Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Free as the wind

Fantasy Bob how expects radical improvement in England's performance for the rest of the tour following today's announcement that Tommy Sheridan is available for selection again.

Tommy Sheridan
leaving prison reunited with his bowling coach
There may be those among Fantasy Bob's readership who have not heard of Tommy Sheridan.  They may, for example, wonder if he is one of the many bowlers who took 5 wickets on debut last year, but whose names even FB finds hard to recall at the drop of a hat....Sheridan sounds Australian................or South African......or something. On the other hand there may be those who have forgotten him altogether, deliberately or otherwise.

For those who are struggling:  Tommy Sheridan is a firebrand left-wing Scottish politician.  He is frequently described as colourful, if for no other reason than that he is addicted to the tanning machine and so is usually a Jordanesque shade of orange.  Eighteen or so months ago Sheridan was jailed having been found guilty of perjury during his preceding successful defamation case against the News of the World who made allegations of his predelictions for sex clubs and the like.

Sheridan was released from prison today on licence to spend the last 6 months of his sentence at home secured by an electronic tag.  During his time inside, a lot of News of the World water has flown under the bridge, indeed the NOW is no more.  Tommy is therefore a man with a mission (again - or still) and has shown every inclination to carry on challenging many aspects of his case.

It was suggested at first that Sheridan would also be subject to a gagging order - ie he would not be allowed to speak in public, on pain of having to return to prison.  However this order has now been lifted and the celebration is immense.  Andy Flower is only one of the many who have welcomed this development.  He has already called the Scottish authorities to express his gratitude.  For it means that England's under pressure coach will have the benefit of Sheridan's views for the next Test match and the following ODIs as he tries to restore the credibility of his team's batting order.

Now, Tommy Sheridan may not know much about cricket, but what he doesn't know about spin is not worth knowing.

Radical improvement in England's prospects is therefore guaranteed.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Flower speaks out

Fantasy Bob reads that England coach Andy Flower says that he is 'not afraid' to change things following the poor performance in Abu Dhabi.

Flower said he was proud of the world-class cliches in the side, but the collapse against spin is the type of cliche he can do without.  He will be looking for something else for the next match.

These are the originally selected cliches who went down to a 72 run defeat on Saturday.
  • England in a spin
  • England on back foot
  • England lost in the desert
  • England have learnt how not to lose
  • Bell to bat higher
  • Bell to bat lower
  • Pietersen one innings off his best
  • Swan and Monty - meet the new spin twins
  • Strauss - Captain Confused
  • Anderson swings into action
  • England pluck defeat from jaws of victory

Flower said, 'Continuity of cliche has been one of our strengths in the past.  But we have to choose the cliches who can adapt to the circumstances.'

Cliche watchers can therefore look forward to the return to Test cricket of 'Bopara given another chance....'

Sunday, 29 January 2012

England Triumph

England delivered a decisive victory yesterday easily passing Zimbabwe's 51 all out ...............

Oh dear, it is all a bit of a shambles.  Cook said that they could chase 250 - Azhad said he thought 150 would be enough.............Did England believe that they could get the total?  This was the real thing from the first ball of the match on Wednesday, every ball mattered.

Even following the ball by ball report the final innings looked tough.  The names Rehman and Ajmal seemed to glow on the screen, while the English names barely registered.  Who needs pictures?  Dot after dot suggested that England's top order had never faced a left arm spinner or an off spinner before.

Who have they been practising against? Might it be an option for them to face Monty and Swann in the nets? They look pretty good.

Where have all our batters gone?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Isle of Wonder

Bosses at go-ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton yesterday announced their exciting plans for their opening ceremony.

A model for Carlton's opening ceremony
- the British Team -
 the White City 1908
Noting that the Government had recently doubled the budget for the event, a spokesperson for the club said, 'It is an awesome responsibility having so much money to waste, but we are fully committed to throwing it away.'

The spokesperson was tight-lipped about details of the ceremony, except to say that it would be called 'I'll wonder........ what the point is.'

He also revealed that the spectacle would involve dancing nurses.  The spokesperson said, 'With Fantasy Bob and other senior members of the All Stars Fourth XI participating, there is always the risk of a medical emergency, so we thought we'd better have help at hand.'  There are also plans for a bell to be installed at the Grange Loan ground - so far the planning committee has not reached a view whether the one playing Greensleeves or Auld Lang Syne is to be preferred.  Both are reasonably priced at HomeBase.

In a surprise move following recent controversy, the club announced that babies would be allowed in to all events without a ticket provided they made themselves available to play for the Fourth XI.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Hunting of the Snark

Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born 180 years ago today. As Lewis Carroll, Dodgson gave the world Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass and many classics of nonsense verse. Test Match Quality.

Alice Liddell age 7
The books originated in stories he told to the children of the Dean of Christ Church Oxford and the central character, the little girl who fell down the rabbit hole, was in tribute to Alice Liddell the Dean’s second daughter.

Cricketers will find it of interest that some time after the publication of these books, Alice Liddell married a cricketer Reginald Hargreaves – at Westminster Abbey, no less, in 1880. Whether her adventures down the rabbit hole had anything to do with this is not clear.
Alice Liddell as an adult

Hargreaves played 25 First Class matches for Hampshire, and also for the MCC and Gentlemen of England, and when he died in 1926 was still Vice President of Hampshire. His bowling style is described in the records as underarm. Alice’s sister Edith was also due to marry a cricketer but she died of measles before the wedding. Alice died in 1934 at the age of 82.

However Dodgson was not a cricketer, and, on the whole whatever other merits Alice’s adventures have, there is a disappointing lack of cricketing reference in his work. However FB now suspects that that this was due to self-censorship of some kind. His famous poem The Hunting of the Snark describes 'the impossible voyage of an improbable crew lead by the Bellman to find an inconceivable creature'.  The published edition, contains 8 parts (Carroll calls it an Agony in Eight Fits). But FB has discovered an early draft of an additional ninth section that seems to have been discarded for some reason. FB unselfishly shares this literary treasure with his readers. Even to FB’s untutored eye it seems to reveal a heightened sense of the psychology of cricketers as well as being uncannily prescient of recent events in Abu Dhabi.  Could the Bellman be a cipher for an English batsman?

