A look at some of the more important success stories from this round of county championship games and a bumper crop of photographs.
As this round of county championship matches heads towards its conclusion (three are already settled – congratulations to Essex, Gloucestershire and Hampshire on their wins) I highlight several performances of potential interest to England.
While Ollie Pope dominated Surrey’s massive total against Leicestershire with his 245 there were also useful runs for Jamie Smith (119) and far more significantly for Ben Foakes (87), who should feature as England’s test wicket keeper.
For Leicestershire, Hassan Azad, mentioned as a candidate for an opening berth (Burns remains under some scrutiny after his winter, and Sibley is injured and may not be fit for the first test, while Lammonby is struggling horrendously after a fine start to his FC career) made a century in the first innings and is well on the way to doubling up. As things stand at the moment he is averaging 44.84 in FC cricket, while playing his 31st match at that level.
In the west country derby Ryan Higgins had a fine match, and with there being a possible vacancy for an all rounder with Stokes injured and Woakes playing in the IPL that could prove significant. Of more definite significance is the performance of James Bracey – a century and an 82 not out in the second innings. He has been part of the England set up but has yet to play a test match.
Finally, Matt Parkinson for Lancashire has produced a good bowling performance. He took 3-49 in the first innings, including a pretty good impression of the ‘Gatting ball’ and already has 2-23 in the second as Lancashire press for victory (Northamptonshire can do no better than a draw from here). His five wickets in this match have taken his bowling average in FC cricket below 25 (currently 67 wickets at 24.42). He remains #2 to Leach among current England spinners, although he is now paying less per wicket than Leach in FC cricket, because Leach has over 300 wickets to his credit at FC level and is faring respectably at test level, but he may well be earning himself a trip to Australia as an accredited member of the party rather than a ‘reserve’ as was over the winter just gone.
Oliver Edward Robinson of Sussex, definitely a candidate for elevation, has just recorded innings figures of 9-78, giving him 13-128 in the match. If England want five bowling options, Higgins at seven, Robinson at eight, one out and out speedster, Leach and one of Broad/ Anderson could work well, Higgins and Robinson have decent batting credentials.
A look at developments in #WIvSL, some remarkable footage of a volcanic eruption (courtesy of Science girl on twitter), and my latest photographs.
In this post I look at developments in the game between West Indies and Sri Lanka that is just into its second day.
DAY 1: KRAIGG BRATHWAITE DEFIES SRI LANKA
With the West Indies batting first and looking to improve on the draw they recorded in the first game of the series Sri Lanka bowled very well. Veteran seamer Suranga Lakmal was particularly effective, bowling full and just a fraction wide (even in limited overs cricket the umpires would not have been calling wides – he was targetting the area that bowlers like to call ‘fourth stump’) to take three of the first four wickets. For much of the day it seemed that Brathwaite would simply not find anyone to bat well enough with him for the Windies to post a decent total, but then Rahkeem Cornwall, the off spinner who has a decent first class record as lower order batter, set about proving that his maiden test fifty, recorded in the previous match, was no fluke. By the close West Indies had got to 287-7, Brathwaite 99 not out, Cornwall 43 not out.
DAY TWO – LANDMARKS SECURED EARLY
It took one ball of the second day, which is just under way, for Brathwaite to complete his ton with a single, and Cornwall has subsequently got to 50. After three overs of the second day the West Indies are 299-7, Brathwaite 101 not out, Cornwall 53 not out. Lakmal is bowling at one end and left armer Vishwa Fernando at the other, and Cornwall has just brought up the 300 with a two off the latter, taking himself to 55.
LIVE FOOTAGE OF A VOLCANO
Someone who posts on twitter under the name Science Girl has posted some extraordinary footage from Iceland, where volcanic eruptions have been happening lately. You can visit the tweet by clicking here, and the video is embedded below:
My usual sign off, with as evidence of changing seasons (the sun came out today and it has been genuinely warm here in Norfolk) my first butterfly sightings of 2021 – nothing very exotic, just some tortoiseshells.
As I publish the West Indies have still not lost any further wickets, the score being 302-7 after 92 overs.
Some thoughts on the Bob Willis Trophy, a sensational ODI and the start of a test match. Some mathematics, an important petition and some photographs.
This post looks back briefly at the first round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures, for longer at yesterday’s incredible ODI and casts an eye over what is happening in Manchester.
