World T20 Semi-Final Line Ups Complete

A look at the semi-finalists at the T20 World Cup, my team of the tournament and some photographs.

We now know who will be contesting the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in the UAE. This post looks at the routes the four teams took to reach the SF stage and names an XI of the tournament.

ENGLAND DOMINANT UNTIL THEIR FINAL GAME

England won their first four games, and did so comfortably, accruing a massive net RR of +3.183 in the process. Their last game was against South Africa, third in the group, yesterday. In yesterday’s first game Australia had comfortably beaten West Indies, which meant they were well placed to qualify. South Africa needed a big win to qualify. South Africa batted first and did the first bit very well indeed, scoring 189-2 from their 20 overs. That left England needing 87 to qualify, 106 to top the group, 131 to eliminate South Africa and 190 to make it five wins from five. England went for the win, and went into the 20th over of their innings with a chance of pulling it off. Liam Livingstone hit the longest six of the tournament along the way, a 112 metre monstrosity of a hit. The first three balls of the 20th killed England’s hopes stone dead, as three successive batters holed out to boundary fielders, giving Rabada one of the more bizarre hat tricks ever seen in top level cricket (Charles Townsend’s 1899 effort for Gloucestershire v Somerset, when all three victims were stumped by keeper WH Brain is also noteworthy in this department). SA emerged victorious by 10 runs, but had not quite done enough, and found themselves knocked out in spite of winning four of their five group games, including beating the group winners (England). Australia went through in second place.

THE OTHER GROUP

The second group comprised India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Scotland and Namibia. This morning and very early afternoon UK time New Zealand took on Afghanistan, with India also having a mathematical chance of qualifying, should Afghanistan win by a small margin and then India beat Namibia tomorrow. In the event, with the exception of Najibullah Zadran (73 off 48 balls), no Afghan batter could get going and they posted a modest 124-8. NZ were never in serious trouble against so modest a target, and got home off the first ball of the 18th, confirming their SF place and India’s elimination. This is a case of cricketing justice being done and seen to be done – NZ had won four of their five matches, and had they lost someone would have been qualifying with three wins out of five when a team in the other group went home with four out of five. Pakistan are just starting their last group match against Scotland, in a bid to be the only team to record a 100% win record at the Super 12 stage. India have been the biggest disappointment of this tournament, succumbing tamely to massive defeats at the hands of Pakistan (ten wickets) and New Zealand (a mere eight wickets, but more time in hand than Pakistan had had). It is possibly also significant that their most commanding batting performance saw skipper Kohli, one the 21st century’s greatest batters, not bat at all. Kohli’s last international century in any format was scored almost exactly two years, and it maybe that an outstanding career is approaching its close.

THOMAS’S TOURNAMENT XI

Before giving more details, my team in batting order:

+Jos Buttler (Eng, RHB, WK)
*Babar Azam (Pak, RHB, captain)
Charith Asalanka (SL, LHB, occ OS)
Aiden Markram (SA, RHB, occ OS)
Asif Ali (Pak, RHB, RMF)
Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva (SL,LS, RHB)
Chris Woakes (Eng, RHB, RFM)
Mark Watt (Sco, SLA, LHB)
Anrich Nortje (SA, RF, RHB)
Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pak, LF, LHB)
Tabraiz Shamsi (SA, LWS, RHB)

12th: Liam Livingstone (Eng, RHB, LS/OS)

There were three players contending for two opening slots, and I would not argue with those who went for the proven combination of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, but on any honest reckoning Buttler has been the best opener on show in this tournament, scoring both heavily and very fast.

My choice for number three has really announced himself during this tournament, showing serious talent (anyone who can whip an Anrich Nortje delivery over midwicket for six as he did against SA is a heck of a player).

Aiden Markram has had a superb tournament, and like the rest of his team is entitled to consider himself unlucky to not be still involved. As well as his batting he has been useful with the ball for SA.

Asif Ali is there just in case the team finds itself in a tight finish, in which situation he is a virtual cheat code.

Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva has been one of the stars of the tournament, batting well in the middle order and being devastating with his leg spin.

Chris Woakes has been very important to England’s success in this tournament to date, and it is noteworthy that England’s sole loss saw him have a poor game.

Mark Watt has been for me the Associate Nations Player of the Tournament, taking wickets in every match to date, and generally being very economical. He has also played one crucial innings, when he helped to rescue his side from 56-6 against Bangladesh.

Anrich Nortje has been consistently excellent with the ball, testing all his opponents to the fullest.

Shaheen Shah Afridi has been outstanding with his left arm pace. This place was a toss up between him and Trent Boult, who plays the same role for NZ (Mitchell Starc of Australia has not had his finest tournament) but I have gone for Afridi for his extra pace.

Tabraiz Shamsi is the best bowler of his type in the world, and has managed to enhance an already considerable reputation in the course of this tournament.

Liam Livingstone gets the 12th man slot because he covers lots of bases – he can spin the ball either way and is a ferocious batter.

This team has a stellar top four, a cheat code finisher, two magnificent all rounders of very different types and four wonderfully contrasting specialist bowlers. There are runs aplenty in this line up, and a mouthwatering array of bowling options. I regret not being able to find a place for any of the Aussies, but none has been definitively the best in the tournament in their role.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

A Look at The T20 World Cup

A look at the T20 World Cup, in which there have been some interesting developments, a gesture of solidarity to the folk of Wisbech, a massive open letter and photographs.

