Ashes Composite XI

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

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE TEAM

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

MY REASONING

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. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

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. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

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

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

FW2FW3MHIMHII

PW1
These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.

PW2PW3LBB

 

MCG, Photographs and Solutions

Some thoughts on the recent test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, solutions to my lest set of puzzles and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This is a two part post – first of all a bit about the test match that finally ended in a draw at about 6AM UK time, and then the companion to piece to “Puzzles and Pictures“, answering the puzzles posed there. 

5-0 AVERTED

England had the better of Australia in the fourth test match of this Ashes series, but neither team stood a chance against the real winner of this drab affair – the MCG pitch which offered no assistance to any kind of bowler and was also so slow that batsmen could not play their strokes. Alastair Cook ended his poor run of form emphatically, with an innings demonstrating once again his astonishing powers of concentration. Australia without Mitchell Starc and on a pitch that was utterly lifeless looked an ordinary bowling unit.

At lunch on day 1 Australia were 102-0 with Warner going well and Bancroft surviving, but that was the only session of the game that Australia unequivocally won. Although wickets were in short supply on that opening day Australia reached the close at 244-3 – a definite failure to build on that fast start. The second day belonged to England – Australia were all out 327, losing their last five wickets for 13 runs and England in response reached 192-2, Cook 104 not out, Root 49 not out. The third day was also England’s – 491-9 at the end of it, with Cook 244 not out. On the fourth day rain intervened. Anderson lost his wicket to the first ball of the day, giving Alastair Cook yet another place in the record books – highest score by anyone carrying their bat through a complete test innngs, beating Glenn Turner’s 223 not out v West Indies. Bancroft and Khawaja were both out fairly cheaply, but when the rain finally halted proceedings for the day Australia were 103-2 with Warner and Smith in occupation. On the final day Warner fell 14 short of his second hundred of the game. Smith did reach his own hundred, after seven and a quarter hours, and then declared which officially ended the game as there was no time left for England to chase to 100 they would have needed to win. 

The Melbourne Cricket Ground has a huge seating capacity, and the Boxing Day test is for that reason the best attended of all test matches. In particular, the Boxing Day Ashes test is habitually hugely attended. Because of the failure to produce a proper pitch the biggest crowds test cricket ever sees got a game that was not worthy of the occasion, and that is not acceptable. The MCG need to sort this out – on proper pitches test cricket can be the most fascinating of the three forms of the game, but on lifeless rubbish such as the MCG groundsman produced for this match it is a poor spectacle. The ICC (cricket’s global governing body) should come down on the MCG like the proverbial ton of bricks.

Alastair Cook’s epic innings deservedly gained him the player of the match award. A full scorecard and links to further detail about this match can be found on cricinfo. The final match of this series is in Sydney, starting on January 4th, and I sincerely hope that they produce a better pitch (they cannot produce a worse one – such a thing does not exist).

PHOTOGRAPHIC INTERLUDE

As we switch focus the the puzzles I presented a couple of days ago, here are some bird pictures from yesterday:

RookLapwing Ilapwing and waderFlying gullsMH1MH2MH3white duckblackbirdsMH4

PUZZLE 1: LOGIC

jester

As I said when I set it, this one is very straightforward. The key is that person B has said “I am the Knave”. The Knight cannot say this as it would be a lie, and the Knave cannot say it as it would be true, so the only person who can say “I am the Knave” is the Jester. Therefore the Jester is person B (note that both Knight and Knave can say “I am not the Knave”, so we cannot say which of A and C is which).

PHOTOGRAPHS – THE GREAT OUSE

Great OuseGreat Ouse 2

PUZZLE 2: AREA CHALLENGE

area test

The red sgements in the four corners of the shape are each half the size of the red segments along the sides of the shape, which in turn are each half the size of the blue shapes in the middle of the pattern. Thus counting the smallest segments as 1 there are (4 x 1) + (8 x 2) red segments = 20 red segments. Each blue shape in the middle comprises four segments and the are four of them = 16 blue segments. Thus the ratio of red area to blue is 20:16 = 5:4

PHOTOGRAPHS: THE WALKS

The Walks was still flooded yesterday, although less than it had been when I took my last set of pictures there two days previously.

TW1TW2TW3TW4TW5TW6TW7TW8TW9TW10TW11

PUZZLE 3: EVEN AND ODD

Odd and Even

Instinct suggests that the answer should be no, but this is one of those occasions when one should mistrust one’s instinct. To demonstrate a solution (one of many along these lines), I choose as my three even numbers 6, 8 and 4 in that order. Six divided by eight is 0.75, and 0.75 x 4 = 3 = an odd number.

