Welcome to the next post in my series on my long weekend away (14-17 August). This post is the first of several I shall be putting up about Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island. This remarkable islands sits just of the coast of Northumberland – it is linked to the mainland by a causeway which is usable for some of each day.
Coming from our location getting on to the approach to the causeway required getting across the A1, and the junction in question has no traffic lights, which means that it takes a considerable time to get across. We then had a further substantial wait before being able to cross the causeway.
STARTING TO EXPLORE
We started with some general stuff about the island, its history and the wildlife to which it is home. We then headed in the direction of the castle, which in its current incarnation is modern, having been redesigned by Lutyens. There is also a walled garden which was designed and laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.
Here are some photographs from the early part of our explorations of this island:
Some ideas for the Ashes tour, a couple of links and some photographs.
This post is prompted by the recent behaviour of Engkand’s test selectors, and my increasing certainty that big changes are needed.
INJURIES AND REJECTS
Various players are hors de combat with injuries or due to other issues. Archer and Stone both have long term injuries that will keep them out of the Ashes, Broad is also injured and may not be able to play the Ashes, Stokes and Buttler have to be treated as not available for the Ashes given that Stokes has already said he is taking time out and Buttler does not want to be away for months on end with his wife about to have their second child. Also I do not believe that any of Ali, Bairstow, Crawley or Malan should be considered for this most demanding of all tours. The last of these four may yet convince me, having just been drafted into the squad, but at the moment that decision just looks like the latest in a series of regressive, backward looking calls the selectors have made recently.
I think that Root needs to be relieved of the captaincy, and would at this point give the job to Rory Burns as a temporary measure, hoping that Tom Abell (my choice for number three and Somerset’s current captain) can establish himself at test level and then be given the captaincy.
This of course is the biggest area of concern for England at present. With Sibley out of form and confidence I see little alternative to Burns and Hameed as openers, Abell would be my choice at three, and Root at four. Number five for me is between Lawrence and Pope, with my preference for the first named. I would give the gloves to Foakes with Buttler not available, with Bracey in the squad as reserve keeper. Foakes would bat six, putting an extra batter between him and the tail. At number seven I would want Chris Woakes in the all rounders role in most conditions. Bracey is cover not only for the keepers gloves but also the number three slot. On my radar as reserve batters are Liam Livingstone, Harry Brook, Jordan Cox, Matt Critchley and, as a gamble on a youngster who seems to have the right temperament, Lewis Goldsworthy. Critchley might be selected at seven in place of Woakes if a second spin option looks like being useful (he bowls a bit of leg spin).
Of the bowlers I am prepared to consider available (Wood is injured and there is no way of knowing how long he is out for, so although I am not absolutely ruling him out as I have some others I am for the moment placing him on the sidelines) my first choices are: Overton, Robinson, Leach and Anderson (I want at least one genuine spinner and Leach is first choice in that department). I hope Mark Wood will be recovered in time to make the trip. Other seam back up could be provided by Saqib Mahmood, George Garton or Sam Curran (he has looked fairly unthreatening with the ball of late which is why I have him well down the pecking order). The spin situation, partly dictated by the fact that English off spinners have only rarely done well in Australia, is less happy looking. Although it would be unlikely that he and Leach would be picked in the same XI the next nearest thing England have to a spinner in Leach’s class is Matt Parkinson, the Lancashire leg spinner who currently has 86 FC wickets at 23.69, though his wickets per game rate is on the low side at just a tick over three. Direct back up for Leach is not really available unless one gambles on four first class appearances telling a true story and name Dan Moriarty in the party. However, Liam Patterson-White has a respectable record, and can bat, which would give England two ways of selecting two spinners of differing methods without both being bunnies with the bat – Either Critchley at seven and Leach at 10, or a 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 of Woakes, Patterson-White, Robinson, Anderson, Parkinson.
WRAPPING IT UP
Until and unless they get tried there is no way of knowing whether the above ideas will work, but the selectors continuing with their current approach has one likely result in terms of The Ashes: 5-0 to Australia.
The latest in my mini-series about my long weekend away (14-17 August).
Welcome to the continuation of this mini-series about my long weekend away (see here and here for the earlier posts). This post looks at the journey from South Wingfield to Wooler and the first evening at our accommodation there.
THE JOURNEY NORTH
According to google the journey from South Wingfield to Wooler was going to take just over three hours (relatively quick because most of the distance could be covered on the M1/ A1, and even after leaving the A1 we were not going onto a minor road). A petrol stop early in the journey and a service station stop later added a little time to the basic estimate, but we still arrived at our destination by 17:40.
