A brief account of another staging post on my road to recovery.
This afternoon saw another staging post in my receovery from cancer…
MY FIRST INDEPENDENT OUTDOOR WALK SINCE BECOMING ILL
Just before 2PM this afternoon I left my bungalow for a short walk. Although fairly cold and very grey the weather here is by no means terrible given that we are at the back end of December, so having donned by black beanie to cover the most obvious signs of the treatment that I have been undergoing I was ready to sally forth. I was out and about for approximately 15 minutes and save for occasional photography stops was walking all that time on my unaided own. Here are some pictures…
Congratulations to England on their series win, a farewell to Alastair Cook who has announced his impending retirement from international cricket, some maths problems and solutions and some photographs.
This is going to be a long post because there is a massive story to cover concerning the cricket in addition to the match itself. I will also be including some mathematical problems and solutions and of course some of my own photographs.
ENGLAND WIN A THRILLER TO TAKE THE SERIES 3-1 WITH A MATCH TO GO
On Thursday when England stumbled to 86-6 after winning the toss and batting I was not expecting to be writing a piece of this nature. England failed to polish off the Indian first innings when they had a chance of a lead. When Stokes stuffed skipper Root (run out 48) it was 122-5 and England led by only 97. Then came another lower order fightback, and with Curran adding 46 to his first innings 78 England set India 245 to win. The match was settled while I was at the Mencap Beach Hut, Old Hunstanton on an NAS West Norfolk day out. As usual the key wicket was that of Kohli, and once he had gone India never got back into contention, Moeen Ali adding four wickets to the five he took in the first dig (he is very much a bowler who likes being at home – 91 wickets at 31 in England, 51 at 52 abroad) to help settle things. In neither innings did England’s top order deliver sufficiently (a recurring problem). Aside from Root’s 48 from his preferred no 4 slot in the second innings, the highest score from an England player in the top four was Jennings’ second innings 36. I am now going to through England player by player.
A N Cook – see next section
K K Jennings – a failure in the first innings, and in many ways a worse story in the second – an opener who gets as far as 36 should be settled in for the long haul. I believe that with the series safely won and the situation ripe for experimentation he should be dropped.
J E Root – the skipper dropped himself to no 4 in the second innings and it took a run out to get rid of him then.
J M Bairstow – he was sufficiently injured to prevent him from keeping but not apparently from batting, but if he is to play as a specialist batsman it should be at no 3.
B A Stokes – the new, responsible Stokes played well up to a point in this match but in the second innings he overdid the blocking to the point of handing the initiative to India. Also running out the skipper never looks great (save perhaps at Christchurch in 1978 when Botham, allegedly acting on instructions from vice captain Willis to do whatever was needed to up the run rate, stitched up skipper Boycott).
J C Buttler – one of only two England batsmen to have topped the 250 run mark thus far in the series (the other being the wunderkind Curran) and competent behind the stumps.
M M Ali – a useful batting effort after England’s disastrous start on day 1 and two good bowling performances. His mid-match promotion to number three (where he did recently hid a double century for Worcestershire v Yorkshire) shows how desperate England are to find a way for Root to bat at four.
S M Curran – about the only thing the youngster hasn’t done in this series is walk on water! He is establishing himself as a star player.
A U Rashid – a poor match with both bat and ball, but he is too good not be firing again soon.
S C J Broad – a solid match for the veteran new ball bowler. He has now drawn level with Sir Richard Hadlee in the all-time test wicket takers list.
J M Anderson – a quiet match for one of the all-time great swing bowlers, but even though he did not take many wickets he continued to command respect.
I will end the cricket part of this post by naming my team for The Oval.
FAREWELL ALASTAIR COOK
Alastair Cook, after 160 test matches, the last 158 in sequence (the longest unbroken run of appearances in test history, and not likely to be challenged any time soon) has announced that the last match of this series, at The Oval, will be his international swansong. This marks the end of an epoch not just for England but for test cricket – in many ways Cook is the last true test match batsman, having made his debut before T20 was a really major thing and unlike many who get seduced by the bright lights and big money at tournaments such as the IPL he abandoned short form cricket to concentrate on his test match career. His achievements in test cricket placve him firmly among the greats of the game, and I think he has timed his announcement exactly right, bowing out on his own terms (which he had more than earned the right to do) and before too many people began to ask just why he continued to be picked.
