one of his longer innings.  She is happy because he wa given not out, she is disgusted because he played all round the delivery, she is fearful because she thinks he might be in the nervous nineties and she is angry because she really wanted to go shopping rather than sit on the boundary for another Saturday. Yet FB found no reference to LBW in the museum guide.  A major oversight.

Who's for salad?

Similarly the absence of cricketing works in the justly celebrated Musee d'Orsay must limit its appeal to visitors.   One of its most iconic masterpieces is Dejeuner sur l'Herbe by Eduard Manet.  Apparently this was a hugely controversial picture when it was first shown.

 Not much wonder, thinks FB.  Its title translates as 'lunch on the grass'.  For goodness sake, everyone knows that lunch is taken in the pavilion, not on the grass.   And the woman in the foreground is deshabille, ie in the scud - no tea lady in FB's experience has been so lightly garbed.  These lazy oversights by the artist are just not good enough, in FB's opinion.

Despite these regretable faults these are fantastic museums.

Not much wonder then that the French are taking to the streets in protest.  FB actually encountered a real live demonstration.

What do we want?

It was clear from the chant of the crowd how frustrated they were - loosely translated it ran

What do we want?
Cricket!
When do we want it?
Now!


Apparently there is a French batter called Sarkozy (whose stats do not feature in Cric Info) - the crowd evidently think he is scoring too slowly and want him dismissed - out, out, out in fact.

No visit to Paris would be complete without a climb up the Eiffel Tower, or a boat trip down the Siene and  these were provided for in FB's programme.  The Eiffel Tower is known for being tall - in fact it is the tallest Eiffel Tower in the world.  There was also a visit to the Stade De France.  Apparently this was built in under 3 years for a cost of 360 million Euros.  No one associated with the Edinburgh Tram project was involved in that project - more's the pity. 

FB was also humbled in the relatively new museum to the Shoah and took a tour of that over the top building that is the Opera House.  Otherwise he just walked about taking things in.

Where to start?
Every 100 yards or so in Paris there is a patisserie.  FB greatly approves of this.  In each patisserie window there is a display of cakes and pastries that competes with the tea table at Carlton.

Finally - at last you think -  walking around the fashion district and just across the road from the main Chanel store, FB found a very special shop.  Although it was closed at the time, so FB could not establish what manner of treasures it sells, its historic and cultural importance must be clear to all FB's readers. 


Is it a fantasy?

So there is a part of Paris that is forever Fantasy Bob's.





The natural energy field

Fantasy Bob read recently about the Power Balance bracelet, which has supposedly been designed to "resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body".   Fantasy Bob is all in favour of things resonating with his body but he suspects that, despite the endorsement of such sporting greats as David Beckham and KP, neither he nor other members of the Carlton playing staff will be rushing to invest in the bracelet.  It is not necessarily the fact that there is no scientific evidence for its efficacy - Carlton players have never let scientific evidence determine their behaviour.  (If you look at KP's more recent performances you would be forgiven for thinking that resonating with the body might not be all it's cracked up to be.)  No, it is the fact that these things cost over £35 that will prove their undoing at Grange Loan.

The FB Band - enhanced performance assured
However FB recognises that Carlton players may feel the need for something to resonate with their natural energy field.  Accordingly he has developed the FB Band which will shortly be on the market.  This outstanding product has been designed by experts, ie FB himself, and systematically tested on some of the greatest sportsmen of our era..........er basically Fantasy Bob.  He reports heightened performance directly attributable to the band.  At a mere £10, this is a bargain you can't miss. 

Available only from FB approved outlets.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The search for the overseas amateur (continued)

Fantasy Bob understands that top management at Carlton are resigned to losing out in their imaginative venture to bring Wayne Rooney to Grange Loan. 

'Negotiations had reached an advanced stage', a reliable source informed him.  'Carlton's medical team was giving Rooney a health check since we were concerned that his recent drop in form was attributable to serious damage to his loyalty ligament following an attempted tackle on an obscene amount of money.' 

However talks were called off last night when it was discovered the damaged ligament had responded to a radical new treatment called the Ferguson Stroke.  Rooney stays at Manchester United and his next innings is eagerly awaited by all those well wishers who thoughtfully sent him death threats to aid his recovery from injury.

Paul Bailey and the theory of art

Fantasy Bob has heard that during the glittering social affair that was the East of Scotland Cricket Association dinner, eminent cricket administrator and Holy Cross batter Paul Bailey was moved to comment on FB's legendary match reports as published on the Carlton website.  This is all very flattering.  However FB has been led to believe that Mr Bailey has suggested that he sometimes comes to the end of these reports without realising who had won the game being described.

FB takes this concern seriously and would like to assist Mr Bailey's approach to the interpretation of his work.  In the first place he is significantly impressed that any reader should stumble to the end of these reports.  He thought most readers would sensibly give up when the joke about the toss being narrowly lost came round yet again.  But, more importantly, FB is concerned about such literal mindedness in the approach of such an eminent classical scholar.

Mr Bailey will need no reminding of Aristotle's theory that art should imitate nature (or life as some versions have it).  This is close to FB's own philosophy that life should imitate art.  His match reports are clearly works of art and it is up to the players in each game to act accordingly.   Some do this more successfully than others.  Just as in life we do not know how things will end, so it is with great works of art like FB's reports.