The T20 World Cup in the UAE is developing very interestingly, and this post looks at some of the developments.

ENGLAND DOMINATING THEIR GROUP

England have won all three games they have had so far, and have a huge positive net run rate (+3.694, the biggest in either group). They are in action today against Sri Lanka, and are batting first, which is tricky in the UAE, but as Afghanistan have shown twice this tournament it can be done that way. On Saturday they inflicted a body blow on Australia, winning by eight wickets with exactly 50 balls to spare. South Africa almost came unstuck against Sri Lanka but David Miller rescued them when they needed 15 off the last over to win, and they are well placed to take second spot behind England and with it a semi-final berth.

A 2+ WAY SCRAP FOR SECOND PLACE IN THE OTHER GROUP

Pakistan, with three wins from three, are almost sure to top this group, and they have been mightily impressive. They nearly came unstuck against Afghanistan, but with 24 needed off two overs Asif Ali struck four sixes in the penultimate over, bowled by Karim Janat, to take Pakistan over the line.

Second place in the group just about has three contenders, but the third of them are hanging on by a thread. New Zealand beat India by eight wickets yesterday, with a lot of time to spare, which leaves India winless from two games (they went down by ten wickets against Pakistan in their first game), but with their three theoretically easiest opponents to come. Their net run rate is a disastrous -1.609. NZ have won one game out of two, and the big hurdle for them will be Afghanistan – if they win their remaining games they qualify for sure, but defeat against Afghanistan probably finishes them, since while their net RR is respectable at +0.752, Afghanistan’s is a whopping +3.097, due to the fact that beat Scotland by 130 runs and Namibia by 62 runs. Afghanistan almost certainly qualify if they beat either India or NZ, and even two defeats won’t definitely doom them because if NZ or India come unstuck against one of the minor nations that net RR will come to their rescue. My reading of this group is that NZ are the most likely second place team, Afghanistan second most likely, and India while not out of it are in the last chance saloon with last orders having been called.

BOWLERS MAKING THEIR PRESENCE FELT

There is a good contest brewing between Anrich Nortje (SA) and Haris Rauf (Pakistan) for who can bowl the quickest ball of the tournament – both have been significantly above 150KPH. At the moment Nortje just leads the way on 153.5 KPH (95.5MPH). The next most notable performer among the pacers has been Pakistan left armer Shaheen Shah Afridi who has caused everyone problems.

Afghanistan have two top quality spinners, Rashid Khan (leg spin) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (off spin), and they left Qais Ahmed behind. South Africa have Tabraiz Shamsi (left arm wrist spin), Sri Lanka have leg spinning all rounder Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva who has done the hat trick during this tournament and the young off spinner Maheesh Theekshana. New Zealand have Ish Sodhi (leg spin) and Mitchell Santner (left arm orthodox) who were each allowed to go at less than five an over by India yesterday.

A T20XI FROM BEFORE THE T20 ERA

I am allowing myself one “given man” – a single player in the XI who has actually played T20. I have allowed myself four overseas players, treating this as a franchise type selection. Following these rules this is what I came up with:

  1. G St A Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket.
  2. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  4. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper.
  5. Clem Hill – left handed batter.
  6. *Tony Greig – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, off spinner.
  7. Alan Davidson – left arm fast medium bowler, left handed batter.
  8. Rashid Khan – leg spinner, right handed batter.
  9. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed lower order batter.
  11. Alfred Shaw – right arm slow medium bowler, right handed lower order batter.

This XI features a strong batting line up with a good mix of left and right handers (the top seven, who are expected to almost all the scoring feature four left handers – Sobers, Woolley, Hill and Davidson; and three right handers – Jessop (the quickest scorer in the game’s history), Ames (winner of the Lawrence trophy for fastest FC hundred of the season twice in its first three years, sandwiching his Kent team mate Woolley) and Greig. Ames as keeper is top bracket – the “keepers double” of 1,000 FC runs and 100FC dismissals for the season was achieved four times, once by JT Murray of Middlesex and three times by Ames. The bowling has an awesome range of options, with only Ames and Hill not able to contribute in this department.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

A few years back we in King’s Lynn fought off plans to plant an incinerator on us. Now, with COP26 just getting under way, another fenland town, Wisbech, is facing the threat of an incinerator. More about this is available here.

Also COP related, there is a massive open letter to presented to the folk at COP26, which you can read and sign here.

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

The Follow On

A look at a subject that has been brought back into the news by events in the current Afghanistan v Zimbabwe test match: the follow on and whether or not to enforce it.

In this post I look at the question of whether or not to enforce the follow on. This is prompted by match that is still just in progress between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, in which Zimbabwe have just avoided an innings defeat after Afghanistan chose to enforce the follow on.

A POTTED HISTORY
OF THE FOLLOW ON

The follow on is a method by which a team batting second who finish their first innings a certain margin behind their opponents can be made to bat again straight away. At first at was compulsory, though the exact margins varied. In the early days of test cricket the required advantage was 80 runs, and on one occasion a first innings score of 172 was enough for England to beat Australia by an innings. That was increased to 100, then 120, and then 150. In the 1890s there were instances of fielding sides deliberately giving away runs so that they would not have to enforce the follow on and that led eventually to it becoming a choice as to whether it would be enforced or not.

