A Descent From The Gutter To The Sewer

Some thoughts about a piece of particularly vile “journalistic” malice that was brought to my attention yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

The main body of this post is inspired by the recent behaviour of a publication with whose name I will not sully this site, which has been despicable even by their standards. I also have a special photo section at the end.

THE STOKES STORY

Britain’s most notorious rag recently descended from its customary residence in the gutter to the most stinking, foetid depths of the sewers with a hit piece raking up details from events that occurred over 30 years in the life of the Stokes family. Apart from raking up and old tragedy they were also according Ben Stokes himself inaccurate in various ways, which again is par for the course for this particular rag.

Several things are needed to deal with so called “newspapers” which behave in this fashion:

  1. Leveson 2 needs to adopted in full as a start,
  2. IPSO, a toothless paper tiger of an organization, needs to be abolished, and all publications and websites which describe themselves as being about news should be required to sign up to IMPRESS, giving them one month in which to have achieved this or else be closed down.
  3. A serious code of practice, with serious penalties up to an including a permanent ban from publication needs to be introduced and enforced (I am not a fan of making legislation retroactive, although that would certainly eliminate from the scene both the publication that inspired this piece and at least one other so called ‘newspaper’.

The kind of malice masquerading as “journalism” that this filthy rag perpetrated at the expense of the Stokes family can only be dealt with properly if seriously harsh measures are available to punish such wrongdoers (Stokes may well win a fairly hefty amount in damages but this will bother neither the hacks involved nor the owner of their publication, as it will not be sufficient to hurt them). Also, because there are no specifications about corrections and apologies (which should be required to be given at least as much prominence as the original story), even in the unlikely event of IPSO bestirring itself do anything in that regard you can be sure that any correction will be buried deep in an anonymous middle page in tiny type.

I also think that the ECB and Test Match Special should be taking action – the latter should make it clear to everyone who works for the rag in question that they are now persona non gratae at all English cricket grounds, while Test Match Special should exclude anyone from the rag from any of their media panels and from appearing as part of the commentary team.

CALENDAR SELECTIONS

I have picked out the pictures from which the final selection for my 2020 wall calendar will be made, and I present them here:

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Heritage Open Day and Post Ashes

An account of Heritage Open Day, details of some events involving my role as branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk, and a look back at The Ashes,

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back at the Ashes and Heritage Open Day, and forward to some other events. I have plenty of photos to share as usual (calendar will be finalized later this week). I start with…

HERITAGE OPEN DAY

I was due to steward at Lath Mansion from 2PM to 4PM, and was well aware that I would not be able to keep going for the whole six hours of Heritage Open Day, so I decided to have an early lunch at home and then head for the town, aiming to have an hour in town before my stewarding stint began. Thus I arrived at the Tuesday Market Place at about 12:40, picked up a brochure for the event and proceeded from there.

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This is the place where I stewarded.

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I took time to look at two of the oldest cars the classic car display first of all…

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I decided that the only places I would visit prior to heading to Lath Mansion were the Norman house which these days houses a firm of solicitors and the Ouse Amateur Sailing Club, at the latter of which I consumed a pint of Ghost Ship. I then headed by way of The Lower Purfleet, the river front and St Margaret’s Lane to Nelson Street, and familiarized myself with Lath Mansion before starting my stewarding stint. Stewarding done it was time to head home. I am looking forward to be being involved again next year.

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Lath Mansion starts here picture wise.

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Not quite Faberge (!), but an ornamental egg.

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A very old style bus.

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THE ASHES – THE MOST UNDESERVED 2-2 SCORELINE IN HISTORY

I got back from Heritage Open Day just in time to listen to the last knockings of the fifth Ashes test match at The Oval. Jack Leach finished with 4-49, while Broad had 4-62 as Eng;and completed victory by 135 runs. Leach has surely ended any argument about who is first choice spinner for England in red ball cricket – Matt Parkinson, Dominic Bess and Amar Virdi would all merit consideration should England opt for two front line spinners, while Liam Patterson-White of Nottinghamshire warrants consideration for the future (in a few years time he may well be ready to step in Jack Leach’s shoes, although at present there is of course no vacancy for a slow left armer). Sam Curran, whose left handedness gives the pace attack an extra element of variation was also a big plus, and Archer’s man of the match winning first innings bowling confirmed his stellar status. The batting remains problematic, with Denly seemingly able only to score runs in the second innings, Bairstow unable to buy a run against the red ball and Buttler not doing enough to warrant a place as a specialist batter. The only reason England’s lack of a decent opening pair was not even more cruelly exposed than it was in this series is that Australia fared even worse in that department, with Warner setting a new record low aggregate for an opener who has played 10 innings in a test series (surely that means a final “good riddance” from test cricket for him). At a minimum Sibley needs to be brought into the top three, enabling Root to go back to four, Pope to come in for Buttler and Foakes to get the gloves in place of Bairstow (his batting has always been much more of a selling point than his keeping, so consistent failure in that department should not be tolerated).

In truth England were thrashed at Edgbaston, outplayed for most of Headingley and thrashed at Old Trafford, while having just the better of Lord’s and managing to beat an Australia who basically did not turn up at The Oval. In terms of the next Ashes series, in 2021-2, whoever is England captain for that will need to achieve something last achieved by Ray Illingworth in 1970-1 (Brearley in 1978-9, Gatting in 1986-7 and Strauss in 2010-11 were all retaining, not regaining, the Ashes), and only achieved prior to that by Stoddart (1894-5), Warner (1903-4), Douglas (with some important advice from a sick Warner, 1911-2) and Jardine (1932-3). One can only hope that whatever he might say in public Ed Smith does not con himself into believing that England actually merited the 2-2 scoreline – they certainly did not. Propagandizing may be acceptable, buying into one’s own propaganda is invariably disastrous.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The “Yes I Can” event takes place at The Corn Exchange on Tuesday. Following the success of their Autism Friendly Youth Group, the library will be holding an Autism Friendly Adult’s Group, with the first session 5PM to 6:45PM on September 30th, and sessions being twice monthly, on a Monday near the end of the month and on a mid month Wednesday. NAS West Norfolk will be continuing to run a ‘drop in’ group at the Scout Hall on Portland Place every Wednesday.

Adult Social Group
An Infographic I created about the new adult social group at the Library
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My lanyard.

Yes I Can

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Not quite the last butterfly of the year (I have a red admiral on my camera from today), but this comma cannot be far short.

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England Poised For Pyrrhic Victory At The Oval

A view of where things stand in fifth Ashes test at The Oval, and what the likely result means for England, plus a photo section that invites reader involvement – one of these pictures will be in the 2020 wall calendar.

INTRODUCTION

England seem likely to make the 2019 Ashes series a 2-2 draw either later today or some time tomorrow, after a good second innings batting performance secured their control of a game in which Australia by dreadful batting ceded the initiative to England on Friday. This post, written as I prepare myself for Heritage Open Day, looks at what is going on there and examines the merits and demerits of what the likely result of this match means for England. However, before I get into the main body of this post there is a small matter of business to attend to…

A CORRECTION TO MY PREVIOUS POST

On previous occasions when such has been necessary I have made it clear that it is policy on this blog not to do the equivalent of burying corrections in six point type in the middle of page 27. Therefore I am giving due prominence to a mistake I made in regard to this year’s County Championship. Somerset are indeed comfortably ahead of Essex at the top with no one else having a chance of taking the title, but I said in my previous post that they had a game in hand. This was an error – I misread the presentation of the table on cricinfo as saying that the game Essex were playing, which was still in progress, was their 13th, because their games played appeared as 12* which I took to mean that they had already played 12. In actuality the game in progress was their 12th, and I take this opportunity to correct the error. What this means is if Somerset and Essex both win their next games, Somerset will need a draw in their final match, which is a showdown against Essex to secure the title, if Somerset win and Essex don’t then Somerset will effectively be over the line with a game to spare, while victory for Essex and any other result for Somerset would make the final game a true “winner takes all” affair.

A POTENTIAL PYRRHIC VICTORY

The phrase “Pyrrhic victory” comes from king Pyrrhus of Epirus who won a battle against the then fledgling Roman empire but said when congratulated on his victory “I cannot afford another such victory”. Not many years later Epirus became a province of Rome. Why do I describe the victory that England are approaching in the fifth Ashes test as Pyrrhic?