But Aristotle's aesthetics are a little limiting and do not deal adequately with more contemporary concepts of abstraction or individuated interpretation.  It is probably the newness of these approaches and FB's overt modernism that the classically educated Mr Bailey is stumbling on.  Aesthetic theory here allows the reader, the audience, the viewer to make his or her own meaning.  The thought that the writer had anything by way of meaning in mind is irrelevant.  Readers will rapidly recognise how accurately this applies to Fantasy Bob's work.  There is clearly nothing in his mind at any time.  Indeed this quality equally applies to his bowling and batting.  So on these theories, the result is what the reader takes it to be.  But there are clues - the scores are generally given in a box above the text, alongside which there a big W or L.

I trust this assists Mr Bailey and adequately prepares him for next season's intellectual labour.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Haris Aslam and the Philosopher's Biscuit

Readers of Carlton match reports with more than usually retentive memories will recall suggestions of JK Rowling picking up the word processor again.  These were dismissed by most readers as 'just another example of that usual made-up rubbish that we have to put up with every week'. 

But truth is stranger than fiction - as it were - and Fantasy Bob has noted with a slight sense of self-satisfaction recent real press reports that Ms Rowling is finding the character of Haris Aslam hard to put down and further volumes seem likely to appear in the series.

Interest in our hero's latest adventure will be intense, but Fantasy Bob has managed to find a discarded draft of a critical section of the new volume.  In true spirit of public service he shares it with you now.

This extract comes at a point in the story when Haris has been taken under the wing of Hagrid Drummond.  He has been told he is not a mere muggle seam up pie chucker but a leg spin wizard born of illustrious cricketing parents.  Hagrid is taking him to shop for the equipment he will need to complete his education.  They visit Diagon Alley where the long forgotten mythical store Cow Corner suddenly reappears.  Now read on............

'A wand', said Hagrid, 'A wand, you'll need a wand.'

'Er..........don't you mean a bat.' said Haris tentatively, looking at the selection on the racks.

'Yes!  Yes! Of course a bat, a bat, a........bat.  Now what do they look like?'  Hagrid looked vaguely round the store.  His eye lighted on the rack of hockey sticks.  'There they are - a bit thinner and curvier than the last time I bought one, but things move on.'

'Er........aren't those hockey sticks?'  said Haris

'Hockey sticks.  Yes!  Well spotted.  Just testing you.  Now, what's your shoe size?'

'8.'

'Well we'd better get a size 9 just to allow for some growth.'

'I don't think they come in sizes like that.  I think I need a Harrow.'

'A Harrow?  A Harrow?  What do you mean Harrow?  It's Hogwarts for you m'boy.'

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Something more for the yachties

In the lull before the Ashes begin, Fantasy Bob thought he would devote a little more space to another of his interests - sailing.

Here is a picture of a fantastic looking yacht passed to him by a colleague at work.  She used to be available for charter on the West Coast but has recently been fully renovated in Yorkshire.  This link will tell anyone interested more about how she was restored and her history.


You can forget Abramovich's monster football stadium sized gin palaces - this is a real boat.  Ah ..if Fantasy Bob were to win the lottery tomorrow - it would be remarkable, since it is only drawn on Wednesday and Saturday - but if, if...........

In a previous post FB told you how he developed an interest in dinghy sailing.   After a few years practising capsizing it all seemed a bit wet, so FB and his then escort thought that they would try something bigger and more stable in the form of a real yacht and decided to take a boat on a flotilla in Greece.  2 other girlfriends were pressed into service as crew.  Arriving at the starting point on the island of Skiathos, the yachts were duly found on the quay. 

There were 6 or 7 boats.  They all had proud Greek hero type names - Ajax, Achilles and the like.  All that is except that allocated to Fantasy Bob and his crew of Amazons.  Their yacht rejoiced in the name of Fluffy.  Fluffy! 

Apparently it was the owners' cat's name.  But you can bet FB made sure he didn't use the VHF radio - the thought of calling out to all listeners within 25 miles the words - 'Ajax,Ajax,Ajax this is Fluffy Fluffy Fluffy'  ensured radio silence throughout the trip.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The waste land

Fantasy Bob hopes, from time to time, to bring his readers - all 3 of them -  insights into some of the great works of Western Culture and how they have sought their inspiration from our noble game.  He recognises that many of his interpretations will, to the minds of the more conventional of the critical fraternity, seem radical.  However they are the product of extensive research, so should be taken seriously.

Opening bat Eliot
Fantasy Bob would like first to draw your attention to the work of TS Eliot, a stuffy opening bat and one of the great poets of the 20th Century.  In Eliot's seminal work The Waste Land, published in 1922 and generally reckoned to be the first great masterpiece of modernist poetry in the English language, the poet makes extensive use of wider cultural reference points to explain his world weariness at the alienating state of modern culture.  One significant passage goes

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water. Only

There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

The conventional reading of this passage makes reference to the Old Testament texts which are quoted and  taken as illustrating  the desertification of modern life.  But there is hope in shelter under the red rock  - taken as a reference to the Messiah. Bosh, says FB.  All nonsense.  

There is an overt clue that critics have ignored in the phrase  'The cricket no relief'  Conventional views assume, on the basis of no evidence, that cricket here refers to the insect.  Wrong.  Once the interpretation is correctly ascribed to the game of cricket, it all becomes clear. 

