Cricket, Photographs and Puzzles

Some thoughts about the early stages of the English Cricket Season, some photographs and some puzzles.

INTRODUCTION

The second round of County Championship matches in season 2018 are now on their second day. Additionally the fact that here in England we seem to have skipped spring, going dorectly from a long, unpleasant winter into summer means I have a particularly fine selection of photographs for you, and there will be puzzles. 

THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

Scoring is low everywhere. At Chester-le-Street it is looking a first innings tally of 169 will be sufficient for Kent to record an innings victory (Durham, shot out for 91 yesterday morning are 39-7 in their second innings, needing their last three wickets to double that paltry tally just to avoid the innings defeat). Essex and Lancashire are already into their third innings as well, Essex having scraped together 150 first up and Lancashire replying with 144. Essex are 39-0 in their second innings. Somerset, having actually claimed a batting bonus point by reaching 202 are poised for a handy first innings lead, Worcestershire being 153-8 in response. Surrey also topped 200 – making 211, and Hampshire are 79-6 in response. Yorkshire made 256 in their first innings, and Nottinghamshire are 110-6 in response. Derbyshire made 265, and Middlesex have also reached three figures, being 101-5 in response. Gloucestershire are 47-0 in response to Glamorgan’s 236. Northamptonshire were all out for 147 and Warwickshire are about to overhaul them, with wickets in hand. Finally, Sussex batting first are a comparatively monumental 304-7 (three batting bonus points, although they will not get a fourth as they have had 108.3 overs, and bonus points are only awarded in the first 110 overs of a team’s first innngs) against Leicestershire.

Every match is in progress, which beats last week, when Yorkshire failed to produce a playing surface on which the game could be played, resulting in their match against Essex being abandoned without a ball being bowled. 

The low scoring is a major problem – the batters will gave little confidence since they are not making runs, and as soon as they face conditions in which the ball does not get up to mischief most of the wicket-taking bowlers will revert to being their workaday selves (we saw, unforgettably for all the wrong reasons, over the winter how seamers who bowl accurately but not especially fast are cannon fodder for international class batsmen on good pitches). 

From the point of view of England possibles these two rounds of championship matches have been largely valueless – the 75 from James Vince on the opening day was the usual Vince fare – excellent while it lasted, but did not last long enough to be satisfactory and given the conditions no bowling figures can be taken with anything other than a substantial helping of salt.

PHOTOGRAPHS 1: AN ASPI.BLOG FIRST

The Muscovy ducks first saw a few months back are still in residence, and they have been joined by an unusual visitor, the second largest bird species I have seen in King’s Lynn – Canada Geese.

Muscovy ducks and Canada Geese
The white patch at the top front of the otherwise pure black neck (the head and bill are also pure black) is, along with the colossal size, the key identifier of these birds as Canada Geese.

Canada Goose and Muscovy ducksCGICGIICGIII

PUZZLE 1: MATCHSTICKS

My first offering from brilliant (the source of all of today’s puzzles – note also that all can be solved without even using pen and paper, never mind mechanical assistance – I did) is an exercise in visualization:

matchsticks

PHOTOGRAPHS 2: MUNTJAC

This muntjac was nibbling the grass on the playing field of the Lynn Academy, and I was taking pictures through a screen of plants:

Muntjac IMuntjac IIMuntjac IIIMuntjac IV

PUZZLE 2: CLEAR ICE

Clear Ice

PHOTOGRAPHS 3: SQUIRREL

I got two shots of this squirrel, one om the ground, and one as it swarmed up a tree trunk:

Squirrelsquirrel swarming up tree

PUZZLE 3: POLYOMINO

Another exercise in visualization (my own success with this one enabled me to celebrate what I call my brilliant.org Pi Day – 314 successive days on which I had solved at least one of their problems!):

Polyomino

PHOTOGRAPHS 4: SMALLER BIRDS

BlackbirdMoorhen on branchMagpieperching blackbird

PUZZLE 4: CONVERGENCE

Convergence

PHOTOGRAPHS 5: BUTTERFLIES

Small Tortoiseshell XIITwo Small TortoiseshellsTwo Small Tortoiseshells IISmall Tortoiseshell XIIITwo butterfliesSmall Tortoiseshell XIVPeacock Butterfly with closed wings

PUZZLE 5: CUBE

My own method for solving this one once again involved visualization, although other methods were also used.

