Saturday, 14 September 2013

No Foreign Lands

Cricketers may be averse to the National Galleries of Scotland.  Many of them have been dragged round by well-meaning parents or partners.  Some may just have chanced through its portals looking to escape the weather.  Either way they end up disappointed. For while on the walls they can see lots of Madonnas, lots of wooded hillsides, lots of mountain vistas, even a decrepit Spanish crone frying eggs, cricket does not feature in any of this stuff.

Fantasy Bob has established, through long years of meticulous research,  that this is not a specifically Scottish failing.  Even in the National Gallery in London, situated less than 2 miles from Lords or the Oval, cricket based works are absent.

It is nothing short of a national scandal.

Cricketers might not therefore find themselves filled with enthusiasm at the prospect of the National Galleries of Scotland's present exhibition No Foreign Lands.  They should reconsider.

This exhibition features recent work of Peter Doig, born in Scotland but who has spent his life in London Canada and Trinidad.  The paintings on display are drawn from his work since 2000 when he returned to Trinidad.  It is a fine body of work with the heat and steam of the sub tropical environment well depicted in a series of original and arresting compositions.  (FB apologises if he begins to sound like an art critic at this point.  He will put the absinthe aside).

But as they move through the rooms cricketers will suddenly come face to face with 2 mighty canvases depicting a cricket scene.  They may rub their eyes in disbelief.  Cricket in the NGS?  They may pinch themselves.  Are they dreaming?  Have they died an woken in a gallery in Heaven?

But no.  It is so.  There before them are the real thing.  2 huge paintings capturing different moods of the same scene.  A bowler in his follow through; a batter about to step into his stroke; a wicket keeper standing almost transparent in the middle distance.  Astounding work.
Cricket Painting - Paragrand
The cricketer will wish to dwell on these paintings for some time.   The artist captures real bits of action.  The curve of the bowler's hand having released the ball.  The batsman's left foot lifting in sympathy with his back lift. The coaching manual could not present it better.

Cricket Painting - Paragon
Doughty Groundsmen however may linger even longer.  As a breed Doughty Groundsmen are prone to critical observation and they may loudly wonder what kind of preparation went into the presentation of a wicket that appears completely orange.  They should take care not to disturb other cricketers viewing the work.  Instead of muttering audibly, they may consider writing to the artist to enquire as to his visual acuity. They may invite him to inspect their own wicket and monitor their careful presentation of it to see for himself the true place in the colour spectrum that is held by a cricket wicket.

Doig says he made these works after playing beach cricket in Trinidad.  He may therefore have captured some future Test stars in his painting.

For the list of West Indies greats who started playing such games in Trinidad is long and prestigious.  Here is a Trinidad XI (not in batting order)

Brian Lara - 131 Tests - 11953 runs
Larry Gomes - 60 Tests - 3171 runs
Gus Logie - 52 Tests - 2470 runs
Phil Simmons - 26 Test - 1002 runs
Darren Ganga 48 tests 2160 runs
Derryck Murray 62 Tests - 1993 runs - 189 dismissals
Dwayne Bravo - 40 Tests 2200 runs - 86 wkts
Bernard Julien 24 Tests 866 runs - 50 wkts
Sonny Ramadhin - 43 Tests -158 wkts
Ian Bishop - 43 Tests - 161 wickets
Sunil Narine - 5 Tests - 15 wickets

A team fit for any oil painting, orange wicket or not.

Trinidad's greatest

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