A giant mixed bag of a post covering the European Elections, other recent developments in my life, cricket and liberally equipped with photographs.
A lot has happened since I last put up a blog post I will try to cover all the interesting bits, and I have a large number of photographs to share. First of all…
THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS
Today is polling day in the European Elections. Here in Britain the polling stations are open until 10PM. The decision for me was between two parties. In a general election, knowing the support base of the respective parties in my constituency and constrained by the outdated, unfit for purpose FPTP system used in such elections, I would vote Labour as the only way to have even a chance of unseating the Tories. In a European election, run under the D’Hondt system, it was a question of maximising the number of progressive MEPs from my region, and that dictated a vote for the Green Party who were just short of having someone elected last time round. Therefore, I made my way to the Discovery Centre, which I expected would be the local polling station (fortunately I was right – for some reason I never received a polling card for this election, so I was relying on the same polling station being used for this one as had been used in the local elections a few weeks earlier – when I was unable to vote, being in a hospital bed at the time), equipped with ID to make up for the absence of a polling card (neither should be required but Tories are up – or down – to all sorts of tricks these days and it is better to be safe) and duly cast my vote for the Green Party.
I have finally got all my stamps mounted (I was given a large quantity while in Addnebrookes being treated for cancer, to go with some that I already had). Here are the photographs I took while finishing the job:
With my Aunt not being around my parents and I had Sunday lunch at Goldings, which is a very fine restaurant. Although my alcohol consumption is restricted at the moment a pint of Adnam’s Ghost Ship (not hugely strong at 4.5%) combined well with steak and chips. I am not yet quite fit enough to get from my bungalow to the town centre on foot, so this meant a car journey.
On Tuesday, as usual, I had my physio session at Tapping House. It went very well, even including one set of exercises that involved balance and co-ordination (neither of them strong points even before I became ill). This has become a valued part of my life.
NAS WEST NORFOLK COFFEE MORNING
This took place yesterday morning at the Pretty Little Tea Shop on Norfolk Street (thanks for stepping in at the last minute to give me a lift, Rachel). There was a reasonable turnout, a good time appeared to be had by all, and, mirabile dictu, the filter coffee was drinkable (though somewhat under strength by my standards), although £2.15 for about half the amount I make for myself at home in the morning seems a trifle steep.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Much has happened in the cricket world over the last few days. England did defend their total of 350 in the final ODI. David Willey and Joe Denly not very surprisingly missed out on places if the final world cup squad, although I was a little surprised to see Liam Dawson given a place (the other selections were all pretty automatic given Alex Hales’ recent indiscretion which ruled him out). Somerset have consolidated their place at the head of the County Championship table by beating Warwickshire in seven sessions (out of a possible 12) while Surrey and Kent are involved in a fine scrap, likely to end in a draw, though a victory for Surrey remains possible. Now it is time for my usual sign off:
An account of goings on the County Championship, a brief mention of physio at Tapping House and lots of photographs.
The County Championship matches currently in progress are now on day 3 of 4. In this post I will look at all of them before sharing some more of my photos.
THE STATE OF PLAY IN
THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
This is what is happening around the country…
Nottinghamshire v Essex – Nottinghamshire 187 and 157, Essex 241 and 81-1, Essex need a further 24 to win.
The Nottinghamshire batting has failed twice, leaving Essex a fairly clear run to victory. No Nottinghamshire batter topped 50 in either innings. Nick Browne made 67 in the Essex first dig, while spinner Simon Harmer destroyed the Notts second innings with 6-50. Tom Westley is on the verge of only the second half-century of the match and is being staunchly supported by the only knight of the realmcurrently playing first class cricket. Joe Clarke of my “Five to Follow” made 48 and 1 for Notts.
Kent v Yorkshire – Yorkshire 210 and 328-4, Kent 296.