They shuddered when the bowler said to the Press
I’ve a new ball for Bellman and friend
Forget the doosra, the teesra is dead
It’s the SNARK which they’ll have to defend

It’s a SNARK when it spins and a SNARK when it don’t
When it floats when it bounces or flips
It’s a SNARK if your middle stump is knocked down
It’s a SNARK when the edge finds the slips

So they hunted the SNARK in each over bowled
They studied each ball carefully
Was that the SNARK when the arm wasn’t high
Wasn’t that just like Murali? 

It’s a SNARK when it comes from the front of the hand
It’s a SNARK when the wrist flicks it out
It’s a SNARK if it pitches on off or leg stump
It’s a SNARK how can there be doubt

They batted till darkness came on and they found
Not a signal, or evident mark
By which they could tell if the ball that they faced
Was that demon deliv’ry the SNARK

Standing alone at the end of the day
In the midst of applause mixed with glee
It all softly and suddenly vanished away
For the SNARK was a BOOJUM you see

Thursday, 26 January 2012


The Lamington
Australia Day and Fantasy Bob thinks it fit to celebrate Australia's greatest contribution to human civilisation and progress.  Just in case your cricketing interest begins to flag, hang on - the cricket link will come.

The Lamington is a chocolate and coconut covered sponge cake of which all Australians should be rightly proud.  However it is not named after an Australian.  Like all good things on God's earth, particularly sweet and buttery things,  it has a Scottish connection.

Lamington is a small Scottish village in South Lanarkshire.  It is said to be the home of Marion Braidfute, wife of William Wallace.  William Wallace was once thought of as a Scottish freedom fighter but was  was found in the 1980s actually to be an Australian actor with a bad accent.

So, might Mrs Wallace have been a keen member of the baking section of the Lanarkshire WRI who developed this delicacy to keep her man well fed while he hounded the English out of Scotland's borders?  Historians are not convinced.  'You may take our lives but you'll never take our Lamingtons' - it doesn't really carry the ring that would echo down the centuries.  Besides, Mrs Wallace's attempts to make the cake would have been severely frustrated by the failure of the 13th Century Scottish supermarket to offer sugar, coconut and chocolate to their customers.  Life must have been tough.

The Rt Hon
The Lord Lamington
No, the Lamington is named after the 2nd Baron of Lamington, Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie.  Lord Lamington was Governor of Queensland from 9 April 1896 to 19 December 1901.  There are alternative accounts of the cake's origin during that time - whether the chef in Governor's House devised it making improvised use of the ingredients he had to hand for unexpected guests, or whether a kitchen maid accidentally dropped some cake in chocolate and made the best of it by covering her finger marks with coconut - readers can take their pick.  Whatever its origin, the Lamington has gone on to become a firm favourite in Australia and is at the heart of many fund raising drives by sporting clubs.

Lord Lamington himself was a ferociously conservative governor at a time that Australia was forming itself into something like its present Federation.  He saw reds and republicans under every bed.  But he was not exceptional in that stance and as a group the Governors did not endear themselves to the population.  But at least he had the cake.  So much so that republican politicians in Australia claim that extensive research had identified the Lamington as the solitary positive achievement of any Governor since the First Fleet arrived in 1788.

His Lordship was not particularly fond of the cake he gave his name to and, showing a decidedly Australian turn of phrase for one of his background, is reported to have described the cakes as  'those bloody poofy woolly biscuits.'

Ranjit -
a true prince and a princely bat
Readers might be weary for lack of a cricket angle in this posting.  Fear not.  A close friend of Lamington while he was at Oxford was the great batsman Prince Ranjitsinghi who visited him in Brisbane in November 1897 when  touring with the England team under Andrew Stoddart.    Although Brisbane was not on the Test itinerary at that time, England played a combined NSW and Queensland XI at what is now the Gabba.   The match was drawn and Ranjit scored 67 in England's innings of 636.

It is not known whether the Prince shared his host's view of the Lamington. If he did sample the confection while at Governor's House it did him no harm.  A fortnight later in the First Test at Sydney he scored his highest Test innings of 175 in England's only victory of the series.  They ended up on the wrong end of a 4-1 drubbing.  Did the newly popular Lamington play any part in the Australian team's success?  FB would not be surprised.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

To a Mouse

Scottish cricketers wha hae.  There's the chieftain o' the puddin race - haggis - on the tea table the nicht.

Robert Burns would have been 263 years old today, had he not died at the artistically fashionable age of 37.  As Fantasy Bob has reported previously, the cricketer has to search carefully in the Kilmarnock edition for works that relate to cricket.  Many authoritative scholars have concluded that there are none.  However FB is made of sterner stuff, and in the National Library he recently discovered a crumpled, claret-stained manuscript that has been authenticated as in the hand of the Bard.  In these never-seen-before verses, Burns seems strangely prescient for the fate of the Engish team locked in a tense Test struggle with Pakistan.  Here is this newly discovered masterpiece which shows his deep concern about what might happen in the next few days in Abu Dhabi.  Poets will hope his pessimism is unfounded.

To A Strauss

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
Oh, whit a panic's in thy breastie!
The test at Dubai ends o’er hastie
Thou'rt in a sochter
Noo Abu Dhabi won’t be tasty
      It could be slaughter                                                     

For whiles thy bowlers a’ got passes
Thy fancy batters played like arses          
When one is oot, the rest collapses
They lookit wabbit
KP played like he had paral’sis
An' Bell’s a rabbit

We micht hae looked for some resilience
Frae those wha tak IPL’s millions
But what we got wis far frae brilliance
Exceptin' Prior
Micht Panesar mak unco diff’rence
To fecht fire wi' fire?

Thon Ajmal won’t be ony easier
Bowlin' his new fangled teesra
Bell could hae an unco seizure
Hoo can he pick it?
Watchin’ sic torture brings nae pleasure
Leg afore wicket

Ah Straussie thou art insecure
Ye’re staunin' deep in thick manure
The best laid schemes o’ Andy  Floo'er
Gang aft agley
When spinners bowl into the stoor
Ye’ve feet o' clay 

For those who canna read Scots:

sleekit - shiny, smooth
sochter - mess, confusion
wabbit - tired
thon - that
staunin - standing
agley - wrong, askew
stoor - dust

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Year of the Dragon

We have just entered the Year of the Dragon. Indeed, to dip a little further into Chinese astrology, we have just entered the Year of the Water Dragon. Fantasy Bob discovers that he was born in the year of the Water Dragon.

This is hugely significant.  As FB researched the mysteries of Chinese astrology, he discovered that his fate was written in the stars at birth.  There is only one position that could fulfil that destiny - skipper of the Carlton All Star 4th XI.

