This is going to be a long post because there is a massive story to cover concerning the cricket in addition to the match itself. I will also be including some mathematical problems and solutions and of course some of my own photographs.
ENGLAND WIN A THRILLER TO TAKE THE SERIES 3-1 WITH A MATCH TO GO
On Thursday when England stumbled to 86-6 after winning the toss and batting I was not expecting to be writing a piece of this nature. England failed to polish off the Indian first innings when they had a chance of a lead. When Stokes stuffed skipper Root (run out 48) it was 122-5 and England led by only 97. Then came another lower order fightback, and with Curran adding 46 to his first innings 78 England set India 245 to win. The match was settled while I was at the Mencap Beach Hut, Old Hunstanton on an NAS West Norfolk day out. As usual the key wicket was that of Kohli, and once he had gone India never got back into contention, Moeen Ali adding four wickets to the five he took in the first dig (he is very much a bowler who likes being at home – 91 wickets at 31 in England, 51 at 52 abroad) to help settle things. In neither innings did England’s top order deliver sufficiently (a recurring problem). Aside from Root’s 48 from his preferred no 4 slot in the second innings, the highest score from an England player in the top four was Jennings’ second innings 36. I am now going to through England player by player.
- A N Cook – see next section
- K K Jennings – a failure in the first innings, and in many ways a worse story in the second – an opener who gets as far as 36 should be settled in for the long haul. I believe that with the series safely won and the situation ripe for experimentation he should be dropped.
- J E Root – the skipper dropped himself to no 4 in the second innings and it took a run out to get rid of him then.
- J M Bairstow – he was sufficiently injured to prevent him from keeping but not apparently from batting, but if he is to play as a specialist batsman it should be at no 3.
- B A Stokes – the new, responsible Stokes played well up to a point in this match but in the second innings he overdid the blocking to the point of handing the initiative to India. Also running out the skipper never looks great (save perhaps at Christchurch in 1978 when Botham, allegedly acting on instructions from vice captain Willis to do whatever was needed to up the run rate, stitched up skipper Boycott).
- J C Buttler – one of only two England batsmen to have topped the 250 run mark thus far in the series (the other being the wunderkind Curran) and competent behind the stumps.
- M M Ali – a useful batting effort after England’s disastrous start on day 1 and two good bowling performances. His mid-match promotion to number three (where he did recently hid a double century for Worcestershire v Yorkshire) shows how desperate England are to find a way for Root to bat at four.
- S M Curran – about the only thing the youngster hasn’t done in this series is walk on water! He is establishing himself as a star player.
- A U Rashid – a poor match with both bat and ball, but he is too good not be firing again soon.
- S C J Broad – a solid match for the veteran new ball bowler. He has now drawn level with Sir Richard Hadlee in the all-time test wicket takers list.
- J M Anderson – a quiet match for one of the all-time great swing bowlers, but even though he did not take many wickets he continued to command respect.
I will end the cricket part of this post by naming my team for The Oval.
FAREWELL ALASTAIR COOK
Alastair Cook, after 160 test matches, the last 158 in sequence (the longest unbroken run of appearances in test history, and not likely to be challenged any time soon) has announced that the last match of this series, at The Oval, will be his international swansong. This marks the end of an epoch not just for England but for test cricket – in many ways Cook is the last true test match batsman, having made his debut before T20 was a really major thing and unlike many who get seduced by the bright lights and big money at tournaments such as the IPL he abandoned short form cricket to concentrate on his test match career. His achievements in test cricket placve him firmly among the greats of the game, and I think he has timed his announcement exactly right, bowing out on his own terms (which he had more than earned the right to do) and before too many people began to ask just why he continued to be picked.
On the 2010-11 Ashes tour Alastair Cook had to most successful visit to that part of the world by anyone named Cook since Captain James called by in 1770, and the most successful by an England batsman since Hammond in 1928-9. He played three monumental innings in that series, a match saving 235 not out at the Gabba (also sometimes referred to as the ‘Gabbatoir’ on account of what often happens to visiting sides there), his 148 at Adelaide that set the stage for the Pietersen innings that put Australia right out of that game and the 189 at Sydney in the final game that ensured that the final scoreline for the series would reflect England’s dominance (a 2-2 draw would have been an utter travesty, and even 2-1 to England after a drawn final match would have looked better than Australia deserved).
I have no doubt that there will be occasions in the near future when England find themselves wishing for Cook’s cool head and fighting qualities. It will be hard to get used to an England order without the name Cook at the top of it.
From this huge cricket fan and devotee of test cricket the message is “Well done Alastair, and thanks for some fabulous memories, especially of the Aussies being humbled in their own backyards”.
THE TEAM FOR THE OVAL
HI do not expect that thsi team will actually be picked (!) but it is what I would do in these circumstances, with the series already won: A N Cook, R J Burns, T T Beaumont, *J E Root, O J D Pope, S M Curran, +J C Buttler, M M Ali, A U Rashid, S C J Broad, J M Anderson.
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
I begin with the solutions to the two problems I posed in my last post:
AKSHATHA AND DEV
I give you a beautiful published solution from David Vreken:
Here is the answer:
I published a solution to this problem, which although more than half of all solvers got it wrong is actually very easy. My solution:
- 1001 is odd, and the only even prime number is two.
- 1001 – 2 = 999, which is obviously divisible by three (full prime factorization is 3 x 3 x 3 x 37)
- Negative numbers do not apply to these questions as with them no number matches the definition of a prime, but even if they did, 1,003 (1,001 – -2) is composite anyway (17 x 59).
WHAT IS THE AREA OF THE QUADRILATERAL?
This is first of two new problems from brilliant.org for you:
There are two ways to solve this one, the official method and a hack (no bonus points awarded for guessing which method I adopted!).
HOW MANY ITEMS?
Incidentally this question should not be taken as suggesting that I approve of this method of pricing – the reverse is actually the case, I think it is utterly ridiculous and very irritating.