THE FOLLOW ON IN ACTION

At Sydney in 1894 when it was still compulsory to enforce the follow on England came back from a 261 run first innings deficit to win by 10 runs. However, two players who made useful contributions for England in their second innings 437, Ford (48) and Briggs (42) benefitted from dreadful dropped catches, and George Giffen made the mistake of not attempting to push the scoring rate along on the fifth evening of a timeless match. Overnight rain coupled with a strong Sydney sun then turned the pitch into a minefield on which left arm spinners Peel (6-67) and Briggs were basically unplayable.

At Headingley in 1981, by when it long been a choice of whether to enforce the follow on or not Australia were again victims of an astonishing come back by England. Richie Benaud, former Aussie skipper turned commentator, fully endorsed Kim Hughes’ decision to send England back in, and there would not have been many doubters when England were 41-4 and later 135-7, still 92 adrift, in that second innings. Even with Botham, Dilley and Old all making significant contributions England only had 130 to defend in the final innings, and when Australia were 56-1 just before lunch on the final day there still would not have been many questioning Hughes’ decision. At that point Bob Willis was given the ball at the Kirkstall Lane End for a last ditch spell to revive his test career. Trevor Chappell could only fend a bouncer into the hands of keeper Bob Taylor, Kim Hughes fell to fine slip catch by Botham and right on the stroke of lunch Yallop was caught by Gatting at forward short leg to make it 58-4. This little clatter to end the morning session was crucial as it gave the Australians a lunch interval to contemplate the fact that for the first time in the match defeat was a real possibility. When Border, Dyson, Marsh and Lawson all fell rapidly after lunch Australia were 75-8 and definitely second favourites. Lillee and Bright smacked 35 in four overs in a final twist to the tale, but then Lillee mistimed a drive and fell to a running, diving catch by Gatting, and a perfect middle stump yorker from Willis accounted for Bright to give England victory by 18 runs.

The third occasion that a test match was lost by a side who enforced the follow on was at Kolkata in 2001, and on that occasion the three heroes were VVS Laxman (281 not out), Rahul Dravid (180) and Harbhajan Singh who bowled Australia out in their second innings. That remains the sum total of test matches lost by a team enforcing the follow on.

One test match has been lost by a team declining to enforce – Australia vs South Africa, when Australia were rolled for 99 in their second innings and SA chased the target down. Frank Woolley in “King of Games” cites an example at first class level, a game he was involved in. Warwickshire, captained by Frank Foster, declined to send Kent in again and Kent’s two left arm spinners, Blythe and Woolley himself each took 5-8 as Warwickshire were bowled out for 16. Kent chased the target down without over much difficulty. Other occasions when sides have come unstuck in the third as opposed to fourth innings of matches include Derbyshire v Essex 1904 when Essex managed just 97 in the third innings, precisely 500 fewer than they had achieved in the first and Derbyshire won by nine wickets, and Lancashire against Warwickshire in 1982, when a sea fret at Southport enabled Les MacFarlane to record a career best 6-59 with his swingers as Warwickshire followed a first innings 523-4 declared (Humpage 254, Kallicharran 230 not out) with 111 all out, and Lancashire won by ten wickets.

TWO RECENT EXAMPLES

In the first match of the recent India v England series England had the opportunity to enforce the follow-on (current margin required is 200, enforcement is voluntary) after India had responded to their 578 with a modest 334. Joe Root chose not to so, and for me he was right, as the pitch was showing signs of deterioration and there was enough time left in the game to build a big lead and bowl India out a second time. The opportunity nearly arose for India in the second game, and again it would have been folly for them to enforce it in the circumstances.

We now come to Afghanistan v Zimbabwe, which series is taking place in the United Arab Emirates (for reasons that should be obvious Afghanistan cannot stage home matches at present). Going into the current match Zimbabwe are one up in the series having won the opener. Afghanistan posted 545-4 declared in their first innings, Hashmatullah Shahidi becoming the first Afghan to score a test double century (200 not out), and Asghar Afghan scoring 164. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 287 in their first innings. With the game already deep into the third of five scheduled days and needing a win Afghanistan enforced the follow on. When Zimbabwe were 142-7, still 116 adrift few would have been questioning that call, but Sean Williams and Donald Tiripano have shown impressive fight, adding 124 so far and getting Zimbabwe to the close of day four on 266-7, an advantage of eight. If Zimbabwe can conjure up another 120 against bowler’s who have had a night’s rest they might make things interesting. However, this does not reflect on the decision to enforce the follow on, which I consider every bit as correct as Root’s decision not to do so against India in Chennai. It would be a poor batting performance to collapse in the face of a target of 130, and if any decision the Afghans have made would be open to question it would be the first innings declaration rather than pushing on past 600.

TO ENFORCE OR NOT TO ENFORCE? THAT IS THE Q

The answer is: it depends on the circumstances. If there is lots of time left in the game and the pitch seems likely to misbehave later then it can make sense not to enforce. Also, if it is the final match of a series and a draw will be sufficient then there is a case for not enforcing as it is slightly less unlikely that you will lose outright if you don’t enforce (though defeat with that kind of lead is rare anyway). If however you are a match down and it is already quite late in the game (the Afghanistan situation) then failing to enforce would be an act of arrant folly. Overall I would say that one should be inclined to enforce, and that there should be a strong reason, as there was in Chennai, for doing otherwise.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Not inappropriately for a post in which a team who could be considered the wrens of the test cricket world have featured so prominently today’s usual sign off is headed by the first wren I have seen in 2021…

All Time XIs – The Minor Nations

Today is ‘international Monday’ in my all time XI cricket series, and I honour some of the finest cricketers to hail from countries who do not dine at cricket’s top table.

