Thursday, 30 June 2011

Poetry in Motion

Fantasy Bob has noted that the e-mails of Sarah Palin have been released into the public domain.  There are over 24,000 pages of this stuff in which the former governor of Alaska answers all kinds of inquiries and worries about her kids and the weather.   24,000 pages!  That is even longer than any of FB's match reports of the all star Carlton 4th XI adventures on the field of play.

FB has not read this cornucopia cover to cover, but a judicious sampling leads him to the conclusion that there is absolutely no reference to cricket.  Whether this sad oversight has implications for Ms Palin's claims to be a fit and proper candidate for the Presidency of the USA CC, is a matter on which FB's readers must reach their own view.

The selected poems of Sarah Palin
Readers approaching Ms Palin's output might be fearful that it will be prose of the most leaden and functional kind.  They need not fear.  Apparently it is hugely poetic and a volume of poems extracted from the material is now available. 

This is a bit of a party trick - now that poetry doesn't require regular metre and rhyme any line of prose can be chopped up and presented as found poetry.  FB's own witterings are poetry enough already - nonsense poetry of course - but here is a poem hidden in the Laws of Cricket - Law 29 in fact.  It seems to sum up the loneliness of contemporary existence in a way not known in literature since the death of Samuel Beckett.


If only
one

batsman is

within
a ground it is
his ground
it remains

his ground
even

if he is later
joined
there

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The sun has got his hat on

Scotland stole the UK's ration of sunshine yesterday.  While England's ODI in London was subject to some typically Highland weather, Scotland's international side impressed in their ODI against Netherlands in sun-kissed Aberdeen winning a thriller by 15 runs in the 49th over.  Well done - wha's like us.  Today Scotland play .............er Netherlands in ...er Aberdeen ........for the Deja Vu trophy.

The weather is forecast to be fine.  Sun hats, sun glasses, sun cream.  Is Scotland prepared?  It can happen anytime without warning.  You may look and it's gone.  Don't be caught unawares.  Sunshine.  As soon as the sun comes out the Scottish lament is that it is too hot.

This visit by Apollo, and rumours of parts of England heading for a heatwave, makes Fantasy Bob think it is time to select his Sun XI to play in the Test series against his Rain XI featured in a recent post.  Selection was highly competitive and these songs have a wider range of subject that the rain songs - sun and sunshine has a wider range of images and significance - and some of these songs are just about the weather.  Like the rain selection they are a bit of a give away about FB's age.  They are not in batting order.

Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles
Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks
Sunshine On My Shoulder - John Denver
Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life - Stevie Wonder
Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream
Good Day Sunshine - The Beatles
Sunshine Superman - Donovan
Paper Sun - Traffic
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore - The Walker Brothers
Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying – Gerry and the Pacemakers

And the 12th man:  Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Elton John

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The 3 Captains

Following the disappointment of Stuartiano Broadarotti's solo concert at Bristol, it is the turn of Alistraido Cooquingo to take the stage for the first of his five solo concerts.  Cooquingo has had a golden year but it remains to be seen whether he can keep up with the faster tempos the orchestra will set in these concerts.  There are fears that he may lag the beat.

After these concerts Alistraido and Stuartiano will return the recording studio as part of the hit ensemble the Three Captains.  With Andreo Strausseras they will be planning on hitting the high notes again in the coming Indian concert tour.
The Three Captains in their rendition of Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandotball...........


Monday, 27 June 2011

World Champions

Fantasy Bob sends his warm congratulations to Cricket Scotland on being judged by the ICC as having the world's best Best Overall Cricket Development Programme.   (Any impression that FB may have given at any time that the ICC were anything other than a fine clear-sighted body of individuals with the wider interests of world cricket deep in their hearts at all times is wholly mistaken.  And they are looking again at the structure of CWC 2015 - but that is another story).  

Cricket Scotland's community programme is nationwide and has many layers and is stimulating a wider interest in cricket across the nations -  for example, in the past year 468 schools have competed in cup competitions, there have been 56 Primary School Festivals, 58 umpires have taken Level 1 exams, a new development pathway and much else.  Good on them and the vast army of volunteers and cricket lovers that have made it possible.  Well done.  The success of Carlton's junior section shows what can be done.

FB in his capacity as Carlton 4th XI skipper is of course an inspirational mentor to many of the junior players in the club.  Every week his heart is warmed by the tributes he overhears his young charges pay to him.  Words such as 'What on earth is the old goat on about now?' or 'Do you think they had TV when he was young?'  bring a lump of sentiment to his throat. 

It is time he put something back, so on the basis of this experience he wishes to suggest to the powers that be in Cricket Scotland that the next phase of their world beating development programme should contain the following skill development modules for our younger players:

Module 1 - Back put play. This module will assist the player to learn that kit taken out of the kit store is unable to put itself back where it was found.  Boundary flags have similar static properties and generally need to be encouraged to return to their keeping place after the match.  Simple drills to perfect this skill can be practised at home, including putting discarded clothes into the laundry basket, putting X-box discs back in their cases, putting the top back on the milk and returning the contents of drawers from the floor where they have been flung in an ill-tempered search for your iPhone headphones.

Module 2 - Positional sense   This is vital to cricketing success - this module will help the player understand that when the skipper says 10 yards in from the boundary he means just that and not 10 yards closer to the batter after every ball.  Scraping a huge cross on the grass is not encouraged since it invokes the wrath of teh doughty groundsman and use of sat nav on iPhone is forbidden. 

Module 3 - Keeping the book Scoring is an essential part of the game - this module will encourage players to build on the basic skill of recording one ball correctly so that they record each ball in an over and not just those they notice or feel like when they are not tweeting or facebooking.  Once the over is mastered a rigorous development regime can be undertaken which will deliver the higher level skill of marking a whole innings.

Module 4 - Team spirit.  This module will enable players to recognise that cricket is a team game - and success for one is success for all - also other players particularly the skipper are likely to want a piece of chocolate cake so don't take the whole ******* thing yourself.

Once players master these skills, Scottish cricket is ready to take on the world.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Trams - a challenge for the skipper

This is a fiasco of the type
that give fiascos a bad name
Fantasy Bob is sorry to report that there is continuing controversy, not to say consternation, over the difficulties facing the skipper at Edinburgh City Council CC over the club's plans to lay a new wicket from the Airport to Leith. 

Despite over 500 million balls being bowled not a run has been scored.  Local batsmen, particularly those representing the ever emollient Taxi Drivers CC, are increasingly impatient. 

There is a fear that another 500 million balls will be necessary before the creases can be marked and play commence.  The skipper is uncertain whether his attack has sufficient bowling for this effort.  There is scepticism that the bowlers, who were originally recruited from the German league, may not have had sufficient Test experience to maintain control over line and length.