BOB WILLIS TROPHY – EIGHT
DEFINITE RESULTS, ONE DRAW
In addition to the three teams who recorded wins before I reached the end of yesterday’s post, five other teams ultimately achieved victories in the first round of the Bob Willis Trophy. The odd game out was the game between Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, where Northamptonshire having escaped from a very difficult situation declined to make a game of it, and declared at 507-6 in their second innings after which the teams shook hands on a draw. Essex beat Kent by two wickets, Middlesex beat Surrey by 190 runs, bowling them out for 123 in the final innings. Worcestershire beat Gloucestershire by eight wickets. Leicestershire were set to score 150 off 17 overs by Lancashire and did it with eight balls to spare. Derbyshire were set 365 in the fourth innings by Nottinghamshire, and 299-7 it looked like they were either going to be bowled out or just hold out for a draw. However, the eighth wicket pair not only pulled off the great escape, they snatched the win off the last possible ball of the game. These outcomes bear all the hallmarks of a thoroughly absorbing set of county matches, but their conclusions were all overshadowed by…
AN ODI TO REMEMBER
It is often the case that limited overs games do not remain in the memory for any longer than they take to play, but often does not equal always, and most general rules have exceptions. Yesterday’s game between England and Ireland was precisely such a game. England batted first, Roy and Bairstow both failed, while Vince added to his considerable oeuvre of elegant miniatures, once more failing to produce a full scale masterwork. At 44-3 England looked to be in deep trouble, but Tom Banton produced his first ODI 50 at a vital time, skipper Morgan scored a majestic hundred and the lower order produced some useful runs. England eventually tallied 328, which looked enough for them to defend. An early wicket did not augur well for Ireland either, but then Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie produced the best batting of the day to get Ireland within range. Both fell before it was quite a done deal, leaving the veteran Kevin O’Brien and the 20 year old Harry Tector together for the closing stages. It ultimately came down to eight needed off the final over, which Saqib Mahmood accepted responsibility for bowling. Tector hit a four, Mahmood bowled a no-ball and suddenly it was three needed off four balls. The first of those balls was a dot, but Tector then scored two off the third to last delivery to level the scores and took a single of the penultimate ball of the game to take the victory and ten points in the ODI Super League for Ireland. Although it went right down to the wire Ireland looked in control for most of their batting innings and any result other than the actual one would have been a travesty of cricketing justice. Well played Ireland – or if you prefer: D’imir go maith, Éire!
Plenty more will be seen of this Irish side, especially Harry Tector and Curtis Campher, the latter named of whom had a fine debut series. Most of the England side too will feature again, but Moeen Ali and James Vince are both in serious jeopardy – Moeen cannot buy a run at present and his bowling is not sufficient to command a place in its own right while Vince is a player of fine shots who never seems to play a major innings, and although he bowled three overs yesterday he is not a serious bowler, while Banton’s runs yesterday came although he was batting out of position – he normally bats at or very close to the top of the order.
THE TEST MATCH AT MANCHESTER
Another England team is in action between today and Sunday in Manchester, playing the first match of a three match test series against Pakistan. England are unchanged from the third test against the West Indies as Stokes is still not fully fit to bowl, England do not believe that three seamers plus Bess can take 20 wickets between them and the England management retains its absurd faith in Buttler as a test cricketer. Pakistan won the toss and have chosen to bat. They are 121-2 of 41.1 with the players currently off the field for bad light. Archer and Woakes have a wicket a piece, Broad and Anderson have none and Bess has bowled five overs to date. Babar Azam had reached a 50 and left handed opener Shan Masood is not far away from that mark, with Abid Ali and Azhar Ali the two to go, the latter for a duck. Pakistan have taken a minor gamble with their own batting, putting the young leg spinner Shadab Khan at no6, which most would reckon is a place or even two higher than his batting skills currently merit. If Pakistan can get to 300 in this innings that could well be enough for England to struggle – their recent history when faced with anything approaching a substantial total is not exactly encouraging.
SOLUTION AND NEW PROBLEM
Yesterday I posed this problem adapted from brilliant:
My change is that where they gave a list of options for what was closest the the probability that someone testing positive actually has the disease I simply ask: To the nearest whole number what is the percentage chance that someone who has tested positive for the disease actually has it? Answer in my next post (my own explanation, plus a particularly impressive published solution).
The way I worked this one out was: if we imagine a sample of 1,000 people, 50 will have the disease and 950 won’t. Of the 50 who do have the disease 47 will have tested positive while three test negative (94% accuracy on positives). Of the 950 who do not have the disease 96% will have tested negative and 4% won’t. That 4% of 950 is 38, so the probability of a someone who has tested positive actually having the disease is 47/ (47+38) = 47/85. This comes to 55.29% to two decimal places, or to the nearest whole percentage 55% and that is the answer. Below is a jpg of a brilliantly economical published solution from Inesh Chattopadhyay:
Today’s question is incredibly easy, and I also offer a bonus challenge:
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?
A PETITION AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS
Jo Corbyn, chair of NAS Norwich, has a petition on change.org calling on the government to stop cutting people’s life-saving social care. Below is a jpg of the petition, formatted as a link so that you can sign and share it – please do so:
A little look at the ODI between England and Ireland, and upcoming cricket development. Two mathematical challenges and some photographs, including some butterflies.
England are playing Ireland today in the first One Day International anywhere for 139 days. It is England’s first home ODI since the 2019 World Cup final.
BIO-SECURE BUBBLES AND SELECTION
A combination of the rules surrounding bio-secure bubbles and the need to make up for time lost to the pandemic means that England are without their multi-format players (yet another reason why Buttler should have been dropped from the test squad – he is much more valuable as a limited overs player than as a long format player), which means that six of the World Cup Final eleven are missing. Ireland are in transition, and two youngsters, Curtis Campher and Harry Tector (the middle of three brothers, in between Jack and Tim, the last named of whom is according to some the best cricketer) are making their international debuts.