This poet is referring to the English despair at the dominance of the Australians during the 1920s.  Eliot wrote the poem as the 1920-21 Aussies achieved the first whitewash, largely through the use of express pace bowling.   The dryness refers to the alien arridity of the Australian wickets that the MCC players encountered; the shadows are references to the extremes of sunlight and the length of the playing day in those pre-Murdoch times.  Fear in a handful of dust refers not only to the quality of some of the wickets but the impacts of the pace attack on the frafile morale of English batsmen.  On this last point FB accepts that an alternative interpretation may be that the handful of dust is in fact a reference to the Ashes themselves.

Get this passage, and the rest of The Waste Land's meanings are obvious.  Look at its famous opening line - 'April is the cruellest month' - obviously, since that is when outdoor nets generally begin.

Don't take Fantasy Bob's word for it.  Enjoy the poem yourself - text on this link.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A fab four

Fantasy Bob's adventures in the grades of East of Scotland cricket have introduced him to some vibrant characters.  After a long career with Royal High (sadly no more), FB had an extended paternity break, but returned to active league cricket with Carlton 2 years ago.  Many of the same characters were still displaying their skills, only with slightly rounder delivery arms or more caution in calling for that quick single, and even more caution in actually going for it.  Fielding had become an even more statuesque pastime.  Several times Fantasy Bob has been met with the fond greeting,  'Good Lord, are you sure you're not dead?'  Sic transit gloria.

Here is a small tribute to a quartet of these heroes whom FB encountered in the distant past and more recently.  All good for a pint and a chat after the contest.

Colin McGill - Holy Cross middle order smoker.  CoCo must now be 374 years old but still puts a fair number of balls on the spot and clubs a few runs.  He did for FB this year getting one through the gate.  FB was only too pleased to return the compliment when HX batted.  CoCo has bagged many a victim who has played at the cigarette smoke coming down the wicket ahead of the ball.  Like all veterans, as the on field skills wane the talking averages climb. CoCo's skill at pinning people to the bar to recount how he was robbed of a hat trick by a perverse umpiring decision in the last days before Hitler invaded Poland is now Test match quality.   A great of the game, long may he turn out.

Ivor Glynn - once of Watsonians now restricting himself to guest appearances for the Woodcutters.  The Royal High score book of old will show the damage he did in those halcyon days.  He always looked hitable but Ivor managed to dip the ball onto a length and was invariably straight.  Since there was no pace on the ball you had to strike it - many tried and many failed.  'Ivored' the scorecard read.  Let's hope he keeps his axe sharp for the 'cutters.

David Essery - one of FB's former RH colleagues and the man on whom Victor Meldrew was modelled.  Self-described as 'the unluckiest batsman in the northern hemispere' - a nickname he frequently managed to live up to.  Fielders who seemed actually to be dead for the preceding 10 overs would suddenly leap to prodigious heights to catch one handed DJE's rasping drives;  deep fine legs whose arms looked made of plasticine would suddenly wing it flat and onto the middle stump as DJE tried vainly for that apparently comfortable second.  We were happy to believe it was a conspiracy.  But week in week out DJE delivered some much needed stability at the top of the order and only the dressing room windows suffered his unnatural dismissals.  DJE retired from the game at a disgracefully young age and lives within hailing distance of Grange Loan - one day he might drop in - he should be accorded full respect.

And finally and with great sadness, another great with whom FB played - Scott Anderson, who died earlier this year.  Stalwart of London Road (as was) and SHHD (also as was).  An elegant bat who could easily have played at a much higher level but was loyal to London Road.  One of the few to have managed a ton on Roseburn's slow track and heavy outfield.  No one looked better at the crease with his cap at a slightly tilted angle. Too young to be finally dismissed by the raised finger of that cruel umpire of time.  Fondly remembered.

FB hopes in future postings to recall some other greats of the local scene.  He is sure readers will also wish to share their memories of stars fading or still burning bright.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Unnecessary roughness

Fantasy Bob has been a longtime fan of American Football.  Not so long ago Channel 4 showed it at a reasonable hour in the evening.  Regretably nowadays it is not aired until well after FB's bed-time so his opportunities to watch it are limited.  In the last couple of years FB has managed to holiday in New York where he managed to get along to a game.  He has seen the Giants and the Jets who played alternate Sundays in the same stadium.   Imagine Carlton and Grange sharing a pitch! But last year on his visit to Giants Stadium a whole new stadium was being built directly beside it for the Jets.  Two 90,000 seater stadia cheek by jowl.  Bonkers. 

There are many charming rituals in gridiron. One is the concept of unnecessary roughness - which seems  to mean severe physical  assault almost and possibly causing death to an opponent.  The fact that the rules identify unnecessary roughness means, of course, that there is necessary roughness, although how this is possible to discern in the mayhem of the game is beyond FB.


Gatting and unnecessary spinniness

But FB thinks there must be something that cricket can learn from this. He has therefore written to the MCC in their capacity as guardians of the laws of the game to propose that the concept of unnecessary spinniness be introduced.  His legal advisers have suggested the following wording:



Any ball bowled, particularly at FB himself, which deviates from the playing surface on bouncing by more than 3cm shall be deemed by the umpire as demonstrating unnecessary spinniness and so be called a no-ball.  In the case of leg spinners, unnecessary spinniness will be defined as a deviation of 1 cm.   In any case of doubt the batsman's view will be final.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A guide to sledging

Fantasy Bob is no great fan of the practice of sledging - the aggressive and insulting comment from the fielding side designed to unsettle the batter.  This regretable practice is common even in the lower leagues that FB, by virtue of the perverse views of the selectors, is forced to inhabit.  He is thick skinned enough to have laughed off any number of jibes during his own innings.   Suggestions that his delicately directed late cut over the heads of the slip cordon was a lucky thick edge are water off a duck's back, particuarly when the four runs go up on the board.  The protestation from the wicket keeper, after FB has left an away swinger in text book fashion, that he did not realise that Gray Nicholls made fishing rods similarly has no impact on FB's legendary concentration.

But sledges such as these are of little consequence compared to some of the reported banter that goes on in the higher levels of the game.   The most celebrated sledge has several versions, which makes FB think it might be apocryphal.  There is a version involving Shane Warne but FB understands that the alleged authentic version involves the great Glen McGrath when he was bowling to Zimbabwe number 11 Eddo Brandes.  Brandes missed  ball after ball. McGrath, frustrated, could stand it no more, went up to him and inquired “Why are you so fat?” Brandes replied, “Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit.”

Top players seem to be figure conscious to judge from this other celebrated sledge - Shane Warne is the but of this sledge from SA's  Daryll Cullinan.  As Cullinan made his way to the wicket, Warne told him he had been waiting 2 years for another chance to humiliate him. "Looks like you spent it eating," Cullinan retorted.

But Fantasy Bob's favourite sledge of all time comes from more tranquil and gentlemanly times......er....the Bodyline tour.  Douglas Jardine, the MCC skipper on that tour, was by all accounts a prickly character but, like FB himself, evidently a man of principle and high standards.  When he heard an inappropriate remark while at the crease he did not ignore it.  He forcefully complained, 'Some one called me a bastard.'

The Australian captain Bill Woodfull registered the seriousness of this comment.  Slowly he turned to his team, pointed to Jardine and loudly asked, “Which one of you bastards, called this bastard, a bastard?”
Test match quality.
FB asks why do all these examples involve Australians?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The end of match reports as we know them?

Fantasy Bob came across an article on this internet thingy which made him pause.  Might his purpose in life be about to come to an end?

This abstract tells you what you need to know.

Imagine that you could push a button, and magically create a story about a baseball game.  That’s what the Stats Monkey system does.  Given information commonly available online about many games—the box score and the play-by-play—the system automatically generates the text of a story about that game that captures the overall dynamic of the game and highlights the key plays and key players.  The story includes an appropriate headline and a photo of the most important player in the game.
No doubt if this can be done for baseball it can be done for cricket and Carlton's go-ahead administrators will be watching closely the further development of this programme so that they can ensure full coverage of all Carlton matches next season.

However Fantasy Bob wonders how the programme will ensure that there are adequate references to such important constituents of Carlton games as Gustav Mahler, Sophocles, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Sir Charles Mackerras and even doughty groundsman Magnus Moon without which no Carlton match report can be considered properly complete.   He suspects also that the programme will struggle to deliver a satisfactory report for matches that are never played - FB's speciality.

 Fantasy Bob is aware that an infinity of monkeys typing on an infinity of typewriters for an infinite period will eventually come up with one of his match reports - or the complete works of Shakespeare, whichever is shorter.  Frankly there is as much point in letting the monkeys get to it as there is in this humourless project.    Nevertheless FB offers his consultancy advice to the researchers for his usual modest fee.

For those so-minded here is a link to the full piece.

Friday, 15 October 2010

We'll always have Paris..........


Bowl it again, Sam
So says all time batting legend Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in all time great Test Match Casablanca.

FB is taking a short break in the strike bound city, but a few pieces of detritus have been left behind to appear all next week.  So keep looking in.

Here's lookin' at you, kid.




The criminal class

Fantasy Bob for some years has petitioned the European Court of Human Rights with the objective of having left handers banned from the game of cricket.  His original aims were moderate, namely to have left arm over the wicket added to the category of no-ball.  However as his campaign gathered support from right handers everywhere, its ambitions grew and now he will stop short of nothing other than a total ban. 

'They just muck things up for us right handers,' he said, 'you have to bowl a different line and adjust your stance at the crease when they bowl.  And don't mention all this changing the sight screens nonsense.  It is all completely unreasonable and interferes with my human right to score runs and take wickets - which is as difficult as it needs to be against right handers.' 

FB is confident of early success in his campaign since the Justice General of the ECRH was yorked first ball by a left arm over the wicket bowler in the final game of the Court XI's season. 

In his evidence to the court, FB has submitted this list of major offenders.

Sir Gary Sobers - the greatest offender of them all.
Adam Gilchrist - Freddie got to him by bowling round the wicket, but what a player.
David Gower - perhaps FB's favourite bat of all time - even though of the criminal class.
Wasim Akram - a run up any junior coach would shake his head at but when the arm came over - wham!
Alan Border - you would stake your life on him getting you out of trouble.
Andrew Strauss - gettting better and better -  and now he's mastered this modern one day thing.
Marcus Trescothick - Banger by name and nature, a great loss to England's top order.
Brian Lara - he of the back lift to end all back lifts, whiplash and so light on his feet.
Derek Underwood - Deadly Derek - lethal on a drying wicket.
Graham Thorpe - an unsung hero - got England over the finishing line so many times.
Clive Lloyd - fantastic to watch, the heaviest bat in cricket and a panther in the field.
Mohammed Amir - let's hope the betting scandal doesn't cause this bright star to be lost to the game.

Ban them all!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Sport?

Fantasy Bob has a healthy interest in sporting endeavour. Not obsessional, in that he also reads the front pages of newspapers, but a healthy interest. But sometimes he is forced to stand back and wonder at what the modern sporting world is coming to.

Apparently, competitive cheerleading is deemed the fastest growing sport in the world at present.  Just in case you thought this was a misprint, FB will write this again - Competitive Cheerleading. It is 'played' in 82 countries and may well find a place in the Olympics in due course.   FB does not wish to undermine anyone who wishes to participate in this activity, although he fails to see why anyone would wish to, but that is not the point.  Whatever it is, competitive cheerleading can surely not legitimately be described as sport.

Another recent arrival is solo synchronised swimming.  Again repetition is required.  Solo synchronised swimming.  This must a good thing since a Scottish player won a medal in the Commonwealth Games at it.  But it may well be the first sport to have an explicit oxymoron in its name.  Solo and synchronised seem not to go together.  Did it evolve because some particularly thick skinned girl turned up at the pool with spangles and nose-clips but couldn't find anyone to play with her.  'Right' she said, 'Sod you lot, I'm going solo'.   And a new sport was born.  FB supposes he has been in the same position when he cannot find anyone to bowl at him in the nets.   To think he could have created the new sport of solo cricket instead of skulking off to the bar.

Again, whatever solo synchronised swimming might be it is not a sport.  FB thinks, unfashionably maybe, that any activity which depends for its results on a panel of judges cannot be deemed sport.  This includes traditional activities such as house breaking, murder and robbery among them.  When judges come into play what differentiates so-called sport from, say, opera singing, painting or flower arranging? If you cannot be seen to be faster, higher or stronger than the field or score more goals or runs then it just isn't sport.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The search for the overseas amateur (continued)

Fantasy Bob understands with regret that Carlton will be unable to secure the services of Jose-Maria Olazabel as their overseas amateur for next season.  Apparently the talented all-rounder and former Test player has had to withdraw from the final stage of negotiations with the Carlton management. 

This follows the announcement by Monty Panesar, captain of the victorious European Ryder Cup team, who returned from his glorious success in the Somme-like mud holes of Celtic Manor to pronounce that Ollie would be taking over his own mantle, leading the troops in the trenches in the next campaign planned for Chicago in 2012.  Although the event is not planned until 2012, Ollie will require to devote the whole of 2011 to choosing the most tasteless clothing for the squad.

Speaking to FB after his victory Monty, still the best left arm spinner never to have one of golf's majors, said, 'Choosing the right clothing is important.  For once we outdid the yanks where it matters,  I reckon the true awfulness of our lilac cardigans this year was worth at least 3 points.   I recognise that Ollie's unavailability will be a big disappointment to everyone at Carlton.  Ollie would have scored a packet of birdies on the Grange Loan course.  But it is important that we stuff the Yanks again and Ollie's presence in the slips will be vital.  By the way have you seen Nick Faldo about? - I need to rub his nose in it.'

FB understands that Carlton top brass have identified a list other promising targets who could be approached for the prestigious position of overseas amateur.  He will keep his small band of faithful readers informed of further developments as he hears them.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Curves are back

As readers will know from his effortlessly elegant attire, Fantasy Bob is a keen student of the fashion pages in the daily press.  He commends in particular the column by Hadley Freeman in the Monday Guardian who generally provides soundly ironic guidance on all those so difficult to answer questions about what you should wear with what.  FB is currently seeking her advice as to whether it is acceptable to wear Gray Nicholls pads with Kookaburra gloves.

But in his trek through the fashion and style pages, FB has noticed several recent articles referring to actress Christina Hendricks, whose attributes seem to be that .....er ..........she has......er attributes that are generally larger than those of the stick insects that are normally found on the pages of Vogue.  The fuller figure is back, FB has been told.

FB wonders whether the cricketing world will also follow this trend.  The modern cricketer is the product of the gym and endless conditioning programmes.  Like FB himself, he is lithe, muscular and sleek;  ready for that quick single and to chase every ball to the boundary.  But FB remembers a time not so long ago that this astonishing athleticism was less than pervasive.  Nostalgia brings him to raise a cheer for the fuller figured cricketer.

The great Colin Cowdrey could only be described as roly-poly.  Colin Milburn looked like he was a hard man to prize away from the tea table.  Even relatively recently, the eating exploits of Mike Gatting are the stuff of legend and Inzaman ul-Haq, a batter of the highest quality, had a nobly rotund stature that may have contributed to his being the most reluctant runner between the wickets in Test history. 

FB is too polite to suggest that there are any fuller figured cricketers on the present Carlton playing staff.   But he hopes that his readers may be able to add to his initial list of fuller figured cricketers from whatever cricketing arena.

Monday, 11 October 2010

La Stupenda

Sutherland in her delivery stride
Fantasy Bob would like to interrupt all the nonsense that is usually on these pages to pay a small tribute to a great Aussie - Dame Joan Sutherland whose death is reported today. 

