A look at Villa D’Este as I continue my account of my Italian holiday.
Welcome to the latest post in the series I am doing about my recent Italian holiday (2-11 November). This post deals with the second part of the final Thursday, and will be dominated by photographs.
TIVOLI’S THIRD GREAT ATTRACTION
After being shown the hidden treasures of the Villa Sant’Antonio we headed into central Tivoli for a look at the Villa D’Este, the third major attraction in that part of the world (I featured Villa Adriana and Villa Gregoriana in earlier posts in this series). This villa is still in good c0ndition and also has extensive grounds, although I did not see much of those because I was worried about climbing back up from a longish descent. However, I saw enough to be extremely impressed.
Showcasing the hidden treasures of the Villa Sant’Antonio.
Welcome to the latest post in my series about my Italian holiday (2-11 September inclusive). Today we look at the hidden treasures of the Villa Sant’Antonio, where we stayed for the second half of the holiday. We were shown these on the Thursday morning, the morning of our last full day in Italy.
As I mentioned in an earlier post in this series the Villa Sant’Antonio is a former convent. One unchanged relic of the building’s history is the chapel…
PART 2: ROMAN REMAINS
The chapel was fairly impressive, but to me the second hidden treasure, the Roman remains that lend credence to the notion that the poet Horace had a villa here back in the day, is even more so.
I am continuing my account of my holiday in Italy (2-11 September inclusive) with a look at Villa Adriana. Before I cover the attraction itself I offer…
I am doing this here because I encountered a cricket on the way to Villa Adriana and there were some tiny lizards (about four inches long, presumably insectivorous – quick internet search reveals that there is actually a species called the Italian Wall Lizard, which fits the description) in the grounds of the villa:
THE VILLA ADRIANA
This was the emperor Hadrian’s country retreat, and he had replicas of the most impressive stuff he had seen in the course of his travels (and he saw most of the Roman empire, then at pretty much its absolute height – he had pulled back from some of his predecessor’s conquests, deeming them unsustainable). The site is very substantial, and in Hadrian’s time must have had a staff of thousands looking after it. This is a UNESCO world heritage site, and it thoroughly deserves that designation.
Continuing my Italian holiday series with an account of the Piazza Navona and Domitian’s Stadium.
This is the latest post in my series about my recent holiday in Italy (not all of us feel obligated to deny our travels, especially when there is indisputable evidence as to our whereabouts at the times in question), and its main theme is a visit to two places which are one on top of another.
SUPPER AT A HISTORIC RESTAURANT
After our look at the Via Appia we went out for supper at very fine restaurant which had some ruins visible beneath its floor. The meal was excellent. It was obvious from some of the things that we were warned about while ordering our food that they have had problems with English folk before (disappointing but sadly unsurprising that this should be the case), but we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
PIAZZA NAVONA AND DOMITIAN’S STADIUM
My sister, my nephew and I visited Piazza Navona in the morning, my mother being at that point in bed due to illness which we reckon was diabetes related. Although she ate very little that day she subequently perked up sufficiently to come out in the afternoon which began with a return to Piazza Navona and an exploration of Domitian’s Stadium, the remains of which are underneath Piazza Navona. We did a few other things which will feature in my next post after we had finished there.
Domitian was one of Rome’s worst emperors, eventually being murdered in his palace and subsequently declared ‘damnatio memoriae’ – ‘damned to the memory’. Tacitus, who was too cautious to write about someone as recent as Domitian, used Tiberius, the second emperor after Augustus, as his ‘surrogate Domitian’. Domitian is also covered by Suetonius in “The Twelve Caesars”, being the twelfth Caesar – Suetonius starts with Julius Caesar who was never officially styled as emperor, and also covers Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.
Both the Piazza Navona of today and the remains of Domitian’s stadium are well worth visiting. The latter has an audio guide which you can use for extra information – you get a headset and a map with number locations, and when you are at one of the locations you position the headset over that number on the map and play the relevant audio.
I end this post in my signature style with a waterfall video:
Today’s voyage through ‘all time XI’ cricket territory features a team of players with forename Graham or Graeme take on a feature of players with forename John for the ‘Bretton Trophy’.
Today’s exploration of ‘all time XI‘ cricket territory focusses on forenames. An XI all of whom have the forename Graeme or Graham take on an XI who all have the forename John.