Cube

In view of some of the moans that appeared on brilliant in relation to this problem please note the crucial words “by rotating” in the question – they are absolutely key.

PHOTOGRAPHS 6: THE REST

PollinatorSmall birdShy guinea pig

AFTERWORD

While I have been completing this post Durham have succeeded in making Kent bat again, though it is still massive odds against that game even making it onto the third of the scheduled four days.

 

Cricket Season Underway

Celebrating the start of a new cricket season.

INTRODUCTION

The first round of County Championship matches in season 2018 is drawing to a conclusion. Where there has been action (Yorkshire’s failure to get their ground into playable condition caused their game against Essex to be abandoned without a ball being bowled). I also have some photos to share, and will provide answers to the last problems I posed.

RAIN, WICKETS AND THE ODD RUN

A lot of drawn games have resulted due to poor weather before and during the matches. However, those matches which have had definite results have been absolute crackers. Only one game remains in progress – Sussex against Warwickshire, with the former’s David Wiese having scored the only century of this first round of fixtures (and off a mere 94 balls, helped along by 14 fours and three sixes). Sussex are building are useful lead, but it will take something spectacular in what is left of the match for anything other than a draw to eventuate. Gloucestershire beat Kent in a very low scoring affair (the largest team total in any of the four innings was only just over 150). Middlesex also won their match in short order, completing the job early on yesterday. Two other matches had definite results:

HAMPSHIRE V WORCESTERSHIRE

Worcestershire generally have a lot of away games scheduled for early in the season to give the New Road ground an apportunity to recover from its winter inundation (it is very close to the river Severn, so this is pretty much an annual event), and this year is no exception. Their match against Hampshire at Southampton (I refuse on principle to refer directly to grounds that are named after a sponsor) saw many twists and turns, but Hampshire were pretty well always ahead of the game. James Vince’s spirited 75 on the opening day was a fine effort, but yet again he failed to turn a good start into a really significant score. All-rounder Gareth Berg matched Vince’s score. Worcestershire fought back from a dreadful start in their own first innings to top the 200 mark, but they still conceded a deficit of 79, and Hampshire then scored 244 in their second innings to leave Worcestershire needing 324 to win. Worcetserhsire were so far short of threatening this target that it took a defiant last wicket partnership to get the final margin below 200 runs. 

LANCASHIRE V NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Lancashire were all out for 158 in their first innings, Nottinghamshire responded with 222, and overnight Lancashire were 58-2. Harry Gurney and Jake Ball (Left-arm Fast and right-arm Fast Medium respectively) bowled magnificently this morning, and Lancashire’s last eight wickets scraped together a measly 15, which meant Nottinghamshire needed just 10 to win. Nottinghamshire themselves managed to lose four wickets while chasing down this target, making the score for the day 25-12. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

These are all from this morning:

MagpieTwo cormorants ITwo Cormorants IICormorantsBlackbird

Bee
My first bee picture of 2018

Bee IIBee - close upSlugPollinator IPollinator IISmall TortoiseshellSmall Tortoiseshell - close up

SOLUTIONS

I posed these problems on Friday, in a post titled “Solutions (And New Problems)

  1. Deck of Cards:
    Card problem

This is a multi-choice question, the possible answers being:

a) Less than 50%
b) More than 50%
c) Exactly 50%
This problem generated a huge amount of controversy among solvers on brilliant (many of those who opted for exactly 50% being unable to accept that they were wrong and arguing over it). The answer is “less than 50%” – whatever colour the top card in the pack is there remain 51 cards of which 25 are the same colour as the top card and 26 are the other colour. Hence the probability of the bottom card being the same colour is the top card is 25/51, which is just less than 50%. The more cards the deck contains the closer to 50% the probability gets, but it never reaches 50%.