She will for ever be one of the greats of the game - opera's finest fast bowler. 

FB was fortunate enough to see her play once - in a recital at the Usher Hall.  Truly fantastic - the clarity and power of her tone all the way up the soprano register was something remarkable.  Try her recording of Lucia di Lammermuir with Pavarrotti, a fabulous partnership going at full tilt.  A great loss.

Going, going, gone.........

A Roman helmet has just been sold at auction for the cool sum of £2.3m.  Fantasy Bob is mystified.  He didn't think that Roman batsmen used helmets, since they didn't have to face a barage of short stuff from W Indian pacemen at any time during the Pax Romana. 

FB suspects this artefact must really be an English helmet, a remnant from the early Cedrolithic period excavated during the end of season clear up at Carlton's Grange Loan HQ.   He does not understand how this valuable artefact was sneaked away under the noses of Carlton's management.

But all is not lost, FB's reliable source inside the Edinburgh club says that the clean up has unearthed many articles of inestimable value.  Accordingly the auction rooms of the world will shortly be overburdened with a range of articles of similar status to the helmet:
  • 3 batting gloves (right hand) - possibly pre-Wattsian
  • 1 batting glove (left hand) - probably late-Lyonsian
  • 1 batting pad slightly torn with several red marks - probably early-Aslam
  • 1 fossilised wicket-keeping inner - indeterminate period
  • several pairs of underpants and socks - possibly animal detritus
Carlton top brass are confident that the proceeds of the auction of these priceless relics will secure a new gang mower for doughty groundsman Magnus Moon.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

10.10.10

Today's date, 10.10.10, as Fantasy Bob understands it, is 42 expressed in base 2.

42 was of course the answer to life the universe and everything given by the supercomputer Deep Thought in Douglas Adams' master work The Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy.  It is also FB's highest innings this season - in fact he scored it twice, both times not out.  Scary or what?  42 is therefore a pretty important number.

Fantasy Bob is not generally a devotee of science fiction but thinks the Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy is a great work full of great quotes and magical concepts.

It will no doubt come as a surprise to all his 3 readers, that cricket features centrally in the Hitch Hikers' Guide.  The final volume in the series - Life, the Universe and Everything - is in fact a telling of the origins of cricket.  Those who lazily think that the game originated on the downs of Hampshire between squires and consenting peasants, think again.  Adams carefully reconstructs an alternative history - a bit more complicated than that idyllic image.  It is hard to do it justice but here's a potted version.

The story starts with the heroes Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent stranded in Earth’s pre-history, however they jump on a passing time travelling Chesterton Sofa and reappear at Lords cricket ground just as England retain the Ashes (very prophetic for a work written in the 1980s when an English win was high on the improbability drive).  A spaceship then appears from which deadly robots come, killing and maiming all and sundry with cricket bats, before stealing the Ashes and disappearing as suddenly as they appeared. It is explained that the Robots are from the lost planet of Krikkit, whose peace loving inhabitants thought they were alone in the universe until a spaceship crashed on their planet. Suddenly roused they decided they had to wipe out all other forms of life and swiftly invented space travel, built a star fleet and proceeded to fulfil their aims. However the rest of the galaxy eventually won the war and locked them in a slo-time envelope on their own planet with a 3 pillared wicket as the key. 

The wicket consisted of the steel pillar of strength, the Perspex pillar of science, the wooden pillar of spirituality,  the golden bail of prosperity and the silver bail of peace.

But the pieces were scattered across the universe  - the wooden pillar getting burnt in 1882 to become the Ashes.  When the envelope was put into place, a missing Krikkit warship, presumed destroyed but actually only missing, remained outside the envelope. The Krikkiters aboard this ship zoomed around the galaxy retrieving the five pieces of the key.  After reconstituting the key and unlocking the slo-time envelope, the Krikketers proceeded with their plan to destroy the universe.  But this plot is undone through some tricks with bombs turning into cricket balls and the story finishes back at Lords with the semblance of recognisable cricket being played.

It all makes perfect sense.  It is not clear if there is any historical evidence for this version, and the Hampshire Downs may have a claim over it on the improbability drive.  But it is a sight more entertaining. Try it to get the full wonder of it. It's wild. The full text is on this link

There is also an entry in the Guide which explains Brockian Ultra-Cricket.  Law 6 of this game states that 'The winning team shall be the first team that wins.'

What Fantasy Bob can't work out from all this is whether Adams was a cricket lover or not.   But he certainly got this right:

'Space is big.  You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is.  I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's but that's just peanuts to space.'

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Sir Garfield Sobers - an apology

Fantasy Bob was approached in person recently by a zealous reader who wished to challenge his posting establishing the FB Hall of Fame.  His interlocutor observed that it was surprising, to say the least, that the Hall of Fame did not include the great Sir Garfield Sobers.

From FB's library
Fantasy Bob has to agree that this is a major slight on a true great of the game. 8032 Test runs at 57.78 including 26 centuries and a highest score of 365*;  235 Test wickets at 34.03 and 109 Test catches simply cannot be argued with. 

In his inadequate defence, FB says that he conceived of his Hall of Fame as something he would add to from time to time, and he had plans to do something special in honour of the man who, outside himself, is without doubt the greatest all rounder and the greatest cricketer of all time. 

