Sunday, 9 January 2011

The search for the overseas amateur (continued yet further)

Fantasy Bob supposes it is an error easily made.  After all, proof reading has never been one of his greatest skills.  Sometimes, the simple omission of 2 letters radically changes the sense of the communication.

When Carlton top management contacted him in secret shortly before Christmas and said, 'Listen, FB, time you did something for the club rather than witter on about all that rubbish on that internet type thingy', FB stood to attention and awaited orders.

Deep Throat went on, 'We need you to do a bit of scouting for next season's overseas amateur.  Strictly hush hush.  You know we've come close to some good players but we're still in the hunt. So when you get to Australia, see if you can pick up a fast scoring bat who can bowl a bit.  It would be good if he had a Aussie name like Rod or Bart or something.'

FB was overcome with dizziness at the weight of this responsibility.  So much so, that he could not bring himself to point out immediately that his New Year trip was not to Australia, but to Austria, a country critically short  not only of the 2 letters, a and l in an important place, but also of any reputation as a nursery of quality cricketers.  But when FB came to his senses, Deep Throat had vanished into the emptiness of the underground car park.  FB's subsequent attempts to reach Deep Throat simply summoned a voicemail message which said only ' Remember, a fast scoring bat who can bowl a bit.'

Map of Austria

Map of Australia
Australia and Austria - easily confused. 

Many differences are not apparent to the most casual observer. 
High mountains covered in snow; the complete absence of beaches.  By comparison with their Austrian kin, the Australian branch of the Schicklgruber family has not caused too many problems for their neighbours.  While Australia does not have cultural figures of the stature of Mozart or Mahler, Austria has never produced a fast bowler of Dennis Lillee's quality.  

Ken - ready to go surfing
The challenge facing FB was therefore significant.  As luck (a property only remotely and infrequently associated with FB) would have it when FB joined up at  St Anton's ski school his instructor hailed not from Salzburg or Innsbuck.  Ken is Melbourne through and through.  This required some delicacy and diplomacy on FB's part, since the Ashes had been retained on the first skiing morning.  FB thought he handled the instructor's possible sensitivity well as he gently asked Ken, 'So how does it feel to be being thrashed out of sight?'  A terrifying descent of a vertical black run at 60mph wasn't quite the answer that FB expected.  But subsequent conversations convinced FB that Ken would be a good bet as replacement to Andrew Hilditch as Chair of Australia's selectors.

Strangely, or maybe not, Australian accents were very prominent in the resort.  Far more than in previous years.  As well as Ken, a couple of other instructors, and many barstaff (surprise) and visitors were strewthing and g'daying all around.  Evidently the population of Australia had been fleeing the country before the Ashes humiliation. 

But perhaps Carlton's management had called it right.  This could be a fertile recruiting zone.  FB therefore tried to fulfill his commission.  Regretably he failed.  Most of those he approached over the Gluhwien simply said. Strewth, mate, we're Oz, we can't play cricket.'

FB may have to go skiing in India next year if he is to be a successful scout.

The overseas amateur
But FB would like to put an alternative tactic to Carlton's management.  While the cricket lover is poorly catered for on the Austrian ski slopes, the serious minded pudding fan can indulge themself.  FB wishes to introduce to Scottish cricket this masterpiece - the Germknodel.  FB acknowledges that on first inspection it is hard to get beyond its breast like shape - or as Ken put it more directly -'It looks like a tit.'

The germknodel is a steamed yeast dough dumpling with spiced plum jam/sauce in the middle.  It is served either with melted butter or, as here, vanilla sauce (custard to you and FB).  It is then sprinkled with crushed poppy seeds and sugar.  Test Match Quality.  Food of the Gods.

If Carlton could serve this irresistible delight to the opposition at tea, it would be guaranteed to slow down their batting or fielding to the extent that victory would be assured.  Forget Mr Kipling's almond slices. Who needs an overseas amateur when you could have Germknodel?

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