All Time XIs – Match Ups (9)

Continuing my extended analysis of how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

I continue my series of posts analysing how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Bs XI are still in the hot seat, and they come into this series of match ups on 55 points out of 80.


The Bs are massively ahead on batting. They also have the better new ball pairing, but whoever out of Roberts or Richardson ends up first change is a better third pacer than Botham. Benaud outdoes Robins, but Rhodes is a match for Bates. Though the Rs do have an advantage in bowling it is a small one and does not make up for the gulf in batting. Bs 3.5, Rs 1.5.


The Ss are only definitively behind the Bs in one batting slot – the number three position. Sangakkara as keeper and Sobers’ constellation of talents mean that other than number three the only position for which batting skill is noted that the Bs win is at number nine, where Benaud outdoes Starc. Though Barnes and Bumrah are the best new ball combination available to either side Starc far outdoes Botham as a bowler, and his left handedness gives his side an extra variation. Stokes and Sobers in his quicker guise are decidedly useful back up seamers as well, while Sobers in his slower guises and Stevens will be a good spinning combination, albeit not the equal of Benaud and Bates. The Ss XI have a clear but not utterly overwhelming advantage: Bs 1.5, Ss 3.5.


The Bs have an advantage in batting, but the Ts have the fastest pace combo of any letter, with Tyson and Trueman matching Barnes and Bumrah for potency with the new ball and Thomson a better third pacer than Botham. Frank Tarrant and Hugh Trumble are certainly at least as potent as Benaud and Bates – Bates may have an advantage over Trumble, but Tarrant has the edge on Benaud. I think the Ts just about have the bowling guns to negate the Bs advantage with the bat. Bs 2, Ts 3.


The Bs boss the top batting, with only Inzamam Ul-Haq and Misbah Ul-Haq within ten runs an innings of their opposite numbers in the first five positions. Umrigar outbats Botham, but is much less of a bowler. Similar Umar Akmal outbats Bari, but is nowhere near him as a keeper. Umar Gul has an ordinary bowling record, Umran Malik has earthshaking potential but little actual experience, leaving Ulyett the pick of their fast bowlers. Underwood rates ahead of Benaud as a bowler, and Ur Rahman looks about even with Bates, though again, as with Umran Malik, he lacks experience. The presence of Ulyett and Umrigar does mean that the Us have six bowling options to the Bs five, but I don’t think that can save them, although they might just have a field day if Underwood and Ur Rahman with Umrigar as back up get to work on a raging bunsen. Bs 4 Us 1.


The Bs have their usual huge advantage with the bat, but the Vs are stronger in bowling. While Barnes and Bumrah have to be considered to outrank Voce and Van der Bijl as a new ball pair, Vaas is ahead of Botham as third seamer, and probably by more than the figures show – he would almost certainly fare better as third seamer in a strong attack than he did as opening bowler in a moderate one. Vogler beats Benaud as a leg spinner, while Verity and Bates look on a par, although Verity’s test figures were achieved in a decade of doped pitches and Bradman’s batting. Verity’s advantage over Bates is clear if you compare their FC figures. I do not think that the Vs can make up for their deficit in the batting department, but I would expect a good contest: Bs 3, Vs 2.


The Bs scored 14 out of 25 points in today’s match ups, moving them on to 69 of a possible 105 points, 65.72% overall. The As by comparison were on 54 points at this stage of their match ups.


My usual sign off…

I have separated some of my photographs off from the rest because I know that some of my readers are arachnophobic. If you are among them skip the last few photos…

All Time XIs – The Letter T

A quick book review and a continuation of my exploration of the all-time XIs theme with a look at surnames beginning with the letter T.

This post contains some bonus content – before getting to the main meat of it, an all time XI of players whose surnames begin with the letter T, I feature a book review.


The murder that gives this story its title takes place on the spiral staircase of Belsize Park tube station (this station, the second deepest on the entire network behind it’s neighbour Hampstead has three passenger lifts and this spiral staircase). The victim, a wealthy and unpleasant single lady, had been living in a private hotel and the other residents start investigating. The story is a fine read, and the unravelling of the puzzle about who committed the crime and how they managed it is expertly handled by the author. I first read this book a few years back, and have just recently had it out of the library again, and I enjoyed it more this time round. Three unusual features are a map showing the most important locations in the story, a diagram illustrating the layout of Belsize Park and a family tree of the victim’s family.