2. Groyne

Groyne Q

This one caused such confusion to solvers om brilliant that over half of them got it wrong. The answer is A, since the groyne acts as a block against waves approaching it from the right as you look at it, and therefore the reduced speed of those waves causes sediment to deposited on that side of the groyne. 

The Ends of Two Series

Final thoughts on two test series and one major cricketing scandal. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post deals with the two test match series that have recently concluded and associated fallout. We start with…

SOUTH AFRICA 3 AUSTRALIA 1

Before getting into my account of the onfield happenings, it is time for an update on…

THE UNHOLY TRINITY

Cricket Australia have hit Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner with substantial playing bans, augmented in the case of Smith and Warner with bans on subsequently occupying leadership positions. The trio have a day left to appeal against these bans, and Smith and Bancroft have already said they will not do so (here and here). To my mind the fact that the other two have already accepted their bans leaves Warner with only two choices: accept the ban as they have, or announce his retirement from all forms of cricket with immediate effect (he is the oldest of the trio, and would probably find relaunching a professional career at the age of 33, as he would be when his ban expires, quite tough). It also leaves the Australian Cricketers Association with a lot of egg on their faces, since they have gone into bat on behalf of the trio, two of whom have now accepted the ban handed out by Cricket Australia. 

AUSTRALIA ANNIHILATED

In the final match of the series in which the scandal referred to above broke South Africa batted first and put up a daunting total of 488, (Markram 152, Bavuma 95 not out) before Australia replied with a modest 221. With a draw sufficient to secure their first home series win over the Aussies since readmission in 1992 South Africa declined to enforce the follow on. In the second South African innings Faf Du Plessis made a fluent century and Dean Elgar a limpetlike 81 in five and a half hours, and they batted until tea on the fourth day to ensure complete safety (there were injury worries about three of their frontline bowlers). Faced with a purely nominal fourth innings target of 612 Australia collapsed to be all out for 119. Vernon Philander emerged with figures of 6-21, while Morne Morkel finished his test career by claiming the final Australian wicket. South Africa’s winning margin of 492 runs was the biggest victory by a runs margin in a time limited test (the three bigger margins that have been recorded, 675 runs by England against Australia in 1928, 562 runs by Australia against England in 1934 and 520 runs by Australia against South Africa in 1911 were all in timeless matches, because all test matches in Australia were played to a finish between 1888 and 1946, and the Oval match in 1934 was settling the fate of the Ashes, and was played to a finish for that reason, as had happened in 1926 and 1930 and would happen again in 1938). More information about this match is available on cricinfo.

ENGLAND IN NEW ZEALAND

This was the second match of a two-match series and England needed to win it to square the series. A century by Jonny Bairstow helped England to a first innings total of 307. New Zealand slumped to 36-5 in response before a big stand between wicketkeeper B J Watling and the man with the coolest name in current international cricket, Colin De Grandhomme revived them. England eventually secured a first innings lead, but at 29 it was much smaller than they would have been anticipating. After Alastair Cook fished at one outside his off stump and was caught Mark Stoneman and James Vince, each batting to save a test career, took centre stage. Vince’s stylish 76 may have been sufficient to preserve his place or at least to give him a way back if he scores some big runs for Hampshire during the English season. Stoneman however (he is also a few years older than Vince, hence less time for potential comebacks) would appear to be finished as a test match batsman. His 60 was his fifth score of 50 or more in tests but also his highest, and he was nearly out a number times between reaching 50 and finally contriving to surrender his wicket for 60.

STONEMAN’S UNWANTED PLACE
IN THE RECORD BOOKS

Those noting that 60 would seem both to be a moderate career best for an opener and a moderate career best for someone with five scores of 50 or more give yourselves a bonus point. Mark Stoneman in point of fact now holds the record for the lowest career best for a batsman with five or more test fifties, the previous lowest in that category being 64 jointly held by:

  • Brett Lee, who was picked for his fast bowling, and was not particularly expected to score many runs.
  • Billy Bates, an all-rounder whose off-spin was more than capable of settling matches on its own, and who played in the 1880s when scoring was generally a lot lower due to the nature of the pitches. He was the first England bowler to take a test match hat trick (second ever, after Frederick Robert Spofforth), in a remarkable match performance which saw him take seven wickets in each Aussie innings, after scoring 55 in England’s 294 (a score which proved sufficient to win the match by an innings).

