TEST XI AND 12TH MAN – ONE PLAYER FROM EACH NATION

Responding to an entertaining challenge thrown down by cric blog to name a test XI and 12th man featuring one current player from each of the 12 test playing nations. Also features some photographs.

This post was inspired by a challenge tweeted by @cric_blog:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I responded on twitter, but there is a limit to how much detail one can go into there, so I am now putting up a blog post to provide a fuller explanation of my thoughts (I thank CricBlog for setting a tough but fun challenge and inspiring me to create a blog post – a combination of an English late autumn/ winter and lock down is not exactly ideal for providing inspiration!).

SELECTION ISSUES

The 12 test playing nations are: Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe. Some of these nations have many current greats to choose from, others have very few players to merit consideration. I also wished as far as possible to pick players in appropriate places in the batting order and to have a properly balanced side.

THE SQUAD FROM 1-12

  1. Dominic Sibley (England) – an opening batter who knows how to bat for a long time. He has impressed considerably since his selection for England, which was earned the old fashioned way by scoring shedloads for his county.
  2. Babar Azam (Pakistan) – he often bats no3 in long form cricket, but he can also open, his class is unquestionable, and his attacking inclinations make him a suitable partner for the solid Sibley.
  3. Kane Williamson (New Zealand) – one of the finest long form batters the game has ever seen, and certainly in the top handful of contemporary batters whatever the format.
  4. Virat Kohli (India) – Another all time great.
  5. Angelo Matthews (Sri Lanka) – Averages 45 with the bat and is also a potential sixth bowler with his medium pace. Sri Lanka are not especially strong at the moment, limiting one’s options in terms of selecting a team of this nature.
  6. +Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh) – A fine wicket keeper and worth his place as a middle order batter as well, the little Bangladeshi can be counted as one of two genuine all rounders in the XI.
  7. *Jason Holder (West Indies) – lower middle order batter, quick bowler and captain. He has a test double century to his name and has also taken some major wicket hauls, including a six-for to start the first test series of the 2020 English season. Although the West Indies ended up losing that series I was overall impressed by Holder’s captaincy and had little hesitation over giving him that role in this team. As an aside, England owe the Windies big time for this summer and should have reciprocal tours of that part of the world high on their priority list.
  8. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) – an outstanding leg spinner and a useful lower order batter, he was the easiest selection of all for this squad, so far above his compatriots does he stand.
  9. Mark Adair (Ireland) – pace bowler, useful lower order batter (he averages over 25 in first class cricket). He was impressive with the ball at Lord’s in 2019, his only test to date.
  10. Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) – pace bowler. The quickest bowler in the squad, and the best of the three pace bowlers I have named.
  11. Nathan Lyon (Australia) – the best current off spinner (only Murali among off spinners I have seen in action ranks as an unquestionably better bowler – sorry Swanny), and a suitable ‘spin twin’ for Rashid Khan.
  12. Brendon Taylor (Zimbabwe) – Zimbabwe has few stand out names at present, but as a 12th man a wicket keeper who is also a good enough willow wielder to average 35 in test cricket is a pretty decent option.

THE TEAM ANALYSED

This team has a well matched opening pair, an outstanding no 3 and 4, a no 5 who has a very respectable record, an excellent keeper/batter, and Holder filling the all rounders slot at seven. The bowling line up, with Rabada taking the new ball alongside Holder or Adair, a third high class pacer and two outstanding and contrasting spinners in Rashid Khan and Nathan Lyon is also formidable. I would fully expect this team to give a good account of itself in any conditions. For more about my ideas on selection policies and team balance you can look at my ‘All Time XIs‘ series and/or at my ‘100 cricketers‘ series.

EXTENDING THE CHALLENGE

Please feel free to use the comments to indicate your own selections, sticking to the brief of one player per test playing nation. Those who fancy a really serious challenge are invited to pick a XII on similar lines to go up against mine (without thinking too hard I can identify nos 4, 5, 6 (or 4, 5, 7 or 4,6, 7) and 11 of such a combination and would be interested to see if these names feature).

PHOTOGRAPHS

I finish this post with some photographs (to view an image at full size please click on it):

Rain and Records

A look at the end of the test match summer, and at the state of the Bob Willis Trophy.

INTRODUCTION

From Friday through Tuesday at those times the weather permitted England and Pakistan did battle at the Ageas bowl in the last test match of this strangest of all summers, and from Saturday through Tuesday the fourth round of the Bob Willis Trophy took place, again with considerable interference from the weather. I look back at the test match and forward to the final round of BWT fixtures.

YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE TO THE FORE

England amassed 583-8 declared in their first innings, a performance underpinned by Zak Crawley who scored 267, his first test century. The only higher scores for a maiden test ton have been Brian Lara’s 277 at Sydney, Tip Foster (287 in his first ever test innings at Sydney), Bobby Simpson’s 311 at Old Trafford and Garry Sobers’ 365 not out at Sabina Park. Among England batters only Compton (278 v Pakistan), Foster (287 v Australia), Cook (294 v India), John Edrich (310 not out v New Zealand), Andy Sandham (325 v West Indies), Graham Gooch (333 v India), Walter Hammond (336 not out v New Zealand) and Len Hutton (364 v Australia) have ever scored more in a single innings. Only Hutton has ever scored more at a younger age than Crawley, who is just 22 years old. Thereafter, in the cricket that the weather permitted the spotlight was focussed on 38 year old James Anderson, as he first took a five-for (and had three catches missed) in Pakistan’s first innings, to which skipper Azhar Ali contributed a splendid 141 not out. This put Anderson on 598 test wickets, and England enforced the follow on as they had to. By the end of day 4, as the weather played havoc with the match Pakistan were 100-2 in their second innings, with one of the wickets to Anderson moving him on to 599, and yet another catch having gone begging off his bowling. There was heavy overnight rain, and it continued to rain for most of the morning, finally stopping just after 11AM. The sodden ground then had to dry out before play could commence, but eventually, at 4:15PM, with a possible 42 overs (27 mandatory and a further 15 if a result seemed possible) to be bowled. Anderson did not break through in his first spell, and as England hurried through overs to get to the second new ball Joe Root took a wicket with his part time off spin and Dom Sibley bowled one of the filthiest overs ever seen in a test match with his even more part time leg spin. The new ball was taken, and in his third over with it James Anderson induced a nick from Azhar Ali and the ball was pouched by a waiting slip fielder, bringing him to 600 test wickets. No one who bowled above medium pace had previously reached this landmark, and of the three spinners who had got there only one, Muttiah Muralitharan had done so in fewer balls bowled. Shortly after this a well struck four brought up a remarkable statistical landmark highlighted by Andy Zaltzman on Test Match Special: 1,000,000 runs in test matches involving England. A little later the last 15 overs were called, and after one ball thereof the teams decided to accept a draw as the pitch was doing precious little, and they were all eager to get away from the biosecure bubble and back to loved ones.

At the moment there is no way of knowing when England will next be in test match action, but James Anderson has every intention of still being in action when they do, and since he is still regularly clocking 85mph even at the age of 38 (while it is not unusual for veteran bowlers to be very successful due to the smarts they have acquired from years of experience it is unusual for a bowler of that age not to have slowed down – Walsh was barely exceeding 80mph when he toured England in 2000, likewise Shaun Pollock and Glenn McGrath in their veteran years) and is statistically bowling better than he ever has I for one am not counting him out.

I would like to thank both the West Indies who visited for three test matches immediately before Pakistan came over and Pakistan for braving the uncertainties created by this pandemic and coming to play, ensuring we had some cricket. I also tender a second huge thank you to the West Indies because their women are coming over to play against our women after India and South Africa cried off. I hope that England will reciprocate as soon as possible.

ADVANTAGE SOMERSET IN THE BWT

The format of the Bob Willis Trophy, tailored to fit special circumstances, is that the 18 first class counties have been grouped into three regional conferences, meaning that five rounds of matches will be played, and then the two best group winners will fight out a five day final at Lord’s. After four rounds of matches Somerset lead the central group with 76 points, Derbyshire the north group with 71 points and Essex the south group with 70 points. Although bonus points (of which as readers of this blog will be aware I am not a huge fan) complicate the issue somewhat, basically any win in their final match will qualify Somerset, since it is next door to impossible to win a match without taking full bowling bonus points, which on its own would put Somerset on 95, meaning that Derbyshire could equal them with a maximum point win and Essex could finish on 94 with a maximum win. Somerset crushed Gloucestershire and the most recent round, dismissing them for 76 and 70. Surrey’s nightmare season went from bad to worse as they were beaten by Kent in spite of the restored Ben Foakes contributing a century and a fifty. A major role for Kent was played by Darren Stevens, an all rounder who bowls medium pace, and who remains a force to be reckoned with at county level even at the age of 44. Limited overs cricket will be the order of the day for most of the rest of this season, which will extend into October because of the hugely delayed start. The T20 blast competition gets underway tomorrow afternoon, with commentaries on all matches accessible via www.bbc.co.uk/cricket.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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England in Control at the Ageas Bowl

A look at the extraordinary events that are unfolding at the Ageas bowl as Zak Crawley establishes himself at the highest level.

INTRODUCTION

It is now all but a 100% certainty that England will win the series against Pakistan, and what follows explains why.

DAY 1

Yesterday after messrs Curran, Foakes and Robinson were allowed to leave the bubble at the Ageas Bowl to play for their counties in the Bob Willis Trophy, leaving an England side of Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Bess, Archer, Broad and Anderson (Dan Lawrence and Ben Stokes had already been released in both cases for family reasons) Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat. The morning session went England’s way as they reached Lunch on 91-2. The loss of Root for 29 and Pope for 0 in quick succession made it 127-4, and seemingly turning in Pakistan’s favour. However, Zak Crawley was playing a magnificent innings, and Buttler continued his good recent form with the bat (pity he has been so bad with the gloves). By the tea interval it was 183-4 with Crawley on the verge of a maiden test century and England were starting to look good. The evening session was brilliant for England and horrible for Pakistan. Late in the day the runs were coming very fast as the Pakistan bowling got decidedly ragged. The day ended with England 332-4, Crawley 171 not out and Buttler within sight of a century of his own.

DAY 2

There have been two disruptions for rain, but in the cricket that has been played England have fared well, with the Pakistan bowling not looking remotely threatening. The score is now 380-4, and the stand between Crawley and Buttler is an all time England fifth wicket record against anyone, and Crawley is seven runs away from becoming the youngest England player to score a test double century since David Gower against India at Edgbaston in 1979. This is Crawley’s first test century and among those who have gone big on their first venture into three figures at this level are Bill Edrich (219 at Durban in 1939), Tip Foster (287 in his first test innings at Sydney in 1903), Bobby Simpson for Australia against England at Old Trafford (311) and at the top of this particular tree Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, 365 not out for West Indies v Pakistan at Sabina Park. Crawley has just brought up the double century with a four to third man, and England are now 391-4. Crawley was picked on potential, with not a lot in the way of major first class batting achievements behind him, and had passed 50 on three previous occasions in his fledgling test career, but this innings has surely settled the number three position for some considerable time to come – it has been a supreme performance, with no definite chances given. The record score for England against Pakistan is 278 by Denis Compton at Trent Bridge in 1954, which is definitely within Crawley’s compass from here. No3 has caused England many problems since I first started following cricket, with only Michael Vaughan and Jonathan Trott really succeeding there before the emergence of Crawley who has looked like a natural at no3.

