Fantasy Bob discovers that he is a dying breed, liable to extinction. For in 2000 Robert was the 41st most popular name for boys in the UK. In 2011 it had declined to 85th. At this rate of decline there will be no Fantasy Bobs in future. Perhaps the world can survive that, but could the cricketing world survive?
Robert, is by origin a Norman name, but comes from Germanic roots hrod, meaning 'fame' and berhtl, meaning 'famous' or 'bright'. It is a fitting description for many cricketers.
Here is a select Bobs XI. Fantasy Bob was not considered for selection due to his limited, ie zero, Test experience. But the others were all at one time or another important international players. Apparently Oliver was the most popular boy's name in 2011. FB reckons this Bobs XI would overcome any eleven Olivers with ease.
*Bobby Simpson (Aus) - 62 Tests, 4869 runs @ 46.81, HS 311 Simpson was of Scottish descent, His first Test century did not come until his 30th test - but it was a big one - 311 at Manchester. He was subsequently coach of Australia and highly significant in their rise to world dominance.
Bob Barber (Eng) - 28 Tests, 1495 runs @ 35.59, HS 185 - Barber's 185 is his only Test century - it was made in Sydney in 1966 when he put on and opening partnership of 234 with Geoff Boycott. it remains teh highest score by an English batsman on the opening day of an Ashes Test.
Bob Woolmer (Eng) - 14 Tests, 1059 runs@ 33.09, HS 149 - Woolmer's Test career was shorter than it might otherwise have been had he not joined the Packer World Series. After his playing career he was a highly successful coach with s Africa Warwickshire and Pakistan until he died during the 2007 World Cup.
Robert Graeme Pollock (SA) - 23 Tests, 2256 runs @ 60.97, HS 274 - generally regarded as S Africa's greatest cricketer and another of Scottish descent. an imperious left handed bat whose international career. was cut short by the boycott of S Africa.
Bob Cowper (Aus) - 27 Tests, 2061 runs @ 46.84, HS 307 - he made the first Test triple century in Australia in the Fifth test against England At Melbourne in 1966. He averaged an impressive 75.78 in home Tests but only 33.33 overseas - the highest difference of any Test player.
Robert Key (Eng) - 15 Tests, 775 runs @ 31.00, HS 221- seen by many as deserving more than his 15 Tests but never consistent enough for a long run in the side but his 221 agaisnt W Indies in 2004 showed what he could do. Captain of Kent since 2006.
+Bob Taylor (Eng) - 57 Tests, 174 dismissals - with 2069 victims across his entire career he holds the record for a wicket keeper. Kept out of the Test side for much of his career by Alan Knott who was a better bat, but Taylor is seen as the keeper's keeper.
Robert Croft (Eng) - 21Tests, 49 wickets @ 37.24 - the first Welsh cricketer to take the double of 10,000 runs and 1,000 wickets in First Class cricket in 2007.
Bob Holland (Aus) - 11 Tests, 34 wickets @ 39.76 - the leggie's Test debut in 1984 aged 38 made him the oldest Australian debutant for 50 years. His greatest moment was when he got 6 for 54 amd 4 for 90 in Australia's unexpected victory over W Indies at Sydney. Also distinguisned for jointly holding the record for 5 Test ducks in a row.
Bob Massie (Aus) - 6 Tests, 31 wickets @ 20.37 - a star which shone brightly and then was gone - his Test debut at Lords in 1972 was at the time the best debut figures in Test history as he took 8 wickets in each innings. But he played only 5 more Tests and never rediscovered the magic that gave him such prodigious swing.
Bob Willis (Eng) - 90 Tests, 325 wickets @ 25.20 - 325 wickets is a big achievement but he will always be remembered for his 8 for 43 at Headingley against the Australians in 1981.