England 4 India 1 – A Retrospective

Final thoughts on the just concluded England v India test series.

INTRODUCTION

Jimmy Anderson just a few minutes ago rattled the stumps of Mohammad Shami to finish the England versus India series and simulataneously move ahead of Glenn McGrath and test wicket taking list to become the all time leading wicket taker among seamers. He still possibly has enough juice left to get past wrist spinner Anil Kumble (619) into third place overall but I suspect that the tallies of Warne (708) and Muralitharan (800) are too far distant for him. In the rest of this post I will summarise the series from my perspective.

MATCH BY MATCH THROUGH THE SERIES

Englandcame into this series off the back of a poor recent run in test matches (obliterated in Australia, a clear second best in New Zealand and an unconvincing drawn home series against Pakistan) but a lot of success in ODIs, which national selector Ed Smith decided to channel by means of the selections of Buttler and Rashid. India mean time were ranked no 1, a good margin clear of the rest.

MATCH 1: EDGBASTON

England led by 13 runs on first innings, which looked like meaning precisely nothing when they then began their second innings by slumping to 87-7. However, for the first but not last time in the series, India proved unable to complete the job, baulked on this occasion by Sam Curran’s first major contribution, and England eventually left India 194 to chase, which proved to be more than they could handle.

MATCH 2: LORD’S

From the moment India were all out for 107 in their first innings the fate of this match was pretty much settled. At 130-5 England were making heavy weather of their response but a maiden test century from Chris Woakes and 96 from Jonny Bairstow put the game well and truly out of India’s reach and in the event they collapsed a second time to lose by an innings and 159 runs.

MATCH 3: TRENT BRIDGE

This match was settled in the space of an hour and a half on the second day, when England facing an Indian first innings of 329 slumped from 54-0 to 128-9. Even then the last apir cobbled together 33 to reduce the deficit, but the damage had been done, and India ran out comfortable and deserving winners

MATCH 4: THE AGEAS BOWL

When England were 86-6 after winning the toss and batting it looked like the final match would be a decider. However, with Sam Curran playing a second fine innings to rescue a dreadful start England reached 246. India took a small first innings lead, but England batted better second time around and India never threatened to get close in the fourth innings. England had sealed the series with a match to spare.

MATCH 5: THE OVAL

England were playing for pride and a bit of history in this match. After Jennings had fallen cheaply to the surprise of precisely no one who had been following the series Cook and Moeen Ali looked to have stabilised things, but then a clatter of wickets reduced England to 181-7. Buttler and Rashid made it through the the close at 198-7. When Rashid was dismissed early on the second day to make it 214-8 India seemed to be in the box seat. Then in what had become a recurring theme of the series India failed to finish what they had started. Kohli, one the three best batters currently eligible for test cricket (alongside Root and Kane Williamson of New Zealand), is also one of its worst ever captains, and here he was concentrating so much on trying to prevent Buttler from getting the strike that he seemed to forget about taking wickets with the result that England’s total mushroomed to 332. India in their own first innings staged a late order revival to reduce what had looke like being a three figure deficit to a mere 40. After Jennings had gone cheaply and Moeen Ali had also not done very much Cook in his final test innings and Root joined forces. This was the partnership that placed England’s boot firmly on India’s throat, as both completed hundreds, Cook in the process becoming test cricket’s all time most prolific left hander. Both lost their wickets in successive balls, and then after a bit of bat throwing by those lower in the order England declared setting India 464 to win.

Anderson took two wickets with the new ball to draw level with McGrath, while Kohli managed to complete his series without once falling to Anderson (by instead being done first ball by Stuart Broad), at which point India were 2-3 and the 4-1 outcome looked nailed on. A thunderous partnership on the final day between Lokesh Rahul and Rishabh Pant who both made centuries (Pant’s, his first in test cricket, could almost be described as a Gilchristian effort) but England broke through, and although for a long time it looked like India might escape with a draw the prospect of defeat never really loomed. Sam Curran took the eighth and ninth wickets with the second new ball (the latter of them being Jadeja, leaving nos 10 and 11, both out and out rabbits – indeed Bumrah at no 11 may even merit the term ferret). Bumrah managed to survive the last two balls of a Curran over, which meant that Anderson had a full over at two out and out tailenders in which to make history. With the third ball of said over Anderson did the trick as mentioned in the introduction. 

Curran, who by taking his late wickets here had become only the second person to record 250 runs and 10 wickets in a test series before reaching the age of 21 (the other was chap by the name of Kapil Dev who may be familiar to some of you!) was rewarded for his all-round endeavours by being named England player of the series, while scores of 71 and 147 in his international swansong saw Cook named player of the match. 

This was a truly extraordinary match, leaving me to ask a question: William Shakespeare did you secretly emerge from the grave to script this?!

4-1 – FAIR OR HARSH ON INDIA?

