Amongst all the fake news, the jeremiads and hagiographies of worthless footballers, there was an item in the newspapers this week which stimulated Fantasy Bob's interest more than usual. In the Guardian's excellent Notes and Queries section there was posed the question,
'Which requires more skill - returning a 150mph John Isner serve in tennis or defending a 95mph Dale Steyn delivery in cricket?'
As FB perused the answers offered by fellow readers, his brain began to race - if not to 150mph then pretty near 15mph. Why is not exactly clear - for FB's chances of seeing either delivery would be zero.
It reminded him of a tale he heard a long time ago - he has no idea as to whether it is apocryphal or not. So in the contemporary spirit of fake news he retells it here.
Middlesex CC were playing against a local club side in some charity match. Their full squad was there including West Indian quickie Wayne Daniel. An opposing tail ender came into bat. Carefully took his guard, scanned the filed and prepared to face the demon. The keeper and slip cordon crouched in readiness. Daniel turned at the end of his long run and steamed in, arms pumping, nostrils flaring. A huge leap and his arm came over. The batsman fended. There was a huge appeal as the keeper threw the ball skyward. Shaking his head the batsman slowly departed. It was not until he neared the boundary that he was called back to be told with much mirth and good humour that he'd been conned - the ball had been with the keeper all the time. It was too easy to believe that the ball was so fast that it could not be seen.
FB is sure that he has been victim to this rouse a number of times, only the perpetrators have not confessed to their deception.
But to return to the question put. A respondent noted that a tennis ball slows down significantly faster than a cricket ball (something to do with mass) - added to which the distance between the server and returner is significantly greater than between bowler and batter. That did it for FB - it was conclusive - he still wouldn't see either.
But he noted with interest the fact that the ball slows as it approaches the batter. This is not FB's experience at the crease. Invariably the ball speeds up as it approaches him - and in the case of 11 year old leg spinners the increase in speed is exponential. There is only explanation - a special zone of magnetic attraction around FB where the laws of physics are reversed. So here is a question for the clever clog readers of the Guardian - Is FB a black hole?