Friday, 15 April 2011

Too close for comfort

Fantasy Bob is sorry to hark back to the Cricket World Cup - he realises that it is soooooooo yesterday. 

Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley,
1st Duke of Wellington,
just one of the lads
But during the eternity of its duration, England gained a reputation for close results.  There is of course a tradition in the British Isles of close results - it was the Duke of Wellington after all who described the Battle of Waterloo as a 'close run thing.'  The 50000 casualties of the engagement probably felt it was a bit too bloody close and that Wellington might well have used the power play at an earlier stage in proceedings. 

Wellington besides being soldier and statesman and stuff is a lad for the tidy quote.  He is credited with saying that 'the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton' - which is undoubtedly bollocks - Eton had no playing fields at that time.  To Wellington is also attributed the remark on inspecting his own fast bowlers, 'They may not frighten the enemy, but by God, sir, they frighten me!'  FB knows exactly how he feels as the beamers and long hops fly around his ears in the nets.

'For goodness sake, FB', you are saying with a slight frown of impatience, 'get to the point'.  Yes, close run things are a British thing.  The English World Cup run was a fine thing, but it is necessary to trump English glory yet again.  For when it comes to the number of very close ODIs played in succession, FB is delighted to discover, from a recent analysis in CricInfo, that it is FB's own dear Scotland which holds the record.

In January and February 2007, playing in Kenya in the Associates Tri-Series and the ICC World Cricket League Div 1, Scotland played a sequence of 6 matches, winning 5 and losing one all by a margin of 3 wickets or 10 runs or fewer.  Here is the sequence:

Won v Canada by 2wickets (1 ball remaining)
Lost v Kenya by 6 runs.
Won v Canada by 2 wickets (16 balls)
Won v Ireland by 3 wickets (0 balls)
Won v Canada by 7 runs
Won v Netherlands by 2 runs

They had more convincing wins and, regretably, defeats at either end of the sequence and eventually lost the final to Kenya by 8 wickets.  But this should not detract from the glory of this record.

England and Ireland trail Scotland in this list with sequences of 4 each - England's run was in 1991.  Remarkably Ireland's was in the same competition as Scotland's run.   Scotland were Div 1 runners up in 2007, sadly they slipped to 6th in 2009 so failing to qualify for this year's CWC.  This just shows how competitive the associates are with each other - and how the ICC has flunked the obligation to give them the opportunity to progress to the next level.

And this liking for a close call of course explains the other record that Scotland proudly holds - that of the population with the most severely bitten fingernails.

Ex PM's Gordon Brown manicure


  1. Napoleon famously asked, when a certain general was recommended to him, "But is he lucky?". Luck is a very important element in any contest, as FB will know. The record set out above is undoubtedly impressive, and all the more so given Scotland's history of bemoaning bad fortune (see Culloden etc.) Close sporting contests are ultimately decided as much by perseverence as by skill - and in this respect teams can make their own luck. These are matches to savour.

  2. Silly Point - yes indeed, although FB is not sure that there was much to blame luck for at Culloden - it was clearly a bowl first wicket.

  3. I'll take your word for it, though I'm struggling to remember who won the toss on that occasion.

  4. Leaving aside the point that there were Scots in both armies, the Jacobites' problem was that they came off the back of an overnight return trip to the wrong ground.

  5. Iain - indeed - the Jacobite Tour administrators made many errors and overcommitments which led to the players being exhausted for the big challenge - couldn't happen these days - or could it?