Monday, 5 March 2012


The Reids
Who are the most famous twins in the world? Google suggests some blonde duo called the Olsen twins. But for Fantasy Bob and Scottish cricketers everywhere there is only one answer to this question - Charlie and Craig Reid also known as The Proclaimers. They are 50 today.

The Proclaimers are Scotland's best.  They  took the charts by something like a storm in 1988 with Letter from America and have never looked back.  Nowadays the rare event of a try for Scotland at Murrayfield is celebrated with the chorus from their classic 500 Miles.

Letter from America's lyric contains the celebrated litany of the collapse of Scottish manufacturing industry - Lochaber no more, Linwood no more. A serious issue. FB is ashamed to say that a few summers ago he wholly disrespected the seriousness of the lyric by adapting it in his match report to describe the Carlton All Stars Fourth XI's latest batting collapse - FB no more, Kennedy no more, Barnacle no more.................and so on. FB justifies this artistic licence by the fact that the match was played in Leith, spiritual home of the Reid twins. While they are fanatical supporters of Hibernian FC, their attitude to cricket is not clear from their songs.

Twins, such as the Reids, are rare at the top of any field. In cricket they are few and far between. But there are some celebrated pairs. In answer to the question who were the first twins to play Test cricket together, 99% of people will say Steve and Mark Waugh who in 1991 played the first of over 100 tests together. But that is the wrong answer. The first twins to play Test cricket together were actually members of the New Zealand women's team in 1984 - Rene and Liz Signal. That was Liz's only Test but Rene played for NZ on 5 other occasions. 

New Zealand also holds another twin related record in that the first identical twins to play Test cricket together were Hamish and James Marshall who first played together against Australia in 2005. In all, Hamish played 13 Tests and James 7 - and 3 of those were together. James Marshall also made history in Scotland when shared a 266 opening stand with Brendon McCullum against Ireland in 2008, which is the highest ODI partnership for any wicket in NZ history and the second highest opening partnership in all ODIs. The match was played at Aberdeen. There is some irony there because brother Hamish was in the process of switching his allegiance to Ireland at that time.

The Marshalls
The Bedsers

There is one other set of famous cricketing twins - Alec and Eric Bedser. Both were outstanding young sportsmen and chose cricket, turning up at Surrey together.  The famous story goes that when they were first selected for Surrey, they agreed they couldn't both be fast bowlers. A flip of the coin saw Alec win the toss, and Eric took up off-spin. Surrey had untold riches in that department with Jim Laker and Tony Lock on the books so Eric concentrated on his batting. Eric never played Test cricket but Alec was was an outstanding right-arm medium-fast bowler for Surrey and England. In 51 Test matches  he took 236 wickets, at the time a record.

But back to The Proclaimers. Here is a splendid video of Laurel and Hardy dancing to their hit I'm On My Way. A suitable birthday tribute.

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