INTRODUCTION

Today is Monday, and our ‘all time XI’ series of cricket posts usually covers an international set up on that day. Today varies the theme by acknowledging various countries who have produced the odd fine player but never a top ranking team. Some of the countries from whom I have selected players have or have had test match status, others aspire to such. I have included one player who actually did play for a major nation over a century before the land of his birth gained test status. The two XIs I have selected are named after their captains.

SHAKIB AL HASAN’S XI

  1. Freddie Fane – right handed opening batter. He played for and captained England in the early part of the 20th century, his international highlight being an innings of 143 against South Africa during the 1905-6 series. He was born in Ireland and is proof that that country has been producing talented cricketers for a long time. He is part of the select group of people to have read their own obituary – his cousin Francis Luther Fane – same initials, middle name and surname, had died, and somebody dug out the wrong obituary. Other members of this club include Mark Twain (“reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”)
  2. Tamim Iqbal – left handed opening batter. A man who currently averages 38.64 at test level, probably the classiest batter that Bangladesh have yet produced. Bangladesh’s elevation to test rank came too soon for them, and their record shows this only too clearly. They may eventually become a force to be reckoned with.
  3. *Shakib Al Hasan – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. I have awarded him the no3 slot from where he had such a marvellous 2019 World Cup. He is currently serving a suspension for failing to report an unathorised approach from a bookmaker, but there is no suggestion that he has actually been involved in any sort of fixing, he appears to have accepted his punishment with good grace, and he had done enough before his fall from grace to earn his place.
  4. Andrew Flower – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. The only Zimbabwean to ever be ranked world no 1 batter, he averaged over 50 in test cricket. He subsequently had a very successful career as coach, including guiding England to the world no 1 test ranking, a position they achieved in 2011.
  5. Steve Tikolo – left handed batter, occasional off spinner. His country, Kenya, have never had test status, but they rank fairly high in ODI cricket. Tikolo’s first class average of 48 is far in excess of his record in short form cricket, and suggests someone with the class and the temperament to succeed at the highest level.
  6. Alec O’Riordan right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. His first class record looks modest, but his mere 25 appearances at that level were spread across 15 years. He was the first, and for many years, the only person to have both scored 2,000 runs and taken 200 wickets for Ireland. His finest hour came at Sion Mills in 1969, when he combined with his skipper Doug Goodwin to dismiss the West Indies for 25 (and 13 of those runs came for the last wicket!) Ireland overhauled this total for the loss of one wicket, declared later in the day and took a few more West Indies wickets, Goodwin finishing with match figures of 7-7. It was scheduled to be a one innings per side match, so the result appears in the book as Ireland beat West Indies by nine wickets – everything that happened after Ireland had reached 26 was merely to give the crowd their money’s worth.
  7. +Mushfiqur Rahim – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He averages 36.77 in test cricket and is excellent behind the stumps. If a world XI of current test players was being picked he would be in the mix for the gloves – BJ Watling of New Zealand also has a good claim, and were he the incumbent Ben Foakes of England would be there as well.
  8. Mehidy Hasan – off spinner, right handed batter. Another Bangladeshi, and provenly capable of match winning performances – just ask England.
  9. Bart King – right arm fast bowler, right handed batter. The greatest cricketer ever produced by the US. His 415 first class wickets came at 15.66 each, and he also averaged 20 with the bat. He was one of the pioneers of swing bowling. At one time, thanks to the efforts of King and his fellow Philadelphians the US was not all that far from test match status. WG Grace toured North America in 1872-3 and was favourably impressed, though he expected bigger things from the Canadians than from the US.
  10. Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. He has already experienced some success in the test arena (23 wickets at 21 each in four matches) although most of the cricket he plays is short form – I would applaud any county who had the courage to offer him a contract as their official overseas player for a whole season. He is the finest talent to emerge from Afghanistan to date, although as we shall see not the only one.
  11. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza – right arm fast medium bowler. He went on a little too long at the top, but in his prime he was decidedly sharp, and remains the best pace bowler to have come from Bangladesh.

This team has a solid batting line up, two genuine all rounders, a top keeper who can bat and lots of variety in the bowling: Right arm pace from King and Mortaza, left arm pace from O’Riordan, leg spin from Rashid Khan, off spin from Mehidy Hasan and left arm orthodox spin from Shakib Al Hasan.