THE REST OF THE MATCH

The weather forecast is pretty good for the rest of this match, and it is very hard to see any way of England losing from here, especially given that a draw will give them the series, which means they can shut up shop if trouble threatens. The 400 has just come up, and I reckon the way things are going that Crawley and Buttler should have at least half an eye on the all-time test record with wicket stand by anyone – the 405 that Sidney George Barnes and Donald Bradman put on together against England at Sydney in 1946. For the real pessimists the highest ever first innings to lose a test match is 586 by Australia at Sydney in 1894, when England replied with 325 and then in the follow on 437 and Australia got caught on a sticky in the final innings and were all out for 166, with Bobby Peel taking six cheap wickets. My own reckoning is that with England putting up a total like this after being 127-4 Pakistan will be demoralized and that England will win comfortably. Crawley has just had a little bit of good fortune, with an attempted catch becoming a six, and his score is now 222, moving him one run ahead of his mentor Rob Key’s highest test score. Only two England batters have had a higher maiden century, Hammond with 251 at Sydney in 1928 and Tip Foster’s 287 also at Sydney in 1903. The 300 stand has just come up for the fifth wicket.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Cricket and Weather

Cricket and how to deal withe time being lost to the weather.

INTRODUCTION

The match at the Ageas bowl between England and Pakistan has been hammered by a combination of bad weather and excessive caution on the part of the umpires, and not a single one out of nine Bob Willis Trophy matches has escaped unscathed either. This post looks at the various matches and looks at reducing the toll poor weather takes of cricket.

THE TEST MATCH

The situation at the Ageas bowl is that the equivalent of over two whole days have been lost to the weather, and the teams are currently in their hotel sheltering from what is apparently quite heavy rain. In the play that has been possible Pakistan have amassed 236 in their first innings, with Mohammad Rizwan playing a fine innings, and Stuart Broad continuing his excellent summer with the ball. England in response are 7-1, with Burns out for a duck, and a little lucky to have lasted as long as he did, since his second ball was edged just short of the slip fielder before his fourth was caught in that region. Probably the only chance of a positive result in that game is if the teams broker a deal whereby England declare, Pakistan forfeit their second innings and England have a go at a target of 230, while Pakistan try to take 10 wickets.

THE BOB WILLIS TROPHY

  • Leeds has seen 79 overs in a day and a half, and Yorkshire are 288-4 against Derbyshire.
  • Birmingham has seen more play than most places, and Warwickshire were dismissed for 121 in the first innings, while Somerset are 134-5 off 45.2 overs in response.
  • At Hove there have been 61 overs of play and Sussex are 155-6 against Essex.
  • At Northampton Worcestershire made 219 in their first innings and Northamptonshire are 60-3 in response.
  • At Trent Bridge there have been 71.2 overs and Nottinghamshire are 268-2 against Lancashire.
  • The St Lawrence Ground at Canterbury has seen 46 overs so far, and Middlesex are 94-4 against Kent.
  • At the Arundel Castle Ground which Hampshire are using as a home venue since the Ageas Bowl is required for other purposes they have already given up on play for today, which means that two days have seen exactly 40 overs, off which Surrey have reached 130-8.
  • In the game I am currently listening to at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Glamorgan are 68-4 off 40 overs against Gloucestershire.
  • Finally, at Grace Road there have been 72.2 overs thus far and Glamorgan are 224-4.

REDUCING LOSSES TO THE WEATHER

Firstly, abolish stoppages for the light altogether – play all matches using pink balls, so that the floodlights can be allowed to take complete control if necessary. Rain is harder to deal with, but I have an idea to float. It should be possible to construct a strong, lightweight but entirely waterproof canopy which could be attached to the tops of the floodlight pylons, enabling matches to be continued even if it is raining. It is just possible that an almighty miscue could send a ball pretty much vertically upwards (there was a shot that Ian Botham played off Terry Alderman at Old Trafford in 1981 that might have done this – Mike Whitney made a gallant effort to get underneath it to take the catch but could not quite do so) and cause it to hit the canopy, but I am sure that that could be dealt with.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Bob Willis Trophy Round 2 Final Day

A look at the Bob Willis Trophy as round two draws to a close.

INTRODUCTION

We are into the penultimate possible session of play in round two of the Bob Willis Trophy. five of the matches are now finished, four still in progress. Only one match looks set to end in a draw.

THE FINISHED MATCHES

Several finished yesterday (see that my previous post), including the match between Kent and Sussex which Kent won for the loss of just one wicket. Hampshire completed their win over Middlesex today, making hard work if it as they lost seven wickets while chasing down 158. This match took place at one of the less well known of county venues – the Brunton Memorial Ground at Radlett. The two bowlers who troubled Hants were at opposite ends of the experience spectrum – Tim Murtagh with over two decades of top level cricket behind him took three, a haul matched by Thilan Wallalawita, a left arm spinner, who is playing his first season of first class cricket. Even more noteworthy in terms of difference in experience were two of the Kent heroes in their game against Sussex. Darren Stevens took five wickets in the Sussex second innings, at the age of 44, while Jordan Cox scored 238 not out for Kent at the age of 19. Cox is also a recognized wicket keeper, although Oliver Graham Robinson, also on England’s radar, had the gloves for Kent in this match.

