England’s Victory

Looking at the turnaround in the test match at Old Trafford, plus a few other bits.

INTRODUCTION

The main focus of this post is the opening test match against Pakistan at Old Trafford, with a brief glimpse at the second round of fixtures in the Bob Willis Trophy as well.

FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT

England’s fightback in this match began on Friday evening, when they reduced Pakistan’s second innings to 137-8. Although it did not take very long yesterday morning for the last two wickets to fall, 32 runs were accrued from the 3.2 overs for which Pakistan batted. This left England needing 277 to win, and at first, as wickets fell steadily it looked very unlikely. When Pope got out out to a brutal ball to make it 117-5 it seemed a matter of when, not if. At that point Chris Woakes with seven single figure scores in his last eight test knocks came in to join Jos Buttler who had had a stinker of a match up to that point. Both players played their shots, recognizing that taking the attack back to Pakistan was the only chance. As the partnership developed Pakistan became a little ragged, although nerves also kicked in for the England pair and progress slowed. Buttler fell for 75 with just over 30 still required, and England sent in Stuart Broad, known as a quick scorer, with the aim of making sure that the second new ball was not a serious factor. The ploy worked, and by the time the new ball became available the target had been reduced to 13. In desperation Pakistan put on a fast bowler at one end but kept Yasir Shah going at the other. Broad was out with England a boundary away from victory and Bess survived the remainder of the over. Woakes edged the first ball of the next over through the slip region for four and England were home by three wickets. Woakes had scored 84 not out, going with 19 in the first innings and total match figures of 4-54. In view of the result there was no other candidate for Man of the Match.

There has only been one occasion when an England no7 has scored more in a 4th innings run chase – at The Oval in 1902 when Gilbert Jessop came in with the team 48-5 in pursuit of a target of 263 and blasted 104 in 77 minutes. Woakes’ performance was more reminiscent of George Hirst’s effort in that match – five wickets with the ball and scores of 43 and 58 not out.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS

  1. Rory Burns – 4 – the opener failed twice in this match.
  2. Dominic Sibley – 6 – one long innings and one failure with the bat, also a superb unassisted run out in the field,
  3. Joe Root – 6 – not many runs for the skipper, but he led the side well, and his promotion of Broad to cater for the specific circumstances of the second innings was an excellent decision.
  4. Ben Stokes – 6 – failed with the bat, but although not fully fit to bowl took a hand at the bowling crease in England’s hour of need and bagged a wicket.
  5. Ollie Pope – 7 – a magnificent knock in the first innings, when it looked like he was facing a different set of bowlers to everyone else, and the delivery that got him was all but unplayable. Also played a few decent shots in the second dig before fetching another ‘jaffa’.
  6. Jos Buttler – 4 – a horror show behind the stumps, including missing a chance to see the back of Shan Masood for 45 (he went on to 156) and several other howlers, a gritty first innings batting effort, and a fine effort in the second innings, but still even after that knock in overall deficit for the match.
  7. Chris Woakes – 9 – a magnificent match for the under-rated all rounder. He is now indispensable in England (in some other parts of the world where the combination of the Kookaburra ball and the different atmospheric conditions effectively eliminates swing he is a lot less of a player) and his Man of the Match award was thoroughly deserved.
  8. Dominic Bess – 5 – bad wicket keeping caused him to miss out on several wickets, but in the second innings with the ball definitely turning he should have done better than he did.
  9. Jofra Archer – 5 – an ordinary game for the express bowler.
  10. Stuart Broad – 7 – bowled reasonably, played two splendid cameo innings.
  11. James Anderson – 5 – the veteran was unimpressive by his own standards, though respectable by anyone else’s.

These ratings mostly look low for players in a winning side and that is for a good reason – Pakistan bossed this game through its first two innings, and England were fortunate to emerge victorious.

THE REST OF THE SERIES

News has just emerged that Stokes is heading to New Zealand for family reasons and will not play in the remaining matches of the series. Buttler cannot continue as keeper, the question being whether you think he can justify being picked purely as a batter. I personally do not and would leave him out. My chosen line-up from those available would be Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Pope, +Foakes, Woakes, Bess, Robinson, Archer, Broad. Anderson I think needs to be rested, and I opt for Robinson as his replacement. If Buttler’s selection is non-negotiable he gets the nod at six as a specialist batter, and Robinson misses out. Bess needs a good match sooner rather than later but I would not want to be without a front line spin option.