ENGLAND OFF TO A FLYER
Ireland are batting, though whether they still will be by the time I have finished this post is open to question, since they have already lost five wickets, including one of the debutants, Tector. Campher is still batting, and is in partnership with the veteran Kevin O’Brien. This is also the first ODI to contribute to the new ODI League which will decide who qualifies for the next world cup. David Willey, left arm medium fast, and Saqib Mahmood, right arm fast, have done the damage with the ball so far, while Adil Rashid (leg spin) and Tom Curran (right arm fast medium) are currently in action, with vice-captain Moeen Ali presumably fifth bowler should such be required. Tom Banton of Somerset may get an opportunity to demonstrate his batting skills later in the game.
UPCOMING FOR ENGLAND
The ODI squad have another two matches in this series against Ireland, while the first test match of the second series of the summer, against Pakistan, gets underway on Thursday. Pakistan look a stronger combination than the West Indies, making a strong start very important. Australia are due to visit for an ODI series in September. Some steps have already been taken towards spectators returning to the grounds, and more trials will be conducted during the Bob Willis Trophy, the county tournament that is taking the place of the County Championship for what remains of this season. It is not just about making sure that numbers in the ground are safe, but also of ensuring that travel to and from the grounds can be conducted safely. O’Brien has just holed out off the bowling of Rashid to make it 79-6. Simi Singh and Andrew McBrine both have some sort of batting skill, McCarthy is definitely a tail ender and Craig Young is a genuine no11. Simi Singh has just been run out for 0 to make it 79-7. McBrine is next man in. Save for a memorable occasion in New Zealand 42 years ago when Boycott was the victim, courtesy of Botham who had been instructed to up the run rate by any means necessary, there has never been a good time to suffer a run out, but this was a more than usually bad time from an Irish perspective for such a thing to happen.
TWO MATHEMATICAL TEASERS
I have two problems from brilliant to share with you. I start with one officially rated at three daggers (I am showing you two stills from what is actually an animation), but which I consider very much easier than that:
My second offering is more difficult, but not nearly as difficult is the five dagger rating suggests:
This had multiple choice answers originally, but I am not offering them. It is considerably less difficult than the rating suggests, though I admit to spending a measurable length of time thinking about it before coming up with the answer (solving these problems is a ‘before breakfast’ activity for me, and I never spend hugely long on any of them). Solutions tomorrow.
My usual sign off:
PS Well done to Ireland – after that awful start they are still batting, now on 124-7, Campher now on 46, and McBrine 23.
Today’s all time cricket post looks at cricketing families – an XI of siblings takes on an intergenerational XI. Please note the requirement that at least two members of each selected family feature in the team.
For today’s all time XIcricket post we are looking at cricketing families. A team made up of groups of siblings do battle against an intergenerational XI. There are a number of famous cricketing families I could not include – I set myself a rule of including at least two members of each chosen family – not just select one and name their cricketing relations.
THE SIBLINGS XI
*WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career, captain. The way to get round 11 being an odd number when selecting a team of siblings is to pick one group of three siblings, and fortunately there is a darned good such grouping readily available. His test batting average was only 32.29, but he made his debut at the age 32 and played on at that level until he was almost 51 – had the first test in England been in 1870 rather than 1880 his record would have been considerably better. He won eight of his 13 tests as captain, and all 13 of those matches were against the oldest enemy.
EM Grace – right handed opening batter, lob bowler, fearless close fielder. Seven years WG’s senior, that inaugural test in England was his only one, and he shared an opening stand of 91 with his brother in the first innings thereof. England would probably have fared better in the 1882 match that inaugurated the Ashes had he been present in place of AN Hornby. Before WG’s rise overshadowed everyone else EM had been regarded as a phenomenon.
Andrew Flower – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averaged over 50 in test cricket (see my ‘Minor Nations’ post from Monday), and makes a good selection for the critical number three slot, especially since other considerations prevented the use of the only other sibling to have been a really good test no 3, ‘Chappelli’.
Mark Waugh – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, ace slip fielder. The first of two pairs of twins to make their appearances in this XI. He announced his presence at the highest level (selected in place of his brother!) with a scintillating 138 against England and went to establish a superb record.
Steve Waugh– right handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler. He was first picked in 1985 at the age of 20 as a ‘bowling all rounder’, but it is his batting that gets him in – he averaged over 50 at the highest level, and that after taking 27 matches to reach his first century (177 not out at Headingley, as Australia, put in by England skipper Gower cashed in on an ‘attack’ comprising four medium pacers to the tune of 601-7 declared). He would be vice captain of this side.
Grant Flower – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Andrew’s younger brother, averaged just over 40 in test cricket.
Eric Bedser – right handed batter, off spinner. His averages are just the wrong way round – 24.00 with the bat, 24.95 with the ball (833 first class wickets in total), and he is the first of three members of the XI not to have played test cricket.
GF Grace– right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. In his case his sudden death from a freak illness prevented him from having a better record – he was 29 years old and just two weeks previously had played in the inaugural test in England, and had there been such a thing in 1880 his catch to dismiss George Bonnor would have been a shoo-in for the ‘Champagne Moment’. He averaged 25 with the bat and 20 with the ball, and the former figure puts him on a par with Richard Daft, rated no2 to WG Grace in the 1870s, GF’s decade.
Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. Eric’s identical twin brother – and they used to wear identical clothes as well apparently. Because they considered playing for separate counties unthinkable they tossed a coin for who would stick to medium pace, and who would work on batting and off spin, and Alec won. There is a story that once in a benefit match Eric finished an over that Alec had started, and no one noticed the substitution, which suggests that Eric remained quite useful as a medium pacer.
+Thomas Mycroft – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The most obscure of my choices, but he did average almost three dismissals a game in his brief first class career, and his presence enables me to give some much needed punch to the bowling by selecting his brother…
William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class matches, 863 wickets at 12.09 each, and hopefully a suitable new ball partner for Alec Bedser.
This team is strong in batting, and the three Graces plus Eric Bedser should between them be able to provide sufficient bowling back up to the new ball pairing of Mycroft and Eric Bedser.
I might have opted for a new ball pairing of half brothers, Fidel Edwards and Pedro Collins, with Alec Bedser coming on first change, but that could only have been done by giving Andrew Flower the gauntlets and dropping the Mycrofts, and I prefer my no3 not also have to keep wicket. Although both captained England neither Arthur nor Harold Gilligan had a record to merit inclusion, and I certainly could not accommodate both. The Pitheys of South Africa were good rather than great. John and Hugh Trumble and Richie and John Benaud were two pairings that each had one weak link and so could not be accommodated. Johnny and Ernest Tyldesley were also in the mix, but would you drop either the Flowers or the Waughs for them? Richard and Dayle Hadlee could also have been picked to share the new ball, using the same method as for Edwards and Collins.
Ron Headley – left handed opening batter. The Headleys provide three members of this side. He opened for Worcestershire for many years, although his two matches for the West Indies were not a great success.
Vic Richardson – right handed batter. He was not an absolutely regular opener, but he did do the job at test level. We shall meet one of his grandsons at no4 in this order.
George Headley – right handed batter. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, and no3 was his regular position. The first of the family to play top level cricket.
*Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace (started as a leg spinner), excellent slip fielder, captain. Averaged over 50 in test cricket, one of three grandsons of Vic Richardson who all played test cricket.
James H Parks – right handed batter, right arm bowler. The only player ever to have scored 3,000 runs and taken 100 wickets in the same first class season.
+James M Parks – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Son of James H Parks, a fine batter/ keeper for Sussex, and had today;s attitudes to selecting keepers existed in the 1960s he would have played many more times for England in that role than he did.
Maurice Tate – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. One of the greatest of all bowlers of cutters, and the first bowler to be able to use the sea fret at Hove to facilitate movement in the air.
James Lillywhite jnr– left hand batter, left arm orthodox spinner. England’s first test captain; 1,210 wickets at 15.12 in first class cricket. Nephew of…
William Lillywhite – right arm fast roundarm bowler. Known as the ‘nonpareil’ such was his superiority to other bowlers of his era.
Dean Headley– right arm fast medium bowler. The third of the Headley family trio, he played for England and would have had more success had he not been plagued by injuries.
Fred Tate – off spinner, good close fielder. His one test appearance, coming late in his long career, was undistinguished, but 1,331 first class wickets at 21.55 confirms that he is not just here to get his son into the side.
This side has a solid batting line up, and the bowling looks adequate, albeit that Fred Tate is the only front line spin option.
OTHER CRICKETING FAMILIES
Sussex have a grand tradition of cricketing families, as the above team shows – and I did not include the two members of the ruling family of Nawanagar, ‘Ranji’ and ‘Duleep’. The Tremletts produced three generations of first class cricketers, but accommodating all three would have been a challenge. Chris Broad would have been preferable to Ron Headley as opening batter, and Stuart preferable to Dean as a bowler, but if I had made that call I would have had to drop George Headley, and likewise dropping Vic Richardson would have necessitated dropping Greg Chappell. The Cowdreys are the only cricketing family to have produced four successive generations of first class cricketers, but of them all only Colin was truly top class. I would have liked to include the D’Oliveiras but to do so I would have to have found room for either Damian or Brett, so Basil missed out. Charles Townsend, the Gloucestershire leg spinning all rounder would have been useful, but I would have to had to find a place for either his father Frank or his son David, neither of whom were genuinely top class. I could have selected Jonny Bairstow as a batter and David as a keeper in place of the Parkses, but considered JH’s bowling to be a valuable asset. Perhaps the biggest miss caused by my criteria of demanding at least two members of each family feature was Denis Compton, but that would have necessitated finding space for his grandson Nick. The Gunns of Nottinghamshire also missed out. Billy Quaife would have been a solid opener, but I would have had to accommodate his son Bernard, less good, as well. The Quaife’s once faced up as opening batters to Billy and Robert Bestwick, likewise related, but again Robert Bestwick would not have been worth his place. Len Hutton would have strengthened the batting, but accommodating his son Richard would have been a challenge, while the same applies even more strongly to Herbert and Billy Sutcliffe. The great-grandfather/ great-grandson pairing of William Cooper and Paul Sheahan obviously appealed, but neither were really of the highest class. Richard Hadlee missed out because there was no way to accommodate his father Walter. Vinoo Mankad was another in this mix, but again his son Ashok was not good enough to warrant a place. Had I been willing to forego Greg Chappell I could have had an adhesive opening pair of Hanif and Shoaib Mohammad.
