There has been a trace of ambivalence in Mrs FB's encouragement.
'You're not really thinking of playing another season are you?' she commented, the boldened letters cutting the air as she quietly, but purposefully, searched the internet for advice on Life Insurance Packages.
Meanwhile, FB returned his full attention to the extended search for his kit. He finally unearthed it near the bottom of the pile of stuff Mrs FB had assembled over the winter for the Scouts' Jumble Sale.
'Oh,' she said in response to FB's arched eyebrow of inquiry, 'I didn't think you'd be needing that old rubbish again.'
She watched as FB's trembling hands lovingly caressed his rediscovered bat. 'Those pink bits on the edges are nice,' she observed. 'Why aren't there any in the middle?'
Undaunted FB strode off to practice, a spring of sorts in his step.
After all his close season had been productive. He had spent the long hours of winter evenings with protractor and dividers in hand. He had consulted Euclid's Geometry (in translation). He had applied the principles of quantum mechanics to the problem. At last he was confident that he had found the answer to leg spin.
| Detail from Raphael's The School of Athens|
featuring Euclid using a compass
to coach how to play leg spin.
This year it would be different. He would calmly wait watching the ball, he would see the rotations, he would effortlessly gauge the pitch and silkily move his front foot to the exact spot, his bat would come through an elegant arc covering the spin and the ball would zip to the distant boundary. There would be no doubt. He had established this from first principles and even had a diagram drawn to scale. Just to be safe he carried the diagram with him. What could go wrong?
FB's long suffering readers need not guess what happened next.
As FB turned to reassemble the stumps shattered by the latest of the long line of 11 year old leg spinners who had gone straight through him, he took the diagram out of his pocket. What had he done wrong? The youngster himself looked on, flipping the ball from one hand to the other, a kindly, but determined look on his face.
'Yoh FB, like, you know what's, like, going wrong?'
FB turned his gaze to his young tormentor.
'You see this diagram, I'm like, seeing it's, like, in, like, feet and inches.'
'Yes, as Euclid himself advises.'
'Well, like, I'm, like, bowling in metric now. Doh.'
Some times FB fears that there is too much in modern cricket that is just passing him by. Like most spin bowling.
He is forced to acknowledge that the Force, such as it is, has yet to awaken.