Sunday, 21 February 2016


It was a desperate tactic.

Fantasy Bob looked up from his steaming bowl of porridge to see Mrs FB closely examining the weekend supplement's report of the New York Fashion Week.  As she lowered the paper, he knew what was coming.    He would be asked what he thought Mrs FB would look like in Marc Jacob's latest creation.  If it was good enough for Lady Gaga surely it was good enough for her?  The price tag was irrelevant. FB began to panic.

It it's good enough for Lady Gaga.....
A diversion was necessary.  Bluntly he blurted out

'He's some guy, that McCullum...'

Mrs FB looked steelily at him, and then more dreamily.  Thoughts of Marc Jacobs and Lady Gaga seemed to fade.  Her gaze became more wistful.

'Ah yes,' she said with a throaty warmth, 'I used to have a poster of him above my bed when I was at school.....'

FB's mystified gaze must have troubled his partner, for she continued.

'Ilya Kuryakin - now he was the man for me..........' she dreamily intoned, the suggestion that she had ended up with something considerably inferior was left unsaid.

The Man from UNCLE - no cricketing skills
FB recognised a situation which called for the ultimate patience and tact.  He chose his words carefully.

'Don't be so bloody daft,' he said.  'That was David McCallum.  The Man from UNCLE. Never known to play cricket.'

The only response was a sigh.  FB therefore felt emboldened to go on.  'It's Brendon McCullum - his final test match - he hits the fastest hundred in Test history.  He's also now the leading 6-hitter in Tests. He's some guy.........'

He was unsure whether Mrs FB was paying attention as he described the one time he had seen McCullum play.  It was at Leeds last year.  The first morning.  New Zealand had made a sticky start - they were 2 for 2 and had recovered a bit to 68 when Stuart Broad had Ross Taylor LBW.  In strode McCullum.  Broad streamed to the wicket. A full length ball. Bang!  It disappeared into the crowd at extra cover.  Perfect. Heroic. Not Test cricket as we know it.
Brendon McCullum - 100 from 54 balls
McCullum then timed everything and was 41 when lunch came.  The crowd buzzed and looked forward to an afternoon run feast.  The groan when McCullum drove too early at the first ball after lunch to dolly a simple catch to mid-off could have been heard for miles.  Live on the front foot, die on the front foot.

'Yes,' FB edged to the end of his speech, 'he's some guy.  You know, if I was a Test player, I'd be exactly like him....I like to think that when I lead out Carlton's 4th XI the team sees something of the McCullum in me........'

A medical emergency was only narrowly averted as Mrs FB's coffee sprayed in several directions and she collapsed into a coughing fit of what seemed to FB unnecessary theatricality.

McCullum has cause to remember Scotland with affection; although he only played twice there, it was the scene of his highest ODI score.   In 2008 New Zealand took part in a triangular ODI competition with Scotland and Ireland at Mannofield in Aberdeen, scene of some of FB's own first grapplings with the mysteries of leg spin and in swing.  In the match against Ireland he scored 166 off 135 balls, with 10 6s, as New Zealand posted a massive 402 off their 50 overs.  Two days later Scotland managed to contain him to 22 off 24 balls.

FB will greatly miss McCullum from the Test arena.

And if Mrs FB wishes to put a poster of him above her bed, FB would have no objection.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Stormy Weather

Storm Gertrude - no cricketing interest
As Fantasy Bob wearily trudges through the worst of January's weather, he finds himself wondering exactly what motivated the Met Office to grant names to the storms that have raged across these islands.  It seems to FB that the act of naming has done nothing more than get these storms coming off their long run.  'Look at me, look at me - I'm Gertrude.'  Look at me look at me I'm Henry.'
There was no such showmanship when they were anonymous - they would simply pass without drawing too much attention to themselves.

If the modern world requires names then at least they good have good names rather than the random hotchpoch that has appeared. There are no connections or themes and most of them don't even sound stormy.
Having just weathered - ha! - Gertrude and Henry, we can now look forward to Imogen.  Long suffering readers of these pages may recall that FB once had his own storm associated with Imogen, but in other respects it seems to FB a pretty poor name for a storm.
The problem with the list of names is clearly its minimal cricketing content.  FB thinks that this was an opportunity lost.  After all, there are many cricketers whose destructive power in its context bears comparison with any storm.
It would have been a tonic to cricketers buffeted by wind, rain, snow and hail to be able to compare the destruction around them to that caused by swaggering batsmen or intimidating pace bowlers.
So FB does the Met Office's work for them and offers his list of storm names for use by cricketers:

AB -  deVilliers - fastest ODI century - 100 in 31 balls v WIndies, J'burg 2015;
Beefy - Botham could cook up a storm with bat or ball (and with the management) - 200 in 212 balls v India, the Oval 1982
Curtley - Ambrose - meanest of mean pacemen - 405 Test wkts @20.99
David - Warner - 100 in 69 balls v India, Perth 2012
Eion - Morgan - 178 from 167 balls v S Africa, the Oval 2009
Fred - Flintoff - most 6s for England
Gilly - Adam Gilchrist - joint most 6s in Tests; 100 in 57 balls v England, Perth 2006 (or if he is unavailable - Gayle (pun intended)
Holding - whispering death - 249 Test wkts @ 23.68
Imran - Khan -  In 9 Tests in 1982 he took 62 wickets at 13.29
Jimmy - Anderson - England's leading wicket taker and still going
Kapil - Dev - 100 off 74 balls v Sri Lanka, Kanpur 1986
Lara - Highest Test innings - 400* v England, Antigua 2004
McCullum -  Brendon - joint most 6s in Tests
Nathan - Astle - fastest double century in Tests - 200 off 153 balls v England, Christchurch 2001
O'Reilly - Bill - 144 Test wkts @22.59 - the best bowler of his age
Pollard -  Kieron - 119 off 52 balls v India, Chennai 2011
Qadir- Abdul - finer than Warne - 236 Test wkts @ 32.80
Richards - the Master blaster - 100 in 56 balls v England Antigua 1986
Shahid - Afridi - 102 in 37 balls v Sri Lanka  Nairobi 1996
Tyson - Frank - the fastest ever
Ul  -Misbah Ul Haq -  100 in 56 balls v Australia, Abu Dhabi 2014
Virender - Sehweg - fastest triple century - 300 off 278 balls v S Africa, Chennai 2008
Wasim - Akram - 414 test wickets @ 23.62
Yuvrav - Singh - 6 sixes off the over - v England (ie Stuart Broad), Durban 2007
Zaheer - Abbas - the first Asian to score 100 FC centuries

Now that list is something to sing about - Stormy Weather indeed.