Root scored his seventh fifty plus test score this English winter, and for the seventh time this English winter failed to make it to the century mark. New Zealand were left 380 to chase to win the game. 

Although there were moments when England looked like they could win the match, and New Zealand were never in serious contention, it must also be acknowledged that most of the wickets that fell in this final innings were given by the batsmen rather than being taken by the bowlers. Additionally several chances went begging (Stoneman further blotting his already soiled copybook by shelling two). Finally, taking the Auckland horror show into account, the overall series result is well justified – a drawn series would have seriously flattered England. Full detail on this match is available from cricinfo.

ENGLAND PLAYER BY PLAYER

A new home season is often a time for new blood (ideally if I was giving someone their test chance I would want to see them at that level for at least one home season and one overseas tour before assessing whether to persevere with them), so what of the players who played for England in this match?

  1. Alastair Cook – he is finding it very difficult to get an innings going these days, but on the occasions when he manages it he scores seriously big. Also, he has done enough over the years to be allowed to leave the scene on his own terms.
  2. Mark Stoneman – not good enough at this level. Five fifty plus scores but a highest of 60 points to serious temperament issues. I hope not to see him lining up against Pakistan at Lord’s.
  3. James Vince – too many beautiful miniatures like his first innings 18 and as yet no full-sized masterpiece, though his 76 in the second innings, like his 83 at Brisbane suggests that he may yet come good at the highest level.
  4. Joe Root – his failures to convert fifties to centuries of late are beginning to be a worry, but he has proved in the past that he can go on to really big scores. 
  5. Dawid Malan – has done enough to be retained. Given Root’s dislike of the position and Vince’s less than iron grip on his place in the side he may have to take on the njumber 3 slot.
  6. Ben Stokes – has batted well this series but done very little bowling. His future is uncertain due to the pending court case against him.
  7. Jonny Bairstow – has batted magnificently on both legs of the tour, and his keeping has been pretty well flawless. Another possibility for that no3 slot would be selecting another wicketkeeper and having Bairstow (who is good against the quick stuff) play as a specialist batsman in the no3 position.
  8. Stuart Broad – bowled well in both innings of this match, and barring injury will continue to feature in the test team until he calls time on himself.
  9. Mark Wood – his presence gives the seam element of England’s attack variation through his extra pace. Both he and Broad spent too much of this match testing out the centre portion of an unresponsive pitch.
  10. Jack Leach – finally England select a genuine spinner, rather than a batsman who can roll an arm over. He bowled well in this match, though this was not a great pitch for him, and more should be seen of him. 
  11. James Anderson – he remains as good as ever. In this match he set a new record for the most overs delivered by a pace bowler in the course of a test career, going past Courtney Walsh. At times over the course of this English winter he has been not merely England’s spearhead, but most of the spear as well.

The likelihood is that Broad and Anderson will continue until 2019 so that they can take their final bows in a home Ashes series. Cook may also be thinking in those terms, and while no one would grudge him such a finish, a few more runs between now and then would be good. In the immediate term however England definitely need to find from somewhere the following.

  • A new opening batsman to replace Stoneman
  • Either a new wicketkeeper to take the gloves from Bairstow and enable him to play as a specialist no 3 or a new batsman to play at no 3 (or promote Malan and have the newbie at no 5). Dan Lawrence is an obvious candidate for a batting spot, and the early weeks of this season would be one heckuva time for some young batsmen to score heavily for their counties.
  • Bowling back-up for Anderson and Broad (Wood is good, but injury-prone, and none of the other pace options England have tried this winter have been remotely impressive).
  • A second genuine spinner or spin bowling all-rounder to back up Jack Leach (Moeen Ali’s form and confidence both appear to be thoroughly shattered).

