The Northwest Norfolk Hustings

An account of last night’s Northwest Norfolk hustings meeting which I was bale to follow courtesy of the Lynn News live blog (to which I have linked in this piece), and my usual sign off.

INTRODUCTION

This event took place last night at the Methodist Chapel on London Road, King’s Lynn. I found out about it too late to attend the venue in person, but through the good offices of The Lynn News, who organized the event, I was able to follow it via a live blog, with extra detail from the twitter feed of Northwest Norfolk Labour’s Jordan Stokes. This post looks back at the event before and at what it means for this seat.

THE DRAMATIS PERSONAE

There were five people on the platform: Rob Colwell (Liberal Democrat), Michael De Whalley (Green), Jo Rust (Labour), James Wild (Conservative) and Allister Webb (The Lynn News, moderator but not contributor – BBC panel shows/ interviews please take note of the but in bold).

INTRODUCTIONS

Each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves, and three of the four managed this feat without any missteps. The exception was James ‘parachute candidate’ Wild whose hamfisted effort suggested that he had learned all the wrong things in his time as advisor to Mr Johnson.

THE REST OF THE EVENING

The main event was divided into sections in which various issues were raised, with questions coming from members of the audience. Rob Colwell and Michael De Whalley both gave good honest answers throughout, with Michael demonstrating why he is a well respected local Councillor. However, at every point they were equalled or bettered by Jo Rust, who made some outstanding contributions. James Wild did little to help himself during the course of the evening. Near the end he was asked if he planned to move to the area, and at least managed to get that one right, when he said “yes, if I am elected”. Any other answer would have increased the damage he had sustained on the evening – a straight yes without amplification would have sounded arrogant, as though he believed that it was already in the bag, while a a ‘no’, no matter what it was accompanied by, would have holed his campaign below the waterline.

LOOKING AHEAD TO DEC 12TH

The only chance of getting a non-Tory MP in this constituency is to vote for Jo Rust, and my reckoning is that she gave her chances a big boost last night. Mr Wild had a poor time, and that should also work in Jo’s favour. I respect Michael De Whalley, and but for the continuing use of the outmoded FPTP system I would be voting for his party, and he was undoubtedly impressive last night. Rob Colwell said a lot of the right things last night but his party stand no chance in this constituency and have not been distinguishing themselves of late. Had Sir Henry been standing for re-election it would have been a seismic shock for this seat to go to Jo Rust, but, especially after last night, I reckon she has a genuine chance of beating James Wild. An account of last night can be seen here, and you can relive (to an extent) the live blog experience here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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More Election Thoughts and England in NZ

A look at developments in GE2019, England’s warm=up for the test series in New Zealand and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post features GE2019 once again, with thoughts on both the local and national picture. I also mention England’s preparation for the test match series in New Zealand, and of course I have plenty of photographs.

GE2019: THE PICTURE LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY

Nationally the importance of getting the Tories out has been further emphasized by a number of developments, including another major fire caused by the use of flammable cladding (that the cladding used on the student hall in Bolton is not the same as that used on Grenfell is a pathetic red herring). The Liberal Democrats are doing shockingly, with Swinson’s delusions, Ed Davey’s plan to keep government spending in surplus (for an explanation of exactly what this policy means and why it is so despicable check out this post from Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK) and Sam Gyimah’s vile campaign in Kensington & Chelsea (which has placed Emma Dent Coad in personal danger) all working against them.

Locally the picture looks brighter for Jo Rust than it did when this election was called. In place of Sir Henry Bellingham who declined to stand for re-election the Tory candidate is someone who a) was parachuted in and b)has no recommendation for the post beyond having been an advisor to Mr Johnson (i.e no recommendation for the post). Parachute candidates do not have a good history in this constituency – Manish Sood for Labour garnered only just over 6,000 votes in 2010 (as compared to 15,000 for Jo in 2017). Henry Bellingham standing down reduced the climb for Jo from Himalayan to Alpine proportions, and the selection of this candidate has further reduced it from Alpine to Scottish Munro. Just to the south Liz Truss is being challenged by another excellent local candidate, radio presenter Emily Blake. .

A few related links….