I have written about this before (see here), but I am now going to dot the is and cross the ts. Yes, as well as their big win at Trent Bridge India had good chances in three of the other matches, including the one just concluded, but the simple fact is that far too often they could press home the advantage when they had it, and every time they had an opportunity to close out a match England did so. Therefore, I say that 4-1 is a fair reflection of the series. However, not all in the England garden is rosy – the departure of Cook and the repeated failures of Jennings mean that England need a new opening pair, and have seven test matches before the arrival in town of the oldest enemy, the Aussies, for that pair to establish themselves. Also, given the reluctance of Root to bat there and the fact that Ali while adequate seems to morph into a darker skinned version of Chris Tavare when he bats there England also have problems filling the number three slot. This uncertainty at the top has been reflected in a series of poor starts to the England innings, most of which, save at Trent Bridge, were turned around by the middle and lower orders into something at least respectable. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

A few from James and Sons collector’s auction on September 26, which is now ready for viewing online.

283
Lot 283, slightly frustrating for me…
283-a
…because if this ASLEF commemorative plate had been being sold as a single item I would certainly bid for it.

283-c283-b

101
A selection of antique maps (lots 100-5 inclusive)

102103104105

110
This picture of the Rhine is lot 110 (four images)

110-a110-b110-c100

234
Lot 234, one of two figurines featuring leading French generals fron the Napoleonic era.

234-a234-b234-c234-d

235
Lot 235, Napoleon himself no less.

235-a235-d235-b235-c

Cook Signing Off In Style As England Close In On 4-1 Series Victory

A ‘farewell to Alastair Cook’ post, with some suggestions for the future.

INTRODUCTION

As well as this current match I will be looking to the future (and inevitably back to the past). 

ENGLAND IN COMPLETE COMMAND

Alastair Cook has ensured that tomorrow’s sports pages will feature one story and one story only by reaching a century in his final test innings (it is not quite a duplication of Greg Chappell’s ‘full circle’ act of scoring centuries in his first and last test innings, because Cook reached his maiden ton in the second innings of his debut match, but it is a unique bookending double for Cook because he scored a fiftty and a century on debut and has now done the same in his final test match. The hundred was brought up courtesy of Jasprit Bumrah’s KP impression – shying wildly at the stumps with no chance of a run out even if he had hit and seeing the ball race away for four overthrows, allowing Cook the rare distinction of completing his hundred with a five. Cook has just gone for 147. His aggregate of 218 in his final match is not a record – that belongs to Andy Sandham who at the age of 39 scored 325 and 50 against the West Indies at Sabina Park (in a match that was abandoned as a draw after two days were washed out and England then had to catch the boat home). For the home series against Australia England reverted to the regular opening combo of Hobbs and Sutcliffe, and as fortune would have it Sandham never played again, while second in that roll of honour is Bill Ponsford who scored 266 and 23 the Oval in 1934, helping Australia to clinch the Ashes with victory by 562 runs. Among the welter of records generated by this final innings Cook is now established as the most prolific test match left hander of all time, having moved ahead of Kumar Sanggakkara. Cook finishes with 12472 runs at 45.35 and having occupied the crease in test match cricket for just over 621 hours in the course of his career (103.5 days play = batting for the equivalent of just over 20 of his 161 test matches). 

The fairytale script for the rest of this match has Anderson moving ahead of McGrath to become the leading wicket taking seamer in test cricket history, preferably with the history making wicket being that of Virat Kohli. Given the size of England’s lead and the amount of time left in the game the victory is pretty much nailed on.

THE FUTURE

Thanks to their policy of sticking with Jennings long past his sell by date England now need two new openers. I see the following options for England now:

  1. The cowardly (and in my view indefensible) option of sticking with Jennings and recalling Stoneman so that they have an opening pair who have both played test cricket.
  2. The “safe” option of going with one of Stoneman/ Jennings and presumably one out of Rory Burns or Nick Gubbins
  3. Go for a complete fresh start with Burns and Gubbins both debuting at the top of the order. Preferable in my view to either 1 or 2 but hardly ideal.
  4. The left-field option that I have mentioned in previous posts (here for example) of giving Tammy Beaumont who has been scoring bucketloads in international cricket the opportunity to play alongisde the men and giving the other opening slot to either Burns or Gubbins. 

Option 1 if taken would see me breathing fire, option 2 would be disappointing but unsurprising, I would applaud the taking of option 3, while I recognize that there is basically zero chance of option 4 being taken I would love to see it happen. 

Apart from the retired Cook and the (I hope) dropped Jennings I would include the other nine from this match,  Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood in the touring party to Sri Lanka, add in Bess as an extra spinning option (likely to be needed in that part of the world), certainly give consideration to further beefing up the spin department with Amar Virdi, and pick top order batters Beaumont, Burns and Gubbins envisaging the first two as regular openers and Gubbins as back-up in case of injury. Certainly three genuine openers are needed, and as far as I am concerned if either Stoneman or Jennings feature the selectors will have failed in their duty. England have seven matches to develop a settled side before the Aussies come calling next year, and need to use them properly – and picking two openers who are proven failures at the highest level would not be doing that.

BACK TO THE PRESENT

While I have been writing this England have reached tea with their lead already past 400. The final session should go as follows: cram on as many runs as possible in 1st hour after tea and then declare if not all out, and then get stuck into India hoping to knock the top off their second innings before the close. Being greedy, and tomorrow being a work day, I hope Anderson gets his three to move ahead of McGrath tonight, as if he doesn’t I will almost certainly miss that historic moment. 