THE GRAEME/GRAHAM XI
Graeme Fowler– left handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler, occasional wicket keeper. His highest first class score came in a test match, 201 vs India in India. His most remarkable first class batting performance came against Lancashire at Southport in1982. He made 128 in the first innings and 126 not out in the second, as Lancashire, after seeing their opponents make 523-4 declared on the first day won by ten wickets. Fowler was injured early in his first innings, and batted for the rest of that innings with David Lloyd as his runner. In the second innings Ian Folley took over as runner, while Lloyd reverted to his main role as opening partner to Fowler. At the end of this match Fowler had eight first class hundreds to his credit and four of them had come at the expense of Warwickshire. He was dropped by England at the start of the 1985 season to make way for Gooch, returning from his three year international ban for going on the first rebel tour of apartheid South Africa. Then, with England winning the Ashes in 1985 the incumbents Gooch and Tim Robinson who had made a remarkable start to his test career were selected for the trip to the West Indies, with Wilf Slack of Middlesex chosen as reserve opener and Fowler ignored. Robinson failed badly on that tour, but there was to be no international return for Fowler.
Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. He was a little fortunate to be brought straight back into the team after his ban for going to South Africa, and he then missed the 1986-7 Ashes, when Chris Broad and Bill Athey opened for England. He had a good series against the West Indies in 1988, but then some crass comments of his played their own role in the cancellation of the planned 1988-9 tour to India, and in 1989 against Australia he fared poorly, at one point in the series actually asking to be dropped. The 1989-90 tour of the Caribbean saw England fare respectably, winning one test and being denied victory in another only by scandalous time wasting tactics. However, it was the 1990 home season against New Zealand and India that saw Gooch, then 37 years of age, really come to the fore as an international batter. At Headingley in 1991 he played one of the finest of all test innings, and as late as 1994 at the age of 41 he hit a double century against New Zealand, but the Ashes tour of that winter was as he would subsequently admit a tour too far, and his test career ended with 8.900 runs at 42.38.
Graeme Smith – left handed batter. An unattractive player to watch but his record speaks for itself.
Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97 in test cricket before his country’s isolation for political reasons ended his career. He was due to play in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, but fears of that being used as a stalking horse for the readmission of apartheid South Africa led to a ruling that only South Africans who played county cricket could participate. Besides Pollock a leg spinner named Denys Hobson missed out because he too was not a county cricketer.
Graham Thorpe – left handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler. He made his debut in the Trent Brisge test of 1993, scoring 114 in the second innings, but not getting to savour a victory first time out as skipper Gooch delayed the declaration too long and Australia had no great difficulty securing a draw. His England career ended in 2005, when the selectors decided to go with Pietersen and Ian Bell for that year’s Ashes (for my money they made two mistakes in the early part of that season – Pietersen should have played in the tests against Bangladesh at the start of it, and Bell should have been left out – he fared well against Bangladesh but was unconvincing against Australia.
Graham Dowling – right handed batter. He averaged 31 in test cricket for New Zealand, similar to the average recorded by Graeme Hick for England. The highlight of his test career was an innings of 239.
+Graham Kersey – wicket keeper, right handed batter. His death following a car accident at the age of 25 ended a career that had shown huge promise – in 59 matches at first class level he made 193 dismissals (181 catches and 12 stumpings) and had produced a few significant batting performances as well.
*Graeme Swann – off spinner, useful lower order bat. England’s best off spinner of my life time.
Graham McKenzie – right arm fast medium bowler. At the end of his career he had the most wickets ever by an Australian pace bowler (246), though he was overhauled by Dennis Lillee not many years later. On an Old Trafford pitch in 1964 which yielded 1,271 runs for 18 wickets over five days he had bowling figures of 7-153 in England’s 611.
Graham Dilley– right arm fast medium bowler. His career was ravaged by injuries, and he also suffered from the sometimes bizarre approach of England selectors in those days. His test career ended when he signed up for what turned out to be the last of the rebel tours of apartheid South Africa in 1989, and he took his wickets at the highest level at only just under 30, while at first class level he paid 26 a time. It was him joining Botham, with the score reading 135-7 in the England second innings and 92 still needed to avoid the innings defeat that started the incredible turnaround at Headingley in 1981 – he contributed 56 to a stand of 117 in 80 minutes, which inspired Old to contribute a further 29 to a stand of 67, and finally Willis resisted gamely will Botham continued to lash out. In the final innings Dilley showed a cool head and excellent judgement to remain within the fine leg boundary while catching Rod Marsh’s skied hook, a moment that left Australia 74-7. Had Dilley misjudged and slipped over the rope it would have been 80-6 instead.