England also need to learn a lesson they should have learned decades ago: taking a phalanx of guys who bowl right-arm just above medium pace overseas does not work – such bowlers are only dangerous if the ball moves in the air for them. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Finally, for those of you whobhave made it to the end of this post, some of my photographs:

MinsterBoatsBlack headed gullCormorants and gullsJackdawblack backed gullsBlack headed gull IIdouble spreadWingspan VSquawkBlackbird MDCLXVIBlackbird IIDaffodilClimbing squirrelSquirrelSquirrelsBlackbird IVXLCDM

 

Congratulations New Zealand

A cricketing post, in which I set out my stall for World Autism Awareness Week and then the month of April.

INTRODUCTION

While this post is a cricket post, it is also my first post in World Autism Awareness Week. Thus to set the stage for this week and for the whole of April you will notice a couple of changes:

  • All of my own text will in #RedInstead 
  • Save in photographs where it is unavoidable the colour blue will not appear in this blog before the start of May

The main theme of this post is what happened in Auckland, but before that…

A QUICK UPDATE ON THE
AUSTRALIAN CHEATING SAGA

For full details please visit my previous post. The official ICC ‘punishments’ – a one-match ban and a meaningless fine for skipper Steve Smith and just the meaningless fine for Bancroft are a complete joke. However, it seems that Cricket Australia will be taking tough action against Smith and vice-captain Warner (this latter has to rank as one of the stupidest appointments in cricket history given his reputation) and less tough action against Bancroft. The latter annoys me on the following counts:

  • Yes, Bancroft was a junior player acting under the influence of his seniors, but “I was only obeying orders” has certainly been utterly debunked as a defence since at least 1945.
  • Bancroft is both older and more experienced than was Mohammad Amir at the time of his fall from grace and yet the latter (quite correctly) spent five years banned from the game (the other two offenders in that case, Mohammad Asif and skipper Salman Butt were both drummed out of the game permanently, again correctly.

Incidentally, the match in which this scandal broke finished yesterday, a day early, as Australia collapsed in their second innings, losing all 10 of their wickets for the addition of 50 runs (57-0 to 107 all out, thereby outdoing England’s collapse of a few days ago).

CRICKETING JUSTICE IN THE END

England made a decent fist of things on the final day in Auckland, taking the match into its final session, but in the end cricketing justice prevailed, with New Zealand winning by an innings and 49 runs. The truth is that this match was a three-cornered affair, with New Zealand coming out just ahead of the weather and England way back in a distant and dismal third.

There were two things that stood out about the England second innings:

  • Nearly every batsman got going, but none managed to produce a really major innings, Ben Stokes‘ 66 being the top score.
  • The ends of sessions were calamitous for England, with Root falling just before the close of day 4, Moeen Ali on the stroke of tea on day 5 and Stokes on the stroke of the dinner break on day 5.

New Zealand bowled very well again, although there is no way that Neil Wagner’s medium paced bouncers should have caused the havoc they did. Leg spinner Todd Astle collected 3-39. Trent Boult was deservedly named Man of the Match for his nine wickets in the course of the game – it was his magnificent bowling on day 1 assisted by English ineptitude that gave New Zealand an ascendancy that only the weather seriously threatened to take away from them.

England need to learn from this – the only publishable word to describe their ‘preparation’ for the test match section of this tour would be”shambolic”, and their batting in the first innings reflected this. 

A win in Christchurch would give them a 1-1 draw in the series, though I reckon that another defeat and resultant 0-2 reverse might just administer the kick up the collective backside that they need. Further information about this match and the players involved can be found here.

I end this section by emphasizing once more where the credit belongs: my heartiest congratulations to New Zealand on a splendid performance.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Sun on the Great Ouse I
Unless I specifically state otherwise any photos you see in this blog will be mine.

Sun on the Great Ouse IIBlack headed gull IBlack headed gull IIswimming gullFour large gulls

Tortoiseshell Butterfly
On the first remotely spring-like day of 2018 (it was still not that warm, but there was a curious yellow ball-shaped object visible in the sky) I spotted my first butterfly of 2018.