Suggestions are now being made from fielders on the boundary that the wicket should be terminated at Haymarket, which is considerably short of a length.  Some batsmen feel that a diet of bouncers on this restricted facility might be better than no bowling at all. Other batsmen are adamant that the playing surface has to be regulation length and full pitched bowling is essential. 

The skipper is therefore in a quandary and his position has been made more difficult by the fact that many of the senior players have discovered injuries which have led them to make themselves unavailable.  There appears to be little experience not only of managing a bowling attack but of completing the scorebook correctly.  A succession of disputes has been seen as the bowlers contend that the scorers have marked wides and no-balls against them incorrectly.

Fantasy Bob reported previously that an imaginative rescue plan which would have seen Carlton's doughty groundsman in charge of the completion of preparation of the playing surface was rejected - not least by the doughty groundsman himself.  The Council skipper is therefore in trouble and any suggestions from captains anywhere with relevant Test experience will be gratefully received.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Olympic Triumph

Households the length and breadth of Britain woke up earlier this week to triumph or disaster.  The first allocation of tickets for the 2012 Olympics was made.  Screams of excitement and wails of disappointment rent the air in all communities as the outcome of the bidding process became known.

Fantasy Bob is pleased to report his complete success.  He is one of the lucky few to get every ticket he bid for.

He bid for none, and, to his great relief, that is exactly what he has got - none.

FB is aware of his great good fortune.  There are some people who expected nothing but who have ended up with a stadium full of tickets for completely useless events like Icelandic Synchronised Hockey, or Peruvian Llama Dressage.  Journalists habitually call tickets briefs - presumably because most of the events are pants.  Particularly beach volleyball - which has rules about pants being brief.

FB looks forward to the next round of bidding when he hopes for similar success.

Usain Bolt - one of the stars who will miss out in FB's absence

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Royal Highland Show

For some unaccountable reason it stopped raining in Edinburgh yesterday.  This is unheard of in June - particularly since it was the opening day of the Royal Highland Show.  An ancient Scottish law has decreed that this day must be accompanied by torrents and thunderstorms that would do any self assuming rain god proud. Folk do not consider that they have had the true RHS experience unless they return home covered head to foot in mud.  Real thick glutinous mud.  And Scottish mud is the best mud in the world - showcased at the RHS.

Even when it is not raining, the Show brings untold benefits to the City and to Scotland, principally in the form of the highest quality of traffic mayhem to the west of the city.  But these benefits are strictly limited since there is no cricket at the Royal Highland Show.  No play, no demonstrations of technique and no groaning stands of equipment. Instead there are lots of cows, bulls,  tractors, and 4x4s.  And more cows, bulls tractors and 4x4s sometimes in a different order. There is show jumping and dressage and competitive standing beside horses.  For a change you can watch competitive standing beside sheep.  Fantasy Bob struggles to see the attraction of all this non-cricket stuff and so declines to attend this event.  He has made clear to the organisers that their wilful disregard of cricket will do them no good in the long run.  Their casual diregard of his blandishments is reaching a stage where it is beyond mere rudeness and FB may have to consider direct action, possibly of a Greek sort.  This would be regretable and he is sure the organisers will see reason soon.
Pit girls at the RHS -
not quite the same as in F1

Mrs Fantasy Bob, on the other hand, embraces the event with an enthusiasm that is disconcerting.  She will spend whole days there dawn to dusk and will not return until she is covered head to toe in mud and has seen touched or spoken with every horse and pony in the place.  There is danger that she will return home having purchased a cavalry regiment's supply of horse steering equipment and burdened with free samples of obscure Scottish cheese.   Through long experience and experiment FB has determined that horse steering equipment has little by way of alternative uses and what alternative use it does have have nothing to do with cricket.

FB doesn't quite understand why the complete absence of cricket does not seem a disincentive to Mrs FB's delight in this event.   FB comforts himself by the thought that it takes all sorts.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Life Enhancement Therapy

Fantasy Bob is a shy, unassuming kind of egotist of the kind who rarely draws attention to himself or his achievements.  Observers will be quick to say that this is because he has no achievements to which to draw attention.  FB will not rise to this baiting, but will let posterity be the judge of his contribution to the scorebook.

However FB will put his mask of reclusiveness down and note that the pages of a national newspaper have described his witterings as life enhancing.  FB had never considered this a remote possibility, but it having been written in such an august journal, he has to conclude it is true.  For such a periodical would not misdescribe anything.  Political figures throughout Scotland constantly remind us of this historic publication's unerring way with the truth.

FB's readers may not recognise that their life is enhanced by reading his witterings, so subtle is the effect.  Many readers, probably 2 out of the 3 of them, feel simply miserable as a result of scanning these pages, lamenting the time lost when they could have done something useful like sitting looking into empty space.

Freud -
reluctant to face
swing bowling
But FB thinks there must be something in this for he has noticed that a wide variety of life enhancing therapies is available through the internet-type-thingy.  He has therefore decided to venture out in business.  For a small fee he offers life enhancement therapy to cricketers.  Psycho-therapy has never ventured into this territory before - it is well known that Sigmund Freud had a morbid fear of off-cutters which is expressed through his analysis of the Oedipus complex which repressed cricket.  So FB is in new ground.  But, in common with the other reputable psychotherapists he warns that positive change can only be achieved through personal commitment to change.  In other words, if it doesn't work then it's your fault.

By way of illustration of what he can offer, FB has specially adapted for cricketers a set of 10 minute life enhancement techniques developed by some American brainbox with lots of letters (not in alphabetical order) after his name.   This earnest chap says 'Sadly, many people measure happiness by how long the experience lasts. The truth is that a few minutes of joy here and there can make a big difference in what you get out of life.'  This is so obviously a comment that any lower league batter should bear in mind when he walks out to bat.  Duration of the experience is not the issue.  But here are the therapies:
 
