As FB puffs his way up the hill against the wind, they will confidently exclude the possibility that he has taken anything from the athletic power of Fred Trueman's bowling action; as FB swings his bat in a mighty heave missing the ball by a country mile, they will discount the chance that he has based his technique on the grace and balance of Ted Dexter's cover drive.
Instead they may note FB's timeless combination of slapstick and frustrated ambition and say to themselves, 'Another fine mess - this man was surely exposed to Laurel and Hardy at a young age.'
|Norman Gifford |
in action for Worcestershire
However it is many years since FB has seen them at work. So it was a delight to discover that newly restored versions of two classic Laurel and Hardy films were on show in Edinburgh this weekend. FB duly spent a most enjoyable afternoon in the company of the greatest comedy duo ever as they went through their timeless routines in Way Out West and Towed in the Hole. Test Match Quality.
Laurel and Hardy made 106 films together. The only failing in this golden catalogue of mirth is that none of them contains any cricketing material.
FB concedes that Hardy may have had an excuse, being a native of Georgia, but there is no similar let off for Laurel. For Stan Laurel was born Ulverston, then in Lancashire, and spent a significant part of his childhood in Bishop Auckland in County Durham. Cricketing country.
|Gary Pratt congratulated by teammates |
after running out Ponting
Bishop Auckland is the home of Gary Pratt whose place in cricket's annals is secure by virtue of his appearance as a sub-fielder during the Trent Bridge Test of the 2005 Ashes in which capacity he ran out Ricky Ponting 'Quick, quick oh he's gone I think........'
So the potential for Stan Laurel was there. And this seems to have been recognised by the creators of the Laurel and Hardy comic strip that featured in the UK comic book Film Fun which ran throughout the 1930's and 40's. Cricket's loss was the world's gain.
|Frame from Film Fun|