FB recognises that this intention was not clear in his inadequate presentation and he recognises the slight to Sir Garfield in not being included among the initial inductees.  He apologises without reservation.

What is even more surprising in Fantasy Bob's oversight is that he has on his groaning bookshelves a signed copy of the great one's autobiography.

Fantasy Bob hopes that his oversight will not affect Sir Garfield's consideration of FB's claims for inclusion in
his own Hall of Fame.

The Ryder Cup

Reflecting on the success of the European team last week, Fantasy Bob played down his own role in securing the Ryder Cup event for Scotland in 2014, a project in which he worked alongside all time sporting hero Gavin Hastings.   They were part of the bidding team that attempted to secure the 2009 event for Scotland.  (The schedules slipped a year because of the Twin Towers attack weeks before the 2001 competition.)

FB said, 'Scotland and Wales were locked together in competition.  Gavin thought that a few up and unders into the opposition 22 would do the job.  But Gavin's record against Welsh opposition was mixed and we failed to spot the large chequebook masquerading as a hooker in the opposition front row.  This had our scrum in all sorts of trouble, so we never secured the quality possession we needed for our outstanding back line. St Andrews, Turnberry, Carnoustie and Gleneagles could have scored tries from any part of the field.'

It was no surprise to FB that the Welsh course flooded - this also happened during the Tour's inspection of the course in 2000.  It seems to FB that Welsh pitches have always had moisture problems.  FB recalls the mud baths that used to take place at the Cardiff Arms Park of old.  Even now there are problems with the surface at the Millenium Stadium.

All credit to the European team who really dug in when it mattered.  FB thought that G Mac and Westwood, in particular, were outstanding. But the event could do without the loutish crowd behaviours of constant chanting and pointing.  Even more so it could do without the unsporting cheering of opposition misfortune or poor shots.  Fantasy Bob failed to notice when the Ryder Cup was redesignated as a football match. 

Friday, 8 October 2010

Strictly Come Batting

Notwithstanding the success of Fantasy Bob's great friend and dancing partner Mark Ramprakash in the contest, FB has never really got the point of the popular TV show Strictly Come Batting.  He was therefore unexcited by the prospect of a new series of the show this Autumn.   But his equanimity has been disturbed.

Fantasy Bob has a strong stomach.  He can stand most things.  He has umpired opening partnerships by those Carlton greats Barnacle and Bluto without that feeling of vague ennui that has laid many others helpless.  But he was wholly unprepared for the sight of a middle ranking cricketer such as Ann Widdicombe in a spangly dress and tiara.  Particularly since he chanced upon this remarkable image inadvertently as Ms Widdicombe beamed out of the TV set in a BBC advertisement for the new show.  No health warning was given before this appearance and it was before the watershed.

FB is now wholly traumatised, afraid that the apparition will appear again any time he turns the set on.   He looks to his readers to advise him when Ms Widdicombe is safely back in the hutch.  FB suspects that her innings will be short since she has a tendency to play across the line at anything pitched up.  He looks forward to receiving the news that he can turn the TV on again in safety.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Turner Prize

Fantasy Bob is widely respected for his eclectic cultural interests.  However his appetite for conceptual art is limited.  Frankly, he thinks much of it is a con perpetrated by assorted flash harries of little talent.  To label this stuff art is, in FB's opinion, an insult to the great batsmen of the past such as Titian and Tintoretto.  He accepts that this opinion will reduce his invitations to sip the Pinot Grigio at gallery openings.

Notwithstanding this view, Fantasy Bob takes a close interest every year in the Turner Prize, whose shortlist was announced this week.  It contains the usual range of cross-bat shots in the form of piles of things on the floor or hung at strange angles to the wall or even not there at all.  As usual it has excited much comment in the sporting press.

Fanstasy Bob does not understand why the great New Zealand batter Glen Turner endowed this prize.  Perhaps it was in atonement for his own relentless batting style.  That was a form of conceptual art in itself, similar in its transfixing quality to Douglas Gordon's frame by frame presentation of Hitchcock's Psycho over 24 hours, a previous winner of the prize.

But FB was greatly disappointed by this year's shortlist.  He had high hopes of success when he submitted to the competition jury his 'Cover Drive'.  This monumental work carried the endorsement of several critics, including that great artist Fraggle Watts. 

Resplendent in trousers of a colour worthy of any conceptual artist, Fraggle commended FB's work, 'It's smoking,' he said.  He elaborated, 'Fantasy's cover drive is an epochal example of the neo-realist-quasi-surreal-ironic style that has come to be known throughout the art world as the Carlton school.  Its subtle blending of concept, line and material is reminiscent of the work of that great all rounder Pablo Picasso.  It is of nothing, but of everything; it matches the shattered universe with the paucity of daring.......er.... how much more of this guff do you want......................... as I said, it's smoking.'

Alas for FB, that outstanding endorsement from one of Scotland's leading artists was not enough for the judges whose understanding of cricket must therefore once again be questioned.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The controversy of Edinburgh's new wicket

Fantasy Bob notes media reports that Edinburgh City Council are considering sacking the contractors who have been laying the new wicket in Princes Street.  He is not surprised.  There is no evidence that these contractors have the first bit of knowledge about cricket or the preparation of quality surfaces.

