Monday, 14 March 2011

A Last English Summer and a Carlton Friend

Fantasy Bob has been spending the ever lengthening bus journey to his place of work reading the excellent A Last English Summer by Duncan Hamilton.  A fine read in which Hamilton recounts his thoughts as he tours cricket matches across the length and breadth of England and considers the present state of health of our wonderful game.  Village cricket and Tests, and all formats in between:  nostalgia, worry, optimism, despair all mix in a mixture of criticism, reporting, reflection and anecdote. Test Match Quality.

In chapter 11 - On the Shoulders of Giants - Hamilton finds himself in Hampshire - in Hambledon in fact - the cradle of cricket.  He reflects on the origins of the game and how Hambledon beat the All England side on 29 occasions in the late 18th Century. He describes the charm of the Ridge Meadow ground to where they moved in 1850 from the poetically titled Broadhalfpenny Down.  The club is more modest than in the 1700s, competing in Division 2 of the Southern Electric League, and he recounts their league match with rivals Hook and Newnham Basics. 

As the bus bumps and grinds across the pot holes into Princes Street, FB's pulse suddenly quickens as a name he recognises leaps from the page. 
'Hambledon have a new overseas player this summer too: Australian all-rounder Blake Dean, hired from Grade Cricket in New South Wales.'
Blake Dean came to Carlton as overseas amateur for the 2010 season and a fine chap he is too.  Hamilton describes with relish Blake's innings:
'If as Shakespeare insisted a rose is a rose is a rose then a back foot drive through the covers is just as supremely elegant whether Dean executes it at Ridge Meadow or at Lords.' 
After a compelling innings Blake is bowled for 70, top scoring in the Hambledon score of 187 for 8.

There then follows an extended interval for rain - something that Blake saw relatively little of in Edinburgh last summer since the weather gods were saving themselves to inflict on Scotland the worst winter since 1963.  Blake then opens the bowling and takes 2 for 19 in the Hook innings as they fail to get their rain adjusted total.

Blake was a fine asset to Carlton - particularly helping the go ahead Edinburgh club to reassert thier dominance in the T20 format in Scotland.  In the national final against Forfarshire Blake topscored with 52 off 35 balls in the Carlton total of 152.

FB has recounted in these pages the challenges Carlton have faced in recruiting an amateur for the 2011 season.  Readers maybe amazed to learn that these reports were wholly made up.  The pandas will not be coming to Carlton.  However in the real world, FB understands that a player has been identified and a deal is done, but he will not divulge any more until the club make their own announcement.  FB looks forward to meeting the new arrival.

Until then he sends his best wishes to Blake Dean.

Blake Dean giving it some

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