Graham Onions – he was first noted because of his combination with his county wicket keeper, Phil Mustard, which led to a significant number of C Mustard B Onions entries on scoresheetts. While never a star at the very highest level he did not ever let England down either. He himself would not quarrel with his position at no11, but would justly point out that he did help to save two successive test matches withe bat.
This team is strong in batting, has an excellent wicket keeper, but the bowling attack is neither absolutely top line nor fully balanced. Still they would not be pushovers for anyone.
THE JOHN/JACK XI
Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. ‘The Master’ is a fine start to any batting order.
Jack Robertson – right handed opening batter. His 11 test appearances between 1946 and 1951 saw him average 46 at that level. Bizarrely he was not chosen for either the 1946-7 or the 1950-1 Ashes tours, even though one of England’s chief weaknesses on both tours concerned the top of the order.
Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. His test highlight was 138 at Edgbaston in 1902. He was a regular part of the Lancashire line up from 1895 until the outbreak of World War I and made further sporadic appearances over the course of four years after that war ended. He was once involved in a famous exchange with Lancashire opener and captain Archie MacLaren. The pair of them were batting against Frank Laver who discovered a way to bowl a really vicious late swinger, and they initially played him with great caution. After a few overs MacLaren summoned Tyldesley for a mdiwicket conference. MacLaren said “Johnny, I’m going to drive this chap Laver” to which Tyldesley responded “You’ll of course do as you think best, Mr MacLaren, but I am going to cut him.”
John Small– Right handed batter. He was one of the greats of Hambledon. He once batted through an innings lasting three whole days of play. He was also indirectly responsible for a major change to the game – on one occasion Edward ‘Lumpy’ Stevcns, rated no2 to David Harris among bowlers of that era beat him three times in an innings with balls the passed between the wicket, which at that time comprised two stumps and a single crosspiece linking them. Stevens’ misfortune was noted, and the arrangement of three stumps set sufficiently close together that a ball could not pass through with two bails on top was introduced. Since then top level matches have not seen any repeats of Stevens’ misfortune, but one HS Dawe of Thistleton took all of his opponents wickets but had his analysis slightly spoiled by two deliveries passing between the stumps. What happened? The umpires had used an old (and as it transpired) swollen ball to measure the distance between the stumps!
John Richard Reid – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. One of New Zealand’s greatest ever.
*Johnny Douglas – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. His initials, JWHT (for John William Henry Tyler), and his approach to batting saw Aussie spectators dub him “Johnny Won’t Hit Today”, with a few even suggesting that “Johnny Won’t Even Hit Tomorrow”. He was an effective user of the new ball, although giving it to himself in preference to SF Barnes in the first test of the 1911-2 Ashes was misconceived – a fact which Douglas eventually acknowledged, and he restored the new ball to Barnes for the rest of the series, which England won 4-1. He was sometimes temperamental in the field. On one occasion the Essex slips were being more than usually generous towards opposition batters, and eventually second slip muffed one sitter too many, and turning to chase the ball he found himself being overtaken by his skipper, who was shouting “don’t worry, I’ll fetch the bl***y thing myself.”
+John Murray– wicket keeper, right handed batter. Eratosthenes, Librarian of Akexandria at a time when that was THE plum academic posting was once dubbed ‘Beta’ by a rival, after the second letter of the Greek alphabet on the grounds the he was “second best in the world at everything.” In a sense, Murray was the ‘Beta’ of wicket keepers – second to Bob Taylor in career dismissals, and the second of only two (the other being Les Ames who achieved the feat three times) to manage the wicket keeper’s season double of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals.
John Emburey – off spinner, useful unorthodox lower order batter. He was in his prime in an era that was not friendly to any kind of spin bowling, and was often required by his captains to bowl in a purely defensive capacity, keeping things tight while the quicker bowlers got thier breath back. This means that his record looks very ordinary by comparison with many of his forebears among conventional off spinners, but until the 1992-3 tour of India when he encountered batters who regularly dealt with quality spinners even in club cricket and was simply not allowed to bowl in his preferred style he was rarely collared. He visited Australia twice, in 1978-9 and 1986-7, and England won both series quite comfortably (the 1986-7 scoreline looks close, but England;s loss was in the final match of the series, when they took on a run chase that they would have eschewed had the series been live.