Kent took what would have looked a useful first innings lead, but Yorkshire have turned this one around in their second innings. They will now be eyeing up a declaration to give Kent an awkward period of batting before the close today and then the whole of tomorrow. 81 for Zak Crawley and 103 from wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson were Kent’s main batting efforts, while Gary Ballance is 143 not out in the second Yorkshire innings. Ben Coad and Duanne Olivier each took three wickets for Yorkshire.
Surrey v Somerset – Surrey 380 and 19-2, Somerset 398.
This one could go a long way to deciding the ultimate destiny of the title as it features the defending champions (Surrey) and the form side thus far this year (Somerset). So far this shaping up as Lewis Gregory’s match – three wickets in the first innings, a magnificent 129 not out, including 10 fours and five sixes to give Somerset a first innings lead and already has a second innings wicket (the other second innings wicket has gone to the Devonian giant Craig Overton). Somerset have quite a tradition of pace bowlers who love to give the ball a wallop – Sammy Woods, Arthur Wellard, Maurice Tremlett (grandfather of Chris, father of Tim), the one with whom we do not compare up and coming allrounders because it gives them an impossible benchmark and a few other lesser names, and Gregory with the development of his batting bids fair to join them. It would be a big ask for anyone to start out in an Ashes series, but I certainly hope that Gregory will be in the winter touring parties. George Bartlett failed in the Somerset first innings but may get a second chance, if Somerset bowl Surrey out.
Warwickshire v Hampshire – Hampshire 354 and 186-3, Warwickshire 233.
I suspect that Hampshire will be looking at batting until there is an hour to go in this day’s play before sticking Warwickshire back in to face a huge target in the fourth innings. The fact that they are going at over five an over in a four-day game tells me that they are looking very definitely at victory. Alsopmade 150 in the first Hampshire innings, Sibleycarried his bat through the Warwickshire first innings for his sixth century in as many matches. 23 year-old Oliver Soames scored 62 in the second Hampshire innings, 22 year-old Joe Weatherley 46, while Northeast and Rossouware currently batting together.
Glamorgan v Gloucestershire – Glamorgan 250 and 184-1, Gloucestershire 463.
Glamorgan are making a fight of this in their second innings, but probably need to bat until teatime tomorrow to save this one after conceding such a huge first innings deficit. Ryan Higgins matched James Bracey’s century in the Gloucestershire innings, while Hemphrey and Wagg made fifties in the Glamorgan first innings. Hemphrey has made another fifty in the second innings while Nicholas Selman is on 83 not out. 20 year-old offspinner George Drissell took 4-83 in the Glamorgan first innings.
Middlesex v Leicestershire – Middlesex 349 and 147-8, Leicestershire 268. After taking a useful looking first innings lead Middlesex are making an utter Horlick’s of their second innings, giving Leicestershire a way back into the match. Sixties for Ackerman and Dearden were the principal scores for Leicestershire, while no one has reached 40 in the Middlesex second innings. Tom Taylor and Chris Wright each have three wickets.
Worcestershire v Durham – Durham 273 and 107-5, Worcestershire 390.
Durham are deep in trouble in this one. A century for Wessels and 61 for 21 year old Some helped Worcestershire to a substantial first innings lead. In the Durham second innings Burnham and Liam Trevaskis are together, the latter having picked up a wicket with his slow left-arm in the Worcestershire innings.
Essex have completed their win over Nottinghamshire. Westley fell for 49, but Dan Lawrence and the knight saw Essex home, the latter finishing with 40 not out. Jack Leach has just bagged a wicket with his slow-leftarmers, reducing Surrey to 43-3, a mere 24 runs on – defo looking good for Somerset.
Some of these photographs were taken at Tapping House where I had a physio session on Tuesday. All the exercises went well, highlighted by the arms only part of cycling, where I clocked up the equivalent of a mile in three minutes.
An update on my slowly improving health, some of the recent cricket, a few interesting links and lots of photographs.
This post looks at my slowly but surely improving health and a few other things as well.