Selecting this XI posed some interesting problems which I will elucidate more fully when I deal with the honourable mentions. The big problem was balancing the side properly when three specialist fast bowlers had ironclad claims to the number 9, 10 and 11 batting slots.

  1. *Mark Taylor (Australia). Left handed opening batter, excellent fielder and captain. I first came across him in the 1989 Ashes in England, scoreline Australia 4, the weather 2, England 0. He dominated the season batting wise, scoring 839 test runs at 83.90, an aggregate beaten in Ashes series only by Bradman (974 at 139.14 in 1930) and Hammond (905 at 113.125 in 1928-9). He also held some superb catches, something that would become a feature of his career. He succeeded another left handed batter, Border, as captain when that worthy retired in 1993. Border had taken the reins with Australia in the doldrums, and left Taylor a tough and cohesive unit well on the way to being world beaters. Taylor consolidated the progress, and the by time his own career ended Australia were established as the dominant force in world cricket, a status they would retain for a further decade before a decline set in during Ponting’s tenure as skipper.
  2. Victor Trumper (Australia). Right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. A great figure in the history of the game, who helped to transform the art of batting in the early 20th century. His apogee was in England in 1902, when he scored 2,570 FC runs in a wet season on uncovered pitches, including 11 centuries. One of those centuries came in the morning session of the opening day of the Old Trafford test match, when England had hoped to keep things tight in the expectation that by the afternoon the surface would be made to measure for Bill Lockwood, as indeed it was. The trouble was that by the time the afternoon session started Australia were 173-1. Thereafter only Joe Darling and Clem Hill figured prominently with the bat, and Australia were all out for 299. England ended up beaten by three runs, a result which secured The Ashes for Australia.
  3. Frank Tarrant (Middlesex, Australia). A left handed top order batter (Middlesex, for whom he played for many years, often used him as an opener) and left arm slow-medium bowler. In a first class career that extended for 38 years (debut in 1898-9, last appearance in 1936-7) he scored 17,952 runs at 36.41 and took 1,512 wickets at 17.49. He never got to play test cricket, but if you want to see whether a left arm slow-medium bowler can succeed at that level look up the career record of Derek Underwood.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar (Yorkshire, India). A right handed middle order batter, and an occasional right arm bowler of both leg and off spin (the former might be useful for this team), and the third of three cricketers to be dubbed ‘the little master’ by fans – Hanif Mohammad (Pakistan) was the first and Sunil Gavaskar (India) the second. One of the greatest of all cricketers and practically deified in his native land.
  5. Graham Thorpe (Surrey, England). A gritty and for my money underrated left handed middle order batter, and an occasional bowler of medium pace. A test average of 44.66 over a 100 match career at that level when he was very often trying to save the innings from ruin is some testament to his skill and determination.
  6. Ross Taylor (New Zealand). A right handed batter and occasional off spinner of Maori heritage (his full name is Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor), his test average is two decimal places identical to that of Thorpe – 44.66, though having played 12 test matches more than Thorpe he naturally has more runs to his name. He has the highest score ever made by a visiting batter in a test in Australia with 290 (beating RE Foster’s 287 at Sydney in 1903).
  7. +Bob Taylor (Derbyshire, England). A wicket keeper and right handed batter who was better in the latter department than he is often given credit for. His six hour 97 helped ensure that England would win the 1978-9 Ashes. He made more first class dismissals than any other keeper in history, though his test tally is reduced by the fact that Knott usually got the nod at his expense at that level.
  8. Hugh Trumble (Australia). An off spinner and stubborn right handed lower order batter (good enough in this latter capacity to have achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in FC matches on the 1899 tour of England). He took 141 test wickets, all against England, twice performing the hat trick in tests at his home ground in Melbourne. At The Oval in 1902 he had a superb but ultimately unavailing all round match: He top scored with 64* in two and a half hours as Australia scored 324 batting first, then took 8-65 bowling unchanged, as only a vigorous 43 from George Hirst saved England from the indignity of the follow on. Australia were 122 all out in their second innings, Trumble 7*. When England, chasing 263, slumped to 48-5, four wickets to left armer Jack Saunders and the other to Trumble it looked all over. Gilbert Jessop smashed a century in 75 minutes, but when he was seventh out England still needed 76 to win. George Hirst, supported by Lockwood, Lilley and then Rhodes took England to a one wicket win, Trumble bowling unchanged through the innings and adding four wickets to his first innings eight-for.
  9. Frank Tyson (Northamptonshire, England). One of the fastest bowlers ever seen, he flashed across the cricketing skies like a meteor. The highlight of his brief career was the 1954-5 Ashes when he blew Australia away in their own backyard.
  10. Fred Trueman (Yorkshire, England). In his own words “T’finest bloody fast bowler that ever drew breath” – and it was close enough to the truth to be an excusable exaggeration. He claimed 307 wickets in 67 test matches, the first to top 300 wickets at the highest level.
  11. Jeff Thomson (Middlesex, Australia). A freakishly fast bowler until injuries ruined his career. In 1974-5 he was too quick for anyone to handle.

