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.

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

PW2PW3LBB

 

A Day-Night Mismatch

An account of the first day-night test match on English soil, with some photographs at the end.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this account of the first test match in the series between England and the West Indies, which should still be going on but actually finished on Saturday.

THE FIRST DAY-NIGHT
TEST MATCH IN ENGLAND

One of the test matches in Australia later this year (the second of the series at Adelaide) is going to be a day-night test match, featuring sessions played under floodlights, and as part of that pink balls (as opposed to the usual red). England not fancying this being their first experience of the format decided to schedule a day-nighter at home beforehand. The problems with this decision are:

  • England because of the long twilight periods when neither natural nor artifical light are really good is not a suitable place for the day-night format.
  • The current West Indies side can hardly be considered to pose a challenge of anything like the magnitude of that of the Aussies in their own backyard.

THE MATCH ITSELF

England lost debutant opener Mark Stoneman and number three Tom Westley (also recently elevated to this level) early on, but then Alastair Cook and Joe Root put the bowling in perpsective with a huge and largely untroubled third-wicket stand. Root just pipped his predecessor as captain to the hundred mark. When Root was out for 136, Dawid Malan joined Cook and they took England through to the close of day 1. On Day 2, England lost a few wickets, including eventually that of Cook for 243 – this last triggering a declaration with the score at 514-8. Rain intervened with the West Indies 44-1. 

On Day 3 the West Indies had a horror start, largely thanks to James Anderson, with 44-1 rapidly becoming 47-4. Although Jermaine Blackwood showed some spirit with a rapid 79 wickets continued to tumble and the West Indies first innings ended on 168 from 47 overs. While many captains have become cautious about enforcing the follow-on in recent years this was one occasion when any captain declining to do so would surely have deserved to be presented a white feather and their P45. Joe Root duly sent the West Indies in again. Early in the West Indies second innings there was some speculation about whether England would take the extra half-hour to finish the job, but it soon became clear that the West Indies would not be batting long enough for the question to arise. Once again resistance was conspicuous by its absence, and the West Indies were all out for 137 in their second innings, this time from 45.4 overs. The most noteworthy feature of this innings was Stuart Broad moving ahead of Ian Botham to number two (behind Anderson) on the all-time England test wicket takers list. 

England had won by an innings and 209 runs with a couple of hours of possible playing time remaining on day 3 (taking the rain that shortened day 2 into account this was effectively a victory in half a test-match worth of playing time). 

While I hope to see Stoneman, Westley and Malan get some big runs in the two remaining tests I do not think that performances against these West Indians will count for anything down under, and nor for reasons already outlined can I really consider this dreadful mismatch any sort of preparation for Adelaide in November. On this occasion it may actually be genuinely the case that Geoffrey Boycott’s mum would have scored runs and/ or taken wickets such was the feebleness of the opposition (for the uninitiated, based on his comments as expert summariser Geoffrey’s mum would appear have a batting record to compare with Don Bradman and a bowling record not dissimilar to that of S F Barnes!).

Most of all, in the remaining two matches of this series I would like to see the West Indies show a bit of heart and spirit, and at least make England work for the victories, as they signally failed to do at Edgbaston. Anyone who had booked seats for the fourth and fifth days is highly unfortunate – the refunds policy covers bad weather but not one side playing bad cricket.

What we saw in this match was a proficient, professional outfit dealing severely with opposition who were not remotely in the same class – well done England, but in a few months you will be facing much tougher opposition.

A scorecard of the match can be viewed here, and if you so wish you can explore from there to read more about this match.

PHOTOGRAPHS

We end with a regular feature – some of my pictures:

Moorhen2Mallard11-13 King StreetK&HMoorhenGullPollinatorPollinator2Pollinator3Pollinator4

Rathskeller
The Rathskeller, where I shall be attending a Beer Festival in the run-up to Heritage Open Day

StageTB2TB4white butterflyBannerBPBP2BP3Cormorant

flying butterfly
A butterfly captured whiel in flight

GG

Special Post: Oval and Vauxhall

A piece principally about Ashes moments at the Oval cricket ground, with an introductory mention of the history of the two stations that serve it.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my series “London Station by Station”. I hope you will enjoy this post and that some of you will be encouraged to share it.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GAS HOLDERS

I am treating these two stations together because they are at opposite ends of the Oval cricket ground. Oval was one of the original six stations of the City and South London Railway, the world’s first deep-level tube railway, which opened in 1890. Vauxhall only opened as an underground station in 1971, part of the newest section of the Victoria line, but is also a main-line railway station and would have opened in that capacity long before Oval.

Today is the Saturday of the Oval test, by tradition the last of the summer. At the moment things are not looking rosy for England, but more spectacular turnarounds have been achieved (bowled at for 15 in 1st dig and won by 155 runs a day and a half later – Hampshire v Warwickshire 1922, 523-4D in 1st dig and beaten by ten wickets two days later – Warwickshire v Lancashire 1982 to give but two examples). The Oval in it’s long and illustrious history has seen some of test cricket’s greatest moments:

1880: 1st test match on English soil – England won by five wickets, Billy Murdoch of Australia won a sovereign from ‘W G’ by topping his 152 in the first innings by a single run.

1882: the original ‘Ashes’ match – the term came from a joke obituary penned after this game by Reginald Shirley Brooks. Australia won by 7 runs, England needing a mere 85 to secure the victory were mown down by Fred Spofforth for 77.

1886: A triumph for England, with W G Grace running up 170, at the time the highest test score by an England batsman. Immediately before the fall of the first England wicket the scoreboard nicely indicated the difference in approach between Grace and his opening partner William Scotton (Notts): Batsman no 1: 134           Batsman no 2: 34

1902: Jessop’s Match – England needing 263 in the final innings were 48-5 and in the last-chance saloon with the tables being mopped when Jessop arrived at the crease. He scored 104 in 77 minutes, and so inspired the remainder of the English batsmen, that with those two cool Yorkshiremen, Hirst and Rhodes together at the death England sneaked home by one wicket.

1926: England’s first post World ward I Ashes win, secured by the batting of Sutcliffe (161) and Hobbs (100) and the bowling of young firebrand Larwood and old sage Rhodes – yes the very same Rhodes who was there at the death 24 years earlier.

1938: The biggest margin of victory in test history – England win by an innings and 579. Australia batted without opener Jack Fingleton and even more crucially no 3 Don Bradman in either innings (it was only confirmation that the latter would not be batting that induced England skipper Hammond to declare at 903-7)

1948: Donald Bradman’s farewell to test cricket – a single boundary would have guaranteed him a three figure batting average, but he failed to pick Eric Hollies’ googly, collecting a second-ball duck and finishing wit a final average of 99.94 – still almost 40 runs an innings better than the next best.

1953: England reclaim the Ashes they lost in 1934 with Denis Compton making the winning hit.

1968: A South-African born batsman scores a crucial 158, and then when it looks like England might be baulked by the weather secures a crucial breakthrough with the ball, exposing the Australian tail to the combination of Derek Underwood and a rain affected pitch. This as not sufficient to earn Basil D’Oliveira an immediate place on that winter’s tour of his native land, and the subsequent behaviour of the South African government when he is named as a replacement for Tom Cartwright (offically injured, unoffically unwilling to tour South Africa) sets off a chain of events that will leave South Africa in the sporting wilderness for almost quarter of a century.

1975: Australia 532-9D, England 191 – England in the mire … but a fighting effort all the way down the line in the second innings, Bob Woolmer leading the way with 149 sees England make 538 in the second innings and Australia have to settle for the draw (enough for them to win the series 1-0).

1985: England need only a draw to retain the Ashes, and a second-wicket stand of 351 between Graham Gooch (196) and David Gower (157) gives them a position of dominance they never relinquish, although a collapse, so typical of England in the 1980s and 90s sees that high-water mark of 371-1 turn into 464 all out. Australia’s final surrender is tame indeed, all out for 241 and 129 to lose by an innings and 94, with only Greg Ritchie’s 1st innings 64 worthy of any credit.

2005: For the second time in Oval history an innings of 158 by a South-African born batsman will be crucial to the outcome of the match, and unlike in 1968, the series. This innings would see Kevin Peter Pietersen, considered by many at the start of this match as there for a good time rather than a long time, finish the series as its leading run scorer.

2009: A brilliant combined bowling effort from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann sees Australia all out for 160 after being 72-0 in their first innings, a debut century from Jonathan Trott knocks a few more nails into the coffin, and four more wickets for Swann in the second innings, backed by the other bowlers and by Andrew Flintoff’s last great moment in test cricket – the unassisted run out of Ricky Ponting (not accompanied by the verbal fireworks of Trent Bridge 2005 on this occasion!).

The above was all written without consulting books, but for those who wish to know more about test cricket at this iconic venue, there is a book dedicated to that subject by David Mortimer.

As usual I conclude this post with some map pics…

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