Monday, 28 February 2011

Regime change

Regime change can be one of these tricky subjects, rather like facing leg spin bowling.  Get the feet in the wrong place and things become more difficult than they should. Fantasy Bob notices that there is quite a lot of it going on at the moment.  Libyan cricketers seem to have come to the conclusion that their long serving captain may not be the player that he cracked himself up to be.  Indeed, they seem to think that the self-proclaimed King of Kings of Africa may not be a cricketer at all after recent evidence of his proclivity for bowling head high beamers at his own chaps in the nets.  The search is on for a new skipper.

The UN Security Council
consider the Fantasy Bob problem
In calmer circumstances Fantasy Bob can report further evidence of the world turned on its head.  He breaks the news blackout imposed by the revolutionary junta at Carlton cricket club to report his own appointment  to the post of Supreme Commander of the Glorious People's 4th XI.  FB was elected by proclamation, declamation and acclamation, and a spokesman for the go-ahead Edinburgh club revealed 'We had to weigh the votes'.  He did not explain why a vote was necessary since there was no other candidate.  FB has made it clear that this is the only job in world cricket that he would take.  Every one else made it clear that it was the only job in world cricket that anyone would in their right mind offer him.

FB has over recent seasons masterminded many of the Carlton 4's more momentous victories against the reactionary forces of darkness and repression - and Holy Cross 3.  He has carefully crafted the on field action to fit his pre-written match reports.   But he has operated from a position behind the throne.  Now he can come out of the toilet and he will be able to practice his tossing openly.

FB also issued a communique to all his followers calling on them to focus on the quality of biscuits and cake at teas in the coming season.  He said he looked forward to discussing this important issue with President Obama and other world leaders.

More seriously, FB invites all his readers to support in whatever way appropriate the ordinary cricketers of Libya in their time of desperate need.  They have done nothing to deserve their fate.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

6 nations musing part 3

Fantasy Bob is declining extended comment on this afternoon's misadventure at Murrayfield. 

Fantasy Bob doesn't understand how much longer rugby can go on with the scrum the shambles it is.  Referees obviously have no idea what to do - and FB has sympathy for them.  Why not just abandon any rules (other than 3 on 3 in the front row) and let it happen.  Even though self regulation didn't work for the financial sector, it could just be the thing here.  At least it couldn't make it worse.  Oh and scrum halves could put the ball in straight.

Have Scotland created a record in Sean Lamont being the first player ever to play at inside centre without ever passing the ball once?  It fair makes you proud to be Scottish.

Who is looking forward to Twickers?

India v England - not really a preview

Pre Thatcher batting style
When India met England in the 1975 World Cup Sunil Gavaskar infamously blocked his way to 36 not out off 174 balls.  India scored just 132 for 3 and lost by 202 runs.  In 1975 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency suspending civil liberties and elections. That was unrelated to Gavaskar's innings, but who knows what emergency measures might be necessary if England prevail in 2011. 1975 was also the year that Margaret Thatcher defeated Edward Heath for the leadership of the UK Conservative Party and Mrs T certainly upped the run rate.

India v England is the biggest game of the tournament so far.  Having been whipped to a pulp by the local rozzers in the pursuit of tickets earlier in the week, Indian supporters will whip themselves to a frenzy demanding a performance from their team.   The possibility of a constitutional crisis apart, FB finds this a hard one to call.  India's recent record against England in India is overwhelming.  On that basis, England needn't bother turning up, so dominant have the home side been.  But this is the first test of India under the extreme pressure of the home supporters and while FB can't see such an experienced side coming unstuck, you just never know.  Home advantage didn't help Sri Lanka yesterday.

So far, both sides seem to bat stronger than they bowl.  England will want to forget about their performance with the ball against Netherlands.  And Sreesanth in particular will want to do better than his wayward offering against Bangladesh.  But the Bangalore wicket is said to be juicy following heavy rain during the week, so England's seamers might get some joy. There is even speculation that Messrs Duckworth and Lewis could be brought into play for the first time in the tournament.   (See this link for FB's account of the origin of the method). These little factors could even the balance.  FB is predicting a big one from KP - it's his kind of situation - he may even bat well too.  And India may have to use more batters than they did last week, but they'll do it.

Pride of Scotland
To revert to 1975: the Bay City Rollers, possibly Scotland's greatest contribution to world culture after Rabbie Burns and David Hume, were riding high.  In those days of course there was not the idiocy of playing pop tunes as batsmen go to and from the wicket as is the case now.  Otherwise that evergreen classic Bye Bye Baby would surely have been played at every fall of wicket or every 6 dispatched into the crowd (not that 6s were such a prominent feature in those days).  Had the crowds back then known what they were missing -  they would have been hugely relieved.  To hear it once every 30 years is enough for this musical masterpiece - 3 or 4 times in an afternoon could have led to civil insurrection.  Then Mrs Ghandi's actions would have been understandable.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cricket World Cup - talking points

ICC associate nation
Hybognathus Hankinsoni
There are 2 major talking points so far in the Cricket World Cup that have come to Fantasy Bob's attention.  Well, there are 3 really but since information about the favourite biscuits of the leading players has been subject to a draconian news blackout, FB is unable to discuss that most important issue.  Instead he turns to other relatively minor matters.  At this point, FB would like to make it clear that he is confident that decisions on both these issues are being guided only by concerns as to the continuing health and development of the game with no referecne to the financial considerations of broadcasters.

The first issue is the fate of the associate nations, the so-called minnows and the reduction of the size of the CWC next time round.  FB has thought long and hard about this.  Extra biscuits were required. Notwithstanding the mismatches he thinks it wholly undermines the point of world wide cricket development for the associates not to have the opportunity to play in CWC - the challenge is not to eliminate them but to bring their standards nearer to the big boys so that they can compete.  There is no substitute in this for playing the big boys however uncomfortable big defeats are.  Giving them a place at T20 is fine, but it would achieve nothing if it distorts cricket development in the associates to T20 style. 

Godard -
not attending CWC 2011
The second issue is the fate of the 50 over game and whether this is its last hurrah, its excitement having paled as its sexy sibling T20 takes all the attention.  This problem is focused on the middle overs which are seen as an unnecessarily boring bit in between the crash bang thrill of the opening and closing overs.  Deeply conservative on these matters, FB thinks that this discussion is pretty pointless.  FB remembers when limited overs meant 65.  Some genius will shortly find middle overs in T20. There should always be a beginning middle and end in cricket as in everything.  Part of the charm of cricket is the different pace at different points in the game - it has a genuine narrative.  If this is not to be tolerated, we might as well have one ball innings.   A beginning a middle and an end is essential - although  FB accepts radical French film-maker Jean-Luc Godard's observation that they don't have to be in that order. 