THE MATCHES IN PROGRESS

The game between Worcestershire and Glamorgan is the one that is likely to end in draw – Worcs batted on in their second innings until their lead stood at 357, and there were less than two full sessions to play, a decision which seems unduly cautious.

Notts have been set 188 to win by Yorkshire and have responded to the challenge by collapsing to 80-6, putting Yorkshire in control. Gloucestershire have set Warwickshire 239 to win and the latter are 30-3 thus far. Finally, Surrey are facing a target of 337 and are currently 118-6, with all six of the wickets falling to off spinner Simon Harmer, who also took six in the first Surrey innings. Playing the ‘Casabianca’ role for Surrey is wicket keeper Jamie Smith, currently 33 not out. Incidentally, while his bowling achievement in this game has been immense, even if Harmer gets all the remaining wickets it will not be an Essex record – Walter Mead took 17 in a match against the 1893 Australians. It will be a record for Essex v Surrey at Chelmsford, beating leg spinner Peter Smith’s 13 wicket haul in 1950 (the same Peter Smith who three years earlier belted 163 from no11 against Derbyshire). Harmer will not get his all-ten – he has just taken a catch off the bowling of Aaron Beard to account for Jamie Smith and put Essex on the brink of victory (shades of the NZ v AUS game when Richard Hadlee took 9-52 in the first innings and the one he did not get was Geoff Lawson who was caught off the bowling of Vaughan Brown by Richard Hadlee).

The Bob Willis Trophy has already produced a clutch of magnificent matches, several towering individual performances and generally a huge amount to savour.

Nottinghamshire are now 97-9 against Yorkshire, and Glamorgan are doing their bit to breathe life back into their game against Worcestershire – they have slumped to 5-3 chasing a purely nominal 358. Update on the Notts v Yorkshire match – Notts are all out for 97, medium pacer Jordan Thompson 3-6, off spinner Jack Shutt 2-14. Yorks have won by 90 runs after conceding a first innings lead of 91. Both are local products – Shutt hails from Barnsley, while Thompson is from Rawdon, Leeds (which many years ago gave the world Brian Close).

Gus Atkinson has gone to the bowling of Harmer who now has 7-56 in the innings and 13 in the match. Surrey are 145-8, and the end seems nigh in that one as well.

After showing some fight Warwickshire have just lost their fourth wicket at 50, and now 52-4 needing a further 187 to win.

Surrey have just lost their ninth wicket, and Beard has his second. Essex have just taken the final wicket to win by 169 runs, and the final wicket went appropriately to Harmer, given him 14 for the match, a new Essex v Surrey record. It is also Essex’s tenth straight win in four day games at Chelmsford.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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IMG_2752 (2)
Tomotoes just starting to develop a hint of their eventual red colour.

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The Second Round Of The Bob Willis Trophy

A look at goings on in the Bob Willis Trophy

INTRODUCTION

The second round of the Bob Willis Trophy has by and large produced another fine set of games. In this post I look at developments in these matches.

THE BOB WILLIS TROPHY

The game between Northamptonshire and Somerset ended yesterday, with Northants subsiding to a heavy defeat. Jamie Overton collected four wickets in each innings for Somerset, while 35 of Northants’ first innings tally of 67 came from Ben Curran, youngest of the three Curran brothers. None of the other matches have ended yet, the situations being:

  • Worcestershire v Glamorgan – Worcs made 455-8 from the 120 overs that is the maximum length of time a first innings is allowed last in this competition. Glamorgan are 305-6 after 102 overs.
  • Yorkshire are 135-3 in their second innings against Nottinghamshire, which gives them a lead of 44 with seven wickets to fall.
  • Middlesex began their second innings against Hampshire with a deficit of 44 and are now 124-3.
  • Leicestershire are 85 behind Derbyshire with six second innings wickets standing.
  • Kent and Sussex are involved in an extraordinary game at Canterbury. Sussex made 335 in the first innings, to which Kent responded with 530-1 from 120 overs, a lead of 195. There were double centuries for Jordan Cox (238 not out) and Jack Leaning (220 not out), who shared a partnership of 423 unbroken for the second wicket. Sussex are now 18-1 in their second innings. Only three higher innings totals for only one wicket have ever been recorded at first class level – 561-1 declared for Karachi Whites v Quetta, 555-1 declared for Yorkshire v Essex and 549-1 declared for Rhodesia.
  • Gloucestershire are 59 runs ahead of Warwickshire with seven second innings wickets standing.
  • Durham conceded a first innings advantage of 128 against Lancashire and have only cleared half of that off while losing seven wickets.
  • A great combined bowling effort from Jamie Porter (right arm medium fast) and Simon Harmer (off spin) gave Essex a first innings lead of 75 over Surrey, and Essex are currently 165-4 in their second innings. Porter now has 335 first class wickets at 24 each. The only knight of the realm currently playing first class cricket scored 42 in each Essex innings. Varun Chopra has just tossed his wicket away for 39 to make it 167-5. This brings together the long and short of current Essex cricket – Paul Walter at 6’7″ is joined by Adam Wheater who is a full foot shorter – not the biggest difference in a partnership ever seen – I have seen a picture of a discussion between batting partners Joel Garner (6’8″) and Alvin Kallicharran (5’4″), while for the ultimate ‘long and short’ of top level cricket should it happen would be a partnership between Mohammad Irfan and Poonam Yadav!

