Come on Scotland! The Scottish Saltires visit Lords today to play MCC. Start of a busy few days on the road for the team since the CB40 programme opens on Sunday when they are at Durham before playing at Leicester on Monday. So it's maybe just as well that they have a sponsorship deal with ScotRail.
Fantasy Bob has been unable to unearth any historical significance to the match today. Unlike on Scotland's last visit to Lords, when they were the first team to play with a pink ball at the ground. Seismologists report earth activity that day consistent with gin soaked bodies spinning vigorously six feet beneath the ground.
In Sheffield Shield action
On the opposing side, as well as 2 of their own former captains in the shape of Gavin Hamilton and Ryan Watson, Scotland will face one of their recent nemeses Afghanistan paceman Hamid Hassan. Hassan was the first Afghanistani to play at Lords in 2009. In his most recent encounter with Scotland, the ICC Intercontinental Cup Final in December, he took the man of the match award with 5-45 and 3-39 in Afghanistan's victory. So Scotland's batters know what's coming.
|Hassan - |
can Scotland keep him out?
What of Scotland's prospects in the CB40? Recent seasons have not been greatly encouraging for the Saltires although they beat Leicester home and away last year. Scotland can compete, but it is hard for non-full time players to put it over full timers. Ireland's recent success has been based to a significant extent on succeeding in getting the majority of their players full time. So the objective must be to develop players who will be attractive to the county sides and play full time. It's a hard road but it can be done.
But don't let the scale of the challenge drag us down. FB is confident Scotland will compete this year. Come on Scotland!
Although it is many years since he has visited Lords, it remains one of FB favourite places on God's earth. For a number of years he managed to organise things so he had important business in London the week of the Lords Test. On one visit, relaxing in the Edrich stand following an exacting day's business the day before, the seat next to him was taken by a backpack-burdened young lady from Sydney who introduced herself as Imogen. She declared that she was on a project to visit every county cricket ground in England. She relished the spectacle in front of her as England's batting was given a going over by Waqar Younis (5-91) reserving special enthusiasm for the dismissal of Ian Botham - for this was the great man's final test appearance. A quiet ending to a great career, he made 2 and 6, and bowled only 5 overs in the match.
As play closed for the day, in that spirit of friendship for which Scottish people, other than FB, are justly renowned, and knowing that his home city housed no county ground, FB casually invited her to visit if she ever came to Edinburgh and gave her his phone number.
A week later Mrs FB was surprised to answer the phone and hear the news that 'This is Imogen from Sydney. I'm at Waverley station and I'm really looking forward to staying over.' On reflection, the word surprised in that sentence maybe an understatement. Slightly. However, Imogen duly arrived and set up camp while she dragged herself round the various tourist sights. In fact she stayed for ten full days. And then she was gone, back to the cricket grounds of England.........or somewhere.
However, Fantasy Bob has not been trusted to visit the home of cricket again.