  1. The Ashes are still Australia’s, so it changes nothing in that regard, while
  2. By giving a 2-2 series scoreline it creates an excuse for inaction on the part of the selectors that would not be there had the final scoreline been the 3-1 to Australia that cricketing justice demands, so on that ground it is a classic case of a victory that is at least potentially damaging to the victor’s long term hopes
  3. Several players who should probably be facing the axe have produced performances that may just save them (Buttler with two decent innings in the game, and Denly with a second innings 94 – such is the proportion of his runs that have now come in second innings efforts that he is turning into a batting equivalent of Andy Caddick, only less good, to name but two).Β 

Thus in many ways it would actually be better for England if Australia pulled off the mammoth second innings run chase that will be facing them. There were three unequivocal pluses for England in the first three days of this game – Burns‘ first innings 47, Archer’s second haul of six wickets in a test innings and Sam Curran’s wickets (although he does not have the pace to pose much of a threat when the ball is going through straight – without lateral movement he is a blunt sword). Australia have not been at the races in the three days we have had thus far, but I acquit them of trying to lull England into a false sense of security because I am well aware that no Aussie team would ever willingly accept defeat at England’s hands – it is just happens to be the case that a poor performance here may end up helping them in the long term, depending on exactly how ostrich-like Ed Smith and co turn out to be.

Given the size of the total Australia will be facing, and the only remotely likely way they will get anywhere near chasing to down, just for the record Steve Smith needs 224 to bring his series aggregate to 975 and claim one of Don Bradmans records for himself.

PHOTOGRAPHS

A variation of my usual sign off. I am presenting various pictures of a full moon from a couple of days ago, one of which will feature in my 2020 wall calendar. Please use the comments to nominate your choice…

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Final Ashes Test Sees Familiar Scenario

Looking at the state of play in the final Ashes test match and in the closing stages of the County Championships, a couple of dates for the diary and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The final test of this year’s Ashes series has no bearing on the destination of the urn – Australia have already ensured possession of that with their victory at Manchester. However, an England win would tie the series (previous examples of such include 1962-3, 1965-6 and 1972). This post looks at that, and at the closing stages of the County Championship.

THE TEST MATCH

Australia won the toss and put England in to bat. England were somewhat fortunate to reach a semi-respectable 294, Root being dropped three times en route to 54, while Buttler with 70 produced his only major score of the series, and Leach again showed his ability to hang around, lasting 80 minutes (43 balls) for 21. However, in addition to Root’s good fortune Denly, Stokes, Bairstow, and all-rounder Sam Curran, in for Jason Roy, all scored between 14 and 22, and in all cases were culpable in their own downfall. Denly and Burns put on 27 together for the first wicket, the biggest opening stand by either side in the series to date. Archer dealt swiftly with both Australian openers, Labuschagne and Smith have had a good partnership, but Labuschagne has just gone for 48, LBW to that man Archer, adding to this match’s substantial tally of ‘nearly but not quite’ innings and the even more substantial match tally of innings ended by batter error.

I have to say that I am a bit worried about how this match is going, because a 2-2 series draw would give the England selectors something to hide behind and excuse inaction, whereas a 3-1 beating would surely compel action. For similar reasons I take scant comfort in Buttler’s 70, which may simply have bought him an extension to a test career that has yielded inadequate returns for a specialist batter. I hope Anderson can regain fitness because the young speedster Archer and the wily veteran swing merchant Anderson in partnership is an enticing prospect.