Spend a little while watching the sunset with your mate. Nothing extra is necessary. Just sit and take in the natural beauty of the sky and appreciate being able to share it with the one you love.  FB's cricketer's version - just don't bat at the end facing the setting sun when the slow bowler who bowls lobs is on.
Sit quietly by yourself. It doesn't really matter where or when. Just let your feelings bubble up and then experience the thoughts flowing out of your mind. Clearing your head and heart will give you extra energy to get through the rest of the day.  FB's cricketer's version - this therapy is particularly useful when you've just been triggered LBW by your so called team mate reckoning that a ball that pitched 2ft outside leg and hit you a foot above the knee would have gone on to break the wicket.
Another excuse for FB to post
a picture of the lithe Ms Pandey
Write a thank you note to your mate. When was the last time you thanked your partner for just being who he or she is and being with you? Doing this in writing will give your partner something to cherish for the rest of his or her life.  FB's cricketer's version - of course your mate is thankful to get you out of the house on a Saturday but you should preserve the fiction that it is a great sacrifice on her part and she sits by the window pining until your triumphant return when she hangs spellbound on your every word as you describe every ball of your 10 over spell.
Take out your oldest family photo album and look through it. The experience will fill you with fond memories and perhaps make you a bit wistful for days gone by.  FB's cricketer's version - you will be reminded of the nascent Bradman that you used to be in that picture of beach cricket in a howling gale on an otherwise deserted Scottish beach and wistfully confirm that your true merits have never been seen by the ignorant dolts who are the selection committee.
Play with a child. Most kids have short attention spans; ten minutes of quality time from a loving adult can make their day. It will also help you stay in touch with the child inside of you.  FB's cricketer's version - bowling full pace even as that is restricted by your advanced age may scare the wits out of the juniors but it is seriously life enhancing for you.  Juniors are generally pleased to share in your life enhancement exercises in this way.
Visualize or imagine a positive outcome for any issue. Medical doctors recommend visualization to patients with chronic and potentially fatal illnesses. If it can help them, it can do the same for you.  FB's cricketer's version - visualisation of Ms Poonam Pandey can have immediate impact.
Go to bed with the one you love ten minutes earlier than usual. Then spend that time just holding each other. Let the feeling of warmth from your mate move through you.  FB's cricketer's version - there is no connection between this therapy and the reference to Ms Pandey immediately above.  Players at different stages in their careers may find 10 minutes too long or too short.  Be guided by the inner you.
Hang out by some water. Studies show that hospital patients who can see a natural body of water from their beds get better at a 30 percent faster rate. If you're not near the coast or a lake, try taking a bath. Doing so is also healing.  FB's cricketer's version - batsmen who can see a body of water from the crease score 30% more runs.  Get the club to work on that water feature now.  If stuck on that have a shower.

Enhanced life starts now.  Please send payment to FB c/o Carlton Cricket Club.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bring on the Druids

This very midsummer madness........In another life Fantasy Bob may well have become a new age traveller and joined the 18,000 fellow travellers, with their nose flutes and finger cymbals, in their revels during the summer solstice at Stonehenge.  Stonehenge is of course one of the finest cricket stadia of antiquity, although its wicket is now tragically neglected.  Sadly not a ball has been bowled at Stonehenge for millennia as the ECB continue to find modern facilities such as the Rose Bowl more attractive venues.  So much for the respect of heritage.

The summer solstice is said to mark the start of summer or midsummer, depending on your preference.  This is deeply confusing.  FB thinks it marks the start of winter as the nights begin to draw in immediately.  The cricket season reaches its half way point this week. Summer's lease hath all too short a date, as Shakespeare put it.  In any case, summer in FB's northern latitudes is on occasion a fragile, not to say elusive, concept.  No more so than this year and the longest day has turned out to be the wettest day since, well, yesterday, probably. 

The summer solstice brings out the Druid in everyone.  FB's researches do not reveal the extent to which the Druids influenced the development of cricket.  Indeed little is known about the Druids, there being no Wisden at the time to record their deeds.  Their culture and philosophy appears to be wholly oral.   Possibly the most authoritative source is Julius Caesar who described the Druids' influence in Gaul, but there is some doubt as to whether he was telling it like he'd seen it or just reporting folk-lore.  As a Roman he paid scant attention to any cricketing detail in favour of lots of stuff on battles, road-building and bath construction.  Caesar held that Druids took the function of judges but also had important roles during human sacrifice and that the commonly used method for this was through burning in a woven frame - a wicker man.  Movie buffs will be familiar with the cult move the Wicker Man which culminates in ritualistic sacrificial burning.

Oh dear.  FB's researches reveal that there was an elementary error in transcription.  Caesar did not write wicker man - he wrote is wicket man.  Sacrificial burning gradually gave way to LBW as a mode of dismissal as early cricket clubs began to struggle for numbers.

It is very important that this contribution to the game is celebrated every year and all cricketers should be grateful to the new age travellers for keeping this tradition alive.  It is a pity about the nose flutes and finger cymbals.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The 3rd Test - even idler thoughts

The soggy draw at the Rose Bowls brings the 3 Test series against Sri Lanka to an unexciting end.  England win 1-0.

Bell ringing loud and clear
FB's man of the series for England has been Ian Bell - his average for this series is 331.  Bubbling under was Chris Tremlett.  Big worry factor is Andrew Strauss, both for poor form with the bat and unenterprising captaincy.   The four bowler policy doesn't really help him there.  Maybe England could have won all Tests but for the weather, but it didn't really feel like that.

Strauss MBE OBE sits the T20 and ODI out - he will play for Middlesex and as a guest player for Somerset - reuniting with Trescothick.  Pleased though he is to see that partnership taking the field again, FB is hugely disappointed that Strauss turned down his alternative proposition - to turn out for Carlton 4s under FB's dynamic captaincy.  Straussy recognised that this was an unequalled opportunity to learn about the finer points of captaincy (FB's handling of the juniors should be an object lesson for anyone with Broad in the side) but called off due to the need to make sandwiches.  Not his strength apparently.

Skipper Strauss' weaknesses -
 left armers and sandwich making
Second English worry is Stuart Broad, who yet again wasted heaps of energy bowling too short but got wickets when he pitched it up.  He takes the field as skipper of the T20 side on Saturday at Bristol.  Will it be the making of him?  Or will another call come to FB for captaincy advice?

Overall, it is hard to tell exactly where England stand and the coming Tests against India should be more of a measure (weather permitting).  Wicket taking will be the challenge again.

For Sri Lanka, there is the relief of getting the series over without any cases of hypothermia in the squad and they can regroup for the ODI series with Jayasuria added to the squad.  ODI is their strong zone and FB looks forward to 3 good matches.  Sri Lanka have blooded some new talent and have shown some resilience at Lords and the Rose Bowl with fine backs-to-the-wall innings from Dilshan and Sangakkara.   But everyone knew they were class players.  And when all is said and done, the outcome was not as bad as it might have been as they go find what life without Murali and Malinga is like.

In all 26.5 hours were lost to rain and light interruptions.  That's 10% more time than agent Jack Bauer generally has to save the world from annihilation and the President from assassination.

Previoulsy on 26.5......

Monday, 20 June 2011

Wimbledon - a survival guide

 That high arc of the British summer - the Lords Test, Ascot, Wimbledon, the Open.  Like a rainbow they stretch across the sky. This week we have Wimbledon.
 