MURRAY GOODWIN’S XI

  1. Jeremy Bray – left handed opening batter. He was of that generation who put Ireland firmly on the cricketing map but for whom test cricket came just too late. Am average of 52 in first class cricket suggests that he would have fared well at test level.
  2. Hazratullah Zazai – left handed opening batter. A first class average of 38, yet to get his chance in the test arena. His aggressive approach should complement the more old school approach of Bray nicely.
  3. Dave Houghton – right handed batter. One of Zimbabwe’s best, he once scored 266 in a test match, and averaged 43 in that form of the game.
  4. Mominul Haque – left handed batter. One of the few Bangladeshis to average over 40 in test cricket.
  5. *Murray Goodwin – right handed batter, captain. He played for Zimbabwe, once scoring a century against England in a test match. He retired early from international cricket, and proceeded to churn out bucketloads of runs for Sussex, including a county record 335 not out which secured them their first county championship (a feat they repeated twice in the following three seasons).
  6. Manjural Islam Rana – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He died in a road accident at the age of 23, but even at that young age he was averaging 36.26 with the bat and 25.97 with the ball in first class cricket – figures that suggest that had he survive Bangladesh may have had two Shakib Al Hasan type cricketers available to them.
  7. +Niall O’Brien – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Ireland’s elevation to test status came too late for him, but a first class batting average of 35.51 and 540 dismissals in 176 matches are some testament to his skill.
  8. Heath Streak – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. Zimbabwe’s finest test bowler, with 216 wickets at 28 each at that level. He played county cricket for Warwickshire, once combining a half century with a 13 wicket match haul.
  9. Dawlat Zadranright arm fast medium bowler. So far the only pace bowler of indisputable class to have come out of Afghanistan.
  10. Sandeep Lamichhane – leg spinner. Almost all his cricket has been played over limited overs, but his record in both List A and T20 is outstanding, and I would love to see him gain first class experience – I would applaud any county who signed him as their official overseas player. Nepal are not currently in the running for test status, and it takes a lot more than one player to make a case. Bangladesh and Ireland have both suffered from mistimed promotions – in Ireland’s case the promotion was confirmed just as the generation who had really earned it were bowing out, while Bangladesh’s came without sufficient scrutiny of their domestic structure. On overseas players I would add that is unlikely that a top player from really top ranking nation will be available for a whole season as they will have other commitments, and I would prefer a calculated gamble on a youngster who may well improve such as Rashid Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane or indeed the chap I will be mentioning next to the signing of someone who is established as not quite being top drawer. I would also say that an overseas player should not be signed just to tick that particular box – one should be certain they are bringing something to the squad that is not already available.
  11. Zahir Khan – left arm wrist spinner. We end with another Afghan (not be confused with Zaheer Khan, the Indian former left arm quick bowler), and another who has had little exposure to long form cricket and is still well and truly young enough to learn. Afghanistan’s promotion to test status appears to have been managed very well, and they recorded a victory in their second game at that level, the earliest time of such an achievement since 1877, when Australia won the first ever test match and England the second. Although they were winless in the 2019 World Cup they had their moments along the way, and I shall not be unduly surprised if in years to come we see an Afghanistan side that is truly a force to be reckoned with.

This side has a solid top six including a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. There is no front line off spin option, but there are three very distinctive and different styles of spin represented. Heath Streak and Dawlat Zadran should make a good new ball pairing.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has produced a brilliant diagram comparing outdated beliefs about money with modern understandings of the same. I urge you to view the full post in its original setting by clicking on the screenshot below.

OB v NU

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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I ventured out for a walk today, taking good care to go nowhere that might be crowded, and got some good pics along the way.

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A ladybird and…

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…what I believe to a species of shieldbug

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The lavender is in full bloom outside my bungalow, which means lots of bees..

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…and other pollinators – this one from the wings and eyes is a tyoe of fly that has evolved to resemble a wasp.

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Back home, and the weather which had started cloudy cleared (I started today in trousers and jumper, and the clearing of the weather has seen that change into shorts and t-shirt).

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Minor Nations
The teams in tabulated form.

World Cup Hotting Up

Some more thoughts about the 2019 cricket world cup/

INTRODUCTION

Bangladesh and Afghanistan are in action today in the cricket world cup, and following several interesting results and very tight games over the last few days there is more riding on this game than would have been expected.

THE PERMUTATIONS

Afghanistan are definitely not going to qualify for the next stage, since they are without a win so far, but a win for them would make their presence at the world cup harder to argue with (I firmly believe that they should be here, and that the tournament should have involved more teams in any case – see here). If Bangladesh win they will give themselves a serious chance of qualifying for the next stage, which in turn would give tomorrow’s match between international cricket’s two oldest foes – England and Australia – even more of a needle match than it already would be.

Bangladesh were put in and made 262-8 from their 50 overs, a gettable total, but Afghanistan are not the best chasers – they muffed a chase of barely 200 against Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament. I am not sure whether an outsider making the last four or the lowest ranked team in the tournament recording a win means more, but either situation has plenty going for it. Whichever happens it can be said to be one in the eye for the myopic ones who openly resent the presence of lesser ranking teams (there are still a few of these around sadly). Yesterday there was a fine finish to New Zealand v West Indies, when a magnificent innings by Carlos Brathwaite nearly pulled the game out of the fire for the Windies.

After some poor weather threatened to spoil it this world cup is now shaping up very well. I continue to maintain that more teams should be involved – these tournaments should be used to grow the game, and a tournament with “world” in its title should be truly global (as for an American-only championship being called “The World Series”, that is just beneath contempt).

PICTURES

My usual sign off, this time in several parts…

NEW PURCHASES

James and Sons recently held an auction at which I won three lots…

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Lot 293 (two pics)

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Lot 416 (four images)

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Lot 446

HUNSTANTON BEACH HUT

NAS West Norfolk hired the Mencap beach hut at Hunstanton for the day, and I was given a lift (thank you Rick and Emma)…

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BEES AND BUTTERFLIES

I have lavender growing outside my front window, and that attracts these creatures in numbers (I think judging by size and appearance that butterflies are Large Tortoiseshells)…

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This is a jay – bringing the number of species of corvids I have seen outside my bungalow to four – rooks, jackdaws and magpies as well.