My last set of predictions did not work out too well. I was right on one, and wrong on two, albeit the second wrong one (Scotland/Afghanistan owing more to a D/L calculation that gave the match to Afghanistan when rain intervened with them needing 57 off 31 balls with seven wickets standing (it was the latter that helped Afghanistan), a target that they would almost certainly not have succeeded in chasing down had the match gone the distance. Had Middlesex started less dreadfully they may have borne out my prediction of a successful chase, since even after slumping to 24-5 they finished up not far short of the target. In the semi-finals, which took place yesterday, Somerset thrashed Nottinghamshire while Hampshire won a closer game against Lancashire. Thus the final will be between Hampshire and Somerset, with the former starting as favourites.
In the first match of their ODI series England beat Pakistan by 12 runs in an extraordinary game which saw 734 runs scored in 100 overs – England 373-3 from 50, with a very rapid century from Jos Buttler, Pakistan 361-9. Left-arm medium pacer David Willey bowled superbly in the closing stages to save England from potential embarrassmAent.
There are County Championship games starting tomorrow, so watch this space!
Yesterday I was feeling sufficiently good to venture somewhat further afield than for some time, although still not very far, going as far as the pond opposite Harewood Parade. Today I was again feeling good, and encouraged by the continuing sunshine did the same thing, although I had forgotten that BB Care were due to visit and missed them in my eagerness to get out. There is a long way to go, but things are definitely improving.
LINKS AND PICTURES
An article appeared in Saturday’s Times in which the head teacher of Stowe School (£38,000 per year to have your children educated there) had the cheek to complain about the fact that slightly more state school students are now getting into Oxbridge. Many have pitched into him, but the best evisceration of both him and the article came from Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK:
A brief account of my appointment with the neurologist at QEH and of the arrival of my new computer.
Yesterday I attended an appointment with the neurologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and I also dropped my old computer at PC World so that they could transfer stuff from it to my new computer, and my aunt picked up both machines from them today.
THE NEUROLOGIST APPOINTMENT
This went well. The dizziness and disorientation I experienced as an immediate response to my new anti-seizure medication appears to relate to a problem with my inner ear, which meant that organizing an appointment with the audiologists at Addenbrooke’s became of increased importance. This appointment is booked for 11:30 on June 3rd, immediately after I have other appointments at Addnebrooke’s, t0 minimize the number of journeys to and from Cambridge. I also have in case of emergency a medication for taking if the dizziness gets really bad. I am greatly relieved to have some answers and the prospect of further answers at the audiology appointment.
WITHOUT THE COMPUTER
Yesterday afternoon and evening I had a lot of time without access to a computer, and I filled some of it by mounting postcards for display until I ran out of glue dots (I had three postcards still to mount to complete the intended display, as you will see), and I have some stamps that will need the same treatment if I am to display them. This morning I used my phone to open facebook and post a message on the NAS West Norfolk Commitee page. Here are some pictures from yesterday:
Of course these are not the only photographs I took…
An explanation of the events the between caused me to spend most of a week in hospital.
In this post I will be explaining why there has been a hiatus in this blog. I hope that normal posting will be resumed from tomorrow.
HIATUS PART ONE: PHYSICAL SICKNESS
On Monday morning everything went OK until breakfast. The carer arrived and I was still OK, though feeling a bit tired. Then just after the carer left I was sick. My entire breakfast came back up. My aunt came round, and helped sort things out, another carer cleaned up the mess and washed the stuff thatr needed washing. My aunt left at about 11:30. Between then and her return around 1PM I was sick twice more. There was then another episode while decisions were being made about what to do. Near the end of the trip to Addenbrookes I brought up some pure bile.
At Addenbrookes I was admitted overnight, given an x-ray and a CT scan and they decided that the most likely explanation was a partial seizure. I was discharged the following day, with a new anti-seizure medication added to my regular medications.