In other cricket news Jimmy Anderson has indignantly denied claims that he is considering retirement, saying that he is still targeting another tilt at the old enemy in the 2021-2 series while also acknowledging that he did not bowl well in the recently concluded test match.

SOLUTION TO MY LAST NEWS

I set this yesterday:

Pinwheel

Here is Pall Marton’s published solution:

Sol

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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England’s Victory

Looking at the turnaround in the test match at Old Trafford, plus a few other bits.

INTRODUCTION

The main focus of this post is the opening test match against Pakistan at Old Trafford, with a brief glimpse at the second round of fixtures in the Bob Willis Trophy as well.

FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT

England’s fightback in this match began on Friday evening, when they reduced Pakistan’s second innings to 137-8. Although it did not take very long yesterday morning for the last two wickets to fall, 32 runs were accrued from the 3.2 overs for which Pakistan batted. This left England needing 277 to win, and at first, as wickets fell steadily it looked very unlikely. When Pope got out out to a brutal ball to make it 117-5 it seemed a matter of when, not if. At that point Chris Woakes with seven single figure scores in his last eight test knocks came in to join Jos Buttler who had had a stinker of a match up to that point. Both players played their shots, recognizing that taking the attack back to Pakistan was the only chance. As the partnership developed Pakistan became a little ragged, although nerves also kicked in for the England pair and progress slowed. Buttler fell for 75 with just over 30 still required, and England sent in Stuart Broad, known as a quick scorer, with the aim of making sure that the second new ball was not a serious factor. The ploy worked, and by the time the new ball became available the target had been reduced to 13. In desperation Pakistan put on a fast bowler at one end but kept Yasir Shah going at the other. Broad was out with England a boundary away from victory and Bess survived the remainder of the over. Woakes edged the first ball of the next over through the slip region for four and England were home by three wickets. Woakes had scored 84 not out, going with 19 in the first innings and total match figures of 4-54. In view of the result there was no other candidate for Man of the Match.

There has only been one occasion when an England no7 has scored more in a 4th innings run chase – at The Oval in 1902 when Gilbert Jessop came in with the team 48-5 in pursuit of a target of 263 and blasted 104 in 77 minutes. Woakes’ performance was more reminiscent of George Hirst’s effort in that match – five wickets with the ball and scores of 43 and 58 not out.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS

  1. Rory Burns – 4 – the opener failed twice in this match.
  2. Dominic Sibley – 6 – one long innings and one failure with the bat, also a superb unassisted run out in the field,
  3. Joe Root – 6 – not many runs for the skipper, but he led the side well, and his promotion of Broad to cater for the specific circumstances of the second innings was an excellent decision.
  4. Ben Stokes – 6 – failed with the bat, but although not fully fit to bowl took a hand at the bowling crease in England’s hour of need and bagged a wicket.
  5. Ollie Pope – 7 – a magnificent knock in the first innings, when it looked like he was facing a different set of bowlers to everyone else, and the delivery that got him was all but unplayable. Also played a few decent shots in the second dig before fetching another ‘jaffa’.
  6. Jos Buttler – 4 – a horror show behind the stumps, including missing a chance to see the back of Shan Masood for 45 (he went on to 156) and several other howlers, a gritty first innings batting effort, and a fine effort in the second innings, but still even after that knock in overall deficit for the match.
  7. Chris Woakes – 9 – a magnificent match for the under-rated all rounder. He is now indispensable in England (in some other parts of the world where the combination of the Kookaburra ball and the different atmospheric conditions effectively eliminates swing he is a lot less of a player) and his Man of the Match award was thoroughly deserved.
  8. Dominic Bess – 5 – bad wicket keeping caused him to miss out on several wickets, but in the second innings with the ball definitely turning he should have done better than he did.
  9. Jofra Archer – 5 – an ordinary game for the express bowler.
  10. Stuart Broad – 7 – bowled reasonably, played two splendid cameo innings.
  11. James Anderson – 5 – the veteran was unimpressive by his own standards, though respectable by anyone else’s.

These ratings mostly look low for players in a winning side and that is for a good reason – Pakistan bossed this game through its first two innings, and England were fortunate to emerge victorious.

THE REST OF THE SERIES

News has just emerged that Stokes is heading to New Zealand for family reasons and will not play in the remaining matches of the series. Buttler cannot continue as keeper, the question being whether you think he can justify being picked purely as a batter. I personally do not and would leave him out. My chosen line-up from those available would be Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Pope, +Foakes, Woakes, Bess, Robinson, Archer, Broad. Anderson I think needs to be rested, and I opt for Robinson as his replacement. If Buttler’s selection is non-negotiable he gets the nod at six as a specialist batter, and Robinson misses out. Bess needs a good match sooner rather than later but I would not want to be without a front line spin option.

THE BOB WILLIS TROPHY

The second round of matches in this competition are well underway. Worcestershire scored 455-8 against Glamorgan, who are 27-0 in reply. Yorkshire managed 264 in their first innings and Notts are 140-4 in reply. Northants v Somerset has seen some extraordinary happenings – Somerset made 166 in the first innings, Northants were then bowled out for 67, and Somerset were at one point 54-6 in their second innings before recovering to reach 222, Northants are 5-0 in their second innings. Middlesex made 252 against Hampshire, who are 129-3 in reply. Leicestershire managed 199 against Derbyshire who are 235-3 in response. Sussex made 332 against Kent who are 131-1 in response. Gloucestershire scored 210 all out v Warwickshire who are 73-3 in reply. Durham were all out for 180 against Lancashire, who are 138-4 in response. Finally, Essex scored 262 in their first innings, and Surrey are 81-4 in response.