Then with the aid of a site map we located the particular property we were staying in (there are currently about 30 separate cottages on the site and more are being developed). Setting ourselves up did not take very long, although the fold out bed that I would be sleeping in caused momentary concern.
EXPLORING THE SITE
In the early evening my parents and I took a walk around the site, which proved quite rewarding, and was a good way to bring the day’s activities to a close.
An account of the Sunday morning and early afternoon of my recent long weekend away.
In the first post of this series I introduced the events that took place and covered Saturday August 14. Today I cover the Sunday morning/ very ealy afternoon events.
The first event of the morning was a thanksgiving service for Ivy Helen Joy Handforth, new daughter of a cousin of mine and his wife, which was combined with celebrating her parents Ruby wedding anniversary. The presence of an official photographer limited the number of pictures I could take of the service itself.
We arrived in South Wingfield early enough to take a brief walk before the service got underway.
The service started with ‘Jerusalem’, proceeded through several hymns, readings by friends and prayers. There was also a poem by Philip Larkin which did not get read out loud but which was on the back of the programme.
This took place at the Parish Rooms (my parents and I had a brief moment of confusion between these and the Parish Hall) immediately after the service. We stayed a little while but had to move on to get to the place we were staying on Sunday evening. It was reasonably enjoyable, though the food was not great.
The first in what will be a series of posts about my long weekend away doing family related things – setting the scene and telling the story of the first day..
I have been away for a few days, mostly without internet connection, doing various family related things. This post is the first of several I shall be doing about the events of those few days (Saturday 14 to Tuesday 17 August inclusive). Before getting into the meat of today’s post I will set out the most noteworthy events of the days in question so that you can orient yourselves.
THE ITINERARY IN BRIEF
I had a fixed return date of the Tuesday as I had an NAS West Norfolk related commitment that evening (I could only have stayed one further night anyway, as I have recently returned to work on a one day per week basis, that day being Thursday). The events between Saturday morning and Tuesday evening were as follows:
Saturday morning: travel from King’s Lynn to Kegworth in the east midlands for a barbecue at a cousin’s house.
Saturday afternoon: barbecue, followed by a visit to the cave of St Hardulph and a church that claims a connection to that story.
Saturday evening/night: Holiday Inn, South Normanton, with a supper at the Brewers Fayre.
Sunday morning/ early afternoon: South Wingfield for a thanksgiving service in honour of Ivy Helen Joy Handforth, daughter of a cousin of mine.
Sunday afternoon/early evening: travel from South Wingfield to Akeld Manor near Wooler, Northumberland.
Monday: Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and Bamburgh (Bebbanburg in Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred series).
Tuesday morning: Brief exploration of Berwick Upon Tweed before catching a train from that town.
Tuesday late morning/ afternoon/ early evening: train journey in four parts: Berwick – York, York – Peterborugh, Peterborough – Ely, Ely – King’s Lynn.
Tuesday late evening: Steak Night at The Globe on King Street, King’s Lynn
I cover the important bits of Saturday in this post. Sunday may take two posts, Monday definitely will, likewise Tuesday.
My sister picked me up for the journey to Kegworth. We were a little late setting out, but arrived there at 1:00PM. Before the barbecue we took Covid-19 tests in preparation for the following day. The barbecue itself was excellent, and there were various relations present who I had met either rarely or in one case never before. We were among the last guests to leave, at which point we headed for…
ST HARDULPH’S CAVE
St Hardulph is generally reckoned to have previously been King Eardwulf of Northumbria. He spent his last years living reclusively in a cave in what is now Derbyshire (it is not far from Repton, which numbers CB Fry and Roald Dahl among its alumni).
There is one clearly sculpted column in the cave that looks very ecclesiastic – it may have originally been formed in the usual manner of cave columns by the meeting of stalactite and stalagmite but that is definitely not the whole story.
The nearby church is also quite impressive. I opted out of taking a look at Repton Prep School, being by that point very tired.
The journey on to to Holiday Inn South Normanton where we were spending Saturday night was reasonably smooth (one minor confusion involving a wrong exit from a roundabout, but that did not cost us much time). The rooms at the Holiday Inn were fine, and the supper at the Brewers Fayre was of acceptable quality.
An XI of southpaws for World Left Handers Day. Plus of course some photographs.
Today is World Left Handers Day, so I put together an XI of players who did everything cricket wise left handed. This means a lot of famous names are missing because they performed one discipline right handed. My chosen wicket keeper bowled six deliveries in a professional career that spans 470 matches across formats to date, and I have been unable to establish for sure which hand he bowled them with.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
Sanath Jayasuriya: left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. In 1996 he was the MVP at the World Cup. Two years later at The Oval he scored 213 in Sri Lanka’s first innings, the highest individual score of the match.
