|Alexander Pope - looking at last season's averages|
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.