Thursday, 25 December 2014

A Christmas XI

Fantasy Bob wishes his world wide readership, all three of them, a very Merry Christmas.
Bogart, Newton and Rubinstein -
poor against short pitched bowling

But that is the limit of his goodwill.

Here is a Christmas quiz question:

What do Isaac Newton, Humphrey Bogart and Helena Rubinstein have in common?

A complete inability to play short pitched bowling is not the answer FB is looking for - correct though it may be.

The answer is that this illustrious three are all Christmas babies.  (Although the Hollywood studios tried to change Bogart's because they couldn't have it that a specialist villain could be a Christmas baby). So it is Happy Birthday to them.

Of course there is no proof that 25 December was the actual birth date of Jesus Christ. The first recorded instance of Christmas being celebrated on that date was in 336AD during the reign of Emperor Constantine. There are suggestions that the date was chosen as part of a strategy to Christianise pagan Roman religions - it was the date of the Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (no less) celebrated at the midwinter solstice.

But there are many other birthday boys and girls today - many of whom will spend the day lamenting the unfairness of their parents causing them to be born on a day which means that they must suffer the injustice combined Christmas and birthday presents.

There are also cricketing Christmas babies.  Here is Fantasy Bob's Christmas XI - although he has cheated a bit by including players born on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day.  (Not in batting order)

Alistair Cook (25-12-1984) - 109 Tests, 8423 runs @ 46.02.  England's record run scorer and century maker. This year's Christmas and birthday present has been to be relieved of any responsibility for England's failure to win the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

Marcus Trescothick (25-12-1975) - 76 Tests, 5825 runs @ 43.79.  FB's favourite England opener of recent years - a tragic victim of mental illness which cut short his great Test career.

Simon Jones (25-12-1978) - only 18 Tests, 59 wickets @ 28.23, as a series of injuries prevented him becoming one of the greats.  Made an unforgettable contribution to the 2005 Ashes triumph with his mastery of reverse swing

Hedley Howarth (25-12-1943) - 30 Tests, 86 wickets @ 36.95, New Zealand's leading slow bowler of the time was often used in long spells to stem the flow of runs. At Lord's in 1973, he sent down 70 overs in the second innings, finishing with 4 for 144.

Colin Cowdrey (24-12-1932) - 114 Tests, 7624 runs @ 44.06, everyone knows how he came out to face the W Indies quickies with his arm in plaster. The first player to appear in 100 Tests, which he marked with a century against Australia in Edgbaston in 1968.

Geoff Allott (24-12-1971) - 10 Tests, 19 wickets @ 58.47, New Zealand seamer who once batted for 101 minutes without scoring. This was the longest duck in Test history and helped New Zealand to a draw against South Africa in Auckland in 1998-99.

Clarie Grimmet (25-12-1891) - 37 Tests, 216 wickets @ 24.21, didn't play Test cricket till he was 33, but went on to become the first bowler to take 200 Test wickets.  His leg spin partnership with Bill O'Reilly is reckoned among the greatest bowling partnerships of all time.

Rohan Khanai (26-12-1935) - 79 Tests, 6227 runs @ 47.53, honorary Aberdonian the West Indian great made 55 in his first one-day international and the same score in his last, at the age of 39, when his support to Clive Lloyd helped to win the first ever World Cup final, at Lord's in 1975.

Barry Wood (26-12-1942) 12 Tests, 454 runs @ 21.61.  He played his 12 Tests spread over seven seasons, making 90 on debut against Australia in 1972, but he never played more than three in a row. A gutsy opener he delivered consistently for Lancashire for whom he scored over 17,000 runs.

Matthew Wade (26-12-1987) 12 Tests, 623 runs @ 34.61, 36 dismissals.  At 16, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 16 he required two cycles of chemotherapy to defeat the illness. His big break arrived when Brad Haddin was forced to miss the 2012 Test series in the West Indies due to personal reasons and Wade grabbed the chance with a 106 in the third Test. An ankle injury cost him his Test spot in India a year later and a run of poor form meant he was axed from the one-day side too.

Mark Lathwell (26-12-1971) - 2 Tests, 78 runs.  Potential unfulfilled - at the end of 1993 he was named the Cricket Writers' Young Player Of The Year.  Hyped as England's great batting hope he played 2 Tests against Australia in 1993 and failed through nerves.  His form collapsed and he drifted out of teh game before he was 30.  

FB's Christmas XI - clockwise from top left - Khanhai, Grimmet, Wood,
Lathwell, Howarth, Allott, Cowdrey, Cook, Jones, Wade, Trrescothick

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