But in a rare foray as an original thinker, and fueled by yet more biscuits, Fantasy Bob presents his solution to these problems.  It will keep everyone satisfied.   The big boys don't want to play the small boys.  Fine. The big boys don't like the middle overs.  Fine.  The powers-that-be want only T20 for the small boys. Fine.

Here is the new competition structure he proposes for CWC 2015 which matches all the objectives, at the same time bringing all the cricket nations together.

Each tie will be comprise 50 overs.
First innings

First 15 overs - Big Boy A will bowl at Big Boy B

Middle 20 - Small boy X will bowl at Small Boy Y

Last 15 overs - Big Boy A will bowl at Big Boy B

Second Innings

First 15 overs - Big Boy B will bowl at Big Boy A

Middle 20 - Small boy Y will bowl at Small Boy X

Last 15 overs - Big Boy B will bowl at Big Boy A
In later rounds of the competition the scores will be aggregated so that A+X will be compared with B+Y and the higher aggregate wins.  This will force Big Boys to nurture the skills of Small Boys.

Test match Quality thinking!  FB is available for any strategic consultancy assignment.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Ireland v Bangladesh - irrelevant thoughts

Fantasy Bob's fantasies about the minnows snapping with piranha like jaws at the flesh of the bloated boaters of the major cricketing nations lie in some disrepair.   Although at times in the England-Netherlands match it  was hard to say which was the minnow and which the bloater, other outings have been disappointing from the underdog supporter's point of view.  Kenya, who don't look like they could give Carlton 4 a game, have so far excelled themselves only in at least achieving a record in bowling the highest number of wides at a World Cup in their thumping by Pakistan on Wednesday.  Canada were streets behind Sri Lanka and maybe should have kept at the ice hockey.  So can we look forward to Ireland doing something on Friday?  Ireland are of course the nearest thing to Scotland in this competition so Fantasy Bob is firmly behind them. 

The pressure is all on Bangladesh who must win to retain any real interest in the competition.  Has their morale been dumped by the Indian assault on them on Saturday?  They have lost 2 times to the Irish in their 6 meetings so far.   The Irish should be the hardest of the minnows since the significant majority of their side are full tiem cricketers - and this is step on from their last giant killing exploits in 2007.  So for Ireland there is everything to play for.  Get Tamim Iqbal, deal with the spin and the pace of the wicket, and they could be in there, their batting looks quite solid with Ed Joyce back from the dark side.  Indeed, within themselves Ireland, may be thinking that the matches against England and W Indies are their real tests.


Ireland are led by Gloucesteshire's William Porterfied a serious talent who has delivered serious runs in serious situations before.  Seriously.  But as an Aberdonian the name of Porterfield rings lots of bells with FB.   Ian Porterfield was appointed manager of Aberdeen FC following the loss of Alex Ferguson to Manchester United in 1986.  He is therefore the last man on earth, teh universe even, to have replaced Ferguson.  Porterfield was with Aberdeen for 2 years with moderate success as Ferguson's great team began to break up.  But they were still a force to be reckoned with.  After Aberdeen Porterfield had a peripatetic career including 2 spells with Chelsea (before Russian billionaires turned their heads) being sacked in his second spell in 1993.  A string of foreign appointments followed including Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago.  His last appointment before his death in 2007 was with Armenia.

Has this anything to do with Ireland v Bangladesh?  No - except that as a player Ian Porterfield was a giant killer.  He scored the winner in 1973 FA Cup Final for second division Sunderland against the then mighty Leeds United.  So can his namesake be the same giant killing branch of the family?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Four Witterings for the Price of One

One of Fantasy Bob's 3 loyal readers has advised him of the extremely distressing situation he found himself recently.  Encountering a new computer, he attempted to find Fantasy Bob's writings by entering Witterings in the Google search engine.  Imagine his distress when he was lead not to these pages of customary nonsense, but instead to pages which offer the delights of East and West Wittering East and West Wittering.   For goodness sake, how many Witterings do you need? 

There appear to be 2 matching sets - one in Cambridgeshire and one in West Sussex.

Obviously the Sussex West Wittering is a cut above since they have a cricket club  which plays in Division 7 of the West Sussex Invitation League.  Excellent; the club also offers croquet and petanque.  West Wittering is also a surf centre.   As the Beach Boys could well have put it  'I wish they all could be West Wittering girls..............'

In FB's experience, cricket and surfing do not combine particularly well.  For one thing, stepping onto the back foot for a short pitched delivery tends to bring the front of the board up and dumps you in the briney.  Another issue FB has with surfing is that, in spite of the wholly wonderful efforts of the Beach Boys, it all seems a bit Australian.  Despite these limitations FB would not be surprised if a future Olympics boasted the introduction of synchronised-surf-cricket.  But the Olympics has nothing to do with sport of course.

Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy, RAF Wittering is in Cambridgeshire and until last year proudly claimed to be the home of the Harrier jump jet.  FB imagines his 3 readers are just itching to go to view this airfield - they can safely do so if the follow the copious and precise directions in this wonderful website, Thunder and Lightnings, specially created for all you compulsive airfield viewers out there.  But be warned,  the website says
Rumour has it that another flying unit may move in at Wittering in the future, but Tutors are no replacement for Harriers! In the mean time the airfield remains open as a relief landing ground for other RAF stations but do not expect to see any regular activity - this guide therefore doesn't serve much of a purpose at the moment.
Oh well.  Maybe a trip to IKEA after all.

The Wittering Harriers having been taken out of service, have departed for storage at Cottesmore, which is in West Sussex.  Is it all meant to connect?

Of the other Witterings there seems little to be said - or wittered - but FB is sure they are fine places all.

So unless you are interested in more on all this stuff, when you've lost Fantasy Bob's links, don't search for Witterings.  Search for Fantasy Bob and you'll strike gold. 

Also now on Twitter @realfantasybob.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Extra, extra read all about it

In a little note on its statistics page CricInfo is most unkindly drawing attention to the fact that Scotland are the proud holders of the record number of extras conceded in a World Cup match.  They conceded 59 extras against Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup. The 1999 World Cup saw an average of 47 extras per game, the highest among all World Cups.  The 1999 WC was held in England where seaming wickets seem to have taken the blame for the extras climbing.

