Monday, 19 March 2012


Fantasy Bob reads with some interest that the winner of a poll of some sort to identify the best loved animated animal is Paddington Bear.

Paddington the cricketer
Fantasy Bob assumes that this is because of Paddington's renown as a cricketer of some skill. In Paddington Marches On, a chapter tells how Paddington visits his friend Jonathan's school, and is invited to take part in a cricket match. Paddington confuses the other players by using his bat the wrong way round. He gets away with it and ends up saving the match. As far as FB is aware this was his only outing on the cricket pitch.

But Paddington's cricketing influence extended far beyond this solitary appearance on the field. It was during the 1970s and 1980s that the sunhat modelled directly on Paddington's headgear became essential wear for cricketers.

Jack Russell
and his Paddington Bear hat
Perhaps the most famous Paddington Bear style hat in cricket was that of England wicket keeper Jack Russell. He wore it throughout his First Class career from 1981 to 2004. Its  age and state of disrepair caused more than one argument with the authorities. On one tour Russell refused to wear the official coloured one day sun hat in South Africa. This caused the sponsor to have a hissy fit and a compromise was only reached when Russell agreed to wear his old hat inside the official hat. On a second occasion in the West Indies, he agreed to wash it, and placed it to dry in an oven. He forgot about it, the hat caught fire and was only just rescued from total incineration The fire damage could still be seen on the hat years later.

But, eccentric as he was in many respects, Jack Russell did not have other similarities with Paddington and never went out to keep wearing a duffel coat and wellington boots.  He may well have been partial to marmalade sandwiches - CricInfo is not clear on the matter.

While FB has a lot of respect for Paddington, his own favourite animated animals are different.  Gromit of course scores very high but FB thinks he may be human so he can't be elected.

Dougal finding the burden of captaincy a trial
His own favourites come from another era - Dougal from the Magic Roundabout.  Dougal is the epitome of many a lower XI skipper.  He is endlessly sarcastic and talks a great game.  Occasionally he performs out of his skin and lets the world know it.  Fantasy Bob to a T readers will think.  But while Dougal and many of the other characters may sound very like cricketers and act very like cricketers, however there is no episode of the Magic Roundabout that is remotely about cricket.  This is probably because the original animation was French.

Regretably the Magic Roundabout has been updated.  A feature length film was released in 2005 and a follow-up is due this year.  Since American money is behind it, it is a T20 kind of presentation and FB is sure there will be no cricket in it.   The up-to-date computer animation has lost most of the charm of the original stop frame animation and the characters have changed significantly losing the first writer Eric Thomson's whimsical wit.  And Zebedee said 'Time for bed.'  Test Match Quality.

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