Uncle Bulgaria he can remember
the days he wasn't behind the Times
  Fantasy Bob groans.  He accepts that SW18 should be celebrated - but only as home to the Wombles.  FB finds watching tennis a Tavare-esque experience, and when it comes to exciting, Tavare might well have the edge.

The tennis is bad enough but the wall to wall Murray-media-mania makes emigration an attractive option.  How many pictures and essays are we going to have on Andy Murray this year?  Would it not be of benefit if he could he get knocked out in the first round and spare us all the nonsense.  Better still if he got injured and was out of the tournament altogether - and FB means that in a supportive not hurt inducing way.

Two whole weeks in which the British media lose all sense of proportion. Actually it just loses all sense.  The headlines swirl like seabirds against the on shore gale.  Here is FB's preview.

Murray set for Wimbledon triumph, Murray favourite, Murray on course this year, Murray can win says Federer, Murray can lose says Federer, Murray hasn't lost a set yet, Murray blitzing all before him, Murray not scared of Nadal, Murray fears only Nadal,  Murray wastes match points, Murray saves match points, Murray taken to brink, Murray back from brink,  Murray fights injury, Murray no injury, Murray injury scare, Murray as fit as he's ever been,  Murray abdomen worry, Murray injury relief, Murray knee sprain, Murray foot sprain, Murray hand sprain, Murray hand relief, Murray's first serve not working, Murray's first serve booming, Murray too keen on drop shot,  Murray needs touch game, Murray grumpy, Murray happy, Murray too emotional, Murray too cold, Murray hair style, Murray hair a mess, Murray fights back,  Murray fights forward, Murray fights sideways, Murray British champion, Murray new Perry, Murray tops Henman, Murray British hero, Murray Scottish villain, Murray icon for youth, Murray bad role model, Murray Mommy's boy, Murray makes Mum Judy proud, Murray's girlfriend pretty, Murray's girlfriend too pretty, Murray's girlfriend not pretty enough, Murray's shirts white, Murray's shirts too white, Murray's shirts not white enough, Murray winner, Murray loser, choker, disgrace.  Murray Mint, Murray field, Murray Walker, Moray eel, Moray Shire, Bill Murray, Mitch Murray, David Murray, MurrayMurrayMurrayMurrayMcIlroy set for Open triumph, McIlroy favourite, McIlroy..............And that is before the tournament even starts. 

Remember you're a Womble

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Pottermore


 The 3 long standing readers of Fantasy Bob's Witterings will be familiar with his uncanny knowledge of the works of JK Rowling, author of such classics of children's literature as Haris Aslam and the Philosopher's Biscuit.  As a critic said recently remarking on FB's skill, 'It's miraculous - this level of ignorance makes you think he has never read the books.'

It is therefore natural that the world of Rowling fans, which numbers slightly more than FB's handful of loyal supporters, should turn to him for elucidation.  There is anxious mystification among them after the launch of JK Rowling's new website, called Pottermore.  Nothing is known about this project beyond the name and logo.   FB understands that there are many rumours.  Some think it's a new book involving, others that it's the long-promised Potter encyclopaedia or an interactive gaming site.  The more world weary say that it is just a PR stunt ahead of the release of the final Harry Potter film in July.  There are fewer suggestions that the website is devoted to encouraging more senior wizards or muggles alike to spend more time in the garden shed.

Laurie Potter - hero of new website
The truth will be revealed onThursday 23 June but FB can confidently reveal that none of these conjectures is correct.  Ms Rowling is greatly concerned that FB will shortly steal her pre-eminent place as Scotland's premier literary achiever.  She has noted that her own works are defective in being empty of the cricket references that have brought FB his adoring following.  Her new website is a desperate but clumsy attempt to out-FB FB. Ms Rowling has conceived her new website as an extended tribute to former Leicestershire all rounder Laurie Potter who retired from First Class Cricket in 1993 as both knees buckled under the strain.  He came out of retirement to play in club cricket last year.   Why should JK Rowling venerate this county player and set a new series of adventures around him - Laurie Potter and The Deathly Marshmallows?  To which FB responds, well why not?  He admires JK's game attempt to knock him off his pedestal, but he remains confident that readers will continue to find his offerings superior to those of Ms Rowling.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Rain stopped play


Fantasy Bob reads that since 1960 there have been over 5000 albums which contain at least one song with the word rain in the title.  Remarkably few of these songs have been penned by cricketers stuck in the pavilion watching the downpour, taking tea early, trying to dry gear on the only radiator (which isn't even switched on), taking fields of mud out of spikes, trying to read the mess of splattered inkblots that the scorebook has become or just doing what cricketers are best at - talking about what might have been. 

The imagery of the rain in popular songs is, for the most part, pretty conventional - it reflects the tears of heartache and unrequited love, or it cleanses all around and offers hope once the rain clears.  But very few of these songs refer to the struggle to get the wicket covered before puddles form or the challenge of finding sawdust once the shower is over.  More's the pity.

Here is FB's First XI of rain songs (not in batting order):
It's raining again  - Supertramp
Rain - Beatles
It's raining in my heart - Buddy Holly
Rain on the roof - Loving Spoonful
Blue eyes crying in the rain - Willie Nelson
Flowers never bend with the rainfall - Paul Simon
A hard rain's a gonna fall - Bob Dylan
Here comes the rain again - Eurythmics
Might as well rain until September - Carole King
In the early morning rain - Gordon Lightfoot
Somewhere over the rainbow - Judy Garland
But the 12th Man is the truly wonderful Down came the rain.  Put the umbrella up and enjoy.


Walking in the rain with the one I love............

Friday, 17 June 2011

Paradise Trumped

Fantasy Bob apologises.  This posting is a joke free zone.  No change there then.  It is a cricket reference free zone too.  This is not so much a rant as a lament.

It is rare for Fantasy Bob to indulge in personal invective.  He resisted the temptation a few weeks ago when he saw a Twitter trend, #donaldtrumpisabellend.  The tweeting was a response to the insinuations of said Trump that President Obama might have forged his birth certificate.  As if. 

FB noticed that earlier this week a film about the development of the Trump golf development in Aberdeenshire won an award at the Sheffield Film Festival.  But news of this award has brought sadness to FB again.  He has no opinion on the suggestions of shortcomings in the procedures which  allowed Trump to build a golfing development to the north of Aberdeen.  But the development itself cuts him to the quick.

For in the grandiose design of this project, Trump has stolen a corner of Fantasy Bob's childhood and with it part of his soul.

These photographs tell why. They are of FB and sister#1, taken around 1960 at the position about to become the 3rd tee in the Trumped up golf course at Menie just outside Aberdeen. 