Wide City
That Scotland vs Pakistan match was the first international held at Chester-le-Street.  Scotland had Pakistan in trouble at 92 for 5, of which 45 were extras, until a stand of 103 between Yousuf Youhana and Moin Khan steadied things.  Pakistan recovered to 261 off their 50 overs.  Of the 59 extras, 33 were wides.  There was also an inadvertant 7 ball over as the umpires got in on the act.  Most unfairly Wasim Akram smashed the extra ball for 6.

Gavin Hamilton
More unfairly, Wasim Akram then bowled and removed Scotland's opener in his first over.  Even more unfairly still, Shoaib Akhtar was at the other end and he also struck in his first over to leave Scotland 5 for 2 after 7 balls.  Scotland were at one point 19 for 5 until a stout innings of 76 by Gavin Hamilton restored some credibility.  Scotland were out for 167.  Interestingly there were 37 extras in the Pakistan bowling effort - at 22.15% of the total only marginally below the proportion of Scottish extras.

As a further unfairness Scotland were penalised one over for slow over rate.  Counting the 33 wides and 15 no-balls they actually bowled 58 overs.

For Fantasy Bob, extras are a thing of beauty and much to be treasured by the batting side.  In one match a couple of seasons ago, Fantasy Bob was batting 6 and was rudely awoken from his slumbers in the first over as a pacey bowler and a spiteful wicket put paid to the cream of the batting above him.  As he strode sleepily yet purposefully to the wicket to face the last ball of the over, the scoreboard read 2 for 4 - not an encouraging sight and those 2 were leg-byes.  FB ended up top score in that innings with 25 - but extras got one more.  Readers may not be surprised to learn that Carlton lost that match by some way.

To his shame FB has bowled the occasional wide but some bowlers in the the lower leagues are in a different class altogether.  In FB's days with the once proud Royal High, the bowling attack boasted a very useful left arm seamer in the Akram mould ie shambling run and huge shoulder action.  Just now and then the radar went and the slips (including in those days of lithe reflexes FB himself) were in distinct danger).  Wides were therefore a regular feature, so much so that the whole team mystified the batters by a huge celebration when he reached 50 for the season.  There were a still a few games to go and the ton seemed on, but he fell just short.  Lower league cricket is stricter on wides these days than it was, so he might achieve it now.

But even the greats get it wrong.  Everyone has Harmison's 2006 Ashes opening delivery firmly imprinted in their minds.  If runs were awarded for how wide it was it could have been a 6.  But the longest over in Test cricket was bowled by the great Curtly Ambrose in the final test between Australia and West Indies in Perth in the 1996-97 series - with 9 wides it was a 15 ball over.   It took over 12 minutes.  Now there's a record.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Ticket crisis

One lucky fan who
will get to see Fantasy Bob
There were red faces at Carlton Cricket Club yesterday as the go ahead Edinburgh club acknowledged the difficulties with its state-of-the-art electronic booking system. 

Tickets were due to go on public sale online yesterday for the mouth watering season's opener at Grange Loan featuring Carlton 4 and Teuchters CC,  but desperate fans were locked out as the club's website could not cope with the demand.  A spokesman for the club told world wide media, 'We knew that many fans would be desperate to see Fantasy Bob coming up the hill into the wind.  There may not be too many more opportunities after all.  But we seriously underestimated the world wide interest.  There was literally a handful of inquiries.  Our server just couldn't cope.'

Observers said that smoke could be seen coming out of doughty groundsman Magnus Moon's laptop, the nerve centre of the operation.  Last night it remained unclear when tickets would become available and fans were told to stop ringing the emergency services.  

The spokesman refused to comment on another source of disappointment for fans when they learned that only 4 tickets were being offered to the public for this highlight of the world cricketing calendar, amid suggestions that the best benches on the hill had been reserved for Carlton dignitaries and assorted minor celebrities.  Critics compared this allocation unfavourably with the World Cup final when it was played at Lords a stadium with smaller capacity but where 14,000 tickets went on sale to the public.  In a rare moment of silence the spokesman declined to comment.

Monday, 21 February 2011

England vs Netherlands - a preview

England and the Netherlands have been to war more often than they have played ODIs.  Fantasy Bob will leave it to his readers whether that says anything about the ICC objective of developing standards in associate countries.  The rich get richer.

Close fielders
during the Anglo Dutch
war of 1666
There were 4 Anglo Dutch wars in the 17th and 18th Centuries as the 2 maritime nations struggled for supremacy over global trade.  Of course, had the Dutch been victorious the British Empire might not have been, and the spread of cricket might not have taken place and this world cup would not be happening.  Whew!  Or it would be a competition of a Dutch type sport - speed skating for example.  One of the supreme ironies of history is that England (latterly Britain as the English called the Scots, and their banking nous, from the subs bench to help them) was ultimately victorious because of the strength of her banking system.  And now we face an uncertain financial and economic future because of factors associated with the banking system.  How things are reversed - is this an omen for the Netherlands team?  Despite their upset in the T20 at Lords 2 years ago, don't bet on it.

Both the 2 previous ODI meetings between the warring maritime states have been in world cups, in 1996 and in 2003 and both times the Dutch were worsted, although not as severely as the minor teams in this World Cup so far.  Of the 2003 England team only Collingwood and Anderson survive the 6 wicket win.  Netherlands also has 2 survivors in Bas Zuiderent and Adeel Raja.

This is the fourth visit of the Netherlands to the World Cup.  Out of 14 previous games they have managed to win twice against Namibia in 2003 and Scotland in 2007.  A further reflection of the challenge facing the associates in stepping up to this level of competition.  Such is the structure of the competition that Netherlands may well be scrapping this time for supremacy at the bottom of the table with Ireland.  there must be something better.

What do Netherlands need to do to get England in trouble?  Ever helpful FB suggests that they get Pietersen early.  Is KP's alleged weakness against left armers going to be a factor?  How early does skipper Borren bring his left armer Pieter Seelaar on?  Is he the man to do it? Fascinating questions.

Even though FB would like England to win the competition, he would also like to see the minor teams give a good account of themselves.  So come on Netherlands, make England work hard - let's have the first properly competitive match in the tournament.

A ball with no name

Fantasy Bob notes with barely disguised apathy that the public is to be invited to suggest a name for the football to be used during the 2012 Olympic football tournament.  He will pass over the obvious concern that the games are so cash strapped that they can afford only one ball for a 3 week tournament.  More significantly, it has never been obvious to FB that balls are things that require names, other than golf balls which are obviously deserving of the fruity names given to them as they regularly exhibit a mind of their own by diving headlong deep into the nearest gorse bush.  But that is another story.

