Scorchers Win WBBL07

The final of the Women’s Big Bash League 2021 has just finished. Adelaide Strikers who annihilated Brisbane Heat and then Melbourne Renegades to qualify for the final came up just short against the Perth Scorchers, who qualified directly for the final by virtue of winning the league stage outright.

SCORCHERS INNINGS

Although Tahlia McGrath (4-0-14-1) and Megan Schutt (4-0-19-1) were typically economical, Scorchers posted a respectable 146-5 from their 20 overs with major contributions from Sophie Devine and Marizanne Kapp. Amanda-Jade Wellington, leading wicker of the tournament and joint lead wicket taker of any WBBL tournament had an off day for once.

STRIKERS REPLY

Strikers got off to a horribly slow start and although they subsequently revived their innings well they were always well behind the required rate. With four overs to go they needed 53, and although Madeline Penna counterattacked successfully in the 17th over, the 18th and 19th were both far too economical for that stage of an innings, and Strikers needed 22 off the last over. Peschel bowled two wides in the course of the final over, but the other deliveries were good enough that 14 were needed off the final ball. Only a single eventuated, and Scorchers were home by 12 runs.

A MULTI-TALENTED TEAM

Although she did not play the final today, this part of the post is inspired by an Adelaide Strikers player, all rounder Jemma Barsby. She bowls both off spin and left arm orthodox spin, which is a combination of talents I have not previously come across. I have put together an XI of players who had talents in multiple areas, which I list below in batting order with brief comments on their range of talents.

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various styles, captain.
  2. +George Brown – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, wicket keeper. He was good enough as an opener to be selected for England in that role, he took a decent haul of wickets as a bowler, and Hampshire’s best bowler of his era, Alec Kennedy, rated him the best keeper who ever kept to him.
  3. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of pretty much every type known to cricket. The most complete player the game has thus far seen.
  4. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, occasional off spinner.
  5. Liam Livingstone – right handed batter, leg spinner, off spinner.
  6. Keith Miller – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, occasional off spinner.
  7. Mike Procter – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, occasional off spinner.
  8. Jemma Barsby – right handed batter, off spinner, left arm orthodox spinner.
  9. Alan Davidson – left handed batter, left arm fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner.
  10. Len Muncer – off spinner, leg spinner, right handed batter.
  11. Bill Johnston – left arm fast medium bowler, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed batter.

12th: Frank Worrell, RHB, LFM, occ SLA. Honourable mentions: Ellyse Perry, RHB, RFM, also a football international and Cecil Parkin, an off spinner with a raft of variations.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

World T20 Semi-Final Line Ups Complete

A look at the semi-finalists at the T20 World Cup, my team of the tournament and some photographs.

We now know who will be contesting the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in the UAE. This post looks at the routes the four teams took to reach the SF stage and names an XI of the tournament.

ENGLAND DOMINANT UNTIL THEIR FINAL GAME

England won their first four games, and did so comfortably, accruing a massive net RR of +3.183 in the process. Their last game was against South Africa, third in the group, yesterday. In yesterday’s first game Australia had comfortably beaten West Indies, which meant they were well placed to qualify. South Africa needed a big win to qualify. South Africa batted first and did the first bit very well indeed, scoring 189-2 from their 20 overs. That left England needing 87 to qualify, 106 to top the group, 131 to eliminate South Africa and 190 to make it five wins from five. England went for the win, and went into the 20th over of their innings with a chance of pulling it off. Liam Livingstone hit the longest six of the tournament along the way, a 112 metre monstrosity of a hit. The first three balls of the 20th killed England’s hopes stone dead, as three successive batters holed out to boundary fielders, giving Rabada one of the more bizarre hat tricks ever seen in top level cricket (Charles Townsend’s 1899 effort for Gloucestershire v Somerset, when all three victims were stumped by keeper WH Brain is also noteworthy in this department). SA emerged victorious by 10 runs, but had not quite done enough, and found themselves knocked out in spite of winning four of their five group games, including beating the group winners (England). Australia went through in second place.

THE OTHER GROUP

The second group comprised India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Scotland and Namibia. This morning and very early afternoon UK time New Zealand took on Afghanistan, with India also having a mathematical chance of qualifying, should Afghanistan win by a small margin and then India beat Namibia tomorrow. In the event, with the exception of Najibullah Zadran (73 off 48 balls), no Afghan batter could get going and they posted a modest 124-8. NZ were never in serious trouble against so modest a target, and got home off the first ball of the 18th, confirming their SF place and India’s elimination. This is a case of cricketing justice being done and seen to be done – NZ had won four of their five matches, and had they lost someone would have been qualifying with three wins out of five when a team in the other group went home with four out of five. Pakistan are just starting their last group match against Scotland, in a bid to be the only team to record a 100% win record at the Super 12 stage. India have been the biggest disappointment of this tournament, succumbing tamely to massive defeats at the hands of Pakistan (ten wickets) and New Zealand (a mere eight wickets, but more time in hand than Pakistan had had). It is possibly also significant that their most commanding batting performance saw skipper Kohli, one the 21st century’s greatest batters, not bat at all. Kohli’s last international century in any format was scored almost exactly two years, and it maybe that an outstanding career is approaching its close.

THOMAS’S TOURNAMENT XI

Before giving more details, my team in batting order:

+Jos Buttler (Eng, RHB, WK)
*Babar Azam (Pak, RHB, captain)
Charith Asalanka (SL, LHB, occ OS)
Aiden Markram (SA, RHB, occ OS)
Asif Ali (Pak, RHB, RMF)
Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva (SL,LS, RHB)
Chris Woakes (Eng, RHB, RFM)
Mark Watt (Sco, SLA, LHB)
Anrich Nortje (SA, RF, RHB)
Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pak, LF, LHB)
Tabraiz Shamsi (SA, LWS, RHB)

12th: Liam Livingstone (Eng, RHB, LS/OS)

There were three players contending for two opening slots, and I would not argue with those who went for the proven combination of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, but on any honest reckoning Buttler has been the best opener on show in this tournament, scoring both heavily and very fast.

My choice for number three has really announced himself during this tournament, showing serious talent (anyone who can whip an Anrich Nortje delivery over midwicket for six as he did against SA is a heck of a player).

Aiden Markram has had a superb tournament, and like the rest of his team is entitled to consider himself unlucky to not be still involved. As well as his batting he has been useful with the ball for SA.

Asif Ali is there just in case the team finds itself in a tight finish, in which situation he is a virtual cheat code.

Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva has been one of the stars of the tournament, batting well in the middle order and being devastating with his leg spin.

Chris Woakes has been very important to England’s success in this tournament to date, and it is noteworthy that England’s sole loss saw him have a poor game.

Mark Watt has been for me the Associate Nations Player of the Tournament, taking wickets in every match to date, and generally being very economical. He has also played one crucial innings, when he helped to rescue his side from 56-6 against Bangladesh.

Anrich Nortje has been consistently excellent with the ball, testing all his opponents to the fullest.

Shaheen Shah Afridi has been outstanding with his left arm pace. This place was a toss up between him and Trent Boult, who plays the same role for NZ (Mitchell Starc of Australia has not had his finest tournament) but I have gone for Afridi for his extra pace.

Tabraiz Shamsi is the best bowler of his type in the world, and has managed to enhance an already considerable reputation in the course of this tournament.

Liam Livingstone gets the 12th man slot because he covers lots of bases – he can spin the ball either way and is a ferocious batter.

This team has a stellar top four, a cheat code finisher, two magnificent all rounders of very different types and four wonderfully contrasting specialist bowlers. There are runs aplenty in this line up, and a mouthwatering array of bowling options. I regret not being able to find a place for any of the Aussies, but none has been definitively the best in the tournament in their role.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

A Look at The T20 World Cup

A look at the T20 World Cup, in which there have been some interesting developments, a gesture of solidarity to the folk of Wisbech, a massive open letter and photographs.

The T20 World Cup in the UAE is developing very interestingly, and this post looks at some of the developments.

ENGLAND DOMINATING THEIR GROUP

England have won all three games they have had so far, and have a huge positive net run rate (+3.694, the biggest in either group). They are in action today against Sri Lanka, and are batting first, which is tricky in the UAE, but as Afghanistan have shown twice this tournament it can be done that way. On Saturday they inflicted a body blow on Australia, winning by eight wickets with exactly 50 balls to spare. South Africa almost came unstuck against Sri Lanka but David Miller rescued them when they needed 15 off the last over to win, and they are well placed to take second spot behind England and with it a semi-final berth.

A 2+ WAY SCRAP FOR SECOND PLACE IN THE OTHER GROUP

Pakistan, with three wins from three, are almost sure to top this group, and they have been mightily impressive. They nearly came unstuck against Afghanistan, but with 24 needed off two overs Asif Ali struck four sixes in the penultimate over, bowled by Karim Janat, to take Pakistan over the line.

Second place in the group just about has three contenders, but the third of them are hanging on by a thread. New Zealand beat India by eight wickets yesterday, with a lot of time to spare, which leaves India winless from two games (they went down by ten wickets against Pakistan in their first game), but with their three theoretically easiest opponents to come. Their net run rate is a disastrous -1.609. NZ have won one game out of two, and the big hurdle for them will be Afghanistan – if they win their remaining games they qualify for sure, but defeat against Afghanistan probably finishes them, since while their net RR is respectable at +0.752, Afghanistan’s is a whopping +3.097, due to the fact that beat Scotland by 130 runs and Namibia by 62 runs. Afghanistan almost certainly qualify if they beat either India or NZ, and even two defeats won’t definitely doom them because if NZ or India come unstuck against one of the minor nations that net RR will come to their rescue. My reading of this group is that NZ are the most likely second place team, Afghanistan second most likely, and India while not out of it are in the last chance saloon with last orders having been called.

BOWLERS MAKING THEIR PRESENCE FELT

There is a good contest brewing between Anrich Nortje (SA) and Haris Rauf (Pakistan) for who can bowl the quickest ball of the tournament – both have been significantly above 150KPH. At the moment Nortje just leads the way on 153.5 KPH (95.5MPH). The next most notable performer among the pacers has been Pakistan left armer Shaheen Shah Afridi who has caused everyone problems.