First, courtesy of The Skwawbox who presented it in this post, a video that will be the best 108 seconds of viewing you get today:

Next, a video from Northwest Norfolk Labour candidate Jo Rust:

Finally, a video from Michaela about voting (courtesy of Hope not Hate):

Remember, use your right to vote, and please vote against Tories (if you are unfortunate enough to be in one of the handful of seats that is genuinely a Tory/ Lib Dem marginal, then in that circumstance a vote for the Lib Dems is probably the least of evils) wherever you are.

ENGLAND IN NEW ZEALAND

England’s final warm-up match before the test series in New Zealand finished in a draw, but with several pluses for England: runs for the restored Pope, tidy bowling from Jack Leach, wickets in both innings for Jofra Archer and in the second for Sam Curran, and an overall very dominant performance – New Zealand were 66 ahead with two second innings wickets standing when time ran out. It actually looks like England have a sensible red ball combo.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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Election News

Thoughts on two important election developments and England’s T20 series victory. Also plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The main body of this post is inspired by two developments that have occurred today. There is also some other stuff later.

TWO MAJOR ELECTION DEVELOPMENTS

It has been announced today that the Brexit Party will not be standing in any Tory held seats, a development that leads to me to suspect that if the election goes as planned for Johnson and cronies there will soon be a Lord Farage of Dot-on-the-Map (he does not plan to stand as a candidate for his party, being 0 for 7 in that area, and he does nothing without having his price).

The other big development is that The Greens have stood aside in Chingford & Wood Green to give Faiza Shaheen a clear run at Iain Duncan Smith. I am firmly of the opinion that a degree of reciprocation is called for. My immediate suggestions in that regard are:

1)Stand aside in Brighton Pavilion so that Caroline Lucas has a clearer run at retaining her seat.

2)Stand aside on the Isle of Wight, so that Vix Lowthion is in a straight fight with the Tories there.

Also, the grubby Farage/ Johnson stitch up really does make this The Rest vs The Hard Right, so everyone who does not want Johnson running riot in the commons backed by Farage in the Lords must be prepared to vote for whoever can give them a non-Tory. In my own constituency I have a very obvious and appealing choice – Jo Rust and Labour. Elsewhere in the mainland I would vote Labour, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru or Liberal Democrat according who could defeat the Tories in that area. In NI things are different, but there is even one seat there where my vote might be dictated by necessity – unappealing as voting for Unionist of any stamp would be to me I would were I in her constituency vote for Lady Hermon to reduce the chances of those Tory stooges the DUP taking it.

Following on from that last paragraph, this necessity of tailoring one’s vote to fit the circumstances in one’s area is why I devoutly hope that GE2019 will be the last to be held using the outmoded FPTP method. Proponents of this thoroughly discredited method for running elections say that it delivers stable majority governments. Well, in appropriate language for the season: Oh No It Doesn’t – since Labour’s last majority in 2005 only Cameron in 2015 has had an outright majority, and that was very slender – and if GE2019 produces an outright majority for anyone I will be very surprised. Also, after the five years of the coalition we are now looking at a third GE in less than five years – some stability! For another interesting take on this election visit Miles King’s latest post on A New Nature Blog by clicking here.

Finally, before moving on to other matters, it will surprise no one to read that I consider a head to head debate between Johnson and Corbyn unrepresentative of the current state of British politics – I would also include the Lib Dems (presumably Swinson), Plaid, SNP (Sturgeon or if it must a Westminster figure either Joanna Cherry or Mhairi Black), The Greens (I would reckon that Sian Berry would be their best spokesperson) and possibly even representatives from Northern Ireland.

ENGLAND WIN T20 LEG OF NZ TOUR

For the second time this year England and New Zealand could only be split by a Super Over, and for the second time this year England emerged with the spoils, although this time they won the Super Over outright, rather than further tie-splitting being needed. Rain delayed the start of the fifth and final match of the T20 series, and reduced to an 11 overs per side contest. With three balls left England needing 147 to win had 134 and it looked like New Zealand were snatching it at the death, but Chris Jordan, who has had a fine series, hit those last three balls for 12 to level the match and bring about the Super Over. England batted first in the Super Over and Bairstow and Morgan combined to rack up 17 of Trent Boult’s over. Jordan, who would have been England’s third batter had they lost a wicket (one is allowed to lose one wicket, but two ends one’s batting effort) then prepared to bowl the deciding over, while New Zealand sent Guptill and Seifert in to bat (De Grandhomme waiting in the wings). Jordan’s second delivery was called wide, somewhat harshly, but thereafter a combination of good bowling from him and a little too much cleverness on the part of Seifert worked in England’s favour. Seifert’s dismissal left 10 needed off two balls, with Guptill on strike (the batters having crossed before the catch to dismiss Seifert was taken). Guptill was held to a single, and Jordan just had to bowl a legal delivery to win it for England. He did so, and De Grandhomme was unable to score off it, meaning that England had won the Super Over by a comparatively enormous margin of nine runs. The red ball stuff starts tonight GB time with day 1 of a two day practice match, and then there is one proper first class match before the two test matches end the tour.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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A large gathering of….
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…lapwings