Fantasy Bob warns against building false expectations in this venture.  He has only just got over the emotional trauma associated with a similar populist gesture many years ago when the presenters of BBC's prime children's TV show Blue Peter invited its audience of enthralled children and hungover sociology students to name their newly acquired dog, a golden labrador (if FB recalls correctly).  Now this could have demonstrated the collective imagination of the coming generation - and FB thought his own suggestion of Brunhilde was bound to win.  FB was devastated by crippling mundaneness of the eventual choice - Honey.  Proof if ever was needed of the decline of the British capacity for world leadership and an early sign that this generation would be too easily placated by the mediocrity of the X Factor.

Which side to shine?
FB is therefore glad that the organisers of the Cricket World Cup have eschewed such nonsense.  The balls in this competition have a pleasingly superior air of anonymity about them.  But they are unlikely to be replicas of the Diamond cricket ball was made in Sri Lanka in November 2004. It weighs 53.83 carats and has pure gold seam of 125 grams.   FB can find no reports of how much this object might be worth, nor of whether it reverse swings.

But what of a name for the Olympic football?  FB suggests Janet.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Empire Strikes Back

A reader has remonstrated with Fantasy Bob.  'All this cricket stuff is all right for a while, but we need to return to more important issues.  Come on FB, we need more incisive discussion about biscuits.'

Fantasy Bob accepts that his reader has a point.  Biscuits have been absent from his postings for too long.  He therefore wishes to introduce to readers this Scottish beauty,  the undisputed greatest biscuit in the world.  The Gary Sobers of the pasteleria, aka the Empire Biscuit. 

Readers outside Scotland may not be familiar with its delights - poor souls.  It was originally known as the Linzer biscuit (as in Linzer Torte), and later the German biscuit, but with the outbreak of the First World War it was patriotically renamed the Empire biscuit, just in case eating it would succour the enemy.  Nevertheless in treasonous parts of the east coast of Scotland it is still known as the German biscuit.  It has a layer of jam  between two soft shortbread biscuits, covered with white water icing and topped with a decorative glace cherry or (as in the photo) jelly-tot.  There is nothing better with a cup of tea in the whole world.  And quite the best Empire biscuit is to be had from Storrie's Home Bakery in Leith Walk, Edinburgh.

Thoughts of Empire, as well as biscuits, stirred in FB's brain today at the start of the Cricket World Cup. Like other major sports invented in these islands, cricket's spread around the world was facilitated by the British imperial expansion of the 19th Century.  However unlike other sports, it never took hold outside the Empire.  The Netherlands is the only country to have competed in any Cricket World Cup which was never part of the British Empire.   Compare even rugby, where France and Italy are powers and did not bend the knee to Queen Victoria.

Is there an historical explanation?  Why did France accept rugby, and get so good at it, but spurn cricket?You might have thought that the country of existentialist philosophy would have found much to appeal in the batter's lonely struggle for authenticity in the face of short pitched bowling.  You might equally have thought that Monet and Degas would have seen cricket's aesthetic of white against green as what impressionist painting was made for.  But no.  FB does not know what got into the French on this one.  Or the Germans for that matter.

Philadelphia - touring England in 1884
Things are not much better across the Atlantic.  Historians have suppressed how the Boston Tea Party-goers threw a consignment of Duke cricket balls over the side with the tea chanting 'No taxation without neutral umpires.'  Remarkably, despite the American revolutionary fervour and hostility to things British, cricket had some popularity in the USA in the 19th Century. Indeed, the very first international sporting fixture was a cricket match between the USA and Canada.  It took place in New York in 1844, 25 years before the Ashes. In 1888, the USA toured the West Indies and even defeated the all-West Indies side by 9 wickets in Guyana, possibly the high-water mark of US cricket.   At that time the Philadelphia team may well have been the strongest side in the world and the American bowler John Barton King was hugely influential in the development of the techniques of swing bowling.  But cricket remained an exclusive gentleman's game in the US - there was no whistling down mine shafts for demon fast bowlers.  As baseball grew in significance and professionalised, cricket's exclusive image became entrenched, no doubt aided by the congenital inability of the American to understand the rules.  But the powers that be in cricket rather shot themselves in the foot by constituting the international governing body as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909.  No self-respecting American could have anything to do with that.  Besides, baseball bats were easy to make being just a stick where a hand crafted bat was a thing of beauty. 

America became an associate member of the ICC in 1965 with which it has continued to have an interesting relationship having been suspended a couple of times.  They played in Division 3 of the World Cricket League which took place in January but were unfortunately relegated to Division 4.

The Netherlands developed cricket as a result of their close trade links across the North Sea.  Even though they have appeared in the last 3 World Cups, cricket is only the 25th most popular sport there with 6,000 or so players.  FB is struggling to list the other 24 sports.

Cricket in Corfu
There were cricket clubs around the world where there were British traders or where British sailors spent some time, indeed FB has seen the cricket pitch in Corfu.  But outside the colonies it never developed roots as a mass participation sport.  More's the pity.

But the Empire is striking back.  For it is the emigrant Asian population across the world that is developing cricket in many countries where is was previously unknown.  More power to their elbow.

The Empire biscuit's only competition
But a reader is saying to him or herself 'For Goodness sake FB you promised us biscuits and you're off rabbiting about history again'.  FB begs forgiveness.  For those readers who had hoped that FB was returning to the important subject of biscuits, here is the Scottish delight which rivals the Empire Biscuit - the Pineapple Cake - a sweet Pastry Cup filled with chunky Pineapple Jam, a light synthetic cream and topped with Pineapple Fondant.

Food of the gods - Test Match Quality.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Ceud Mìle Fàilte

A hundred thousand welcomes............

Fantasy Bob has noticed current controversy in the popular press (well the Scotsman newspaper anyway) about the Gaelic Language Plan being developed by the National Galleries of Scotland.  As FB understands it, all public bodies in Scotland have to prepare such a plan designed to promote the Gaelic language which, most regretably, is teetering on the verge of extinction.  As FB's body is pretty public, or at least it was one Saturday last season as he came out of the Carlton shower to discover the back door wide open, unless and until he receives contrary legal advice, he assumes this requirement attaches to him. 

Scottish history suggests that c
Hanoverian batsmen
taking guard at Culloden
ricket was not that popular in the Gaeltacht at the best of times but playing numbers dipped big time after the Test at Culloden in 1746.  Bonnie Prince Charlie put the Hanoverians in to bat.  The wicket wasn't as green as he imagined and he succumbed to an innings defeat.  Something approaching genocide followed. Then lamentations.  Some are still lamenting.