For several years FB and family spent the summer holidays in this natural paradise, interacting with the traditional salmon fishery that plied its trade through static nets - fishing nets, not cricket nets - on the beach.  The dunes were the most wonderful playground that any kid could have, with soft, golden and, occasionally, warm sand.  There were no walls to the imagination, the only constraint on freedom was being back in time for lunch. The marram grass was thick, high, would cut your bare legs but smelt as sweet as any candy store.   The farm on the track down from the main road had a dairy and bottled the country goodness in its own milk.  You get the idea..................poetry is possible in these conditions.

All gone; all executive hacienda housing; all faux baronial hotel; all security-gated millionaires' play-ground. Progress may well be deemed to be progress but it comes at a cost.  Truly, we do not value what is priceless.


Paradise Trumped - Paradise Lost 


Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Rose Bowl Gold Cup

Not a bowl and no roses visible
Fantasy Bob has only been to Southampton once - many years ago to catch a ferry to France.  He has never been to Ascot.  But that is where the action is this week.  The 3rd Test between England and Sri Lanka is the maiden Test match at the Rose Bowl, one of those new fangled grounds that have appeared in England with funny shaped stands.  FB has no idea why it is called the Rose Bowl - but accepts that meaningless names is one of the consequences of general new fangledness all oaver the world.  The Gold Cup however is not a new fangled cricket ground but a feature race at Ascot first run in 1807.  FB's tip to win is the lady with cabbages for a hat.


Ascot favourite
There will anxious scanning of the skies because the weather forecast is poor, unless you are worried about reports of drought in the south of England.  So good luck Rose Bowl - its main test may be of patience.  Hats may suffer.

But as and when the cricket gets underway, and now that all dressing room windows have been treated with shatterproof surfaces, what are the main talking points?   The real challenge facing both sides is how to get 20 hats win the match. 

Is the challenge less for Sri Lanka?  After all, they only really have to get 16 wickets because when Strauss comes in they toss the ball to Welegedara and when KP comes in they bring Herath on, so fragile have these 2 looked this summer.  Jimmy Anderson's return should give England's attack that bit extra compared to its monotonous and tall sameness at Lords, but even he cannot make a flat batting wicket into a result wicket.  And unlike Ascot hats, Southampton's wicket appears to be a flat, to judge from recent scores. 

The experts, whoever they are, think Anderson will come in for Finn which leaves former Hampshire player Chris Tremlett returning to his old stamping ground to show he is not the gentle giant they fondly remember.  He is now a snarling hell raiser, almost.  But Stuart Broad remains a puzzle - he got his 100th Test wicket at Lords but for long spells he looked like he had no idea how to take a wicket.   FB has no idea why he persists with the short stuff when a goodly number of his wicket taking balls are pitched up. T20 skipper or not, to stay in Fantasy Bob's side for the rest of the summer, Broad has to get among the wickets, or wear cabbages for a hat.  Putting the sulking behind him would also help. On the plus side, England's batting, KP aside, looks rock solid - and it's just a question of which 2 of the top 7 are going to get 100s. 

Sorry, did you say heads.....
Sri Lanka face the major loss with Dilshan out.  His pirate hankie hat under his helmet is a valiant attempt but doesn't have enough cabbages.  Nevertheless his 193 at Lords was further evidence of a player of the highest calibre.  Sangakkara, somewhat reluctantly it would seem, takes up the captaincy, fresh from a big 100 against Essex.  Rumours that he gave up the captaincy after the World Cup because of persistent hearing problems at the toss are unsubstantiated. Sangakkara is one of those fine players who is on everyone's favourite player list and it is surely time that he delivers against England.  For a player of his standing his average against England in England is in the Fantasy Bob class compared to his overall average.

As seasoned readers of FB will know he is an enthusiastic but incompetent match forecaster.  Actually he is enthusiastic but incompetent at most things, except those things at which he is only incompetent.  The weather and the probable featherbed of the wicket suggest a draw to FB which will leave England 1-0 victors on the basis of that exceptional 20 overs in the final afternoon at Cardiff.  A telling lesson for all  junior cricketers - lose one session and you can lose the series.  But Sri Lanka are probably firm favourites already for the ODIs.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Not a gay girl blogger

Fantasy Bob is glad that the truth has been revealed.  Speculation had been mounting that he was the Gay Girl Blogger in Damascus.  

The Gay Girl in Damascus blog had gained celebrity status since it began in February, depicting, so it seemed, the struggle of one dissident against the oppressive regime in Syria.  Diplomats the world over; foreign correspondents of the international media, scrutinised the postings for evidence of the security situation in that unhappy and increasingly volatile country.  And a fortnight or so ago came a dramatic posting from a cousin of the blogger that she had been kidnapped by the security forces.  Its true author has now confessed - identifying himself as a 40 year old American student in Edinburgh, whose knowledge of Syria was gained from the newspapers.

Although FB is flattered by any attention, he does not understand the worldwide speculation that he might have been the Gay Girl Blogger - for one thing the blog contained no references to cricket or the deeds of the all star Carlton 4th XI in its postings.  There were only fleeting references to biscuits. Sure signs that FB was not your man, or girl as the case may be.

However Fantasy Bob would like to assure his readers, those 3 loyal persons, that he is the real Fantasy Bob - the photograph has not been stolen from some unsuspecting person's facebook page.  This blog has not been made up by some clever dick 40 year old student in Syria hoping to reveal the oppression of cricketers in Scotland (although FB fully agrees that cricketers are oppressed in this football obsessed state and are near rising in rebellion against the cruel regime of the Old Firm).   It will be hard for the world's media, but they have to face the fact - Fantasy Bob is real.  You just couldn't make him up.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Kinross CC

Be warned - Fantasy Bob is in rant mode  - again.

Fantasy Bob admires Kinross Cricket Club, a go ahead club on the lines of his own beloved club.  It has been rescued from near collapse by the efforts of a small group of enthusiasts led by Kirsteen Ross.  It was The Wisden Club of the Year in 2009 and has gone from strength to strength founded on a dynamic junior section.

The Club has been planning a new ground - although its present location in the grounds of Kinross house present a splendid backdrop.  A site on the edge of adjacent village Milnathort has been identified and a pavilion planned.  And that is where the wheels get loose, for FB now reads newspaper reports about how local residents have objected to the plans.  Apparently, they are concerned about bad behaviour; they are concerned about balls coming into gardens; the local Heritage Association is concerned about archaeological treasures being built over. 

Cricket at Kinross House
For goodness sake!  This is not a nuclear power station or a high security prison.  It is a community facility - which will be a focus for young people to learn and appreciate a game that unlike others still takes a pride in its code of honour.  It will secure a fresh green space in an area under supreme pressure from rapacious house builders. The only bad behaviour is likely to be the odd dodgy LBW decision.  Balls in gardens can be corrected by teaching the virtues of line and length.  FB is a great supporter of heritage and museums and all that.   Perhaps an investigation can be associated with the development and anything of real importance identified.   If archaeological treasures have not been dug up by now - the adjacent Burleigh Castle was abandoned after the Jacobite Test Series in the 18th Century -  then maybe they can stay buried another few hundred years.  It is not as if Scotland is short of this stuff.