The contest for the ‘Cowdrey-Tremlett trophy’ (honouring two of the great cricket dynasties) would be a good one, with a splendid contest within a contest between Alec Bedser and Maurice Tate at the heart of it. I think the better balance of the intergenerational side just gives them the edge.
Some thoughts about a piece of particularly vile “journalistic” malice that was brought to my attention yesterday.
The main body of this post is inspired by the recent behaviour of a publication with whose name I will not sully this site, which has been despicable even by their standards. I also have a special photo section at the end.
THE STOKES STORY
Britain’s most notorious rag recently descended from its customary residence in the gutter to the most stinking, foetid depths of the sewers with a hit piece raking up details from events that occurred over 30 years in the life of the Stokes family. Apart from raking up and old tragedy they were also according Ben Stokes himself inaccurate in various ways, which again is par for the course for this particular rag.
Several things are needed to deal with so called “newspapers” which behave in this fashion:
IPSO, a toothless paper tiger of an organization, needs to be abolished, and all publications and websites which describe themselves as being about news should be required to sign up to IMPRESS, giving them one month in which to have achieved this or else be closed down.
A serious code of practice, with serious penalties up to an including a permanent ban from publication needs to be introduced and enforced (I am not a fan of making legislation retroactive, although that would certainly eliminate from the scene both the publication that inspired this piece and at least one other so called ‘newspaper’.
The kind of malice masquerading as “journalism” that this filthy rag perpetrated at the expense of the Stokes family can only be dealt with properly if seriously harsh measures are available to punish such wrongdoers (Stokes may well win a fairly hefty amount in damages but this will bother neither the hacks involved nor the owner of their publication, as it will not be sufficient to hurt them). Also, because there are no specifications about corrections and apologies (which should be required to be given at least as much prominence as the original story), even in the unlikely event of IPSO bestirring itself do anything in that regard you can be sure that any correction will be buried deep in an anonymous middle page in tiny type.
I also think that the ECB and Test Match Special should be taking action – the latter should make it clear to everyone who works for the rag in question that they are now persona non gratae at all English cricket grounds, while Test Match Special should exclude anyone from the rag from any of their media panels and from appearing as part of the commentary team.
I have picked out the pictures from which the final selection for my 2020 wall calendar will be made, and I present them here:
My thoughts on the changes to the England squad for the upcoming 4th Ashes Test and lots of photographs (do let me know of any you think calendar worthy!)
England have made a couple of changes for the upcoming (and crucial) fourth Ashes test match at Old Trafford. This post looks at those changes and at England’s hopes, and optimistic as ever, discounts in the interests of simplicity the possibility of the Manchester weather emerging victorious.
SETTING THE SCENE
This is probably the most important Manchester test since the equivalent match in the 1902 series (when Australia won by 3 runs to clinch the Ashes). Again, a win for Australia would secure them the Ashes, since as holders a drawn series is enough for them, and that would be all England could do, while a win for England would leave them needing a draw at The Oval to secure the urn (as in 2005, when thanks to the second most significant 158 by a South African born England batter – Basil D-Oliveira’s 1968 effort being #1 in that category the necessary was achieved). In 1956 England needed a win at Manchester to secure the Ashes and Australia, thoroughly spooked by Jim Laker, failed to capitalize on the assistance of a number of weather interruptions, the final margin being an innings and 170 runs in England’s favour. In 1981 England were 2-1 to the good going into the penultimate match at Old Trafford, and won courtesy of Ian Botham’s second ton of the series. Finally, for the historical comparisons, in 1964 a draw was all Australia required from the equivalent match, being one up and holders, and on a pitch which needed white lines down the middle Bobby Simpson ensured that quite literally off his own bat, not being dislodged until the third morning of the match, for 311 in 762 minutes. Australia eventually declared at 656-8, England replying with 611 (Barrington256, Dexter 174) and the few overs that remained before the draw could be officially confirmed were bowled by Barrington and Titmus with an old ball.