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Two flying cormorants
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And completing the set of cormorant pics this one is swimming.

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NZ v England T20 Series Goes To Decider

An account of England’s victory over New Zealand in the 4th T20I, some thoughts about General Election 2019 and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

As well as some thoughts on the T20 series in New Zealand I am going to mention the General Election, and my constituency in particular. As usual I have plenty of photographs to share.

ENGLAND ROAR BACK INTO T20 SERIES

In the third match of this five match series England had seemingly been cruising to victory before a collapse in which they lost five wickets for just 10 runs handed the game and with it a 2-1 series lead to New Zealand. Thus in game four in Napier England needed a win to keep the series alive.

England batted first and made a slow start, with only 18 coming from the first four overs. Even when Eoin Morgan joined Dawid Malan in the eighth over the score was not looking that impressive. However Malan and Morgan shared a vicious partnership, Malan reaching a 48 ball century will Morgan outdid him for run rate by monstering 91 off just 40 balls. In among the carnage Ish Sodhi got slapped for 28 in the 17th over of the innings (and was lucky it was not even worse – 26 had come off the first five balls. England finished with their highest ever T20I score of 241-3. New Zealand got away to a flying start in response and were briefly threatening to chase down this imposing total, but Matt Parkinson showed New Zealand just what a real legspinner could do in the conditions. In spite of two chances not going to hand he bagged four wickets in the spell that consigned the Kiwis to defeat. England claimed the final wicket off the penultimate ball of the 17th over with the total at 165, giving them victory by a massive (in this format) 76 runs. I now make England favourites to win the decider – it will not be easy for NZ to recover from this blasting. I suspect that Yorkshire will not be seeing all that much of their new signing Dawid Malan next year as after this he has to be considered an essential part of England’s white ball plans. Parkinson, the young legspinner, has a huge future in (for my money) all formats, and although it would be hard on Leach to be dropped I would consider (especially if he takes more wickets in the final match of this series) picking him as first spinner for the test matches that conclude this tour, or maybe even, unlikely as a such a suggestion seems for a series in New Zealand, going with both specialist spinners. Full scorecard of the game here.

GENERAL ELECTION THOUGHTS

The Tories are lurching from one gaffe to another in this election campaign. Whether it is an empty chair subbing for James Cleverly (the chair certainly fared better than Mr Cleverly would have done), Johnson’s launch taking place in a near empty room or a succession of candidates standing down for various reasons they have been having a shocker. The long standing Tory MP for Northwest Norfolk, Sir Henry Bellingham, is one of those not standing for re-election. I think this is good news for Jo Rust, the Labour candidate, for two reasons. Firstly Sir Henry undoubtedly garnered some votes that were for him personally and not for his party as such. Secondly, and more important, the Brexit Party, who may well have stood aside for Sir Henry will now undoubtedly contest the seat, further cutting into the Tory vote. Overarching these two factors is that rather than being a seat with a Tory incumbent it is now a vacant seat. If you are in Northwest Norfolk and want a non-Tory MP voting for Jo Rust on December 12th is your chance, and it is a better one than in some considerable time. A couple of links to end this section, both from Tax Research UK:

  1. Confirmation that this is The Climate Election in the form of this piece titled “People want zero carbon by 2030. It’s what the Green New Deal requires.
  2. The Tax Research UK take on the succession of Tory Disasters.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Two adult swans escorting three rather large juveniles (the grey plumage confirms that they are still technically juveniles).

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A spider web in a section of town wall.

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This spider web, enhanced by the effect if rain, is in my back garden – the handle of the peg basket is in shot to give it scale,

Autism, Elections, Cricket

Some thoughts on Autism, Elections and Cricket, a couple of interesting links and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTIONS

I have some excellent stuff on Autism to share, and it is no great secret that a General Election is looming here in Britain, and nor would it be a surprise to anyone that I have something about cricket to fit in.

AUTISM THREADS FROM TWITTER

I have two and a bit threads relating to autism to share with you. In all cases this is #ActuallyAutistic people talking about autism – I always prefer primary sources. First of all, “20 things you need to know about autism if you are not autistic“, by Pete Wharmby:

PW1

Next up, Sara Gibbs lists some things not to say to someone who has just told you they are autistic:

 

SG

Finally for this section the first 17 posts in another thread from Pete Wharmby on the subject of diagnosis:

PW2

That concludes this section of the post.

ELECTION THOUGHTS

Some time in the not too distant future there is going to be a general election. Boris Johnson, the lame duck Prime Minister, sees a general election as the only way out of the hole he is currently in, while the main opposition party, Labour, are also ready for one, as soon they have guaranteed the election period cannot be used as a means of forcing a no deal Brexit through. In my constituency the decision for anyone opposed to the Tories is a very straightforward one – only two parties in this constituency have a share of the vote even worth thinking about, the Tories who hold the seat, and Labour who polled 15,000 votes last time round. Support for the Greens is increasing in this area, as it should, and as shown by Michael De Whalley being elected a local councillor, but constituency wide they are building from too small a base, and would be well advised to sit this one out, leaving the field clear for Labour.

In Scotland the SNP will clean up everywhere – the callous disregard shown for that country by the UK’s current misgovernment has all but ensured that Scotland will be an independent country before too long (and good luck to them – were it not for the necessity of travelling to and from Cambridge for some years to come I might well be looking at flats in Fort William or Inverness with a view to moving north post indepndence, and were I a Scot I would undoubtedly be voting SNP). Northern Ireland for different reasons is also an exception, but in England and Wales I would recommend that Labour and the Green Party operate as follows:

  1. Labour do not stand in Caroline Lucas’ seat, nor in any seat where the Greens came second last time round.
  2. The Greens do not stand in Labour held seats or in seats where Labour were second last time round.

Post election, in the event that the combination of Labour, Greens and SNP have enough seats to form a government (at least until Indyref 2 has been organised – which will be the SNPs condition for assisting) Labour should also offer cabinet places to people from these parties (e.g Caroline Lucas being put in charge of environmental policy, someone from the SNP getting the position of Secretary of State for Scotland etc.). Additionally, abolishing the outdated and flawed FPTP voting system should be high on the agenda.

My advice to people in England and Wales who want rid of the Tories is look at who in your area has more support out of Labour and Green (and possibly Plaid in Wales) and vote for that party. It is important to maximize the chances of turfing the Tories out by not giving them any opportunity to capture seats against a split opposition.

A COUPLE OF EXCELLENT VITALITY BLAST SIGNINGS FOR SURREY

One of the claims advanced on behalf of The Hundred, aka “Harrison’s Harebrained Have a Hit” (acknowledgements to The Full Toss blog for that excellent alternative name) is that it has attracted top overseas players, a claim that The Full Toss put to the sword here. There are two parts to exploding this claim: firstly no Indian players at all are involved in the new competition, and secondly that counties are in any case capable of attracting overseas players of real quality, which leads to Surrey’s recent overseas signings for next years Vitality Blast (T20) competition. Darcy Short has been the leading run scorer in the last two seasons of the Mens BBL (Australia’s T20 competition), and is a fine signing for Surrey. Pakistan’s young legspinning all-rounder Shadab Khan is if anything an even more impressive signing than Short. At 21 he already has 117 international wickets to his name, and being a legspinner he nicely complements Surrey’s existing slow bowling talent (Freddie Van Den Bergh, SLA, and Amar Virdi, OS), and his batting talent means that Surrey if so minded could certainly select all three, thereby giving themselves three spinners of differing types.

TWO LINKS AND SOME PICTURES

Greta Thunberg, the autistic teenager who has become the face of the international movement against climate change, has been honoured by having a new species named after her. Click on the picture below to read the full article about this on the Natural History Museum’s website:

New species of beetle named after Greta Thunberg

In a Darwin Award worthy piece of karma, a US hunter got himself killed by a deer he thought he had shot dead. Click on the picture below to visit the BBC website’s article about this:

Stock image of a whitetailed deer buck in the US

Now for 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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100 Cricketers – Second XI – The Remaining Specialist Batters

A continuation of my “100 cricketers series”, with links to three important petitions – if you are able please sign and share them.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series, in which I deal with the remaining specialist batters from my second XI. My most recent post in the series dealt with the all-rounders so as to tie in with International Women’s Day. After the cricket part of the post there will be some photographs, and then some links to petitions that I am suffiiciently concerned about to share on this blog. The next post in this series will feature the bowlers from second XI and introduce the third XI in batting order.

SACHIN TENDULKAR

I first saw Sachin Tendulkar as a teenager in the 1990 series in England, in the course of which he racked up a century. He also took an amazing catch in that series, making a lot of ground before holding on to the chance. 

His amazing subsequent career is well documented. The greatest batter in the history of cricket, Sir Donald Bradman, publicly rated Tendulkar as being, along with Brian Lara, the best of the moderns, and also noted similarities between himself and Tendulkar, his attention having been drawn to them by Lady Bradman, while they were watching him on television.

At the moment Tendulkar is the only person to have scored 100 international hundreds. As a a testament to his longevity he also stands alone in having played 200 test matches. 463 ODI appearances and a T20 in addition mean that approximately four years of his life have been spent in international cricket action.

Although cross-era comparisons are generally invidious (Bradman’s colossal – 40 runs per innings – margin of superiority over the rest making him an exception) I feel sure that Tendulkar would have had had an outstanding record whatever era he had been born into and whichever kind of bowling he had had encountered.

ALLAN BORDER

An outstanding captain of Australia over many years, and a great left-handed batter whose career had two distinct portions.

For the first decade of his long international career Australia were a struggling outfit. He started in the 1978-9 Ashes series, won 5-1 by Mike Brearley’s England, and it was not until their unexpected triumph in the 1987-8 World Cup that things really started going right for Australia. In these circumstances Border was very often battling to save his side from defeat, and many of his innings were through sheer force of circumstance defensive in nature, batting as long as possible.

In the latter years of his career when he was finally in charge of a strong, confident side he showed that given the opportunity he had plenty of strokes and was willing to play them – in all of his last three Ashes series (1989, won 4-0 by Australia and would have been 6-0 but for major rain interruptions in the other two matches, 1990-1 and 1993 he batted in attacking fashion at every opportunity).

Of the four long-serving Australian captains of my lifetime I rate Border a very clear first – looking at their records in this specific role we have:

  • Allan Border – took over a weak, struggling side that had little idea of how to win, and left for his successor a side who were by then acknowledged as the best in the world.
  • Mark Taylor – took over from Border and maintained Australia’s position at the top of the cricket world.
  • Steve Waugh – taking over the captaincy of a team who were already acknowledged as champions he made them even better, a highlight of his term of office being a record run of 16 consecutive test match victories.
  • Ricky Ponting – in his first few years in charge he won a lot of matches with the remnants of the great Australian side of the previous era, but he lost three Ashes series out of four, including one on home soil in which his team were three times defeated by innings margins. 

In this XI, where the batting is overall exceedingly attacking in nature, Border is the person who in the event of bad start could dig the team out of a hole, while at the same time if the innings is going well he would be perfectly capable of stepping on the accelerator. His presence also means that there is a left-hander in the middle order, valuable from the point of view of giving the bowling side a different challenge. Finally, although not by any means a major part of his game his occasional slow left-arm did once win his country a test match against the West Indies (11 wickets in the match, including 7-46 in the first innings), and his safe hands (156 catches pouched in the course of his 156 test matches) would also be useful.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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A pair of mallards whose Sunday morning walk took them past my front window – you can just see the tail feathers of the female as she heads into the lavender.
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The male, keeping an eye on his companion.

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A couple of close-ups of the female as she emerges.

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PETITIONS

First up, a petition on 38 Degrees produced by the Grenfell survivors, calling on the government to make our housing system work for tenants. As someone who has recently moved into social housing through force of circumstance this is particularly important to me. To sign and share please click on the screenshot below.

Grenfell petition

My final two petitions are both on the official UK Government petition site, meaning that only UK citizens are allowed to sign. The first is a call for increased funding for Children’s Mental Health. If you are able and willing to sign and share please click the screenshot below:

Childrens Mental Health

Last and by no means least is a petition calling for police officers to be given mandatory autism training, something that I as an autistic person consider to be very important. Again, please click the screenshot below to sign and share.

police autism training