CormorantCormorantsthree cormorantsCormorant trioSwimming birdsRedshankRedshank II

 

 

Scores and Scandals

Some cricket stuff, including a view on the ball-tampering in South Africa.

INTRODUCTION

A lot has been happening in the cricket world over the last few days, and I am using this post to write about some of those things. There are a lot of links in this post – anything in bold and underlined will be a link.

SCANDAL IN SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa are handily placed to inflict a heavy defeat on Australia, but the actual state of that match has been completely overshadowed by a scandal that has broken while it is in progress. Cameron Bancroft was caught live on camera tampering with the ball, and it has subsequently emerged that his action was the on-field element of a plan concocted by the so-called ‘Leadership Group’ of the Australian team. Already Steven Smith and David Warner have been stood down from their roles for the rest of the match (other members of the Leadership Group remain to identified, since as part of press conference performance of breath taking arrogance, which also included refusing point-blank to resign as captain, Mr Smith declined to put names to the Leadership Group, but the vice-captain cannot be protected even by that). 

PUNISHMENTS

As a preface to this section I am going to stay straight out that fines do not come into the equation – the use of fines in other, less serious situations has demonstrated that players are not bothered by fines (unsurprising, since the fines relate only to match fees, which form only a small part of the incomes of top players). I will now list my thoughts on punishments for those involved:

Cameron Bancroft, perpetrator: permanent ban from all forms of professional cricket.

Stephen Smith, Australian Captain: At minimum a ban from all forms of professional cricket until the end of the Australian season of 2021-22, which would cost him a world cup and an ashes series on home soil. He is instigator-in-chief of this incident, and in picking the youngest and most vulnerable member of the squad as his cat’s paw he has taken the same approach to his variety of misconduct as Hansie Cronje did to his when he roped in Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams. Thus I would not actually quarrel with him copping the same punishment as Bancroft, and have suggested my alternative slightly lesser punishment as part of a sliding scale…

David Warner, Australian vice-captain (and other members of the Leadership Group when identified): At minimum a ban from all forms of professional cricket until the end of the 2019 English season (thereby costing those involved a world cup appearance).

These suggested punishments are intentionally draconian because I believe cricket needs to send out an unmistakable message about this. 

KARMA

I hope that sometime later today the first three lines in the Australian second innings scorecard will read:

C Bancroft…B Rabada 0
D Warner… B Rabada 0
S Smith…     B Rabada 0

LINKS

Here are some links about this story:

WICKETS AND WASHOUTS 

At the end of the fourth day’s play in the first test match between England and New Zealand there is an outside chance of England escaping defeat. An hour and a half into day 1 it did not look like this match was making it anywhere near day 4, let alone going into the day 5. In that time England had been dismissed for 58, and for much of that period it had looked like being much worse. At 23-8 England were in serious danger of being all out for the lowest total in test history (26 by New Zealand against England, also in Auckland, in 1955). At 27-9 there would probably have been people putting money on England failing to match their own previous record low (45 all out in 1887). Craig Overton then connected with some lusty blows, reaching 33 not out before James Anderson finally succumbed. Overton’s innings was the second highest proportion of an all-out total scored by a number nine in test history, Asif Iqbal‘s 146 in all out tally of 255 for Pakistan v England being the record holder (Asif came in at 53-7, lost his senior partner at 65 and then found such good support from leg-spinner Intikhab Alam that they put on 190 together, Intikhab finishing with 51). While crediting the fine bowling performances of Tim Southee and in particular Trent Boult (a.k.a The Conductor – his colleague Neil Wagner – ‘The Composer‘ did not even get a bowl) the people most responsible for this dire score were the England batsmen, most of whom contributed to their own downfall (it is a toss-up in my mind between Bairstow, pushing back a return catch to make it 18-6 or Ali missing a straight full-toss and being castled to make it 23-8 for the worst culprit).

A combination of a lot of rain on days two and three, and the fact that while never looking very threatening England contrived to bowl less dreadfully than they had batted plus a second-innings batting effort that finally showed a hint of backbone is how this match is going into a fifth day. The New Zealand innings featured centuries from Kane Williamson (his 18th in test cricket moving him past Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor to the top of the Kiwi pile in this department) and Henry Nicholls (a.k.a ‘Harvey‘ – hat-tip to Graeme Swann for that one). England are currently 132-3, needing a further 237 to clear the deficit. Alastair Cook failed again, while Mark Stoneman’s 55 was his fourth test fifty, but his highest score remains 56, and I suspect that barring a mammoth score there the second and final match of this series in Christchurch will be his last for England, Joe Root also scored a fifty but fell to the last ball of the day. England will need a major contribution from Dawid Malan, not out overnight and from at least one out of Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow or Moeen Ali to get out of this one. 

For more about this match start here.

ENGLAND WOMEN FLYING IN INDIA

England’s men may not be faring too well at present, but the women are having a splendid time. Having started the tri-series (England, India, Australia) by beating Australia (after a disciplined bowling performance left them only 150 to get in their 20 overs, splendid batting performances by Natalie Sciver and Tammy Beaumont carried England to a very comfortable win) England followed up with a record breaking chase against India. India made 198-4 in their 20 overs (Jenny Gunn made history by playing in this game – she is the first player of either sex to appear in 100 T20 internationals), with Smriti Mandhana scoring 76 off 40 balls. England cruised home with 7 wickets and 8 balls to spare, largely due to Danielle Wyatt (124 off 64 balls, becoming only the second woman ever to score two T20 international centuries).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Regular visitors to this site will know that I always include some of my own photographs in my blog posts:

Mallards I
Ducks are not a common sight at King;s Lynn bus station, but the very morning after England’s collapse in Auckland there they were (one short of matching England – four ducks showed in total, to five on the England scorecard.

Drakemallard trioMallards IImallard quartetresting drakeFour ducks

BB1
A blackbird near my aunt’s house.

BBII

THI
Three pictures of the town hall to finish.

THIITHIII

A Weekend of Sporting Action

Cricket and Rugby action from the last few days and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Between the Six Nations rugby and the first ODI between England and New Zealand I have watched/ listened to a lot of sport over the last few days. 

THE SIX NATIONS

There were three matches over the weekend, one on Friday evening and two on Saturday. The Friday evening match was…

FRANCE VS ITALY

This match took place in Marseille, a rare fixture of this nature not happening in a national capital. It was played at a disappointingly slow tempo. In keeping with Italy’s first two matches of the series it was close for the first hour and then one way traffic as the Italians tired in the closing stages. 

IRELAND VS WALES

The best match of this year’s Six Nations to date. Non-stop action through the 80 minutes. Ireland only settled it beyond dispute right at the end with their fourth try of the game, the last action of the match being the conversion. In the early stages Jonathan Sexton had been decidedly fallible with his kicking, whereas save for one monster effort from 53 metres which did not quite make it Leigh Halfpenny for Wales was his usual impeccable self. Ireland fully deserved their win for all that it took them so long to officially seal it, and they now look favourites for the championship.

SCOTLAND VS ENGLAND

The oldest continuously maintained fixture in international rugby and a match the outcome of which only a fool would have tried to predict in advance. The Calcutta Cup match is always a great occasion, and this was no exception. Scotland came firing out of the blocks and caught England absolutely cold. At half-time Scotland led 22-6 and if anything England were lucky it was not worse. In the second half England fared much better. They had two tries ruled out for minor infractions and scored and converted another. The final score was Scotland 25 England 13. On the day Scotland were much the better side, and deserved their victory. England now need a big win over France to give themselves a chance of winning the championship (almost certainly they will also then have to beat Ireland, probably with a bonus point).

THE ONE DAY INTERNATIONAL

This match, which took place during the small hours of Sunday morning UK time, was already notable before it began as it was going to mark the second coming of Ben Stokes.

England managed 285 from their 50 overs which looked defensible. When New Zealand were 28-3 it looked even more defensible. Then Ross Taylor and Tom Latham had a huge partnership which looked like winning it for the Kiwis, then England started taking wickets again, and when Taylor (113) was dismissed, leaving NZ still 40 short and only three wickets standing England looked favourites. Mitchell Santner then connected with some lusty blows, while tailender Tim Southee hung in there at the other end, and New Zealand squeaked home. Stokes scored 12 with the bat and took two wickets, though he was given at least one over too many, as at the end of his bolwing stint he was looking decidedly ragged. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

front view of muscovydiving cmGrey muscovyBlack muscovyMuscovy faceGrey MuscovyHead

England Win ODI Series 4-1

An account of England’s final triumph in the ODI series.

INTRODUCTION

At just after 11AM UK time England sealed victory in the final ODI in Perth and with it a 4-1 series win. This post looks back at the match and the series.

DEFENDING MODEST TOTALS

Australia had gained a consolation win in the fourth match of the series in Adelaide (though they nearly contrived to lose a match that they had commenced by reducing England to 8-5). Thus, dead-rubber though it was this match had a bit of extra significance as another win for the Aussies would give them the undeserved respectability of a 3-2 scoreline. Also, it marked an international debut for the new ground in Perth, which replaces the WACA. 

Put in to bat once again, England had a number of useful contributions with no one going on to play a really major innings, which was reflected in a final tally 259. Australia fared well in response for a time, but England bowled well, and after Stoinis (87) was dismissed nobody was able to take command for Australia. At 203-8 with Paine and the tail to score the runs it looked like England were home. Australia fought hard, but a four and then a six late in his innings not withstanding Paine simply could not score quick enough, and when Curran rattled his stumps with a yorker Australia were still 12 runs adrift. Curran, elder son of former Zimbabwe international Kevin Curran (the younger, Sam, is also widely tipped to play for England in the not too distant future), had bowled splendidly and this final wicket gave him figures of 5-35, beating the 5-46 taken by Andrew Tye in the England innings. 

I was also glad that the final wicket to fall was that of Paine rather than Hazlewood because Paine’s innings here was the second time in three matches (after his 31 not out off 35 in Sydney) that he had played what appears to have been a useful innings but because of the slow rate at which he scored it was actually better for his batting average than it was for his team’s chances. 

THE SERIES AS A WHOLE

England were even more dominant in this series than the 4-1 scoreline suggests. The evidence of Perth is that Australia’s wobble at Adelaide when chasing a total that was simply too low to pose a real threat was no coincidence, and that a tally of 250 in that match would have been ample for England to win. England won both the games in which they chased at the proverbial canter and were never seriously threatened when defending 300 in Sydney (OK, it was not until a mere three deliveries remained that Australia were so far adrift as to need no-balls from England to give them a chance, but the result of that match, in spite of Stoinis’ efforts in the later stages, was obvious from a long way out). The final match was certainly close, and there were times when Australia seemed favourites, but in the closing stages it never really felt like getting away from England. 

A SIDELIGHT – INDIA IN SOUTH AFRICA

I congratulate the current Indian Test Match team on pulling off their victory in Johannesburg. The pitch and conditions were exactly the sort in which Indian sides of the past would have crumbled to an ignominious defeat (it was a green ‘un and the ball was getting up to all sorts of mischief for the quicker bowlers – if messrs Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins got a go on a pitch like that New Zealand’s 26 all out in 1954 would be under threat as the all-time lowest ever test match team total!).  Commiserations to Dean Elgar who ground his way to an undefeated 86 in the final innings while his team mates surrendered to Bhuvanesh Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma. The final calamity reads like something from 1990s England at their worst – SA subsiding from 124-1 to 177 all out.

PHOTOGRAPHS

As always, I finish with some of my photographs:

Sunset from the flat
The first four pictures were taken on Saturday evening.

Sunset in Baker Lane Car ParkSunset on the Upper PurfleetSunset over the custom house

HCE
This one was taken on Sunday morning
LumI
These last two were taken on Sunday evening.

LumII