SOMERSET SOON TO CELEBRATE

Somerset are poised to win their first County Championship, having ruthlessly disposed of Yorkshire, while the best their only rivals, Essex, can hope for in this round is to avoid defeat at the hands of Warwickshire. Tom Abell produced a gritty performance in the Somerset second innings, when Yorkshire might have stayed in contention had they taken quick wickets, and with more aggressive efforts by Tom Banton, George Bartlett and Lewis Gregory to back him up Somerset ended up with a huge lead, and a dispirited Yorkshire collapsed for the second time in the match. Warwickshire put up 517 (23 year old Matthew Lamb 173) against Essex, who could only respond with 324, and made to follow on, 101-1 so far at the second attempt. Somerset have 205 points with two games to go, and Essex, playing their penultimate game, and with no chance of the 16 for a win are currently on 192 points, which if they avoid defeat will become 197. Thus at worst Somerset will be in a position from which one more win in their last two games will guarantee them the title, as would two draws, while even a draw and a defeat would leave them heavy favourites. Other than Somerset the only teams not to have won a county championship are Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire (who were twice named Champion County in the 1870s, before the competition was out on an official footing in 1890). In the second division Lancashire disposed of Derbyshire in a match made notable by Josh Bohannon, whose previous highest score in a fledgling career was 98 not out, but who this time round scored 174, batting at no 3 and coming in after the fall of an early wicket. One big hundred does not make an England test player, but if he continues to score heavily from near the top of the order the selectors would have to take note (this innings gives him a record of 660 first class runs at 47.14).

Matthew Wade has just fallen to Sam Curran to make it 118-4 in the test match. Mitchell Marsh, whose medium pace somehow accounted for five England wickets, is now at the crease.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have two major events coming up – Sunday is Heritage Open Day, and I will be stewarding at Lath Mansion, Nelson Street from 2PM to 4PM. A week on Tuesday is the second “Yes We Can” day at the Corn Exchange, and I will be helping to run the NAS West Norfolk stall.

Yes I Can
NAS West Norfolk branch chair Karan McKerrow posted this graphic on facebook this morning.

Now for my usual sign off…

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Railway art at Stuart House…
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…where I was for a cheque presentation in connection with the King’s Lynn Beer Festival, where the charity to benefit was my own NAS West Norfolk.
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Preparing for the press photographs to be taken.

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NAS West Norfolk will be running regular drop in sessions at this scout hall on Portland Place, South Lynn

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The main room (but there are several other substantial rooms in this place)

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A peculiar bug with a stirped carapace.

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Let’s Empower One Another πŸ’•

This is a wonderful post from Phoebe. Please contribute to making it the success it deserves to be…

Phoebe, MD: Medicine & Poetry

Your words matter. You may not know it, but many times your blog posts help to brighten my day. You are all so awesome and unique, and it shows through your writing.

Today, I again open up PhoebeMD.com for you all to share your blogs, make new connections, and broaden your audiences. The guidelines, like always, are simple…

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England Players And Selectors Both Fail

An account of England’s defeat at Old Trafford, the loss of The Ashes and the subsequent failure of England’s selectors to take necessary action. Credit to Australia, who are worthy winners of both this match and The Ashes (and, almost certainly, the series as well).

INTRODUCTION

There are two threads to this post – the first is the loss of the 4th test match at Old Trafford and with it The Ashes, and the second is the unsurprising but very disappointing decision of the England selectors to name an unchanged squad for the fifth test match.

HOW THE DEFEAT PANNED OUT

England were eventually dismissed with just fewer than 15 overs to be bowled for 197 to lose by 185 runs. Denly made a half-century that was firmly in the “too little, too late” category. Craig Overton, in the side for his bowling skills, produced a display that should have brought blushes to the cheeks of most his supposed betters in the order by holding out for almost three hours before the inevitable happened, and Jack Leach lasted almost an hour with him in the ninth wicket stand that was England’s last gesture of resistance. Broad, the man with more test match ducks than any other England cricketer, escaped adding to his tally by being left 0 not out when Overton finally fell to end proceedings. That Overton and Leach were able to resist for as long as they did on this final day was a damning indictment of England’s top order (Burns and Root both got beauties from Cummins on the 4th evening, and Roy was on the end of a good ‘un as well, although his choice of shot certainly contributed to his downfall) who save for Denly failed to provide anything that could be described as an innings of substance (and even he nearly holed out at deep midwicket during what was supposed to be a resistance act). At Edgbaston in the first match Australia were 122-8 on the first day before Smith and Siddle rescued them and they went on to dominate that match. At Lord’s England had marginally the better of a drawn game, and save only for those amazing closing stages England were behind all the way at Headingley, while this match was pretty much all Australia as well. Thus Australia deserved their win, and deserve to have retained the Ashes. A win at The Oval would make the series 3-1 to Australia, and that would be a fair reflection of how the two sides have played. Were England to somehow win at The Oval and level the series 2-2 even I as an Englishman would have to say that it would be a travesty of cricketing justice, but I cannot see that happening with this same group of players named again. The full scorecard for this match can be viewed here.