Jack Walsh – left arm wrist spinner. An excellent counter part to the very orthodox off spin fo Emburey, the Leicestershire based Aussie was a huge spinner of the ball, regular taking huge bags of wickets in the county championship.
John Wisden – right arm fast bowler. I opted for him in preference to that other Sussex speedster John Snow. His most famous bowling performance was all ten wickets in an innings, all clean bowled. On a tour of North America he once took six wickets with successive balls in a two day match.
Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast bowler. One of the finest of Australia’s early bowlers.
This team has a fine top four, two genuine all rounders, a splendid keeper and four excellent and varied bowlers, three of whom could make useful contributions with the bat.
The contest for what I shall dub the ‘Bretton Trophy’ (from Charlotte Bronte’s “Villette“, honouring the character John Graham Bretton, who we meet first as ‘Graham’ and then as ‘Dr John’) should be a good one. The Graene/Graham team are stronger in batting, but as against that the John/Jack (and all my chosen Jacks were actually registered as John at birth, but later referred to as Jack) team have greater strength, depth and variety in bowling, and therefore I would expect them to emerge victorious in the end.
A CRICKET VIDEO
My thanks to the pinch hitter for putting me on to video footage of Murali’s destruction of England at The Oval in 1998:
The Cummings/ Johnson scandal continues to rumble on, with the number of Tory MPs now being openly critical of Cummings into the 60s. Durham Police have confirmed what most of us already knew, namely that Cummings’ activities did constitute a breach of lockdown. My second message to my own MP, former Johnson advisor James Wild, remains, as does the first, unresponded to. If this is still the case come tomorrow morning then a third message from me will be hitting his inbox. This has gone beyond the political scandal it has been since Cummings’ activities were revealed and is now a public health scandal, as in spite of such being necessary to anyone with eyes to see, no government with Cummings still involved can claim the moral authority to enforce a lockdown. I recognize that I am fortunate in two regards, in that my home small as it is is all mine – it is not shared with anyone, and it does have a small garden, which means that although it is still two weeks before my shielding period expires I am at least able to get out in the open air, but it is still thoroughly annoying to see senior Tories effectively declaring that normal rules do not apply to them and their mates, while I have not been further afield than my little bit of garden since mid March.
The blue area is three quarters of a square, which thus has area (48 x 4)/3 = 64. The orange area has area 64 less the overlapping portion of the green square. The green square has dimensions precisely half that of the blue and orange squares, i.e 4X4, making its area 16, and the overlap is one quarter of that = 4, so the orange region has a total area of 64 -4 = 60.
Having introduced today’s teams and explained the contest, produced a quick update on the political situation and solved yesterday’s teaser it is time for my usual sign off:
A variation on the ‘all time XI’ cricket theme inspired by CLR James’ great question “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” – contrives to touch on a huge variety of topics.
Welcome to another variation on the all-time XI theme. This one requires a little preliminary explanation to set the scene, but first before getting into the main body of the post it is time for a…
CORRECTION AND APOLOGY
Some observant readers will have observed, as did one James Carroll on twitter that in yesterday’s post about New Zealand I somehow contrived to leave out Kane Williamson. So, following my usual ‘reverse tabloid’ policy in such matters I take this opportunity to redress the wrong: Williamson replaces Rutherford in the NZ My Time team and if absolutely mandated to do so I could accommodate him in the NZ All Time by dropping Martin Crowe. My thanks to Mr Carroll for being civil about making the correction and my apology to Mr Williamson for an inexcusable oversight.
EXPLAINING THE CLR JAMES TROPHY
The CLR James Trophy gets its name from the question at the heart of that classic cricket book “Beyond a Boundary”, “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” I pit two teams against each other of top level cricketers whose names give me non-cricketing links, with brief explanations of those links. I did consider honouring a former cricketer with a famously broad range of interests, Ed Smith and a polymath in Peter Medawar, but decided to stick with the CLR option. It is time to meet the first of our two XIs…
WG GRACE’S XI
*William Gilbert Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types. The scorer of 54,896 first class runs and taker of 2,876 first class wickets, his parents’ eighth child and fourth son was named in honour of William Gilbert, Royal Physician to Queen Elizabeth I. He was among other things a pioneer in the field of magnetism, author of “De Magnete”, and subject of “Latitude” by Stephen Pumfrey. Another Gloucestershire physician, Dr Jessop, named his 11th child Gilbert, because it was WG’s middle name, while ‘The Champion’ had several cricketing cousins surnamed Gilbert as well.
Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. His average when picked for England in this specific role was 45 per innings. Here he gets in in order to publicize Professor Ian Stewart, author of a stack of books about mathematics, including a series of books of curios “Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities”, “Professor Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasurers” and “Professor Stewart’s Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries”, and many others such as “Does God Play Dice?”, “Nature’s Numbers” and “Taming the Infinite”.
Kepler Wessels – left handed batter. The only man to score over 1,000 test runs for each of two different countries. In his case the connection is by way of his given name, to ground breaking astronomer Johannes Kepler.
Bill Bruce – right handed batter. A successful Aussie of the 1890s. His analogue is Colin Bruce, author of “The Strange Case of Mrs Hudson’s Cat” and “Conned Again Watson”. These two books use stories featuring Baker Street’s most famous duo to explore mysteries of science, mathematics and logic.
Merv Wallace – right handed batter. The Kiwi averaged 44 in first class cricket, but his few appearances at test level were not so successful. The non-cricketing link is Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection. The Wallace line, which runs (among other places) between Lombok and Bali marks the geological and zoological divide between Asia and Australia.
David Hookes – right handed batter. The scorer of the fastest first class hundred by any Australian batter, in just 43 minutes. He is the only one whose name needs altering to create the non-cricketing links – deleting the final s gives Hooke, as in Robert Hooke, the great 17th century scientist, author of Micrographia, and well covered in John Gribbin’s “Science: A History 1543-2001”, while deleting the e from that surname provides a connection to philosopher Bell Hooks, who I learned a little bit about while studying philosophy as one of the modules of my degree.
Franklyn Stephenson – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Our all rounder, one of only two since the reduction of first class fixtures in 1969 to have done the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in an English season, and appropriately he is doing double duty. George and Robert Stephenson were both eminent engineers, among the pioneers of railway development. The most famous Stephenson design with a railway connection was of course ‘The Rocket’. Robert Louis Stephenson, a relative of the engineers, is famous as a novelist. I have read most of his books, the first one I read being “Kidnapped”, while I studied “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” at degree level.
+Jack Russell – wicket keeper, left handed lower middle order batter. His ‘alter ego’ is philosopher Bertrand Russell, author of many books, and one of the writers featured in “Portable Atheist”, edited by Christopher Hitchens.
Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, capable right handed batter. His brief test match career does not look that impressive, but in 75 first class matches he scored 2,696 runs at 28.68 with a best of 206 and took 276 wickets at 24.11 with a best of 8-60. The original Xenophon was an Athenian who went to Sparta when his situation in his home city became untenable, signed up as a mercenary solider there and travelled to Persia as part of an army attempting to overthrow King Artaxerxes and place his brother Cyrus on the throne. After a battle in which Cyrus was killed, Xenophon and his men found themselves in deepest Persia under sentence of death, but managed to escape, and Xenophon eventually returned to Greece, writing up his adventures in a book he called Anabasis. This has been novelized by Conn Iggulden as “Falcon of Sparta”. Much later one Xenophon of Cos served as physician to the Roman Emperor Claudius, being mentioned in Suetonius’ “The Twelve Caesars” and also in the fictional setting of Robert Graves’ “I Claudius” and “Claudius The God”. Finally, to complete Balaskas’ ancient historical links his middle name was Constantine, linking him the first christian Roman Emperor.
George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. Over 2,100 first class wickets and no England cap. He claims his place as second spinner by virtue of his surname, shared by philosopher Daniel C Dennett, among whose books are numbered “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” and “Breaking The Spell”, both of which adorn my shelves.
Danny Morrison – right arm fast medium bowler. He was one of the Kiwis best bowlers of the 1990s and his presence creates two splendid links. Toni Morrison won the Nobel prize for Literature for “Beloved”, and is also the author of a number of other hard hitting books – anything with her name on the cover will be worth reading. Boyd Morrison writes novels that combine action, adventure and elements of science and history – I have a copy of “The Noah’s Ark Quest” and can also recommend “The Tsunami Countdown”.