Jason Roy and Joe Denly have changed places in the batting order, Denly moving up to open and Roy dropping to no 4, while Craig Overton of Somerset replaces Chris Woakes. While I think switching Roy and Denly was the least England could do in the agttempt to address the problems at the top of their batting order I do not believe it goes far enough (readers of this blog will be aware of my own radical solution, first proposed a year ago when Cook as approaching retirement and Jennings’ inadequacy was all too obvious), and I feel that a no 3 has also to be located somewhere, as Joe Root is clearly not relishing the position. Overton for Woakes is uncontroversial, though I would have preferred another Somerset man, Lewis Gregory, to have got the nod. Denly has a low initial bar to clear – get England’s batting off to a better start than they have been managing of late – a three-legged elephant would probably have a chance of clearing a bar that low. Having made their calls, England need to back their judgement, and if they win the toss they should choose to bat first and hope to score enough to put Australia under pressure. If the Denly-Roy switch works out (and it can hardly turn out worse than the previous arrangement!), then a big total is a genuine possibility. As England have been discovering lately it is hard if you are starting each innings effectively already two wickets down. If England win they will go to The Oval as favourites, a draw still leaves them with a chance (look up 1926, 1930, 1934 and 1953 for examples of an Ashes deciding victory happening at The Oval) but defeat means curtains. However, even a defeat might be used to benefit England in the long term – with the Ashes gone it would be an opportunity/ necessity for England to experiment (I would expect a second front line spinner to be named in the squad for that match regardless of the result of the upcoming one, because pitches in South London so often offer turn).
My own thoughts about the amazing “Headingley Heist” and the remainder of the Ashes series, plus links and of course photographs.
This post features my thoughts on the incredible test match that has just finished at Headingley. I also have a couple of other things to share at the end of this post.
A LATE TWIST
England looked to have destroyed their Ashes chances when they slumped to 67 all out after having dismissed Australia for 179. Australia reached 246 all out in their second dig, withLabuschagne once again their top scorer. This meant that England needed 359 to win, which if achieved would be the highest total they had ever scored to win a test match, beating the 332-7 at Melbourne in 1928-9 (Herbert Sutcliffe 135, Jack Hobbs 49, and a crucial piece of advice to promote Jardine if he or Sutcliffe got out that evening – he did and Jardine, with the pitch still difficult, chiselled out a crucial 33) that secured that series for England. Roy failed again as opener, underlining his unsuitability for that position in red ball cricket. Burns was also our fairly early, but Rootand Denlybatted well for a time, before with the close of play for the day approaching Denly who had reached 50 surrendered his wicket. That brought Stokesto the crease, and he and Root were still there at the close. Root was out early on the 4th morning for 75, and although Bairstowbatted well, Buttler, Woakes, Archer and Broad were all out fairly cheaply. England were 286-9 when Jack Leach walked out to join Stokes and the game looked well and truly up, though England had made a fight of it. Then Stokes, who had spent a long time digging himself in before beginning to score freely, started to really lash out, one over from Hazlewood being clonked for 19 including two huge sixes. As England got closer and closer Australia started to panic, and first skipper Paine burned their last review on an L.B.W appeal when the ball was obviously missing leg very comfortably, thenLyon failed to hold a return when had he done so Leach would have been run out by a country mile. Then an L.B.W appeal was turned down, and had Australia had a review left sending it upstairs would have won them the match at the last gasp. Leach got off the mark with the most important single he will ever score, off Cummins, which brought the scores level and put Stokes back on strike. Cummins bowled to Stokes….
and Stokes creamed it for four, and England had pulled off a truly spectacular heist, and Ashes 2019 was back on with a vengeance.
On a lighter note, the Beard Liberation Front have given Ben Stokes a free pass to the final shortlist for “Beard of the Year” – surely given his Christchurch birthplace and that country’s attitudes towards its larger neighbour he is also nailed on for “New Zealander of the Year 2019”?!
DON’T USE YESTERDAY TO PAPER OVER THE CRACKS (OR CHASMS?!)
England pulled this one out of the fire, but their batting was badly exposed in the first innings, and they benefitted from more than a little good fortune in the closing stages. England made an escape to send Harry Houdini green with envy, and it is highly likely that the next match decides the fate of the Ashes – if Australia win it they have retained them, and if England win it they will go to The Oval 2-1 up, and those of us who remember 2005 and 2009 know what happens when England reach The Oval still in control of their own destiny. Thus, although yesterday’s events made a nonsense of the title of my previous post I hold firm to the arguments made therein (half-decent batting efforts from Denly and Bairstow not being sufficient to change my mind on that score). My reasoning and selected squad for the next test match are reproduced below:
An opening batter alongside Burns (Roy is not suited to this role in red ball cricket, though he may be able to handle no 3 if the openers see off the new ball). Absent anyone who has made a really commanding case I once again suggest the radical solution of dropping Tammy Beaumont a line and seeing if she is up for having a go alongside the men (I first suggested this about a year ago).
Roy or Stokes (if you fancy a calculated gamble) at no 3, to enable…
Ollie Pope in at no 5 to stiffen up the middle order (he is fresh off the back of a double century, and has a first class average of almost 60).