On the 2010-11 Ashes tour Alastair Cook had to most successful visit to that part of the world by anyone named Cook since Captain James called by in 1770, and the most successful by an England batsman since Hammond in 1928-9. He played three monumental innings in that series, a match saving 235 not out at the Gabba (also sometimes referred to as the ‘Gabbatoir’ on account of what often happens to visiting sides there), his 148 at Adelaide that set the stage for the Pietersen innings that put Australia right out of that game and the 189 at Sydney in the final game that ensured that the final scoreline for the series would reflect England’s dominance (a 2-2 draw would have been an utter travesty, and even 2-1 to England after a drawn final match would have looked better than Australia deserved).
I have no doubt that there will be occasions in the near future when England find themselves wishing for Cook’s cool head and fighting qualities. It will be hard to get used to an England order without the name Cook at the top of it.
From this huge cricket fan and devotee of test cricket the message is “Well done Alastair, and thanks for some fabulous memories, especially of the Aussies being humbled in their own backyards”.
Solutions to my last two maths problems, some sciencey pieces, a petition and some photographs.
This post includes solutions to the problems I posed on Saturday, and a few other things from various sources.
SPACE STATION DODECAHEDRON
Here is the question as a reminder:
Here is the answer:
Here is a splendidly concise solution from David Vreken:
A VARIARION ON THE MALFATTI THEME
Here is the question:
Here is the answer:
In the 19th century Malfatti conjectured that the way to maximise the area of a triangle you could fill with three circles was to fill in the three largest circles that touch specifically two of the three sides. Although he was not alive to be humiliated it turned out that he was not merely wrong, his proposed solution has been proved not to work for a single triangle. The solution that always works is first put in the largest single circle that touches all three sides that you can, then fill in the largest circle you can in the remaining space and then do so again. In an equilateral triangle the difference is small, but in a long thin isosceles triangle it is quite substantial.
Here is Jeremy Galvagni’s published solution:
SCHOOL REFUSAL SYNDROME PETITION
This on the official site for petitions to the UK government, which means that you have be a UK citizen to sign it. Please click the screenshot below to sign and share it if so minded:
David Quammen, a good writer and a useful scientist to know about if you are planning an A to Z post, has a new book out on the subject of evolution, and Jerry Coyne of whyevolutionistrue has provided a very detailed review of it.
Finally, a letter to the Guardian signed by 60 well known environmental campaigners declaring their unwillingness to debate with climate change deniers, and why they are unwilling to do so. Below is the opening to the letter (please click to visit the original) and a list of signatories:
Concluding my account of the day at St Michael’s Mount as we near the end of my series about my visit to Cornwall.
Welcome to the latest installment in my series of posts about my recent visit to Cornwall. This post completes the day at St Michael’s Mount, leaving me with a post to do about the journey home and finally a page from which all the posts about this trip can be accessed. The fact that this will mean (including the page) 13 pieces relating to the trip bothers me not a jot – I have no more time for triskaidekaphobia than I do for any other ridiculous superstition.
WRAPPING UP ST MICHAEL’S MOUNT
Having finished our exploration of the mount itself it was time for lunch, which was excellent. The establishment at which we ate our lunch has a rule that alcoholic drinks can only be served if food is ordered at the same time, and according to their interpretation cream teas do not count as food, so on two occasions in the course of that meal we ordered portions of chips to go with drinks. Mention of cream teas (a speciality of the far west of England) brings me to a debate that rages unchecked: which goes on the scone first, the cream or the jam? The cream advocates argue that cream in this context is the equivalent of butter (and if it is Cornish clotted cream it is so thick that one can pretty much slice it like butter!), and that if you put the cream on first you do not get jam in it. I am not sure what the jam advocates base their case on.
Lunch consumed it was time to head back to our parking place on the edge of Penzance. The tide was just starting to turn but was still a long way out, and unlike the Mont St Michel, on which the current setup of St Michael’s Mount is modelled the tide here comes in slowly (no danger of galloping horses being swallowed by an inrushing tide, as allegedly happened at Mont St Michel on one famous occasion), so we were still able to walk back across a vast expanse of beach to rejoin the official footpath just west of Marazion. I omitted to remove my socks and shoes for this part of the journey, and they ended up thoroughly soaked, although by the end of the walk they had dried out again (without the sea breeze the heat would have been fiendish).
A post celebrating recent successes for the England men’s and women’s cricket teams.
The last few weeks have been magnificent for English cricketers of both sexes. Each side has been very dominant through a sequence of games, and each have set a team scoring record during the sequence of games.
The women warmed up with an ODI series against South Africa, losing the first match but winning matches 2 and 3 very comfortably, in each case with their efforts being spearheaded by centuries from Tammy Beaumont. Then they moved into a T20 tri-series featuring South Africa and New Zealand, the latter fresh from three straight 400-plus ODI tallies against Ireland, the last of which featured the first part of a ‘script rejection’ performance by Amelia Kerr – 232 not out with the bat, and then to settle things 5-17 with the ball. No author of a cricket themed novel would dare have a 17 year-old do that in an international match, but it happened in real life.
On Day 1 of the tri-series New Zealand opened proceedings by scoring 217 from their 20 overs against South Africa, which at the time was a new record in that form of the game, and won them the match comfortably. That record lasted until later that same evening when England took on South Africa, and with Beaumont scoring yet another century (getting there in a mere 47 balls) and Katherine Brunt responding to a promotion up the order by running up 42 not out off just 16 balls reached a total of 250-3. This proved way out of SA’s reach. On Saturday, the second set of games in the tri-series, England lost to South Africa but bounced back to beat New Zealand in the other match.
The men started the limited overs segment of their summer by losing to Scotland at The Grange, but then they commenced a five match series against Australia and were absolutely dominant through the first four matches, winning all comfortably and racking up 481-6 in the third match. The fifth match was a very different kettle of fish. Australia were all out for 205, a modest total that featured the most misjudged leave-alone in cricket history (perpetrated by Ashton Agar). England then collapsed to 114-8 and I was getting ready to point out that wins in dead rubbers don’t really count. However, Jos Buttler was still there, and now Adil Rashid provided some sensible support, and the pair put on 81 for the ninth wicket, turning the match into a nail-biter. Jake Ball, the England no 11 only scored 1 not out, but he survived 11 deliveries, while Buttler first completed an astonishing hundred (with a six that on sheer distance should probably have been a nine) and then sealed England’s one-wicket victory in this game and with it a 5-0 whitewash against the old enemy.
Tim Paine thus became the second Tasmanian born captain with a surname that begins with P to surrender a match in which the opponents had needed 92 with only two wickets left (look up Mohali 2010 for more details).
Buttler’s innings secured him both the player of the match and player of the series awards. Buttler was 110 not out in a score of 206-9, and the joint second biggest scores were 20 for Alex Hales and Adil Rashid, and he finished the series with 275 runs at a handy 137.50. In the course of this innings he passed 3,000 ODI runs. Unlike most of his previous big innings which have been all about putting opponents to the sword (his 3,000th ODI run came up off only just over 2,500 balls faced in this form of the game) this one involved getting his team out of trouble and probably rates as his finest for precisely that reason.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have benefitted from the fact that everyone has contributed somewhere along the line, but each also have had certain players who have been especially outstanding (see Buttler above), and I offer the following composite list of the best:
Moeen Ali: Watching the way the Aussies tackled his off-spin you might have thought they had been put in a time machine and taken back to 1956.
Jonny Bairstow: about the only thing he did wrong all the way through was get out in the game at The Grange when he was putting Scotland to the sword and would have had England firmly in control had he batted a few more overs. None of the Aussie bowlers, even the highly impressive Billy Stanlake, had any idea where to bowl at him.
Tammy Beaumont: the smallest player in physical stature in this list (5’3″ tall) she has been a metaphorical giant in these matches with three centuries from her position at the top of the order.
Katherine Brunt: In the first match she made 72 to give England something to defend. After her 42 not out in the 250-3 T20 game she followed up by picking up 2-18 from her four overs. Ignore talk of imminent retirement – so long as her body remains in one piece she will keep going.
Jos Buttler: The batsman-keeper did all that was asked of him in the first four matches of the series against Australia and when the going got tough in fifth match he got going and carried England to victory.
Alex Hales: started these matches as favourite to miss out once Stokes was available again but played several incredible innings, and I would now say that for all his all-round credentials Stokes has to be considered as far from certain to regain his place.
Adil Rashid: another of the ‘role-reversal’ aspects of this series was that on this occasion it was Aussie batsmen who looked like rabbits in headlights when facing an English leggie. In addition to his success with the ball he played that crucial little innings in the final match.
Jason Roy: the leading run scorer of the series with 304, including a ton which spearheaded the chase-down of 310 in the 4th game.
Anya Shrubsole: reliable as ever with the ball, and when really needed in the game against New Zealand on Saturday she delivered some quick runs.
Sarah Taylor: quite possibly the best wicketkeeper of either sex on the planet at present and she also scored some important runs.
Danielle Wyatt: opening with Beaumont in the 250-3 game she was quite magnificent, and she had other successes through the season.
Time now for some photographs, starting with a cricket themed one from James and Sons’ upcoming cigarette cardauction.