Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Skin of Scottish Teeth

Scotland maintain their interest in the ICC T20 qualifying competition by the narrowest of margins and the grateful nation breathes again.  They proceed to the knock out stages and a match against Netherlands on Thursday.

Scottish training session
Fantasy Bob understands that the Scotland squad will spend the rest day visiting the dentist for some restorative work on the skin of their collective teeth.  For that skin was put under some strain yesterday.  Scotland lost to the USA by the skin of their teeth with one ball remaining.  But because their overall run rate was above that of nearest rivals Kenya, they go through.  The margin was 0.007 - which can now be considered the measure of the skin of teeth.

Satan smiting Job with sore boils
William Blake
The skin of teeth are first found in the Geneva Bible of 1560 -  in the book of Job at Chapter 19 verse 20 to be precise. God's praise of Job prompts Satan to challenge Job's integrity by suggesting that Job serves God simply because He protects him. God removes Job's protection, allowing Satan to tempt Job to curse God by taking his wealth, his children, his physical health and subjecting him to a series of LBW decisions when he got inside edges on them all.  Despite all this Job does not curse God. And although he protests his plight and pleads for an explanation, he stops short of accusing God of injustice. It is part of a conversation with his friends in which he tries to understand why he is so set upon that he utters, 'My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.' This seems to be a direct translation from the Hebrew - although other translations use 'by' instead of 'with'.  Hebrews may well have had skinny teeth, no one knows and although no one really knew what this phrase meant, it entered the English language as a powerful idiom.  

Scotland often seems a nation of Jobs unjustly tormented, but so far it is not a nation admired for any aspect of its dental health - the national fondness for biscuits and sweets have seen to that.  No more.  Proud Scots now have skinny teeth.  The skin of Scottish teeth served us proud yesterday, and there is every possibility that it will be needed again as Scotland continue in this competition.  That dentist has vital work to do.

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