CONSISTENCY OR STUBBORNNESS FROM ED SMITH AND FRIENDS?

I certainly do not want a return to the scattergun approach of the 1990s when players were in and out of the side at the drop of a hat, but naming this same group of players when at least four (Denly, Roy, Buttler and Bairstow) have simply failed to produce to the required standard seems to me to be veering from consistency (a degree of which should be maintained) into stubbornness if not pigheadedness. The bowlers are not to blame for the debacle that this series has been, and I would not make many changes there (I went into detail about my squad for The Oval yesterday – please visit that post for a look), but the specialist batting and the wicketkeepers position need changing. I hope that the England selectors will start afresh when naming the winter tour parties. Then the new players can be given this winter and the next home season to prove themselves. With all due respect to the Somerset giant, that Craig Overton batted longer than anyone else in England’s second innings points up the problems that rout (67 all out) in the first innings at Headingley so devastatingly revealed. A slightly less scathing assessment of England at present can be found here. Although I will not reproduce any of the substance of yesterday’s post, here is the 13 I suggested for The Oval, just for purposes of comparison with the inertia of the England selectors:

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Dominic Sibley
  4. *Joe Root
  5. +Ben Foakes
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Lewis Gregory
  8. Jofra Archer
  9. Stuart Broad
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Helen Fenby
  12. Ollie Pope
  13. Craig Overton

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Three rare shots – a cormorant in the Gaywood river (the Great Ouse is home to many cormorants, but I have never previously seen one in the Gaywood).

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Ashes Gone -What Should England Do Now?

Conceding the fourth test, and with it The Ashes, this post looks ahead to the fifth test at The Oval, with various changes to the England squad suggested. There are also lots of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

England’s defeat at Old Trafford has yet to be officially confirmed, but barring serious rain it seems inevitable, and that will mean that Australia have retained The Ashes. Even if England somehow escape with a draw (which would be undeserved) they would need to win at The Oval and that looks unlikely given Australia’s overall superiority thus far in the series (save for a few sessions at Lord’s and the amazing final stages of Headingley Australia have been bossing things all through this series). Based on three matches and four days of the fourth cricketing justice demands that Australia retain The Ashes. Thus this post looks at the future and suggests changes for the fifth test based on The Ashes being already gone, though I would still recommend that they make these changes regardless. Having started this post just before play begins on day five there is a question of which will be completed first – this post or Australia’s victory – and my lack of confidence in England’s remaining batting is such that am not betting on which happens first!

THE STORY OF DAYS 1-4

Australia racked up 497-8 declared in their first innings, Steve Smith helping himself to a double century, his third in test cricket, all of them at England’s expense (only Don Bradman, with no fewer than eight, has scored more against England). England just avoided the follow-on, Burns and Root playing substantial innings – the former in the process becoming the first opener not named Cook to score three fifties for England in a series since the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Then Australia went out for quick runs, and got enough to declare yesterday evening, setting England just over 380 to win, Smith by his standards failing, managing a measly 82 (nb – I have had plenty to say regarding his personal conduct, but I have never criticised his batting.). Then Burns and Root fell in successive deliveries in the first over of England’s 2nd innings. Denly and Roy saw things through to the close, but barring more heroics from Stokes, it has hard to see England batting out today.

ENGLAND’S PROBLEMS

Burns’ successes have resolved one of England’s top order problems, but still required there are a)another opener who can do it against the red ball and b) someone who is comfortable at no 3 against the red ball. Additionally I think that Buttler (his first innings effort here notwithstanding) and Bairstow both need replacing, with a genuine frontline batter and a wicketkeeper-batter respectively). The bowling is in a much better state, but at The Oval a second spinner is likely to be needed alongside Leach, and somehow they have to find out a way of getting Smith out.

