Saturday, 29 July 2017

Notes and Queries

Amongst all the fake news, the jeremiads and hagiographies of worthless footballers, there was an item in the newspapers this week which stimulated Fantasy Bob's interest more than usual. In the Guardian's excellent Notes and Queries section there was posed the question,

'Which requires more skill - returning a 150mph John Isner serve in tennis or defending a 95mph Dale Steyn delivery in cricket?'

As FB perused the answers offered by fellow readers, his brain began to race - if not to 150mph then pretty near 15mph.  Why is not exactly clear - for FB's chances of seeing either delivery would be zero.

It reminded him of a tale he heard a long time ago - he has no idea as to whether it is apocryphal or not.  So in the contemporary spirit of fake news he retells it here.

Middlesex CC were playing against a local club side in some charity match. Their full squad was there including West Indian quickie Wayne Daniel.  An opposing tail ender came into bat.  Carefully took his guard, scanned the filed and prepared to face the demon.  The keeper and slip cordon crouched in readiness.  Daniel turned at the end of his long run and steamed in, arms pumping, nostrils flaring.  A huge leap and his arm came over.  The batsman fended.  There was a huge appeal as the keeper threw the ball skyward. Shaking his head the batsman slowly departed.  It was not until he neared the boundary that he was called back to be told with much mirth and good humour that he'd been conned - the ball had been with the keeper all the time.  It was too easy to believe that the ball was so fast that it could not be seen.

FB is sure that he has been victim to this rouse a number of times, only the perpetrators have not confessed to their deception.

But to return to the question put.  A respondent noted that a tennis ball slows down significantly faster than a cricket ball (something to do with mass) - added to which the distance between the server and returner is significantly greater than between bowler and batter.  That did it for FB - it was conclusive - he still wouldn't see either.

But he noted with interest the fact that the ball slows as it approaches the batter.  This is not FB's experience at the crease.  Invariably the ball speeds up as it approaches him - and in the case of 11 year old leg spinners the increase in speed is exponential. There is only explanation - a special zone of magnetic attraction around FB where the laws of physics are reversed.  So here is a question for the clever clog readers of the Guardian - Is FB a black hole?

Saturday, 15 July 2017


Fantasy Bob feathered the ball.  Perhaps the faintest edge in the history of cricket. But the wicket keeper safely gobbled it up and FB was on his way.   But he was almost flattened by the keeper who having pouched the ball, extended his arm in front of him and ran directly to the bowler yelling with an inchoate scream.  His team mates joined in the cacophony, jumping up and down in a demonstration of pogo-ing not seen since the high days of punk rock (if there were any).  The excitement continued until FB had trudged safely beyond the boundary.  FB had totally dominated the bowling to score a majestic 2, expertly using both the edges of his bat to avoid wearing out the valuable middle.

Even acknowledging the value of FB's wicket, this celebration seemed disproportionate.  More correctly , even acknowledging the complete lack of value in FB's wicket, this celebration seemed particularly disproportionate.
Whirling Dervish XI celebrate the dismissal of opposing skipper
FB has more or less resigned himself to the necessity of sharing high fives with his junior team mates on the rare occasion he takes a wicket.  He may even have ventured a fist bump - and woken in terror in the middle of the night as the horror of the memory sinks in.  But to run around screaming like a deranged whirling dervish, hugging everyone in sight, seems, well, not to put too fine a point on it, just not cricket.

And yet this form of celebration is increasingly pervasive in the lower leagues that FB inhabits. Passing dogs run in terror at the high pitched screaming.  Gibbons in the zoo reach a fervour of excitement at what seem to them endless mating calls drifting on the wind in their direction.  FB is reduced yet again to wondering where the world found this handcart in which it is fast descending.

It is against this backdrop that FB presents the photograph below which was taken in the same match in which FB suffered the indignity of being whooped and hollered all the way to boundary.  He commends it to the appropriate authorities for inclusion in forthcoming coaching manuals.

FB has just taken a catch off his young bowler.  (For the benefit of readers who may be uncertain on this point, FB is on the left and his young bowler on the right). There is no whooping, no dervish dance. Just a nod of the head and a manly handshake.  Proper cricket.

