Saturday, 13 August 2011


Fantasy Bob is reconciled to disappointment.  Unkind cultural commentators say that Scottish people imbibe disappointment with their mother's milk.  They know it length-wise and breadth-wise.  Inside out and upside down. There is no form of disappointment that they are not familiar with.  When it comes to disappointment they are beyond being disappointed.

For reasons that are lost in the mists of time Fantasy Bob has compounded this rich natural inheritance by attempting to play cricket - a game so rich in opportunities for disappointment that it makes the serious thinker wonder that it must surely be the product of the Scottish reformation.  Sitting mortified in the dressing room with your head between your hands, and your tail between your legs it is unconvincing to think that the cause of your disappointment could have been devised in the idyllic pastoral setting of the Hampshire Downs.  Surely a windswept moor in Lanarkshire is more consistent with the mental and spiritual torture that you are enduring.

It goes without saying that FB has faced most of the forms of disappointment that this cruel game can devise.  His ineptitude, his misfortune, his lack of preparedness, his clumsiness, in short his general hopelessness is exposed at some point in most matches.  So inured is he by this long experience that he no longer regards these humiliations as cause for disappointment. Indeed he is disappointed if nothing disappoints him.  This is the Scottish way of looking at things. 

But even FB has not experienced the 2 contrasting forms of disappointment on display at Edgbaston yesterday.

A disappointed Cook
Alastair Cook is sick to the back teeth that he got out for 294.  294.  Two hundred and ninety four - just 6 short of 300 (and for that matter, and to assist the arithmetically challenged, 106 short of 400).  Not an innings of dash, flair or excitement but a relentless accumulation.  A credit to concentration and control - but what went wrong with the ungainly slash which was his undoing.  Such misadventure gives him just cause to be disappointed - he shows that he has some Scottish blood in those veins.

Virander Sehwag is disappointed even beyond his back teeth.  He achieved the monumental feat of a King Pair.  2 balls faced - 2 times out.  So much for the man who was going to be the saviour of the Indian batting line up - he looked as unprepared as the rest of his team mates.   There was some disappointment all around the ground, for the crowd would truly love to have seen Sehwag at his best - a contrast in batting styles to Cook which could have brightened a grey day.  It was not to be.  Disappointing.

A disappointed Sehwag.
A King Pair is a real achievement - Sehwag's is only the 13th in Test history.  By some quirk, England also inflicted the most recent  - getting Ryan Harris twice at Adelaide in December.  This is the only achievement that Sehwag and Harris are ever likely to have in common.

But the most fantastic King Pair was many years ago. Playing for South Africa against Australia at Old Trafford in 1912 (there was a triangular tournament that year), Tommy Ward was dismissed first ball in each innings by leggie Jimmy Matthews. He gave Matthews a hat-trick in each innings.  This was Ward's debut Test.  Just as well he was South African (although born in Rawalpindi) for that's more disappointment than even a Scottish person could stand.

But as Martin Luther King said, 'We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.'

After all, there's always the next innings.

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