This side contains a splendid and contrasting opening pair, a fine all rounder at number three, a mighty engine room of Tendulkar, Thorpe and Ross Taylor, a top of the range keeper, one of the greatest off spinners ever to play the game and three seriously fast fast bowlers. Tarrant’s presence gives two genuine relief options to ensure that the quicks aren’t run into the ground.


There is a lot of overlapping talent for this letter, so I shall work my way down the order starting with…


Glenn Turner, the only Kiwi to register 100 FC hundreds and possessed of a good test record as well and Marcus Trescothick, an attacking left hander, were the two most obvious candidates for opening slots other than the two I actually chose. Since I regard Trumper as an automatic selection for this letter, Trescothick, giving a left/ right opening combo comes closer than Turner to dislodging Taylor. Taylor however has one extra thing going for him – he was an excellent captain, something not otherwise readily available for this letter.


There were two conventional number threes available – Johnny Tyldesley whose prime years were the first decade of the 20th century, and Jonathan Trott who did brilliantly for England in the early 2010s. Either would have been an excellent choice based on batting skills, with my own leaning being towards Tyldesley, but then other than Trumble the only bowling outside the pace trio would have been coming from part timers, and I felt that Tarrant, with a magnificent bowling record and an unusual bowling style gives the side a possibly crucial extra option, and that much more chance of keeping the quicks reasonably well rested.


Ernest Tyldesley is the prominent missing name, being a member of the 100 FC hundreds club. The solid Sri Lankan Hashan Tillekaratne might have his advocates. Also, Steve Tikolo, the finest batter Kenya has ever produced, merits a mention. However, Tendulkar, Thorpe and Ross Taylor are three greats of the game.


There were two all rounders for this letter to mention in this section. Bruce Taylor, a right arm fast medium bowler and hard hitting middle order batter scored a ton and took a five-for on test debut for New Zealand. Essex’s long serving Dutch all rounder Ryan Ten Doeschate had a fine domestic record, and would have been one of the first names on the team sheet had I been selecting with limited overs in mind. George Thompson whose deeds propelled Northamptonshire to first class status was another top performer. All three of these all rounders bowled fast medium, which with Tyson, Trueman and Thomson inked in didn’t seem to add much to the bowling attack.


Four wicket keepers deserve a mention, without quite being able to displace the record breaker. Don Tallon, named by Bradman as keeper in his all time XI, was obviously a superb performer. Jonathan Tattersall at Yorkshire is rapidly establishing an excellent record. However, had I been going to give the gauntlets to anyone other than Bob Taylor I would have gone for one of two utterly outstanding female keepers: Sarah Taylor and Eleanor Threlkeld are both among the greatest their profession has ever seen.


I am including in this category Charlie ‘terror’ Turner, known to be able place an orange between his thumb and forefinger and crush it to pulp, a party trick that would have made any batter watching it wince. He was chief rival to Trumble for the no8 slot, but given the often crude nature of 1880s pitches I felt that Trumble had to get the nod. Roy Tattersall, Fred Titmus and Phil Tufnell were all fine practitioners but not quite good enough to challenge Trumble. Dick Tyldesley, officially a leg spinner, had a fine record for Lancashire, but apparently never turned the ball at all.


Among the quicker bowlers the best I have overlooked is without doubt Maurice Tate of Sussex and England, while the fastest is equally indubitably Shaun ‘Sloon’ Tait of Australia. Chris Tremlett had his moments for England but cannot truly be described as great, while Josh Tongue of Worcestershire has yet to be called up for England. Patterson Thomson of the West Indies should been the ultimate in terrifying speedsters with a name like that but unfortunately his record tells a different story.


No fewer than three cricketers belong under this subheading for this letter. James Taylor, a batter for Leicestershire was part of the England set up until a medical assessment revealed a heart condition, forcing him to retire as a player. He may well have claimed a place given a clean bill of health.

Maurice Tremlett (grandfather of Chris) had a storybook debut, claiming eight wickets and playing a crucial innings at the death. Unfortunately, well meaning attempts to turn him into a genuine fast bowler ended up destroying his confidence, and within a few years he was playing as a batter who occasionally came on to break up a partnership. Had England been better stocked with fast bowlers when he made that debut he may well have gone on to achieve greatness.

Albert Trott made a sensational start to test cricket in 1894-5, but although his brother Harry was named captain he was left out of the 1896 squad for England, travelled there anyway, signing for Middlesex and being for a couple of years the best all rounder in the world. In 1899 he hit on from Monty Noble clean over the Lord’s pavilion, but persistent attempts to emulate that great hit led to his batting falling away, and then he lost the quicker yorker which had been som important to his success as a bowler. Eventually, alone and impoverished, he shot himself. Had been named in the 1896 Australia squad he may have made an unassailable case for a place in the team.


Our cricketing journey through the letter T is at an end, and all that is left is my usual sign off..

The Smith XI

Inspired by Jamie Smith’s batting at Bristol in the last round of championship games I have selected a team comprised entirely of Smiths (he is twelfth person). Also includes some of my photographs.

This post was inspired by Jamie Smith’s double century for Surrey against Gloucestershire in the last round of county championship fixtures.


For reasons that will become obvious I am including a twelfth person on this occasion.

  1. Graeme Smith (left handed opening batter) – the South African’s record confirms him as one of the finest openers of the modern era. He was also a candidate for the captaincy which I have awarded instead to his opening partner.
  2. *Mike Smith (MJK Smith, right handed opening batter, captain) – The Warwickshire stalwart averaged over 40 in FC cricket.
  3. Robin Smith (right handed batter) – An excellent player of fast bowling but had the gloss taken off his test record when he was found badly wanting against Shane Warne. Still even with the deleterious effect of Warne on his overall record he finished with a test average of 43.
  4. Steven Smith (right handed batter, occasional leg spinner) – The best test batter of the modern era, and possibly his country’s second best ever behind Donald Bradman.
  5. Collie Smith (right handed batter, occasional off spinner) – killed in a road accident at the age of 26 but he had already achieved plenty of note, including scoring 168 in a test innings and racking up a triple century in a Lancashire League game.
  6. Sydney Smith (left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner) – West Indian born but primarily associated with Northamptonshire. He averaged 31 with the bat and 18 with the ball, figures that would probably equate to 46 and 27 on today’s more batting friendly surfaces. Three years after his arrival at Northamptonshire the county finished second in the championship, a position that they are yet to improve on 110 years later.
  7. +Ian Smith (right handed batter, wicket keeper) – A fine keeper and a good enough bat to have test centuries, including a top score of 173.
  8. ‘Big Jim’ Smith (CIJ Smith – right arm fast medium bowler, very aggressive right handed lower order batter) – still holds the record for the quickest 50 scored of genuine bowling, reaching the landmark in 11 minutes (overall innings 66 in 18 minutes). A good enough quick bowler to be selected for England at his peak.
  9. Peter Smith (leg spinner, attacking lower order batter) – his most famous performance came with the bat, for Essex against Derbyshire, when he came in at number 11 and proceeded to smash 163 out of a last wicket stand of 218. That innings helped him to achieve the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches for the first time in his career.
  10. Haydon Smith (right arm fast bowler, right handed tailender) – the Leicestershire quick will form a useful new ball pairing with ‘Big Jim’ in this team.
  11. ‘Razor’ Smith (off spinner, right handed tail ender) – over 1,000 FC wickets at 17.55 a piece. The Surrey and London County player completes a highly dangerous spin trio who all do different things with the ball (of the three Peter Smith the leg spinner is probably the least threatening, but even he took his FC wickets at 26.55 a piece.
  12. Jamie Smith (right handed batter, wicket keeper). The inspiration for this post. His double century at Bristol took his FC average north of 40, but he is not his county’s first choice keeper and I could not leave out Collie Smith to get him into the 11, so for the moment he is twelfthy for this team.


The team has a very strong top five, a genuine all rounder at six, an excellent keeper/ batter at seven, two useful hitters at eight and nine and only two out and out tailenders. The bowling his excellent variety, although it is short in the pace department. I would expect this team to give a good account of itself on most surfaces (only on a green seamer might they be in trouble).


Given the lack of pace bowling I will start with that department. Gloucestershire left armer Mike Smith did not have a good enough record to merit selection, though he was a good county bowler. Warwickshire all rounder Paul Smith, who bowled fast medium, could only have been accommodated had I left out one of Collie or Sydney Smith, and I did not feel that I could drop either to make way for him.

There were two wicket keeping candidates other than Ian Smith, both with Warwickshire connections – ‘Tiger’ Smith and Alan Smith.

Off spinner Neil Smith, for all that he was briefly an England cricketer, was not of the same calibre as the spinners I have selected. Had Sydney Smith not had an ironclad case for inclusion as an all rounder I might have included a female in the shape of left arm spinner Linsey Smith.

Chris Smith might have had the opening slot I awarded to MJK. David Smith (Surrey, Worcs, Sussex, picked for the 1986 tour of the Caribbean) was a good county player but not (in spite of the fact that he attended a previous incarnation of my own secondary school) good enough to qualify for selection.

Finally, I deliberately did not pick the guy known in his Cambridge days as ‘Smith’ – KS Duleepsinhji, because I would have considered it hypocritical to avail myself of this “cheat code” given my own condemnation of the conduct of a certain county at which a senior overseas pro was referred to as ‘Steve’ by folk who weren’t prepared to pronounce his real name.


My usual sign off…

Channel Islands 3: A Day on Guernsey

An account of a full day on Guernsey as part of my series on my recent holiday.

Welcome to the latest post in this series about my recent holiday (I am now back in Lynn, so these posts will be coming less sporadically). This post covers the one full day we spent on Guernsey en route to Alderney.


On the Saturday evening, having established ourselves at St Georges Guest House, roughly a kilometre from the centre of St Peter Port, we went out to find a restaurant to eat at. We settled on a French establishment, and the food and drink were both excellent.

Castle Cornet

The following morning we walked out to Castle Cornet, purchasing food at an M&S Food Hall on the way. We ate near a lighthouse, which I subsequently walked out to – it was very windy around the lighthouse but worth it for the views.


There was a wildlife photography exhibition at the Guernsey Museum as well as some stuff on the history of the island.

Championship Performances of Promise

A look at some of the more important success stories from this round of county championship games and a bumper crop of photographs.

As this round of county championship matches heads towards its conclusion (three are already settled – congratulations to Essex, Gloucestershire and Hampshire on their wins) I highlight several performances of potential interest to England.

While Ollie Pope dominated Surrey’s massive total against Leicestershire with his 245 there were also useful runs for Jamie Smith (119) and far more significantly for Ben Foakes (87), who should feature as England’s test wicket keeper.

For Leicestershire, Hassan Azad, mentioned as a candidate for an opening berth (Burns remains under some scrutiny after his winter, and Sibley is injured and may not be fit for the first test, while Lammonby is struggling horrendously after a fine start to his FC career) made a century in the first innings and is well on the way to doubling up. As things stand at the moment he is averaging 44.84 in FC cricket, while playing his 31st match at that level.

In the west country derby Ryan Higgins had a fine match, and with there being a possible vacancy for an all rounder with Stokes injured and Woakes playing in the IPL that could prove significant. Of more definite significance is the performance of James Bracey – a century and an 82 not out in the second innings. He has been part of the England set up but has yet to play a test match.

Finally, Matt Parkinson for Lancashire has produced a good bowling performance. He took 3-49 in the first innings, including a pretty good impression of the ‘Gatting ball’ and already has 2-23 in the second as Lancashire press for victory (Northamptonshire can do no better than a draw from here). His five wickets in this match have taken his bowling average in FC cricket below 25 (currently 67 wickets at 24.42). He remains #2 to Leach among current England spinners, although he is now paying less per wicket than Leach in FC cricket, because Leach has over 300 wickets to his credit at FC level and is faring respectably at test level, but he may well be earning himself a trip to Australia as an accredited member of the party rather than a ‘reserve’ as was over the winter just gone.

Oliver Edward Robinson of Sussex, definitely a candidate for elevation, has just recorded innings figures of 9-78, giving him 13-128 in the match. If England want five bowling options, Higgins at seven, Robinson at eight, one out and out speedster, Leach and one of Broad/ Anderson could work well, Higgins and Robinson have decent batting credentials.


I have lots of photographs to share with you…

All Time XIs – Somerset

Originally posted on aspiblog:
INTRODUCTION Welcome to the latest installment in my “All Time XIs” series. Today we are looking at Somerset. In the course of our journey we will meet heroes of the past, stars of the present, a couple of hopes for the future and the man who when I get round to…

When I created this post OTD last year Bess was riding high and having felt it necessary to exclude Leach I hoped he would continue to go well and justify my faith in him. Not helped by some mismanagement over the winter he has gone backwards since then, and I would remove him from the XI and replace him with Brian Langford, who took 1410 wickets at 24.79 in 510 first class appearances. Thus the revised XI is Trescothick, Gimblett, Palairet, Hildreth, Braund, *Woods, Botham, Garner, Langford, White, +Luckes. I also have some new photos to show…



Welcome to the latest installment in my “All Time XIs” series. Today we are looking at Somerset. In the course of our journey we will meet heroes of the past, stars of the present, a couple of hopes for the future and the man who when I get round to creating it will be captain of the “What Might Have Been XI”.


  1. Marcus Trescothick – left handed opener who scored stacks of runs in his long and distinguished career. He was selected for England against the West Indies in 2000, showed masses of character in surviving an early onslaught from the veteran pacers Ambrose and Walsh, going on to score 66 on debut. That same winter facing the very different challenges posed by a dry pitch and some crafty spinners in Sri Lanka he made his maiden test hundred. Runs continued to…

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Brathwaite Ends Lean Spell

A look at developments in #WIvSL, some remarkable footage of a volcanic eruption (courtesy of Science girl on twitter), and my latest photographs.

In this post I look at developments in the game between West Indies and Sri Lanka that is just into its second day.


With the West Indies batting first and looking to improve on the draw they recorded in the first game of the series Sri Lanka bowled very well. Veteran seamer Suranga Lakmal was particularly effective, bowling full and just a fraction wide (even in limited overs cricket the umpires would not have been calling wides – he was targetting the area that bowlers like to call ‘fourth stump’) to take three of the first four wickets. For much of the day it seemed that Brathwaite would simply not find anyone to bat well enough with him for the Windies to post a decent total, but then Rahkeem Cornwall, the off spinner who has a decent first class record as lower order batter, set about proving that his maiden test fifty, recorded in the previous match, was no fluke. By the close West Indies had got to 287-7, Brathwaite 99 not out, Cornwall 43 not out.


It took one ball of the second day, which is just under way, for Brathwaite to complete his ton with a single, and Cornwall has subsequently got to 50. After three overs of the second day the West Indies are 299-7, Brathwaite 101 not out, Cornwall 53 not out. Lakmal is bowling at one end and left armer Vishwa Fernando at the other, and Cornwall has just brought up the 300 with a two off the latter, taking himself to 55.


Someone who posts on twitter under the name Science Girl has posted some extraordinary footage from Iceland, where volcanic eruptions have been happening lately. You can visit the tweet by clicking here, and the video is embedded below:


My usual sign off, with as evidence of changing seasons (the sun came out today and it has been genuinely warm here in Norfolk) my first butterfly sightings of 2021 – nothing very exotic, just some tortoiseshells.

As I publish the West Indies have still not lost any further wickets, the score being 302-7 after 92 overs.

Looking Ahead to India v England

I look at England’s options ahead of the series in India which gets underway on Friday, with a particular focus on spin.

Before I get into the main meat of this post, a note on the coverage of this series: radio commentary is in the hands of talksport2, which means a less good commentary team than if TMS had the rights, while TMS will be running what they call a ‘cricket social’, which does not work anything like as well as commentary, and for TV fans the big news is that UK broadcasting rights have gone to Channel Four, the first time since 2005 that a terrestrial broadcaster has had such rights in this country. Radio coverage (the way I will be following the action) begins at 3:45AM on Friday our time, with the first ball scheduled to bowled at 4:00AM.


Rory Burns is back from paternity leave, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are both available after missing the Sri Lanka tour, and the spin situation remains in flux. Burns will open with Sibley, with Crawley reverting to the number three slot from which he hit 267 against Pakistan not so long ago. Root will be at four. England seem to be being absolutely rigid in their rotation policy re Anderson and Broad, so his heroics in the second match in Galle notwithstanding Anderson is likely to be on the sidelines for this match. The most likely top six given continuing uncertainty over Pope’s shoulder, although he is with the tour party, would seem to be: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root, Stokes, Lawrence. Foakes is finally going to get another chance with the gloves, although probably not until match 2, with Buttler available this time, and that leaves the bowling to sort out. England will probably select two spinners given that the pitch at Chepauk Stadium, Chennai will take spin late in the game, which almost certainly means that Archer will be paired with Broad to take the new ball, though I would personally retain Anderson rather than be quite so dogmatic about the rotation policy with the veterans. This leaves the spinners to sort out.


Current incumbents Jack Leach and Dominic Bess each had their good moments in Sri Lanka but each also looked innocuous at times, and Bess in particular struggled to keep things tight enough when nothing was happening as he bowled too many loose balls. Amar Virdi and Matt Parkinson are in India, officially as reserves, and also in India is Moeen Ali, a man in his middle thirties whose record (60 test matches, batting average 29, bowling average 37) is that of someone who is not up to the task in either department. There have been rumblings about a test recall for him, including an article published on the usually sensible Full Toss blog making what was supposed to be the case for his recall. Whatever the right answer to England’s spinning woes is it is not selecting an ageing mediocrity such as Moeen Ali. I expect that the selectors will persevere with Leach and Bess, but myself, for all that it makes the England lower order look a bit shaky I would be inclined to promote Parkinson (leg spin, FC average 25.22) from the reserves to partner Leach, with off spin if it is deemed necessary being bowled by either Lawrence or Root (skipper, please not the order in which I have listed these two options!). In the longer haul, rather than looking backwards to Moeen Ali, England need to look forwards, and in addition to Parkinson I suggest that Virdi, Liam Patterson-White and Daniel Moriarty as being worthy of attention, with Simon Harmer, now eligible for England, being considered as a stop gap solution so long as he accepts coaching younger spinners as part of his England duties. I might also consider whether Sophie Ecclestone’s left arm spin could prove as effective among the men as it has in the women’s game. Looking to the future, left arm spinning all rounder Lewis Goldsworthy will be worth keeping an eye on. Finally, England might not struggle so much to find spinners if counties who produced turning pitches did not find themselves the subject of sanctions from the ECB.


I offer in infographic form two XIs for the match starting on Friday, the one I think we will actually see, and the one I would pick from those available:


Just a few pics today:

Italian Holiday – Setting The Scene

Starting a new series about the holiday I have recently returned from, and also using the new editor for the first time (please comment on how you think my efforts have worked out).

It is a while since I last posted, and I am using the new wordpress editor for the first time. I am also starting a new series, having just been to Italy for a family holiday arranged to celebrate my parents golden wedding anniversary. This post will set the scene for an account of the whole holiday.


Due to Covid-19 and associated restrictions we did not know until very close to the planned departure time whether the trip could go ahead. With the holiday due to span 2-11 September inclusive (10th being the actual day), it was only on August 24th that we knew for certain that it was going ahead. I had to abandon a plan to travel to Italy by train as that would have meant passing through France which was clearly not on in the circumstances. Thus I found myself booked on a flight due to leave Heathrow late on the morning of September 3rd, and with a night to spend at one of the hotels serving the airport. I would be arriving back late on September 11th.


All went smoothly with final preparations and I was able catch the 11:44 from King’s Lynn to London King’s Cross. I had a bit of a wait at King’s Cross for a Piccadilly line train to Heathrow, but no serious issues. I managed to locate one of the places from which the Hoppa bus to the hotel could be caught, and my parents arrived at the same location while I was waiting for the right bus to arrive. Checking in at the hotel involved a degree of confusion, but eventually we were all settled in our rooms for the night.


We arrived at the airport in very good time for our flights, check in was accomplished with little fuss, and although there was a delay going through security, as my carry on bag was selected for a search, we were still had plenty of time. We had an excellent breakfast at the airport. The flight ran to time and we got through Fiumicino Airport with little trouble, and met up with the driver who was taking us to our accommodation in Rome where we were staying for four nights before moving on to Tivoli for another four nights including the main event.


We were dropped close to the flat we were staying in, and had to find various keys to get in, which we managed OK. After offloading our bags and changing into clothing more suitable for Italy we did some exploring of our environs.

The last picture above is a shot of the Castel Sant’Angelo, which was very close to where we were staying in Rome. I end this post with a video showing the waterfall that was the chief landmark viewable from the villa we stayed in for the second. I hope that this, my first post using the new editor has worked well for all of you.

Cricket and Weather

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


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 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.


  • 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.


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.


My usual sign off…

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