Warren Bardsley: left handed opening batter. The gritty Aussie scored over 2,000 test runs at an average above 40. He was the first to score twin centuries in a test match, at The Oval in 1909. In first class cricket he tallied 17,000 runs at 49 including 53 centuries. He scored 29 of those 53 centuries in England, proving that he was definitely not a ‘home track bully’.
Frank Woolley: left handed batting, left arm orthodox spinner. The only person to have achieved the career treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches in first class cricket.
*Allan Border: left handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. Another gritty Aussie, he was the first to the milestone of 11,000 test runs, having been the second after SM Gavaskar to reach 10,000. The first and greatest of four long serving Aussie captains with magnificent winning records to appear in my lifetime – he passed the baton to Mark Taylor, who was succeeded by Steve Waugh and then Ricky Ponting, who oversaw a regression back towards the mean in his last years in the job.
Garry Sobers: left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. Fortunately the most complete cricketer ever to have played the game did everything cricket wise left handed, and is therefore a shoo-in for this team.
John H King: left handed batter, left arm medium pace bowler. A stalwart all rounder for Leicestershire he suffered from ‘unfashionable county syndrome’ to the extent that in spite of a highly impressive record at FC level he was a one cap wonder for England.
+Quinton de Kock: left handed batter, wicket keeper. He has a magnificent record in all formats of the game.
Alan Davidson: left arm fast medium bowler (also occasional orthodox spin), left handed lower middle order batter. 186 test wickets at 20.53 secure his place in this side.
Wasim Akram: left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. Fast tracked into his national side when then captain Imran Khan saw him bowling in the nets and liked what he saw he established himself as one of the greatest of left arm pace bowlers and a more than useful batter.
Chaminda Vaas: left arm fast medium bowler, left handed lower order batter. The Sri Lankan never had pace bowling support of the same class at the other end (indeed for most of his career the only other bowler of unquestioned top class in the side was the off spinner, Muralitharan) but still established a fine test record.
Shaheen Shah Afridi: left arm fast bowler, left arm lower order batter. The young Pakistani has already established a remarkable record in his brief career to date, and I expect many more highlights before his time at the top is done.
Below is a condensed version of the above in graphic form:
EVALUATION OF RESOURCES
The side has a strong and deep batting order – Wasim Akram at nine would satisfy even England’s selectors as to depth, while Jayasuriya, Bardsley, Woolley, Border, Sobers and de Kock are all bona fide greats, and King, the all rounder, would probably have averaged 40 had he played on today’s pitches, though he would also have paid more for his wickets. The bowling resources are awesome, with Afridi, Akram, Davidson, Sobers and King to provide pace/ swing/ seam bowling, and Woolley, Jayasuriya and Sobers able to provide top quality spin. Sobers is the only wrist spin option, but there are very few left arm wrist spinners with commanding records. The depth of spin available means that Border, with a 10 wicket haul in a test match to his credit, would almost certainly never get a bowl. This southpaw squad would take a lot of beating.
A look at the latest craziness to emanate from the ECB’s ivory tower – the naming of Moeen Ali as a spin bowling option in the test squad based on his recent form in The Hundred.
It has been confirmed this morning that Moeen Ali has been added to England’s squad for the second test against India. In this post I explain just how flawed this move is.
RECENT SUCCESS DOUBLY IRRELEVANT
Moeen Ali has been going well in The Hundred, an ultra short form competition massively removed from the long haul of test cricket. He has also been especially notable for his batting successes, coming in high in the order and throwing the bat as one has to in that competition. His bowling in that competition amounts to combined figures of 4-115 in five matches, and it is as a spinner that England will play him if they do play him. In other words, he has been succeeding in the form of the game furthest removed from test cricket and not in the department in which England would make most use of him at test level.
TACKLING THE WRONG PROBLEM
England are not short of bowling options but are suffering at the top end of the batting order, with Crawley definitely proven as inadequate at test level, Sibley questionable and even Burns not bombproof. Moeen Ali is therefore a ‘solution’ to a ‘problem’ that exists only in the minds of the England selectors.
DISRESPECT TO SPINNERS ALREADY IN THE SQUAD
England already have two front line spinners available to them, Jack Leach and Dom Bess. Bess is a slightly questionable inclusion in the squad, but Leach from the mere 16 matches he has been given has 62 wickets at 29.98, 3.875 wickets per match. For comparison, Ali takes 3.1 wickets per match and pays 36.24 a piece for them. Frankly the way England’s #1 spinner (Leach) is being treated by the selectors is nothing short of a disgrace.
SHORT SIGHTED AS WELL AS RETROGRADE
Additionally, one must look ahead to England’s next tour, which is the toughest of all – Australia. As I demonstrate in this piece, English off spinners have historically been of limited value in Australia, while left arm orthodox spinners have been very important. England’s two best ever Ashes tours, in 1928-9 and 1932-3 both featured a left arm spinner and a leg spinner in the party (Farmer White and Tich Freeman in the first, Hedley Verity and Tommy Mitchell in the second). Leach is the principal candidate for the left arm spinner’s role, while Matt Parkinson (86 FC wickets at 23.69) is the obvious candidate for the leg spinner’s place. Dan Moriarty with 31 wickets from four FC games at 19.77 a piece is a left arm spinner who might be in the mix, and Liam Patterson-White, who takes his FC wickets at 30.13 and averages 23.12 with the bat may yet make the grade. Also in the wings is Lewis Goldsworthy of Somerset. As a more radical idea, Sophie Ecclestone at the age of 22 has 125 international wickets across formats at 19.49 each. I would rather see any of the players I have just named than yet another recall for Moeen Ali. The latter’s last test was against India in India, and although he took wickets in the end he also bowled England into a losing position by leaking almost five an over in conditions that were helpful to a bowler of his type.
ENGLAND XI FOR THURSDAY
From the players in the squad I select as follows:
Haseeb Hameed (Crawley’s time at the top level is done)
If one wants more batting depth, Overton could replace Wood, and then there would be a 7, 8, 9 of Curran, Overton and Robinson, which should be depth enough for anyone. I prefer Wood because his presence provides some express pace to go with the seam and swing options, which with Curran’s left arm and Robinson’s extra height are well varied (Broad was ordinary in the first test, so I rest him rather than Anderson for this one). There is also England’s best spinner in there, as there should be.
A look at the opening exchanges in the England v India test series which got under way at 11:00 today.
The five match test series between England and India is under way, the first match at Trent Bridge having started at 11:00AM. This post looks at early developments.
England’s plans were thrown into confusion when Ben Stokes announced that he would be taking a break from cricket for mental health related reasons. I do not know when or even whether Stokes will return to competitive action – he should take as much time as he needs. However, neither that nor an injury to Ollie Pope excuse England’s actual selection. They have gone hypernegative, selecting only four front line bowlers none of whom is a spinner and none of whom is an out and out speedster. The team they have chosen is Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Bairstow, Lawrence, +Buttler, S Curran, Robinson, Broad, Anderson. I would have selected Hameed in place of Crawley, with him and Sibley then being in a bat off for who keeps their place in the side when Tom Abell, the man best equipped to bat three for England in this format, is fit again. I would not have selected Bairstow at all, going with Buttler at six and five genuine bowling options. My preferred line up from those available would have been Burns, Sibley, Hameed, *Root, Lawrence, +Buttler, S Curran, Robinson, Wood, Leach, Anderson. I regard the non-selection of Leach as criminal. In 16 test matches he has taken 62 wickets at 29.98 – that is his bowling average is the right side of 30 (only just admittedly) and he takes 3.875 wickets per match, which is around the par mark – most sides have five serious bowling options and to win you need to take 20 wickets, and 20/5 = 4. When then add in leaving out the only genuine speedster available, Wood, you have an attack that has no depth (only four front line options), and very little variety (three right arm fast mediums, all over six feet in height, with the only serious variation Curran’s left arm fast medium – no variation in pace whatsoever).
The side England have named has “picked to avoid defeat” rather than “picked to win” written all over it in bold capitals.
Far fewer problems for the visitors although they somewhat surprisingly left out Ashwin, probably the best finger spinner in the world at the moment. They decided, again on ground of batting strength to rely on Jadeja as their sole spin option, with Thakur at eight and the three specialist quicks, Siraj, Bumrah and Shami at 9, 10 and 11. The alternative once they had decided on four seamers would have been take a chance an Ashwin at seven. While debatable this selection is not definitively wrong as some of England’s are.
THE PLAY SO FAR
England won the toss and chose to bat, the right thing to do on a sunny morning with clouds forecast for later in the match. They were off to a dreadful start when Burns fell in the first over. Sibley and Crawley held out for a while before Crawley was removed for 27. That brought Root to the crease and he and Sibley saw things through to lunch at 61-2. Sibley’s typically patient innings ended just after lunch, for 18,making the score 66-3. Root and Bairstow are still together at 73-3. Root is on 18, while Bairstow has reached two and has survived 15 balls which is quite impressive by his recent test standards. Bairstow has just scored a four off Bumrah to make it 77-3. Bumrah, Shami and Siraj have a wicket a piece.
My usual sign off – the butterflies are out in force at the moment…
As I publish this post England are on 82-3, Root on 23 and Bairstow on 6.