Health Update

The latest (big) news on my health situation.

INTRODUCTION

In the last week there have been two significant milestones in the story of my recovery from the cancer that nearly killed me back in October. In this post I deal with them in turn.

THE BIG OPERATION

I went into hospital early on Friday morning to have the original source of all the trouble, my right testicle, removed. Since they had decided they were keeping me in overnight anyway my surgery was performed quite some time after my parents and I had arrived. It went well, and I was transferred to a recovery ward for the night. Once I had demonstrated that I was able to walk the following day they were ready to discharge me, but not before they had taken me off the morphine based painkillers I had been on, limiting to me to paracetamol. Fortunately the pain from the operation site is not actually as bad as all that, and the paracetamol are sufficient for the job.

THE BIG NEWS

On Monday I was back at Addenbrookes to see the oncology people. They were happy with the state of the operation site. Far more significantly they confirmed that my tumour markers are now back at normal, healthy levels. After a couple of appointments next month (which were set up just after we had left Addenbrookes, and which I found out about the following morning) it will be three monthly, and then six monthly check ups for a five-year period. Once I am fully recovered from the operation I will be on the last (admittedly long) road to a full recovery.

TAPPING HOUSE

On Tuesday afternoon I visited the Norfolk Hospice at Tapping House to discuss future physio options. They can offer me Thursday morning sessions there, and of course I will be taking them up. I am thinking at the moment of notifying them that I will be ready 2 weeks today (next week is probably pushing it too far).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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The Greatest World Cup Final Ever

An autistic cancer survivor’s eye (and ear) view of yesterday’s World Cup Final at Lord’s.

INTRODUCTION

First a little bit of background about the occasion from my point of view. On Friday I went in to hospital for a procedure known as a “Radical Inguinal Orchidectomy” as the latest stage in the treatment of the cancer that less than a year ago threatened to kill me. The operation was performed under general anaesthetic, and I was kept in hospital overnight, and only discharged on the Saturday once I had demonstrated my capacity to walk unaided. Thus yesterday, the day of the Mens Cricket Cup World Final, was my first full day out of hospital after the operation.

THE MATCH ITSELF

New Zealand had beaten India through a splendid display of controlled seam and swing bowling to qualify for the final while England had disposed of arch-rivals Australia with satisfying ease to book their place in the final. Everything seemed to point to an England win, but New Zealand had dealt very well with theoretically far superior opposition in the semi-final. As it was on free-to-air TV (the first time any cricket match in England has been thus broadcast since 2005) I was initially picked up by my father and taken over to my aunt’s house to watch the match. England bowled well to restrict New Zealand to 241. New Zealand however learned well from the England bowlers and England were soon behind the required rate. I missed a tiny bit of the England innings when I was taken home, being by then thoroughly exhausted. Back in my own home I listened to the astonishing climax and followed the ball-by-ball updates on cricinfo. The possessor of the coolest name in international cricket, Colin de Grandhomme, bowled the most economical allocation of 10 overs by anyone in the entire tournament (1-25), but Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes kept cool heads and kept England just about in contention deep into the final overs. When the final over began England needed 16 to win, and they got 15 of them to tie (aided by a very fortunate four overthrows which gave them six instead of two on one of the deliveries), which meant a “super over’. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler took centre stage once more, while after a long delay Trent Boult accepted responsibility for bowling the over for New Zealand. England made 15 runs of the over. 24-year old Jofra Archer accepted responsibility for bowling the final over, while New Zealand sent out Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill. Archer’s first delivery was somewhat harshly called a wide, and then Neesham blasted a six, at which point it looked all over for England, but Archer responded and eventually it came to two needed of one ball, with Guptill on strike for the first time. Guptill hit it out into the deep, where Jason Roy fielded, and arrowed in a superb throw to Jos Buttler who whipped the bails off to run out Guptill, who was obliged by circumstances to go all out for the second. Thus the super-over contest had also ended in a tie. The next method of dividing the two teams if the super over did not work was on boundaries hit, and on that criterion England were ahead and so finally, after three previous losing finals (1979, 1987-8 and 1991-2) England’s men had won a cricket world cup. The Women’s cricket world cup is also held by England courtesy of a wonderful piece of bowling by Anya Shrubsole at Lord’s two years ago. This is the first time any country other than Australia have held both men’s and women’s world cups simultaneously. A low scoring day provided just about the most thrilling contest ever seen in any sport, with England taking the spoils by the narrowest possible margin – the cricket equivalent of winning by a Planck Length!