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An Object Lesson In Two Games

A post inspired by a tweet from former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain.

INTRODUCTION

This post is inspired by a tweet from former England captain Nasser Hussain:

Those who know anything about me can probably guess my answer, but please read on anyway…

CONGRATULATIONS BANGLADESH

Just before getting to the meat of my post I belatedly congratulate Bangladesh for a magnificent seven wicket victory over the West Indies, chasing down 322 with eight and a half overs to spare. Shakib-al-Hasan made a superb century for Bangladesh and masterminded the chase.

NASSER’S TWO GAMES

The England-Afghanistan game featured a brief period of spectacular play, when Eoin Morgan blasted 120 off 46 deliveries, having just had a catch dropped. He shared a partnership with Joe Root worth 189 to which Root contributed 43, while Morgan scored 142 and there were four extras. At The Oval on 1886 W G Grace reached 134 not out by the time his opening partner W H Scotton of Nottinghamshire was out for 34 (two extras meant that this stand was worth 170, which coincidentally was WG’s final score when he was out to make it 216-2), while at Old Trafford in 1981, again against Australia Ian Botham scored 118 while Chris Tavare advanced his score by 28 (three extras meant that this stand was worth 149). Morgan’s amazing spree included 17 sixes, a record in a single innings in any form of international cricket, but precisely because it was so amazing it killed the game as a contest, and long before it had finished the final outcome was very obvious, which meant that the rest of the match lost something.

By contrast, the South Africa – New Zealand game went down to the wire, the latter eventually being seen home by Kane Williamson who hit the second ball of the final over for six to bring up his century and then coolly took a single of the next delivery to complete the job. This was a pulsating contest, commanding full attention all the way through. Its eventual outcome has almost certainly condemned South Africa to an early exit from the tournament.

England – Afghanistan saw 640 runs scored, South Africa – New Zealand only just over 480 and the lower scoring game was definitely the better of the two overall. Also, for all its spectacular qualities I cannot rate Morgan’s innings as high as I do Williamson’s – the latter was a clearly defined matchwinner, whereas England would probably have managed to win even if Morgan had made a blob.

South Africa – New Zealand was the game of the tournament so far, and Kane Williamson’s knock to see the latter home was as far as I am concerned the innings of the tournament to date. Morgan’s performance was spectacular, and wonderful while it lasted but it robbed that match of much interest by ending it as a contest before it was half over.

I welcome the fact that this world cup has not been the absolute run fest some predicted, because I continue to believe that at its best cricket is a contest between bat and ball, not a ludicrous spectacle in which bowlers are reduced to mere servants to fulfill the whims of the batters.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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The first pictures in this selection are from Tapping House, where I continue to attend physio sessions – my upper body strength is apparently quite good,

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My birthday present from my fellow NAS West Norfolk committee members – I wonder if anyone had given one of these to Mr Smith or Mr Warner?! (the actual day was May 31st, and for the record it was number 44.

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A few pics from Golding’s in King’s Lynn town centre

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Once a huge eysore the outside if this supermarket has been done up recently,

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My birthday present from my sister.

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A blackbird pays a visit to the feeder.

World Cup Warm Up Matches

Accounts and predictions relating to today’s cricket world cup warm up matches, a health/fitness update and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Two Cricket World Cup Warm Up matches are under way – both at the halfway stage. They form the main part of this post.

WORLD CUP WARM UP MATCHES

There are two games today:

  • South Africa v Sri Lanka South Africa 338-7 from 50 overs.
    A respectable total for South Africa at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff. 88 from Du Plessis and 65 from Amla were the main batting contributions. Left-arm medium pacer Isuru Udana was economical, taking 1-42 from his 10 overs, while Lakmal and Pradeep each took two wickets, though expensively, going for 140 from 19 between them. This is a tough one to call, but looking the way everyone other than Isuru got treated in this innings I am going to predict that Sri Lanka chase these down.
  • Afghanistan v PakistanPakistan 262 all out from 47.2 overs.
    This match, at Ashley Down, Bristol, has all the makings of a classic. A century from Babar Azam was at the heart of the innings – and on recent evidence Babar Azam scoring a century is not necessarily good news for Pakistan. Mohammad Nabi had 3-46 from his 10 overs and Rashid Khan 2-27 from nine, while fast bowler Dawlat Zadran took 2-37 from 5.5 overs. Nabi and Khan will probably be very economical in the world cup, as opponents look to avoid losing wickets to them and hope to cash on the other less good bowlers. Today I am predicting that Afghanistan will chase down this target to put down a marker for the tournament.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND FITNESS

Today I broke new ground in my slow regaining of fitness and health post cancer. I managed to extend this morning’s walk to just opposite The Hob in The Well, which is close to King’s Lynn town centre. I am hoping to develop sufficient fitness to reach King’s Lynn Library unassisted in time for an NAS event there on June 14th, so that I do not have to rely on some kind person being able to gave me a lift. I finish with my usual sign off…

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The Royal London Cup Playoffs

A look at the playoffs in the Royal London Cup and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Today features the Royal London Cup playoffs, with Somerset playing Worcestershire and Lancashire playing Middlesex for the right to join group winners Hampshire (clear favourites to win the competition) and Nottinghamshire in the semi-finals. Although my last set of predictions worked out horribly, only one being correct, giving me a tally of 28/49 overall I shall be trying again with these two matches.

THE STATE OF PLAY AND PREDICTIONS

  • Worcestershire v SomersetSomerset 337-8 from 50 overs.
    The main contribution to a fine batting effort for Somerset was 112 from 20 year-old wicketkeeper Tom Banton (his second century of the competition), and he was well backed by useful contributions all down the order. I predict that Somerset will defend this total and therefore take their place in the semi-final against Nottinghamshire.
  • Lancashire v MiddlesexLancashire 210-3 from 38.2 overs.
    96 from Jennings and 68 from Croft have put Lancashire in a strong position. Nevertheless, given some of the totals I have seen chased down recently I am going to predict that Middlesex win this one and go on to play Hampshire in the semi-final.

In addition to these two matches Scotland and Afghanistan are playing an ODI. Scotland have amassed 325-7 from 50 overs and Afghanistan are 41-1 in reply at present. I think Scotland will defend their impressive total, which gives me thee predictions: Somerset, Middlesex and Scotland.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off..

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100 Cricketers – 4th XI Opening Batters

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the openers from my 4th XI. Also features mentions of Afghanistan vs Ireland and the womens game between Sri Lanka and England.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. Last time I took the bowlers from my fourth XI out of position because one of them was in the news that day, so now I move on to the opening pair. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, and the post introducing the 4th XI can be found here. There are two other bits of business to attend to as well…

CONGRATULATIONS AFGHANISTAN AND COMMISERATIONS TO IRELAND

Yesterday I outlined ways in which things might get tense in the test match between Afghanistan and Ireland. In the event, none of those possibilities eventuated as Ihsanullah (65 not out) and player of the match Rahmat Shah (76 to go with his first innings 98 – he now has a test batting average of 48 from two matches) took Afghanistan to 144 before the second wicket fell, and although a third fell in the dying embers of the game as well, there was no way back for Ireland and the final margin was seven wickets. In winning their second ever test match Afghanistan have made a better start in this form of the game than any side since 1877, when the original combatants Australia and England each won one match (Aus the first, Eng the second). Ireland can also take plenty away from this game, having fought hard all the way. They now travel back to more familiar climes, and their next test match assignment is against England, which will be very tough for them, but I do not expect them to simply allow themselves to be steamrollered by their much more experienced opponents. A full scorecard can be viewed here and a match report here.

ENGLAND WOMEN SEAL SERIES IN SRI LANKA WITH A MATCH TO SPARE

Sri Lanka won the toss and batted, but that was about all that went right for them in the second game of this three game series after they had been walloped in the opener. England restricted them to an inadequate 187-9 from their 50 overs, spinner Alex Hartley taking 3-36, while Anya Shrubsole was parsimony personified with 2-21 from her full 10 overs. Amy Jones then blasted 54 off 39 balls to put her team in an unstoppable position, Lauren Winfield following up with 44 off 41, while Tammy Beaumont played the anchor role with 43 off 60. Heather Knight was unbeaten on 20 and Danielle Wyatt 13 when England coasted home with six wickets and 99 balls to spare. Even in the absence of Brunt, missing with a back problem, the England women were simply too strong for their opponents. It is hard to see this series finishing anything other than 3-0 to England, so dominant have they been in both matches so far. A full scorecard can be viewed here and a a report here. Now on to the business part of the post, starting with…

CHARLOTTE EDWARDS

Many years ago the England Women were playing against their Australian counterparts and being given a thorough beating (as I recall, Lisa Keightley had contributed a century to what was by the standards of women’s cricket at that time a huge total of in excess of 250), but one person did not surrender tamely, battling on with virtually no support, and the age of just 17, to make 74 and given England one positive to take from the match. This was Charlotte Edwards and that was merely the first of many big performances she would produce over many years.

Edwards came into women’s cricket when it was still regarded by most as something of a joke, and then players still wore skirts. By the time of her retirement the game was being taken properly seriously.

As well as being a heavy scoring opening batter and a magnificent captain (note that asterisk against her name in this XI) she also bowled occasional spin, on one occasion in an ODI effectively enough to take 4-30. 

HERSCHELLE GIBBS

6167 test runs at 41.95, and a record as an ODI opener that included the rare feat of six sixes in an over (Daan Van Bunge of The Netherlands was the victim), his achievements speak for themselves. He suffered from the fallout around the disgraced Hansie Cronje, being one of two players (medium pacer Henry Williams was the other) who had been suborned by Cronje into underperforming in a match. When it came to it neither actually did so – Gibbs scored 74 in the game in question. 

Perhapos Gibbs’ most remarkable innings came at Johannesburg after Australia had scored 434 from their 50 overs. South Africa knocked them off, Gibbs scoring over 170. Medium pacer Mick Lewis for Australia had in the indignity of being butchered for 113 from his ten overs. 