On Wednesday I woke up feeling OK, got up to open the curtains and nearly fell out of bed in the process. I returned to bed to read for a bit before getting up, but by disorientation and sense that the room was spinning did not go away. I was not able to concentrate of the book for very long, and went back to sleep for a period. The carer called an ambulance for me, and as there was no way I could be got into my aunt’s car and an emergency ambulance can only take one to the nearest hospital I was off to QEH, although efforts were made to get me moved to Addenbrookes. I was taken off the anti-seizure pill as what I had suffered was known to produce the symptoms I had experienced as a common side effect. I was then put back on it to see if I could cope and I could. They were originally going to keep me in until Tuesday so that I could see the neurologist, but eventually an outpatient appointment was made for 10AM on Wednesday and I was discharged yesterday.
Our misgivings about QEH notwithstanding the staff were excellent and the care and support I received was splendid.
I had an uninterrupted night’s sleep last night and a good start to the day this morning, and have had a good day so far today. On the way to my aunt’s for lunch today I overlapped with the end of the Great East Anglian Run (GEAR), but through being in hospital so much recently I had missed the fact that NAS West Norfolk had arranged a designated meeting point, so although I had a chance encounter with one of my fellow committee members I was not part of our presence at the event, something which I regret and for which I take this opportunity to publicly apologise.
I hope that the appointment with the neurologist sheds more light on what has been going on and that we can move forward from there.
How yesterday’s predictions fared, some predicitons for today’s Royal London Cup action and a couple of other features.
Yesterday due to timing issues I posted predictions about the outcomes of that days Royal London Cup matches before they took place. This post shows how those predictions panned out and provides predictions for today’s two matches, with one at the half-way stage and the other heavily weather affected. There are also a few other things included.
HOW YESTERDAY’S PREDICTIONS FARED
Here match by match is what happened yesterday:
Somerset v Sussex – Somerset 282-8 from 50 overs, Sussex 62-4 from 16.3 overs, Somerset win by 69 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method
The Duckworth-Lewis method, now administered by a man named Stern, its two progenitors having retired, is the best method for resolving rain spoiled fixtures yet devised – a predecessor led to England and South Africa retaking the field when the calculation reduced South Africa’s task to 22 off one ball! There is no doubt that having lost four early wickets Sussex were heading for defeat even had the rain not intervened. Coimpetition rules require each side to have batted for at least 10 overs for the game to be considered completed. For Somerset Hildreth scored 81, Azhar Ali had his first decent performance as overseas player with 68 and Lewis Gregoryhit 50 off 28 balls near the end. Mir Hamza took three wickets for Sussex and Chris Jordan two. Sussex had lost the top four in their order when the rain came, with the wickets going to Overton, Davey, Groenewaldand Gregory. A correct prediction for me.
Leicestershire v Derbyshire – Leicestershire 312-8 (50 overs), Derbyshire 266-3 off 39 overs, Derbyshire won by seven wickets off the last possible ball.
Again a bit of rain meant that the Duckowrth-Lewis formula came into play. In the end Derbyshire needed eight of the final over and nearly made a pig’s ear of it. Ackerman made 119 for Leicestershire, while the wickets were widely shared. Billy Godleman made 106 for Derbyshire, guiding them almost to victory, Du Plooywas 73 not out and Madsenmade 60. This was an incorrect prediction.
Lancashire v Northamptonshire– Northamptonshire 269 all out from 50 overs, Lanashire 164-2 from 28.4 overs, Lancashire won by eight wickets under the Duckworth/Lewis method. Lancashire were motoring ahead of the required rate when the rain intervened, and quite rightly the calculation showed as much, earning them the win and me a second correct prediction out of three. Jason Holder made 72 for Northamptonshire, Rob Keogh66 and Vasconcelos 50, while all else in this innings was overshadowed by the bowling of Saqib Mohamedwho took 6-37. For Lancashire Haseeb Hameed made 65 and Keaton Jennings 63.
Worcestershire v Durham – Durham 114-4 from 27.2 overs, Worcestershire 152-6 from 22.2 overs, Worcestershire won four wickets with 10 balls to spare under the Duckworth-Lewis Method.
