Monday, 29 July 2013


Mention turner to most cricketers and they will think of a dry dusty strip where the ball deviates 90 degrees on landing.  They will think of the sub-continent.  They will call to mind surfaces that show the skills of Warne or Murali or Swan.  They will envision batsmen groping as if in the dark as the ball bites and spits.  While some of them may purr with pleasure at the thought, if they are anything like Fantasy Bob the blood will drain from their face and they will need to sit down.  For as Fantasy Bob's worldwide readership of 3 realise, to FB facing leg spin bowling on a soggy Scottish wicket is a trial with only one outcome.  Facing it on a dry sun-baked track would be - frankly - just asking too much. He would explode.

So when he hears the word turner, FB's thoughts go elsewhere.  To the man who to his mind is the greatest painter these islands have produced.  Joseph Mallord William Turner - the painter of light, the great landscape artist and water colourist.  Now there was a Turner.

Turner lived from 1775 to 1851 and while these may, due to his efforts, have been significant years in the development of painting, they were also significant years in the development of cricket. Not much is known of Turner as a cricketer.  However alone among great painters he did portray cricket in his work on occasion.  Cricket sits naturally in his landscapes.

The first example that FB is aware of is shown below

It is a watercolour of Wells Cathedral painted in 1795, an energetic game clearly in progress, even though the off side boundary looks a bit short.  These days the area in front of the Cathedral is grassed over and it must be tempting to local cricketers to pitch their stumps there and get on with it as in Turner's day, except that the immaculate playing fields of Wells Cathedral School are close by. The most celebrated cricketer to have come out of the school is Glamorgan left arm seamer Malcolm Nash, who will always be remembered as the bowler from whom Gary Sobers hit six successive sixes in 1968.  But FB diogresses.

The second Turner example is a mixed media sketch called Cricket at Goodwin Sands, executed in 1828.

Turner must have observed this for cricket on the sands at low water had been a regular event since 1824, instituted by Captain K. Martin, then the Harbourmaster at Ramsgate, An annual match was played until 2003. In 2006 a crew filming a reconstruction of this match for the BBC television series Coast had to be rescued by the lifeboat.  Whether there is a lifeboat just over the horizon in Turner's picture is uncertain.

Turner may have ventured to Goodwin during one of his stays at Petworth in Sussex where he was a frequent guest of George Wyndham 3rd Earl of Egremont, a noted patron of Turner and other British artists. Petworth House is now a National Trust property and contains many fine works of art including several by Turner.

One of the most celebrated examples is, in reality, a cricketing picture.

Its formal title is The Lake, Petworth: Sunset, Fighting Bucks and it was painted in 1829. Closer inspection reveals the following detail

An evening 20-20 clearly in progress. Sadly while there is considerable detail it is difficult to infer from this picture, or indeed the Goodwin Sands sketch, what Turner's view of the roundarm controversy which was hot in cricket at the time. For in 1827, MCC modified Rule 10 to permit the bowler’s hand to be raised as high as the elbow. But, in practice, Sussex bowlers William Lillywhite and Jem Broadbridge continued to bowl at shoulder height without being no-balled.

While the Egremont family does not seem to have included cricketers, not long after this painting the Petworth Cricket Club was was briefly a major cricket team, playing five known first-class matches from 1844 to 1845. The club, which played its home games at Petworth Park New Ground, currently the home venue of Petworth Park Cricket Club.  There are no pictures by Turner of its members in action.  More's the pity.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Tenner

Fantasy Bob is certain that cricketers the world over will be dancing in the street at the news that Jane Austen will be portrayed on the Bank of England £10.

The news follows widespread concern that the decision to replace Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note meant that there would be no females represented on bank notes (other than the Queen). Not only that but there would be no cricketers either.
Charles Burgess Fry
Capped by England at both cricket and football,
played in the
F.A. Cup Final for Southampton F.C.
and held the world record for the 
long jump

Cricketers had to contain their disappointment in 2002 when Fry first appeared on the note. They had been expecting the face of the great C B Fry, reputedly England's greatest sportsman ever, but had to make do with the Quaker prison and social reformer who appeared not to be related in any way.  Nor did she seem to have any connection with cricket.

At first sight the choice of Jane Austen would not seem to be any improvement on this position and the shabby oversight of cricket on bank notes.  However as FB's worldwide readership of 3 will recall FB's researches have unearthed previously unregarded material which shows beyond any doubt that the great authoress had a great interest in cricket and attempted to feature it in her works on at at least one occasion.

The following links will take new readers to these important findings.

A previously unpublished draft of a major work.

Some research on her sources and inspiration.

In the meantime FB is quietly confident that in due course he himself will feature on the bank notes of one or all of the Scottish banks.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


The casting agency at go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton have been inundated with enquiries following the news that a new movie is for the first time to feature the two superheroes Batman and Superman together.

No details have emerged about either the plot of the film or who will take the leading roles.  This has led to intense speculation that the way might be clear for Fantasy Bob to get his underpants outside his tights in one of the starring roles.

A spokesperson for the club acknowledged that they had been unaware of Fantasy Bob's super powers - indeed they were unaware that he had any powers at all.  Things changed however following the publication of a photo sequence taken by the paparazzi that follow celebrities such as FB at every step.

The sequence shows FB's superhuman ability to fly like Superman and clutch speeding missiles from the air thus rendering the world safe from harm.

The spokesperson went on to add, 'Batman and Superman may have had their day - the world is surely ready for a new hero whose superpowers derive from the consumption of empire biscuits.  FB would seem a natural for the role.  He is almost as old as the planet Krypton after all.'

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No it's unbelievable..................
Junior cricketers, and superheroes, are advised not to try to emulate FB's super human feats at home without a safety net.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Drug Test Drama

As sprinters Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay were discovered to have failed recent drugs tests, officials at go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton defended Fourth XI skipper Fantasy Bob from similar allegations.

Powell and Gay in the race to the drug dealer
Commentators have been quick to point out that Fantasy Bob's achievement of scoring 51* at the weekend was unnatural, some have even suggested inhuman, and there has been intense speculation that FB must have been on a prolonged course of performance enhancing substances.

However world leading scientists from the world leading performance science laboratory of the go ahead club denied these allegations saying said,

'We have long established the nutritional benefits of the empire biscuits in a world leading set of tests.  For the highly trained athlete such as Fantasy Bob the impacts on performance can be significant.  However authorities have not so far deemed the empire biscuit an illegal substance and athletes are entitled to consume them freely.  FB makes sure he includes a number as part of his gruelling training regime.  Particularly the cinnamon flavoured ones from Goodfellow and Stevens.  In any case our sampling shows that FB did not have an unusually high concentration of empire biscuits immediately before his world leading innings - unusually high for him that is.'

Illegal performance enhancing substance - or not?
East of Scotland Cricket Association officials are  expected to respond shortly to calls that the empire biscuit should be put on the list of proscribed substances.  They are also considering whether an emergency procedure for random empire biscuit testing is required at future 8th Division fixtures.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Trumpet Shall Sound

It is hard to concentrate on the cricket with all this other stuff going on.  People are taking to the streets all over.  International intervention may be necessary.  it may be an over reaction.  But the attempts to exclude Billy the Trumpeter from Trent Bridge have got the nation divided.  Fantasy Bob is quite clear where he stands.  There are only so many times he can bear to hear the theme from the Great Escape.  there could only be one thing worse that coming to a sporting arena and finding Billy the Trumpeter in the vicinity.  That would be finding Billy the Bagpiper.

But rumour has it that the Ashes start this morning at Nottingham.
Rumour also has it that Sir Ian Botham has predicted back to back whitewashes for England – that they will win 10-0.  Rumour has it that if FB made such a prediction he’d be told he’s bonkers and should take up something more useful like charity walking.

Rumour has it that England are stronger in all departments with Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swan rumoured as trump cards against a brittle Australian batting line up.  There is lots being said about the swinging ball; about left handers in the Australian top order; about uncertain technique.  There is lots being said about the emergence of Root; the return of Pietersen; the solidity of Trott.  There is lots being said about the impact of Boof and the lightening of the load on Clarke.  In all there is lots being said.  According to the rumours. FB sees no need to say it all again.
But FB has thought a bit about Botham’s prediction.  It would be an exceptional outcome.  England have never won more than 8 Tests in a row in their whole history, and they have played more Tests than anyone else.  Australia have twice won 16 in a row –  between October 1999 and February 2001 – including 4 successive whitewash series - and between December 2005 and January 2008, which included the most recent Ashes whitewash when Flintoff’s misfiring side was put to the sword.
It is unusual for there to be back to back series against the same opposition – although England are making a habit of it this year having had 2 contests with New Zealand in advance of the Ashes double header.  But whitewashes in successive series are also rare.  England have done it only once, in 2004 when they beat New Zealand 3-0 before demolishing the West Indies 4-0.
Australia won 8 consecutive Tests against England in 1920 and 1921.  England won 7 consecutive Tests against Australia between 1885 and 1888.  England’s most recent whitewashing of Australia was in 1886.
Rumour has it that history is no predictor of future events.  But rumour also has it that these data suggest a high degree of improbability in the Botham prediction.  Rumour also has it that England are at their most vulnerable when they get above themselves.  Do the players believe the journalistic rubbishing of the opposition?
As far as FB can see England do look the better more balanced side.  But he expects a closer contest than Botham. - trumpet or no trumpet.
He makes no prediction as to the result, but hopes for a keenly contested series with matches going to the wire.  But his predictions for man of the series for England will be Swan.  Man of the series for Australia will be Clarke.

Friday, 5 July 2013


This is Fantasy Bob’s 890th post on this blog. Pretty near the number of empire biscuits he eats in a month. But is the number of any interest to the cricketer?

It's your Wally Grout -
Aussie rhyming slang for
It's your shout
ie it's your round
Wally Grout, the legendary Australian wicketkeeper scored exactly 890 runs in his 51 Test career. He also took 163 catches and 24 stumpings. His career ran from 1957 to 1966 and Australia never lost a series in which Grout played.

In his first test, against S Africa at the Wanderers he set a then world record by taking 6 catches in a Test match innings. That record stood until it was overtaken when Wasim Bari took 7 in 1979 and 3 other keepers have taken 7 since then. Grout also set a First Class record 8 catches for Queensland against Western Australia in 1959. This has been equalled on a number of occasions, but is still the record for catches in a First Class match.  The record for dismissals in an innings including stumpings is now 9 which has been achieved twice.

Grout may well have been the first modern wicket keeper, not only in terms of his athleticism behind the stumps but also his vocalising. He constantly reminded the batter he was there in a way that is now expected of keepers at all levels, even juniors no higher than the stumps keep up the continual chatter. But in Grout’s heyday it was something of a novelty – so much so that it is said that in the fourth Test of the 1965-66 Ashes series Colin Cowdrey ran himself out responding to Grout’s call thinking it was that of his batting partner Ken Barrington. Another side of Grout was seen when during the 1964 Ashes series he declined to run out Fred Titmus after he had collided with an Australian fielder.

Grout had been advised of a congenitally weak heart, indeed he had a mild heart attack but continued playing. He died less than 3 years after his final Test at the age of 41.  A great Australian.

890 as a number has other properties.  For one thing it is the product of 3 prime numbers (2x5x89) and is also the sum of 4 consecutive prime numbers - 211 + 223 + 227 + 229.  All prime numbers are of interest to FB, and cricketers should not disregard them.  These particular primes are important:

211 was the highest Test score achieved by Jack Hobbs, against Australia at Lords in 1924, at the age of 41.

223 was scored by Don Bradman against W Indies at Brisbane in January 1931. It was his 18th Test innings.   It was his 7th Test hundred and his 4th double hundred.  In all he scored 29 Test centuries, 10 of which were double tons adn 2 of which were triples.

227 was scored by Walter Hammond against New Zealand in March 1933 at Christchurch. In his next innings, at Auckland Hammond, scored 336*, at the time the highest test score ever achieved.

229 – no batsman has been out for 229 in a Test match as far as FB’s tireless team of researchers can discover. But Darren Gough took precisely that number of wickets in his 58 Test career.

So all in all 890 is a number with serious cricket interest. It deserves respect. And FB is pleased to add to it with this post.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Supreme executive authorities at go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton met yesterday to consider the emergency application from Edward Snowden for asylum at the club’s Grange Loan HQ.

Believed to be Edward Snowden
The minute of the discussion of this item has been hacked and made available to Fantasy Bob on an exclusive basis. Even ahead of the Guardian newspaper.  

The meeting discussed Mr Snowden’s application.  The meeting noted that Mr Snowden’s application to play as overseas amateur had been rejected by a number of clubs including Austria, Brazil, Finland, India, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.  His present whereabouts were uncertain but believed to be in Moscow airport.

A number of points were raised.
  • Clarification was sought as to whether Mr Snowden was really former New Zealand Test skipper Daniel Vettori was necessary. Photographic evidence seemed conclusive and no one had seen them in the same airport together.   However the CIA had declined to comment on this issue.
  • Mr Snowden had not given any information as to his averages from recent seasons, and it was unclear what kind of bowling action whistlebowling was. Eminent cricketing authority Vladimir Putin had suggested that Mr Snowden had leaked runs, amongst other things, in recent matches.
  • The club already had registered an overseas amateur for the season. However Cricket Scotland League rules were silent on the status of fugitives. Further guidance would have to be sought from Cricket Scotland on this matter. A view was expressed that this might not be forthcoming before the cows came home. Mr Putin was suggested as an alternative source of authoritative advice.
  • Mr Snowden’s application said that he would not venture outside Grange Loan since he would be vulnerable to arrest. This would limit Mr Snowden’s availability for away matches.  
  • The Secretary was asked to establish whether Carlton had a current extradition agreement with the USA and the implication of this for Mr Snowden’s availability.  
  • The Doughty Groundsman had expressed the view that while at various times of year leaf blowing was helpful, his experience suggested that whistle blowing was of limited value in ground maintenance.  
  • The club did not have a general policy on asylum seekers. Although it had taken Fantasy Bob into its protection, this was for exceptional humanitarian reasons and could not be taken as a general precedent. 
  • There was a concern that this discussion was being bugged by a number of agencies including NSA, CIA, GCHQ, ESCA, Cricket Scotland and others.
A decision was deferred.

Believed to be Daniel Vettori