Consider the evidence.  The Chinese dragon is not seen as a threatening evil being as we do in the west - the Chinese associate the dragon with power and wisdom. In Chinese astrology therefore a dragon person is special, they are powerful and wise. The Chinese Year of the Dragon person stands out. There is a certain aura about them. Is this not how the cricket world regards FB? FB is too modest to blow his own trumpet on the wisdom and power angles but concedes that the reference to aura suggests he should change his socks more frequently.

Water has a calming effect on the Dragon's fearless temperament allowing it to re-direct its enthusiasm, and makes it more perceptive of others. These Dragons are better equipped to take a step back to re-evaluate a situation because they understand the art of patience and do not desire the spotlight like other Dragons. Therefore, they make smart decisions and are able to see eye-to-eye with other people. However, their actions can go wrong if they do not research or if they do not finish one project before starting another.

It is uncanny. Any one who has seen FB turn down successive LBW appeals from highly excitable junior bowlers; or who has seen FB stoically declining a quick single out of concern for the hamstrings of his batting partner; or has seen his ability to secure the final empire biscuit on the tea table for himself through empathic and silent communication with his team mates; or who has been in the same dressing room with his calm, indeed comatose, indecision immediately before going out to the toss will know how accurate this description is.  These Chinese know a thing or two.  And they managed all this without actually meeting FB.

There are more babies born in Dragon years than in any other animal years of the Zodiac.  So a boom in  future 4th XI skippers is expected.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Jive Talking

Fantasy Bob woke from semi-consciousness to find the televisual machine in the corner leaking out a programme about the Nation's Favourite Bee Gees songs.

 'As Voted By You' was the strap line. FB blinked.  How long had he slumbered?  He has heard recent rumours of a referendum in Scotland about something or other - this must have been it and it has passed without FB exercising his franchise.

But he rapidly resumed his slumbering condition when it became clear that this programme would concentrate only on the 3 Gibb brothers who became renowned for their tight white trousers and falsetto voices. There was even some space for the fourth brother, Andy, who died at the sad early age of 30 in 1988.

Where is Herschelle?
There was little to interest the cricketer since the producers conspicuously failed to mention the cricketing Gibb.  FB concludes that this man must be considered the black sheep of the family. So black in his sheepiness, in fact, that this fifth brother, Herschelle, had to change his name slightly and withdraw to the safe distance of South Africa. Like all good pop stars, Gibbs' prodigious talents as a batsman and a fielder were accompanied by brushes with controversy.  His back catalogue of songs deals with both sides of his character.

Here are the nation's favourite Herschelle Gibbs songs, as voted by you:

10) I Gotta Get a Message to You - Gibbs was caught up in the match fixing affair with Hansie Cronje, who offered him $15,000 to score fewer than 20 in the 3rd ODI of the 2000 series in India. He tearfully claimed to the King Commission of inquiry into corruption in South African cricket that he did not follow through, in fact scoring a fine 74. As a result he was banned for only six months.
9) Islands in the Stream - During the 2007 World Cup his 6 hitting raised $1 million for the Habitat for Humanity housing projects as part of a contest run by tournament sponsor Johnnie Walker.  The award of citizenship by St Kitts and Nevis followed.
8) How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? - Gibbs is one of only three batsmen in ODI history to score hundreds in 3 consecutive innings, the others being Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar. He then had a chance to become the only batsman to score 4 hundreds in a row.  Gibbs fell just 3 runs short, finishing unbeaten on 97 when the winning runs were conceded by 4 wides.  Tragedy.
7) Night Fever - In the 2009 IPL Final, Gibbs was crucial to Declan Chargers' win by scoring an unbeaten 53 (off 48 balls). He also took a crucial catch to dismiss Mark Boucher.
6) More Than a Woman - a man for partnerships - Gibbs and Graeme Smith are the only pair in Test history to have stands of 300 on three occasions. He also holds the South African second wicket record, a partnership of 315* with Jacques Kallis.
5) Stayin’ Alive - his international career ended with his final ODI against India in February 2010. In season 2011-12 he has played for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League - his 69 off 48 balls against Melbourne Stars on 4 January won him the man of the match award.
4) Words - In January 2007, Gibbs faced a disciplinary panel after making racist comments during a Test against Pakistan. He defended himself by saying that his words were not directed at opposing players but at members of the crowd after teammate Paul Harris had been abused by them whilst fielding. But Gibbs was banned for two Tests, a verdict changed on appeal to one Test, one ODI and one T20.
3) Massachusetts - (a mis-hearing of massive-six-hits) - He became the first player to hit 6 sixes in one over in ODI cricket against the Netherlands in the 2007 World Cup. His six hitting continued throughout the tournament and he levelled Ricky Ponting's record of 28 sixes in World Cup history.
2) You Win Again - a fielder of the highest quality, Gibbs famously dropped a catch in a 1999 World Cup game against Australia, when he attempted to throw the ball up into the air in celebration before he had full control. Steve Waugh then went on to make a century and win the game for Australia, a victory which also gave the Australian side crucial momentum to go on and win the tournament.  Reports that Waugh had sledged Gibbs with the statement, 'You've just dropped the World Cup, mate.' have subsequently been denied by Waugh.
1) How Deep is Your Love? - Saffies are difficult to love - but this man at least deserves respect - 90 Tests, 6167 runs at 41.95, 14 hundreds; 248 ODIs, 8094 runs at 36.13, 21 hundreds 

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Hockney and painting
British painter David Hockney has been getting big licks this week following the opening of an exhibition of new paintings at the Royal Academy in London. Quite right - he is a fine artist, even though he has not painted a single picture remotely concerned with cricket. A sad reflection on modern Yorkshire, where he was born and bred. What would F S Trueman say?

Fantasy Bob admires Hockney as a painter.  He also applauds him for his outspoken rubbishing of the frauds of Brit Art and the conceptual movement.   Unlike Hockey, their failure to address cricket in their work has no redeeming features.

One of the points of interest about Hockney is that he is synesthetic. That is in response to musical tones, he involuntarily sees colours. This is one form of the condition where stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic involuntary experiences in a second pathway. Apparently there are 60 such types of this condition which have been reported, but the form enjoyed - or suffered - by Hockney is perhaps the most commonly known. A number of other creative artists are reported to have had a similar condition - among them Liszt, Scriabin, Kandinsky and Duke Ellington. How this has affected their creative lives is not wholly clear, although Scriabin was explicit in trying to link his works to colour and one of Ellington's greatest tunes was Mood Indigo. Hockney makes little use of it, although his set designs for opera and ballet are said to have been stimulated by his direct visual response to the relevant music.

Other forms of synesthesia are more exotic for example, letters or numbers can be seen as inherently coloured, or days of the week can evoke personalities or precise locations in space. Another recently discovered type means that visual motion is accompanied by sounds.

Fantasy Bob can find no reference to sportspersons, or cricketers, in particular having this condition. Is that surprising?   Perhaps not although some sportspersons are said to have heightened perception eg Viv Richards' eyesight was reported to be so acute that he could pick out faces in the crowd many metres away. He also picked out the cricket ball pretty effectively. Would he have been more effective had he heard it coming as well? How would it be if a ball spinning in different directions induced a different tone in the batsman's ear?  This could be highly useful particularly to English batsmen right at the moment. Off break - middle C, Leg break Eflat. Doosra F-sharp. Of course we would probably then find that they were all tone deaf..........and so would be no further forward.

Perhaps Hockney was right after all not to think about cricket painting.

A new Hockney non cricket painting

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Those Difficult Questions

Fantasy Bob reads that a survey conducted by the Big Bang Young Scientists and Engineers Fair has identified the science questions that children ask which their parents find most difficult to answer.  They are:
  • Why is the Moon sometimes out in the day?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Will we ever discover aliens?
  • How much does the earth weigh?
  • How do aeroplanes stay up?
Apparently 16% of parents when confronted by questions like this suggest that their beloved infant asks Daddy or Mummy - and 20% just make up an answer.  After the child reaches 16 they generally find out that the explanation that Fairies make it happen is not generally well received by the inquiring youthful mind.

Fairies might be the
scientifically correct answer
Fantasy Bob hangs his head in despair. These questions are pretty easy - find the answers on this link.  A far harder set of questions can be found revealed in another part of the survey.  No parent will welcome any of these questions if they are fired out by the inquiring and youthful mind as it surfaces from its immersion in X-box:
  • Why can't England bat against spin bowling?
  • Strauss says the top 6 was caught cold on the first session - what did they expect?
  • Why does KP think a hook with 2 men behind square is a safe option when he is on 0?
  • Would Ian Bell be better closing his eyes when facing Ajmal?
  • Is Bopara really the only alternative batter we have?
Scientists agree that there may be no answers to these questions.  So parents are perfectly entitled to refer to fairies in their answers.

Friday, 20 January 2012


'So, Fantasy Bob – here is your mission......should you choose to accept it.

'You are at 1665 metres above sea level.  The snow-covered ground in front of you slopes away at a gradient of 51%.  You are expected to go straight down - and will probably accelerate 0-90kmph in about 3 seconds.  In 150 metres the slope becomes 85%.  You will take off and are likely to be airborne for 80 metres.  On landing, probably travelling at well over 100kmph, you have to turn sharp left and cross a wall of sheet ice on a gradient of 62%.

'You have 2 planks tied to your feet and a stick in each hand …oh, and a plastic helmet.'

Er………….. FB’s first thought is ‘Can we go home now…………….please?’

This is the start of the great Streif on the Hahnenkamm, the downhill ski course in Kitzbuhel, reckoned to be the most testing in the world.  There is a history of huge crashes on the course.  The Hahnenkamm World Cup race, the blue ribband event on the skiing circuit takes place this weekend.  The winner will cover the 3.3km course in a bit under 2 minutes, descending 860 metres.  Maximum speed will be over140kmph.  Average speed will be over 100kmph. FB is not competing. 

The start, as described above, is terrifying enough, but it is not even considered the most testing part of the course.  That comes about 1 minute in when the legs are beginning to burn and the terrain and light change and several turns are required.  Then, just to bring things to a close, there is a huge jump on the finishing slope.  

If you want to know how the legs feel during such a journey – try sitting with your back to the wall knees at right angles but nothing supporting your bum.  Then try it with 3.5 times your body weight on your shoulders - for that is what the G-forces and the centrifugal forces do at these speeds.

Fantasy Bob came late to skiing.  Growing up in Aberdeen he thought that anyone going into the Cairngorms during winter must be mad.  Scraping the frost of the window to let in the light so he could find his rugby shorts was trial enough.  But who knows?  Had he taken it up earlier he might have been a contender.  The racers cover the course in 2 minutes.  Were FB to ski it he might take between 40 and 50 minutes.  He would then need to lie down for 2 weeks and be subject to a course of intensive psycho- and physio-therapy.  He might never recover.

This weekend Didier Cuche of Switzerland will  attempt to become the Hahnenkammseigler for a record 5th time and to emulate Franz Klammer’s distinction of winning it 3 times in a row which he did between 1975 and 1977.  Some hattrick.  Cuche is a true skiing great - see his winning run from last year here -  but probably not a cricketer...but more on cricket in Switzerland on another occasion.

At the starting gate on every run Cuche reminds himself ‘Pour le plaisir’ – ‘For the pleasure.’  

That is not quite what FB would be saying to himself were he to find himself at the top of the Hahnenkamm................

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Boxed Set

Fantasy Bob is enjoying some boxed sets of DVDs which he was lucky enough to receive at Christmas.  Not wishing to be outdone by the media moguls, here is FB's Witterings boxed set of his world famous discoveries of previously unregarded cricketing works by major literary figures - The Witterings Six.  

Here are links to those undiscovered masterpieces.

FB's researches are continuing and readers will be dismayed that there is the prospect of more treasures being discovered.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hail Caesar

Fantasy Bob notes that during this week in 27 BC (about the last time England played 2 spinners) – Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus is granted the title Augustus by the Roman Senate. The historian consider that this marked the beginning of the Roman Empire.  Empire biscuits became possible.

While official histories make no mention of empire biscuits, they make it clear that in all other respects Augustus was some guy - as well as regularly massacring those who  opposed him he enlarged the empire bringing Egypt, Dalmatia and Spain into it, amongst other places. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, and created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome. Much of the city was rebuilt under him.  On his death in AD14, Augustus was declared a god by the Senate and his names Augustus and Caesar were adopted by every subsequent emperor.

The eighth month of the Roman calendar was renamed Augustus in his honour. FB understands that it was his deathbed wish that his name was given to a month during the cricket season - he rejected all alternative offers suggesting 'You can't have August in February@  FB agrees.

But for all this, Augustus died unfulfilled - he was the victim of a spelling error - for he didn't mean empire he meant umpire.  It was his greatest wish to stand in an Ashes Test (or 'in ludo cinerum arbiter esse' as he snappily put it). Proof can be found in the statue illustrated which catches him practising dismissing a Germanic tribesman rapped on the pads by a shooter.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Pakistan v England

Oh no!  Fantasy Bob has escaped and is off one of those preview type things about real cricket.

In the words of Frank Sinatra -
Dubai, dubai, duo
Pakistan and England begin the first of their 3 Test series today in Dubai. Fantasy Bob doesn't really understand how a non-Test playing country has a number of Test standard stadia.  After all he is confident that a city like London would never invest in expensive sporting facilities which might be of minimal use to its citizens ....................................er........................

............as the days hours and minutes ticked down to the start of the game, FB was increasingly tense.  When would that phone call come?  He could not imagine that Flower and Strauss would want to go into such an important contest without hearing FB's advice on the pressing issue of whether they should play 2 spinners. They would of course completely disregard FB's views..but that is another issue altogether.

England's most recent spin twins
FB cannot recall the last time England went into a Test match with 2 slow bowlers - could it have been as far back as the days of John Emburey and Phil Edmonds in the mid 1980s?  So it won't happen now. England will play with their now usual 4 bowlers and it will be sign of Monty's progress over the last year that he will be allowed to carry the water bottles.  The injury to Bresnan makes this conclusion unavoidable.  However FB fears that the probability of one of the pacemen being injured in the match is high - whichever 3 make the team, probably Anderson, Broad and Tremlett, all have had a period of injury in the last 18 months.  England's bowling resources are richness indeed -  Finn, Onions and Panesar would all be worthy contributors but will swell the minimal crowd.

While Pakistan-England series are notorious for controversy, all pundits are hoping that this series lives up to its promise on paper.  England are worthy leaders of the Test pack, but need to prove that they can play on slower turning wickets.  The ODI series in India didn't fill anyone with confidence that they have come very far in that direction.  Pakistan are becoming a force again now that the horrors of the spot fixing shambles are behind them.

Have a Teesra.........
The series offers, amongst other tasty morsels, the battle for dominance between the 2 best off spinners in the world - Graham Swann and Saeed Ajmal.  Swann has had a quiet year, forced into more of a containing than an attacking role by England's team structure.  Saeed, Test cricket's leading wicket taker in 2011, is telling all the world that he has a new ball for the series - the Teesra - the third one.  Presumably this will be a straight ball - always in FB's experience the ball of maximum danger.  So watch out KP.

Misbah ul-Haq is leading Pakistan effectively, though, like Strauss, he is an overly conservative skipper.  So there is unlikely to be much risk taking on either side - and with the slow surface offered a draw seems the most likely outcome even to FB who, as worldwide readers fully understand, knows nothing about these things.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Disaster at Sea

Marine experts have rushed to the scene.  Investigations are underway.  The luxury vessel hailed a year ago as the best in the world lies stricken - it is holed and listing badly. But the once proud ship looks fit only for scrap after she hit the rocks in Perth to go 3-0 down in the series.

Opinions are divided on the reasons for the tragedy.

Indian cricketers cling to the wreckage
Was there a catastrophic failure in the engine room as aging equipment failed to deal with pace and bounce?  This lead to water pouring into the middle order leaving survivors fighting for their lives.   Or was it a navigation error as high on the bridge the BCCI misread the charts?  Did they set the wrong course?  Instead of the safe waters they imagined around the ports of T20 and the IPL, there are jagged rocks lurking beneath the surface.    Panic seems likely to be averted only by panic.

During the tragedy, only crewman Virat Kohli seems successfully to have found the life boats which the rest of the crew failed to deploy effectively.  Senior sailors seemed at a loss to deal with the conditions, forgetting lessons they should have learned in the sea scouts. The life jackets of patience and playing straight seemed to be discarded.

Changes before the mast are likely as the vessel is patched up to go to sea again in Adelaide next week.  An emergency rudder is being rigged following the banning of MS Dhoni for slow steering rates.
Full fathom five thy Dhoni lies;
Of his shots are catches made;
Those are snicks that were his drives;
Nothing of him that does fade,
But doth suffer the match fee fine
As he swings again across the line.
Pundits hourly ring his knell:
 Laxman, Sachin, Dravid as well.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Fantasy Bob would like to think he is gastronomically adventurous.  He will after all eat any Empire Biscuit - he is not fussy like some diners about which empire - Roman, Byzantine, Austro-Hungarian even British, it doesn't matter.

He was also part of moves to take a more radical approach to the cricket tea.

FB is therefore interested  to read of another very expensive restaurant which serves dishes of some originality to those who have £150 to spend on dinner. This is a restaurant which takes its diners to  pleasures of the plate far beyond the chicken nugget or the fish finger.

The Noma restaurant in Copenhagen has recently gained some attention for serving Christmas trees to its patrons.  FB fully supports this development - at this time of the year the streets are filled with abandoned Christmas trees, which stand forlorn and cold in wind, visibly getting balder by the minute waiting to be disposed of.  In all respects uncannily like FB in the slips.  Why not put them to better use?  The restaurant  serves freeze dried pine needles as part of its menu - presumably to those who like the taste of disinfectant.  FB is sure that they are working on a dish for the rest of the tree.

FB thinks that a British gastronome should follow this example.  There is lots of discarded cricket equipment which could form the basis of an exciting new cuisine.  For example, FB's cracked bat might well be marinated in a strong red wine, to bring out the linseed taste, then slow roasted with herbs.  Finely sliced and served with foie gras, it would present a most agreeable hors d'ouevre.  Then the cricket ball after a season being smacked about in the nets should have flavour enough to pep up a sorbet which might be accompanied by a coulis made of liniment and sunscreen.  Even FB's socks discarded after his marathon spell up the hill against the wind would form a flavoursome consomme.  A cook needs only a little imagination.

The Noma restaurant also serves dishes which are based on live ants or live prawns.  Fielders therefore should take care to keep moving in case they too end up in the soup.

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Clarke turns the screw on Dhoni
by pointing out the satellite
which transmitted Clarkson's programme
Fantasy Bob can report exclusively to his readers that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is considering following the action of the Indian High Commission in London by lodging a strongly worded protest with the British Broacasting Corporation. Well they might.

The Indian High Commission has formally objected to the programme by Jeremy Clarkson broadcast over the Christmas period which was filmed in India and made a string of jokes about Indian food, clothes, toilets, trains and the country's history.

FB understands that a series of so-called hilarious moments during the show included Clarkson driving a Jaguar around an Indian slum with a toilet fitted in the boot, and stripping off his trousers in public in front of two Indian dignitaries to show them how to use a trouser press. He joked that he used it to make naan bread.

The BCCI has said that the Indian batsmen had looked forward to this programme as a highlight of their Christmas viewing. However its offensive tone and mocking of Indian culture had so undermined their morale that their collapse to 161 all out against Australia on the first day of the 3rd Test was inevitable.

 MS Dhoni told Fantasy Bob in an exclusive interview, 'I used to be a bit of a fan of Clarkson but never again will I giggle at his offensive poses, his arrogant insensitivity to people different from him and his attention seeking rants. His continuing dismissal of climate change has distressed me to the extent that I increasingly forget where my off stump is. We demand an apology from the BBC and easier bowling from the Australians.'

FB is with the Indians on this.  If there is one media person who gets up FB's nose big time, it is Clarkson.  FB would rather face leg spin bowling from both ends than watch any of Clarkson's programmes. It is switch-off time even when he appears on Have I Got News For You or QI. And now through these ill considered and unfunny jokes he has single handedly undermined what FB and other cricket fans hoped would be a highly competitive Test series and made it a one sided torment.  The BBC should be ashamed of their role in this conspiracy.

FB is aware of the irony of giving Clarkson free publicity in this rant. He looks forward to Clarkson returning the favour by endorsing FB's Witterings in his over frequent media opportunities.

Friday, 13 January 2012


Fantasy Bob feels a heady sense of déjà vu.

Fantasy Bob feels a heady sense of déjà vu.

Now his worldwide readership does too. Old jokes never die.

Sri Lanka were all out for 43 in the first ODI against South Africa this week. Last November South Africa bowled Australia out for 47.  Among the world-shattering consequences of that event was this simpering post from FB on the incidence of prime numbers in cricket. 

FB could well eulogise about prime numbers again, their fascination is endless; but he suspects his worldwide readership of 3 (a prime of course) might find better things to do with their time. So he will confine his comment to recording that 43 is actually the lowest total in ODI cricket that is also a prime number, but Pakistan got there first in 1993 (a prime of course) when they were demolished by South Africa in Cape Town. 

But FB thinks it is time to talk of something else.

S Africa’s victory margin of 258 was the third highest run margin in ODI history. The highest ODI victory margin – 290 - was achieved in Scotland. In terms of achievement, not up with the invention of TV or logarithms or the steam engine perhaps, but significant enough.

Remarkably, Scotland itself was not involved in this match. New Zealand beat Ireland on 1 July 2008 at Mannofield in Aberdeen in the first match in a tri-series.
Aberdeen 100
on his way to his Aberdeen 100

NZ slammed their way to 402 with a stand of 247 for the first wicket between Brendon McCullum (his first ODI ton – his 166 contained 10 sixes) and James Marshall, before bowling Ireland out for 112. 

 The next day Scotland beat Ireland by 5 wickets on the back of a peerless century by Gavin Hamilton, also his first ODI ton, and Dewald Nel’s 4 for 25. 

But the pipes did not skirl for long and any feeling of smugness on the part of the Scots was obliterated in the final match of the series when New Zealand dumped them by 8 wickets. The Scots could only muster 101 in their innings, a total NZ overtook in the 15th over. 

Just to pile on the Scottish masochism, because after all that’s what we do best, Scotland’s lowest ODI total is a respectable 68 – imposed by West Indies at Leicester in the 1999 World Cup. Scotland’s heaviest runs defeat was also in the World Cup when Australia demolished them by 203 at St Kitts in 2007. 203 is not a prime number – but is the product of 2 prime numbers.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

If I was a witch's hat

Many of Fantasy Bob's years of adolescent agony were spent listening to the Incredible String Band.  This may explain a lot.

The Incredibles originated in the Edinburgh folk scene and built a considerable following, before splitting up in 1974. This ensemble was Edinburgh's only representatives at the great Woodstock Festival in 1969. They were musical pioneers in psych folk and, by integrating a wide variety of traditional music forms and instruments, in the development of world music. The group reformed in 1999 and in various combinations continued to perform until 2006.  Robin Williamson and Mike Heron the mainstays are still active individually.

The Incredibles became a legend in their mystical time through a series of albums including The 5000 Spirits, Wee Tam and the Big Huge and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, in which increasingly mystical and lengthy songs were accompanied by their multi instrumental talents.  Songs of 14 minutes and more with many different sections were not uncommon.  This was high art..................or something.

FB concedes that even in their heyday they were an acquired taste and sometimes the concept of tuning and intonation are obviously too conventional for their radical approach to their art.  They are very much of their psychedelic time.  Nowadays they are definitely specialist fare.

Remarkably cricket does not feature heavily in their output.  Apart, thinks FB, from one song.  If I was a witch's hat contains the momentous line - 'if I was a witch's hat I'd fly away and be a bat'.

Alas the circketer's interest is left hanging.  What kind of bat is not specified - it would be unlikely to be a Gray Nicolls Scoop or an SS Jumbo which had yet to come on to the market when the song was produced.  It is disappointing that the song is no unspecific, but that is the psychedelic era for you.

On the other hand, perhaps it is not about cricket after all, and another kind of bat is envisaged.  If that were the case, it would be a severe disappointment to FB after all these years.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Mr Bowling

Don Carter
Fantasy Bob is indebted to the Guardian newspaper for bringing to his attention the death earlier this month of Don Carter - known at one time as Mr Bowling.

FB's worldwide handful of readers are puzzled and are already reaching for their copies of Wisden to check this Carter chap's statistics. Those familiar with go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton may be thinking that FB has misnamed their revered President Dave Carter (who might well validly make a claim for such a title).

But they should put Wisden aside and forget about Carlton's revered President. For this is not bowling in the cricketing sense, that is in the true sense of the word.  This is 10 Pin Bowling, an altogether different pastime which is not really bowling but skittles. Don Carter was the greatest skittle player of his era - aka the golden age of bowling - and possibly ever. He was the first athlete (and given the nature of 10 Pin Bowling, FB uses the word advisedly) to gain a $1m commercial contract when he signed up with Ebonite, a manufacturer of bowling balls in 1964. Amazing when you consider that in 1961 Arnold Palmer only earned $6,000 from endorsing Wilson golf clubs.

Carter retired in 1970 and died in Miami last week at the age of 85.

Yabba dabba do
FB remembers 10 Pin Bowling with some affection. It seems the bluest of blue collar US inventions although it is probably developed from imported German pastimes. In the 1960s it took the UK by storm, perhaps inspired by the Flintstones who were regular participants and alleys opening up one after the other. If FB recalls correctly it featured regularly on TV.  At its peak there were over 160 bowling alleys in the UK - 2 of those were in FB's native Aberdeen. For a few years in FB's formative period a visit the lanes was a regular outing. 

In truth, FB never quite mastered the scoring which involved crosses and carrying over numbers from one box to another.  Now he understands scoring is done automatically - a development that most junior cricketers who turn out for FB's all star 4th XI seem to think has already happened in cricket. Blasting the ball down and getting a strike didn't seem a particularly difficult enterprise. However FB's attempt to replicate his even then world famous inswinger, by adopting an over arm approach did not commend itself to the owners of the lanes and his interest in the game waned. 

A lack of re-investment and waning interest led to a general deterioration of bowling alleys in the 1970s. But FB understands that new life has been breathed into the sport in the UK. During the late 1980s and early 1990s the number of ten-pin bowling alleys across the UK rose to over two hundred higher than it had ever been. Today, over 100 million bowlers play in over 90 different countries and it is suggested that player numbers are higher than in any other sport other than soccer. There is an active movement to make bowling an Olympic sport, and in 1998 ten-pin bowling was included for the first time at the Commonwealth Games. It remains a huge professional sport in the US.

But in FB's opinion the development of a proper over arm technique still hampers the development of the sport.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Fantasy Bob has discovered too late that yesterday was the scheduled day for the 11th No Pants Subway Ride.  He did not therefore have to face the dilemma of whether to participate.

This event involves celebrants riding on public transport without their lower clothing.  When challenged participants are advised to say that in their hurry to get out of the house they forgot to put their pants on and insist that it is a coincidence that there appear to others who are in a similar condition.  Yeh, right.

What the point of this exercise is rather escapes FB. It may be enough to understand that it originates in America.  On the other hand, FB may be unduly attached to his pants - or vice versa.

It is reported that the event took place in 60 cities in 27 countries.  But no Scottish city is on the list, which suggests that Scottish people have proper respect for their pants, perhaps because they have more need of them in the dead of winter.  They are not lightly to be discarded.

The reports do not specify the extent to which cricketers in these 60 cities may have participated.
London maybe
but these are not cricketers
FB suspects there may have been none for most of the cities are not renowned for their cricketing heritage.  FB further reflected that cricketers do not wear pants, they wear trousers.  A cricketer's pants are something altogether more intimate and FB does not think these could be discarded on Lothian Buses under any circumstances - even on the Night Bus after midnight on a Saturday.

He therefore concludes that until a cricketers' version is devised, he will have to dismiss any concept of participating in the No Pants ride.

In fact he thinks the whole thing is pants anyway.

Monday, 9 January 2012


January - sick and tired you've been hangin' on me
You make me sad with your eyes
Telling me lies
Don't go don't go.

Edinburgh's own Pilot
Fantasy Bob concedes that this may not be poetry of the highest quality but it is the lyric to one of the best pop songs to come out of Scotland. It was recorded by Pilot, written by group member David Paton and produced by Alan Parsons.  It spent three weeks at No 1 in February 1975.  Here is a link to Pilot performing the song.  Test Match Quality.

One person who was definitely sick and tired in January 1975 was another Scottish export.  Mike Denness, was captain of the MCC tour to Australia and New Zealand.  Always a controversial choice as captain of the tour, after a series of poor performances with the bat, the baying hounds of the press were turning against him.  Even by present day media standards, the vituperation was severe.  He was not good enough.  He should stand down.  He was Scottish................

Denness at his best
Going into the Fourth Test at Sydney, England were 2-0 down in the 6 match series. Badly beaten in the first 2 Tests, they had managed to hang on for a draw at Melbourne.  While none of the batsmen had made much headway against the hostility and pace of Lillee and Thomson, Denness' weakness against extreme speed had been cruelly exposed in a string of low scores.  In six innings he had amassed only 65.   But this was a must win match.

Denness looked hard in the mirror and stepped down. There was no selection committee, no coaching staff to offer views; he took the decision himself.   He dropped himself.  There were mixed feelings as to whether he was right to sacrifice himself in this way, some, eg Tony Grieg seeing it as a courageous stand, others, Keith Fletcher, as a sign of weakness.   It was Fletcher who stood in to bolster the batting.  Veteran batsman John Edrich took over the captaincy.  It was Edrich's only appearance as captain in his 77 Test career.  Regretably it was not a happy experience for him.

Australia scored 405 in the first innings, with Geoff Arnold getting 5 for 86, and Greg Chappell top scoring with 84.  Opener Rick McCosker made 80 on debut.  England scrambled to 295, with Edrich batting at 5 scoring 50 - off 177 balls. The innings was made respectable by Alan Knott's 82.  Thomson had 4 for 74.  A 200 plus partnership between Ian Redpath (105 ) and Greg Chappell (144) meant that Australia declared at 289 for 4.  England needed 400 to win and were all out for 228 in their second innings to lose by 171.  Bye Bye Ashes.  In the second innings  Edrich was hit in the ribs by his first ball, from Lillee and retired hurt.  Although it was confirmed that he had broken ribs he returned and finished 33* (off 163 balls) in another characteristically back to the wall performance.

being helped off
with broken ribs
Edrich's injury meant that Denness had to return for the next test.  He top scored with 51 as England slid to another defeat.  In the final Test, Denness showed something of his true worth by scoring 188 - but Thomson was not playing and Lillee's contribution was restricted by injury.  He also batted big in the subsequent games againt New Zealand with an innings of 181.

Denness' statistics confirm the fragility against pace - in matches against West Indies and a full-strength Australia he scored 372 runs at 19.58 with two fifties; against all other opposition he made 1295 runs at 56.30.

While Pilot's life did not extend much beyond 1975 all its members made significant other contributions to music of the period and later, and can be heard behind Kate Bush and as part of the Alan Parsons Project.

And a Scottish person captaining England? - As their other big hit would have it - oh, oh, oh it's magic......