SORTING THE BATTING

I do not believe that either Roy or Denly belong in a test XI, and even big scores for both of them today will be too little too late as far as I am concerned. I have been arguing in posts since August 31st 2018 for Tammy Beaumont to be given her chance alongside the men, and I stick to that line. At no 3 I opt for a third regular opener, Dominic Sibley, and then Root back where he really belongs at no 4. As wicketkeeper and no 5 I select Ben Foakes, with Ben Stokes rounding out the top six. I then go for all-rounder Lewis Gregory at seven, Jofra Archer at eight, Stuart Broad at nine, Jack Leach at ten, and at 11 my second spinner, to whom I dedicate the next subsection of this post…

HELEN FENBY – THE MYSTERY OPTION

I was alerted to this possibility in a match in which she took four cheap wickets and also surprised all the commentators with her action – if it is a new one on them then perhaps it will be a new one on Steve Smith (all orthodox selections seem to have drawn a blank, so let’s try an unorthodox one). While this would be envisaged XI I would also have in reserve in case conditions warrant it 1) an extra batter, in this case Ollie Pope of Surrey, and 2) a reserve pace bowler, Craig Overton. Thus, my full squad for The Oval would be (all names in hyperlink form):

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Dominic Sibley
  4. *Joe Root
  5. +Ben Foakes
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Lewis Gregory
  8. Jofra Archer
  9. Stuart Broad
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Helen Fenby
  12. Ollie Pope
  13. Craig Overton

FURTHER SUGGESTIONS TO COMPLETE A TEST TOUR PARTY

I want another three players to complete a test touring party, and I reckon that they should be a batter, a pace bowler and a spinner. My three choices for these roles are George Bartlett of Somerset (a look to the future, with a youngster who is better suited in both style and temperament to playing long innings against the red ball than to biffing the white one around – his county colleague Abell and Joe Clarke of Nottinghamshire both also merit consideration), Anderson if he is fit, and if not whoever out of Mark Wood and Olly Stone is fit and Dominic Bess (since I have a left arm spinner and leg spinner in my squad I opt for the off spinner Bess in preference to leg spinner Matt Parkinson).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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P1260932 (2)
A bit like too many of England’s recent batting efforts – a variety of ducks (the big one with the red face is a Muscovy duck).

P1260933 (2)P1260934 (2)P1260935 (2)P1260936 (2)P1260937 (2)P1260938 (2)P1260940 (2)P1260941 (2)P1260942 (2)P1260943 (2)P1260944 (2)P1260945 (2)P1260946 (2)P1260947 (2)P1260948 (2)P1260949 (2)P1260950 (2)P1260951 (2)P1260952 (2)P1260953 (2)P1260954 (2)P1260956 (2)P1260957 (2)P1260958 (2)P1260960 (2)P1260961 (2)P1260962 (2)P1260963 (2)P1260965 (2)P1260966 (2)P1260968 (2)P1260970 (2)P1260971 (2)P1260972 (2)P1260973 (2)P1260974 (2)P1260975 (2)P1260976 (2)P1260977 (2)P1260978 (2)P1260979 (2)P1260980 (2)P1260981 (2)P1260982 (2)P1260983 (2)P1260984 (2)P1260985 (2)P1260986 (2)P1260987 (2)P1260989 (2)P1260990 (2)P1260991 (2)P1260992 (2)P1260993 (2)P1260994 (2)P1260995 (2)P1260996 (2)P1260997 (2)P1260998 (2)P1260999 (2)P1270001 (2)P1270002 (2)P1270003 (2)P1270004 (2)P1270004 (3)P1270005 (2)P1270006 (2)P1270007 (2)P1270008 (2)P1270009 (2)P1270010 (2)P1270014 (2)P1270015 (2)P1270016 (2)P1270017 (2)P1270018 (2)P1270019 (2)P1270020 (2)P1270021 (2)P1270022 (2)P1270023 (2)P1270025 (2)P1270093 (2)P1270094 (2)P1270095 (2)P1270096 (2)P1270097 (2)P1270097 (3)P1270098 (2)P1270099 (2)P1270100 (2)P1270103 (2)P1270103 (3)P1270106 (2)

PS – contrary to the mischievous comparison made in the introduction to this post England have not lost a wicket thus far today.