So good luck Kinross - FB hopes you can persuade the NIMBYs to become SOCKs - Supporters of Cricket in Kinross.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Birthday Honours

One feels there's something One's forgotten.......
While Fantasy Bob will zealously join in the days and weeks of national celebration that accompany the award to the Duke of Edinburgh of the splendid new title Lord High Admiral (foreign navies take care), and the lesser awards of OBE to Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower and MBE to Alistair Cook (for services to rubbing Aussie noses in it), he is (once again) supremely disappointed that his own claims have been overlooked by Her Majesty.  He has scanned the birthday honours list top to bottom - there is no hiding the fact, he is not mentioned.

As Her Majesty stoically watched the Trooping the Colour ceremony on Saturday, that look of intense concentration on the Royal Face betrayed Her concern.  How had She managed to overlook FB's claims?  Normally She is quite good at remembering these little details.  In all these years living in Palaces, She hasn't once set off on a Royal Progress without remembering to switch the Royal Gas off.  FB has it on good authority that as soon as they got home, She tore a strip off the Lord High Admiral for not reminding her to check the list.  Not even a chocolate HobNob could console Her.

She reminded herself that FB has many claims to recognition, mainly for services to tedium and irrelevance.  He has shown exceptional bravery in the face of Royal Weddings.  But he might also be commended for services to shouting at juniors or services to biscuit eating.  These are after all no different to the activities that seem to have netted some minor entertainer called Bruce Forsyth a shiny knighthood.

So FB is confident that the New Year Honours will recognise his great service to the nation.  A knot has been tied in the Royal Handkerchief. He expects to be granted a CB - not that common or garden Companion of the Order of the Bath thing - but a more prestigious order - the Can't Bat medal.  He might also be a candidate for the CBE - Can't Bowl Either.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

KP - a Bible Story

Ford Madox Ford's etching of Ehud
slipping Egon the arm ball
It is the 400th anniversary this year of the King James Bible, and no matter your religious views, this is a sublime work of  literature - the highest point of the English language (other than Shakespeare and Fantasy Bob's blog).  Cricket as a game is not mentioned at any point, although some of the characters are obviously based on cricketers of some ability, and much of the moral teaching embodies the spirit of cricket.  All that is perhaps for another day, for Fantasy Bob wishes to bring to your attention the following passage from teh Book of Judges.
'And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
 'And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
 'And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.'
An everyday story of political assassination, for Ehud was an Israelite and his victim, Egon, was King of the Moabs who at that time had Israel under dominion.  These days this would be an act of terrorism, but that too is another story.

The point here (as if you could ever think that FB had no point to make) is that Ehud was a left armer. The text at an earlier passage explicitly identifies him as such (he declares his action to the umpire as it were) and the passage above confirms it.  He is the left handed assassin.  

KP assassinated Herath
And there is one English batsman who is making a habit of falling to left handed assassins.  It is the talk on every street corner, in every bar in every town they think of nothing else.  Fantasy Bob is constantly asked his opinion.  Is KP really a rabbit against left arm spin?  Granted, KP hasn't got out to Ehud yet, but 3 innings versus Sri Lanka this summer, 2 times out to left armer Herath.  It looks like he has a problem and it runs deep - overall in his career left-arm spin is the only type of bowling against which his average is below 40.   By contrast, he has relished right-arm spin, averaging almost 60 runs per wicket, and scoring at over four runs per over against them, more than against any other type of bowling.

What is Graham Gooch - England's specialist batting coach doing with him.  FB has a rather simple minded view that Pietersen's exaggerated move to the offside to give him the opportunity to hit to leg isn't the best idea against this type of bowling.  Quite apart from anything his head gets in totally the wrong place. Is this enough to get FB a coaching position with England?  Can it be that simple? 

Gooch -
time to sort the Moabs out
Or is it more than a failure in technique?   Sinistrophobia is an acknowledged condition, defined as among other things an extreme unwarranted fear and/or physical aversion to left-handedness.   As a result of the actions of fellows like Ehud, teh ancients distrusted left handers.  KP therefore has some deep psychological issue.   Fb suspects it can only be because he is a descendent of Egon - in short KP is a Moab.
If he is the cure may have to involve more than just playing with the spin to the off side.  It looks like it could be beyond FB's coaching skill.  Over to Goochy.

PS By the way Goochy, Strauss OBE is next in the queue - looks like he's a Moab too.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Dam Busters

Fantasy Bob reads that the 1955 film The Dam Busters is going to be remade shortly.   The naming of dogs appears to be an important issue in this project, and what was an acceptable canine name 60 years ago is no longer so.  This specific may be of some minor interest, but in general FB fails to understand why movie moguls regularly do this remake thing - have they no original ideas? 

The story of the Dam Busters is simple.  It is all very British - an understated account of British ingenuity, courage and determination with stiff upper lips on full view everywhere. It tells how boffin designer Barnes Wallis struggled to persuade the authorities that his top spinner could do serious damage against the German batsmen in the difficult test series in 1939-45.  After securing official support from the selectors, Wallis works with flying ace bowler Guy Gibson and his offensively named dog to develop the low flying techniques required to deliver the ball to the correct part of the wicket.  The film ends with extended film of the balls being bowled - and the triumph of wickets falling is mixed with the sadness of the losses sustained - not all the bowlers returned.  There were no sex scenes.

What will the modern take be?  By all accounts the 1955 version was historically accurate.  So what is there to add?  Dripping emotion and special effects no doubt, bigger explosions and lots of computer generated imagery - most likely at the expense of characterisation and the strategic drama.  Bouncing bombs will be complemented by bouncing breasts.  Men will be shown weeping and using hair gel.  What is the point?

Hollies does Bradman
The Dam Busters was released in 1955.  Wisden's cricketer of the year in 1955 was another Dam Buster - Warwickshire leg spinner Eric Hollies.  It was Hollies who 7 years earlier had done a Barnes Wallis on Bradman by bowling him for 0 on his last Test innings so denying him the 3 figure Test average.  Where is the movie mogul to make the film of this epic deed and this hero?   Hollies played only 13 Tests, but in his first class career took 2323 wickets at 20.96.  FB does not know the name of Hollies' dog or whether it would have to be renamed to avoid offence, but he commends the subject to movie people everywhere.