The fact that Worcestershire knew from the start that their innings would be truncated and Durham did not explains why they were required to chase more than Durham had scored, and the fact that Durham had lost four wickets explains why the differential was not even greater. Alex Lees made 52 not out for Durham, while no Worcestershire bowler took more than one wicket. Four Worcestershire players scored over 25, although the top score was a mere 33 by Hamish Rutherford. For Durham Carse, Salisbury and Raineeach took two wickets. I called this one correctly.
Thus I was right with three predictions and wrong with one, making a fifth Royal London Cup match day out of five on which I have got more right than wrong, and taking my overall record to 19 right out of 27, a strike rate of 70.03% (70.027…%, rounds up to 70.03).
There are only two matches taking place:
Middlesex v Surrey – Middlesex 277 all out from 50 overs The last two wickets boosted the Middlesex total, with Toby Roland-Jonesfinishing with 45, second top score to Ross Taylor’s 64. The bowling star was veteran off-spinner Gareth Batty with 4-29. Middlesex’s total is respectable but I am predicting that Surrey will chase them down.
Glamorgan v Kent– Glamorgan 68-2 from 15 overs, raining at present.
If the rain relents sufficiently to allow a result this match will go a long way to settling who gets the wooden spoon from the South Group, as both these teams currently have 100% losing records. Looking at Glamorgan’s current score my reckoning is that Kent are currently second favourites to the weather to emerge with the spoils. Wicketkeeper Chris Cooke is 29 not out and Labuschagne made 27, while Klaasen and Podmore each have a wicket.
A SCOPE EVENT
Scope had a get together at the West Norfolk Deaf Centre on Railway Road, and I was one of three members of the NAS West Norfolk Committee in attendance. It was a thoroughly enjoyable session, and we raised the issue of Scope helping us to get music sessions running again. With the help of Scope it will be a possibility. We also took part in some of the activities that were made available for us on the day. I have a few photographs to share…
ANNUAL HEALTH CHECKS FOR AUTISTIC PEOPLE
This is an idea being pushed by NAS at a national level. As someone who is autistic and who has had a very difficult time recently due a health issue not being picked up until far too late I want to be involved with this, and to turn my experience to good use. There is information in earlier blog posts that NAS are welcome to use, and I am considering further options for working with NAS on this.
The outcome of yesterday’s predcitions (100% success!) and some predictions for today because I will be out at my usual time for making them.
Because of the fact that I am seeing my team at Addenbrookes later today and will not be back until well into the second innings of today’s Royal London Cup fixtures this is a combined feedback and predictions post – I chose the bold option of predicting based solely on form in the competition so far rather than the cautious one of not predicting at all.
YESTERDAY’S PREDICTIONS – A TALE OF SUCCESS
Surrey v Essex – Surrey 278-8 from 50 overs, Essex 213 all out from 42.5 overs, Surrey won by 65 runs
When Dan Lawrenceand Ravi Boparawere enjoying a good stand it looked like Essex may chase these down, but they fell in very quick succession, followed also by wicketkeeper Robbie White. Ryan Ten Doeschate, a fine player, but with his 39th birthday approaching now no longer quite the force he was did his best to rally the lower order, but it was not enough. Morne Morkel took 4-23 for Surrey and Liam Plunkett4-50. Will Jacks was not able to emulate Lawrence by bowling his full allocation – he finished with 1-39 from six overs.
Hampshire v Middlesex– Hampshire 301-9 from 50 overs, Middlesex 182 all out from 35.4 overs, Hampshire won by 119 runs.
Hampshire had a big finish to their innings, which induced me to call this one in their favour. However, I was not expecting quite such a pathetic batting effort from Middlesex. No Middlesex batter made a significant contribution, with 41 from Eoin Morgan their top score. South African Aidan Markram followed his fine batting with 3-39, and renegade South African Kyle Abbott spearheaded the bowling with 3-36.
Gloucestershire v Kent– Kent 282-8 from 50 overs, Gloucestershire 283-4 from 46.5 overs, Gloucestershire won by six wickets with 3.1 overs to spare.
I did not think that Kent had the bowling to defend a so-so total and I was proven right. Gloucestershire wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick led the way and deservedly completed a century at the moment of victory, finishing 100 not out. James Bracey made 67. None of the Kent bowlers produced figures that merit quoting here.
Warwickshire v Nottinghamshire – Nottinghamshire 301-9 from 50 overs, Warwickshire 183 all out from 37.5 overs. Nottinghamshire won by 118 runs. Another very one-sided match, with Warwickshire failing miserably to respond to Nottinghamshire’s fine batting effort. Among the wreckage 19 year-old Liam Banksscored 57 and Alex Thomson managed 55, but they only delayed the inevitable, though Banks at least is a hope for the future. Opening bowlers Luke Fletcher and Matthew Carter (a 22 year old off-spinner – Notts did something different with the new ball) each took three wickets, and James Pattinson and Samit Patelweighed in with two each.
Four correct predicitions out of four, putting on me on 16 correct out of 23 overall – a strike rate at the moment of 69.57% (69.565 to three dp, and that third decimal being a five or higher it gets rounded up when giving the figure to two dp).
PREDICTIONS FOR TODAY
Sussex v Somerset – I reckon that Somerset will draw strength from having hung on against Glamorgan when the Welsh county nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Their bowling looks especially impressive, and I back them to win this one, though Sussex will probably push them close.
Leicestershire v Derbyshire – Leicestershire have been good so far, Derbyshire not so good, and Leicestershire have home advantage. Thus I call this one as win for Leicestershire, and expect them to have something to spare over their opponents.
Lancashire v Northamptonshire– Both teams have fared reasonably well so far. Lancashire have home advantage, and have the additional boost of their dramatic roses match triumph. Thus I call this one in Lancashire’s favour.
Worcestershire v Durham – With home advantage I expect Worcestershire to win this one (especially if they manage to find a way of dismissing Bancroft) although they were well beaten last time out.
Predictions at the half way stage of todays Royal London Cup matches, some links and plenty of my photographs.
There are four matches taking place in the Royal London Cup today, which means that even if all of my predictions turn out incorrect I will still have more right than wrong at the end of it, as I am currently on 12 out of 19.
THE ROYAL LONDON CUP TODAY
This is what is happening so far…
Surrey v Essex – Surrey 278-8 50 overs At 220-3 in the 42nd over Surrey would have been entertaining hopes of getting close to 300. At 241-8 Essex would have been hoping to restrict Surrey to no more than 260. In the end the difference was almost exactly split, thanks to some late hitting from Jason Roy who had suffered a back spasm earlier in the day. Ben Foakes top scored for Surrey with 82. Sam Cook took 3-37 from eight overs, Dan Lawrence bowled his full allocation of 10 and took 2-52 – Surrey will be hoping for something similar from their nearest equjivalent, Will Jacks. I predict that Surrey will defend this total.
Hampshire v Middlesex – Hampshire 301-9 from 50 overs Until the last over Middlesex were faring quite well in this one, buit topping 300 is big psychological boost for Hampshire, albeit that 300 is not the mountainous total it once was in this form of the game. A South African, Aidan Markram, top scored with 88 and a renegade South African, Rilee Rossouw made 64. Tom Helm, right-arm medium fast took five wickets but was made to pay for them (71 in nine overs). I expect Hampshire, with their bowling spearheaded by another renegade South African, Kyle Abbott, to defend this one.
Gloucestershire v Kent– Kent 282-8 from 50 overs
The early stages of the Kent innings saw Zak Crawley make 85 and Joe Denly56. At the end Harare born wicketkeeper Adam Rouse hit 45 not out off 28 balls to boost the total. Benny Howell took 2-39 from his 10 overs, 28 year old right-arm fast medium bowler David Payne had 2-45 and slow left-armer Tom Smith had 2-47 from seven overs. I expect Gloucestershire to chase these down – Kent look to me like they are a trifle short of bowling options (they will almost certainly need Denly to bowl his full ten overs).
Thus my predictions, with varying degrees of confidence, are: Surrey, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire.
PHYSIO SESSION AT TAPPING HOUSE
Today I attended my second full physio session at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House. The exercises I did today as part of my recovery from cancer include a stair exercise, an arm exercise involving weights, three minutes on the treadmill, a set of arm exercises involving a punching action and three minutes on the bicycle simulator (I was particularly pleased with this one, since I managed to average 26kph, or approx 16mph over the three minutes). While there I also augmented my photo collection:
LINKS AND PICTURES
First three related pieces. Richard Murphy has added two more to his Taxes To Save the Environment (Taste):
There is also a piece on devonlive, which I was found by way of twitter headlined “Shock and anger as entire Devon woodland is chopped down“. The piece makes clear that not only had planning permission for this atrocity not been granted, the arrogant and unscrupulous developer had not even bothered to seek it. My own opinion is this developer should be punished by both a hefty fine upfront and by being made to replant the woodland at his own expense. My hope would be the combined expense of these two would put him in serious financial difficulties to teach him a lesson.
I select an England squad from players I have witnessed and a true all-time England squad.
This is the start of a new series which will appear on this blog periodically in between posts about other things. I will pick two squads in each of these posts – one restricted to players whose performances I have witnessed live and one true all-time squad, using my considerable knowledge of cricket history. I will also be including a few other things after the main body of the post. We will being the main part of the post with…
ENGLAND SQUAD FROM PLAYERS I HAVE WITNESSED LIVE
To begin with we need an opening pair. I refuse to consider those who went on the two English rebel tours to South Africa. The serious contenders left are:
Mike Atherton – 7,.728 runs at 37.69 from 115 test matches. A fine record, though that average was reduced by his encounters with Glenn McGrath who seriously had the wood on him.
Alec Stewart – 8,463 test runs at 39.54 from 133 test matches. These already impressive figures conceal the fact that Stewart the specialist batter (the role in which I would be using him) averaged 47, while Stewart the keeper averaged 34.
Marcus Trescothick – 76 test matches produced 5,825 runs at 43.79. An attack-minded left hander, Trescothick hit the ground running at Test level with 66 against the West Indies on debut, and until mental health issues caused his premature retirement from international cricket he went from strength to strength.
Andrew Strauss– 100 test matches, 7,037 runs at 40.91. An consistent opener who did even better as captain than he did in the ranks.
Alastair Cook – England’s all time leading test run scorer, with 12,472 at 45.35, he started his test career with a fifty and a century against India and ended it 12 years later with a fifty and a century against India.
Of these five I can accommodate three in my squad (an opening pair and a reserve opener), and my choice, with due respect to Messrs Atherton and Trescothick is to go for Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart (mainly defensive left hander and more attacking right hander) as my first choice opening pair and Strauss as the reserve opener. It is a close call between Strauss and Trescothick, but Strauss’ captaincy experience gives him an edge.
My designated number three bat and captain is Michael Vaughan. Number three has traditonally been a problem position for England, but Vaughan was magnificent there – his only rival in my lifetime is Jonathan Trott, but since I want Vaughan as captain he gets the nod. When it comes to picking three middle-order batters there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from. There are two left-handers, David Gowerand Graham Thorpe and a phalanx of right-handers including Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root and Paul Collingwood who all did fine things at test level. I can only select three, two to be in the first XI and one as cover, and my choices are Joe Root, David Gower and Kevin Pietersen.
With all due respect to Andrew Flintoffand Ben Stokes who have both had great achievements at the highest level there is only one candidate for the allrounders role in my view and that is Ian Botham.
There are four potential candidates for the wicketkeepers slot, of whom I need to select two since I do not intend using Stewart in that role. My four candidates are:
Jack Russell – a magnificent keeper, but his test batting average of 27.10 was a little on the low side.
Matt Prior – there was never a question about his batting skills, but his keeping took a while to develop, though he became very good indeed.
Jonny Bairstow – A fine attacking batter and a good keeper, but rarely able to combine the two at test level
Ben Foakes– A magnificent keeper and averaging over 40 in his brief test career so far.
It will be considered controversial in some circles to give the nod to someone still in the early stages of their career, but my choices are Ben Foakes as first choice keeper and Matt Prior as reserve.
Andrew Strauss (reserve opener)
The likely first XI, assuming a pitch that does not favour any particular type of bowling would be: Stewart, Cook, *Vaughan, Root, Gower, +Foakes, Botham, Swann, Broad, Anderson and Harmison, with Kevin Pietersen just missing the final cut in favour of Root (Gower’s lefthandedness works to his advantage).
THE ALL TIME SQUAD
For this one I start with the greatest of all opening pairs, Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe. In addition to being one half of the greatest of all opening pairs Herbert Sutcliffe’s averages suggest, as does everything ever written about him, a big match temperament par excellence – 52.02 in first class cricket, 60.73 in all test cricket and in the cauldron of The Ashes, 66.85. As reserve opener I select W G Grace, reckoning that his test batting average (32.29) was reduced both by the pitches he played on and the fact that he was already 32 when he played his first test match in 1880, and his career at that level lasted until within a couple of months of his 51st birthday. My remaining choices for batting slots are Joe Root (captain), Denis Compton, Walter Hammond and Frank Woolley (the latter two more than handy bowlers as well as great fielders, and Woolley a left-hander). For the wicketkeepers I opt for Les Ames as first choice and Ben Foakes as reserve. Ian Botham retains his place as designated all-rounder. For the bowlers I retain Anderson, and augment his presence with Fred Trueman, Syd Barnes (189 wickets at 16.43 from just 27 matches) and George Lohmann (112 wickets in 18 test matches at an eye-popping 10.75). My two players selected as spinners are Hedley Verity (slow-left arm) and Jim Laker (off-spin).
Thus my squad list reads:
W G Grace (reserve opener)
*Joe Root Walter Hammond
The first XI in batting order, assuming the pitch does not justify either two specialist spinners or an all-seam attack is: Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Compton, *Root, Woolley, +Ames, Botham, Lohmann, Laker, Trueman and Barnes. I select Laker ahead of Verity as the lone specialist spinner because Woolley was a good enough slow-left armer to have taken 10 wickets in a test match and Compton could bowl slow left-arm wrist spin.
A BIT OF NEWS
Today as part of my continuing recovery from cancer I attended a physio session at Tapping House, and it went very well. I handled all four of the exercises I did today reasonably well, and my breathing behaved itself. It is a nice small group, and the setting is good.
This is going to be a brief post to put people in the picture about my current situation.
THE EVENTS OF THE WEEKEND
After a good Friday I woke up on Saturday morning feeling dreadful. The trouble was a headache. At about 7:30 I took two paracetamol, hoping that they would ease it and I would be able to function something approaching properly. By 9AM it was clear that such would not be the case and I phoned my aunt to request her company. She called 111, and the paramedics who came decided that a visit to hospital was warranted (I have secondary tumours in the brain, so a headache cannot be ignored). After speaking to my parents my aunt decided that rather than have the paramedics take me to QEH (who have blotted their copybooks more than once since I become ill) she would drive me to Addenbrooke’s, who were informed that I was on the way.
At Addenbrookes after a check of my vital signs revealed nothing to worry about I was taken for a CT Scan and then temporarily admitted to the very familiar surroundings of Ward D9. The scan did not reveal anything that it shouldn’t, and by Sunday morning the headache had gone and I was feeling a lot better. By that stage the only question was how long it would take to attend to necessary bits and pieces before I could be discharged, and by 2PM I was in my parents car and we were heading to King’s Lynn.
Normal blogging service should be resumed from tomorrow.
I have no pictures of my own to share, but here is a graphic posted on twitter by Anne Memmott for Autism Acceptance/Appreciation Month: