Saturday, 26 April 2014

The new season opens

There is usually an air of calm order and control in Fantasy Bob's household. Not for him the extremes of hysteria.  Things are methodical, evenly paced, tranquil.  Novel events are borne with a quiet and dignified state of suppressed excitement.

Generally, Mrs FB approves of suppressed excitement. 'Keep that excitement suppressed,'  she will remark, 'don't point it anywhere near me.'

And this week there has been a lot of suppression going on.  For the sleeps are being counted one by one until the cricket season opens on Saturday.

Of course the other side of FB's suppressed excitement is a repressed anxiety.  He will look up from his focused scrutiny of the fixture card and say to his life partner, 'This could be my last season,'

'Don't be such a plonker,' she will retort, 'You've said that every year for the last 25 years.'

'Yes, but one time it has to be true.'

Mrs FB has no truck with such fatalism.

'But the minute you take your first run or score your first wicket it'll all be different - you'll find you have another 25 years in you.'

Silence falls.  But only briefly.

'And while you're at it, can you pick up all that cricket stuff that is appearing again all over the place. I've tripped over three different piles of rubbish already today.'

FB manfully disguises his hurt at hearing the valuable contents of his cricket bag described as rubbish.  He also thinks it wise not to suggest to his dear heart that he knows no other way to conduct the required inventory of this treasure trove than to place each item carefully in a specially designated place on the floor. He forbears from reminding her that it was she who scorned his proposal that their residence should have a special room put aside for the purpose of storing his kit, thinking it preferable to have a dining room instead. To FB therefore there seems an inevitability about her lament.  But, as readers have already been advised, Mrs FB eschews such fatalism.

FB returns to the detailed inventory of his kit. If FB's body could be at risk of failing the trials of the coming season, then he must ensure that there is little risk of his kit doing the same.  As FB dragged his compendious bag out of its winter quarters, he again realised how the volume of each player's kit is now equal to that occupied by the team kit in FB's early career.  Evidence if ever there was of the expanding universe.

For at one time in the lower leagues only the most showy players, or those resting from the stresses of the elite levels of the game, carried more than their boots and trousers.  Players would rely on the team kit bag - a cornucopia of cricketing equipment and accessories invariably containing more left hand gloves than right hand gloves; a collection of used boxes that might present challenges to the greatest expert in pharmacological science; pads of varying sizes and colours in the formerly white spectrum with buckles in various states of disrepair; bats, and bits of bat, bearing the names of fondly remembered Test stars from another time.  There might be a packet of sandwiches - hastily stored there in the third last match of the season by a late arriving player called upon immediately to pad himself up and thereafter forgotten (along with the sole remaining right hand glove donned by that player).

Nowadays no player is without his own bat and pads and associated paraphenalia.  Many of the juniors have a selection of bats to be used depending on their expert reading of the wicket.  The walls of changing rooms groan and swell as kit bag after kit bag is dragged in.  There is increasingly no space for players.

FB's present kit bag is similarly compendious, the size approximately of a small starter home.  It is far from RyanAir compliant in any dimension including weight. Indeed FB wonders whether a forklift truck would be a sensible investment.

Mary Poppins' carpet bag has nothing on the depths of FB's cricket bag.  The manufacturers helpfully designed it in the form of many sections. The cricketing section contains bat, pads, gloves and protective equipment suitable for any form of armed combat.  A medical section offers up a range of requisites that would put Holby City to shame.  In the clothing section there is a range of base layers and protective clothing that had Robert Falcon Scott had access to he might still be alive (even though he would be 145 years old - a measure of the effectiveness of FB's base layers).  The stationery department contains a range of writing equipment which will function in all temperatures and humidities.  The literary section holds several large volumes containing the rules of the various competitions that FB will lead his charges in.  And even larger volumes of instruction in what to do in a rain affected match. There is a space for an emergency empire biscuit.

All this means that FB cannot find room for the one additional piece of equipment that would be most helpful at the start of the Scottish season.  The patio heater.

Essential equipment - every fielder should have one


  1. It is comforting for his readers to know that FB has all the protection he needs against the rigours of the Scottish climate at the inevitably frigid opening of the cricket season. Hypothermia would be a sad way for him to go, given his momentous achievements at Carlton over the centuries. A portable patio heater would in theory solve the ambient temperature problem but might prove impractical on the field of play. On the other hand, an overabundance of protective bodywear might also hamper performance. It would be unfortunate if FB arrived at the wicket to deliver one of his unplayable inswinging Yorkers, only to discover that a Norwegian had got there first.

    1. Many thanks - FB understands that there are many risks in playing sport at his elite level.