Of one thing FB is sure, no remake will ever better Eric Coates' stirring theme tune of the Dam Busters.  Coates actually declined to score the film but wrote the celebrated March of the Dam Busters which Leighton Lucan based his score on.  Test Match Quality.

Friday, 10 June 2011

What's good enough for Surrey.....

Grid girls in their natural habitat
Fantasy Bob has noticed reports that the mighty Surrey CC, home to Jack Hobbs and Ken Barrington, KP and Ramps, will introduce walk-on girls at an imminent fixture.  Apparently this is a concept derived from F1 where grid girls and pit babes stand about the cars hoping not to get run over. Many of these girls may well have honed these skills to Olympic levels by trying to cross Edinburgh's Princes Street.  They are in some way essential to the endeavour of the particiapants.

As a new man FB deplores the genderism and sexism in such a concept.  In addition as far as FB is concerned anything with any association with the truly dreadful world of F1 is also to be deplored.  So what hope for this initiative?  Little you might think.  However, if Surrey think it will help KP get over his fear of slow lefties, he thinks a go-ahead club such as his own Carlton should be looking at the concept seriously.  He has therefore been moved to write to the supreme executive authorities of Carlton Cricket Club to propose that future 4th XI games should have similar walk-on girls on an experimental basis. 

He notes that the principal role of the girls in Surrey is to escort all batsmen to the wicket.  FB accepts that this would be of great assistance in FB's all star 4th XI where there is consistent evidence that some batsmen are uncertain where the wicket actually is (and even more uncertain what to do when they get there).  He suggests that this escort will speed up play considerably.  FB also offers himself for an additional range of services which might be explored a\s part of the experiment.  Thus he suggests that when he is bowling, the girls might appeal on his behalf so saving his vocal cords for shouting at the juniors; they might carry the ball back to his mark, shining it on their groin at their discretion.   They might hold his sweater during the over, relieving the umpire of a burden, and return it nicely folded and on occasion ironed at the end of the over.  When he is batting, they might use their stiletto heels to assist the process of taking guard; they might winningly ask the umpire from time to time how many balls are left and keep FB up to date with the latest position.  There is therefore any number of important duties that such girls could perform and it would be a mistake to think that they were merely decorative and that the whole concept is an insult both to cricket and to women.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

These boots......

Nancy Sinatra in cricket whites
Fantasy Bob's incisive analysis of the second test yesterday meant he couldn't mark the day's real cultural significance.  8 June was the 71st birthday of Nancy Sinatra the lyrics of whose definitive cricket song, 'These boots are made for bowling' were disgracefully changed to please the American market unfamiliar as it was, and still is, with cricket.  Something stupid, or what?

Nowadays, cricketers do not wear boots.  They wear cricket footwear, scientifically designed and developed.  The bamboozling variety of these articles that is on the market drips with unique features and advertising puff that verges on the poetic.  Here is a typical example:
Asics Gel Advance
SOLYTE MIDSOLE MATERIAL - A lighter weight midsole compound than ASICS' standard EVA and SpEVA. Also features enhanced cushioning and durability. REARFOOT GEL CUSHIONING SYSTEM - Attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance. TRUSSTIC SYSTEM - Reduces the weight of the sole unit while retaining the structural integrity of the shoe. SOLYTE 55 - Employs 55 degree Solyte lasting material for a soft but stable platform feel. REMOVABLE EVA SOCKLINER - A sockliner which can be removed to accommodate a medical orthotic. DUOMAX SUPPORT SYSTEM - A dual density midsole system positioned to enhance support and stability positioned sport specifically. Injection PU OUTSOLE - Lighter than traditional rubber outsoles and gives a more supportive base. EX-GRIP SOCKLINER - A special tacky PU print on the top of the the sockliner which prevents the foot from slipping inside the shoe. TRIPLE OPTION - Flexibility for varied spike configuration. P-GUARD - An abrasion and tear resistant synthetic material for increased upper durability.
This is a description of an Asics Gel Advance shoe - and FB thinks Asics products are pretty good but even his gullibility comes to wonder at the concept of a dual density midsole system described in CAPITAL LETTERS.  Maybe all this design stuff has gone a bit too far and all this BRAINPOWER might be better deployed working out how to save the planet or feed the growing population.

Real men's cricket boots
Inevitably things were simpler before dual density midsole systems.  Cricket boots used at one time to be just that - cobblered leather boots with leather soles.  They had to be blanco'd to make them even at all respectable.  FB recalls such a pair languishing in a cupboard during his childhood looking splendidly innocent.  But they could be killers - Frank Tyson got serious foot damage from ill fitting boots - he would have longed for a sock liner with a special tacky PU print.  Would a Trusstic System have saved Harold Larwood's feet on the hard Australian pitches?

Shoes are so customised now that the quaint fashion of the 70s and 80s of fast bowlers cutting the front out of their left boot to save the pressure on their toes in the delivery stride is thankfully a thing of the past.  The open toed look never convinced FB although he once had a pair of boots which developed a similar feature naturally over the years.  He could not bear to replace them, stuck together with sellotape and glue as they became, until they finally imploded mid over.    Is that what Nancy Sinatra meant when she said One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you..........'? Oh, for an injection PU outsole.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Second Test - idle thoughts

The second Test between England and Sri Lanka petered out to a draw on Tuesday.  Fantasy Bob considers some of the talking points - well he would talk about these points were anyone to listen.

Seminar in existential philosophy
The draw was conceded or identified when players gave up with an hour or so to go of possible playing time.  Cricket must be the only sport where the pointlessness of proceeding can be openly acknowledged in this way.  And the remarkable thing is that cricket was invented before existentialist philosophy came along.  It isn't even French and Sartre's great tome Batting and Nothingness has little to say about the forward defensive. The coming to terms with its own futility is clearly a feature that other sports could emulate - many a football match, particularly Scottish football matches, would be improved beyond measure if the players decided after 30 minutes that enough was enough and the crowd must have better things to do than watch their embarrassing efforts.  Tennis also would be improved if the players decided before any ball was struck that was all going to be pointless and did something else. Since there is no point to golf to start with this approach seems tailor made.

Will I ever
play the violin again?
Fantasy Bob saw several TB replays of one of the hits to Dilshan's thumb.  This looked sore - Tremlett's ball hit his thumb right on the end bending it back towards the wrist - the thumb seemed to rotate a couple of times before it settled back.  Ouch.  As the commentator said 'Well, if it wasn't broken before it certainly is now.'  Dilshan's innings was the highlight of the game - full of character and positive strokes.  That he is out for the final test is a great shame.  Since FB is going to the ODI at Headingley on 1 July he hopes Dilshan is mended by then.