THE BOB WILLIS TROPHY

The second round of matches in this competition are well underway. Worcestershire scored 455-8 against Glamorgan, who are 27-0 in reply. Yorkshire managed 264 in their first innings and Notts are 140-4 in reply. Northants v Somerset has seen some extraordinary happenings – Somerset made 166 in the first innings, Northants were then bowled out for 67, and Somerset were at one point 54-6 in their second innings before recovering to reach 222, Northants are 5-0 in their second innings. Middlesex made 252 against Hampshire, who are 129-3 in reply. Leicestershire managed 199 against Derbyshire who are 235-3 in response. Sussex made 332 against Kent who are 131-1 in response. Gloucestershire scored 210 all out v Warwickshire who are 73-3 in reply. Durham were all out for 180 against Lancashire, who are 138-4 in response. Finally, Essex scored 262 in their first innings, and Surrey are 81-4 in response.

SOLUTION AND NEW TEASER

I posed this problem from brilliant in my last post:

Venn Rectangles

The answer is 216, as shown in this published solution by Pall Marton:

PM

Here is another teaser, this one tangentially connected with sudoku:

Pinwheel

This one is not as hard as the five dagger rating suggests, but it is quite challenging. Solution in my next post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Damselflies have been out in force, as these remaining pictures show. They are tricky in two ways – actually capturing them on camera, and editing the shots to best effect.

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Pakistan In Control In The Test Match

A look at developments in the test match, some mathematics and plenty of photographs

INTRODUCTION

The series opener between England and Pakistan is now into its third day of play. This post looks at developments in that match so far.

THE PAKISTAN INNINGS

A weather hit opening day ended with Pakistan two down, Babar Azam already past 50 and Shan Masood not far short. England bowled well on the second morning but did not get full benefit for their efforts in that department as they were badly let down by Jos Buttler who had an absolute nightmare behind the stumps. Post lunch England bowled poorly, and Masood cashed in, being well supported by Shadab Khan. Masood eventually reached 156 before his resistance was ended. Pakistan tallied 326 in total for their innings, a score that looks very good on this pitch.

ENGLAND’S RESPONSE

England were soon 12-3 in reply, with both openers and Stokes out cheaply. Root batted a long time but did not score many, and Buttler was just able to survive to the close after Root’s dismissal. At the end of day 2 England were 92-4, with Pope who had looked a class above anyone else in the order approaching a 50. This morning Pakistan bowled superbly and England did well to get through the opening session for the loss of only one wicket – Pope got an absolute beauty. Woakes was hit by a bouncer but resisted through to lunch in company with Buttler. Early in the afternoon session Buttler has been bowled by leg spinner Yasir Shah for 38 to make it 159-6. Bess will be next man in. Taking into account Buttler’s errors with the gauntlets a generously inclined assessor would now say that he is only in a double-figure rather than a triple-figure deficit for the match. Stokes’ unfitness for bowling means that England have little batting left – Woakes is more bowler than batter (though his record in England specifically is excellent), Bess can handle a bat, but against an attack equipped with serious pace and quality wrist spin (more difficult to handle than finger spin) little can be hoped for, much less expected, from Broad, Archer and Anderson. This Pakistan team look to be made of sterner stuff than the West Indies – Masood’s ton was his third in as many tests, while Azam’s innings was a magnificent performance, and his record suggests that he deserves to be bracketed with Kohli, Smith and Williamson and placed ahead of the current version of Root as a batter. The pace bowling, with a left arm quick in Shaheen Afridi, a right arm quick in the person of 17 year old Naseem Shah,  and an excellent exemplar of the steady medium-fast bowler in Mohammad Abbas looks superb. Yasir Shah with his leg spin and the second leg spinner Shadab Khan whose bowling has not yet been called on are likely to play an ever increasing role as the match goes on, and Yasir Shah has already accounted for a couple of wickets, Root yesterday as Pakistan’s keeper demonstrated that it is perfectly possible to make dismissals off a spin bowler on this pitch and Buttler today, bowled through the gate, once again failing to navigate his personal ‘Bermuda triangle’ which is located between 21 and 50. Ben Foakes has a first class batting average of 38 (having played just over 100 matches at that level – a very impressive record for someone for whom batting is the second string of the bow) and is also the best pure keeper in the country, and various young keepers are beginning to establish themselves at county level and would also be more deserving of the test gauntlets than Buttler, though my own feeling is that Foakes deserves an extended run as England’s acknowledged no1 test keeper before a youngster is blooded. Yasir Shah has nabbed a third wicket, that of Bess, while I was writing this. Archer has been sent in at no9, ahead of Broad and Anderson, and England need something major from Woakes backed by the tail – with the pitch already helping the bowlers quite a bit anything approaching a major deficit will be insuperable, and at the moment that is exactly what England will be facing.