Proper Cricket

Saturday, 24 June 2017

My Dear Old Things

Fantasy Bob shares the national outpouring of grief at the news that Blowers will no longer be one of the voices of summer.  FB always enjoyed his commentary and also greatly enjoyed the shows which with Peter Baxter he took the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in recent years.

It is a wholly unfitting tribute to the great man who will be sorely missed, but FB reminded himself of a posting from a few years back in which Blowers featured prominently.  Having inflicted this punishment on himself, he sees no reasons why his handful of readers should not similarly be tortured.  They will find the link here.

Blowers raconteuring during one of his shows

Obstruction ahead

Roy gets in the way
It is rare for Fantasy Bob to watch any T20 biff-fest with anything approaching interest, but his curiosity was stimulated by the dismissal of Jason Roy in yesterday's match with South Africa.  This was an incident which interrupted the usual tedious sequence of fours slapped through cover and sixes launched over mid-wicket.  Sent back by his partner at the striker's end Roy took an extravagantly circuitous route back to safety and in so doing put himself between the fielder with the ball and the stumps. The throw actually hit him. Whether without that intervention it would have hit the stumps is academic. Whether had it done so he would have been in or out is academic. The Saffies, being Saffies appealed vigorously with all manner of gesticulation at Roy.  After the inevitable reference to the TV umpire, the finger went up and Roy was on his way.  England lost momentum and the match.

On the whole FB thinks this was a correct decision.  Roy clearly knew what he was up to - he willingly chose his route reflecting coaching suggestions that batsmen should think about running in the line of the likely throw.  So it seems a fair cop.

However FB waits with dread the inevitable attempts to replicate this adjudication in the lower league cricket that is his stamping ground.  He can see it in his mind's eye - FB is dozing through his umpiring spell, the concentrated look on his face a dissembling disguise as he tries to remember whether ball 4 or 5 has just been bowled.  The batsman plays a defensive shot and cover picks it up. 'How's that?' the fielders scream.  FB looks querulously about him - has his focus on mental arithmetic caused him to miss something? The opposing skipper bounds up to FB -  'Obstructing the field......' ' Whatya mean, the batsman never moved.' 'Exactly - he wilfully obstructed my guy getting a run out..........HOW'S THAT?'  Not for the first time, FB wonders whether a new law should be introduced preventing QCs from playing cricket.

It is not only for this reason that obstruction is a touchy subject with FB.  For he is perhaps the only fielder to have been appealed against by his own team for obstruction of the field.  Long standing readers of these pages will realise that FB is usually an inanimate presence in the field.  A statuesque navigation point around which the whirl of action can take his place.  Occasionally however he will find he has to move to get out of the way of one of his junior team mates in breathless pursuit of the ball.  With increasing frequency these days - he can find he is unable to move quickly enough to avoid his on-rushing junior team mate.  A collision occurs and while the junior cartwheels through the air the ball safely rolls over the boundary.  Dusting himself down the junior will tearfully maintain that a certain run out was on the way.  He will scream out 'How's that - obstructing the field' The umpire will calmly respond 'Not out - he's on your own side son.'  He is met with a glare that would turn a lesser man to stone,  'That's what you think.'

Saturday, 20 May 2017


Fantasy Bob recently participated in a series of conversations with a group of people from various walks of life.  Hopes and fears for the future were closely considered as were the challenges of doing anything to make the fears less likely.  At one point in the conversations, the subject turned to the stresses members of the group encountered in their everyday life.

There was a member of the police service who described how as a trained hostage negotiator she was regularly deployed to speak to distressed individuals in difficult situations.  She recalled how on one occasion she found herself on the top of a tall building trying to persuade the young man who had threatened to jump to return to safety.  It was dark, freezing, windy; the rain was horizontal.  The slates flickered with the reflected streetlights. The shivering young man was ill-attired in a thin tee shirt. English was not his first language.  The street was a long way below. The discussion seemed to be moving to a positive outcome when, as he moved towards her, his foot slipped on the wet slates. He grabbed at a TV aerial but it couldn't hold him, and he slipped over the edge.

The group was silent, imagining the range of feelings that must have gone through their colleague's mind.  Feelings that would only have been partially relieved by the knowledge that, amazingly, the young man survived the fall.

Then a former army officer told how one night, with 3 colleagues, he was on patrol in an armoured vehicle in Helmand province.  As they moved down the road, there was an almighty explosion - the vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.  It cartwheeled, turning over a couple of times before coming to rest on its side.  Our officer was concussed and seriously injured.  He came to to find he had been dragged from the vehicle which was now on fire.   The heat was causing the ammunition in the vehicle to go off.  There was also the sound of small arms fire.

FB felt humbled.  He realised, not for the first time, that in his long and undistinguished professional life he has had it shamefully easy. There are heroes who continually and repeatedly put themselves in danger on behalf of their fellows.  FB has nothing but admiration and gratitude for them.  By comparison, the most difficult circumstance FB has to encounter is going into a meeting in which someone might disagree with him.  Or the coffee has not arrived.

The group now turned expectantly to FB.  They wanted to hear from him about his heart-stopping moment - when time stood still and danger was all around.  FB racked his brains.  How could he match these shattering experiences?

The room fell quiet.  Then it came to him!  He felt his blood run cold at the memory.  In a faltering voice he began, 'I had just started my innings.....I had dealt with the first few balls......there was a bowling change.......... I looked up........ the new bowler was an 11 year old leg spinner...........'

Saturday, 13 May 2017


Fantasy Bob spent much of this week at St George's House which is within the curtilege of Windsor Castle.  
A modest family home close by the Thames

As he approached the august castle gates he noted that the Royal Standard was fluttering excitedly in the breeze.  Her Majesty was in residence.  'At last,' he thought.  In the course of FB's long and undistinguished official career, many of the Royal Family have had the privilege of shaking him by the hand at various events he has graced. Sadly for Her, in all the many years of Her reign, Her Majesty herself has never had that opportunity.  To the outward world She seems to have borne this misfortune with commendable fortitude.

But this week might be different.    The message would surely get through to Her that FB was close at hand.  Perhaps She would sneak down for a quick word.  It was time to put the disappointments of the past behind Her.  For there is a tragic reason behind Her Majesty's reluctance to come into FB's presence.  After all these years it is time that the truth be told.

Many years ago, he was playing cricket for a lower XI of Aberdeen Grammar School FP.  A match against Crathie CC was played in the grounds of Balmoral Castle.  As FB athletically prowled the boundary, he saw a head-scarfed figure wearing a tartan skirt followed by a couple of corgis in tow. FB prepared for the introduction and the modest shrug he would have to give as his sovereign commended his prowess in the field.   So intent was his focus on the etiquette of the impending occasion that he completely failed to notice the skier coming in his direction until the crude shouts of his teammates reached his ears.  He was about to chide them for the use of such indecorous language in the Royal presence, when the ball thudded into his chest and on to grass beside him.  Her Majesty, and the corgis, walked on. The bowler, having first questioned FB's parentage, let loose a tirade of anti-monarchist sentiments and from that moment on was a confirmed republican.

FB's cricketing career stalled and he never made progress up the ranks of AGSFPCC.

This unfortunate event evidently lived long with Her Maj.  She clearly carried heavily the guilt of distracting FB at this crucial point in his cricketing career. It has deterred Her from coming into FB's presence - she would be embarrassed and tongue tied. What could she say by way of apology?  It would be beyond even Her powers of graciousness.

Sadly, Her feelings must still be raw, for She did not seek FB out this week.  She did not stretch out to him her much-shaken hand in a gesture of contrition.

FB would like to convey to Her that he is prepared to put the past behind him.  He has long got over the trauma of that long gone incident.  She has no need to worry about coming into his presence.  

It was disappointing that She could make use of his visit to Windsor, but if she consults the fixture list of go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton She will see where FB is on A Saturday for the next 3 months. She would be most welcome to walk Her corgis around the boundary.

Saturday, 6 May 2017


Cricketers have found that hasty decisions to cast their clouts have had to be revised. The start of the season has been accompanied by the briskest and coldest winds.  It is the Heineken wind, for its gets to the parts of the cricketer that other winds leave untouched.  Emergency supplies of balaclavas have had to be ordered.
Boreas - making things difficult
for Ancient Greek cricketers

As a native Aberdonian, Fantasy Bob grew up unfamiliar with winds other than balmy summer breezes faintly drifting off the sun-dappled North Sea. However decades of struggling along the streets of Edinburgh in the teeth of the daily gale have steeled him. For Edinburgh is surely the windiest city in the universe, and possibly beyond. The clouds high above may be hanging motionless, but at ground level in Edinburgh conditions will be approaching hurricane force.  Beaufort will be going off his scale.

Edinburgh's winds are cruelly anonymous.   And in these secular times they are godless.  But the ancients ordered things differently. Cricketers in Ancient Greece, considering how many layers to stuff in their kit bag would mutter - 'Boreas cruel north wind bringer of winter is still blowing better put in another golden fleece.'  Even Spartan players, well known for rashly playing in short sleeves early in the season would invoke divine intervention - 'Oh Zephyr, Zephyr,' god of the gentle warm west wind, come to our aid,' they would text, 'We want to cast our clouts, but it's still blowing a hoolie - can you fix it.'

Today's cricketers have no such recourse.  The Gods have abandoned them to their fate.  And even more cruelly, Edinburgh's cricket grounds have been strategically placed where the winds blow strongest and coldest.   For example, the prestigious Peffermill displays the unique metereological phenomenon of a howling gale coming from every direction at once.  Even the Greeks had no name for such a wind.  It is truly godless. It reduces FB to shivering confusion.  For he is long used to bowling arduous spells up the hill against the wind.  There he has to bowl against the wind and with the wind at the same time.  He is even more ineffective than usual.

But Edinburgh's cricketers bravely battle on in bracing conditions.  Unlike the cricketers of Cape Town, where wind stopped all play across the city earlier this year. If Edinburgh followed this example, there would be no cricket at all.

It will shortly be the 450th birthday of Claudio Monteverdi - not known to be cricketer of any distinction, but one who surely captured the sentiment of all cricketers who (clouts firmly uncast) emerge into the bracing air at this time of the season wishing for the return of the warm west wind:

Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion
Make pleasant the air and scatter the grasses in waves
And murmuring among the green branches
Make the flowers in the field dance to your sweet sound;

Find it on this link into a fantastic rendition by Nuria Real and Philippe Jaroussky - Rock and Roll.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The First Day of the Season

How Fantasy Bob has marked the special day of the start of his season through the years.


Hope Springs Eternal

Alexander Pope - looking at last season's averages
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

So wrote Alexander Pope in his Essay on Man in 1734. Apposite words for the start of another cricket season.
Remarkably, however, cricket was far from Pope's mind when he dashed this ditty off.  He had a more mundane purpose. As Fantasy Bob understands it, Pope's intent was to explain God's ways to men. Basically he was of the opinion that since God has not revealed his full purpose (rather like the skipper who opts to bat on a soft green wicket), there is no good players standing around moaning about things.

Obviously, this tells us only that Pope had never met a lower league cricketer on his return to the pavilion having been triggered by a team mate for a ball that pitched outside leg, took an inside edge and hit him six inches above the knee roll. Had he done so he might not have been so ready with his optimism - and the course of European poetry and philosophy might have been different. 
Cricket would however have remained the same - and cricketers too at this time of year find their breasts swelling uncontrollably as the hope springs up. Last season's averages are no guide to future performance. Even FB, who has been playing since about 1734, and who should by now realise that there is a straight one out there that is going to undo him yet again. He is never blessed. Confined from home, he will sit silently beside his teammates and expatiate on that innings still to come when he will play down the right line. Ay right ,as the saying goes.

But there again Pope seems to have had the measure of FB for he also wrote:

Blessed be the man that expects nothing for he shall not be disappointed.

FB wishes the best of seasons to all cricketers in whose breasts hope springs eternal today - may 2017 bring them no disappointment.

Saturday, 22 April 2017


It is the time of year when the cricketer's pulse quickens.  As the days lengthen, as the temperature soars to near 5 degrees, he or she knows that the day is coming near when that old weakness against the straight one will once again be cruelly exposed.  But for the moment, it is the phoney war of the pre-season. A time ripe with hope and anticipation. Pre-season.  When dreams of hattricks and
hundreds crowd the cricketer's mind.

It is also the time when respectable media outlets lose sight of their year long policy of wholly ignoring club cricket and desperately look for human interest stories to stimulate interest in the coming season.

Ever seeking the celebrity angle, a journalist took it on himself to phone Fantasy Bob at home earlier this week. His timing was ill chosen, for Fantasy Bob was fully occupied in practising his improved batting stance in front of the wardrobe mirror.  It has taken him all winter and he was on the point of perfecting it.  He had given strict instructions not to be disturbed for the next 3 hours.

The call is therefore answered by Mrs FB.  Her clear soprano rings through the house:

'You want to speak to Fantasy Bob, the celebrity cricketer?' (There was a cruel trace of mocking laughter in her tone). 'I am sorry he can't come to the phone - he is upstairs having a temporary bout of insanity.  It could last until August.  Maybe I can help you?

'You want to know how his pre-season preparations are going......'

The short silence should be a warning to the inquirer.

'....Uh.  Huh.......'

The alarm bells should be ringing louder.

'.......Well, let me tell you.......'

There was now no escape.

'.....Don't give me pre-season.  It's longer than the wretched season itself.  The day after the final game last year he starts.  I've had months of him moaning on about whether he can manage another season. Is his back up to it, he groans.  I suggest he could give his back a bit of a test by painting the bathroom but he says that would risk unbalancing his bowling action.  Pathetic.  Two months ago he has to get his kit out of the various cupboards he squashed it in last August.  Of course the only place he can leave it all is exactly where I am bound to trip over it.  I've measured my length three times today already.  Then he's sitting in front of Line of Duty with his pads on - just to get them flexible for his big innings he says.  How flexible do they have to be for your usual duck? I ask.  He doesn't talk to me for 3 days. Then the linseed oil - the stink is everywhere - I think he's drinking it.  I look out to the garden and make a hint that the grass is beginning to grow.  Does he take the hint - does he hell? He'll never do a hands turn in the garden, but the minute that Doughty Groundsman phones, you won't see him for dust and he'll be there cutting the outfield like a man possessed with a glaikit look on his face.  It's pathetic.

'Pre-season - don't give me pre-season - just get the season started and I can get him AND HIS KIT OUT OF THE HOUSE.'

Monday, 10 April 2017

Sounds of the 60s

Fantasy Bob was sorry to hear of the passing of Brian Matthew last week.  Brain Matthew was the long serving host of Sounds of the 60s - the programme which has accompanied FB's Saturday breakfasting for many years.

Indeed in these days of the introduction of listener phone-ins on Radio 3 and the endless Faragification of the wider air waves, Sounds of the 60s has been just about he only radio programme FB has been able to enjoy without feeling the constant need to shout back at the set.

It was Mrs FB who suggested that for the good of his health he should desist from such vigorous responses - for if he didn't stop his caterwauling she would come downstairs and put him in hospital herself.

There was no need for such responses when Matthew took to the air.  His smooth voice was familiar and comforting.  His knowledge of the music at hand effortlessly compendious.   He conveyed the impression that he knew all the musicians personally.  Test match quality.

This was a voice FB recognised from his childhood.  For FB recalls earlier Matthews programmes - The Saturday Club and Easybeat back in the day.  He has a distinct memory of hearing the Saturday Club as he sat in the local barber waiting for his short back and sides leafing through a well thumbed copy of Reveille.  The pubescent FB found this a somewhat racy publication  although this did not make up fully for its disappointingly limited interest in cricket.  For some reason the song that comes to mind, as he sits there leafing, is Frank Iffield's I Remember You.

Just around the corner from the barber shop was a small sports shop - the type of outlet that no longer exists.  No moulded soles or screw in studs - FB recalls the box of  leather football boot studs which had to be hammered into the traditional boot, their sharp nails obtruding.  FB cannot remember buying anything in the shop except dubbin and laces for his football boots, but it was the place you went to get your leather football blown up or the grip on your cricket bat changed.  Services which Sports Direct lamentably fail to offer.

But FB digresses.

Brian Matthew was cruelly removed from the show earlier this year, very much against his will. There was a petition to reinstate him.  Sadly however the grim reaper pays such popular will no respect.

The show lives on.  It is now introduced by Tony Blackburn.  While FB can remember listening to Blackburn in the early days of Radio 1, he did so with little pleasure.  His habit of talking over the start and end of records and the inane jokes make it a trying listening experience.  He was soon a refugee to Radio 3.

But with the advent of Blackburn accompanying his Saturday breakfast, FB has found he has started shouting at the radio again.   Vigorously.

Mrs FB is suggesting that this can't be good for his health.

Thursday, 30 March 2017


Fantasy Bob has recently returned from his annual visit to the Austrian ski slopes.  It was perfect cricketing weather.  Indeed for the Scottish cricketer it seemed unnatural - the sun shone continuously and the temperatures soared to 0 degrees.  Well beyond the usual temperature at the high point of the Scottish cricket season.  FB felt renewed, rejuvenated, ready for anything (maybe even facing leg spin).

But the weather may have had little to do with the new spring in his step.  In his hotel room he found the following exhortation.

Nature is our most beautiful example of holistic wellness. As is wellness in the Ötz Valley. It spurs us on to keep thinking. To create new things – to go one step further. To grow and evolve. Our wellness concept in the Ötz Valley picks up on this idea and achieves it in a world of simple elegance. A world where precious materials and perfected aesthetics meet in a seductive duet with a symphony of perfection, balance and harmony. You are invited to become acquainted with wellness in the Ötz Valley in its purest form.

How could he resist this siren call?

Readers who have had the misfortune to follow FB’s Witterings across the span of time will know how his every move is a  seductive duet embodying a symphony of perfection, balance and harmony.  (Particularly when he faces leg spin bowling). They will therefore understand how he hurried to accept the invitation to become acquainted with wellness in its purest form.

With simple elegance he entered the Hotel’s Wellness Centre to find a pristine world of saunas, steam baths, sprays, herbal tea and relaxation couches.  Bring on the Wellness - FB was ready to grow and evolve.

Pride of place in this complex was a large glass sided sauna with a commanding view of the mountains. This was a temple, nay a cathedral, of Wellness.  This was Wellness taken to a new level.  FB was about to discover there are levels of Wellness that he could not previously have imagined.

Celebrants in the Cathedral of Wellness

As FB sat contemplating the mountain view (and growing and evolving in his own manner), a high priestess of wellness entered the cathedral.  She greeted the faithful as they sat pink and perspiring on the benches.  She was here to perform the ritual aromatic infusion.  She assured them that the aromas of Meadow Herbs, Woodland Flowers, Alpine Spruce, Mountain Pine, or whatever was that day’s infusion, would regenerate them, banishing all manner of ills affecting their liver, heart, lungs and all other bits restoring them to the level of new born babes. 

She lifted her bucket and poured her magic solution on the coals.  With a hiss of steam the already demanding temperature soared to the barely bearable and amongst the faithful thousand pores opened.  The badness of wurstl, knodel, and in FB’s case, empire biscuits was eased away. The high priestess then took a specially designed ceremonial fan and wafted the sweetened hot air over the faithful.  FB inhaled deeply and sweated it out with his fellow disciples.  But he began to worry – Mountain Pine was all very well;  Alpine Spruce had its place.  But there was one aroma that seemed necessary to this level of Wellness.  He approached the High Priestess in mid-waft.

‘Achtung’, he intoned, summoning up his impressive command of the German language derived through painstaking study of Commando war comics in his misspent youth.  ‘Habenzie ein aroma auf linseed oil?’

For what other aroma could compare?  Even the smallest hint of linseed oil in the air would stir FB’s pulse, would cause all the world’s cares to slip off his shoulders, would bring to is mind images of sunshine, green grass, and the sound of leather on willow as that leg spinner was despatched to the far boundary.  It was real Wellness.  Wellness with a capital V.

‘Linseed oil.  I think not so.’ came the reply.  Noting the crumple in FB’s features teh priestess bravely tried to console him  ‘But we do serve Linsen suppe in the restaurant.’ 

FB returned to his perspiring contemplation of the mountain view.  He felt a little superior.   There was still a lot these people had to learn about true Wellness.  

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Make Cricket Great Again

There has been widespread welcome for the appointment of Joe Root as captain of England. 
POTUS calling Yorkshire

Fantasy Bob's worldwide monitoring system eavesdropped a call to Joe from the recently elected President of the United States of America.  (FB would like to make clear this was wholly accidental and accomplished without the assistance of any Russian hackers.)

..Hello tha's through to Joe Root but I can't take t'call reet now - am at t'nets - please leave message after t'tone.

Hi Joe, Donald J Trump here, just wanted to say hi and welcome you to the band of world leaders following your election - we top order bats gotta stick together - lotta BAD stuff in the world - lotta BAD bowling - lotta BAD wickets. We gonna Make Cricket Great Again.

Hey - your election victory - yeh - I hear it was almost as big as mine - you know I got more college votes than anyone ever - anyone says anything else its FAKE NEWS.  You gonna find out about that FAKE NEWS soon Joe - failing mainstream scorers will tell LIES - invent FAKE BALLS - FAKE LBWS - say you got out for 0, when you know you made 250 easy, 300 maybe - like I've never made anything less. I bat bigly - every time. The CNN say I got no idea where my off stump is - FAKE NEWS - I got an executive order - says my off stump is where I say it is. 

Joe, thought we should get together sometime - you got some deals with the Australians soon - I can tell you about them - they're a bunch of losers - and I mean LOSERS - with a capital SAD - and can you believe that part of Obama's failure was some deal that they think they can send all kinda BAD guys over here - guys with real bad bowling actions - I gotta stop them - I got an executive order keeps bent arms in their own countries - did you see my bowling action - straightest arm you ever seen - arm so straight it comes round the other side.

Hey - I guess you might need some new gear - I'm thinking I need to bring out a brand new line in cricket bats - the Donald J Trump Hitters - all made in the USA.   Hit every ball for six home runs. No more FAKE BALLS.  They gonna Make Cricket Great Again. 

And Ivanka's getting together a cool line in sweaters.  It's so UNFAIR that Aldi refuse to stock her merchandise.  She's such a great girl.  Even though she's my daughter I'd give her a 10.  Bat her well up the order - know what I mean.

Hey your Mother Therese doll said I need to come over sometime, fix her Brexit for her - see if it needs a wall or something which I think is a great thing.  I like her bowling action.  

Well Joe that'll do for now - got some TV shows to watch to catch some more fake news.  Hope we can get a few throwdowns soon.  We gotta keep on top of those BAD guys - we're gonna Make Cricket Great Again.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Let Us Now Praise Famous Doughty Groundsmen

To paraphrase the Wisdom of Sirach, 'Let us now praise famous doughty groundsmen,  and the wickets they begat us.............'

Fantasy Bob's dwindling handful of readers, distracted these days as they must be by continual reports of the world going to hell in a handcart and 200 becoming the par score in T20, may not have noticed a momentous announcement this week from the go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton.

It marked the end of an era with the retirement of the club's World Famous Doughty Groundsman. The announcement rightly noted the long years of doughty service with the scarifier that the WFDG had put in which have ensured that the Grange Loan wicket is as fine a playing surface as can be found anywhere.

Fantasy Bob adds his praise - the WFDG's support for the lower teams in the club was exemplary.  He prepared the wickets for FB's own lower league tussles with as much attention to detail as for the club's higher teams.  Never one to suffer fools gladly, or silently, he suffered FB's foolishnesses with saintly equanimity.

He might inwardly have groaned as FB spurned yet another fine batting service to bowl first in his obsessive pursuit of league points; he might have wondered to himself what was the point; but he stayed silent...........almost.

Yes, the WFDG has been an inspirational figure at Grange Loan and beyond -

Inspiring Rabbie Burns to a celebration of his work

Inspiring Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood

Inspiring Doughy Groundsmen the world over to seek his advice 

Inspiring not quite Henry Raeburn but another celebrated Edinburgh portraitist

Inspiring a world famous charity appeal

FB offers his thanks to the WFDG for his inspirational role and all his work and is glad to note that he will not be a stranger at Grange Loan.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Gift Tae Gie Us

Robert Burns
- could he play leg spin?
Recent discoveries suggest that Fantasy Bob and Robert Burns had much in common. 
This  effort was discarded by Burns (though he later used bits in other poems) but it confirms he and FB shared a weakness against leg spin bowling.

Oh thou! whatever title suit thee,
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie!
The Batsmen true can ne'er refute thee,
Thou Hellish sinner.
In the Devil's sway we'll put thee,
Reviled leg spinner.

When auld lang syne Benaud and Warnie,
Were clearly baith the chiels o' Hornie,
Made English batsmen grope forlornly,  
It turned sae vilely.
But there’s no mortal human born, he
Beats Bill O’Reilly.

An' noo despite his monstrous patter,
Could Fant'sy Bob be cried a batter?
Forbye he gies the ba' a clatter,
Wi' michty fleg, he
Finds his vain pretensions shatter,
Against a leggie.

Ye'd hae tae see it tae believe it,
He disnae ken tae play or leave it,
He'll aye end up just trying tae heave it,
Then mak' tae thump it,
Gie it the charge and so maun grieve it,
Oh Bob!  Thou'rt stumpit.

The coach says watch the ba's rotations,
Advice that gies Bob consternations,
An’ hours o' tortuous vexations,
Thru' sleepness night.
Hoo can Bob mak sic observations,
Battin' wi' e'e shut tight?

Leg spin - it's Satan's bowling action,
For darkness marks its malefaction,
Tormenting batters tae distraction,
Oor nerves are shoogly.
Then will the De'il sense petrifaction,
An' bowl the googly.

Oh wad some power the gift tae gie us,
Tae play leg spin as naethin' devious,
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
Stop melancholy.
And dream some day that ithers see us,
Bat just like Kohli.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Call Centre

It was not through choice that Fantasy Bob recently spent a number of hours that might have been better spent perusing the pages of Wisden in telephone discussion with residents of Mumbai.  Nor was he engaged in research as to the thoughts of those locals into the prospects of England's coming ODI tussles with India.  That might well have been a more purposeful conversation than that in which he found himself immersed. There was no cricketing purpose attached to his actions.  However bit by bit there came to be a familiar cricketing feel as the conversation left him floundering at apparently simple deliveries.

FB's decision to change broadband provider may in the course of time prove to have been inspired - on a par with the one occasion on which he opted to bat having won the toss.  But the first viewing of the replays on Hawkeye suggest the contrary.   Indeed there were a few loose ends which it would appear could only be addressed by phoning the new provider's call centre
Hey - who wants to speak with Fantasy Bob?
He navigates a seemingly endless series of menus and waits an eternity for a human being to become available.  He imagines the scene at the other end of the line in the distant sub-continent, ' Hey guys - looks like it's Fantasy Bob on the line - who wants to speak to him?'  'Not me,' the crew answer with one voice.'  OK,' says the boss, 'I'll play some completely dreadful musak, that should get him to hang up.'

FB's ears are bleeding but he hangs on gamely until, finally, a human voice appears.  It asks in a friendly manner for his account number and then says 'I need to check your security question - where were you born?'
FB knew the answer to this one - he boldly stepped to the crease.
'That is incorrect.'
'What do you mean incorrect?'
'It is not right.'  This answer didn't advance FB's understanding much.  He tried again.
'I assure you I was born in Aberdeen - you know, where Bradman played his last innings for Australia.'
'Aberdeen Australia - I am sorry it is not right.  We cannot proceed further.'
'No Aberdeen Scotland.'
'It is not right.'  The certainties that had structured FB's identity began to crumble.  It was an uncomfortable feeling.  For if he wasn't born in Aberdeen, where was he born, if indeed he had been born at all and who was he?  He tried to get on the front foot.
'Well, where was I born then?'
'I cannot say.  It is for you to tell me.'
'But I have.'
'Where were you born?'
'That is incorrect.'
'Do you have another security question?'
'Well, ask me it then.'
'I cannot until you tell me where you were born.'
'That is incorrect.'  A feeling familiar from the cricket field stole over FB.  There could be only one explanation.
'Tell me do you play cricket?'
'Yes sir.'
'And what is your bowling action?'
'Leg spin.'
Slowly, FB put the phone down - he knew he would never get bat on ball.  He would have to call again when the bowling had changed.