Fantasy Bob naively understands that the purpose of having floodlights is to substitute for daylight when it is ....er dark.  Wrong.  This is not to be an understanding shared by the cricket authorities.  Floodlights seem to be for the purpose of allowing the umpires to read the rules that say if they need the floodlights to read these rules then it is too dark to play cricket.  Ridiculous - 2 teams who were content to play on were dragged off by the umpires like kids being taken home to bed.   These players play under floodlights all the time - exactly what is the issue?

You'll pay for the
damage from your
pocket money Prior
Matt Prior had a torrid time behind the stumps in SL's first innings as Steve Finn in particular tested his agility down the leg side  - 25 byes were conceded.  He got a fine hundred in the first innings so it wasn't all bad.  But he was run out in the second and evidently was rather cross on his return to the dressing room.  Glass showered down on the members from a broken window.  What happened?  There are several versions, but Fantasy Bob's forensic team has worked through the night to reconstruct events.  They report 'Mr Prior returned to the dressing room with a slight sense of disappointment.  He gently laid his batting glove on the bench where it accidentally touched a pad causing it to move and in its turn touch a helmet which fell against a bag which nudged a drinks tray which fell to the floor rolled and knocked against the massage table dislodging a bottle of linament which hit a boot as it came to rest on the floor the boot bumped gently against a bit leaning beside the window which fell against the window with sufficient force to shatter it into a thousand pieces.  Mr Prior's has withdrawn his earlier account of the incident in which he suggested it was big boys who did it and ran away.'

Cook got his 18th Test century and was stumped for the first time.   In all there were a record 9 English innings of 50 or more; and in between spraying it all over the place Steve Finn became the youngest person to get to 50 Test wickets since someone else not quite so young did it some time ago.

Fantasy Bob has long campaigned to persuade the authorities that any ball bowled with an arm other than the right arm must be classed as a no-ball.  He is pleased to announce that his campaign has been joined by  Andrew Strauss and Kevin Petersen.

A Test venue?
And so on to the Rosebowl which isn't really a name for a cricket ground where FB expects England to wrap up the series.  But to make it 2-0 rather than 1-0 and improved bowling performance and more aggression is required - Strauss' declaration was a bit conservative and his field placing not assertive enough.  The tactic of lulling SL into a belief that it was bound to be a draw didn't work  a second time.  Some fresh thinking needed.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

300

Scorebook
from the match
at Thermopylae
300 is a significant number in classical history.  It is the number of Spartan batsmen who held the pass at Thermopylae against Persian fast bowlers in 480BC.  This was in the days before Wisden so accounts of the Test Match are not entirely consistent.  One thing that many accounts do not bring out is the fact that not only were there 300 Spartans, but also 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians - Thespians as in soldiers from Thespiae, rather than camp theatrical chaps who went around declaiming 'Darling, you were simply marvellous' at any Hoplite in range.  Nearly all these batsmen were bowled without scoring. Despite all the sacrifice and heroism the Greeks lost this match, but came back stronger in the series to win it outright and send Xerxes (for it was he) back to where he belonged.

The Battle of Thermopylae has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds and an example that is certainly on Fantasy Bob's mind any time he walks out to the wicket with his Gray Nicolls Nitro in his sword hand.

And the link to something sensible is that this is FB's 300th post.

There is something impressive about 300, particularly if was against your name on the scoreboard.  Fantasy Bob can recall watching much or all of 3 triple centuries - Bobby Simpson in 1964 at Old Trafford, John Edrich in 1965 at Headingley, (these 2 when cricket was played in black and white) and Graham Gooch in 1990 at Lords.  Overall there have been 24 triple centuries in Test history - 20 batsmen have one, Bradman, Lara, Sehwag and Gayle have done it twice.

So FB is in pretty good company.  Here is a reminder of the 11 boundaries from his 3rd century:

The Scottish Cricket Year
LBW
Walking Back to Happiness
El Hombre Sin Nombre
Slow Slow Quick Quick Slow
At Home With the Feckers
Prayer on the night before FB's first Game of the Season
Ask Hadley
Hacking
The Meadows
Taking Guard

And just to indulge himself even further here are the scorebooks from FB's first and second hundreds.

Monday, 6 June 2011

On the treatment table

Fantasy Bob missed his first match for many years through injury this weekend.  Some devilish affliction of lower back and/or hip has beset him causing him to take up to 30 minutes to put his socks on.  The top physiotherapists in the land are queuing at his door recognising how world sport is the poorer for his absence from the field of play.

In his long career FB has been mercifully injury free, his worst sports injury came during his spell as goal keeper during his post-graduate holiday camp experience in the Thames Valley when he broke 2 ribs - or more correctly had 2 ribs broken for him - and punctured a lung.  That kept him out of action for a bit.

Other cricketers have not been so lucky and many careers have been cut painfully short by injury of one sort or another.  Andrew Flintoff is one of the more recent examples.  Inevitably a crocks XI would be dominated by the pacemen and there are many celebrated examples of fast bowlers who had long spells out of the game or who simply could not go on.  Ian Bishop's and Shane Bond's careers were significantly shorter than they might have been due to back problems.  Simon Jones goes from career threatening injury to career threatening injury.  Imran Khan had a 2 year absence to sort out stress fractures in his shins.  Denis Lillee was discovered to have 3 fractures in his lumbar vertebrae - it took a year of treatment and a remodelling of his action before he was back in play.  More recently there have been bowlers such as Malinga limiting their commitments to stay in the game.

And this is not just a modern thing, Harold Larwood's career effectively ended with the final Test of the bodyline series. In Australia's second innings, his body finally gave way after months of pounding in on rock-hard Australian pitches and he broke down with a splintered bone in the ball of his left foot. Douglas Jardine refused to allow the hobbling Larwood to leave the field until Bradman had been dismissed. Partly due to the injury and its misdiagnosis he did not play Test cricket again.

But here are a couple of batsmen who also suffered:
Compton -
 pictured with kneecap

Denis Compton, the star English batsman of the immediate post war period, underwent major knee surgery in 1950 and in 1955, in a final desperate attempt to keep playing, had his kneecap removed.  Is now on display in the Lord's museum.  Despite being in almost constant pain and with movement limited after the 1950 operation, he still averaged over 42 in his subsequent Tests.  In his final test innings against Australia a few months after his surgery he scored 94.

Mike Atherton was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative disease which causes the gradual curvature of the spine and also ended the footballing career of his father.  He was in continual and  excruciating pain in the 1991 series against West Indies after which he underwent spinal surgery.  Despite a constant diet of pills and injections, he did not miss a single Test until the final match of the 1998-99 Ashes.  He had been virtually immobile during the preceding game at Melbourne, where he registered his maiden international pair. His career ended in 2001.

FB hopes that he will be back in the field before long.