As the start of the Ashes series gets nearer, Fantasy Bob needs a distraction and something to calm his nerves. He suspects many of his readers are also on tenterhooks. What to do with all this nervous energy?
It is about this time of year that, nothwithstanding the Ashes, FB begins to be slightly distracted from, well, most things, as he begins to check obsessively the Ski Club of GB website for the snow reports in the Austrian Alps. A large proportion of FB's disposable income has been invested in his annual pilgrimage to the ski slopes, so it had better start snowing.
FB is a relatively late convert to skiing, but has found cricket and skiing to mix well as sports - unless you are invited on things like the Ashes tour, there is little chance of them overlapping. Having to go skiing is not a good reason to call off at most times between May and August, even in Scotland. So, once it was clear that FB was not in the England selectors' mind for the trip down under he was able to confirm the visit to St Anton at New Year.
But just as Test cricket is a bit far removed from the lower divisions of the East of Scotland League where FB demonstrates his complete absence of batting or bowling skills, so the world of performance skiing is far removed from the gentle piste bashing that FB indulges himself in.
Downhill skiers are a race apart. They hurtle down precipitous slopes at speeds faster than any Brett Lee delivery. The emphasis is absolutely on the hurtle. The strength in the legs and core needed to be able to do this is truly astounding - these guys (and girls) are all thigh. Real athletes. And that is quite apart from the courage. Man this a mean sport. The great Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson made a fine film about the downhillers last year - unfortunately it is no longer on BBC iPlayer. You can get an idea of what it is like from the Hannenkamm link below - the commentator (German again) skis the course with a camera in his hand (former Olympic Brit Graham Bell does this as well on Ski Sunday on BBC2 which will start its season shortly). Awesome - just like the stump camera.
But here are the 2 skiers who would open the batting in FB's Skiers XI.
The great Hermann Maier - the Herminator. Here he attacks the super G course at Kitzbuhel. About one minute in, you will see the speedometer. !!! (Commentary is in German)
And here is the unconventional American, his own man, Bode Miller, absolutely blitzing the course in Wengen Switzerland 2 years ago. Bode finally got Olympic gold in Canada earlier this year.
So - here is your choice - going down the Hannenkamm at 80mph or facing Shoaib Ahktar on a fiery wicket..........................which do you fancy?