Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Ladies' Privilege

Birthday Boy
Happy Birthday to Superman - born on 29 February.

But cricketers who have yet to find the marital bliss that Fantasy Bob enjoys with Mrs FB must take care today – for 29 February is Ladies Privilege, the day on which, by tradition, women can propose marriage to the man of their fancy (or, presumably in these less strict times, anybody else’s fancy). Even though FB is spoken for, he is likely to receive several such proposals. They will come via the internet from various seductresses who introduce themselves on the following lines
Hot Russian Princess
‘Hello to you Mr Fantasy Bob, I think you must be very hot, I am Natasha, I am very hot Russian princess just longing to make hot date with you.’
FB views these messages with some uncertainty. Why Natasha is so fixated on temperature mystifies him. Might she be questioning the effectiveness of his central heating? Is this the same point Mrs FB is trying to make when donning her thermal bedsocks and flannel nightgown?

FB presumes that Natasha, and her fellow Russian princesses, think that Scotland is still subject to the edict said to be promulgated in Scotland in 1288 which ordained that a man who refused a leap year marriage proposal must pay a sizeable forfeit to the lady in question. Money and silk gowns are the compensations mentioned in the history books. Nowadays Russian princesses are not so demanding – they simply require the numbers of FB’s bank account.

Hot Norwegian Princess
FB suspects that the 1288 edict is just so much legend – it is after all attributed to Margaret Maid of Norway, notwithstanding the fact that in 1288 she was only 5 years old, and in Norway. In FB’s experience 5 year olds may well make edicts, but they generally are on the subject of the immediate delivery of toys or food and do not touch on the proprieties of marriage.  It is possible that things were different in the 1280s, for there was uncertainty over the Scottish succession and Margaret was identified as Queen. She died at the age of 7 on her way to Scotland.  Historians say that she had been sending e-mails and texts to various Scottish noblemen (the Guardians of Scotland) telling them that she was ‘hot Norwegian princess longing to make hot date with them’……………Long and complicated Scottish history then follows leading to the wars of independence.

But enough of that. Suffice it to say that 1288 was not a great year for cricket. Nor is 29 February a great day for cricket.

As FB reports above, the one eminent cricketer to be born on 29 February was Superman – who could bowl bat and field all at the same time. However Wisden does not acknowledge his contribution to the game.

Alf Gover
Surrey and England
1555 First Class wickets at 23.63
The most significant cricketer who does feature in Wisden is Alf Gover, born 29 February1908, who played 4 Test matches before and after the second world war, a small return for such a high quality player. After a long playing career he had renewed cricketing fame as a coach – and many notable players came through the Alf Gover Cricket School including Andy Roberts and Ian Bishop.

He also covered the 1954-55 Ashes tour as a journalist. After the first test, in which Frank Tyson had been hit for 160 runs taking only one wicket as England fell to an innings defeat, he advised Tyson to shorten his run-up. This proved to be a turning point in the series. Tyson's pace was too much for the Australians and he took 28 wickets at 20.82 in the series which England won 3-1. Old timers still say Tyson was the fastest ever. Alf Gover died in 2001.

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