Afghanistan have two top quality spinners, Rashid Khan (leg spin) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (off spin), and they left Qais Ahmed behind. South Africa have Tabraiz Shamsi (left arm wrist spin), Sri Lanka have leg spinning all rounder Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva who has done the hat trick during this tournament and the young off spinner Maheesh Theekshana. New Zealand have Ish Sodhi (leg spin) and Mitchell Santner (left arm orthodox) who were each allowed to go at less than five an over by India yesterday.

A T20XI FROM BEFORE THE T20 ERA

I am allowing myself one “given man” – a single player in the XI who has actually played T20. I have allowed myself four overseas players, treating this as a franchise type selection. Following these rules this is what I came up with:

  1. G St A Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket.
  2. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  4. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper.
  5. Clem Hill – left handed batter.
  6. *Tony Greig – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, off spinner.
  7. Alan Davidson – left arm fast medium bowler, left handed batter.
  8. Rashid Khan – leg spinner, right handed batter.
  9. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed lower order batter.
  11. Alfred Shaw – right arm slow medium bowler, right handed lower order batter.

This XI features a strong batting line up with a good mix of left and right handers (the top seven, who are expected to almost all the scoring feature four left handers – Sobers, Woolley, Hill and Davidson; and three right handers – Jessop (the quickest scorer in the game’s history), Ames (winner of the Lawrence trophy for fastest FC hundred of the season twice in its first three years, sandwiching his Kent team mate Woolley) and Greig. Ames as keeper is top bracket – the “keepers double” of 1,000 FC runs and 100FC dismissals for the season was achieved four times, once by JT Murray of Middlesex and three times by Ames. The bowling has an awesome range of options, with only Ames and Hill not able to contribute in this department.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

A few years back we in King’s Lynn fought off plans to plant an incinerator on us. Now, with COP26 just getting under way, another fenland town, Wisbech, is facing the threat of an incinerator. More about this is available here.

Also COP related, there is a massive open letter to presented to the folk at COP26, which you can read and sign here.

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

T20 World Cup – Round One Reviewed

A look back at round one of the T20 World Cup currently happening in Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Yesterday the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup in Dubai got underway, with Australia beating South Africa and England obliterating the West Indies. In this post I look back at the events of the first round matches, which provided four of the teams contesting the Super 12s. Before that, I have a small piece of business to attend to: Phoebe has once again opened up her blog for people to share details of their own blogs.

EARLY EXCHANGES

I covered the opening day in this post. The day after those events the second group got underway. Ireland beat the Netherlands, with Curtis Campher taking four wickets in four balls, only the third bowler ever to do so in an international match (Lasith Malinga has done so twice, in an ODI and a T20I, and Rashid Khan of Afghanistan did it against Ireland in a T20I). Max O’Dowd scored a fighting 50 for the Netherlands but had zero support from the rest of the order. Campher followed up his bowling by being there to see Ireland over the winning line. In the other match Sri Lanka beat Namibia.

The second set of fixtures in the other group saw Oman fight hard but ultimately lose to Bangladesh, while Scotland beat Papua New Guinea.

Sri Lanka beat Ireland, and Namibia got the better of the Netherlands, confirming the latter’s elimination with a round to go. O’Dowd once again batted well, but once again had no support.

With Bangladesh beating PNG the game between Scotland and Oman became effectively a straight fight for one qualification spot. Oman managed only 122 from their 20 overs, with Josh Davey bowling especially well. Scotland were in control throughout the chase, and Richie Berrington finished the match with a six. Scotland thus won the group with three wins out of three, Bangladesh were second and Oman third. The co-hosts have a couple of good batters and a number of good bowlers but they are a poor fielding side, and it was this that cost them qualification.

The final set of group games saw Ireland v Namibia and Netherlands v Sri Lanka. O’Dowd failed with the bat for the Netherlands, and the rest of the order went down like a house of cards. Leg spinning all rounder Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva (4-9) and right arm fast bowler Lahiru Kumara (4-7) were especially impressive with the ball, and off spinner Maheesh Theekshana also got among the wickets. Netherlands mustered a beggarly 44, the lowest total ever recorded in a T20 World cup. Ireland v Namibia was a magnificent match, going right down to the wire. In the end the vast experience of David Wiese told, as he steered Namibia over the winning line, and test playing Ireland found themselves eliminated at the first stage. Sri Lanka had dominated the group, winning all three matches and never really looking in trouble at any stage, Namibia deserve massive credit for getting the better of Ireland to join them in the Super 12s. The Netherlands’ awful showing was a sad way for Ryan ten Doeschate’s wonderful career to end.

A ‘MINNOWS’ XI

Many of the lesser nations involved at this stage had moments to cherish, and with the exception of one player from Ireland who can be considered their ‘given man’ (an expression dating from the days of professional touring XIs in the mid 19th century, when local teams sometimes had professionals to stiffen their ranks) the team I have selected is made up exclusively of players from non-test nations.

I decided to select an opening pair who provenly work well together, and the Oman pair of Jatinder Singh and Aqib Ilyas demonstrated in their 10 wicket win over PNG that they certainly can bat well together. The Netherlands had a horrible time, but Max O’Dowd scored 50s in their first two matches, which is enough to give him the number three slot. At number four is leg spinning all rounder Charles Amini of PNG (it was a choice between him and Assad Vala for the PNG representative, and I have gone for Amini). Number five and my choice as captain is Zeeshan Maqsood of Oman, who led his team to three wins out of three. Scottish wicket keeper Matthew Cross gets the nod at number six. A second Scot in a row, with Chris Greaves in at no7 (his Player of the Match winning performance against test playing Bangladesh is worth the pick on its own). At number eight is the given man, Mr ‘four in four’ aka Curtis Campher of Ireland. At number nine is a third Scot, seam bowler Josh Davey. At number ten, and not just because he possesses THE name of the tournament, is Pikky Ya France, Namibia’s off spinner. Rounding out the order, at his customary position of no11 is our fourth Scot, pace bowler Brad Wheal. For ease of reference:

  1. Aqib Ilyas – Oman
  2. Jatinder Singh – Oman
  3. Max O’Dowd – Netherlands
  4. Charles Amini – Papua New Guinea
  5. *Zeeshan Maqsood – Oman
  6. +Matthew Cross – Scotland
  7. Chris Greaves – Scotland
  8. Curtis Campher – Ireland
  9. Josh Davey – Scotland
  10. Pikky Ya France – Namibia
  11. Brad Wheal – Scotland

This side features eight players who could make major contributions with the bat, a superb new ball pair in Davey and Wheal, every kind of spin bar left arm wrist spin – Greaves and Amini both bowl leg spin and could certainly bowl a four over allocation between them, Maqsood is a left arm orthodox spinner and Ya France an off spinner. Finally, there is the bowling wildcard that is Curtis Campher. Additionally Aqib Ilyas is a Liam Livingstone type, able to bowl both off and leg spin.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Some work related pictures for my usual sign off. These items will be going under the hammer on November 24th, and you can view a full catalogue and sign up to bid here or here.

World T20 Cup Sees Upset On Day One

A look back at day one of the T20 World Cup – Oman v Papua New Guinea and Scotland v Bangladesh. Also some of my recent photographs.

As coverage of the first match on day two of the World T20 Cup gets underway (Ireland are in action against the Netherlands) I look back at the events of the opening day.

OMAN V PAPUA NEW GUINEA

The tournament is being co-hosted by Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and yesterday’s action came from the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Muscat. The first game saw the co-hosts in action against world cup debutants Papua New Guinea. PNG had not played an international fixture in 670 days and sadly it showed.

Oman put PNG into bat and after 1.3 overs the score was 0-2, with both openers gone. PNG skipper Assad Vala (56) and Charles Amini (37) shared the only substantial partnership of the innings. Once Amini was third out at 81 the rot quickly set in and PNG finished with a score of 129 which did not look like being adequate. Left arm spinner and Omani captain Zeeshan Maqsood took 4-20, a superb performance.

Aqib Ilyas and Jatinder Singh opened the batting for Oman and they were the only batters required by the co-hosts, knocking the runs off with 6.2 overs to spare. Singh with 73 not out was especially impressive and finished proceedings with a six, while Ilyas also had an unbeaten half century to his credit.

For PNG as well as Vala and Amini with the bat Kiplin Doriga impressed behind the stumps.

SCOTLAND V BANGLADESH

The second match saw Scotland in action against Bangladesh, who had recently won a T20 series against no lesser opponents than Australia. When Scotland slumped to 53-6 the match seemed to be going emphatically according to the form book. However a lower order revival spearheaded by Chris Greaves got Scotland to 140, a total large enough not to be an absolute formality to chase down. Scotland’s three county seamers, Davey (Somerset), Sharif (Derbyshire) and Wheal (Hampshire) all bowled well, and Bangladesh lost two early wickets before Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim steadied the ship. However, this pair, especially al Hasan, dropped increasingly behind the rate, and when al Hasan holed out off the irrepressible Greaves for a 28 ball 20 Scotland became favourites, an impression that was reinforced a few moments later when Rahim also fell. Bangladesh had one big over, but for most of their innings they were dropping ever further behind the rate, which climbed past 12 per over with four overs remaining. Scotland’s left arm spinner, Mark Watt (as far as I am aware unrelated to James Watt of steam engine fame) bowled an exemplary 18th over, finishing his spell with 4-0-19-1. The 19th over was also a good one and Bangladesh went into the 20th needing 24 to win. The last over was Bangladesh’s second best of the innings, but they finished up beaten by six runs, and in truth this was a more comfortable victory than that narrow margin suggests – Bangladesh scored less than the required rate in 19 of their 20 overs, including that crazy last over. Greaves, with a crucial 45 and 2-19 from three overs of leg spin was quite rightly named Player of the Match. Bangladesh are in serious jeopardy of failing to qualify for the super 12s, while at the moment Scotland’s third group match, against Oman, has all the appearances of being the game that will decide who wins the group.

An upset early on in a big tournament is always good news, and this one had the additional bonus of featuring an epic recovery act. When Shakib al Hasan was dismissed I posted on twitter that I reckoned that made Scotland favourites and got a disdainful response from a Bangladesh fan who was still in denial about how badly his team were playing. However, my reasons for making the call I did were sound, and I was proven right. The series that Bangladesh won against Australia was played in Bangladesh and was very low scoring, taking place on wickets that were obviously prepared to emasculate the batters, making scoring very difficult indeed. Here, on a good cricket pitch, giving everyone the opportunity to shine Bangladesh were exposed.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Thoughts About The Ashes Squad

A look at the England tour party for the upcoming Ashes and my selections for the Gabba.

A few days ago the England squad for the upcoming Ashes tour was announced. They opted for a squad of 17, and picked the following players:

In the rest of this post I will look at the problems with this party and then name the XI I would pick for the Gabba.

FOUR SELECTION HOWLERS

There are four players who certainly should not be in the squad. First is Jonathan Bairstow, a great white ball player whose test career comprises one fat year (Dec 2015 to Dec 2016) and eight lean ones. His place should have been given the Ben Foakes, who has been shamefully treated by the England selectors over the last few years.

Second is Dom Bess. English off spinners have generally struggled in Australia. Swann, the best English offie of my lifetime, paid almost 40 per scalp on the successful 2010-11 trip and broke down midway through the 2013-14 trip. Bess is nowhere near being in the same class as Swann, and is a disaster waiting to happen in Australia. This place should have been given to one of Matt Parkinson (pays 23.5 per first class wicket) or if you want more batting depth available Liam Patterson-White (left arm spin bowling all rounder) or Matt Critchley (batter who bowls leg spin and has had a fine season).

Third is Zak Crawley, a man who averages 11 in test cricket since his sole major innings at that level. Tom Abell should have been selected to fill the no three slot, with the bonus that he can offer some support in the bowling department with his medium pace and that if he manages to establish himself at test level he will be a serious candidate to replace Root as skipper when the time comes.

Fourth is Dawid Malan, a man now in his mid-thirties whose test average is rather less than his age. I would have selected Tom Haines as reserve opener in place of Malan.

I will not deem it a mistake but I also have concerns about two veteran seamers, Anderson and Broad both being named in the tour party. Neither have the greatest records in Australia and the likelihood of both of them being fit for the whole of a five match series seems small. Jofra Archer and Olly Stone are both crocked, but a gamble on the extra pace of Saqib Mahmood or Brydon Carse might have been taken.

AN XI FOR THE GABBA

Having laid out my most pressing concerns about the tour party and established the like the Irishman being asked for directions “I wouldn’t have started from here” it is time to select an XI for the Gabba:

The opening pair presents no problems – Burns and Hameed have two century stands in three innings and to break them up at this point would be positively frolicking with disaster.

No three is tougher, but since he is in the party it makes sense to stick with Malan for all my entirely justified misgivings about him.

No four is the one position that no one will argue about – Joe Root, the skipper, retains his regular slot.

Number five is a close call between two players who have yet to fully establish themselves at test level, and I opt for Ollie Pope over Dan Lawrence – Aussie pitches should suit Pope.

Number six is Jos Buttler, the keeper (no six is his best position, and the balance of the side also dictates that he should bat there).

Chris Woakes has to be at seven if one wants four genuine seam options and a spinner, and his record batting at seven in tests is stellar (albeit from a small sample size).

Ollie Robinson has inked himself into the side given the way he has performed in his test career to date, and he is well capable of batting at no eight.

Mark Wood is the only genuinely fast bowler in the squad, and the Gabba should suit him (I would spare him from the thankless task of attempting to extract life from the Adelaide Oval, as I suspect he will need a bit of nursing to get through the series).

There is only one spinner of genuine test standard in the squad, and with possibly exception of Perth he should play every match, so Jack Leach gets in at number ten.

At number eleven is England’s all time leading test wicket taker, James Anderson.

This side (Burns, Hameed, Malan, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Robinson, Wood, Leach, Anderson) is slightly short on batting, with two of the top five definitely unproven (Pope may change that, but I actually regard Malan as proven in the wrong way – provenly not good enough) but does have the bowling resources to take 20 wickets at less than ruinous cost with Anderson, the height of Robinson, the pace of Wood, the spin of Leach and Woakes as fourth seamer. Here courtesy of Wisden is a picture of my team:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off:

Train v Plane

A look at the London to Glasgow Train vs Plane race organized by Campaign for Better Transport that took place yesterday.

This post is inspired by a contest set up by Campaign for Better Transport. With COP26 taking place in Glasgow the campaign group set up a race from London to Glasgow with one guy using train and one guy going by plane. I will give the details of that contest and then describe how I myself would get to Glasgow from King’s Lynn.

LONDON TO GLASGOW RACE

The train guy had a four stop tube journey to Euston and then a fast train service to Glasgow. The plane guy had to get to Luton Airport, get through airport security and board the plane, and then get a shuttle bus from the airport at the other end to central Glasgow.

The plane guy got to the destination first, by two measly minutes. As against that the train guy had a straightforward, stress free journey, whereas the plane guy did not. The other point is that the plane journey causes seven times the carbon emissions of the train journey. A total gain of two minutes on a journey of that length cannot be worth either the extra stress or the extra pollution, thus although this race did not quite have the result I was hoping for it is enough to say:

>>>

Here for extra evidence is the final tweet from CBT about the race:

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KING’S LYNN TO GLASGOW

If I was to travel from King’s Lynn to Glasgow I would do so using two modes of public transport plus of course Shanks’ Pony at each end of the journey. I would walk from my bungalow to King’s Lynn bus station from where I would catch an ExCel bus to Peterborough and would then take the train from Peterborough to Glasgow. The reason for starting the route by bus is that if I use train all the way from King’s Lynn I have to change at Ely, whereas the bus goes direct to Peterborough. From King’s Lynn there is no remotely local airport that would be even vaguely sensible to use – the two nearest, Norwich and Stansted both entail starting one’s journey by travelling in the wrong direction, so even a die-hard plane aficionado would probably be forced to accept that plane is really not an option for this journey.

From my childhood home in south London the best route would be Northern line from Tooting Bec to Stockwell, Victoria line from Stockwell to Euston (the extra speed of the Victoria line justifying the apparently unnecessary change at Stockwell, which also happens to be a cross-platform interchange) and the fast train from Euston to Glasgow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

XIs I Would Want To Watch

This post was inspired by a tweet from Third Man Cricket, which I reproduce below to set the scene:

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I shall be producing three XIs – a current men’s XI, an all time men’s XI and a current women’s XI. In the latter I will mention several names who would feature in an all time version.

MEN’S CURRENT XI

  1. Dean Elgar (left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner). The South African has established himself as one of the best long form openers around, and he is a natural counterpoint to the other opening batter.
  2. Chris Gayle (left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner). The greatest T20 batter the world has yet seen, he can also handle long form cricket, as evidenced by two test triple centuries.
  3. *Tom Abell (right handed batter, right arm medium pacer, captain). With Elgar and Gayle opening he would likely get to the middle somewhat later than he usually does for Somerset, for whom he plays. Until September when things went pear shaped both for him and for Somerset he was having a fantastic season, and I for one look forward to seeing him playing test cricket.
  4. Joe Root (right handed batter, occasional off spinner). Since the start of 2021 seven test centuries have been scored by England batters, and six of those stand to the credit of Joe Root.
  5. Kane Williamson (right handed batter). The Kiwi recently led his side to victory in the first ever World Test Championship final.
  6. +Ben Foakes (right handed batter, wicket keeper). The best keeper currently playing the game, and at no6, with a bit of ballast between him and the genuine tail enders he should fare well.
  7. Matt Critchley (right handed batter, leg spinner). His bowling is not necessarily going to feature (as you will see I have gone spin heavy). He has had an excellent season for Derbyshire and would certainly be in my Ashes tour party.
  8. R Ashwin (off spinner, right handed batter). The best off spinner currently playing the game, and as England learned in India recently a more than useful lower order batter.
  9. Kagiso Rabada (right arm fast bowler, right handed batter). One half of an explosive new ball pairing I have selected.
  10. Jack Leach (left arm orthodox spinner, left handed batter). England’s best current spinner, with 340 FC wickets at 26 a piece. His test record from 16 games reads 62 wickets at 29.98, very respectable. His next outing unless that tour gets cancelled will be in The Ashes later this year.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah (right arm fast, right handed batter). His spell on the final afternoon at The Oval broke England’s resistance in that match. He is also one of the select few visiting fast bowlers to have rattled the Australians in their own backyard.

This side has a strong batting line up, with everyone down to Ashwin at eight capable of major contributions, and has a splendid range of bowling options, though some my consider it light on seam/pace options, with Tom Abell the only bowler of that type other than the new ball pair. Ashwin and Leach should function well together as a spin duo, and although this is mainly about players I would want to see in action I would expect this combination to fare well against any opposition.

MEN’S ALL TIME

  1. *WG Grace (right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career, captain). The founding father of cricket as we know it, his career figures are staggering – 54,896 first class runs, beaten only by Hobbs, Woolley, Hendren and Mead, and 2,876 wickets, beaten only by Rhodes, Freeman, Parker, Hearne and Tom Goddard. From hitting a then ground record 224 v Surrey at The Oval (maiden FC ton) to saving a Gentlemen vs Players match by scoring 74 on his 58th birthday, his great moments in FC cricket spanned 40 years.
  2. Victor Trumper (right handed opening batter). In the wet season of 1902 he had what was virtually a royal progress around England, amassing 2,570 runs in first class matches for the Australians, including 11 centuries. The highlight both of that season and of his career came in the fourth test match at Manchester, when reached his century before lunch on the first day. England hit back strongly, and at one stage in the final innings were 92-3, needing only a further 32 to complete victory, but a batting collapse saw them all out for 120 giving Austalia victory by three runs and with it The Ashes.
  3. George Gunn (right handed batter). One of cricket’s great eccentrics, he could do almost anything depending on his mood. He once gave his wicket away because he did not want to bat in the hot weather, and on another occasion he responded to being told that lunch was being taken later than usual by getting himself out so that he could eat at his regular time. He was would dance down the pitch against fast bowlers. Neville Cardus described him as “o rare George Gunn”. His brother William was an England regular and also the original Gunn of Gunn & Moore batmakers. Although she is also a native of Nottinghamshire as far as I am aware Jenny Gunn who has recently finished a long career for the England women’s team is unrelated to him.
  4. Frank Woolley (left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner). The only player ever achieve the first class career treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches. He scored his runs at a tremendous rate, and must have been incredible to watch in action.
  5. Wally Hammond (right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler). His chief glory was his cover drive, rated by Don Bradman as the greatest example of that shot the he ever saw (and Bradman as well as being the best batter ever to play the game saw almost every great player of the 20th century).
  6. Garry Sobers (left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket). The most complete player the game has ever known, and surely one of the most watchable as well.
  7. Gilbert Jessop (right handed batter, right arm fast bowler). The fastest scorer the game has ever seen, a fine bowler (it was actually in this capacity that he was first selected for England) and a gun fielder.
  8. +Alan Knott (wicket keeper, right handed batter). One of the greatest ever exponents of the keepers art and a more than useful lower middle order batter, noted for his ability to improvise long before that was a major thing in cricket.
  9. Harold Larwood (right arm fast bowler, right handed batter). One of three English fast bowlers to have blitzed the Aussies on their own pitches, along with Tyson in 1954-5 and Snow in 1970-1. In the final match of the 1932-3 Ashes, what turned out to be his last ever test appearance, he scored 98 as nightwatch. On his previous tour of Australia in 1928-9 he had scored 70 from no9 in the first test match.
  10. Syd Barnes (right arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter). 189 wickets from just 27 matches, an average of seven wickets per game, and they cost him only 16.43 a piece. His great weapon was a leg break, delivered at fast medium pace. The only bowler other than him to master a delivery of this type was Alec Bedser.
  11. William Mycroft (left arm fast bowler, right handed batter). The only non-test player in the XI, but over 800 FC wickets at 12 a piece. In 1876 he became the first player ever to take 17 wickets in a first class match, for Derbyshire against Hampshire, but Hampshire sneaked home by one wicket.

This side is fantastically equipped in all departments, and would fare well against most combinations.

WOMEN’S CURRENT XI

  1. Tammy Beaumont (right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper, occasional off spinner). The diminutive opener demonstrated her enduring class with a superb century against New Zealand at her home ground of Canterbury in the last international fixture of the 2021 season. Her innings laid the foundation for a late onslaught from Danni Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley that propelled England to 347-5 from 50 overs, a total that NZ never looked like chasing.
  2. Laura Wolvaardt (right handed batter). The South African has not yet played test cricket (the women don’t get to play nearly enough of that format) but all indications, including the fact the she is much better in ODIs than in T20Is are that she would be at home in that format.
  3. *Smriti Mandhana (left handed batter, captain). The stylish Indian has just burnished an already hugely impressive record by scoring a test century against Australia in Australia, at Carrara.
  4. Ellyse Perry (right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler). The best all rounder of either sex currently playing the game. If she learns to bowl spin (both off and leg spin would be required) she would rival Sobers for the title of the most complete cricketer of them all.
  5. +Amy Jones (right handed batter, wicket keeper). A brilliant wicket keeper and a fine attacking batter.
  6. Sophia Dunkley (right handed batter, occasional leg spinner). She has rapidly established herself as an England regular.
  7. Deepti Sharma (left handed batter, off spinner). The Indian all rounder helped to build on the platform that Mandhana’s innings referred to above gave India in Carrara, scoring 59 of her own.
  8. Katherine Brunt (right arm fast medium, right handed batter). The veteran from Barnsley remains a formidable bowler, has developed her batting to the point of being not far short of a genuine all rounder, and is always hugely entertaining.
  9. Sophie Ecclestone (left arm orthodox spinner, right handed batter). She takes her international wickets at 20 each and at the age of 22 is the best finger spinner currently playing women’s cricket.
  10. Stella Campbell (right arm fast, right handed batter). The tall (1.86 metres = 6′ 1″ in old money) Aussie teenager is a perfect contrast to the much shorter Brunt. She is also significantly quicker than the Yorkshirewoman, as the tweet below from Hypocaust shows:

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11. Poonam Yadav (leg spinner, right handed batter). From the tallest member of the side, and its fastest bowler, to the shortest and its slowest bowler. She tosses the ball so high that one sometimes wonders whether air traffic control towers pick up tiny white dots on their radar screens when she is bowling. The method is undoubtedly effective for her – she has a magnificent record.

This side features a strong batting line up and a beautifully balance bowling unit, with Campbell, Brunt and Perry to bowl pace and the trio of Yadav, Ecclestone and Sharma providing three very different spin options.

I have chosen not to an all-time women’s XI, but the following players not named above would all be ones I would want to accommodate somehow: Charlotte Edwards (right handed opening batter), Enid Bakewell (right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner), Carole Hodges (right handed batter, off spinner), Karen Rolton (right handed batter), Sarah Taylor (right handed batter, wicket keeper) and Cathryn Fitzpatrick (right arm fast bowler, right handed batter)

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Warwickshire Complete Red Ball Double

An account of Warwickshire completing the red ball double by adding the Bob Willis Trophy to the County Championship.

At 11:40AM today, just 1 hour and ten minutes into the fourth of five scheduled days, and with weather interruptions shortening two of the previous three days Warwickshire completed victory over Lancashire by the crushing margin of an innings and 199 runs to add the Bob Willis Trophy to this years County Championship. This post looks back at the match.

A 440 RUN LEAD

On day 1 Lancashire were rolled for 78 (and it might have been worse – at low water mark they were 12-6) and Warwickshire replied with 120-0 (see here). On day two Warwickshire steam rollered on, leaving 400 behind them as Rob Yates (for the fifth time this season) and Will Rhodes (for the first time of the season) each topped three figures. The sole bright spot for Lancashire lay in the bowling of Parkinson who emerged from the carnage with figures of 3-71. On day three, which through a combination of work and major weather interventions I missed the whole of, Warwickshire extended their innings to 518, Parkinson claiming a fourth wicket along the way. His figures in FC cricket are now 102 wickets at 23.35, comfortably the cheapest average of any current English spinner have 100 or more FC wickets. While Leach has an unquestionable claim on the no1 spinners position for the Ashes, Parkinson should also be in the party, along with Liam Patterson-White of Nottinghamshire. Lancashire then stumbled to 171-6 in their second innings.

THE LAST RITES

There was some overnight rain in London, but these days Thomas Lord’s third ground is one of the best draining cricket venues in the world, and play started bang on time. Although the Lancashire batters provided a little entertainment there was never any doubt about the eventual result. In the end it was Liam Norwell who had the distinction of claiming the final wicket, Tom Bailey top edging an attempted pull and Michael Burgess doing well get under the catch. It was his third wicket of the innings, a distinction he shared with left arm tweaker Danny Briggs, while Miles, Johal the debutant and Bresnan each had one wicket. Balderson scored 65 for Lancashire. The first Bob Willis Trophy final between Somerset and Essex last year was drawn, with the trophy going to Essex for being ahead on first innings. This year, Warwickshire, for whom ‘big Bob‘ played for many years became the first county to win this match outright, and they did so mightily impressively.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

Warwickshire Make Strong Start to Bob Willis Trophy Match

A look at the early stages of the Bob Willis Trophy match between Warwickshire and Lancashire, plus a couple of links and some photographs.

As part of the arrangements for men’s first class cricket in the 2021 series it was decided that the teams who finished first and second in the county championship would finish the season by playing off for the Bob Willis Trophy. Lancashire led the championship going into the last day of the campaign, with only Warwickshire able to overhaul them. Warwickshire played a superb day’s cricket to secure the win over Somerset that gave them the title, and commiserations are due to Nottinghamshire who were very impressive in beating Yorkshire but finished half a point short of qualifying for the second spot. Thus Lancashire and Warwickshire headed to Lord’s for the showpiece match, scheduled for five days, starting today and ending on Saturday if it goes the distance.

RED ROSE WILTING

Warwickshire won the toss and chose to field first. This course of action requires wickets to back it up. Liam Norwell (right arm fast medium) and especially Craig Miles (right arm medium pace) obliged in sensational fashion, reducing Lancashire to 12-6 with their opening burst. Miles had four of the wickets, and Norwell two. Josh Bohannon and Luke Wood put on 35 for the seventh wicket before Manraj Johal, a 19 year old right arm fast medium bowler making his first class debut, got Bohannon for 18. Johal also took the next two wickets, Tom Bailey for a twelve ball duck and Jack Blatherwick, also for a duck, at which point Lancashire with 57-9 with Wood 31 not out. Wood and Matt Parkinson, the young leg spinner who may well be part of the Ashes squad, added 21 for the final wicket before Parkinson played a poor shot to become Miles’ fifth victim, leaving Wood unbeaten on 46 from no8. For the record this is not the lowest position in the order from which over half an innings total has been scored – Asif Iqbal scored 146 for Pakistan v England, coming in at 53-7.

WARWICKSHIRE BATTING

The Warwickshire openers, Dom Sibley and the youngster Robert Yates, who has hit four centuries this season, have enjoyed some good fortune in the early stages of the reply, but as I write they are still together at 27-0. There have been a couple of minor interruptions for rain, but unless said rain not only returns but becomes positively Noachian it won’t help Lancashire – if the match is drawn the trophy goes to whichever team had the higher first innings total, and it is the Bank of England to a pack of chocolate coins that that will not be Lancashire!

LINKS AND PICTURES

Yesterday Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK posted a twitter thread which subsequently became a post on his blog which I recommend you all read. Also from Richard Murphy comes the tweet below about tax:

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Now for my usual sign off…

As I prepare to publish Warwickshire have moved on to 49-0.