So there is work to do.  FB has therefore prepared the following handy translator for any cricketing situation.  Careful use of the translator will allow the player or spectator to translate essential cricketing terms to or from Gaelic:


googly, that's it.
Slàinte mhòr agad.

Friday, 18 February 2011

FB's Guide to the Cricket World Cup

This is Fantasy Bob's pull out guide to the Cricket World Cup 2011.  You can pull out of reading it at any time.

CWC has now got under way following Thursday's opening ceremony in Dhaka.  The ceremony was graced by a little known Canadian cricketer called Bryan Adams.   (FB will resist all obvious jokes, at least Canada qualified).  A highlight of the proceedings was abseiling cricketers on a close-by tower block.  FB has some sympathy with these players - he himself has played on some sloping wickets, but has never yet had to be tied on.

Dear reader(s) FB has to admit that he has yet to feel the thrill of this event running through his veins.  His sinews are still unstiffened by the thought of all these matches stretching far into the days weeks and months before us.  Could this be becasue the event is considerably weaker for the absence of Scotland who failed to qualify, their rightful place being taken by Canada.  FB wishes good luck to Canada - let's hope they do some damage.  It is always good to see the minnows upset the big boys, as Ireland did last time out and Netherlands did in the T20.   It would be particularly good for an upset or two this time since the next CWC will be restricted to 10 teams.  So much for developing the game.

Lords 1983
Would spectators
kindly keep off the square...

FB's favourite World Cup moment - apart from Scotland's efforts - are still India's inspiring victory over the W Indies at Lords in 1983.   A low scoring match but full of character,  Kapil Dev's catch of the Master Blaster and all topped off by a world class pitch invasion.

At this point FB has to declare that he would dearly like England to win the trophy.  They have been bridesmaid 3 times but never the bride.  It's about time that was changed.  But readers will understand that as a Scottish person the words England and World Cup do not lie easy on Fantasy Bob's tongue.  For all Scottish people are required by law to repeat daily that England won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, and just in case we should be so remiss as to let it slip our mind, the BBC does regular catch up sessions led by John Inverdale and Gary Lineker.  This allows all Scottish people to get the facts straight again in our haggis-softened brains.  A recently added sub-clause (the Jonny Wilkinson clause) requires us to remember also that England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003.  This law is less severe, forgetting is not a capital offence, and only applies in rugby world cup year -which 2011 is.   But England has never won the Cricket World Cup.  And from FB's serious study of the runes, despite the hope that built up at the end of last year, they seem unlikely to this time.

The contestants are divided into 2 groups of 7 which means that there will be lots and lots and lots of matches - 49 in all.  Regretably for the next 4 weeks only a few of them will be of any consequence.   India v England next Sunday will tell us something.  WIndies v Bangladesh on 4 March may be the most significant and could have a big bearing on who goes into the quarter finals from that group.  The structure of the competition seems designed to maximise the possibility of joint hosts India and Sri Lanka meeting in the final.  Which may not be unreasonable since, when all things are said and done,  they may well be the 2 best teams.

India showed their mettle by taking 360 off New Zealand in the warm up game.  They have a batting line up to dream of and the most varied spin attack in the competition.  An asset in the subcontinent. But the pressure of playing at home could be their undoing.  No team has ever won this trophy at home.

Sri Lanka is still an ODI force to be reckoned with, although maybe not as explosive in their batting order as of old.  But they have real match winners in Dilshan and Murali - and the added incentive of giving Murali a send off on his last appearances will be a big rallying call.

But Australia remain Fantasy Bob's tip.   They showed the depth in their command of this form of the game by dumping England in the post Ashes pantomime.   They are just tough in ODI - a quality that they lost in the Ashes. Their main weakness is in spin bowling since their attack is pace dominated.  Ponting's captaincy will also be put under the microscope.  But the big guessing point is how much they will be able to make up for the loss of Mike Hussey to injury.  Overcome that and they can go all the way.

If the winner is not from among these three FB will be surprised.  He disregards Saffy protestations that they are peaking; Pakistan are just unpredictable - but Afridi could easily turn out to be the player of the tournament.  A huge and volatile asset; the Kiwis do not come into the tournament on the crest of form but should be good enough for a last 8 place.

It will be interesting to see if England have overcome their post-Ashes sag.  Refreshed after their extended 3 day break at home, they absolutely walloped Canada by 16 runs.  Pietersen opening looks a risk - if he fails, who pushes the score along before Prior comes in?  Is Colly back?  Morgan will be sorely missed after his extremely productive winter doing precisely nothing.  But Prior at least is in his right place down the order.  If England could bowl Swan 20 overs at each end they could get far, but there is a big ask of the other bowlers in non-English conditions.   Broad got 5 Canucks, but 5 Aussies?  A quarter final with Australia is expected and form - an indifferent guide of course - points only one way.

But don't go to the bookies on the strength of these views, FB thought Scotland were favourite to beat Wales on the rugby field last Saturday so, to put it politely, he is an indifferent forecaster.

FB will comment from time to time on the proceedings as they unfold.

Champs last time - open wide

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tasmanian Devils

Tasmania? Van Diemen's Land?  Hitherto FB associated the island with Irish folk songs, Ricky Ponting, David Boon and the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.  Not a bad set of identifiers you would have thought.  Maybe not a strong reason to stir FB's wanderlust to hie to the island paradise, but sound claims to fame none the less.

But things have changed.  Tasmania now boasts a highly individual new museum - the Museum of Old and  New Art (MONA).  Reports describe it as the largest private museum in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is the brainchild of Aussie professional gambler David Walsh.  FB knows nothing about Mr Walsh, far less how a career buying lottery tickets could generate enough cash to endow a museum of this sort. For this museum is something else.

Part of the new museum site
Among its exhibits are a piece by Belgian artist Wim Delavoye (no, not a name familiar to FB either) which mimics the human digestive system.  The curators have to feed it and it produces excrement every day at 3pm.  Nice.  Another work is an unmarked toilet in a row of cubicles which uses mirrors to give the user a close up of the critical action.  Even nicer.  But it is not all toilet based - there is also a sculpture of the mangled body of a suicide bomber - in chocolate - and 150 anatomically correct  porcelain sculptures of women's nether regions.  FB feels weak and just hopes that somewhere there is a nice gentle watercolour or two to admire.