SOLUTION AND NEW TEASER

I posed this problem from brilliant in my last post:

Venn Rectangles

The answer is 216, as shown in this published solution by Pall Marton:

PM

Here is another teaser, this one tangentially connected with sudoku:

Pinwheel

This one is not as hard as the five dagger rating suggests, but it is quite challenging. Solution in my next post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Damselflies have been out in force, as these remaining pictures show. They are tricky in two ways – actually capturing them on camera, and editing the shots to best effect.

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Pakistan In Control In The Test Match

A look at developments in the test match, some mathematics and plenty of photographs

INTRODUCTION

The series opener between England and Pakistan is now into its third day of play. This post looks at developments in that match so far.

THE PAKISTAN INNINGS

A weather hit opening day ended with Pakistan two down, Babar Azam already past 50 and Shan Masood not far short. England bowled well on the second morning but did not get full benefit for their efforts in that department as they were badly let down by Jos Buttler who had an absolute nightmare behind the stumps. Post lunch England bowled poorly, and Masood cashed in, being well supported by Shadab Khan. Masood eventually reached 156 before his resistance was ended. Pakistan tallied 326 in total for their innings, a score that looks very good on this pitch.

ENGLAND’S RESPONSE

England were soon 12-3 in reply, with both openers and Stokes out cheaply. Root batted a long time but did not score many, and Buttler was just able to survive to the close after Root’s dismissal. At the end of day 2 England were 92-4, with Pope who had looked a class above anyone else in the order approaching a 50. This morning Pakistan bowled superbly and England did well to get through the opening session for the loss of only one wicket – Pope got an absolute beauty. Woakes was hit by a bouncer but resisted through to lunch in company with Buttler. Early in the afternoon session Buttler has been bowled by leg spinner Yasir Shah for 38 to make it 159-6. Bess will be next man in. Taking into account Buttler’s errors with the gauntlets a generously inclined assessor would now say that he is only in a double-figure rather than a triple-figure deficit for the match. Stokes’ unfitness for bowling means that England have little batting left – Woakes is more bowler than batter (though his record in England specifically is excellent), Bess can handle a bat, but against an attack equipped with serious pace and quality wrist spin (more difficult to handle than finger spin) little can be hoped for, much less expected, from Broad, Archer and Anderson. This Pakistan team look to be made of sterner stuff than the West Indies – Masood’s ton was his third in as many tests, while Azam’s innings was a magnificent performance, and his record suggests that he deserves to be bracketed with Kohli, Smith and Williamson and placed ahead of the current version of Root as a batter. The pace bowling, with a left arm quick in Shaheen Afridi, a right arm quick in the person of 17 year old Naseem Shah,ย  and an excellent exemplar of the steady medium-fast bowler in Mohammad Abbas looks superb. Yasir Shah with his leg spin and the second leg spinner Shadab Khan whose bowling has not yet been called on are likely to play an ever increasing role as the match goes on, and Yasir Shah has already accounted for a couple of wickets, Root yesterday as Pakistan’s keeper demonstrated that it is perfectly possible to make dismissals off a spin bowler on this pitch and Buttler today, bowled through the gate, once again failing to navigate his personal ‘Bermuda triangle’ which is located between 21 and 50. Ben Foakes has a first class batting average of 38 (having played just over 100 matches at that level – a very impressive record for someone for whom batting is the second string of the bow) and is also the best pure keeper in the country, and various young keepers are beginning to establish themselves at county level and would also be more deserving of the test gauntlets than Buttler, though my own feeling is that Foakes deserves an extended run as England’s acknowledged no1 test keeper before a youngster is blooded. Yasir Shah has nabbed a third wicket, that of Bess, while I was writing this. Archer has been sent in at no9, ahead of Broad and Anderson, and England need something major from Woakes backed by the tail – with the pitch already helping the bowlers quite a bit anything approaching a major deficit will be insuperable, and at the moment that is exactly what England will be facing.

A SOLUTION AND A NEW PROBLEM

I offered this problem from brilliant up in my previous post:

No multi-choice here (this is much too easy for that), but a bonus challenge: part 1) if there was a third square of the same size but divided into 49 smaller squares shaded in similar fashion which would have the largest shaded area, and part 2)what is the general rule relating the number of squares into which the big square is divided and the proportion of it that ends up shaded?

The first shape contains nine squares of which five are shaded, while the second contains 25 squares of which 13 are shaded. 5/9 = 0.55…, while 13/25 = 0.52, so the first shape has a greater shaded area. The 7X7 square would have an even smaller proportion of its area shaded – 25/49 = 0.51. The general rule is that the greater the number of squares the shape is divided into the closer the shaded area approaches to half the total area, while always remaining just above that limit.

Here is another problem from brilliant:

Venn Rectangles

Yasir Shah has just collected his fourth wicket, that of Woakes to make it 170-8, and England are definitely in the mire.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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I gave these tomato plants a thorough watering this morning, mindful of the fact that extreme heat was forecast for later in the day (and has eventuated).

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This is a comma butterfly with its wings closed – opened out is orange and black,

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Cricket Back With A Vengeance

Some thoughts on the Bob Willis Trophy, a sensational ODI and the start of a test match. Some mathematics, an important petition and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back briefly at the first round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures, for longer at yesterday’s incredible ODI and casts an eye over what is happening in Manchester.