The next post in this series will look at numbers 3, 4 and 5 from my 4th XI, but now it is time for…

PHOTOGRAPHS

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These four mosaics are on the walls opposite the lifts used for transferring bed bound patients between floors at Addnenbrookes (down on level two, the entrance level to the hospital)

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100 Cricketers – 4th XI Bowlers

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series, starting the fourth XI with the bowlers for reasons that should be self-explanatory. Also features some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. I am taking the my 4th XI in a different order from usual, starting with the bowlers, for reasons that should become clear during this post. The series will continue with the opening batters, then nos 3,4 and 5 and then all-rounders, which post will se my fifth XI introduced in batting order. The introduction to the whole series can be found here, and the most recent post in it, listing the 4th XI in batting order at the end, can be found here. Before getting into the meat of my post I have a but of related business to attend to…

AFGHANISTAN VERSUS IRELAND DAY 3

Ireland, helped by a substantial last wicket stand for the second time in the match did just enough to keep interest in this match alive. They brought their second innings tally to 288, setting Afghanistan 147 to win in the final innings. By the close Afghanistan had reached 29-1, needing a further 118 to win with nine wickets remaining. If either:

a) Ireland pick up wickets early tomorrow morning or

b)Afghanistan score score slowly in the morning and then lose wickets immediately before the lunch interval

Or both of the above happen, nerves could set in leading to a very close result. Whatever happens tomorrow, one team will have its first test match victory on the board and the other team, though defeated will not have been disgraced.

It is unfortunate for Ireland that as I acknowledged in response to a comment yesterday their elevation really came five years too late for them, with the result that most of the players who had earned it had either finished their careers or were finishing their careers, while Afghanistan were elevated as they hit the crest of a wave.

The official close of play report can be read here.

It is now time to look at those bowlers starting with…

THE SPINNERS

My four selections who are in this XI purely as bowlers (there is also a seam bowling all-rounder to back them up, plus an occasional off-spinner) comprise two spinners and two quicks. We start with the person who caused me to take the bowlers first when dealing with this XI…

RASHID KHAN

The 20 year old legspinner is already rated the world’s number one bowler in T20, and has just a very successful season in the Australian Big Bash League, but today he made history by becoming the first Afghan to take a five wicket innings haul in a test match. His 5-82 followed 2-20 in the first Ireland innings, meaning that in the two test matches his country have now played he has total figures of 9-256, a bowling average of 28.44. I can see this improving considerably as he gains more experience (before his 1993 visit to England which really set him on his way Shane Warne had been cuffed around at test level, notably by Ravi Shastri on his debut test), and especially if he gets to bowl second and fourth rather than first and third as he did in this game (pitches which have had more use tend to help spinners a bit more). The match now approaching its denouement will be remembered for many things – Tim Murtagh’s two remarkable efforts from no 11, the second innings batting of Andrew Balbirnie and Kevin O’Brien and Rahmat Shah’s effort in the Afghanistan first innings that came up just two short of being their first ever test century, but probably the single most important individual achievement in the game will end up being Khan’s five-for. As the saying goes – watch this space! On which note we move on to our second spinner…

SOPHIE ECCLESTONE

The 19 year-old left arm spinner has only played in one test match (the women play far too little of this form of the game), but her records in ODIs (25 wickets at 18.96 each) and T20Is (24 wickets at 20.04) show that she is already a very fine bowler, and at her age she will still be improving for a number of years. Although she has yet to record an international five-for she has a 4-14 in ODIs to her credit and a 4-18 in T20Is, and I for one will be surprised in 2019 does not see a five-for to her credit somewhere. Note that once again I have a pair of spinners who do different things with the ball, and a part-time spinner who purveys yet a third variation. Now it is time to move on to the…

FAST BOWLERS

My two specialist pacers are a genuine speedster, who recently rattled the Aussies on their own pitches and someone who started out quick before slowing down later in his career and becoming pretty much unhittable, such was his accuracy. I am going to start with…

SHAUN POLLOCK

His 421 test wickets at 23.11 each are testament to his class as a bowler, while a batting average of just over 32 makes him a good person to be coming in at number 8. His father Peter was a magnificent fast bowler for pre-isolation South Africa, and until the recent career of Adam Voges (average 61.87 from 20 test matches) his uncle Graeme was second among those who had played enough innings to qualify behind Bradman in the test batting averages with 60.97. In his early days when he bowled seriously fast and his temperament seems to have matched his red hair Shaun Pollock is reckoned to have hit the helmets of over 30 opposition batters, but his career had a second phase when he mellowed, the pace was down, but replaced with intense accuracy to the extent that along with Glenn McGrath he was among the last ODI bowlers to have an economy rate below 4 runs per over. Playing as an overseas player for Warwickshire he once took four wickets in four balls, a very rare occurence in top-level cricket. In this XI of mine I see his accuracy as a counterpoint to the sheer pace of…

JASPRIT BUMRAH

His recent effort at the MCG, when his nine wickets in the two innings, including a career-best 6-33 in the first, sent Australia reeling to the defeat the saw India wiin the BorderGavaskar trophy is a performance (I listened to it on the radio) which I will remember for a long time to come. His ten test matches so far have brought him 49 wickets at 21.89, though with a current batting average of 1.55 he is heading for the title of “Number 11’s Number 11”, being 0.45 of a run per innings below current holder Mpumelelo Mbangwa of Zimbabwe. The fact he is only 25, and my spinners are 20 and 19 respectively is why I want specifically the Shaun Pollock from the latter part of his career – as well as steadiness he will bring experience to the bowling attack. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

As usual, I finish by showing some of my recent photographs…

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This and pic no 2 and 5 were taken through the window of my bungalow.

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This and pic no 4 were taken while out making a circuit of the grass in front of my bungalow.

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A pity that somebody could not be bothered to dispose of their cigarette butt properly, but these little flowers caught my eye.

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We had a bit of hail today, and this picture and especially the next, taken from my aunt’s kitchen/ dining area show it through the window.

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Another of my aunt’s collection of bird mugs – a Kingfisher this time.