The museum is organised round a series of Pavilions - but shamefully there is no cricket pavilion.  FB therefore challenges Mr Walsh to repair this oversight and commission modern artists of M Delavoye's calibre to produce cricket inspired works.  Will he rise to the challenge?

This failing is particularly sad since Tasmania has a proud cricket heritage starting from the first European settlement in 1803. The first recorded match took place in 1806, although it is most likely that unrecorded matches were already being played at this time. Many of these may well have been organised between hotel licensees in order to create profits through the sale of food and beverages, and through betting on the outcome.  Shocking and FB finds this hard to believe. 

Despite the fact that Tasmania played in the very first Australian first class match, against Victoria in 1851 (which they won), it took a long time for them to gain recognition in inter-state competition.  But in 1969 they became a founding member of the domestic one day tournament and have performed well in it, particularly recently, winning it four times. They are current champions.  Tasmania were admitted as full participants in the Sheffield Shield in 1979-80, which they finally won for the first time in 2006-07.

Tasmania's finest players remain Ponting and Boon but there are several Tasmans in the current international squads - Hilfenhaus, Paine, Doherty, Krejza.
Luke Butterworth

Scotland has considerable affinity with Tasmania  - many emigrants headed there in the 19th Century and a significant number of place names are obviously Scottish.  And there have been recent reports of the island developing a malt whisky industry.  Early histories report cricket being played in June and July,  to reflect the emigrant's Northern calendar and contemporary accounts record the atrocious conditions of wind and rain - just like the cricket season in Scotland in fact.   

The Scottish Saltires side has hired Tasmanians as its overseas player - present Tasmanian skipper George Bailey has played  the last 2 seasons and in 2011 Luke Butterworth will do the job.  Come on Luke - a couple of hundreds will do nicely.
Danny Buckingham 

But there's more.  A long time ago, almost before the dawn of time, when FB played at Royal High and professionals were starting to become more prominent in the then East League, the club's first hiring was Tasmanian Danny Buckingham   He probably averaged over 100 for RH such a dominant bat was he.

Danny is now a Tasmanian Hall of Famer.  Perhaps they'll put him in the museum some time.  Good on you, mate.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Export of Scotland comment

Some of Fantasy Bob's readers may be wondering how the recent posting Export of Scotland has escaped the attention of serial commenter and cricket encyclopaedia Iain.  Could it be that FB has finally achieved perfect marks?  Of course not, don't be silly.  Iain is sunning himself in some fleshpot evidently ruled by a despot since it suppresses comment.  However he has smuggled the following bulletin to FB which in a true spirit of revolutionary fervour he shares with you now:
Other Scots who started in Scottish Club Cricket and played for counties were T B (Terry) Racionzer (Sussex) and W D F (Bill) Dow (Essex), both originally of Clydesdale. Neither had particularly great (or long) county careers and both returned to play in Scotland. And Jimmy Allan played for both Warwickshire and Kent. Magnus tells me that he played the odd game with or against all 3.

On a point of clarification, Alastair Storie was born in Scotland but emigrated to South Africa with his dad (Hank) before he started playing.
FB wishes Iain a happy holiday.

Eleven against Thebes

Fantasy Bob notes with less than his customary enthusiasm that the London Olympiad of 2012 is rapidly approaching.  Tickets are shortly to go on sale.

To understate things, FB is not a great fan of such events and, if he is honest, thinks that the money could be better spent developing sport at the grassroots level rather than  pandering to the bureaucrats of the IOC and building large stadia which regularly become financial liabilities.  However we are where we are.  But it is unforgivable is that cricket is not part of this sportsfest.  If synchronised swimming, rhythmic gymnastics and even golf (for goodness sake) are, how does the greatest of all sports miss out?

Cricket has appeared only once at the Olympics.   In 1900 Devon County Wanderers, masquerading as Angleterre (no TeamGB then) beat the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques, presumably France, by 158 runs in a 2 day game at the Vélodrome de Vincennes, a cycling track in Paris. Montague Toller took 7 for 10 in France's second innings of 26. The French team included such typically French names as Anderson, Attrill, Browning, Robinson and Henry Terry.  There does not appear to have been a candidate for the bronze medal.
Zeno of Elea
- contemporary photograph
FB accepts that this is not a very strong basis for a strong Olympic tradition, but he suspects that the continuing overlooking of cricket has more to do with the fact that cricket missed out in the original Olympiad in 776BC.  Historical sources are unclear on the extent to which cricket developed in the ancient Greek world.  But the fount of so much that is positive in our culture - democracy, philosophy, drama, science - can hardly have been blind to cricket's supreme virtues.  FB is therefore sure that the Greeks were working on the basis that cricket would be included in that first Olympiad.  FB's researches have revealed that, unfortunately, a member of the games development committee was Zeno of Elea.  Now Zeno had lots of good qualities, being a passable middle order hitter, but when he confused his philosophical work with his cricket development work, disaster struck. 

Zeno is most celebrated for his series of paradoxes, 2 of which are particularly important here.   The first is the so-called dichotomy paradox:

As Zeno would put it, suppose Hercules (an star batsman in the KP mould) wants to take a quick single. Before he can get to the other end, he must get halfway there. Before he can get halfway there, he must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a fourth, he must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on.  To make a run, therefore, he has to complete an infinite number of tasks, which Zeno maintains is an impossibility.  This sequence also presents a second problem in that it contains no first distance to run, for any possible first distance could be divided in half, and hence would not be first after all. Hence, the run cannot even begin. The paradoxical conclusion then would be that travel over any finite distance can neither be completed nor begun, and so all motion must be an illusion.  So according to Zeno it wasn’t even possible to score a run.  This rather set the committee back a bit. 
That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal.

Things got worse when Zeno then expounded his cricket ball paradox (more usually referred to as the arrow paradox).  
If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying cricket ball is therefore motionless.
In other words, for motion to occur, an object must change the position which it occupies. In any one instant of time for the ball to be moving, it must either move to where it is, or it must move to where it is not. However, it cannot move to where it is not, because this is a single instant, and it cannot move to where it is because it is already there. In other words, in any instant of time there is no motion occurring, because an instant is a snapshot. Therefore, if it cannot move in a single instant it cannot move in any instant, making any motion impossible.
Frieze showing net practice at Thebes
It was when the experimental game was in progress in front of the committee that Zeno used this argument to suggest to Spartan batters waiting their innings that the fast bowling wasn’t that much of a problem since the ball could not be in motion and so it could not actually hurt them.  Some of the Spartans, being Spartans, took this at face value and were surprised when the Athenian bowler’s short pitched off cutter got up a bit and hit them in the Peloponnese.  The committee searched vainly for protective clothing but unfortunately the technology of the time could not fashion an effective box and the committee rather lost interest.  Their games development programme was ordered alphabetically and next was discus throwing, on which the committee had more success. 