A SOLUTION AND A NEW PROBLEM

I offered this problem from brilliant up in my previous post:

No multi-choice here (this is much too easy for that), but a bonus challenge: part 1) if there was a third square of the same size but divided into 49 smaller squares shaded in similar fashion which would have the largest shaded area, and part 2)what is the general rule relating the number of squares into which the big square is divided and the proportion of it that ends up shaded?

The first shape contains nine squares of which five are shaded, while the second contains 25 squares of which 13 are shaded. 5/9 = 0.55…, while 13/25 = 0.52, so the first shape has a greater shaded area. The 7X7 square would have an even smaller proportion of its area shaded – 25/49 = 0.51. The general rule is that the greater the number of squares the shape is divided into the closer the shaded area approaches to half the total area, while always remaining just above that limit.

Here is another problem from brilliant:

Venn Rectangles

Yasir Shah has just collected his fourth wicket, that of Woakes to make it 170-8, and England are definitely in the mire.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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I gave these tomato plants a thorough watering this morning, mindful of the fact that extreme heat was forecast for later in the day (and has eventuated).

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This is a comma butterfly with its wings closed – opened out is orange and black,

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My England XI For The Second Test Match

My England XI for the test match that starts tomorrow – the team that should be selected though probably will not. Plus some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I have not yet seen the official XI for the test match that starts tomorrow, and I do not expect it to be the same as mine  – I will outline the possible differences later.

THE XI VIA THE BBC WEBSITE

The BBC have an interactive piece on the cricket section of their website which you can use to pick your England team for this test match. I have done so and mine is:

XI

MORE ON MY XI

  1. Rory Burns – currently averaging 33 in his test career to date but seemingly upwardly mobile in that regard and deserves a few more games yet.
  2. Dom Sibley – his performances in South Africa were highly encouraging, and his second innings at the Ageas bowl was a solid effort, although the manner of his dismissal when in the 40s was disappointing.
  3. Zak Crawley – at the age of 22 he is very much in the ‘up and coming’ bracket, and his second innings 76 at the Ageas bowl was the best batting effort for England in the match, both in quantity and quality.
  4. *Joe Root – England need his batting, and while his captaincy is less impressive there are few appealing alternatives (see yesterday’s post). No4 is his preferred slot, Crawley likes to be high in the order (he opens for Kent), so I position them this way round.
  5. Ben Stokes – He is very much England’s x-factor player, and while his captaincy was less than impressive at the Ageas bowl he had a fine all round game as a player
  6. Ollie Pope – his emergence at test level was one of the highlights of the series in South Africa, his first class batting record is truly outstanding and while he may eventually bat higher in the order it should not be forced.
  7. +Ben Foakes – the best keeper in England at present, and he averages over 40 with the bat in the five test matches he has been allowed to play. Buttler in the long form of the game is no more than an ordinary batter and a substandard keeper – his miss at the Ageas bowl on the final day was the costliest England blunder of the match. Buttler has played 107 first class matches and averages precisely 32 with the bat, and has taken 213 catches and executed two stumpings. Foakes has played 109 first class matches, averages 38.01, and has taken 225 catches and made 23 stumpings. The likelihood therefore is that Foakes would actually score more runs than Buttler, but even if this proved not to be the case his superior keeping  would save more runs than under-performing with the bat could cost.
  8. Dom Bess – the offspinner had a good game at the Ageas bowl, including a spirited effort with the bat in the first innings and should hold his place.
  9. Jofra Archer – he had a poor time with the ball in the first innings, but bowled electrifyingly in the second.
  10. Mark Wood – not a good match for him at the Ageas bowl, but it was chiefly the batting that let England down there, and I hate seeing bowlers thrown under the bus when the batters are more blameworthy, plus as long time advocate of England going with two out and out speedsters I do not want to see the experiment abandoned after one game.
  11. James Anderson – he was bang on the money at the Ageas bowl and when fit is without doubt England’s most reliable performer with the ball. Additionally this match is taking place at his home ground of Old Trafford, and I think he deserves the chance to play there if he is fit enough to do so.

ALTERNATIVES AND CLOSE RESERVES

I fear that England will continue with their indefensible policy of selecting Buttler as keeper. I sincerely hope that it is the end of the road for Denly, but I cannot even be certain of that. I could accept Broad being selected, especially as England have indicated that they are thinking in terms of rotating him and Anderson, but I remind of you of my earlier comments about bowlers being thrown under the bus when it is batters who are really blameworthy. I do not consider that an English surface is likely to demand two specialist spinners, but if it does I have Parkinson ahead of Leach in my personal pecking order. Finally rather than any reprieve for Buttler or Denly I would have Bracey down as cover for any batter in the top three and the wicket keeper and Lawrence earmarked should one nos 4-6 be unavailable at short notice. Denly was selected as a stopgap no3 until that gap could be filled properly, and in Crawley it looks like England have found the person to fill it long term.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Thoughts for New Zealand and a Calendar Preview.

A few thoughts about the upcoming tour of New Zealand and a preview of the 2020 aspi.blog Wall Calendar.

INTRODUCTION

The England squad for New Zealand is due to be named soon, and I have some suggestions here. I also use this post to offer aspi.blog readers a sneak preview of the aspi.blog 2020 wall calendar, currently in production and due to arrive with me early next week.

SQUAD FOR NEW ZEALAND

It is unlikely that any surface in New Zealand will warrant the selection of two front line spinners, so for this tour I am selecting fewer spinners than I normally would. Seam and swing tend to be important in NZ just as they are in this country, so I do not regard a second out and out super quick alongside Archer, who should be used in short bursts. Finally, I do not think that even if both are fully fit England should be thinking of using Broad and Anderson in the same squad, so only one of those makes the trip. Batting wise I think the experiment of picking white ball specialists to play test cricket has been tried and found seriously wanting. I have argued for some time that Tammy Beaumont deserves her chance alongside the men and I continue to believe that this experiment is warranted, however uncertainty over Stokes’ ability to function as a full-time bowler in test cricket at present leads me to temporarily shelve that idea. Dominic Sibley has made an iron-clad case for selection as a test match opener, and Rory Burns has done sufficient to hang on to his own place, which leaves Ben Stokes my envisaged no 3, Root back at 4 where he scores much more heavily than at 3, Ollie Pope in at 5, Ben Foakes wicketkeeper at six, Lewis Gregory coming at seven (there could be few better places for a seam bowling all-rounder to begin a test career than New Zealand), Sam Curran at 8, Jofra Archer at 9, Jack Leach at 10 and Stuart Broad at 11 (unless Anderson is fully fit, in which he case he replaces Broad). My reserves would be a top order batter (Beaumont – see above), a middle order batter, possibly Dan Lawrence of Essex who has played at least one major innings recently or if you want someone grittier Somerset’s Tom Abell, an out and out fast bowler (Stone or Wood depending on fitness) and a second spinner (Matt Parkinson would be my choice, his lack of skill with the bat not being a serious issue since I am not expecting him and Leach to figure in the same XI). Note that with both Burns and Pope having some experience of the role a reserve wicketkeeper is not needed.

On the radar for the future I would have Josh Bohannon, the young Lancashire batter, if more spinners are required offspinners Bess and Virdi are immediately in the equation and Patterson-White of Nottinghamshire (who have collectively been utterly dreadful this season, making his small success all the more impressive) may develop into a replacement for Jack Leach when the time comes. In the seam bowling department Ollie Robinson and Jamie Porter will warrant consideration, and the emerging fast bowling talent of Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue should also see him being talked about in the right places. Finally, opener Zak Crawley has attracted favourable notices at times, but at the moment he needs to increase the number of major innings on his CV before really meriting consideration as a test opener.

THE 2020 WALL CALENDAR PREVIEW

13 pics here, the front cover and one for each month:

The Royal London Cup South Group Final Games

The final South Group games in the Royal London Cup, a brief mention of Tapping House and loads of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

We have reached the halfway stage of the last set of matches in the South group of the Royal London Cup. By the end of today we will know who two of the semi-finalists are and who will be playing off for the right to join them. Before looking at today’s matches it is time to reveal all about…

YESTERDAY’S PREDICTIONS

This is what happened in yesterday’s matches:

  • Northamptonshire v Nottinghamshire –  Northamptonshire 325-7 from 50 overs, Nottinghamshire 328-9 from 49.3 overs, Nottinghamshire won by one wicket.
    This one went down to the wire. In the end a magnificent innings by Samit Patel (136 not out) saw Nottinghamshire home. Tom Sole bowled only two overs for Northants (0-17), and my first prediction failed.
  • Derbyshire v WorcetsershireDerbyshire 351-9 from 50 overs, Worcestershire 353-6 from 48.2 overs, Worcestershire won by four wickets.
    130 off 62 balls from Ricky Wessels put Worctesreshire in control of this chase, and with Tom Fell (49 off 56) and Callum Ferguson (103 off 95) also performing well they emerged comfortable winners, spoiling another of my predictions. 
  • Leicestershire v WarwickshireLeicestershire 340 all out from 49.3 overs, Warwickshire 304 all out from 47.1 overs, Leciestershire won by 36 runs.
    Ed Pollock (57) and Robert Yates (66) both got going for Warwickshire, but neither produced a really big score, and nor did anyone else. Tom Taylor ensured that there could be no arguments over player of the match by following his 98 not out with 3-58 and a fine catch. Other than Taylor, Callum Parkinson (brother of Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson) took 1-55 from 10 overs of slow left-arm, and part time spinners Ateeq Javid and Colin Ackerman hac a combined 1-38 from nine, suggesting that they could have been profitably given more overs, just as Warwickshire had missed a trick regarding the offspin of Yates and Banks. I called this one correctly.
  • Durham v Yorkshire no result, Durham 182-2 from 34.2 overs.
    The rain settled this one, ending Durham’s involvement in the competition. 

I had one correct prediction and two wrong ones, putting me on 27/45 overall.

TODAY’S MATCHES

  • Somerset v Surrey Surrey 289-9 from 50 overs.
    Surrey batted well, but could never get right away. Dean Elgar made 64, Ben Foakes 46, Jamie Smith 40 and Ryan Patel 41 not out off 32. FI expect or Somerset the best bowling came from the Overtons, Jamie with 4-64 off nine overs and Craig, continuing his excellent form in the competition, 3-48 from 10. Slow left-armer Roelof Van Der Merwe was economical, recording 1-45 from 10. I predict that Surrey will defend these.
  • Sussex v Glamorgan Sussex 347-7 from 50 overs.
    110 from Laurie Evans, 96 from Luke Wright and 57 not out from David Wiese were the principal contributions to a fine total. Marchant De Lange took 3-74,  22 year-old medium pacer Daniel Douthwaite 2-46 and Lucas Carey 2-64. I expect Sussex to defend these easily.
  • Kent v MiddlesexMiddlesex 380-5 from 50 overs.
    A massive score for Middlesex, dominated by Max Holden, a 21 year-old who bats left handed and bowls right-arm offbreaks, who scored 166 off 139 balls. The other main score was 94 from Kiwi Ross Taylor. No Kent bowler fared at all well. I expect Middlesex to win this with plenty to spare.
  • Essex v Gloucestershire Essex 293 all out from 49.5 overs.
    From a batting point of view this was all about Varun Chopra who scored 156. Leg spinning all-rounder Rishi Patel was next best with 26. Slow left-armer Tom Smith was the pick of the bowlers, emerging with 1-44 from his 10. With Simon Harmer, Tom Westley and possibly Dan Lawrence available to bowl spin of various kinds in addition to Patel I expect Essex to defend these.