This match is ‘Exhibit A’ in the argument against anyone who dares claim that cricket is boring. Cricket has produced plenty of extraordinary games before in its long history – Warwickshire v Hampshire in 1922, when Hampshire recovered from bowled out for 15 in their first dig to win by 155 runs, Headingley 1981, when Ian Botham, with assistance from Graham Dilley, Chris Old and Bob Willis gave England something to defend when they seemed down and out, and Willis than saved his international career by taking 8-43 to win it for England being just two that spring to mind. Also, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th test matches of the 2005 Ashes series were all classics in their different ways.

This match on its own would probably be sufficient to call this the greatest world cup ever, but there were plenty of other good matches along the way.

Ben Stokes with his Herculean efforts in this match redeemed himself completely for a somewhat chequered past. Also, he has shown a consistency here that has previously eluded him – his 84 was his fourth 80-plus of the tournament and he also scored a 79. One way of accommodating him in the test side, which needs to be thought about would to gamble a little by having Ben Foakes at five, followed by Stokes, Gregory, Bess, Archer, Leach and Anderson, meaning that Stokes would be fourth seamer, backing up the main attack of Archer, Anderson, Gregory and the spinners.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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Lashings Weekend

An account of Lashings World XI’s visit to Charterhouse School, Godalming on Sunday July 9, with lots of pictures.

INTRODUCTION

My mother has just spent a year teaching at Charterhouse School, Godalming (it moved to its present site from the original London Charterhouse in 1873), and the cricket coach there is the former Surrey and England quick Martin Bicknell who also happens to be the current captain of the Lashings World XI. Thus they came to Charterhouse on Sunday to play the school side in the morning and an adult team in the afternoon. I was there to see both games…

GETTING THERE

The journey from King’s Lynn to deepest Surrey (my mother had booked us two nights at an air bnb near Ockley which is roughly midway between Dorking (Surrey) and Horsham (Sussex), two places with fine cricketing connections. Dorking was the home town of Harry Jupp, an adhesive opening batter in the 19th century (when W G Grace clocked up his 50th first class hundred in 1875 Jupp was second on the list of first class century makers with 10). There is a story that once when playing in a benefit game at Dorking Jupp was castled by the first ball of the match and promptly replaced the bails, and when a fielder dared to ask “ain’t you going out Juppy” he said “No, not at Dorking I ain’t”. Jupp played for England in the first ever test match and found himself keeping wicket as well as performing his regular role because the tour party’s only specialist gloveman, Ted Pooley, was in a New Zealand prison after a ruckus involving a betting trick. Horsham meanwhile is associated with the Tate family who produced two England players, the ill-starred Fred Tate (one test appearance in which he dropped a crucial catch and was clean bowled with England a boundary hit short of victory, and the legendary Maurice, star of two successful Ashes series (1926 and 1928-9) and also a bit-part player in the 1932-3 triumph under Douglas Jardine. Here are some photos from the journey and of our accommodation:

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I spotted these on the way out of King’s Lynn
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A stately home just visible from the motorway in central Essex.
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The first of four shots from the bridge at Dartford.

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A natural pond immediately outside our accommodation.
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This picture is above the bed in the only private bedroom (there is also a bed in the main body of the cabin, which my parents took enabling me to have some privacy.
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Some pictures (five in total) from inside said bedroom – the wood panelling and a lack of functioning lights made the entire building a trifle dark, and the bedroom a lot so.

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On the morning of the big day.

THE DAY ITSELF

The weather was poor at first, and we retired briefly to a coffee shop in Godalming itself when  it was obvious that the first match would be delayed (since I am having an important operation on Friday – posting may be light in the near future – it was important that I should not over exposed to the cold and wet). We ended up missing the first four overs of a contest that had been reduced to 12 overs per side (the second match was played over the full 20 overs per side that had been intended). As captain of Lashings and coach of the school team Bicknell could not lose the first match. In the event the school side came out victorious, as Lashings were not at full throttle in that match. John Emburey, considerably older than most of the rest of the Lashings squad, took a particular hammering in that game.

This match was followed by a lunch in a marquee which featured an auction and a business card raffle (we used mine, as I was the only one of the three of us who actually had one, and we also used my email address as I am less bothered by spam, since I receive huge numbers of emails anyway). The auction items were ludicrously over priced even allowing for the fact that this was a charity event (I speak with a degree of knowledge given my occupation when well).

The afternoon match featured an adult team in opposition to Lashings, and this time Lashings did not hold back. They started by making 161 from their 20 overs (Faisal Iqbal 71), a very respectable total, which rapidly looked much more so, as Lashings opened the bowling with Sir Curtly Ambrose who bowled a couple of overs at something approaching full hostility – comfortably the quickest we saw all day -, on which the opposition could hardly lay a bat and Devon Malcolm who was also difficult to get away (after four overs the opposition had limped to 5-1 and the victory target of 162 looked very distant indeed. Even Emburey’s spinners had more zip to them in this game, and Lashings ended up winning by 54 runs. Among others who were involved for Lashings on the day were Bickers himself (of course), Chris Lewis (the shiny scalp, once a matter of choice, but now one suspects a matter of ,was in evidence!), Kabir Ali and Saqlain Mushtaq. An official report on these matches can be seen here.

The business card raffle draw came out in my favour – I won a bottle of wine which looks decidedly drinkable.

Finally, before my photographs from the day a note on a couple of Charterhouse’s own cricket connections: In a cricketing context undoubtedly the most famous of all Carthusians was Peter Barker Howard May, but the remarkable late Victorian figure of Robert Montagu Poore also merits a look.

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These pictures are presented in the order in which they were taken. In a few cases there are two different final pictures from the same original – if you fancy a challenge see if you can identify them.

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This remarkable building houses the Godalming branch of Costa Coffee.

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An action shot.

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The players together at the end of match 1.
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Bickers at the mic.

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Various Lashings players are in this shot, with the towering (literally and metaphorically) figure of Sir Curtly Ambrose near right.

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This was the last shot I got before the battery in my camera ran out.

World Cup Final Stages Approaching

A look at the permutations for the semi-finals of the Men’s Cricket World Cup (nb the inaugural Women’s Cricket World Cup took place in 1973, two years before the men got started), plus a shed,load of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The 2019 cricket men’s world cup semi-finals are all but sorted now. This post examines the possible permutations.

FAREWELLS

Afghanistan, The West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan are heading home after the group stage unless Pakistan can beat Bangladesh by 320 runs or thereabouts (due to the workings of “net run rates” Pakistan cannot go through if Bangladesh bat first).

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SEMIS

Barring an astonishing miracle result for Pakistan against Bangladesh the semi finals will be Australia v New Zealand and England v India. Three of these four teams definitely deserve to be there, while New Zealand are somewhat fortunate, and arrive in the semi-finals on a serious downturn having been thumped in their last two games, one by England.

SEMI FINAL 1: AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Australia will be heavy favourites for this one, having played well throughout, while New Zealand have been poor in their last two games. Although I would love to see New Zealand deliver a sucker punch to the Aussies I cannot see it happening, therefore my prediction for this one is that Australia will win and go through to the final.

SEMI FINAL 2: ENGLAND V INDIA

Having put themselves under pressure by indifferent early from England have hit top gear just in time, despatching India and New Zealand in their last two games, both by comfortable margins. India had already secured their place in the semifinals by the time they came up against England. In view of the record of chasing sides in this competition so far I reckon that whoever wins the toss must opt to bat first and get their runs on the board. If England win that toss and make the right decision I reckon that they will win, just as they did in the group game between the two sides. If India bat first they will be favourites but I will not rule out England completely even then. Overall prediction: England, but I would not put money on it.

POTENTIAL FINALS

  • Australia v England – This will depend heavily on the toss – if England get their runs on the board they will be favourites, likewise Australia. I think England would be marginally less likely to lose chasing than Australia, so by the thickness of a cigarette paper I make them favourites if this final materialises.
  • Australia v India – Again this will come down to the toss – assuming they make the correct decision whoever wins it collects the cup.
  • New Zealand v England – New Zealand would be cock-a-whoop at beating Australia but may also be unable having achieved that to summon up the resolve for one last effort, and based on the group game between the two I would make England firm favourites for this one.
  • New Zealand v India – India would be favourites for this one for the same reasons as England in the one above.

Of these potential finals I would most like it to be New Zealand v England, with England b Australia 2nd choice and New Zealand v India third choice. A win for either New Zealand or England would be a first in the men’s world cup, while for India it would be their third triumph and for Australia their sixth. A final thought: If the miracle happens in the Pakistan v Bangladesh game then I believe that sheer relief at managing to qualify will be enough to propel Pakistan to victory – in that circumstance they would be alone among the four semi-finalists in having no pressure on them.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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Gettring really good pictures of these butterflies is a challenge – this one is porbably my best yet.

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A female pheasant views the world from atop a car at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House.

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The weights we use for some of our exercises during therapy sessions at Tapping House.
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Raffe prizes at Tapping House
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I bought a ticket to support the cause, and this would be my first choice prize should the opportunity arise.

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The World Cup So Far

Some thought’s on the cricket world cup 2019 and some pictures.

INTRODUCTION

This is my first post for a while. I have lots of pictures to share. Aside from my continuing recovery from cancer (I have am expecting a date for my operation in the not too distant future, having recently had a pre-operation assessment) the cricket world cup has been centre stage for me since it got under on May 30th.

AN OVERLONG TOURNAMENT

Today is the 19th day of the tournament and the game currently taking place between Bangladesh and the West Indies marks the halfway point of the group stage (match 23 of 46). The reason why cricket world cups stretch on like this is because by and large only one match is scheduled per day (there have been a handful of days with two matches in this one, but very few), because the TV companies prefer it that way. During the last world cup I produced my idea for how to run a cricket world cup and not have it take such a ridiculously long time, and I reproduce that below:

THE SUTCLIFFE FORMULA

There has been much talk at the Cricket World Cup about how the tournament should be formatted, especially given that there are those who would reduce it to a ten team tournament (so utterly harebrained a notion that I do no more than mention it). Several of the associate nations at this world cup have given good accounts of themselves, with Ireland having a strong chance of progressing to the quarter finals.

My formula for a Cricket World Cup would be as follows:

16 teams to play in the tournament. Stage one would involve two groups of eight teams, the top four from each group progressing. Each group would play its matches in sets of four (hence two groups of eight), making seven rounds of matches for each group, to played on alternate days (i.e. this stage would span two weeks, with each side having a day off between matches.

After the group stage would be a three day break before the quarter-finals, which would be played all on one day. After a two day break the semi–finals would take place. Then following another two day break the final would take place. This would mean that the tournament would be played in a period of three and a half weeks (a sensible length for a global tournament).

As for the TV people: If they don’t like it they can lump it.

THOUGHTS ON WORLD CUP 2019

Apart from being miles too long once again this has been a good world cup so far. It has not featured the ludicrously high scoring some predicted, and the highest successful chase has been of a mere 244. That could go today however, as Bangladesh are 70-1 after 10 overs chasing 322 to beat the Windies.

PICTURES

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We begin with more on goldfinches….

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World Cup Warm Up Matches

Accounts and predictions relating to today’s cricket world cup warm up matches, a health/fitness update and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Two Cricket World Cup Warm Up matches are under way – both at the halfway stage. They form the main part of this post.

WORLD CUP WARM UP MATCHES

There are two games today:

  • South Africa v Sri Lanka South Africa 338-7 from 50 overs.
    A respectable total for South Africa at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff. 88 from Du Plessis and 65 from Amla were the main batting contributions. Left-arm medium pacer Isuru Udana was economical, taking 1-42 from his 10 overs, while Lakmal and Pradeep each took two wickets, though expensively, going for 140 from 19 between them. This is a tough one to call, but looking the way everyone other than Isuru got treated in this innings I am going to predict that Sri Lanka chase these down.
  • Afghanistan v PakistanPakistan 262 all out from 47.2 overs.
    This match, at Ashley Down, Bristol, has all the makings of a classic. A century from Babar Azam was at the heart of the innings – and on recent evidence Babar Azam scoring a century is not necessarily good news for Pakistan. Mohammad Nabi had 3-46 from his 10 overs and Rashid Khan 2-27 from nine, while fast bowler Dawlat Zadran took 2-37 from 5.5 overs. Nabi and Khan will probably be very economical in the world cup, as opponents look to avoid losing wickets to them and hope to cash on the other less good bowlers. Today I am predicting that Afghanistan will chase down this target to put down a marker for the tournament.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND FITNESS

Today I broke new ground in my slow regaining of fitness and health post cancer. I managed to extend this morning’s walk to just opposite The Hob in The Well, which is close to King’s Lynn town centre. I am hoping to develop sufficient fitness to reach King’s Lynn Library unassisted in time for an NAS event there on June 14th, so that I do not have to rely on some kind person being able to gave me a lift. I finish with my usual sign off…

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A Mixed Bag

A giant mixed bag of a post covering the European Elections, other recent developments in my life, cricket and liberally equipped with photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A lot has happened since I last put up a blog post I will try to cover all the interesting bits, and I have a large number of photographs to share. First of all…

THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

Today is polling day in the European Elections. Here in Britain the polling stations are open until 10PM. The decision for me was between two parties. In a general election, knowing the support base of the respective parties in my constituency and constrained by the outdated, unfit for purpose FPTP system used in such elections, I would vote Labour as the only way to have even a chance of unseating the Tories. In a European election, run under the D’Hondt system, it was a question of maximising the number of progressive MEPs from my region, and that dictated a vote for the Green Party who were just short of having someone elected last time round. Therefore, I made my way to the Discovery Centre, which I expected would be the local polling station (fortunately I was right – for some reason I never received a polling card for this election, so I was relying on the same polling station being used for this one as had been used in the local elections a few weeks earlier – when I was unable to vote, being in a hospital bed at the time), equipped with ID to make up for the absence of a polling card (neither should be required but Tories are up – or down – to all sorts of tricks these days and it is better to be safe) and duly cast my vote for the Green Party.

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STAMPS

I have finally got all my stamps mounted (I was given a large quantity while in Addnebrookes being treated for cancer, to go with some that I already had). Here are the photographs I took while finishing the job:

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The main division of the non-themed stamps was between Polish and not Polish, and as you will see later I did not quite manage to get all the Polish ones in the same place, but did pretty well.

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I particularly like the Occitane stamp – it is always nice to see trees being honoured.

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SUNDAY LUNCH

With my Aunt not being around my parents and I had Sunday lunch at Goldings, which is a very fine restaurant. Although my alcohol consumption is restricted at the moment a pint of Adnam’s Ghost Ship (not hugely strong at 4.5%) combined well with steak and chips. I am not yet quite fit enough to get from my bungalow to the town centre on foot, so this meant a car journey.

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A pint of Ghost Ship
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Anything in a glass bearing this label will be drinkable!

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TAPPING HOUSE

On Tuesday, as usual, I had my physio session at Tapping House. It went very well, even including one set of exercises that involved balance and co-ordination (neither of them strong points even before I became ill). This has become a valued part of my life.

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NAS WEST NORFOLK COFFEE MORNING

This took place yesterday morning at the Pretty Little Tea Shop on Norfolk Street (thanks for stepping in at the last minute to give me a lift, Rachel). There was a reasonable turnout, a good time appeared to be had by all, and, mirabile dictu, the filter coffee was drinkable (though somewhat under strength by my standards), although £2.15 for about half the amount I make for myself at home in the morning seems a trifle steep.

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FINAL THOUGHTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Much has happened in the cricket world over the last few days. England did defend their total of 350 in the final ODI. David Willey and Joe Denly not very surprisingly missed out on places if the final world cup squad, although I was a little surprised to see Liam Dawson given a place (the other selections were all pretty automatic given Alex Hales’ recent indiscretion which ruled him out). Somerset have consolidated their place at the head of the County Championship table by beating Warwickshire in seven sessions (out of a possible 12) while Surrey and Kent are involved in a fine scrap, likely to end in a draw, though a victory for Surrey remains possible. Now it is time for my usual sign off:

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