All Eyes On Durham

A look at such action as there has been in the county championship, a teaser, a few links and plenty of photographs.

There has not been much action in the county championship due to poor weather in various areas but I look at the little there has been.


Four of the six games have yet to see any action: Essex v Derbyshire, Yorkshire v Glamorgan, Middlesex v Hampshire and what should be the tie of the round, Somerset v Surrey.

Sussex v Kent did get underway but they have gone off for the light (inexcusable – find a ball of a colour that is easier to see under floodlights and keep playing). Kent are 74-3. Jofra Archer claimed two wickets in a fiery new ball burst and has subsequently bowled a second spell of four overs (his opening burst was also of four overs, suggesting that someone from England’s management has told Sussex to use him in short spells), while the third wicket, that of Jordan Cox, went to Oliver Edward Robinson who produced a corker of a ball that uprooted the youngster’s off stump. That brought Oliver Graham Robinson, the Kent keeper and middle order batter to the crease, but before there was time for a duel between the two almost homonymous cricketers the light intervened.

This means that the only game in progress is up at Chester-le-Street where Durham are 97-3 against Worcestershire. Bedingham, the South African born batter who has been scoring very heavily for Durham went for just 24 today, but Lees, the former Yorkshire left hander, is on 39 and Jack Burnham has 5. Charlie Morris has two wickets and Joe Leach one.


This one from is not too difficult, though I am removing the multi-choice options, deeming them unneccessary. Solution/ explanation in my next post:


Three interesting links before my usual sign off:

This piece from the space academy details the discovery of the first planet to have been identified outside our galaxy. Click here to read the full piece.

Richard Murphy has put up a piece on his blog, Tax Research UK, about Green Recovery Bonds, as well as a link to a more detailed report on the same subject.

Now for those photographs:

Durham have moved on while I have been working on this post to 121-3, and Lees has reached 50, the 50th time in his FC career he has done as much, but he has only converted 17 of the previous 49 into 100s.

All Time XIs – STEM Challenge

Today’s all time XI cricket post features two teams assembled to fight out a STEM challenge.


Welcome to the latest installment in my all time XI cricket series. Today the focus is on cricketers whose names link to STEM subjects.


  1. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. As I have previously mentioned he averaged 45 for England in this specific role. Undoubtedly his greatest moment as opener came at Barbados in 1994. England had just lost the Trinidad test match, collapsing to 46 all out in pursuit of a target of 194, and nobody had beaten the West Indies at Barbados since 1935. Stewart responded to the challenge with 143 and 118, and England duly won the match.His analogue is Ian Stewart, author of a number of excellent books about mathematics.
  2. Bobby Abel – right handed opening batter. The first ever to carry his bat through an England innings, and holds the record for carrying his bat through the largest first class innings (Surrey 811 all out v Somerset, Abel 357 not out). His alter ego for this purpose is Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.
  3. Carole Hodges – right handed batter, off spinner. A fine all rounder whose regular batting position this was. Her alter ego is Andrew Hodges, author of a book titled ‘One to Nine’.
  4. Stan McCabe – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. An Aussie legend of the 1930s, author of three of the greatest test innings ever played – 187 at Sydney in the first match of the 1932-3 Ashes, 189 not out vs South Africa facing a target of over 400, and playing so brilliantly that the SA captain appealed against the light, and 232 not out at Trent Bridge in 1938, when Bradman called his team out on to the balcony on the grounds that they would probably never see anything like this again. George McCabe did some work on the mathematics of lottery wins.
  5. Harry Graham – right handed batter. A century on test debut at Lords, a feat no repeated at that ground until John Hampshire in 1969. His alter ego is Ronald Graham, he worked out Graham’s number, which is so huge that it could never be written out in full. More about this number and its significance here.
  6. *George Frederick Grace – the youngest Grace of WG’s generation, he was one of the leading all rounders of the 1870s. A freak illness killed him at the age of 29. I have given him his full name to set the stage for the explanation of an admittedly tenuous piece of linking. His middle name of Frederick is the English version of Friedrich and his surname begins with a G, which is just enough, given who I am linking to to give a nod to Carl Friedrich Gauss, one of the greatest of all mathematicians. Gauss showed his brilliance as a child, when his teacher set the class to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100. The teacher was expecting a long break while the students worked on this task, but Gauss realized that the problem could be viewed as 50 pairs of numbers which summed to 101, in otherwords 50 x 101 = 5,050, and was finished very quickly. Later in his life Gauss correctly calculated the orbit of Ceres and told astronomers where they needed to look with their telescopes to see it again.
  7. +Mark Wallace – wicket keeper, left handed batter. A very fine player for Glamorgan who never quite managed to attract the attention of the England selectors. His alter ego is David Foster Wallace, author of a biography of Georg  Cantor.
  8. Graham Napier – right arm medium pace bowler, right handed batter. He was better at limited overs cricket than long form, but he did once hit 17 sixes in a first class innings against Surrey. His analogue is John Napier, pioneer of logarithms.
  9. Jack Newman – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He abd Alec Kennedy carried the Hampshire bowling load together for many years. He is in here as analogue to James Newman who edited a book called ‘World of Mathematics‘.
  10. Srinivas Venkataraghavan – off spinner. One of the great Indian spin quartet of the 1970s, and later a fine umpire. His analogue is Srinivasa Ramanujan, a great Indian mathematician of the early 20th century.
  11. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spinner. The women these days play very little test cricket, but she has had considerable success in the shorter forms, especially given how young she still is. She is here because she shares a first name with Sophie Germain, a great French mathematician who has a class of prime numbers named in her honour. A Sophie Germain prime is a prime number which when you double it and add one gives another prime. There are Sophie Germain prime sequences, where each number obtained by this process is a prime – one well known example goes 89, 179, 359, 719 and 1439 – 2,879 is not itself a Sophie Germain prime because 5759 is equal to 443 x 13.

This team has a good top five, an all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat, and four varied bowlers. There is a lack of genuine pace, but otherwise the bowling looks respectable.


I could also have got the Sophie Germain reference in by picking New Zealand pace bowling all rounder Sophie Devine. I reckoned that selecting the spinner made for a more balanced team.


  1. Alan Jones – right handed opening batter, more first class runs than anyone else who never played test cricket. His analogue is evolutionary biologist Steve Jones.
  2. Mike Norman – right handed opening batter. Had a long career with first Northamptonshire and then Leciestershire. He owes his place here to David Norman, author of several paleontology books. He has a subversive streak, and carried out a thought experiment in evolution based on the dinosaurs not going extinct, arriving at the conclusion that one particular lineage of dinosaurs might have arrived at a large brained biped 40 million years ago.
  3. Kepler Wessels – left handed batter. The only player to have scored over 1,000 runs for each of two different countries. His scientific namesake is the one and only Johannes Kepler.
  4. Arthur Ridley – right handed batter, occasional fast bowler. He shared the largest partnership of the 1878 match between MCC and Australia, 22 with AN Monkey Hornby. At 27-2 in the MCC first innings Frederick Robert Spofforth was called up for a bowl, and took 6-4, causing the last eight wickets to crash for six runs. In the second innings after Australia had eked out a lead of eight Spofforth and Boyle opened, Spofforth taking 4-16 and Boyle 6-3, as MCC crashed for 19, making 18 wickets for 25 runs. He has two namesakes from the world of biology, Matthew and Mark Ridley.
  5. *Jack Mason – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler., captain. A fine record which would have been greater still had he not retired to concentrate on his career as a solicitor at the age of 28. Stephen Mason is the author of “A History of Science.”
  6. +John Hubble – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Kept for Kent between Frederick Huish and Les Ames. His namesake is the legendary Edwin Powell Hubble.
  7. Alonzo Drake – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. A remarkable career, ended by World War 1 – in the last two months of his professional career he collected 85 wickets in first class matches and played some crucial innings. His namesake is Frank Drake, creator the Drake Equation, which may ultimately enable the calculation of the likelihood of extraterrestrial civilisations (at the moment the error bars on many of the terms are simply too large for it to of any real value).
  8. Jack Gregory – right arm fast bowler, left handed batter. In first class cricket he averaged 36 with the bat and 20.99 with the ball, while in test cricket he paid 30 per wicket. He formed one half of test cricket’s first great fast bowling partnership, with Ted McDonald. Skipper Warwick Armstrong deployed them with such ruthlessness that Australia won eight straight matches in 1920 and 1921, before a combination of Phil Mead’s batting and some inclement English weather allowed the last two matches of that series to be drawn.His namesake is Andrew Gregory, author of “Eureka! the birth of science”, a title inspired by the great Archimedes of Syracuse.
  9. Harry Boyle – right arm medium pace bowler. Yes, the self same Boyle who combined with Spofforth to dismiss MCC for 19 on that famous day in 1878. His namesake is Robert Boyle, famous for Boyle’s law.
  10. Ken Higgs – right arm fast medium bowler. A successful bowler for first Lancashire and then Leciestershire, including playing for England at one point  He gets in here as namFesake to Peter Higgs, of Higgs boson fame (incidentally the word boson for that class of particles derives from Indian scientist Satyendra Bose).
  11. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar – leg spinner. Among bowlers who never played county championship cricket only Clarrie Grimmett, also a leg spinner, took more first class wickets. His namesake is Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, after whom the Chandrasekhar limit (the most mass a white dwarf can have before gravity causes to collapse an form a neutron star) is named.

This side has a respectable top order, genuine all rounders in Hubble, Drake and Gregory and three varied bowlers. Higgs, Gregory, Boyle, Chandrasekhar and Drake looks a good and well balanced bowling unit.


Folk whose vision is particular strong in the green and gold regions of the spectrum will be aware of Jim Higgs, a fine leg spinner of the 1970s, and a candidate for Peter Higgs’ namesake. I felt that with one leg spinner and absolutely blown in the glass no 11 already inked in for selection that fast medium bowler Ken was a better pick in terms of balance.


This should be a good contest – the general science XI has a slightly better balance to it, and in Jack Gregory the only serious pace available to either side, but the mathematical team is definitely stronger in batting. Also, the fact that Hodges (especially) and McCabe among the the mathematical team’s top batters are genuine bowling options partially makes up for their lack of pace, and at least with Venkataraghavan, Ecclestone and Hodges bowling varieties of spin it is not all going to be workaday medium pace.


I have introduced my two teams for today’s STEM contest, but before I sign off, Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has being running a ‘mythbuster‘ series of posts on his blog, and his latest such takes on the ‘National Debt‘. Now we have reached time for my usual sign off…

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The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Scientists v Novelists

My latest variation on the all time XI cricket theme pits a team of cricketers who share names with famous scientists against a team who share names with famous writers of fiction.


Another day sees another variation on the all time XI cricket theme. Today we pit a team of cricketers who share names with famous scientists against a team of cricketers who share names with famous novelists. In all bar two cases the shared name is a surname. As per usual I have not selected anyone purely because their name fits. I am well aware that some very eminent scientists also wrote novels – Carl Sagan’s “Contact” is on my shelves to name but one.


  1. John Rutherford – right handed opening batter. He was the first Western Australian to be selected for his country, being picked for the 1956 tour of England. Although he failed, in common with most of his team mates, on that tour he had a very respectable first class record, and probably should have been given the opportunity to perform on home soil. His scientific namesake is Ernest Rutherford, born on the other side of the Tasman, and justly famous for his work on the atomic nucleus, and having the element Rutherfordium named in his honour.
  2. Navjot Singh Sidhu – right handed opening batter. At a time when his country found it hard to find anyone to go in against the new ball Sidhu did so and recorded a very respectable average. Although he was better against the quicks he could give mediocre spin and absolute walloping, as John Emburey and Ian Salisbury discovered to their cost on the 1992-3 tour of India. The scientist with whom he shares a name is Simon Singh, author of books that include “Fermat’s Last Theorem”  and “Big Bang”.
  3. Geoff Marsh – right handed batter. A first class triple centurion, and a fine test record as well. Among the many humiliations the 1989 Aussies inflicted on the disorganized and inadequate rabble masquerading as “England” that year Marsh and his left handed partner Taylor became only the second opening pair in Ashes history (after Hobbs and Sutcliffe who did so at Melbourne in 1924 in response to a total of 600) to bat through a whole day’s play – by tea on day 2 England had captured precisely two wickets in five uninterrupted sessions of bowling, before Australia did lose some wickets after that interval as they hustled to a declaration at 602-6, enough to win by an innings and plenty. Two sons, Shaun and Mitchell Marsh have also represented Australia with some success, although neither have a record to place them in the very top bracket. The scientist to whom Geoff owes his selection in this XI is palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, who identified and catalogued a vast number of fossil species in the course of his long and distinguished career.
  4. Derek Randall – right handed batter, brilliant fielder. The heavy scoring Nottinghamshire batter was often made to bat right up at the top of the order for England, a role to which he was not best suited, though he did deliver one Ashes winning innings at no3, a nine and a half hour 150 in scorching heat at Sydney in the 1978-9 series. His speed around the field earned him the nickname ‘Arkle’ in honour of one the most famous racehorses of the time. His scientific namesake is cosmologist Lisa Randall, who I first came across in a wonderful little book by another cosmologist, Janna Levin, titled “How The Universe Got Its Spots”.
  5. Ian Bell – right handed batter. A superb timer of the ball, it often did not look like he had really hit the ball until one saw it speeding to the boundary. He overcame an early reputation for being somewhat soft to become for a period one of the most respected middle order batters in world cricket. His matching scientist is Jocelyn Bell, later Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered the first pulsar. She was scandalously deprived of the Nobel Prize this warranted as the committee decided to give sole credit to her supervisor Anthony Hewish, when at best he deserved a share of the award, though I personally would have limited him to an honourable mention in the citation.
  6. +John Hubble – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of a succession of top drawer keepers that Kent have had down the years, he initially got into the side as a batter, while Fred Huish retained the gloves, but after World War 1 and before the rise of Ames who continued the sequence (which runs on through Evans and Alan Knott to Oliver Graham Robinson of today) he was keeper as of right. His scientific alter ego is of course Edwin Powell Hubble, discoverer of the red shift phenomenon and prover that ours is not the only galaxy in the universe, after whom the Hubble constant and the Hubble space telescope are named. Hubble was able to achieve what he did in no small part due to the hard and largely unheralded work of human ‘computer’ Henrietta Swan Leavitt.
  7. James Franklin – left handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler. The Kiwi who played for Middlesex for a number of years, fully merits his place as all rounder – at his best he was a very fine cricketer indeed. As befits the all rounder of the side he has two eminent scientific namesakes – Rosalind Franklin whose x-ray diffraction photographs helped to reveal the structure of DNA, though she got none of the credit, as her work was shown to Francis Crick and James Watson without her even being consulted and neither of those two saw fit to even mention her in connection with their claimed discovery and Benjamin Franklin, late 18th century polymath.
  8. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The Northamptonshire and England man destroyed Australia in their own backyard in the 1954-5 Ashes. A shooting star in cricket’s skies, his brief spell at the top left him with a test bowling average of 18.56. His scientific alter ego is Neil De Grasse Tyson, astrophysicist, cosmologist and planetary scientist.
  9. Srinivas Venkataraghavan – off spinner. The Indian, one of four specialist spinners who flourished for that country in the 1970s, was an off spinner more noted for accuracy than big turn. After his playing days were finished he went on to a very distinguished career as an umpire. His scientific namesake, slightly sneakily, is Srinivasa Ramanujan, the great Indian mathematician. Ramanujan was brought to England by the eminent Cambridge mathematician Godfrey Harold Hardy, and made serious waves in the few years he had before health problems overcame him. Hardy, in “A Mathematician’s Apology” tells a story of Ramanujan in his final illness: Hardy attempting to make conversation mentioned the number of the cab that had brought him there, 1729, and expressed the opinion that it was a rather dull number, to which Ramanujan said: “No Hardy, it is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.”
  10. Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. Terrifyingly fast in his prime, when he teamed up with Dennis Lillee to lay waste to opposition batting orders. One of the things that gave Clive Lloyd the idea for the ‘four fast bowlers’ strategy he used to such devastating effect for the West Indies was the experience the men from the Caribbean suffered when beaten 5-1 in Australia in 1975, and they struggled badly against Lillee and Thomson, backed up by left arm pace bowler Gary Gilmour and right arm fast medium swing specialist Max Walker. His scientist alter ego is William Thomson, first Baron Kelvin, after whom the absolute temperature scale, and Marcus Chown’s book “We Need To Talk About Kelvin” are both named. There used to be a pub called the Lord Kelvin near King’s Lynn bus station, but it closed a while back, and the building has been slowly but visibly decaying ever since.
  11. *Bhagwath Chandrasakehar – leg spinner. One of the most individual bowlers in cricket’s long history, his right arm was withered from polio suffered as a child, and that was the arm he bowled with. He managed with the aid of the whippy, withered limb to be quick through the air and achieve sharp turn. He is second in the list of first class wicket takers who did not ever bowl in the County Championship behind another very different leg spinner, Clarrie Grimmett. I have gambled by naming him as captain, a role actually performed IRL by his fellow specialist spinner Bishan Bedi.  His scientific namesake is Subrahmanyan Chandrasakehar, a physicist and cosmologist who shared a Nobel Prize with Willy Fowler for work that explained the later evolutionary stages of massive stars. The Chandrasakehar limit, which relates to the collapse of stars after they have gone supernova (it is the greatest mass that a white dwarf can reach before it in it’s own turn collapses further to become a neutron star) is named in his honour.

The ‘scientists XI’ has a respectable top five, a good wicket keeper who can bat at six, an all rounder and four varied specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Tyson, Thomson, Franklin as third seamer, Chandrasakehar and Venkataraghavan should not struggle to take 20 wickets in a match either.


  1. Charlie Harris – right handed opening batter. Like his great Nottinghamshire predecessor George Gunn, Harris was an eccentric. Once when chided for slow scoring by a spectator he pointed his bat handle first towards the culprit and mimed shooting! His fiction writing alter ego for my purposes is Robert Harris, a writer of historical novels, including a trilogy about the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, “Imperium”, “Lustrum” and “Dictator” and a novel about the selection of a new Pope, “Conclave”.
  2. MJK Smith – right handed opening batter. The Warwickshire and England man was a big scorer who never quite established himself at test level, partly because when he was in his prime Boycott and Edrich were normally first choice openers. He has two namesakes I choose to mention: Denis O Smith, a writer of new Sherlock Holmes stories, and Dodie Smith, author of “101 Dalmatians” and “Starlight Barking”, both of which I read and enjoyed as a child.
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various types. Cricket’s first superstar, used in my “CLR James Trophy” post to introduce the man he was named after, royal physician to Elizabeth I William Gilbert. This time he gets in to highlight action/ adventure novelist Tom Grace.
  4. Adrian Rollins – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. The Derbyshire man who could not have been far short of an England call up at his best gets in on account of the novels of James Rollins. The first Rollins novel that I read was “The Judas Strain”, which was set largely in the Angkor temple complex in Cambodia, and featured a bacteria that turned all the bacteria in the human body against their host. It is an excellent read, and I have found that to apply to many other Rollins books.
  5. Stanley Jackson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. A Yorkshire stalwart whose England appearances were limited to home matches against Australia (he scored five test centuries nevertheless). His fiction writing analogue is Douglas Jackson, a writer of historical fiction whose first book was “Caligula”, and who then moved forwards in time through the reigns of Claudius and Nero. This is a popular period with novelists, with Robert Graves’ classics “I, Claudius” and “Claudius The God” overlapping it, along with Roberto Fabbri’s “Vespasian” series and Simon Scarrow’s “Eagles” series.
  6. Dai Davies – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer, right arm off spin. Glamorgan’s first great home grown talent of their first class period (they became a first class county in 1921, he made his debut in 1923, retiring in 1939). He was umpiring in the game at Bournemouth in which Glamorgan sealed their first County Championship in 1948, and is alleged to have responded to the final appeal with “that’s out and we’ve won.”. His fiction writing analogue is David Stuart Davies, a highly skilled Holmesian writer whose credits include “Sherlock Holmes and The Ripper Legacy”, “The Veiled Detective” and many others.
  7. Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Her colossal list of cricketing credits include a test double century and a seven-for in an ODI. Her fiction writing namesake is Anne Perry, author of historical detective novels. Her two main series feature lead characters named Thomas Pitt and William Monk respectively.
  8. +Kycia Knight – wicket keeper, left handed batter. An excellent keeper with a very respectable batting record. Her sister Kyshona also plays for the West Indies. Her fiction writing alter ego is Bernard Knight, creator of the “Crowner John” series of historical detective novels.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. Rated by many as the best bowler of any type to play in the inter-war years, his achievements include topping 25 wickets in each of four successive series. His fiction writing counterpart is Matthew Reilly, a bit of a stretch, but worth it for his extraordinary action adventure novels. Whether it be his Jack West series, the Scarecrow series (these two were effectively amalgamated by “The Four Legendary Kingdoms”, which has been followed by “The Three Secret Cities”, leaving two volumes, the last of which I suspect will be titled “The Omega Event”, to complete that series, or his various stand alone efforts, such as “Temple”, “Tournament” and “The Great Zoo of China” the books are universally excellent. I put up a post about his novels a while back, and recommend you visit it by clicking here.
  10. Craig McDermott – right arm fast bowler. The red headed Queenslander was an excellent fast bowler in his day, though a trifle injury prone. His literary alter ego is Andy McDermott, author of a series of adventure novels featuring archaeologist Nina Wilde and her ex-SAS husband Eddie Chase. The most recent novel in the series is “The Spear of Atlantis”, but you will not be disappointed whichever of these novels you happen to pick up.
  11. Matthew Dunn – right arm fast bowler. At one stage, before injuries started to take their toll he seemed destined for an England call up. As it is he only gets in because he has two literary alter egos: Carola Dunn, author of two excellent series of detective novels, the “Daisy Dalrymple” series and the “Cornish Mysteries”, which feature DS Megan Pencarrow, and Suzannah Dunn, author of historical novels including “Confessions of Katherine Howard” and “Sixth Wife”.

This team has great batting depth, with everyone down to Knight at no8 recognized in that department, and the bowling is well stocked, with Dunn, McDermott and O’Reilly the specialists, and Perry, Grace, Davies and Jackson as more than handy back up options. The spin department is a little light, but even so it looks a good bowling unit.


The contest for what I have decided to call the ‘CP Snow Trophy’ looks an absolute cracker. The ‘scientists’ have a somewhat less strong batting line up, but a quite awesome bowling attack, while the ‘novelists’ have a better batting line up, but are less formidable as a bowling unit. It will probably come down to the contributions of WG Grace and Ellyse Perry, and it is hard not to see those two each producing a match winning performance somewhere, so in a five match series the ‘novelists’ are not faring any worse than a 3-2 defeat. Equally it is hard to see Tyson and Thomson not being match winners, so we arrive at 2-2 for four of the five matches – it will go down to the wire.


Here, linking both of today’s XIs, is a mathematical problem involving a bit of detective work, courtesy of

Angle Detective

The original question was officially a multiple choice one, but I solved it in seconds and without reference to the available choices, so I am not making it multiple choice here.


The two sides contending for the ‘CP Snow Trophy’ have been introduced, and I have offered up a mathematical teaser for your attention. I offer one solitary link before my usual sign off: to a piece at gazetteseries calling for an ambitious approach to the reintroduction of beavers to the UK.

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P1320686 (2)
The nest five pictures are all the same shot edited in different ways.

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Scientists v Novelists
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs: Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers

My latest variation on the ‘All Time XI’ theme, the answer to yesterday’s maths teaser, an important petition, a soupcon of science and nature and some photographs – enjoy!


Another day brings another variation on the ‘All Time XIs‘ theme. Today’s is based on a well known piece of cricket folklore – the belief that left handers are naturally more elegant than their right handed colleagues. Like all good folklore it has a basis in fact, but it is definitely an overstatement of the case. Thus today I challenge it by providing an XI of strictly functional left handers and to oppose it an XI of notably elegant right handers. Note that some the bowlers in the left handers XI  batted with their right hands – it is their bowling for which they are picked, and mutatis mutandis for the right handed batter who bowled with his left. First to parade their skills are…


  1. Gary Kirsten – the South African, half brother of Derbyshire’s Peter Kirsten, had seemingly limitless patience and concentration but a decidedly limited range of strokes.
  2. Sir Alastair Cook – the Essex and England man, his country’s all time leading scorer of test runs, was another who cultivated a limited range of strokes but used those he did possess to great effect.
  3. Graeme Smith – the former South African was mighty effective, but an aesthetic disaster (among top order batters named Smith it is an interesting question as to whether he or current Aussie right hander Steve represents the greatest aesthetic outrage).
  4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – the Guyanese stayer had the oddes batting stance I have ever seen, so open that he was almost at 45 degrees to the bowler as opposed to the recommended side-on position (Austin Matthews who played for Glamorgan many decades ago as a bowler of medium pace and lower middle order batter wrote a coaching manual after his retirement in which he stated “cricket is a sideways game”), and while the method worked for him it was very much ‘one not to watch’.
  5. *Allan Borderthe nuggety NSW, Queensland and Australia middle order man had in the words of Frances Edmonds “not so much a style as a modus operandi”. This quote appears in “Cricket XXXX cricket” her humorous book about the 1986-7 Ashes (she also wrote “Another Bloody Tour”, which somehow managed to be amusing about England’s unqualified disastrous Caribbean excursion of 1985-6. For about the first decade of his long career he pretty much was, in batting terms, Australia’s resistance.
  6. Jimmy Adams – his obdurate approach saw him dubbed ‘Jimmy Padams’.
  7. +Jack Russell – wicket keeper and as a batter just about the ultimate in lower middle order irritants, sometimes very usefully for his country.
  8. Richard IllingworthWorcestershire and England slow left armer (emphatically NOT a spinner – if he ever turned one I never saw it). His economical, reliable but unthreatening methods were often preferred by England selectors of the time to the higher risk Phil Tufnell.
  9. Ryan Sidebottom – the Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and England fast medium bowler had long run up which his pace never quite seemed to justify.
  10. Doug Bollinger – the NSW and Australia fast medium bowler was another whose run up appeared to promise more pace than he actually proved capable of delivering. I saw him bowl live at Adelaide v the West Indies in 2009, and, the first innings scalp of Gayle not withstanding he looked unimpressive, while his ‘efforts’ at the same ground in the 2010 Ashes match there were of a very low order.
  11. Paul Adams – the left arm wrist spinner’s action was once memorably likened to a frog in a blender. South Africa have not in recent times been overly understanding or supportive of spinners, and Adams probably should have played more test cricket than he actually did.

This line up has a solid top six, though no genuine all rounder, a splendid keeper who could do useful work with the bat and four bowlers of differing left handed types. They would take some digging out and might put up some decent totals because of that, but they would struggle to capture 20 wickets unless Paul Adams found some assistance in the surface. Now we meet their opponents…


  1. Jack Robertson – the Middlesex man was a highly regarded stylist, and although he only got picked for 11 test matches an average of 46 at that level suggests that he had steel to go with that style.
  2. Reggie Spooner – opener for Lancashire and occasionally England. Noted for grace and poise at the crease. Neville Cardus used to watch Lancashire whenever he could in his schooldays, and later, established through his decades of work for the Manchester Guardian as one of cricket’s finest writers he waxed lyrical about Spooner and his part of what Cardus claimed as a uniquely distinctive top three – MacLaren, Spooner, JT Tyldesley. (the latter an ancestor of Michael Vaughan – can elegant batting be inherited?!). Spooner was the first ever to score 200 in a ‘Roses’ match, and did so in under four hours at the crease – they were not always dour affairs.
  3. *Sir Frank Worrell – the first black captain of the West Indies (yes, as with England and so-called ‘amateur’ skippers the Windies had their own captaincy fetish, in their case a belief that blacks had to be led by someone white skinned), and generally reckoned the most stylish of the ‘Three W’s” who dominated Caribbean batting in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  4. Tom Graveney – another whose grace and elegance at the crease had folk waxing lyrical – and he backed it up with over 47,000 first class runs.
  5. Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings – noted as one of the most attractive batters in a very successful Kent unit (four championships in seven years) that was also noted for playing particularly dazzling cricket. Such was the nature of his driving that for him and him alone George Hirst would retreat a few yards from his usual mid off position.
  6. Keith Miller – whether batting, bowling fast (or his occasional off spin with which he once took a test match seven-for on a rain affected Gabba pitch) or fielding he never failed to cut a dash. Once when playing in a ‘picnic match’ at East Molesey (the opposite bank of the Thames to Hampton Court Palace) he took on a challenge to land a ball on Tagg’s Island, a carry of 140 yards (just over 125 metres), and was only just short of making it.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper who kept with panther like grace to the quick bowlers (given the nature of Caribbean bowling units is his day it is impossible to comment on his keeping to class spinners) and batted attractively in the middle order, scoring four test centuries and averaging 30 at that level.
  8. Ray Lindwall – fast bowler, attacking lower order bat. His run up and bowling action are routinely described as being ‘poetry in motion’, and in addition to the pace he possessed he could swing the ball both ways seemingly at will.
  9. Michael Holding – fast bowler, referred to as ‘Whispering Death’ on account of the silence of his approach to the bowling crease. His opening over to Boycott at Bridgetown in 1981 has become a classic cricketing scare story – the Yorkshireman was beaten by four of the six deliveries, got bat on one and was comprehensively bowled by the sixth. Five years earlier, on a pitch at The Oval from which no one else could even raise a squeak he had recorded match figures of 14-149, the best ever test match figures by a West Indian.
  10. Sydney Barnes – the greatest bowler of them all. Even at Warwickshire in 1894 where he achieved little his bowling action was noted for its beauty, and CLR James, watching a 59 year old Barnes in action in the Lancashire League, noted that his arm remained classically high and straight. Mr James, by the way is the author of that sine qua non of cricket books “Beyond a Boundary’, which takes as its theme the question “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”, and my collection also features a book of his writings titled “Cricket”, and he contributed a chapter about Worrell to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, as well as being the author of “Black Jacobins”, a history of the Toussaint l’Ouverture rebellion in what is now Haiti.
  11. David Harris – cricket’s first great bowler (see Phil Edmonds “100 Greatest Bowlers” and John Nyren’s “Cricketers of My Time”) and even if you refuse to permit under arm (he played in the late 18th century when all bowling was under arm) I counter by saying that I reckon he could have mastered over arm had it been legal in his day. See also my Eccentric XI post for my opinion on real under arm, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers (although Harris was in part responsible for a change in cricket’s approach from relying on balls either rolling or at least shooting through to looking to cause problems by generating extra bounce, which he was an expert at – the very early bats looked more like hockey sticks than today’s cricket bats precisely because they were intended to counter balls at ground level, and it was Harris who was more responsible than any other for the shape of bats changing towards what we now recognize). Late in his career Harris suffered dreadfully from gout, but such was the value of his bowling that his team would bring an armchair on to the field, and when not actually engaged in bowling he would have a sit down. The Hambledon ace, who I felt I could not mention in connection with Hampshire, for all that he lived there, gets his moment in the sun this time round.

This team as a high quality to five, a great all rounder at six, an excellent wicket keeper at seven and four varied bowlers (Barnes, for all his official fast medium designation, can be classed as a spinner, while Harris if his actual bowling style is permitted offers a variation of a different sort, Miller as mentioned had off spin as a variation, and Worrell was a recognized bowler of left arm fast medium who also occasionally turned his hand to left arm spin.


I suspect that what I shall provisionally call the Strauss/ Trumper trophy, honouring a functional left hander and a stylish right hander, would go to the Elegant Right Handers, because while the functional left handers would take a lot of dislodging I have no doubts that the right handers could take 20 wickets, whereas the left handers are lacking in that department. The big question for Worrell as captain of the right handers, given that Barnes would not tolerate not being given the new ball is which of Holding or Lindwall does not get it – my reckoning is probably that Lindwall shares the new ball with Barnes and Holding comes on first change when Lindwall needs a rest.


Yesterday I included a teaser from

Brilliant Challenge

The four possible answers were 94, 96, 98 or 100.

My own method of solving this, a mixture of cheat and punt, was to start by ruling out 100, as that is a square number, and it would therefore be out of keeping with brilliant for it to be the right answer. I then looked at the the areas given and noted that they added up to 56 – could I see a connection between 56 and one of the other answers? Yes, a very appealing one came instantly to mind – both have seven as a factor. A quick mental calculation confirmed that the ratio of 98 to 56 was 1.75, and that was enough for me to take a punt (I had already ensured that my problem solving streak had gone into another day – and it is now equal in days to Bobby Abel’s indvidual Surrey record innings in runs), and I was right.

Here is a more authentic solution courtesy of David Vreken:

DV Sol


As we move towards the conclusion of today’s post I have a few links to share.

  • The pinchhitter have given me an extended mention in today’s offering, and apparently a copy of one of the ‘Chapelli’ books I mentioned in yesterday’s post is en route to pinchhitter HQ. If you have found this blog by way of pinchhitter please comment, and likewise, if anyone has found pinchhittter by way of me why not let them know.
  • A very important petition on, calling for the surcharge that penalises NHS and Care workers from abroad to be scrapped – as someone who owes a huge debt of gratitude to workers in both categories I urge you to sign and share.
  • A science piece from Culture’s Ways about Sagittarius A*, believed to be the location of a supermassive black hole – the picture below is formatted as a link:
    Sagittarius A*, thought to be the location of a supermassive black hole Culture's Ways

And now it is time to sign off with my usual photographic flourish…

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This butterfly, which strayed into my bungalow yesterday, set me a poser – it was not in a my Butterfly book. My sister responded to my twitter inquiry with a reference to and a suggestion of either Brimstone or Clouded Yellow. My own feeling having visited the site and looked at their pictures is that is a Brimstone.

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The combination of the colour and the delicate veining in the wings lends them the appearance of small green leaves – a fine example of mimicry in the natural world.

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The teams
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.



100 Cricketers: 4th XI Numbers 3,4 and 5

A continuation of my “100 cricketers” series, dealing with numbers 3,4 and 5 in my 4th XI and containing some photographs and a bonus feature.


Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, dealing numbers 3,4 and 5 in my 4th XI. Having taken the bowlers out of position for reasons made clear in that post I will be finishing the 4th XI with the all-rounders, in which post I will also introduce the 5th XI. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, and the post in which I introduce the 4th XI here. We go straight to the business area of the post today with…


I have commented before on the lack of test cricket played by the women, and the fact that Suzie Bates has played none of this form of the game (though over 100 times in each of ODIs and T20Is) demonstrates this point starkly. Her averages are the right way round however, and both are very respectable (42.64 in ODIs and 30.69 in T20Is). Her right-arm medium pace is very much secondary to her batting, but averages of 33.29 per wicket in ODIs and 24.67 per wicket in T20Is show that it is not entirely negligible. She has 10 ODI centuries to her credit with a best of 168. 


The only man ever to hold world records for the highest test and first-class individual scores simultaneously, and the only one to set the world test record twice (375 at Antigua in 1994 and 400 not out at Antigua again in 2004, Matthew Hayden having battered 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth in the meantime, being his two test records – I heard commentary on both, England being the victims on each occasion, the latter of which still stands, as does the 501 not out he scored for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994). A caveat against these three huge scores is that all came in drawn matches – the team had no opportunity to push for the win. In the case of the Warwickshire innings he actually asked his captain not to declare as he fancied going for the record (this is one of the incidents recorded by said captain, Dermot Reeve, in his book Winning Ways). The pitch at St Johns where he played the other two innings (the second match was relocated there after the brand spanking new Sir Viv Richards stadium was discovered to be unfit for play) is notorious for its flatness, to the extent that it has been joked that the prisoners who help to prepare it (it adjoins the prison) should made to bowl on their creations since they are supposed to be being punished.

However, Lara has also played a number of high quality match-winning innings in all forms of the game. He remains the West Indies leading test run scorer with 11,953, just ahead of Shivnarine Chanderpaul who racked up 11,867 in his very different style.


After his amazing 281 which, helped by 180 from Rahul Dravid and some excellent off-spin bowling from Harbhajan Singh turned the Kolkata 2001 test match on its head, leading only the third (and at the time of writing last) occasion on which a team following on went on to win a match (Sydney 1894, England victorious by 10 runs and Headling 1981, England beating Australia by 18 runs were the other two) it was said that those initials stand Very Very Special – actually they stand for Vangipurappu Venkata Sai. Undoubtedly that V V S was the best recognised set of initials post “W G” (these stand alone and unchallengable as the most recognisable initials in sporting, never mind cricket history) until A B De Villiers and M S Dhoni came along. 

Only one of my top five in this XI is left handed – Lara, but as you will see when I deal with the two I selected as all-rounders there is still a frontline left handed batter to come.


When I saw a post on whyevolutionistrue titled “An Underground Map of Science” I was naturally intrigued at a juxtaposition of two favourites. I reproduce the map below, linking to the WEIT post, and the original map, from can be viewed here (requires scrolling as it is bigger than the screen).


I conclude this post with some of my own photographs:


Universal: A Journey Through The Cosmos – Book Review

A brief review of Universal: A Journey Thtpugh The Cosmos


I found a copy of this book, by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw when the mobile library called near my bungalow. 



I found this book a thoroughly excellent read. It manages to be stimulating and intellectually challenging without ever making one feel out of ones depth. The material is beautifully laid out, and for me the ambition of covering 13.7 billion years of history in one smallish volume is achieved. 

The book is also superbly illustrated, with the colour plates at the back particularly worth seeing. I have photographed a number of the illustrations and the colour plates but not all – after all I think that you should read the book and look at the pictures yourself.



A Mixed Bag for Monday

Solutions to my last two maths problems, some sciencey pieces, a petition and some photographs.


This post includes solutions to the problems I posed on Saturday, and a few other things from various sources. 


Here is the question as a reminder:

Space station Dodecahedron

Here is the answer:

Dodecahedron answer

Here is a splendidly concise solution from David Vreken:

Vreken route


Here is the question:

Malfatti Mistake question

Here is the answer:

Malfatti Mistake answer

In the 19th century Malfatti conjectured that the way to maximise the area of a triangle you could fill with three circles was to fill in the three largest circles that touch specifically two of the three sides. Although he was not alive to be humiliated it turned out that he was not merely wrong, his proposed solution has been proved not to work for a single triangle. The solution that always works is first put in the largest single circle that touches all three sides that you can, then fill in the largest circle you can in the remaining space and then do so again. In an equilateral triangle the difference is small, but in a long thin isosceles triangle it is quite substantial. 

Here is Jeremy Galvagni’s published solution:

Galvagni outdoes Malfatti


This on the official site for petitions to the UK government, which means that you have be a UK citizen to sign it. Please click the screenshot below to sign and share it if so minded:

School Refusal


First a fascinating piece from the National Geographic titled “Can Today’s Whale Species Survive the age of Humans” which covers the past and present of the cetaceans and speculates about their future. 

David Quammen, a good writer and a useful scientist to know about if you are planning an A to Z post, has a new book out on the subject of evolution, and Jerry Coyne of whyevolutionistrue has provided a very detailed review of it.

Finally, a letter to the Guardian signed by 60 well known environmental campaigners declaring their unwillingness to debate with climate change deniers, and why they are unwilling to do so. Below is the opening to the letter (please click to visit the original) and a list of signatories:

Guardian letter



To finish here are some of my recent photographs:

Sea birdsFlying cormorantBlackbacked gull lands on the waterCormorant and rowing boatCormorant and sea birdsWingspanMoorhenCormorant




Midweek Medley II

A mixed bag of bits and pieces from around the net and some of my own stuff, including photographs.


Yes folks it is time for sharing post, including some of my own photographs. I have a lot of interesting stuff to share, starting with…


The bodytext of this section is in #RedInstead because it relates to Autism. To be exact, today marks 20 years since Andrew Wakefield published his “research” indicating a link between autism and vaccines. One impact his decision to go straight to the press without having his “research” peer reviewed first (it was badly flawed, and that is being kind) had was to cause measles to become a significant factor in parts of the UK as parents declined to have their children vaccinated. There can be no comparison between autism (a neurological DIFFERENCE – and don’t forget that different is not a synonym for lesser) and measles (a dangerous illness). However, in the minds of some parents, fear of autism has been sufficient to prevent them from vaccinating. Mr Wakefield has since decamped to the US (Texas to be exact), and he has just weighed in on an election in his new home, supporting the challenger against the current incumbent, republican Sarah Davis, who has supported vaccines. I am not USian, nor based in the area where this election is taking place, but if there is anything that could induce to me to vote for a republican it would the likes of Wakefield urging a vote for their opponent.

I end this section with some links:


I start with a link to a piece by John Jonasson of The Photo Bloggers, titled “En dag med uttrarna – A day with the otters” – as an aperitif here is a picture showing two of the creatures:

Having just celebrated nature with the above link, here from closer to home, is a link to a petition by the Green Party calling for a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st century. Please sign and share.

I finish this mini section back here in Norfolk, bringing up a topic close to my heart. Stagecoach are closing their King’s Lynn depot on April 30th (a king sized betrayal of Norfolk Green, the company they bought to get that depot) and will not be running any Norfolk routes thereafter. This leaves Konect, Lynx Buses, First, Sanders Coach Services and West Norfolk Community Transport to pick up the pieces. Our bus routes are very important to us, not least since thanks to Dr Beeching our county has no train routes to speak of. Thus I bring you a 38 Degrees petition calling on the council to work with these companies to ensure that the Coasthopper service (under threat of being entirely shut down) keeps running. Please sign and share the petition, via the screenshot below:



Autistic Bill of

There have been two posts created by people responding to my Sunshine Blogger Award nominations. Anna’s response which handles the entire brief is also titled “Sunshine Blogger Award” and is an excellent effort. I have already reblogged stimtheline’s Sunshine Blogger Questions“, which does a magnificent job of answering my questions, and I share it once again now. 

The Autism Women’s Network have recently produced a piece titled “Is Autism Speaks a Hate Group?” (spoiler: the answer is yes).

I end with a link to the petition to save the Morley House Respite Unit, which now has just over 3,200 signatures – please sign and share!


This meeting will be taking place in Norwich on the evening of March 8th (I will be in Norwich that day on behalf of NAS West Norfolk and will stay on for the meeting):

Norwich Trans liberation 2018 A6 cmyk


This is not too difficult IMO, from my regular source,

the cube


These are all from Monday:

BriggsSun on waterCormorantsCormorantCormorants and gullsNeck StretchflappingGreat OuseCormoranr vignettedMoorhenfemale blackbirdMoon 1Moon 2CMsCM x 5CM brownCM x 3CM whiteCM black


Welcome to 2018

A little something to kick off 2018 on


Happy new year everyone. This post will give you a few hints as to what you can look forward to in 2018 on


Headings will generally be in a cycle that runs red/green’purple, although this is subject to variation in certain circumstances.

Body text will always be in black unless I am writing about autism, in which case I will use #RedInstead

When sharing content from another site I will always link to the host site and the specific post and where possible will mention the author by name – such links will be a different colour from regular body text and will be both bold and underlined. 

It will be a very rare post that does not congtain photographs.


  • Autism
  • Public Transport 
  • Nature
  • Science
  • Religion
  • Cricket
  • Books
  • Photography

I will also probably find other things to blog about in 2018.


Cormorant and otherslapwingsCormorantfive lapwingsChurch and cormorantlapwings and gulls IIMoorhenssmall birdlapwings, cormorant and otherslapwings and gull11 lapwingsCormorant, gulls, lapwings


Please feel free to use the comments to answer the questions below?

  1. What are your blogging ideas for 2018?
  2. What do you think about mine?