BOB WILLIS TROPHY – EIGHT
DEFINITE RESULTS, ONE DRAW

In addition to the three teams who recorded wins before I reached the end of yesterday’s post, five other teams ultimately achieved victories in the first round of the Bob Willis Trophy. The odd game out was the game between Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, where Northamptonshire having escaped from a very difficult situation declined to make a game of it, and declared at 507-6 in their second innings after which the teams shook hands on a draw. Essex beat Kent by two wickets, Middlesex beat Surrey by 190 runs, bowling them out for 123 in the final innings. Worcestershire beat Gloucestershire by eight wickets. Leicestershire were set to score 150 off 17 overs by Lancashire and did it with eight balls to spare. Derbyshire were set 365 in the fourth innings by Nottinghamshire, and 299-7 it looked like they were either going to be bowled out or just hold out for a draw. However, the eighth wicket pair not only pulled off the great escape, they snatched the win off the last possible ball of the game. These outcomes bear all the hallmarks of a thoroughly absorbing set of county matches, but their conclusions were all overshadowed by…

AN ODI TO REMEMBER

It is often the case that limited overs games do not remain in the memory for any longer than they take to play, but often does not equal always, and most general rules have exceptions. Yesterday’s game between England and Ireland was precisely such a game. England batted first, Roy and Bairstow both failed, while Vince added to his considerable oeuvre of elegant miniatures, once more failing to produce a full scale masterwork. At 44-3 England looked to be in deep trouble, but Tom Banton produced his first ODI 50 at a vital time, skipper Morgan scored a majestic hundred and the lower order produced some useful runs. England eventually tallied 328, which looked enough for them to defend. An early wicket did not augur well for Ireland either, but then Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie produced the best batting of the day to get Ireland within range. Both fell before it was quite a done deal, leaving the veteran Kevin O’Brien and the 20 year old Harry Tector together for the closing stages. It ultimately came down to eight needed off the final over, which Saqib Mahmood accepted responsibility for bowling. Tector hit a four, Mahmood bowled a no-ball and suddenly it was three needed off four balls. The first of those balls was a dot, but Tector then scored two off the third to last delivery to level the scores and took a single of the penultimate ball of the game to take the victory and ten points in the ODI Super League for Ireland. Although it went right down to the wire Ireland looked in control for most of their batting innings and any result other than the actual one would have been a travesty of cricketing justice. Well played Ireland – or if you prefer: Dโ€™imir go maith, ร‰ire!

Plenty more will be seen of this Irish side, especially Harry Tector and Curtis Campher, the latter named of whom had a fine debut series. Most of the England side too will feature again, but Moeen Ali and James Vince are both in serious jeopardy – Moeen cannot buy a run at present and his bowling is not sufficient to command a place in its own right while Vince is a player of fine shots who never seems to play a major innings, and although he bowled three overs yesterday he is not a serious bowler, while Banton’s runs yesterday came although he was batting out of position – he normally bats at or very close to the top of the order.

THE TEST MATCH AT MANCHESTER

Another England team is in action between today and Sunday in Manchester, playing the first match of a three match test series against Pakistan. England are unchanged from the third test against the West Indies as Stokes is still not fully fit to bowl, England do not believe that three seamers plus Bess can take 20 wickets between them and the England management retains its absurd faith in Buttler as a test cricketer. Pakistan won the toss and have chosen to bat. They are 121-2 of 41.1 with the players currently off the field for bad light. Archer and Woakes have a wicket a piece, Broad and Anderson have none and Bess has bowled five overs to date. Babar Azam had reached a 50 and left handed opener Shan Masood is not far away from that mark, with Abid Ali and Azhar Ali the two to go, the latter for a duck. Pakistan have taken a minor gamble with their own batting, putting the young leg spinner Shadab Khan at no6, which most would reckon is a place or even two higher than his batting skills currently merit. If Pakistan can get to 300 in this innings that could well be enough for England to struggle – their recent history when faced with anything approaching a substantial total is not exactly encouraging.

SOLUTION AND NEW PROBLEM

Yesterday I posed this problem adapted from brilliant:

My change is that where they gave a list of options for what was closest the the probability that someone testing positive actually has the disease I simply ask: To the nearest whole number what is the percentage chance that someone who has tested positive for the disease actually has it? Answer in my next post (my own explanation, plus a particularly impressive published solution).

The way I worked this one out was: if we imagine a sample of 1,000 people, 50 will have the disease and 950 won’t. Of the 50 who do have the disease 47 will have tested positive while three test negative (94% accuracy on positives). Of the 950 who do not have the disease 96% will have tested negative and 4% won’t. That 4% of 950 is 38, so the probability of a someone who has tested positive actually having the disease is 47/ (47+38) = 47/85. This comes to 55.29% to two decimal places, or to the nearest whole percentage 55% and that is the answer. Below is a jpg of a brilliantly economical published solution from Inesh Chattopadhyay:

Inesh

Today’s question is incredibly easy, and I also offer a bonus challenge:

Shading

No multi-choice here (this is much too easy for that), but a bonus challenge: part 1) if there was a third square of the same size but divided into 49 smaller squares shaded in similar fashion which would have the largest shaded area, and part 2)what is the general rule relating the number of squares into which the big square is divided and the proportion of it that ends up shaded?

A PETITION AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

Jo Corbyn, chair of NAS Norwich, has a petition on change.org calling on the government to stop cutting people’s life-saving social care. Below is a jpg of the petition, formatted as a link so that you can sign and share it – please do so:

Petition

My usual sign off…

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This was by far my best butterfly pic of the day…

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…so I devoted some attention…

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…to making the most…

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The Bob Willis Trophy and England v Ireland

A whistle stop tour of the Bob Willis Trophy as the first round of matches draws to a close, a look at the ODI between England and Ireland, some mathematics and photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The first round of Bob Willis Trophy Matches is into its final afternoon, and the third and last match of the ODI series between England and Ireland is underway.

THE BOB WILLIS TROPHY

Late yesterday afternoon Sussex became the first team to win a Bob Willis Trophy match when they bowled Hampshire out for 150 in the final innings to win a low scoring match by 94 runs. Oliver Edward Robinson, the right arm medium fast bowler, was Sussex’s star player, following 3-36 in the first Hampshire innings with 5-29 in their second. Jack Carson, a 19 year old off spinner had 3-37 in that final innings as well, following 2-15 first time round. Felix Organ, an off spinning all rounder (mentioned in this post in my all-time XIs series), and Mason Crane, a leg spinner, each took three wickets in each Sussex innings. Somerset joined Sussex in the winners enclosure this morning, bowling Glamorgan out in the final innings for 160 to win by a colossal 289 runs. The Overton twins got among the wickets in both innings, while Jack Brooks, better known as a bowler, had some fun with the bat for Somerset with 72 in the first innings. Tom Abell, a young batter looking to stake a claim to an England place, made 119 in Somerset’s second innings. I will pay Glamorgan the courtesy of making no reference to their efforts in this match. Yorkshire have just become the third team to record a victory in the competition, having been delayed by rain this morning, but getting the better of Durham by six wickets. All of Yorkshire’s seamers got among the wickets, and Dawid Malan and Harry Brook scored runs in the final innings. Northamptonshire look to have turned the tables on Warwickshire after a disastrous start. Northants were rolled for 142 in their first innings, and Warwickshire scored 369-8 from 120 overs in response before their first innings had to be closed. Northamptonshire are 453-6 in their second innings and all but safe from defeat. Surrey and Middlesex is interestingly poised at The Oval. Middlesex declared their second innings at 248-6, setting Surrey 314 to win in 71 overs, and Surrey lost three wickets early in their second innings and are currently 76-3 in the 27th. Daniel Moriarty, a left arm spinner on first class debut took five wickets out of the six Middlesex lost in their second innings. Ryan Patel and Jamie Smith are currently batting well. Smith, Surrey’s keeper in the absence of Ben Foakes, scored 80 in the first innings, while Patel has some long innings to his credit in the past (he also bowls medium pace and holds the record for taking five first class wickets earlier in his career than any other bowler in terms of balls bowled to get there). Martin Andersson (no, this is not a typo, his surname is spelt the Nordic way with a double s, as opposed to veteran England seamer James Anderson, although he was born in Reading, Berkshire) bowled a crucial spell in the Surrey first innings, and also scored 50 in Middlesex’s second innings. Lancashire managed 322 in the first innings against Leciestershire, who responded with 409-8, while Lancashire are now 181-6 in their second innings. Callum Parkinson, twin brother of Matt who when not injured is part of the England ODI setup, has bagged five wickets in this match, two in the first Lancashire innings and three more in the second. Gloucs and Worcs looks like going the way of the latter. Gloucestershire made 267 in their first innings and are now 244-9 in their second, with Worcestershire having scored 428-5 in their first innings. Josh Tongue has bowled well for Worcestershire in both innings. Notts and Derbyshire is going Notts’ way but only just – they have set Derbyshire 365 to win and the latter are currently 212-5. Joey Evison, a young all rounder,ย  has made two scores of over 30 for Notts and picked up four wickets, while Haseeb Hameed formerly of Lancashire is showing signs of resurrecting his batting having scored 68 and 52 in this match. Finally, the ‘Dartford Crossing Derby’ between Kent and Essex looks likely to go Essex’s way, although they have just lost another wicket, making it 148-5 and 54 needed to win. Kent made 387 first up, Essex 298 in response, but then Kent folded for 112 in their second innings. Jamie Porter took four wickets in the first Kent innings, while Heino Kuhn scored 140. Matt Milnes took four wickets for Kent in his turn, while Marcus O’Riordan, an off spinner, took three. Simon Harmer in turn took four wickets with his own spin, while Essex’s opening bowlers took five between them, three for Sam Cook and two for Porter. Hamidullah Qadri has a wicket with his own off spin in the Essex second innings.

ENGLAND V IRELAND

England have lost three early wickets, but are now fighting back, having just got 100 up. Morgan the skipper is doing most of the scoring at present, while Tom Banton is playing the support role. Roy and Bairstow were both out in single figures, and Vince yet again looked impressive for a short period before getting out, this time with 16 to his name. As a senior top order batter Vince must be running out of chances – he has produced seemingly numberless elegant miniatures but no full fledged masterpiece as yet.

SOLUTION AND NEW TEASER

I set this one in my last post:

Fractal

These were the possible answers:

a)

Below is a screenshot of Vinayak Srivastava’s published solution – click on it for more:

Vinayak

This one was today’s daily challenge on brilliant, although I am making it a little tougher than they did (the four daggers is a ludicrous overstatement of the difficulty of this one):

disease

My change is that where they gave a list of options for what was closest the the probability that someone testing positive actually has the disease I simply ask: To the nearest whole number what is the percentage chance that someone who has tested positive for the disease actually has it? Answer in my next post (my own explanation, plus a particularly impressive published solution).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off:

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PS Kent have turned things around against Essex and now have them 172-8 needing to score 30 with only two wickets left. Tom Banton is starting to blossom in the ODI, having now reached 50, his first such ODI score.