Thus my predictions are for wins for Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex and Essex.

BACK TO TAPPING HOUSE

I attended my physio session at Tapping House today and everything went pretty well. We were doing ‘strength and power’ exercises today. Anyway, it was good to get back there, not having been able to go last week.

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GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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The Royal London Cup Half Way Predictions IV

Predictions at the half way stage of todays Royal London Cup matches, some links and plenty of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

There are four matches taking place in the Royal London Cup today, which means that even if all of my predictions turn out incorrect I will still have more right than wrong at the end of it, as I am currently on 12 out of 19.

THE ROYAL LONDON CUP TODAY

This is what is happening so far…

  • Surrey v Essex Surrey 278-8 50 overs
    At 220-3 in the 42nd over Surrey would have been entertaining hopes of getting close to 300. At 241-8 Essex would have been hoping to restrict Surrey to no more than 260. In the end the difference was almost exactly split, thanks to some late hitting from Jason Roy who had suffered a back spasm earlier in the day. Ben Foakes top scored for Surrey with 82. Sam Cook took 3-37 from eight overs, Dan Lawrence bowled his full allocation of 10 and took 2-52 – Surrey will be hoping for something similar from their nearest equjivalent, Will Jacks. I predict that Surrey will defend this total.
  • Hampshire v MiddlesexHampshire 301-9 from 50 overs
    Until the last over Middlesex were faring quite well in this one, buit topping 300 is big psychological boost for Hampshire, albeit that 300 is not the mountainous total it once was in this form of the game. A South African, Aidan Markram, top scored with 88 and a renegade South African, Rilee Rossouw made 64. Tom Helm, right-arm medium fast took five wickets but was made to pay for them (71 in nine overs). I expect Hampshire, with their bowling spearheaded by another renegade South African, Kyle Abbott, to defend this one.
  • Gloucestershire v Kent Kent 282-8 from 50 overs
    The early stages of the Kent innings saw Zak Crawley make 85 and Joe Denly 56. At the end Harare born wicketkeeper Adam Rouse hit 45 not out off 28 balls to boost the total. Benny Howell took 2-39 from his 10 overs, 28 year old right-arm fast medium bowler David Payne had 2-45 and slow left-armer Tom Smith had 2-47 from seven overs. I expect Gloucestershire to chase these down – Kent look to me like they are a trifle short of bowling options (they will almost certainly need Denly to bowl his full ten overs).
  • Warwickshire v Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire 301-9 from 50 overs
    A decent total for Nottinghamshire, Ben Slater making exactly 100, skipper Mullaney 40 and Luke Fletcher and James Pattinson 33 and 32 at the end. Jeetan Patel collected 5-45, George Panayi, a 21 year old right arm fast medium bowler took 2-44. Henry Brookes had an off day today, finishing with 1-78 fron nine overs. I expect Nottinghamshire to defend this total. 

Thus my predictions, with varying degrees of confidence, are: Surrey, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire.

PHYSIO SESSION AT TAPPING HOUSE

Today I attended my second full physio session at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House. The exercises I did today as part of my recovery from cancer include a stair exercise, an arm exercise involving weights, three minutes on the treadmill, a set of arm exercises involving a punching action and three minutes on the bicycle simulator (I was particularly pleased with this one, since I managed to average 26kph, or approx 16mph over the three minutes). While there I also augmented my photo collection:

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LINKS AND PICTURES

First three related pieces. Richard Murphy has added two more to his Taxes To Save the Environment (Taste):

  1. A Carbon Usage Tax
  2. A Land Value Tax With A Woodland Twist

There is also a piece on devonlive, which I was found by way of twitter headlined “Shock and anger as entire Devon woodland is chopped down“. The piece makes clear that not only had planning permission for this atrocity not been granted, the arrogant and unscrupulous developer had not even bothered to seek it. My own opinion is this developer should be punished by both a hefty fine upfront and by being made to replant the woodland at his own expense. My hope would be the combined expense of these two would put him in serious financial difficulties to teach him a lesson.

This is the woodland area at the end of Seymour Drive

Now for my usual sign off…

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I think the tiny bird featured in this picture and the next is a house sparrow – but I have not yet got a picture of it from a really good angle so I cannot be absolutely certain.

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100 Cricketers – 1st X1: The All-rounders

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome the latest installment in this series. So far there has been the introduction, a post about Tammy Beaumont, and a post about the other specialist batters from my first XI. This post now deals with the all-rounders from that list, of whom there are no fewer than four (including the wicketkeeper)…

ANDREW “FREDDIE” FLINTOFF

He took a long time to really establish himself at international level, but then had a couple of years when he could seemingly do no wrong, which included the fantastic 2005 Ashes series. Later on injuries took their toll, but even at the very end of his career his last involvement in the action was a direct hit on the stumps to run out Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

His performance at Edgbaston in 2005, when he scored 73 and 68 and took four wickets in each innings was outstanding, and helped to turn a series that very nearly died a premature death into one that nobody will ever forget. His 18 overs off the reel at the Oval in that same series to give England an unexpected first innings lead was incredible. In the second match of the 2009 series at Lords he bowled England to their first victory over Australia at that venue since 1934 when Hedley Verity took advantage of a rain affected pitch (remember, they played on “ooncoovered pitches” in those days) to record match figures of 15-104). 

England were rather more sensible about Flintoff’s departure than they had been about Ian Botham’s in the early 1990s, when many young cricketers had promising careers effectively strangled by having the “next Botham” label draped round their necks. This time they realised that a straight replacement for Flintoff was, to put it mildly, unlikely, and set about building a different kind of team.

Flintoff had two and a half really superb years (2004, 2005 and 2006 before the tour to Australia at the end of that year which was an unqualified disaster for him and most of the rest of the squad) and produced flashes of brilliance both before and after that period. 

KATHRYN BRUNT

She started out as a specialist bowler, batting low in the order. At one point she dropped out of the game but then made a comeback. Subsequently she has remained the England Womens team’s first choice opening bowler and has improved her batting to the point that she can be regarded as an all-rounder (she now habitually bats at no 6 or 7 in tests and ODIs, and often comes in higher than that in T20s when quick runs are wanted). 

So long as her back holds out (she has been plagued by problems in that area down the years) she will be wanted by England (in the final ODI against India recently she took 5-28, her wickets being those of the top five in the Indian order, and was on 18 not out when England completed their victory). 

ELLYSE PERRY

I saw a very young Ellyse Perry live at the Adelaide Oval in 2009, playing in an ODI for the Australian Women versus the New Zealand Women. In those days she bowled fast with new ball, batted at no 8 (it was obvious that she would be moving up the order in the future) and had a superb throwing arm.

She still bowls fast with the new ball, remains a brilliant fielder, and is now just about the best batter in the women’s game (a test-match double century being her career highlight, along with her recent dominance of the Women’s Big Bash League – three individual centuries in the most recent tournament). 

If you were selecting an Earth Women XI to take on Mars Women she would undoubtedly by the first name on the team sheet and it would go down in ink, not pencil. 

She should still have a few years ahead of her at the top, and my advice would be: enjoy it while you can – talents of this magnitude do not come along very often.

BEN FOAKES

One of the best wicketkeepers in the game, he has played five test matches for England and averages 41.50 with the bat as well as having demonstrated his skills as a keeper. Yet ridiculously his international future is in doubt because of the difficulty (in the minds of the current England selectors at least) of fitting him and Jonny Bairstow into the same England team. If they do not want to use Bairstow as a specilaist batter, filling the no3 slot, then as far as I am concerned he, and not Ben Foakes, should be the one to miss out.

Providing the England selectors see sense Foakes should go on to have a stellar international career.

THE NEXT POST IN THIS SERIES

My next post in this series will feature the specialist bowlers from my first XI and introduce my second X1 preparatory to posting about them.

PHOTOGRAPHY

A few of my own photographs to end:

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Seen from the Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn
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Near the Gaywood River, North Lynn
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My new beanie – from the part of Cornwall where my parfents live.