This team features a good top six, a genuine all rounder in Stephenson, a keeper who can bat, and three varied specialist bowlers. With Grace also worth his place as a bowler the bowling has depth and variety, with Stephenson and Morrison to take the new ball and Dennett, Balaskas and Grace to provide alternatives.
GREVILLE STEVENS XI
Harold Dennis ‘Dickie’ Bird – right handed opening batter. Best known as an umpire, but he was a successful opening bat for Barnsley, and ultimately amassed two first class hundreds, with a best of 181 not out. David Bird is a prolific writer of books about Contract Bridge. He is particularly noted for his humorous stories featuring the monks of St Titus, the nuns of St Hilda’s and latterly staff and pupils alike at Cholmeley and Channing schools, located at opposite ends of the same village.
Alan Melville – right handed opening batter. The South African had a splendid test record, including four successive centuries straddling World War II. His ‘alter ego’ is Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick”.
Hugh Massie – right handed attacking top order batter. He scored 55 in the original ‘Ashes’ test at The Oval in 1882, made out of 66 in under an hour – and had kicked off that tour with an innings of 206, a record first innings in England for an Aussie until 1930 when Bradman opened his English account with a score of 236. His non-cricketing counterpart is historical novelist Allan Massie, author of a series of Roman history themed books including “Augustus”, “Tiberius”, “Caesar” and “Nero’s Heirs”. “Augustus” features a wonderful spoof foreword taking on the persona of master of Michaelhouse College, Cambridge, one Aeneas Fraser-Graham, and declaring that ‘even a glimpse of a photostat is sufficient to assure one of the authenticity of these memoirs’.
HJH ‘Tup’ Scott – right handed bat. Scott was one of three Aussie centurions at The Oval in 1884. He is not in fact here as an analogue for Captain Scott, although I commend to your attention the books about the ‘Captain Scott Invitational XI’ by Marcus Berkmann (“Rain Men” and tangentially “Zimmer Men”) and Harry Thompson (“Penguins Stopped Play”). No he has two ‘alter egos’ for my purposes, Walter Scott, prolific 19th century novelist and someone from whom Emily Bronte of “Wuthering Heights” fame drew inspiration, and Eugenie Scott of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who was one of the contributors to “Scientists Confront Creationism”, edited by Andrew Petto and Laurie Godfrey and highly recommended by me.
Colin Munro – left handed big hitting batter. The Kiwi averages over 50 in first class cricket, though he has only played a couple of tests and those unsuccessfully. He owes his place in this XI to Hector Munro, aka ‘Saki’, a master writer of short stories.
*Greville Stevens – right handed batter, leg spinner. 10,376 first class runs at 29.56, 684 wickets at 26.84. At the close of the 1920 season it was he who ensured that the curtain would descend on Plum Warner’s career with an appropriately grand finish, by clean bowling Herbert Strudwick to settle the destiny of that year’s County Championship. He is here as a tribute the detective work of Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, and the writing of their amanuensis Robin Stevens, who has created the ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ series to chronicle their exploits.
Alonzo Drake – middle order batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The first Yorkshire bowler ever to take all ten wickets in an innings – 10-35 v Somerset in 1914, the outbreak of World War 1 finished his career. Although he is a namesake of Sir Francis Drake who famously played bowls on Plymouth Hoe it is actually another Drake, Frank Drake of SETI fame who gets him into this team. Frank Drake co-authored with Dava Sobel a book titled “Is Anyone Out There?” about the search for extra-terrestrial life. Sobel has a stack of other credits, including “Longitude”, “A More Perfect Heaven”, “The Planets” and “Galileo’s Daughter” all of which I recommend.
+Ian Gould– wicket keeper and right handed lower order batter, later a successful umpire. ‘Gunner’ Gould just about merits his place as a keeper/batter, which makes it possible for me to bring in Stephen Jay Gould, USian scientist, science writer and master essayist. I own a number of his books, including “Questioning The Millennium”, “The Richness of Life”, “Life’s Grandeur”, “Bully for Brontosaurus”, “Ever Since Darwin”, “Dinosaur in a Haystack” and “Urchin in a Storm”. Given the amount of baseball that features in Gould’s oeuvre it seems quite appropriate to find a way a slipping him into a cricket themed post.
Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, left handed attacking lower order bat. The Aussie’s claims for a place need no further elaboration, and he allows me two connections. Samuel Johnson, author of the first recognized dictionary is one. There was a road not massively far from where I lived as a child in south west London called Dr Johnson Avenue, and it had that name because he used to cycle that way when going to visit his friend Mrs Thrale, who also has a road named in her honour that is even closer to my old family home. I used to walk along Thrale Road very frequently because if one was using either Streatham or Streatham Common stations it was the natural way to go. The second connection is Charles Johnson, an African American writer whose books include “Oxherding Tale” and “Dreamer”, the latter based on the life of Martin Luther King.
Max ‘Tangles’ Walker – right arm fast medium. He was a magnificent third string to Lillee and Thomson in the mid 1970s, gaining big movement in the air and off the pitch on occasions. At Edgbaston in 1975 when Mike Denness put Australia in and they scored 359 Walker matched Lillee’s five wickets in the first England innings with five of his own, before ‘Thommo’ turned chief executioner in the second dig. His ‘alter ego’ for my purposes is Alice Walker, well known as author of “The Color Purple”, and also the author of a collection of what she calls “Womanist Prose”, both of which come highly recommended. She became radicalized by her experiences as a student at Spelman College (although she left that institution and moved north the New York where she studied at Sarah Lawrence College), where she met the historian Howard Zinn, someone any of whose books will be worth reading. There is a quote from her which appears on the back cover of “The Zinn Reader”: “What can I say that will in any way convey the love, respect and admiration that I feel for this unassuming hero who was my teacher and mentor, this radical historian and people-loving ‘troublemaker’, this man who stood with us and suffered with us? Howard Zinn was the best teacher I ever had and the funniest.”
Harry Boyle – right arm medium pacer. FR Spofforth’s regular bowling partner. He earns his place as one half of the first great Australian bowling duo. His ‘alter ego’ is Robert Boyle whose contribution to science is covered on pages 126-42 of John Gribbin’s “Science: A History 1543-2001”.
This team has a decent top five, a couple of genuine all rounders, a keeper who can bat, and three fine and varied bowlers. Johnson, Walker, Boyle, Drake and Stevens is a bowling attack that should not struggle overmuch to take 20 wickets.
WG Grace’s XI are the stronger in batting of the two, although no side who can send Johnson in at no9 can be considered deficient in that department. But I suspect that the bowling resources of Greville Stevens’ XI are stronger overall. However countering that is the undeniable fact that WG Grace’s XI have the better keeper. I believe this would be a very close and highly compelling contest, and I cannot pick a winner. Note that the presence of Mr Bird notwithstanding I have not selected players solely on the basis of their names – it is always what they offer as cricketers that comes first.
The correction has been made and due apologies issued, the CLR James Trophy has been introduced and the contending XIs have been put through their paces, so all that now remains is my usual sign off:
To get from southeast Cornwall to Tintagel involves a journey across Bodmin Moor. My sister who was driving took what Satnav considered to be a short cut, which in brute distance terms it was, but that fails to take into account the relative quality of the roads involved. We found a space in the car park in the village (like many other places in Cornwall a former rotten borough), walked to the visitor centre only to find ti closed, and then headed for the castle.
HEADING TO THE CASTLE
The path down to the bridge which takes one into the castle grounds (of which more later) is very steep, and offers nothing to grip on to for support, so I opted for the Land Rover service instead (costs £1.50) as did my mother. The Land Rover drop off point is right at the bridgehead.
A NEW LANDMARK THAT COMBINES ACCESSIBILITY AND FUTURE PROOFING
I consider the new bridge that enables one to enter the castle grounds without descending right the valley floor and then climbing back up the other side to be a landmark in its own right, and as the driver of the Land Rover I travelled in explained, it is vital for another reason – before it was built the site was one major landslide away from being turned into an island, whereas now it will remain accessible for future generations. This is a place that definitely dates back to the 4th century, and maybe earlier (the Arthur connection is that whoever lived here then was rich and influential enough to still be importing stuff from the Mediterranean, Rome’s declining influence notwithstanding), and for it to have been cut off what have been a tragedy.