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Fantasy Bob and the Indian team in Australia have a lot in common.  Their start to the year has been almost identical.

While the Indians faced an avalanche of runs and a blizzard of wickets in Sydney, FB and his son and heir faced avalanche conditions and blizzards of the snowy kind in the Arlberg in Austria.  Doughty groundsmen were measuring the snow in metres.  Play on the pistes was suspended as ground staff failed to get the covers on in time.

Conditions interrupted FB's expected return itinerary.  His phoned request to Her Majesty's Royal Air Force to scramble a helicopter in order to evacuate him and said son and heir proved unsuccessful for no valid reason that FB can establish.  He will shortly pursue this affair with the proper authorities.  Evidence is being collected on the links between this lack of response and Tendulkar's failure to get his 100th ton. A full scale public inquiry may be necessary.

However there will be a short delay in resuming normal service on this blog.  FB expects readers will experience no disappointment, in fact they may well relieved.  They may take the view that stuck in a snow drift is the best place for FB - Indian cricket supporters may feel the same about their batting line up.

What would the Little Master make of a wicket like this?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Testing Times

Fantasy Bob returns today from the Austrian ski slopes where he sought escape from the awfulness of BBC's Scotland's New Year's TV schedule.  It is an expensive way to avoid the joke free expanse of Only an Excuse, but FB reckons it is worth it for the inner peace.

He is therefore wholly unaware of how the Test matches between Australia and India and S Africa and Sri Lanka are going.  Complete ignorance is of course the condition which informs FB's commentaries on most things.

on the Man of the Match trail
These matches might well be over as neither of the preceding matches lasted beyond the fourth day.

FB was more surprised than many that India's batting line up proved so brittle against Hilfenhaus and Pattison but that match was lost when India let the Australian tail wag - something it has done with vigour many times in the past.  Well done to young Pattison who now has 2 man of the match awards in his 3 Test career.  Ponting also looked less scratchy than for some time and there were good runs for Hussey and Cowans.

Kallis out for 0
Sri Lanka picked themselves up from a run of poor results with a convincing win over S Africa for whom Jacques Kallis had his first ever pair.  S Africa couldn't capitalise on the efforts of debutante fast bowler Marchant de Lange who in the year of 5-fers on debut got 7 for 81 in the first innings.  Sri Lanka's fight back was to a great extent founded on Sangakkara's 108, a return to his best following a run of low scores including a first innings 0. Also significant performances from Chandimal who had 2 half centuries in his first test.

But you knew all this a week and more ago.

The next games are well set up - 2012 could be a vintage cricket year already.  Test matches - how can we do without them?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Why a duck?

Readers can come out of hiding - Fantasy Bob has finished his cricketers' Twelve Days of Christmas and normal disservice is about to be resumed.

Except that he wishes to note that the full set of gifts sent his way by Ms True Love would, in today's money, cost around £65,000.  That would buy a lot of biscuits.

FB was also reflecting that although Ms True Love seems poultry and bird obsessed, she does not light upon the bird most commonly associated with cricket.  Perhaps this reflects her great sensitivity for no cricketer likes to be reminded of failure and embarrassment.  A gift of a duck would be to rub salt in the wound.

But there are some cricketers who are even more familiar with the duck than FB.  In 185 Test innings, Courtney Walsh made 43 ducks. In 138 innings, Glen McGrath failed to trouble the scorers 35  times.  When you add other international cricket the record is held by Muttiah Muralitharan who had 59 ducks in all forms of international cricket - 33 in Tests, 25 in ODIs and one in a T20 international.  Courtney Walsh, the  had 11 ODI ducks so his overall total is 54.

There is only one other player with 50 international ducks but he appeared at the opposite end of the batting order. Sanath Jayasuriya had 15 in Tests, 34 in ODIs and 4 in T20s.

But the overall duck master in first class cricket is Reg Perks of Worcestershire and England who made 156 ducks in 884 visits to the crease between 1930 and 1955.  Perks was a classic tailender - his highest score of 75 was completed in less than 30 minutes and 3 times he hit 3 consecutive sixes.  He was the first professional captain of Worcestershire.

Why a duck?  The suggestion is that the shape of the number 0 is similar to that of a duck's egg - but it is similar to any other egg so this is hardly definitive.   A newspaper report of 17 July 1866 on a cricket match in which the Prince of Wales's (the future Edward VII) scored nought says that the Prince 'retired to the royal pavilion on a duck's egg'.

But if this answers the question why an egg, it still doesn't answer the question why a duck?  And this great sequence from the Marx Brothers doesn't really help.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.

Another mishearing by a clotheared scribe.  The real gift is 12 Drummos Drummo-ing.

Fantasy Bob wishes Gordon Drummond and the Scottish cricket team the very best of cricket in 2012.   Scotland have a series of fixtures against UAE in February as part of the Intercontinental Cup and the 50 Over League.  Then in March they take part in the qualifying competition for the ICC T20 competition in Sri Lanka in August.  In Scotland's group are Ireland and Kenya.  Later in the year, the highlight will be the ODI against England in June.

FB also wishes Drummo another successful season, with many more to follow, at Carlton.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.

Readers might think as a Scottish person,that there could be nothing more pleasing to Fantasy Bob than the sound of eleven pipers piping and that he would respond enthusiastically to his true love's latest gift.  But FB has to confess of all the presents sent by true love this is the one that he most hopes would be accompanied by the receipt so he could exchange it.

Long experience has taught him that the optimum distance between him and a bagpiper is 200 yards.  They are fine when parading about on the field at Murrayfield when FB is safely coccooned at the back of the stand.  Any closer and FB shows signs of distress. His ears bleed, his skin turns white.  For the bagpipe is truly the least musical instrument ever to proclaim itself as a musical instrument.  Had the Trades Description Act existed when it was invented it would never have got away with it.  No Scottish baby was ever lulled to sleep by a sweet bagpipe lullaby and there is a reason that sonatas for bagpipe do not feature in the oeuvre of Beethoven or Mozart.

Pipers steak,
mushroom and thyme pie
FB recognises that these are heretical thoughts and he betrays his heritage.  He accepts he may have to leave Scotland and seek asylum somewhere bagpipe free.

Instead of all that caterwauling, FB hopes that his True Love's gift is inspired by the piping hot Pipers Pies that have been recently available at Lords - although whether he can manage 11 is another matter.  But he is willing to try.