Stokes down a place to no 6 if you don’t put him at no 3, otherwise Ben Foakes to bat here as keeper
If Stokes is at no 6, then Foakes bats 7, otherwise Roy (if deep batting is needed) or Lewis Gregory (if you want five genuine bowlers possibly with Stokes as 6th).
No change needed at nos 8-11 – the bowlers acquitted themselves well, though Sam Curran has to be considered, and a second spinner (for my money either Matthew Parkinson or Helen Fenby depending on how radical you are prepared to be) should be in the squad.
Thus my 13 for the 4th match would be: Burns, Beaumont, Stokes, *Root, Pope, +Foakes, Roy, Woakes, Archer, Broad, Leach, Gregory, Fenby, with the first 11 names listed likely to play unless conditions warrant Gregory for Roy or Fenby for Roy if two spinners are warranted. As for Denly, he has had too many nearly innings, most of them given away by ill-judged shots and has to go. Australia’s new openerHarris has just fallen to Jack Leach making Australia 36-2. Eight more wickets and then some much better batting now the requirement.
I add a little coda to the above – if Anderson is fit he should of course play.
For the moment: game on – oh, and Aussies you really need to brush up on DRS, you messed up big time in that department.
Some thoughts on the second Ashes test at Lord’s and a lot of photographs.
The weather-hit second Ashes test at Lord’s ended yesterday evening, with Australia undoubtedly the happier of two sides to come away with a draw. This post contains my thoughts on the match and today’s announcement of an unchanged England squad for the third test, which gets underway on Thursday.
A GREAT TEST MATCH
A third of this match was lost to the weather and yet it was not far away from providing a definite result even so. England scored 258 in the first innings, Burns and Bairstow making fifites, and Denly producing a classic “Vince” – a well compiled 30. England bowled well to claim a slender first innings lead. Jofra Archer struck Smith a blow to the head, from which he briefly resumed, before getting out for 92 (progress for England after he had scored twin tons in the first test match). Smith did not take the field for England’s second innings and his place in the batting order was taken under the concussion rule by Manus Labuschagne. England did not start well – Roy and Root (who does not look to be relishing the no3 slot) both fell cheaply, Denly had a second “Vince” of the match, 26 this time round, and Burns fell for a gritty 29. However, Stokes in the company of first Buttler and then Bairstow dug England out of a hole and then propelled them to a declaration, being on 116 not out when England declared to set Australia 267 off 48 overs (a little overcautious – surely the declaration should have coincided with Stokes reaching the hundred). Archer was electrifying with the ball on this final afternoon and evening and Leach confirmed the rightness of selecting him as first spinner by taking three cheap wickets and comfortably outbowling Lyon, an absolute reversal of what happened with Moeen Ali in the first test match. Australia finished on 154-6 when Aleem Dar called time with three balls left in the match and four Aussie wickets standing (evidently he felt there was no chance of someone being stumped off a wide, then followed by a hat trick to finish it – and I can’t argue with that). A combination of overcaution on England’s part and the fact that, good is he is, Leach is no Underwood saw to it that the impossible did not quite come to pass, but this was still the second best match to take place at Lord’s this season.
England’s huge improvement in this match should not mask the fact that several problems remain in their line up. I am going to run down the list player by player with my thoughts (click on the player name to view their cricinfo details:
Rory Burns – his fighting efforts in both innings here, following his Edgbaston ton confirm that he has arrived at the highest level, meaning that there is now only one problem in the opening slots.
Jason Roy – I believe that it is right for England to persevere with him, but I do not see him as a test match opener – no3 or 4 is more like it. Both his dismissals in this match were down to bad batting and not good bowling.
Joe Root – it was right for England to move him up to no3, and such moves should be given a fair trial, but I for one will not surprised to see him back at no4 before too long.
Joe Denly – batted decently for a time in both innings but then got out (again his wickets were given rather than being taken, in both innings). If he has a longish term future at test level (bear in mind that he is already 32, ) I think it more likely to be as opener than no 4, however he would not be part of my long term plans.
Ben Stokes – his second innings century was a quite magnificent knock, starting cautiously, with England in trouble and then opening out as prospects of defeat faded. If England can accept that at test level he is not a front-line bowler, but rather someone who may bowl a few overs here or there I could see him batting higher up the order – he is technically excellent and has a full range of scoring shots at his disposal. Only Root in the current squad is definitely ahead of him on batting ability.
Jos Buttler– he played well in the second innings, when England badly needed it.
Jonny Bairstow – He had his best test match with the bat in some time, and there were no huge howlers behind the stumps. I still rate Foakesahead of him in both departments, but his return to form is welcome.
Chris Woakes – bowled well, and made a solid effort with the bat in the first innings.
Jofra Archer – a magnificent test debut, he was electrifying with the ball in his hand. He has taken to test cricket the way ducks took to 1990s England scorecards!
Stuart Broad – In the absence of Anderson (likely to be out for the series) he is leading the bowling attack, and his performance in this match was one of which he can be proud.
Jack Leach – He bowled well in this match, with his three second innings wickets being less than his bowling merited. As mentioned earlier he outbowled Lyon in this game, confirming along the way his status as England’s no 1 spinner.
England still have to find a second opener alongside Burns (Dominic Sibley has to be considered, there is still time to try my ultra-radical solution and as another outside bet, young George Bartlettof Somerset has had a fine season, plays fast bowling well and is better suited to long form cricket than limited overs stuff), unless Root starts delivering from there soon no 3 also remains a problem. There is also the question (and in the not distant future England will be playing somewhere where such a bowling attack is mandatory) of who will be second spinner (depending on how radical you are prepared to be I suggest either Matthew Parkinson, or for an attempt at a ‘mystery bowler’ option Helen Fenby). I would like to see Sam Curran and Lewis Gregory accommodated somehow as well. However, unquestionably after this performance England are looking in better shape than they were a few days ago.
An account of two staging posts on my journey back to health and fitness, plus a few links and plenty of photographs.
This post details a couple of staging posts on my recovery from the cancer that almost killed me at the back end of last year that occurred on Thursday and yesterday respectively. I end this introduction with a mini-challenge – below is a photograph of mine with all the colour removed – can you identify the butterfly in it? (answer located in the photographs at the end of this piece).
THURSDAY: THE SIGNATURE DISH
Due to my illness and the fact that this requires over an hour of cooking time I had not done it in about a year, but, emboldened by my all-clear on Monday and generally improving state of health I had resolved to try it. I obtained most of the necessary ingredients by way of an online Sainsbury’s shop, delivery arranged for 3-4PM on Thursday. However, I realized that I had forgotten to order lemons and went across the road to the local shop to buy them (annoyingly they came packaged in plastic – ugh!!). I could simply refer you to my first ever blog post and leave it at that, but I am going to describe the process as it occurred.
Just after 5PM I squeezed the lemons (four of them), assembled my extra flavourings (two teaspoons ground cumin, one tea spoon ground coriander, one and a half teaspoons salt), and measured out 150mls of water. Then I prepared the ginger paste by chopping half a ginger root into chunks, adding a little water and whizzing them in my mini-blender until the mixture was paste-like. After that I started cooking the chicken thigh fillets in the pot I would be assembling everything in for the final stage (a minor irritation – there were five of them, when six what have been a much better number). While the chicken was cooking I chopped the stalks off the fresh coriander (a 100g bunch) and then chopped half a head of garlic as small as I could manage. Once the chicken was golden on both sides I placed it in a bowl and covered that bowl with a plate. Then I put the garlic in the pot and stirred it while it cooked for a minute, before adding the ginger paste and stirring the mixture together. Then I added the fresh coriander and extra flavourings to the mix, stirring it all together for about another minute before adding the chicken and associated liquid from the bowl. Then I added the lemon juice and water, and stirred again. At this point I turned the heat up for long enough to get the mixture bubbling, turned it down again and put the lid on the pot. I then left it for 15 minutes to pick up flavour (my evening carer arrived at this point and was impressed by my efforts). A quick taste of the mixture confirmed that I had not lost my touch, and I then started the water boiling for the pasta accompaniment (the original recipe from which I created my version stipulates rice as the accompaniment, but it works at least as well with pasta and the latter is easier to cook). Once the pasta was cooked it was ready to eat, and I served myself two of the thigh fillets, and spooned a decent quantity of the juices over my pasta. It was an excellent supper, and I shall eat the rest of it tonight.
SATURDAY – TO TOWN AND
BACK UNDER MY OWN STEAM
I had arranged to have lunch in town with my aunt, and had decided to use the occasion to test out my improved health by walking there (and, I hoped, back). We had arranged to meet up at 1PM outside the Lynn Restaurant. My music session (at the Discovery Centre, which from the point of view of the walk to town is effectively the same as starting from my bungalow) ended at 12:15PM, which left me 45 minutes to reach my destination, and I had some library books with me – my plan was to take a view at the train station as to whether to divert to the library to return them or take the more direct route to my destination. When I checked the time at the station there were 20 minutes remaining, which was enough for a quick call at the library to return the books. I duly arrived outside the Lynn restaurant dead on 1PM. My aunt suggested a new restaurant which had opened up where Top Shop used to be, but when we got there it turned out that we would have a long wait for our food, so we reverted to the Lynn Restaurant. The meal was excellent, and at the end of it I felt strong enough to make the return journey on foot, and again went by way of the library to take some more books out.
I was very tired by the time I arrived home, but for the first time since becoming ill I had walked to and from the Town centre unassisted.
CODA: THIS MORNING
This morning once my carer had called I went out for a walk, and emboldened by yesterday, I went to The Walks, heading as far as the Vancouver Garden, where the bandstand is located, before returning by a different route – taking the path the St John’s Walk, and then heading along Tennyson Avenue, crossing the main road at the lights and taking a cut through to Columbia Way that I have known for some time although not used in a while – it involves several short sections of firm but unsurfaced road which can be traversed in one by a pedestrian but not by a motorist.
LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
I have a few links to share before we get to my usual sign off: