A Weekend of Sporting Action

Cricket and Rugby action from the last few days and some photographs.


Between the Six Nations rugby and the first ODI between England and New Zealand I have watched/ listened to a lot of sport over the last few days. 


There were three matches over the weekend, one on Friday evening and two on Saturday. The Friday evening match was…


This match took place in Marseille, a rare fixture of this nature not happening in a national capital. It was played at a disappointingly slow tempo. In keeping with Italy’s first two matches of the series it was close for the first hour and then one way traffic as the Italians tired in the closing stages. 


The best match of this year’s Six Nations to date. Non-stop action through the 80 minutes. Ireland only settled it beyond dispute right at the end with their fourth try of the game, the last action of the match being the conversion. In the early stages Jonathan Sexton had been decidedly fallible with his kicking, whereas save for one monster effort from 53 metres which did not quite make it Leigh Halfpenny for Wales was his usual impeccable self. Ireland fully deserved their win for all that it took them so long to officially seal it, and they now look favourites for the championship.


The oldest continuously maintained fixture in international rugby and a match the outcome of which only a fool would have tried to predict in advance. The Calcutta Cup match is always a great occasion, and this was no exception. Scotland came firing out of the blocks and caught England absolutely cold. At half-time Scotland led 22-6 and if anything England were lucky it was not worse. In the second half England fared much better. They had two tries ruled out for minor infractions and scored and converted another. The final score was Scotland 25 England 13. On the day Scotland were much the better side, and deserved their victory. England now need a big win over France to give themselves a chance of winning the championship (almost certainly they will also then have to beat Ireland, probably with a bonus point).


This match, which took place during the small hours of Sunday morning UK time, was already notable before it began as it was going to mark the second coming of Ben Stokes.

England managed 285 from their 50 overs which looked defensible. When New Zealand were 28-3 it looked even more defensible. Then Ross Taylor and Tom Latham had a huge partnership which looked like winning it for the Kiwis, then England started taking wickets again, and when Taylor (113) was dismissed, leaving NZ still 40 short and only three wickets standing England looked favourites. Mitchell Santner then connected with some lusty blows, while tailender Tim Southee hung in there at the other end, and New Zealand squeaked home. Stokes scored 12 with the bat and took two wickets, though he was given at least one over too many, as at the end of his bolwing stint he was looking decidedly ragged. 


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England Win ODI Series 4-1

An account of England’s final triumph in the ODI series.


At just after 11AM UK time England sealed victory in the final ODI in Perth and with it a 4-1 series win. This post looks back at the match and the series.


Australia had gained a consolation win in the fourth match of the series in Adelaide (though they nearly contrived to lose a match that they had commenced by reducing England to 8-5). Thus, dead-rubber though it was this match had a bit of extra significance as another win for the Aussies would give them the undeserved respectability of a 3-2 scoreline. Also, it marked an international debut for the new ground in Perth, which replaces the WACA. 

Put in to bat once again, England had a number of useful contributions with no one going on to play a really major innings, which was reflected in a final tally 259. Australia fared well in response for a time, but England bowled well, and after Stoinis (87) was dismissed nobody was able to take command for Australia. At 203-8 with Paine and the tail to score the runs it looked like England were home. Australia fought hard, but a four and then a six late in his innings not withstanding Paine simply could not score quick enough, and when Curran rattled his stumps with a yorker Australia were still 12 runs adrift. Curran, elder son of former Zimbabwe international Kevin Curran (the younger, Sam, is also widely tipped to play for England in the not too distant future), had bowled splendidly and this final wicket gave him figures of 5-35, beating the 5-46 taken by Andrew Tye in the England innings. 

I was also glad that the final wicket to fall was that of Paine rather than Hazlewood because Paine’s innings here was the second time in three matches (after his 31 not out off 35 in Sydney) that he had played what appears to have been a useful innings but because of the slow rate at which he scored it was actually better for his batting average than it was for his team’s chances. 


England were even more dominant in this series than the 4-1 scoreline suggests. The evidence of Perth is that Australia’s wobble at Adelaide when chasing a total that was simply too low to pose a real threat was no coincidence, and that a tally of 250 in that match would have been ample for England to win. England won both the games in which they chased at the proverbial canter and were never seriously threatened when defending 300 in Sydney (OK, it was not until a mere three deliveries remained that Australia were so far adrift as to need no-balls from England to give them a chance, but the result of that match, in spite of Stoinis’ efforts in the later stages, was obvious from a long way out). The final match was certainly close, and there were times when Australia seemed favourites, but in the closing stages it never really felt like getting away from England. 


I congratulate the current Indian Test Match team on pulling off their victory in Johannesburg. The pitch and conditions were exactly the sort in which Indian sides of the past would have crumbled to an ignominious defeat (it was a green ‘un and the ball was getting up to all sorts of mischief for the quicker bowlers – if messrs Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins got a go on a pitch like that New Zealand’s 26 all out in 1954 would be under threat as the all-time lowest ever test match team total!).  Commiserations to Dean Elgar who ground his way to an undefeated 86 in the final innings while his team mates surrendered to Bhuvanesh Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma. The final calamity reads like something from 1990s England at their worst – SA subsiding from 124-1 to 177 all out.


As always, I finish with some of my photographs:

Sunset from the flat
The first four pictures were taken on Saturday evening.

Sunset in Baker Lane Car ParkSunset on the Upper PurfleetSunset over the custom house

This one was taken on Sunday morning
These last two were taken on Sunday evening.


Bird Pictures and Other Stuff

Sharing some of the best recent finds from the internet, and also some of my own photographs.


I have some bird pictures to show you from earlier today, and also a lot of fabulous pieces I want to share with you. I will start with the sharing and finish with the pictures.


I start with a gem from whyevolutionistrue, titled “An open letter to Charlotte Allen, an ignorant, evolution-dissing writer“, which takes the person it is addressed to to task for a poorly written, ill-informed (indeed virtually uninformed) article.

All the rest of the pieces I am sharing with you have to do with…


I start with a piece from a blog which is new to me, anotherspectrum, and a piece title “I am atheism“. The piece tackles a particularly vile commercial put out by anti-autistic hate group masquerading as autism charity Autism Speaks, the title of which was “I am Autism”.

Another  new find is Discovering My Authentic Self, and I point you to “Autism Resources“, which is precisely what you might expect from the title.

My third autism related share comes with a challenge attached. It is Autism Mom’s piece “THE CONFUSION OVER THE LITTLE WHEELCHAIR” which tackles a problem that the recognised symbol for disability reinforces – the assumption that disability always means physcial disability. The challenge is this: can you come up with a replacement symbol for disability that acknowledges the full range of disabilities? If you create a post about your idea, linking back to this post, and I am impressed by it, I will reblog you.

I end this section with a reference to The Autistic Bill of Rights. The success of the original post on this theme from stimtheline has resulted in a shareable image from the same source (I printed one out at the library today), reproduced below:

Autistic Bill of Rights.pub

Please follow my example in sharing this as widely as you can!


For the first time in its 154 year history Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack has a woman on it’s front cover. Anya Shrubsole who bowled England to victory in the 2017 World Cup is the woman thus honoured:


Identifor produced this gem earlier today


Finally we come to my photographs…

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England Seal ODI Series Victory

An account of the third ODI between Australia and England, and some of my own photographs.


Just after 11AM yesterday UK time England completed a victory over Australia in the third One Day International that also secured them the series victory with two matches remaining. This post tells the story of that victory


Steve Smith won the toss for Australia and sent England in to bat, which given that England had won the first two matches batting second was a sensible decision. Moeen Ali’s dismissal to the first ball of the 39th over left England at 181-6, at which point Australia looked favourites, and Smith’s decision to send England in looked to be thoroughly vindicated. Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes then batted so well in the last 11.5 overs, the former reaching his 5th ODI hundred along the way, that England finished their 50 overs with 302-6.

Australia in response were then ahead on comparison for much of the way. In the closing stages Stoinis and Paine batted well up to a point but they were dropping further and further behind the rate. When Stoinis holed out at the death Australia needed 19 off three deliveries which meant that Woakes only had to avoid overstepping or slinging the thing wide – and he very comfortably achieved this, England’s final margin being 16 runs. Stoinis played a quality knock, but Tim Paine’s 31 not out off 35 balls was as clear an example of a match-losing innings as I can recall (though skipper Smith’s 45 off 66, which first put Australia behind the rate merits a dishonourable mention in this category). 


Smith was given out caught by Buttler. The onfield umpires referred with a ‘soft decision’ of out, meaning that to give Smith not out the TV Replay Umpire needed to find incontrovertible evidence that it was not out. The mere fact that even with replays to help them people were not in agreement as to whether it was out or not says that the evidence was not incontrovertible, so the TV Replay Umpire was right to stick with the decision of out. Also, because of camera foreshortening TV replays are notoriously unreliable when it comes to assessing whether catches have carried (and I write this as a fan of technology overall). Finally, the way Smith was batting his dismissal benefitted Australia at least as much as it did England.


England went into the 49th over of their innings on 264-6. Pat Cummins not only got smacked around (always likely at that stage of an innings), he also unforgivably bowled a wide, and then with the seventh delivery, which had been necessitated by the earlier misdemeanour, a no-ball. The eight delivery, necessitated by the no-ball, and a free hit for that reason, was walloped for four. The meant that the over cost 25 in total, and Cummins’ indiscipline accounted for eight of those 25 (1 for the original wide, 2 for the no-ball, one taken off the no-ball and the last four).

Australia went into their 49th over at 273-6, needing 30 to win. Mark Wood was disciplined enough to limit his over to the regulation six deliveries, and he managed one dot ball, conceded four singles and only one four – eight off the over – a good fairy offering that outcome at the start of the over would have found herself one-handed! The difference between Cummins’ over and Wood’s was 17 runs (25 minus 8), and England’s winning margin was 16.


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Failing to Convert

A post provoked by an asinine comment I saw on cricinfo yesterday, dealing with the question of failure to convert in cricket.


This post was provoked by something I saw yesterday morning on cricinfo’s online coverage of the second ODI between England and Australia (I was at work, so could not listen to the commentary, but having this tab open and peeking occasionally in between doing other stuff was manageable – I was constantly using the internet for work purposes anyhow). 


England won this match by four wickets, with plenty of time to spare. Joe Root was there at the end on 46 not out. In the first match he had been there at the end on 91 not out. This coincidence that both times he was just short of a personal landmark led to a character posting under the name Dave (knowing what I do of such types I am not prepared to say that this is actually their name) to post a comment about Joe Root failing to convert. My response to this display of asininity is as follows:

  1. Failing to convert implies regularly getting out before reaching important landmarks and Joe Root was undefeated in both innings.
  2. Individual landmarks are valuable, and generally to win one needs someone to go to and well beyond several such, but cricket is a team game, and on both occasions Root missed his landmarks through playing a support role to people who were going more fluently at the other end (Jason Roy in game one, and Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes in game two).
  3. Joe Root has proven frequently that he can go on to and well past significant personal landmarks.

To end this section I quote a post from a few minutes after Dave’s which provides an indication of how good Root actually is in ODI chases:

Hypocaust: “Joe Root now has the 3rd highest average (87.06) in victorious ODI chases (min. 20 innings), behind Dhoni (102.72) and Kohli (93.64) and just ahead of Bevan (86.25).”


Here courtesy of brilliant is a puzzle:



Here is the solution to the problem that I included in my post England One Day International Record:



As usual we end with some photographs:


England One Day International Record

Some stuff about the ODI at the MCG, a neurodiversity quote, a mathematical puzzle and some photographs


After the horrors of the Ashes test series it makes a change to write about a winning performance from an England cricket team in Australia. I also have a few other things to share of course, including more of my photos.


The pitch at the MCG for the first of five One Day Internationals (50 overs per side) was a vast improvement of the strip they had produced for the test match, and the players produced a match worthy of the occasion. England won the toss and chose to field. England;s improvement in this form of the game since their horror show at the 2015 World Cup has been such that even before they started batting an Australia tally of 304 seemed inadequate.

England got away to a quick start, although Jonny Bairstow did a ‘Vince’ – looking very impressive for 20-odd and then giving it away. Alex Hales also fell cheaply, but Joe Root came out and played excellently, while Jason Roy produced the major innings that England needed from one of their top order. When his score reached 124 Roy had an England ODI record for the MCG, and that soon became an all-comers MCG record, to match Cook’s all-comers test record score for the MCG. When he went from 171 to 175 Roy establish a new England ODI individual scoring record. His dismissal for 180, with 200 just a possibility was a disappointment but by then the result was not in doubt, and even the loss of a couple more wickets in the dying overs served only to reduce the final margin. England won by five wickets with seven deliveries to spare, and it was a much more conclusive victory than those figures suggest because three of the wickets came with the outcome already settled courtesy of Roy. Joe Root also deserves credit for his support role to Roy’s pyrotechnics, a selfless display that saw him finish just short of his own hundred when the winning runs were scored. The Test squad has a lengthy shopping list of new players needed (two openers given Cook’s age, at least one new batsman for the middle order, a couple of genuine quicks and a serious spinner at minimum), but the ODI squad is in splendid fettle.


This comes courtesy of twitter:



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Those of you who have read Alison’s response to my nominating her for a Blogger Recognition Award will have noticed that she specifically mentioned enjoying the puzzles that sometimes feature here. Here courtesy of the mathematical website brilliant is another:



The colony of muscovy ducks that I first saw in late 2017 are still in residence along a section of the Gaywood River that is close to where it enters The Walks en route to becoming the Millfleet, in which guise it flows into the Great Ouse…

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Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.


A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.


My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson


The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 


Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 


I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.


These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.