This is going to be a brief post to put people in the picture about my current situation.
THE EVENTS OF THE WEEKEND
After a good Friday I woke up on Saturday morning feeling dreadful. The trouble was a headache. At about 7:30 I took two paracetamol, hoping that they would ease it and I would be able to function something approaching properly. By 9AM it was clear that such would not be the case and I phoned my aunt to request her company. She called 111, and the paramedics who came decided that a visit to hospital was warranted (I have secondary tumours in the brain, so a headache cannot be ignored). After speaking to my parents my aunt decided that rather than have the paramedics take me to QEH (who have blotted their copybooks more than once since I become ill) she would drive me to Addenbrooke’s, who were informed that I was on the way.
At Addenbrookes after a check of my vital signs revealed nothing to worry about I was taken for a CT Scan and then temporarily admitted to the very familiar surroundings of Ward D9. The scan did not reveal anything that it shouldn’t, and by Sunday morning the headache had gone and I was feeling a lot better. By that stage the only question was how long it would take to attend to necessary bits and pieces before I could be discharged, and by 2PM I was in my parents car and we were heading to King’s Lynn.
Normal blogging service should be resumed from tomorrow.
I have no pictures of my own to share, but here is a graphic posted on twitter by Anne Memmott for Autism Acceptance/Appreciation Month:
The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, looking at the opening pair from my seventh XI. Also contains some of my photographs.
Welcome to the latest addition to my “100 cricketers” series. In this post the focus is on the opening batters from our seventh XI. The introductory post to the series can be found here, and the most recent post in it, in which I introduce the seventh XI, can be found here.
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL OPENING PAIR OF MODERN TIMES
My openers in this XI played as an opening pair for many years. In total they opened the batting together in 148 test match innings, putting on 6.482 runs for an average partnership of 47.31. The partnership who in terms of weight of run scoring stand alone at the top of the all-time openers list are England’s Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe who opened 38 test match innings, with their partnerships tallying 3,249 runs for an average opening stand of 87.81. For another point of comparison, where Greenidge and Haynes shared 16 century opening stands in 148 partnerships, Hobbs and Sutcliffe managed 15 in 38 innings. Hobbs also had an earlier England opening partnership with Wilfred Rhodes which averaged more than 60 runs a time. Cricinfo has an interesting article about successful opening pairs here.
Many years as an overseas player with Hampshire helped Greenidge to become the West Indies all-time leading first-class run scorer, although he did not quite make it 100 first-class hundreds (he finished with 92). In test cricket he scored 7,558 runs at 44.72. In the 1984 series in England which the West Indies won 5-0 he scored two double centuries, 223 at Manchester and 214 not out at Lord’s to take his team to a nine wicket win on the fifth day. He was noted for being particularly dangerous when limping, as then he would only be interested in boundaries.
He also had a long county career, with Middlesex in his case. His test career yielded 7,487 runs at 42.29. He was also very successful in ODIs, tallying 8,648 runs at 41.37 in that form of the game. In test matches he often adopted the anchor role, allowing the flamboyant strokemakers elsewhere in the order to play around him. This opening ppair would, as they often did in their day, set the innings up well for the middle order, and we will be seeing nos 3,4 and 5 in the next post in this series.
The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, rounding out the discussion of the sixth XI ancd introducing the seventh XI. As usual it also contains some of my photographs.
Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. This post concludes the look at my sixth XI with a look at the all-rounders and introduces the seventh XI in batting order. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the sixth XI here and the most recent post in the series here.
Her overall batting record looks modest (ODI average 27.33, T20I average 18.20, no tests played yet), but her last seven innings have been 56, 79, 54, 76, 18, 36 and 57, all of them in winning causes. At the age of 25 she should still be improving, and I firmly expect that international centuries will appear against her name sooner rather than later. Sarah Taylor’s absence has given her an opportunity for an extended run at international level and she has taken it splendidly.
Given that I do not set huge store by records in T20 and that she is yet another top woman cricketer who has had no opportunity to show what she can do in test cricket it is her ODI record that earns her a place in this squad, and her figures in that form of the game are: 48 matches, 1,330 runs at 41.81 with a highest score of 155 and 56 wickets at 27.39 (economy rate 3.87) with a best of 6-20. This means that she is worth a place purely with the bat, and is a genuine front-line spinner to support my West Indian pace quartet (better than anyone who actually provided spin back-up to a WI pace quartet, most often the part-time stuff of Viv Richards, and even Roger Harper, though officially a front-line bowler did not have that great a bowling record), which really strengthens the overall squad. To complete the record on the bowling front, Sanath Jayasuria’s slow left-arm would be the sixth bowling option and Chloe Tryon’s left-arm medium fast would be seventh in the pecking order. Deepti Sharma is a youngster, just 21 years old, which means that her finest years are still ahead of her – look for an already impressive record to get even better. This completes the look at the sixth XI, meaning that it is time to introduce…
Note that in this XI I have gone to to the extent of naming a vice-captain – I will explain this in more detail in later posts. For the moment, all I will say is that there are those who would advocate that the no3 in this XI get the captaincy and I wanted to emphasise just how far away he is from that in my thoughts.
The latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring the remaining specialist batters from my sixth XI, and also including some of my photographs.
Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. In this post we look at the remaining batters from our sixth XI. The introductory post to to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the sixth XI here, and the most recent post in the series here. Just before I get to the main meat of this post there is a piece of cricket news from today…
ENGLAND WOMEN SWEEP T20 SERIES IN SRI LANKA WITH A DOMINANT DISPLAY
The England women had already secured a 3-0 whitewash in the ODI series, and this morning they made the scoreline in the T20 series the same. Having chased successfully twice they batted first this time, and scored 204-2 from their 20 overs, Amy Jones (of whom more in my next post) scored 57 off 38 balls, Danielle Wyatt51 off 33, Natalie Sciver49 not out off 24 and Tammy Beaumont 42 not out off 25, with five extras completing the total. Sri Lanka were then restricted to 108-6 in reply, giving a winning margin of 96 runs (absolutely huge in this form of the game). Everyone who was asked to bowl contributed, although left-arm slow bowler Linsey Smith was a little expensive, taking 1-33 from her four overs. Freya Davies with 1-12 from her four was the most economical bowler, while Kate Cross with 2-20 from her four was alone in taking more than one wicket. Laura Marsh (1-17 from 3) and Heather Knight (1-13 from 3) also got wickets while Wyatt bowled 2 overs for 7 runs. A scorecard can be viewed here and an official report here. Now to our main business, starting with…
77 Test matches to date have yielded him 6,613 runs at 57.26, 227 ODIs have produced 10,843 runs at 59.57 and 67 T20Is have produced 2263 runs at 50.28, making unquestionably the best batter across the formats in world cricket today. With Steven Smithyet to return to international cricket after serving his ban for involvement in a cheating scandal only Joe Rootof England and Kane Williamson of New Zealand are close to him for performing in all formats. Although I have made him captain of this XI I have reservations about him in this area, having not been impressed when England beat India 4-1 last summer. However, the only other person in this XI whos been a long term captain is Courtney Walsh, and there are often problems with specialist fast bowlers as captains, so I stuck with him, although I did briefly consider bestowing the captaincy on off-spinning all-rounder Deepti Sharma who will feature in the next post in this series.
Harmanpreet (note that Kaur is a middle name shared by all Sikh women – it means princess, and her actual full name is Harmanpreet Kaur Bhullar) like so many of the women has not had the opportunities in test matches (she has played twice in this format), but her records in ODIs and T20s are both good, and a best score of 171 not out indicates that she does know how to play a big innings.
The big hitting South African (71 sixes in all forms of international cricket) is still only 25, so should still be improving as player. Although it is a middle order batter that she is in this squad she does bowl occasional left-arm medium fast as well. With Jayasuriya, Sidhu, Kohli and Harmanpreet as well as the all-rounders who we will look at next, and and an awesome bowling line-up to defend whatever the XI manage to score we can well afford the presence of a bit of a wild card.
Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the opening batters from my sixth XI. Also features some of my photographs.
Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, in which the focus is on the opening batters from my sixth XI. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the sixth XI is here and the most recent post here. Before getting into the main meat of my post there is one little thing to do.
DRAW IN DUBAI
In the end rain intervened in Dubai to consign the “champion county” match between MCC and Surrey to a draw. The MCC will have been relieved as at one point they were four wickets down in their second innings and only nine runs to the good. Surrey played this match like the champions they are, and were better in all departments save spin bowling (it was unfortunately not difficult to see why Freddie van den Bergh pays almost 45 a piece for his first class wickets, while Scott Borthwick who snared a couple is principally a batter. With due respect to Olly Pope for his 251 (his quality was already well known before this game) the biggest single positive for Surrey from a match that contained many was the performance of first-class debutant Jamie Smith, excellent behind the stumps and a quite magnificent first effort with the bat, starting with his side in a spot of bother at 144-4 and ending with them in complete control – expect to hear a lot more of this young man, and on bigger stages than this. All in all these four days have been an excellent curtain-raiser for the 2019 English season, and I look forward to the season proper with considerable anticipation. I would not expect anyone to be given an Ashes series as their first international assignment unless they were doing absolutely sensationally, but there could certainly be some new faces in the winter touring parties. Time now for the main business of this post starting with…
6,973 test runs at 40.07, with a best od 340 v India at Colombo, 98 test wickets at 34.34 with his slow left-arm and a decent fielder. His ODI figures were 13,430 runs at 32.36 and 323 wickets at 36.75, economy rate 4.78 (he played no fewer than 445 of these games). He was past his best by the time T20s became a thing but his T20 record from 31 appearances was 629 runs at 23.29, with a scoring rate of 129.15 per 100 balls and 19 wickets at 24 a piece with an economy rate of 7.37.
His finest hours came in the 1996 world cup, when he was the player of the tournament, explosive as an opening batter, taking advantage of the fielding restrictions that applied at that time. The key to Sri Lanka’s success with these tactics was that Jayasuriya and his opening partner Kaluwitherana were both batters of genuine quality – England tried using offspinner and useful lower-order batter Neil Smithin this role with no success, Zimbabwe once promoted legspinner Paul Strangonly to see him record a 17 ball duck and Pakistan tried the effect of promoting younf all-rounder Abdul Razzaq without achieving the desired effect. His 82 off 44 balls which showed England the exit door of that tournament after they had posted an inadequate 235-7 in their innings (England were shocking in that tournament, reaching the quarter-final only because they had two associate nations in their group, who they were just about good enough to beat) was in the nature of a mercy killing, providing a quick end rather than slow torture.
His 213 in the one-off test of 1998 at The Oval ensured that Muralitharan got a decent rest between bowling stints, and helped his side to a comfortable win.
Sanath Jayasuriya was for a few years the most exciting opening batter in world cricket, and for many years after that remained a redoubtable competitor who could influence a game with contributions in any or all departments. We now move on to his opening partner in this XI…
In the years after Sunil Gavaskar and before Virender Sehwag most of the players selected to open the batting for India were distinctly unmemorable and had records that were less than awe-inspiring. The exception was Navjot Singh Sidhu, who should have played a lot more than the 51 test matches he actually got (3,202 runs at 42.13). He also played 136 ODIs, scoring 4,413 runs at 37.08. He had finished before T20 started, but with his aggressive approach to batting he would probably have fared well at that form of the game as well. When England visited India in 1992-3 he used his feet against the spinners with devastating effect – both the aging John Emburey, recently restored after his second ban for going on a rebel tour to South Africa, and the erratic legspinner Ian Salisburycopped fearful punishment.
Given his fine record one has to wonder why he was not picked more often at international level. He was an eccentric character and this may well have counted against him, as it has down the years with a few others.
NEXT IN THIS SERIES
The next post in this series will look at the remaining specialist batters in my sixth XI, before I finish the account of this XI with the two all-rounders, and introduce my seventh XI.
The latest post in my “100 cricketers” series, this one has some special features and happens to my 1,500th on aspi.blog.
Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. This post focusses on the bowling attack from my sixth XI, a West Indian fast bowling quartet. The introductory post to the series can be found here, and the most recent post, in which I introduce the sixth XI can be found here. I have three little bits to do before getting to the main meat of the post. In my last post I indicated that I wanted this one to be a bit special, and challenged people to guess why…
1,500 NOT OUT
No, not an actual score! This is my 1,500th post on aspi.blog, and that is why I hope it will be just a bit special.
ENGLAND WOMEN SEAL T20 SERIES V SRI LANKA WITH EMPHATIC VICTORY
First of all the England Women restricted Sri Lanka to 108-6 from their 20 overs. Veteran Katherine Brunt collected two wickets to go past 250 in all forms of international cricket, while Marsh, Sciver and Knight each took one and 20 year old legspinner Sophia Dunkley bagged her first international scalp. Young pace bowler Freya Davieswas wicketless but went for only 15 in her four overs. They then took only 13.5 overs to knock the runs off, Amy Jones and Danielle Wyatt kicking off with a stand of 79, and after their departure Beaumont and Sciver did the rest for an emphatic eight wicket victory. England women are very well equipped with young spinners – as well as Dunkley and Linsey Smith (two overs for 19) who were in the side today Sophie Ecclestone and Alex Hartleyare both faring well when they get the opportunities.
MCC FIGHT BACK BUT SURREY STILL FAVOURITES IN DUBAI
Jamie Smith achieved the highest score ever made by someone making a first class debut for Surrey, but fell quickly thereafter for 127. Olly Pope went on to a mammoth 251, reaching 250 with three successive sixes, and Surrey were all out on the stroke of lunch for 520, a first innings lead of 255. The MCC side responded well, reaching the close on 221-1, Dominic Sibley, himself a former Surrey player, 102 not out and the other opener Will Rhodes 88. Given that they are still 34 in arrears the MCC side will need to bat until at least tea time tomorrow to give themselves a chance of saving the game. Should they gain a lead 150 or so and have that final session to bowl at Surrey there could yet be a good finish, because I imagine that in a one-off fixture Surrey would be inclined to have a serious go at chasing them. It is now time for the main meat of the post…
WEST INDIAN PACE QUARTETS
From their first appearances on the world stage the West Indies have been noted for producing fast bowlers. However, the use of a quartet of pace bowlers dates specifically from the period 1976-1995, when the West Indies bestrode world cricket like a colossus. In 1975-6 a West Indies squad captained by Clive Lloyd were beaten 5-1 in a six match test series in Australia, whose bowling attack featured Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Max Walker(righ-arm fast medium) and Gary Gilmour (left-arm fast medium and a handy lower middle order batter). This planted the germ of an idea that fully crystalized in the mind of Lloyd during a match against India in Trinidad, in which the West Indies equipped themselves with three spinners, Inshan Ali, Raphick Jumadeen and Albert Padmore, as against the Indian trio of Bhagwat Chandrasekar, Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna. The West Indian trio were a match for the Indian in terms of bolwing styles, but they did not have the same ability – in the fourth innings of that match, when the spinners should have been at their best India scored 406-4 to win by six wickets. Back in the dressing room Lloyd asked them just how many they needed to be able to defend, though he had no intention of finding out. He battled the selectors to get his way, and the pace quartet was born. In England in 1976, fired up by foolish comments from England captain Tony Greig, the first of these quartets, Vanburn Holder, Michael Holding, Wayne Daniel and Andy Roberts wrought aboslute havoc, and thereafter until the Aussies came calling in 1995 the West Indies lost only one series (a three-matcher against New Zealand in 1980) and a mere handful of matches.
The book “Real Quick”, by Michele Savidge and Alastair McClellan records the history of these great pace quartets in detail. David Frith’s “The Fast Men” a survey of fast bowling through the whole history of cricket features various West Indians, and C L R James in “Beyond a Boundary” and elsewhere writes about various West Indian bowlers along the way.
INTRODUCING MY CHOSEN QUARTET
I could have chosen the first quartet, as the original history makers, or I could have gone for the best quartet to have played as such (a close call between Holding, Garner, Roberts and Croft or Holding, Garner, Croft and Marshall), but mindful of my desire to focus on players who I had at least some experience of seeing or hearing playing live I instead went for a quartet three of whom did play together (Holding had finished before the two most recent members of my quartet started), and who would have stood comparison with any pace bowling quartet you could put together. Now we turn to my quartet starting with…
60 test matches brought him 249 wickets at 23.68. He also scored six half-centuries batting down the order. His best match was at The Oval in 1976, when on a pitch on which no one else could do anything he took 8-92 and 6-57 to win the match for the West Indies. At Bridgetown, Barbados in 1981 he bowled on over to Geoffrey Boycottwhich is regarded by many as the greatest opening over of as test match ever bowled – check out the clip below:
He was nicknamed Whispering Death so silent was his approach to the bowling crease.
81 test matches yielded him 376 wickets at 20.94 each, and 1810 runs at 18.85 with the bat. He also got through a huge bowling workload for Hamphsire who he served magnificently as an overseas player. He was always quick, and as he matured he developed craft and guile to go with his speed, and became probably the most complete fast bowler in the game. At Headingley in 1984 he suffered a broken arm, went in to bat to enable Larry Gomes to complete a century, and then bowled with the left arm in a plaster cast in the England second innings – and took a then career best 7-53 – he would improve it four years later to 7-32 again at the expense of England.
98 test matches yielded him 405 wickets at 20.99. He once destroyed Australia at the WACA with a spell of 7-1 in 33 deliveries. At Headingley in 1991 he took the first six wickets in the England second innings, before Derek Pringle stayed with Gooch, who was in the process of playing one of the great test innings, for over two hours, and England emerged victorious. At Trinidad in 1994 England were set a target of 194 to win, and had an hour in murky light to survive on the penultimate evening. By the time that hour was done England were 40-8, six of them to Ambrose, and the match was effectively over. Here, courtesy of youtube, is some footage of that latter occasion:
He was the first bowler to take 500 test wickets (519 at 24.44), and among quick bowlers only James Anderson and Glenn McGrath have taken more. In 2,000, when Walsh was playing hnis final series against England, the latter brought Marcus Trescothick into their side to open the batting. On his debut he was 0 not out when Walsh was rested after his opening burst. He got under way off the first ball from Walsh’s replacement and went on to make 66 in that innings. Walsh was one of the 1991 quartet (along with Ambrose, Marshall and Patrick Patterson) who made Graeme Hick’s introduction to test cricket such a personal nightmare (the England selectors who in their impatience to pick him threw him straight in against the West Indies quicks compounded their initial felony by then dropping him from the last match of the summer against Sri Lanka who possessed no bowlers of real pace – this is the match the should have been earmarked for his debut, to ease him in at the highest level). This completes my account of my West Indian pace bowling quartet – my next post in this series will deal with the opening batters from my sixth XI.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND LINKS
Before finishing this post in my usual fashion I have a couple of interesting links to share:
As an autistic person who finds the very notion of autism as something to be cured offensive I am delighted report that the Advertising Standards Agency has told 150 homeopaths to stop claiming that they can cure autism. The full story is available here.
My interest in paleontology was enough to attract me to the story of a remarkable new bed of Cambrian fossils. I am delighted to be able to provide a link to coverage of this find on whyevolutionistrue, one of my favourite blogs.
The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, with some comment on the MCC v Surrey macth and some photographs.
Welcome to this latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, which I type just as coverage of an IPL game between Rajasthan Royals and The Kings XI Punjab gets underway. Today I conclude the coverage of my fifth XI and introduce the sixth XI in batting order. I will start my coverage of that XI with the bowlers for a reason that will be explained when I introduce the squad. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the fifth XI can be found here and the most recent post in the series can be found here. Before I get into the main meat of my post there is a bit of cricket to report on…
POPE AND SMITH PUT SURREY IN CONTROL AGAINST MCC
Surrey finished day 2 of the MCC v Champion County match in Dubai on 389-4, 124 ahead with six first innings wickets still standing. The architects of this unassailable looking position were Olly Pope with a career best 183 not out and debutant wicketkeeper Jamie Smith who had already impressed with the gloves, who was 123 not out by the close. Their partnership was worth an unbroken 245, a record stand for any wicket for Surrey v MCC. Smith needs two more runs tomorrow to set a new record for someone making their first-class debut for Surrey. He is still some way short of the all-time debutant’s record, 240 by a South African named Eric Marx. Pope has already had full England experience and would appear likely to get more in the not too distant future, while Smith has a ton in an under-19 international to his credit, and on the evidence of his innings today against a decent attack who had started the day well (Sam Cook took two wickets early on, and MCC captain Stuart Broad – a man with over 430 test wickets to his credit – also bowled well early on) may well be a candidate for full international honours as well. What should Surrey’s plan be for tomorrow (day three of four)? I would say all out attack with the bat in the morning session, and if not all out by then declare at lunch with what would be a huge lead and get stuck in to the MCC second innings. It is now time to for the business part of this post, starting with…
THE FIFTH XI SPIN BOWLERS
My spin bowlers for this squad are an off-spinner and a leg-spinner respectively, giving good variation. One was a great of the early 2000s, the other is a late developer who has only recently begun to establish himself at the highest level. I deal with them in chronological order, beginning with…
417 test wickets, albeit at a slightly expensive 32.46 each, are impressive bowling credentials. His performances against Australia in 2001, when he virtually won India a series against them were simply extraordinary, and when England visited India around the same time they were equally at sea against him. For a brief period in the early 2000s he was probably second only to the amazing Murali (mentioned in this post) among offspinners.
Only 60 test wickets at an average of 39.83, although his ODI record (128 wickets at 29.74, economy rate 5.58) is good. However, his recent performances since his somewhat controversial recall to the test ranks have been good, including his first five-for at that level, as England’s spinners outdid Sri Lanka’s in the latter’s backyard. England have not produced many internationally successful legspinners down the years – among English bowlers of this type only Doug Wright has as many as 100 test wickets, and he paid 39 a piece for them. Scottish born leggie Ian Peebles’45 test wickets at 30.93 included that of Bradman on two occasions (Peebles went on to become one of the better writers about the game). Tich Freeman (he was only 5’2″ tall), second leading wicket taker in first-class history with 3,776 at 18.42 was only asked to play for his country on 12 occasions, capturing 66 wickets at that level at 25.86 each. Adil Rashid is therefore faring better than most English legspinners, and I believe that he still has a few good years left in him.
THE FAST BOWLERS
It is now time to focus on my new-ball pairing, an Aussie combo featuring serious pace from one end and unrelenting accuracy from the other. We will start with…
310 test wickets at just over 30 a piece. At Trent Bridge in 2005 he caused nerves in the England camp after a match that the latter had largely dominated. England got home on that occasion, the margin being three wickets, but Lee’s bowling in the final innings with only 129 to defend certainly caused a few nerves. In the final match of that amazing series at The Oval he came off second best when a blistering post-lunch spell to Kevin Pietersen was met with spectacular and very successful aggression from the batter.
In the only Ashes series on which he was part of a losing combination Glenn McGrath (563 test wickets at 21.64) was out injured for both of the matches that his team lost, and this is no coincidence. In the first match at Lord’s England bowled Australia out for 190 and things seemed to be looking good for the home side. McGrath produced an opening burst of 5-2 to make things look very different, and Australia ended up winning by 239 runs, although Pietersen made two fifties on his test debut for one English positive. When Australia went to the Caribbean in 1995 (The West Indies were still a mighty fine side then) McGrath said before the series started that the Australian fast bowlers needed to give their West Indian counterparts a hard time, which was a brave statement from a genuine no 11 who knew he would be a sitting duck for any retaliation on their part. Australia, due in no small part to regularly dismissing the West Indies lower order cheaply went on to take the series, the first side to do that against the West Indies since 1980. From then until the end of McGrath’s career in the 5-0 whitewash Ashes of 2006/7 Australia dominated the world game, and he was one of the chief reasons why.
This is my XI that features a West Indian pace quartet – an intention that I have mentioned previously. My next post will feature them in detail and will (I hope) be just a bit special – I have a reason for wanting that specific post to be somewhat special, see if you can guess before I reveal why at the start of it.
Here is my usual reward for those who have made it through to the end: