All Time XIs – The Family Game

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.

INTRODUCTION

For today’s all time XI cricket 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

  1. *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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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’.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Grant Flower – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Andrew’s younger brother, averaged just over 40 in test cricket.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. +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…
  11. 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.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

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.

INTERGENERATIONAL XI

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. *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.
  5. 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.
  6. +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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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…
  9. William Lillywhite – right arm fast roundarm bowler. Known as the ‘nonpareil’ such was his superiority to other bowlers of his era.
  10. 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.
  11. 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

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.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off:

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Butterflies will soon be in evidence…
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…a caterpillar dozing on a leaf

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Two caterpillars visible in this shot…
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…this one and…
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….this one.

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A flower that lures…
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…bugs like this one…
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…to their dome – besides the one I was focussing on, which crawled in but was not going to be getting out any time soon you can two other bug bodies in there.
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This bee has a large load of pollen.

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A flick of a dark coloured tail caught my attention, but it was merely an adventurous young cat…
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…returning the the path shortly afterwards.

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Family Game
The teams in tabulated form.

A Descent From The Gutter To The Sewer

Some thoughts about a piece of particularly vile “journalistic” malice that was brought to my attention yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

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:

  1. Leveson 2 needs to adopted in full as a start,
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

CALENDAR SELECTIONS

I have picked out the pictures from which the final selection for my 2020 wall calendar will be made, and I present them here:

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England’s Prospects at Old Trafford

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!)

INTRODUCTION

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 (Barrington 256, 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.

ENGLAND’S CHANGES

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).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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This azure damselfly seems an appropriate picture to use to point out that I am thinking about pictures for use in the aspi.blog 2020 wall calendar – I have a few ideas already, and would welcome suggestions from readers.

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A red dragon fly in flight.

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A two for on damselflies! (five pics to choose from)

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Not often in easy view – a water vole seen near the centre of King’s Lynn today.

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The Headingley Heist

My own thoughts about the amazing “Headingley Heist” and the remainder of the Ashes series, plus links and of course photographs.

INTRODUCTION

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, with Labuschagne 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 Root and Denly batted well for a time, before with the close of play for the day approaching Denly who had reached 50 surrendered his wicket. That brought Stokes to the crease, and he and Root were still there at the close. Root was out early on the 4th morning for 75, and although Bairstow batted 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, then Lyon 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.

Here are some extra follow-up links:

  • The full scorecard of this truly extraordinary match.
  • Video highlights of those amazing final stages.
  • Some of the social media comment on Stokes’ innings.
  • 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:

  1. 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).
  2. Roy or Stokes (if you fancy a calculated gamble) at no 3, to enable…
  3. Root to revert to no 4 where he really belongs.
  4. 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).
  5. Stokes down a place to no 6 if you don’t put him at no 3, otherwise Ben Foakes to bat here as keeper
  6. 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).
  7. 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 opener Harris 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.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Two links for you first:

  1. A reminder about the petition to ban driven grouse shooting, which is now about 4/5ths of the way to 100,000 signatures.
  2. The results of a large survey about Autism – they make interesting, and for some of you, challenging reading.

Now for my usual sign off…

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Second Test Restrospective

Some thoughts on the second Ashes test at Lord’s and a lot of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Jason RoyI 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.
  3. Joe Rootit 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.
  4. Joe Denlybatted 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.
  5. Ben Stokeshis 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.
  6. Jos Buttler he played well in the second innings, when England badly needed it.
  7. 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 Foakes ahead of him in both departments, but his return to form is welcome.
  8. Chris Woakes – bowled well, and made a solid effort with the bat in the first innings.
  9. Jofra Archera 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!
  10. 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.
  11. Jack LeachHe 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 Bartlett of 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.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual  sign off…

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Pictures from yesterday’s walk

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Information board near the station
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My bungalow is just off the northern edge of this map.

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The las pic from yesterday’s walk.
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Pictures from today’s walk, which as you will see was longer.

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I got to “Cormorant Platform”, the first time I have done so since becoming ill.

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The South Gate

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I think that this white bird is a breed of goose (it is too large to be a duck and both too solid and not long enough in the neck to be a swan).

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Two Developments

An account of two staging posts on my journey back to health and fitness, plus a few links and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

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).

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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:

Now for my usual sign off…

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Four shots from music

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Three shots from the new restaurant.

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Four shots from the Lynn Restaurant

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The door to the hobbit quarters!

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The butterfly featured in the intorduction to this post – a red admiral.

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A painted lady.

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When the sun catches them at the right angle the feathers on a magpie’s back look blue rather than black.

Cricket, Petitions and Photographs

Some thoughts about the early stages of the 2nd Ashes test at Lord’s, two petitions and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This is mainly a sharing approach, but I have some comments about the test match that has finally gotten underway a day late as well.

BURNS CONTINUES TO ANSWER CRITICS

What should have been day 1 of the second Ashes test at Lord’s was yesterday washed away without the toss even taking place (such are the vagaries of English late summer weather!) but today we have action. Australia won the toss and decided to field (a decision on the borderline between confident and arrogant, based on attempting to bat only once in between two England innings). England a currently 112-3, Jason Roy having fallen to the third ball of the match, Joe Root having also fallen cheaply and Denly having done a “Vince” with a nicely made 30. Rory Burns is still there, currently 53 not out, with Buttler at the other end. This is an impressive follow-up to his first innings ton at Edgbaston after commentators had been unanimous in not thinking him worth persevering with. Having supported him all the way through since I first mentioned him when the Cook/ Jennings pairing was due to split due to continuous failings by the latter and impending (now confirmed) retirement by the former, I am especially pleased that he has picked an Ashes series to announced his arrival at this level (not quite on a par with the great opener who shares my surname, whose first four Ashes knocks were 59, 115, 176 and 127 – in two matches that England lost). Burns has just gone as I write this, but it is still a fine effort by him. England are now 116-4, and need a big partnership. Stokes has joined Buttler, with Bairstow, Woakes, Archer, Broad and Leach to come (I suspect that Leach, given his recent batting at Lord’s may get a promotion from his official no 11 slot, but we shall see). Only one team has ever come back from losing the first two matches to win a five match series, Don Bradmans 1936-7 Aussies, when the captain himself scored 270, 212 and 169 in those last three matches, so a collapse now would be doubly bad news (the 1894-5 Aussies levelled at 2-2 after losing the first two, but then Andrew Stoddart’s England rallied to win the decider and take the series).

PETITIONS

I have two petitions to share here:

1. A company called Adani are seeking to build a huge and very dirty coalmine near the Great Barrier Reef. Sum Of Us have a petition up and running about this atrocity and I urge you to sign and share it by clicking the screenshot below.

AIG

2. My second petition is open only to UK based signatories. The grouse shooting season, a source of shame to most of us Brits who do not participate in it, is underway, and a petition is running (and has already attracted over 40,000 signatures) to ban the practice. Please sign and share, clicking the screenshot below:

BDG

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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More shots from my favourite place for observing butterflies

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These last shots were taken before and after physio at Tapping House today.

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Some Thoughts On The England Squad For Lord’s

Some thoughts on the England squad for the second Ashes test at Lord’s and lots of photos, along with an invitation for calendar nominations.

INTRODUCTION

In this post I look at the England squad announced for the second Ashes test at Lord’s, which starts on Wednesday.  There are also of course plenty of photographs for you to enjoy.

THE SQUAD

The squad, as shown at the end of a cricinfo article introducing it is as shown below:

Eng Squad
There is much that I agree with in this squad, but also some things I am not happy about…

MY THOUGHTS ON THE SQUAD

Archer had to come in, especially with Anderson and Stone both injured. I am not happy about the continuing presence of Broad and Denly, although if the latter is put in as Burns‘ opening partner that looks better than playing Roy right at the top of the order. In place of Broad I would have Lewis Gregory, whose ability to swing the ball and all-round skills fill some of the hole left by James Anderson, while his all-rounder status means that he cannot be considered as that impossible thing, a “like-for-like” replacement for Anderson. I would not feature either Buttler or Bairstow (the proverbial gun to the head proposition would see me select Buttler at test level) preferring Foakes as keeper and wanting a second genuine spin option, one of the following:

  1. Matthew Parkinson, the young Lancashire legspinner (even though as a batter he is as the old saying puts it “the ferret who follows the rabbits”).
  2. Dominic Bess, Leach’s regular spinning partner at “Ciderabad” aka Taunton.
  3. Amar Virdi, who recently took 14 wickets in a match for Surrey.
  4. Helen Fenby – her action took all the commentators by surprise the other day (and brought her four cheap wickets) – perhaps it will have the same effect on Steve Smith (surely something can unsettle him).

Still, the selectors have at least done the bare minimum that they had to after the Edgbaston debacle – jettison Moeen Ali.

PHOTOGRAPHS

As a lead in to my usual sign off, here is a graphic that I got from British Nature Guide by way of their twitter account, which I follow:

Butterflies

Now for my usual sign off…

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This is making its second appearance – I misidentified it first time round as being a type of painted lady, it is actually a “Comma”

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What I did in yesterday’s physio session.

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From now on, use the graphic (and better, follow the link to the website) to identify the butterlfies.

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I invite commneters to naminate pictures they particuarly like for the aspi.blog 2020 Wall Calendar.

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An azure damselfly in flight…
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…and a c,lose-up view extracted from the same original.
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These two pictures suggest that the butterflies are not done yet!

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The next four pictures featyure some species of dragonfly – I have not been able to identify which

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Appropriately enough for Norfolk, this is a ‘Red Admiral’ .

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Nomination For Sunshine Blogger Award (#3) And Other Stuff

A response to my third nomination for a Sunshine Blogger Award and plenty of other stuff.

INTRODUCTION

The nomination that gives this post its title comes from someone I had previously nominated for this award, which is why I am approaching things in the way I am, as I am going to use stuff from my last Sunshine Blogger Award nomination response to cover that side of things.

THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM MY PREVIOUS NOMINATION POST.

First, my thanks to Erika’s Corner (stigmasnomore) for the nomination. Now for those highlights (click the link in the section heading to view the full post):

RulesAnswersQsNominations

I open my questions up to responses from everyone.

THE SECOND MOST EXTRAORDINARY CRICKET MATCH OF 2019

For the most extraordinary match of the year start here. In any other year the inaugural England v Ireland test match at Lord’s would have had no competition for the title of that year’s most extraordinary match. Twice in a few weeks Lord’s was the scene of a match that reached deep into “script rejection” territory.

England slumped to 85 all out on the first day, a combination of poor batting and some good bowling, especially from Tim Murtagh and MarkRed‘ Adair (a nickname I coined in a previous post).

Ireland themselves managed 207 in response, a lead of 122. Olly Stone, Norfolk born fast bowler, took three wickets and surely ensured continuing involvement with test cricket for himself. Then, with England having one over to face at the end of day two Jack Leach, averaging four for Somerset in the county championship this year, was sent out to open, shielding Jason Roy.

Having survived the over in the evening Leach proceeded to make 92, while Roy, shielded from a potential second failure in one day also topped the 50. The came a slide from 177-1 at the high water mark of the innings to 303 all out, a lead of 181. Then in the most extraordinary twist, Stuart Broad, reckoned by some (including me) to be a fading force at test level and Chris Woakes took advantage of swing friendly conditions to rout Ireland for 38, giving England victory by 143 runs.

I note that for the first Ashes test Joe Root has been moved up to number three (desperately needed although he has little relish for it). However, this only deals with one top order problem. The opening pair remains an unresolved issue, with Roy having done so much tter at three than he did opening in the first innings. If England are 30-3 at the start of every innings against Australia they will be absolutely hammered in the series. I continue to hold out for what I now call the ‘Beaumont Solution‘.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have two links to share with you before getting to the pictures:

  1. Anna was kind enough to give me a mention in her post “No 39 in my drawing goals for 2019” and I reciprocate here by advising you to visit the post.

The Skwawkbox has recently put up a post titled 124 policies Labour will deliver in government” – the policies themselves are below, in the form of the graphic (click on it to view it full size) that is the centrepiece of the Skwawkbox post:
Skwawkbox
The feature image of my previous post was a water based insect that at the time I had yet to identify. My research suggests that it is an Azure Damselfly:

British Nature Guide Pic:

Picture

And my close up photograph is below.

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Now for my new photographs, and there are plenty of them…

Beer Festival GP
We start with a few pictures from the King’s Lynn Beer Festival at Stuart House (NAS West Norfolk was this year’s designated charity beneficiary)

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The moment the 2019 World Cup was won.

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A Peacock Butterfly (relatively uncommon, although known to have some living places in King’s Lynn)
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A Painted Lady (a variety of butterfly I had not previosuly observed in King’s Lynn)

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100 Cricketers – Ninth XI, Nepal’s Magician

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring a Nepalese legspinner, some thoughts on the elevation of minor cricketing nations and when it is warranted, some stuff about the county championship, some links and pictures relating to the photographing a black hole and some of my own pictures.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest in my “100 cricketers” series. Today we deal with the most minor cricketing nation to be represented in my list and I have some extras features. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the ninth XI here and the most recent post here. Before getting to the main meat of the post it is time for a…

LOOK AT THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

A full programme of county championship matches got underway today. So far this is what is happening:

  • Hampshire v YorkshireYorkshire 160-2
    A solid start by Yorkshire with the bat. Adam Lyth made 67, Gary Ballance is unbeaten on 51 and Joe Root has 34 not out. Both wickets have been taken by Fidel Edwards. 
  • Nottinghamshire v SomersetNottinghamshire 188-6
    Somerset have made a strong start with the ball. Chris Nash scored 58 for Nottinghamshire with the bat but no one else has made a significant score thus far. Lewis Gregory, one of my “Five to Follow” (see my previous post) has four of the wickets to fall, including getting Joe Clarke, also in that list, cheaply. George Bartlett’s offspin has not been called on yet (he is also on that list), but his batting will surely figure later in the game even he does not get used as a bowler.
  • Surrey v EssexSurrey 168-3
    Surrey have been helped to make a good start in this match by some ordinary Essex fielding (two chances have been shelled, one of which is now looking very costly). Openers Burns and Stoneman both got in but failed to go on, Ben Foakes is 60 not out (having beem dropped on 0) and Ryan Patel 20 not out. Peter Siddle who may well be involved for Australia in The Ashes later this summer has two wickets.
  • Kent v Warwickshire Kent 169-2
    Kent are batting well in this one. Dickson and Aussie Matt Renshaw have both got themselves in and got out in the 30s, while opener Zak Crawley is 89 not out. The wickets have gone to medium pacer Craig Miles and Ryan Sidebottom, an Australian unrelated to the left-arm quick of the same name who played for Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
  • Durham v SussexDurham 93-4
    Durham are struggling again, which given their abysmal choice of captain can only be regarded as good news. He is yet to be involved in the action (although his first innings should not be delayed too long) but Liam Trevaskis, a fourth person from my “Five to Follow” is in the Durham team. Scameron Bancroft as I now call him is 33 not out, and currently batting in partnership wioth wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley. Ollie Robinson is staking an early claim for selectorial attention with three more wickets to add to those he took last week (he came into this match with 171 first class wickets at 23.52).
  • Glamorgan v NorthamptonshireGlamorgan 198-3
    Looks like a solid start for Glamorgan. South African born Aussie Marnus Labuschagne is 86 not and Billy Root, younger brother of the England test captain is 33 not out. Jason Holder, Nathan Buck and Zimbabwean Blessing Muzarabani each have a wicket.
  • Derbyshire v Gloucestershire Derbyshire 159-3
    Given that Gloucestershire won the toss and chose to field Derbyshire are faring pretty well. Tom Lace has 74 not out. The wickets have gone to three young bowlers, Matt Taylor (24), Ryan Higgins (24) and Josh Shaw (23).
  • Worcestershire v LeicestershireWorcestershire 203-2
    Worcetsershire are going well against Leicestershire who got away to a winning start in their first match. Veteran opener Daryl Mitchell has just reached a century (now 101 not out), and Hamish Rutherford (New Zealand, nephew of former Kiwi captain Ken Rutherford) is 62 not out. Ben Mike, a 20 year old medium pacer who came into this match with 19 wkickets from four first class appearances at an average of 20.26, has one of the wickets. The other has been taken by Will Davis, a 23 year old medium pacer who pays just over 30 a piece for his first class wickets.
  • Middlesex v LancashireMiddlesex 160-3
    A good start for Middlesex. Steve Eskinazi made 75 and opener Nick Gubbins 55, and two of the wickets have fallen to a young fast medium bowler named Tom Bailey (he shares a pair of initials with a right-arm fast-medium of yesteryear, Trevor Bailey, but is apparently unrelated to him).

Now for the main business of the post starting with…

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE ELEVATION OF COUNTRIES TO TEST STATUS

Leaving aside the two original contenders, England and Australia, every country elevated to test status (this has not yet happened for Nepal, the feature country of this post, but one has to consider future possibilities) has started slowly at that level. In their early years in the late 19th and earlyy 20th centuries South Africa were regularly hammered by both England and Australia, twice being bowled out for 30 in test matches. The West Indies did not make any series progress as a test nation until the 1950s although they were promoted to the top table in 1928. New Zealand, India and Pakistan all had to wait until the 1970s to be taken seriously. Sri Lanka, elevated in the early 1980s took until the latter 1990s to be gain serious respect. Internal politics destroyed any chance Zimbabwe had of success at the top table, while Bangladesh’s elevation was badly mishandled, and their position is routinely questioned. Afghanistan won their second ever test match, the most successful start by a test-playing nation since 1877, when Australia and England each one match. Ireland were defeated but not disgraced in that game, and we will see how they fare against England in their next test match, although they were elevated about five years too late for the move to work to best effect. 

I am in favour of new countries being elevated when they are actually ready, and think that Afghanistan’s elevation has been a success. I do not think Nepal are yet ready, on the strength of one splendid cricketer, for elevation, but I hope to see it happen eventually, assuming they continue to make progress. It is now time to look at that one fine player they already have…

SANDEEP LAMICHHANE

He is an 18 year-old legspinner and has yet to play any long-form cricket. His records for the cricket he has played are as follows:

6 ODIs, 15 wickets at 14.80 (4-24 best) , 4o runs at 10.00, 5 T20Is, 5 wickets at 24.40, 6 runs, with as yet no average, 27 List A games, 57 wickets at 17.08 (5-20 best), 40 T20 games, 50 wickets at 20.00 (best 4-10). A lot of his T20s have been played in the IPL among the big names.

If any county who do not have a legspinner of their own are bold enough to sign him as an overseas player I will applaud them for their courage – I believe that given the opportunity he would fare well in the longer game, as well in the limited overs stuff where he has already shown himself to be a fine performer. One of the reasons why Bangladesh found test cricket such a struggle when they were elevated is that their players started playing that form of the game with no background in long form cricket, and one should learn from mistakes – unless and until some Nepalese cricketers have experience of long form cricket they should not be elevated. 

If Nepal do get elevated to test status both they and their star leg-spinner Lamichhane will have my good wishes, but unless their players have some long form experience before that happens I do not believe that it can be successful.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND LINKS

I have several things to share before we come to my usual sign off, starting with some stuff about the first image of a Black Hole and links to related articles:

I hope that Ms Bouman gets the credit (including a Nobel Prize for physics) that this achievement warrants. Here are links to some good articles about this:

Next comes a piece from The Independent titled “Prehistoric autism helped produce much of the world’s earliest great art, study says” – picture link below:

Cave painting of lions drawn on the walls of the Chauvet Pont d'Arc Cave in the south of France. It was painted about 30,000 years ago

To lead into today’s photos I revisit yesterday’s featured image:

I have done some digging of my own to locate the species and there are two possibilities – it is either a Small White or a Wood White (see pictures from butterfly-conservation.org and decide for yourselves which looks closer):

Small White (underwing) by Jim Asher
Small White (click here for more information)
Wood White (male & female) by Peter Eeles
Wood White (click here for more information)

Now for today’s pictures…

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UPDATES ON THE “FIVE TO FOLLOW”

Since I wrote about what was happening in the County Championship matches, the following has happened in games involving my “Five to Follow”:

Nottinghamshire v SomersetNottinghamshire 263 all out
Three of the five are playing in this match. Joe Clarke failed with the bat this time around, but Lewis Gregory took 5-68. George Bartlett’s offspin was unsurprisingly not utilised, but he will bat at some stage.

Durham v SussexDurham 122-5
The other two of my “Five to Follow” are involved in this match. Liam Trevaskis, the outsider of the bunch, is currently batting with Ned Eckersley, more good news for those opposed to Durham’s choice of captain being that that unworthy has been sent on his way for 33, and is on 9 not out. Philip Salt, the other in my “Five to Follow”  has yet to be involved, but may well be in action with the bat before the end of today, and I would be surprised if tomorrow morning does not see him at the crease.