Zeno’s services were dispensed with and cricket never took its rightful place in the original Olympiad.  Indeed it lay undeveloped until some clever clogs in post enlightenment Europe disproved Zeno's conjectures to everyone's satisfaction using among other things the theory of convergent infinite series.  (Please don't ask FB to explain).  So, unless Zeno (or Boycott) is at the other end, runs can be scored - a clear call helps; and fast bowling might hurt.

And cricket at the Olympics remains one of the great might-have-beens.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Thanks partner

The Hollywood version
 read the book
Even though it lacks any cricketing scenes, Fantasy Bob considers the greatest novel ever written to be Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Test Match Quality from first word to last. 

In one of the book's many great passages Tolstoy describes a high society wedding in the Russian church.  He brilliantly entwines the broad comedy of the spectators, the nervous tension of the betrothing couple and the mystical detail of the Orthodox ceremony.  FB noted with interest that at one point in the service the couple are required to stand on a small mat in front of the priest to receive part of the blessing. (In this particular wedding the mat was made of pink silk, so we're not talking coconut fibre doormats here.)  The belief was that whoever stepped onto the mat first would become the dominant partner, so the actions of the bride and groom were keenly watched from all sides.  Whether bets were taken and  action replays were organised to determine close results, Tolstoy does not say.

The best pairing ever?
Suttcliffe was so good
he didn't even need a bat
But this got FB thinking about partnership in cricket.  A very important part of the game.  Lots of coaching speak nowadays seems to be about building partnerships - and different batsmen fit together for better or worse.  Whether there is a pink silk mat at the dressing room door which determines such things, FB is unable to say, but a batsman can be a dominant or quiet partner.  Some of the great partnerships illustrate this Mr Nice and Mr Nasty act.  For example, Mathew Hayden and Justin Langer had 42 partnerships of 50 or more, 14 of which were 100+, in their 122 innings together.  Hayden would generally be Mr Nasty bludgeoning bowlers to all parts while Langer would have been that bit quieter - Mr Nice. 

But a batsman can change role.  Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook are a highly effective combination - they have 12 100+ partnerships in their 101 innings together.  Strauss is now the more aggressive of the pair.  5 years ago he was the more passive in his equally effective partnership with Trescothick - 8 century stands in 52 innings.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the most effective partnership in world cricket at present is Tendulkar and Dravid who have put on 100 together 19 times.  Further back, West Indies' partnership of Greenidge and Haynes amassed 6482 runs between 1978 and 1991 although they average only 47.31 together.  In 23 partnerships Javed Miandad and Shoaib Mohammed averaged 91.82, and put on 8 centuries together.  But the strongest partnership was English - in opening the England innings 39 times together Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe had 15 century partnerships and went over 50 11 times, averaging 87.86.   Clearly they stepped on the mat absolutely in synchrony.

Botham c Marsh b Lillee

Partnership is important in bowling too.  Unfortunately the statistics are not presented in a way that can easily demonstrate this.  But some of the great double acts which gave batters no relief come readily to mind -  Ramadhin and Valentine, McGrath and Warne, Trueman and Statham, Roberts and Holding, Younis and Akram, Lillee and Thomson. For all that the last pair trip off the tongue together,  they were not as effective as Lillee and Alderman who in the 1981 Ashes series took 81 English wickets between them  in the 6 Tests.

Just to complete the theme, bowlers and fielders need to work together too.  The most important pairing is obviously bowler and keeper where the most productive partnership ever is c Marsh b Lillee - which featured in the scorebooks 95 times;  c Glichrist b McGrath occurred 90 times.  Of non wicket-keeping partnerships, the key man is Dravid with 55 snaffles off Anil Kumble and 50 off Harbhajan.  Thanks partner.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine's Day

For cricket lovers everywhere, Valentine's Day is not about heart emblazoned cards sent by anonymous admirers, groaning though FB's letter box will be this morning with these very articles.  Far less is it about candle lit dinners and hands across the table. 

a high square on action
Instead it is the day inaugurated in memory of Alf Valentine, legendary W Indian left arm spinner whose feats during the 1950 tour of England live on in the annals.  Valentine was 20 when he was a surprise choice for this tour having played only 2 first class matches - in which he had taken a sum total of 2 wickets.  But he bowled himself into the team for the first test by taking 13 for 67 in the 2 innings of the final warm up match against Lancashire.  This turned out to be his best ever first class return.  He took the first 8 wickets, 5 of them before lunch on the first day. He finished with 8 for 104 in the innings, and 11 for 204 in the match off 106 overs. He was the first bowler ever to take 8 wickets in his Test debut innings.  Although England won that match, W Indies won the next three to give them their first series victory in England.  In all, Valentine took 33 wickets in the series at an average of 20.42.  He had a very economical action and was renowned for long spells.  In that series he bowled 422.5 overs, conceding only 1.59 runs per over.  Wisden identified him as one of the cricketers of the year in 1951.

Toiling at the other for much of these matches was another spinner Sonny Ramadhin.  This was a break through series for W Indian cricket and was also of huge political significance in the context of the post war rearrangements of the British Empire.  FB will not be the first who has observed that this Caribbean leap forward was based on a spin attack - not the unrelenting pace battery that would lead the W Indies on to world domination over the following decades.

In 1954 Valentine became the first West Indian to reach 100 Test wickets, in only his 19th Test.  But then the magic began to leave him and he completely lost any confidence or impact in his final Tests in 1957.  He died in Florida in 2004 at the age of 74.   He had found a role fostering kids in trouble with the law.

In 2009 the Alfred Valentine Peace Park was inaugurated in his honour near his birthplace in Spanish Town Jamaica.  Click this link to see a photo montage of that event - accompanied by the celebrated Victory Calypso - Cricket Lovely Cricket - composed following W Indies 1950 triumph.  This song contains the celebrated oft quoted line -   'Those little pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine.'

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Loyal readers take care.  There may be another Fantasy Bob somewhere in cyberspace.  FB discovered this when opening a Twitter page for himself.   why, you might ask would he do anything so shamefully modern?  Well if it's good enough for Kevin Pietersen, it's good enough for FB.  But FB was not allowed to use the name Fantasy Bob, could this be because it had been bagged by some interloper?  Who knows where this imposter is?  Probably on another planet.

So if you want to follow FB on Twitter you must go to @realfantasybob.  Tweets will be occasional.

The food of love

Is a cricket ball
a better aphrodisiac?
The great playwright Harold Pinter once said, 
I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth - certainly greater than sex, although sex isn't too bad either.
Fantasy Bob endorses that sentiment entirely.  Pinter, a keen cricketer, was of course the master of the pause in his plays.  So much so that audiences occasionally began to get up to leave, thinking the play had finished, so long did pauses become.  But there is no truth in the rumour that Pinter's inspiration for the pause came from him accidentally having seen FB at the crease one day and becoming entranced by that extended moment of time between the ball pitching and FB determining that an attempt to hit it was appropriate.  No truth at all.

But as usual FB digresses; Pinter's quote came to mind as FB scoured the shops for a suitable token to send anonymously to his true love on 14 February.  It is pretty miraculous that this anonymous thing still works and his true love doesn't cotton on to who might have left the card on the breakfast table as her pulse visibly quickens at the thought of a mysterious admirer - but there you go, hope and love conquer all.

And cricket and love are the same.  In youth, they inspire the same deep hope, the same yearning, the same tight rope of despair and elation.  They both mature so that in later years there is a comfortable familiarity - you know which are your scoring strokes and which balls to leave.  The run up to the wicket is practised and rhythmic and with any luck it won't put your back out this week.  Net practice becomes less interesting and the tea interval of greater importance.

Taking guard
in Twelfth Man
All this has been observed by the poets down the ages.  Indeed they have pretty much obsessed with the love side of it - sadly ignoring cricket.  But FB has rediscovered a lost lyric by that great Warwickshire batsman William Shakespeare.  Working from Will's ink splattered manuscripts was always a challenge for the copyists and perhaps they can be excused for misreading the title of his cricket play Twelfth ManTwelfth Night is a great play but it could have been greater had the ink smudge been in a different place on the page leading to the loss of this wonderful opening speech by lovelorn batsman Orsino:

If cricket be the food of love, play on;
Give me a six to hit, that, surfeiting,
A fifty maybe scored, and so, tea.

That ball again;--it is a lover’s call;
O, it came onto the bat like my sweet love,
Who with her quicker one disguised,
Undoes my defence and squares me up - how’s that?
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O she bowls with pace, how quick and fresh is she!
That, notwithstanding a wayward line
I nicketh one to slip, nought goes in the book,
O that I could get out to the pitch of it,
But fall onto the back foot and her low bounce
Undoes me and she’d bowl me! So full of hopes is batting,
That love and it are high-fantastical.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

6 nations musings part 2

Fantasy Bob has discovered many times the truth of Tammy Wynette's torch song:
Sometimes it's hard to be a Scotsman, putting all your faith in fifteen men...................
Being at Murrayfield today was one of the hardest of the hard.  Seasoned supporters know that it is more than dangerous to approach the stadium with a faint stride of confidence, but we still fall for it.  3 minutes into the game it had gone, as Scotland lost the ball and Wales swept forward.  Already Tammy was exhorting us
Stand by your team, give them 2 arms to cling to,
cos their own arms are going to drop the ball.................
Despair took its familiar seat beside us, as Scotland's ineptitude saw them go 16-0 down in the first quarter.  Perhaps we got nothing in that period from a referee who has been hard on us in the past, but even he felt some pity and reduced Wales to 13 men to even things up a bit.  Even then, the possibility of scoring a try seemed remote.  Can we really have used our season's ration of tries up in Paris last week?   FB is trying hard, but he cannot find a positive to wring out of the afternoon.   In cricketing terms, all our batters swung round straight ones, all our bowlers bowled half trackers and half volleys, all our fielders put down every chance.

Earlier this week, Andy Robinson commited himself to Scotland's cause until 2015.  Looks like he's still got a lot of work to do.  Perhaps he should play Tammy Wynette in the next match.  Could she do worse?

Wynette -
set for the front row in Scotland's next match

Export of Scotland

It is worrying that Fantasy Bob's recent post on the birthplace of cricketers has stimulated his small amount of grey matter further.  Diehard readers may also recall FB's musings on star cricketers who became honorary Scots by plying their trade in Scotland.  The set demands to be completed.  What about Scots who found cricketing success elsewhere?  
Denis Law - Scotland's greatest export

At one time Scotland was a leading exporter of quality footballers, a tradional industry that has fallen the way of the shipyards, coal and steel and is no more.  Is there an equivalent tale to tell in cricket?

At Test level FB can identify Mike Denness, Ian Peebles and Gavin Hamilton as real home grown Scots who made it to the top - albeit with mixed fortunes.   Ian Peebles was born in Aberdeen (just like FB and Denis Law - a triumvirate of great Scottish sporting heroes).  He was Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1931.  He played 13 Tests, his leg spin getting him 45 wickets at 30.91.  Bradman said that he couldn't read him - that suggests he was a bit good.

Ian Peebles
Then there are Scots with a little less of the thistle in them - Bodyline skipper Douglas Jardine spent some of his childhood in St Andrews (while benefitting from the classical Scottish education of Winchester and Oxford) so he counts.  FB recalls Tony Greig being claimed as Scottish through his family background - an early Jockbok.  But if Grieg did not spend some of his formative years in Scotland then he doesn't count for FB's purpose - for there must be any number of players with Scottish parentage - particularly in New Zealand.  But Greig might be all right because FB has a faint memory of being told many years ago that Greig did some time at Edinburgh Academy.  Does anyone know if this is fact or fancy?

Below Test level, Stirling's Dougie Brown played ODI for England.  FB cannot bring to mind any other Scottish internationals.

Then what of those who made their way in the county game?  FB can recall in his lifetime Brian Hardie, Willie Morton, and Dallas Moir all taking the trip south.  Hardie was by some way the most successful playing nearly 20 seasons for Essex and forming for some of that time a formidable opening partnership with Graham Gooch.  The others had shorter stays.

Perhaps there are more players of Scottish origin in the county ranks now than at any time - John Blain, Qasim Sheik, Kyle Coetzer, Callum Macleod, Nav Poonia, Josh Davey have all been on county books.  Dewald Nel has been with Worcester and Kent but injuries have interrupted the impact he has been able to make.  Is this the beginning of an export trade?  One thing is certain - if Scotland is to achieve the ambition of some to gain full county status, then we need to produce more players at this level.  This export trade needs to grow. 

FB would be pleased to hear from his readers about any obvious names his failing memory has overlooked.