PHOTOGRAPHS: MUSCOVY DUCKS 1

The Muscovy duck that I had seen in The Walks recently was not there yesterday, so I finished my walk by heading towards the place where I had first seen the species. I waqs rewarded when just on across Littleport Street from that location I saw the entire flock. Here are some of the pictures.

white muscovygrey patched muscovyBlack and white muscovyFive muscoviesFive muscovies IIthree muscoviesdark muscovyblack and borwn bodied muscoviesblack muscovyfour muscoviesblakc muscovy IIMuscovies and gullsthree dark muscovieslight muscovieslight muscovybrown muscovybrown muscovy IIMuscovy and mallardsmottled muscovymainly white muscovyside by side

PUZZLE 4: DIVISIBILITY

divisability

And here is my own solution posted on brilliant:

Thomas Sutcliffe 
Dec 26, 2017
 Upvote0

We have to use the numbers 1,2,3,4 and 5 to make a five digit number. The first requirement is that the first three digits form a number dvisible by four, which can only be achieved from these numbers by using 124 (= 31 x 4), then digits 2,3 and 4 must form a number divisible by five, so the fourth digit has to be 5 as numbers divisible by five end either in five ior zero and zero is not available to us. That leaves us the fifth digit to fill, and the only number we have not used is 3, hence the number is 12,453, and back checking using the last limitation, that the final three digits be divisible by three confirms this (453 = 151 x 3).

PHOTOGRAPHS – OTHERS

These were taken near the end of my walk:

Corn ExchangeMoon IMoon IIMoon III

PUZZLE 5: INVESTMENT EXPERT

Investment

The minimum starting amount he needs to ensure that it stays growing on these terms is $4. On my subsidiary question, although this starting point only yields a fortune of two billion and four dollars after one billiSuch is the power of exponential growth that if you increase this starting amount by even a small amount it will suffice. According to Denis Husudvac on brillaint even a stgarting point $4.01 will be enough.

PHOTOGRAPHS: MUSCOVY DUCKS 2

dark muscovy IIdark muscovy IIImottled muscovy IIGrey muscovyGrey muscovy IIImuscovy and mallard drakemuscovies and mallardsMottled muscovy IVMuscovy Headfour muscovies IIbrown muscovy IIImottled muscovy Vblack muscovy IIImuscovy head IItwo muscoviesbrown muscovy Vtwo brown muscoviesblack muscovy IVIn convoymuscovy ducklight muscovy II

 

Thomas’s Composite Ashes XI

My composite Ashes XI, with a controversial choice at no 5.

INTRODUCTION

This post, which is purely and simply what the title says will be followed by one of more my more usual posts.

AN END OF SERIES TRADITION

One of the things that people do as an Ashes series approaches its conclusion is pick a composite team. A team is not simply the 11 players who have had the best series – to be properly selected it has to be capable of functioning as a team, so it needs sufficient batting and bowling resources and a genuine wicket-keeper. Having set out my criteria I will now begin selecting:

THE OPENERS

None of the openers in this series will remember it with especial fondness, but with Warner now established as the Caddick of batsmen (much better in the second innings than in the first), and Lyth having not had a big score at all, the selection is quite straightforward: Chris Rogers and Alastair Cook (Captain).

THE MIDDLE ORDER

Number 3 is clear cut – Stephen Smith is a flat track bully, not to be trusted if the ball is doing anything, whereas Ian Bell produced two fifties in the third match to help restore England’s lead in the series. Verdict: Bell by the proverbial country mile.

Number 4 is even more of a no-contest – Michael Clarke has barely scored a run in the series while Joe Root has been superb. Verdict: Root on a walkover.

Number 5 is a difficult one. There have been no convincing performances from anyone at number 5. I am going to resolve it by thinking outside the box, to someone who regularly bats no 5 and has been in superb form recently. It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that my choice for no 5 goes to … Ellyse Perry.

Thinking outside the box: Ellyse Perry's excellence cuts the gordian knot of who to select at no 5 in the composite ashes XI!
Thinking outside the box: Ellyse Perry’s excellence cuts the gordian knot of who to select at no 5 in the composite ashes XI! (acknowledgements to cricinfo for the picture)

Number 6 takes us back to no-contest territory – it is Mr X Factor himself a.k.a Ben Stokes who stands out like the proverbial sore thumb for this position.

Number 7, and wicketkeeper is a bit tough – I have no doubts that Jos Buttler is the superior cricketer of the two keepers, but Peter Nevill has had a fine series whereas Buttler has not. Final verdict: Nevill, on ground of faring better in this particular series.

Number 8 and we are in the territory occupied by folk who are in the side for their bowling, and England’s domination in this area over the series is indisputable. Hence, this position and nos 9 and 10 are all occupied by England players. In the position of No 8 itself is Stuart Broad.

At Number 9 I have given James Anderson a promotion on his regular position in order to fit in my remaining two bowlers.

Number 10, back to his best after a couple of years in the wilderness is Steven Finn, probably third seamer behind Broad and Anderson but possibly sharing the new ball with Anderson.

We are at Number 11 and there is no recognized spinner in the side. In this area, and this is why the tail of my composite side is so long, there is no proper contest since England’s designated “spin option”, Moeen Ali, is in my humble opinion nothing of the kind (though a fine cricketer), so this slot goes to Nathan Lyon.

Here then in batting order is Thomas’s Composite Ashes XI 2015: (nb an asterisk next to a player designates captaincy, a plus sign having the wicketkeeping gloves)

C ROGERS
A COOK*
I BELL
J ROOT
E PERRY
B STOKES
P NEVILL+
S BROAD
J ANDERSON
S FINN
N LYON