England Fold Like A Pack Of Cards

An account of England’s surrender in the first test match and a suggested 13 for the second test match.

INTRODUCTION

This post deals with the first Ashes Test of 2019 which ended yesterday in defeat for the home team by a thumping 251 runs. I did not actually get to follow any cricket yesterday as a hospital appointment intervened, and by the time I was home England’s humiliation was complete. However, I did follow most of the first four days, and I have followed enough cricket over the years to have a fairly good picture of yesterday’s events in my mind. An official match report can be viewed here.

PICKING UP FROM MY PREVIOUS POST

At the end of day three Australia led by 34 with seven second innings wickets standing. It was day four which killed England’s chances stone dead and illustrated all too vividly the utter folly of regarding Moeen Ali as a test match spinner, let alone as being good enough to be sole spinner.  On a pitch which was turning he went at four an over (seriously expensive even in 21st century test cricket) and only picked up two wickets, both long after England’s hopes had been dashed. Both Joe Root and Joe Denly were called on to bowl their part-time stuff as Australia forged ahead, a king-size indictment of Moeen Ali. and of the original selection of just one front line spinner.

Steve Smith, for all that can be (and has been) said against his personal conduct is without much question the best current test match batter in the world, so his second century of the match deserves full credit, but Matt Wade, who started his cricketing life as a wicketkeeper, also racked up a ton, and there were further runs all down the order, until Australia declared at 487-9 leaving England a purely nominal 395 to chase in just over a day.

England reached 13-0 by the close of day four. The aim on day five was preservation of wickets, with an outside possibility of having a dart after tea if the situation warranted it (I was envisaging for this scenario a tea score of maybe 200-2 and then sending in Buttler and Stokes to have an almighty bash, with the option of falling back on defence if that tactic backfired). In the event England failed even to begin to make a contest of it, and in a final indictment of Moeen’s earlier toothlessness Australia’s own sole spinner Nathan Lyon demonstrated that a genuine spinner could use that pitch, taking 6-49 (the other four wickets went the way of fast bowler Pat Cummins, the quickest on either side in the match).

CHANGES FOR THE SECOND TEST MATCH

England need to make big changes for the second test. I reproduce below my own squad of 13 for the second test, with the additional note that I just been listening to my controversial choice as opener score a superb half-century and an invitation to view an alternative set of selections here.

  1. Burns
  2. Beaumont
  3. *Root
  4. Roy
  5. +Foakes
  6. Stokes
  7. Lewis Gregory (with Anderson likely gone for the series it is surely time for this move)
  8. Chris Woakes
  9. Jofra Archer
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Olly Stone
  12. Sam Curran (could play in place of Gregory, Woakes or Archer)
  13. Matthew Parkinson (with all respect to Bess I gamble on the legspinner as second specialist spin option, in the knowledge that the skipper can bowl passable off-breaks if needed)

Given England’s current desperation in that regard I end with two tongue-in-cheek suggestions for finding a way to dislodge Steve Smith:

  1. Set 7-2 onside fields for Archer and Stone and absolutely pepper him with short stuff in the hope of unsettling him (the Jardinian approach)
  2. When you know he will be at the non-striker’s end at the start of over toss the ball to someone like Rory Burns, with advice to keep an eye on where he is and in his desire to get to the striker’s end he creates the opportunity for a bowler’s end run out (absolute desperation).

LINKS AND PICTURES

I have a few links to share before we come to the photographs:

Now for my usual sign off…

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This is a local Norfolk brewed Porter (from Sunday’s supper at Golding’s)
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An interesting tower near Ely
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Ely Cathedral from just outside the town.
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Various shots of Ely Cathedral taken while we made a flying visit to the town on the way back from my hospital appointment.

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The focal point of our visit – an excellent independent bookshop.

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The next three shots show that is not just insects, ducklings and moorhen chicks who sometimes use lily pads as a resting place.

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The last five pics show ‘mama duck’ with her now almost fledged brood of six youngsters.

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Homeward Bound

My account of the homeward journey from Fort Picklecombe.

INTRODUCTION

We have reached the penultimate post about my Cornish holiday – the last day. This post details the long journey home.

STARTING OFF

The length of time it took to get from Plymouth to Fort Picklecombe on the Thursday was playing on my mind, and I wanted to be sure that we were away before 9AM, since my train was due to depart Plymouth at 10:44, and I reckoned that a single ticket from Plymouth to London bought on the day (London-Lynn would still have been valid on the original ticket) woulkd probably cost more than my original ticket (in this assessment, to borrow from history, there was the proverbial “cubit of error my way that does not obscure the 99 cubits of error the other way” – actually said ticket would have been fractionally less. Nevertheless, I did get a few lasy pictures before leaving the fort:

Sun on waterthree boatsTwo boats

Heron
A first for me – the first time I have captured a heron on camera.

On the journey into Plymouth I managed to snap two pictures from the back of the camper van:

Water viewBridge, Plymouth

I had some time to kill at Plymouth station and did so by taking photographs…

Platform 7, Plymouth

Gull waiting for train
An avian passenger?

Posters 1Plymouth PosterPenzanceDevon PosterDevon Poster 2Departure Board

PLYMOUTH – LONDON

This train was a service called “The Cornish Riviera”, which starts in Penzance and snails up through Cornwall stopping pretty much everywhere and then makes up time by calling only at Exeter St Davids and Reading between Plymouth and London. Although I had an aisle seat on this journey, and no opportunity to move to the window seat I was not going to be denied at least some photos. I got a good few between Plymouth and Exeter and a handful thereafter…

Across the water from the trainAcross the Water from the train IIBridge from trainThe seaCliffsAcross the water from the train IIIHeadland from the trainTown across the water from trainBoats and buildings through the windowBoats and Buildings from train IIBoats and buildings from train IIIAcross the water from train IVBoat and housesboat and buildingsRed cliffsRed cliff and two big housesStately homeRed cliffs, buildings and treesRed cl.iffs and red houseWaterfront buildingsWaterside viewView through the bridgeAcross the riverLarge churchLarge church IILarge church IIITwo towersSpire through treesSpire II

Plat 1
Exeter St Davids (two images)

Exeter St DavidsMonument

Chalk Horse
This chalk horse, carved directly out of the hillside, is visible at distance at a time when the train is at full speed.

Chalk Horse II

Reading
Reading station
Royal Oak
Royal Oak – the Hammersmith & City line’s last station west of Paddington. The next station towards Hammersmith, Westbourne Park, used to offer an interchange with mainline railways but nowadays Ealing Braodway is the last mainline station before Paddington. Back in the old days there was a connection – the first locomotives to run over what was then The Metropolitan Railway were supplied by the Great Western, while this extension to Hammersmtih opened in 1864, only one year after the original.

LONDON TO KING’S LYNN

I crossed to the Hammersmith and City line platforms, nos 15 and 16 of the main station, and waited a long time for an eastbound train, then discovering that it was terminating at Edgware Road (very odd indeed for a train from Hammersmith), so I had to change again. I arrived at King’s Cross and was just in time to catch the 14:44 to King’s Lynn, which was not overfull (as the 15:44, the next service, certainly would have been). This means that I was at home and unpacking by 5PM. 

Paddington 1View from the Hammersmith & City line platformsPaddingtonH&C trainCablesTrainEdgware RoadEdgware Road from aboveEdgware Road Plats 1&2

Hammersmith & City line
This picture was the cause of minor quarrel – I was challenged by another passenger as to why I was taking pictures of his friend, and it took my a while to get the point across that I was not, and that it was this map which was my target. His friend’s hat did appear in the uncropped version, but no face was visible, and my only interest was the map. I was perhaps a little harsh as I was fully expecting to miss my intended connection at Kings Cross due to the delays on this leg of the journey.

Great Portland StreetEuston Square

Kings Cross clock
The platform from which the train to King’s Lynn was l.eaving was revealed with a mere eight minutes to spare, and if you going to Lynn you have to go to the front of the train (or else get out and dash along the platform at Cambridge).

Kings Cross arched roofTrains at Kings CrossKing's Cross just before departureJourney PlannerAeroplaneStansted ExpressStansted Express 2

Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral.

 

Thoughts on Public Transport

Some jottings on public transport.

INTRODUCTION

This post arises from several issues: changes to the bus services in my region, and the way in which the company in question has handled those changes; a campaign that has recently come to my attention to restore rail links to Wisbech, and finally the fact that I have recently been in Sweden and thus privileged to see at first hand how a properly run public transport system works.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT SHOULD MEAN PUBLICLY OWNED TRANSPORT

The more I see of public transport (and as a 41 year old non-driver I see plenty) the more convinced I become that private companies should play no role in running it. Whether you consider the blatant failures such as the current situation involving Southern Rail, the high and increasing prices of tickets across the board or the frequency with public transport in Britain is affected by delays or suspensions of services, it is plain for all to see that private companies cannot do the job.

I regularly see people in Fakenham, where I work, who have missed a connection due to a late running bus. A missed connection means a loss of at least one hour, possibly more due to the infrequency of services.

A NOTE ON INTEGRATION

Those of you who are familiar with my London Transport themed website will have noticed that I am strong believer in integration of services, which is manifested on that site mainly by my suggestions for improvements to existing lines. Ideally all routes would be interconnected.

TWO CASE STUDIES

My first case study concerns…

STAGECOACH BETWEEN KING’S LYNN AND NORWICH

There have been two major changes on this route recently. Firstly, the service between Fakenham and Norwich has been halved (it is now hourly rather than half hourly), albeit with a couple of gaps in the service between Fakenham and King’s Lynn closed to make that a proper hourly service. The effect of the axing of half of the services between Fakenham and Norwich has been that for the first time standing passengers are a regular feature of that route. A week ago today the X8 designation vanished, the whole route now being referred to as X29. While there is a certain logic to taking this step, especially if it means that all Norwich-Fakenham buses go through to Lynn, the way in which it was handled earns Stagecoach a major black mark. Apart from messages on the screens at King’s Lynn bus station (the way I learned about it), this change was given no advance publicity, with the result that those passengers who do not use King’s Lynn bus station were caught on the hop, and even on Friday evening the sight on X29 to King’s Lynn was still capable of causing confusion with certain passengers.

THE TRAIN BETWEEN KING’S LYNN AND LONDON (WITH A SIDELIGHT ON PROPOSALS INVOLVING WISBECH)

The train service between London and King’s Lynn is hourly, and after a non-stop run to Cambridge it splits into two, with four coaches continuing north to King’s Lynn and four returning to King’s Cross. The necessity to be in the front four coaches if going beyond Cambridge can mean standing all the way to that station or even beyond (I have stood from London to Waterbeach at least once). I am aware that the restriction to four coaches beyond Cambridge is due to the shortness the platforms at some the intermediate stations, but there are least two possible solutions, and variations thereon:

  1. In addition to the through services from London run regular (half hourly, or even quarter hourly) shuttle services between Cambridge and King’s Lynn). This (especially with the more frequent services) would mean that not everyone journeying between Cambridge and King’s Lynn or intermediate stations would need to board through trains at Cambridge – I for one would aim to make the return leg of a trip to Cambridge on one of the shuttles rather than a through service.
  2. For points north of Cambridge have an interleaving of shuttle services as above with faster through services calling at only the stations with long platforms (Ely, Downham Market, King’s Lynn), so that services between London and King’s Lynn would consist of hourly through services, with changes at Cambridge, Ely or Downham Market as appropriate for intermediate stations) which would be augmented by shuttle services on the Cambridge-King’s Lynn section.

You will note that I have not even touched on the possibility of lengthening the platforms at Waterbeach, Littleport and Watlington so that eight carriage trains could call at those stations – I have merely mentioned the possibilities that do not require work on the existing infratsructure.

WISBECH RAIL LINKS

I found out about the campaign to bring the railways back to Wisbech via twitter. They have a website which gives considerable detail about their proposals. I conclude this post by aking use of one of more recent bargain basement acquisitions, this what Wisbech’s rail connections looked like in 1947…

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Attending a Training Session at NAS Headquarters

An account of a visit to London for an NAS training session, including Sutcliffe’s Laws of Travelling by Public Transport and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post deals with events on Saturday, when I attended a training session for branch officers at NAS HQ in London. Before moving on to the main part of my post I have a small section on…

WHY I AM GLAD THAT MY FIRST POST IN MAY IS AUTISM RELATED

April is Autism Awareness month, and here in West Norfolk we certainly did our part, with our hugely successful Positive Autism Awareness Conference. However it is also important to make it quite clear that autism does not stop at the end of April. Improving awareness, understanding and ultimately acceptance of autism is a year-round task.

SUTCLIFFE’S LAWS OF
TRAVELLING BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT

I have never previously set these out in full, so here goes:

Zeroth law: Any journey involving public transport requires careful planning no matter how apparently straightforward it is.

First law: If you allow scope for things to go wrong you will have a quick, clear run.

Second law: If you decline to allow scope for things to go wrong you will have a horror run.

Third law: Because bitter experience has taught them to make allowances public transport users are less likely to arrive late than car users.

Do you recognize the more famous set of laws on which the formatting of this set is based?

GETTING THERE

The session was due to start at 10AM, which gave two options for which train to catch – the 7:54 and be tight for time or the 6:54 and have time to spare for things to go wrong. In keeping with the first law of travelling by public transport the second option was chosen. The other person travelling from West Norfolk wanted to travel there with me, so we agreed to take the 6:54. On the day preceding the journey I called in at the station to make sure that the service was running as it should be (The branch chair had kindly arranged tickets for us, requiring in return that we make sure to come back with expenses claim forms so that she could reclaim the money). Here are some pictures from this preliminary stage…

We took our places on the train and having allowed for things to go wrong had a clear run to London. Callum’s girlfriend had decided to travel with us so she could have a look round London, and at King’s Cross she and Callum arranged a meeting point before Callum and I head off towards NAS HQ.

Walking up Pentonville Road (between Pentonville Road, Angel and our London starting point of King’s Cross this was quite a monopoly board journey!) we arrived at NAS HQ almost dot on 9 o’clock, and were the only people there that early. I took some pictures while we waited for others to arrive, including the feature image…

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The #TMI mural outside NAS HQ, with Callum standing in front of the end panel.
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A close-up of the end panel.

AT NAS HEADQUARTERS

Alessia, one of the two people running the session arrived a few minutes after we had, and let us in to the building. We took our places in the training room, and examined our training packs…

THE TRAINING SESSION

The training session consisted of presentations and some group activities. I found it to be a very valuable day, definitely worth the early start. The bit I enjoyed most came near the end, when we had to decide whether certain scenarios were things we could do as NAS volunteers, things we could not do or things that we might be able to do. At the end of the session Callum and I went our separate ways, he to meet his girlfriend and I to head back (albeit by a somewhat circuitous route). The pictures I took between here and the concourse at King’s Cross station will be featuring on my
London transport themed website, so I shall not share them here.

HOMEWARD BOUND

Apart from providing a few good photos, the return journey was pretty uneventful (yes, on the Saturday of a bank holiday weekend I had two public transport journeys pass without incident), and I arrived back home just over 11 hours after setting off in the morning.