What media reports do not reveal, but which FB has on good authority, is that heading the running to take over the project is none other than Carlton's doughty groundsman Moon.  Moon will lead a consortium of taxi drivers to repair the damage to the City's prime playing surface and ensure its availability for the start of the new season.  The practice facilities in Leith Walk will follow once the holes in the surface have been filled in.

Commenting on his new project Moon said, 'How on earth these ******* bandits charged £500m for what they've done so far is beyond me.  I've seen no evidence of the light roller being used appropriately. The important thing is to scarify the surface before the first frost.  After that a few sessions in the spring with the heavy roller will ensure the surface Edinburgh deserves.'

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Donald Dewar - in tribute to a great sportsman

Fantasy Bob watched last night's TV documentary about legendary opening bat and skipper Donald Dewar with some interest.  He was resigned to the fact that there was no reference to cricket   It is of course to be expected that BBC Scotland will wholly disregard the possibility that cricket is of interest to anyone in Scotland.  But he was a bit disappointed that the programme failed to make at least a passing reference to his own important influence on Mr Dewar's approach to the game.

Keen readers of these pages will need no reminding how Fantasy Bob previously recalled that he once coached the late First Minister.  Indeed Fantasy Bob can, with complete justification, modestly claim to have told Mr Dewar all he knew about cricket.

Mr Dewar had wide ranging interests in history, art and literature, so it was a surprise to FB when he first met the First Minister that he confessed to little understanding of our noble game.  Fantasy Bob had to take him from first principles and he soon developed an appropriate interest and enthusiasm.  He was delighted to discover that FB actually played the game and was even more amused when FB described his bowling as military medium.  For Mr Dewar, any game which could devise such a term was a game worthy of his interest.  Indeed, Military Medium became Mr Dewar's nickname for FB.

Under FB's coaching, Mr Dewar also observed the progress of the 1999 World Cup and shared FB's disappointment that Scotland failed to progress beyond the group stages.  He was however transfixed by the dramatic finish of the semi-final between Australia and S Africa where Australia tied the game in the last over following a panic-ridden piece of running by Alan Donald.  He professed great admiration for the toughness of mind of Steve Waugh whose innings did much to win the game for his side.  Mr Dewar remarked to FB that Waugh was just the kind of chap that you need in a Cabinet.

Interestingly between 1966 and 1970 Mr Dewar served as MP for Aberdeen South, the constituency where Fantasy Bob spent his early years.  He was unseated in the 1970 election by Iain Sproat who was the author of a number of books on cricket including the Cricketer's Who's Who.  Clearly Mr Dewar's then low understanding of the game was of critical importance to the electorate and he might have benefitted from FB's insights at a considerably earlier stage in his career.

As many others have remarked he was a great man taken untimely from us and who left a big space at the top of the batting order.

Monday, 4 October 2010

A blow against mammon

Fantasy Bob invites his readers - all 3 of them - to join the worldwide campaign of objection to the proposal shortly to go before the ICC to restrict the Cricket Wrold Cup to a 10 nation format.  In FB's opinion this is a short sighted measure which is motivated by little other than the greed of the larger nations - 'the haves'.    it gives scant consideration to the wider development of the game worldwide in the affiliate and associate countries.  If you agree - open this petition on the Cricket Europe website and try to influence the decision makers.

An unsung hero

In another idle moment today, Fantasy Bob was scanning the CricketScotland website and was delighted to see reference to the excellent Carlton website - (it's the final piece on the link)

In FB’s view, this recognition is long overdue since in his travels round the cricket blogosphere, the Carlton website is without equal.  This is not just because of its occasional references to his own activities, although he has no objection to those.  Indeed the CS article repeats this successful formula by including a link to the website's current front page - which contains a picture of FB in the full glory of his delivery stride.  FB is confident that this action will be carefully studied by Pete Steindl and the CS coaching staff in order to inspire the Saltires’ bowling attack to greater achievements next season.

FB was also delighted to note in the CS article the credit given to John Boyd for his work on the website – and the junior section at Carlton.  Again, in FB’s opinion, this is long overdue. 

All power to you John - an unsung hero if ever there was!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

what's in a name?

Fantasy Bob is encouraged that these witterings seem to be being read by a small number of readers without  any obvious affinity to Carlton CC.  Page views have been recorded in number of places including in Hungary and the USA.  Although greatly enjoyable books such as Slogging the Slavs and Netherland have assured FB that cricket is known in both countries, he understands that neither Hungary nor the USA is a hotbed of cricketing interest. 
This leads FB to wonder whether it is the word fantasy in the title of his witterings that may be misleading internet surfers and attracting expectant but inadvertant hits from either devotees of JRR Tolkein and the like or sex maniacs in search of new forms of stimulation. 

Fantasy Bob does not wish to disappoint.  He would therefore like to confirm to readers in the former category that he is not, nor ever has been a hobbit.  He finds the lack of explanation of why slow wickets  were invariably found in Mordor a great defect in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.   Indeed FB considers that had Gandalf had the wit to make a forceful declaration at the right time in volume 2, a result might have been achieved without inflicting the 3rd volume on the crowd.

On the other hand, sex maniacs should understand that occasionally in Fantasy Bob's many years on God's earth his shambling an unassuming demeanour has been likened to a sex machine.  But sadly these occasions are increasingly infrequent.

In the meantime, FB welcomes all readers from cricketless countries.  They have his full sympathy.  He trusts his witterings can ease the daily pain of their cricket starved existence.