If, as now seems likely, England win this series 4-1 will they have deserved it? Absolutely – yes India had good chances at times of four of the five matches in this series but save at Trent Bridge they could not close things out. In match 1 England were 87-7 in their second innings, only 100 to the good, but the last three wickets more than doubled their score to set a target that India could (and ultimately did) get in trouble chasing, in the second game England dominated from start to finish, while in the third India did likewise, in the fourth England were 86-6 in the first innings and recovered to reach 246, and in this match England were 181-7 and then 214-8 in the first innings before India let things slip to such an extent that England tallied 332 in the end, and since that late order revival they have been in control (although India’s tail staged a minor wag of their own to restrict the first innings advantage to a mere 40).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are a few photographs to finish with:

Emu picture
The latest addition to my aunt’s collection of pictures – a very good representation of an Emu
Signature
The artists signature
Oxburgh Hall jigsaw
A high quality jigsaw of Oxburgh Hall, which I photographed before I had to disassemble it and replace in its box as we needed all the space on that table clear (it was Sunday supper at my aunt’s house and there were five of us there).
ceremony, KL war memorial
A ceremony taking place at the main King’s Lynn war memorial.
antique bike
An antique bike outside a shop on Tower Street.

England Selectors’ Ostrich Impression and Other Stuff

Some thoughts on the (in)action of the England selectors this week, some mathematical teasers and a few pictures.

INTRODUCTION

A couple of days ago I wrote about England’s series win over India and presented some problems and solutions. This post is on similar lines, dealing with the actual behaviour of the England selectors and my thoughts thereon.

AN OPPORTUNITY SQUANDERED

England, with the series already in the bag, had a diamond-encrusted golden opportunity to experiment with options to fill gaping holes in their top order. Cook’s announcement of his impending retirement from international cricket should have acted as an extra spur. Instead of which we see very little in the way of forward planning or of experimentation of any sort. Even with the certain knowledge that a new opener will have to come in to replace Cook the selectors persevere with the proven failure Jennings.

Three individuals who can feel more aggrieved than most by this behaviour are Rory Burns (another 90 against Essex yesterday after the latter won the toss and chose to bowl first), Dan Lawrence and Liam Livingstone

In view of Cook’s impending retirement I would have recognized openers at 1,2 and 3 (not a bad approach in test cricket anyway), with a view to the two other openers than forming a partnership in future matches. This is why in the previous post I mentioned Tammy Beaumont, a recognized opener who has been scoring stacks of runs recently. Batting is at least as much about timing and placement as it is about brute power, and that is why I believe (unlike in the case of fast bowling) a woman could mix it with the men even at the highest level, similarly with slow bowling and possibly wicket-keeping (for my money the best user of the gauntlets in world cricket across the board at the moment is Sarah Taylor). A number of the all-time greats of test match batting have been of diminutive stature (Bradman, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Hanif Mohammad and several of the finest Sri Lankans spring to mind instantly). I am well aware that this super-radical option will not happen, but the alternatives that that leaves with are:

  1. Two brand new openers, neither of whom have any experience of international cricket.
  2. One new opener and one opener who has shown already that they are not actually good enough (Jennings)
  3. Two openers who gave failed to prove themselves (presumably Jennings and a recalled Stoneman). 

Of those three options, none of which massively appeal, my choice would number 1, which might end up working out well, and then the question is who to choose to open alongside Burns (whose case for selection is undisputable in the circumstances). 

Having taken the “ostrich option” re their top order difficulties the only outcome from this game that could be acceptable is not merely a win to make it 4-1 for the series but a win by a massive margin. The timidity of the England selectors means that at least one and possibly two England openers will be starting their careers on overseas tours, with their first home test series being against those well known softies, the Aussies.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

I will start as usual with answers and solutions to the previous problems (all from brilliant.org) before offering up some new problems.

WHAT IS THE AREA OF THE QUADRILATERAL

Screenshot 2018-09-03 at 5.08.56 PM

First the answer:

quad answer

The hackers solution is that there are only two really serious possibilites since the shape is a square, namely 67 (giving an area of 289 = sides 17 units long) and 102 (giving an area of 324 = sides 18 units long), and since the question gave one three tries just enter those values for the first two tries (if your first entry does not come up right). Here, courtesy of Jeremy Galvagni is an elegant genuine solution:

quadsol

THE .99 STORE

First the answer:

Screenshot 2018-09-05 at 3.09.42 PM

The figure in front of the .99 part of the price can vary, so all we need to know is how many .99s add up to answer ending in .89, and the answer is 11 (11 x 99 = 1,089, so 11 x 0.99 = 10.89), and the next number of items after 11 that would give us an answer ending in .89 is 111, the lowest price total for which would be $109.89. Thus Marie purchased 11 items.

NEW PROBLEMS

First an astronomy themed problem:

astroproblem

Now a question that has got almost three-quarters of those who tackled in on brilliant, but is not actually difficult:

Bullets

PHOTOGRAPHS

Swimming MoorhenMoorhen on branchTwo MoorhensMoorhensMagpie