England’s Impressive Start To ODI Series

An account of the 1st ODI between England and the West Indies.

INTRODUCTION

After a test match series most of which is best forgotten England last night started the ODI series against the West Indies in emphatic style. I followed the action on cricinfo, since there was no live commentary.

A RUN FEAST

Chris Gayle, playing his last international series at the age of 39, clubbed a spectacular century for the West Indies. The problem was that although he was smashing sixes like the Gayle of old he was no longer able to run at any sort of speed, and as a result his overall scoring rate was not actually that quick by modern standards as there were too many scoreless deliveries there.

The early lead in England’s response to the West Indies 360 was taken by Jason Roy who pretty much matched Gayle for freedom of stroke play and was also able to run properly, with the result that his strike rate was colossally impressive. Joe Root and Eoin Morgan then took over once he was out, and just before the end Root reached the third inidvidual hundred of the day, while Ben Stokes made an unbeaten 20 at the end to ensure that there would be no final wobble. Root was out at the death, caught of a dreadful full toss that was only just a legal delivery, but England’s margin was six wickets, with eight balls to spare, and at no point during the England innings did the West Indies look other than second favourites.

Although Gayle had a higher score the player of the match award went quite rightly to Jason Roy whose innings put England firmly in the driving seat, a position they never subsequently relinquished. In a match in which 724 runs were scored in 98.4 overs Ben Stokes’ bowling figures (3-37 from 8 overs) were noteworthy. Chris Gayle’s 135 came off 129 balls, so just above 100 runs per 100 balls, while Jason Roy’s 123 occupied just 85 balls – a strike rate of over 140 runs per 100 balls. A full scorecard can be viewed here.

In the early hours of tomorrow morning UK time, the England women take on India in an ODI, while the second match of the series in the West Indies gets underway later the same day.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Cricket and a Few Other Bits and Bobs

Some thoughts on the opening day of the test series between the West Indies and England, and a couple of NAS West Norfolk related bits.

INTRODUCTION

England’s latest test series in the West Indies is under way, and for the most part this post deals with the opening day’s play which happened yesterday. 

ANDERSON SHOWS THAT
CLASS IS PERMANENT

At the age of 36, by when many bowlers of his type have retired, James Anderson showed once again just how magnificent he can be. Yesterday he bowled 24 overs and finished with figures of 4-33 in a West Indies total of 264-8. He was well backed up by Ben Stokes (3-47 from 19.2 overs – the last taken on the brink of the close, hence the over not being completed). Several of the West Indians got starts, but unless Hetmeyer (56 not out overnight) does something remarkable in company with the tail none have gone on to make really big scores, and that is why their total looks decidedly modest, especially given that they won the toss and chose to bat.

Before very long we shall see how England handle batting on this surface. I anticipate a fairly handy lead on first innings for England. For the moment however, and for the umpteenth time it is a case of “take a bow, Jimmy”.

A COUPLE OF EXTRAS

On Tuesday morning I attended an NAS West Norfolk committee meeting for the first time since becoming ill, and earlier today I typed up my notes and emailed them to the branch chair. For reasons that should not need explaining I cannot share any details of that meeting here. 

Still on the NAS West Norfolk front, a lady named Claire who is a carer for the younger son of our branch chair is running in the year’s GEAR (Grand East Anglia Run) to raise funds for NAS West Norfolk. You can find her Just Giving page here, and I can assure you that every penny received by NAS West Norfolk is used to help autistic people (we spend about £15,000 per year running activities for our members and donations are our only source of income).

India on Brink of Victory at MCG

INTRODUCTION

The Boxing Day test match at Melbourne has limped into its final day, with India needing two more wickets for a convincing and thoroughly deserved victory. India claimed an extra half hour to try to finish things today but were unable to do so.

INDIA SECOND INNINGS – 54-5 OVERNIGHT TO 106-8D

Patrick Cummins emulated Jasprit Bumrah by picking up career best test bowlinjg figures in this match (6-27 in his case). India’s declaration left Australia needing 399 to win…

AUSTRALIA SECOND INNINGS 258-8

Australia’s main batting performed like a squad of Wattos – most of them got some sort of start but none went on to a significant score. Then that man Cummins showed that his abilities are not entirely restricted to bowling – he is not a genuine allrounder but his batting is definitely a cut above that of the out and out tailender – he finished the day on 61 not out, the only Aussie fifty of the match. Nathan Lyon at number ten held out for over an hour, which should have had some his supposed betters squirming as well.

Bumrah added two wickets to his first innings six, equalling a record match aggregate for an Indian paceman in Australia (Kapil Dev twice took eight in a game there and Ajit Agarkar achieved the feat once). Ravindra Jadeja picked up three wickets with his left arm spin and Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami also struck.

India deserve to be on the brink of victory, and Cummins’ late defiance will end up enhancing the entertainment value of the match but not affecting its result. 

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE UPCOMING ASHES SERIES

This English season the Aussies come calling to resume the oldest grudge match in international sport. Based on their unconvincing efforts against India at home and England’s triumph in Sri Lanka I make the home side heavy favourites, probably to win with a very comfortable margin of superiority.

Looking at the match at the MCG prompted some thoughts about England’s bowling options for this series, and I have arrived at the following:

  • England need at least one bowler who can produce vicious pace in their squad – which means that the Norfolk born Olly Stone gets the nod from me. 
  • James Anderson, who in the veteran stage of his career no longer has the pace but has ringcraft in spades is of course a guaranteed selection.
  • At least one other specialist pace bowler will be required to support the first two.
  • After their triumphs in Sri Lanka it is hard to look beyond Rashid and Leach for the front-line spin bowling roles at present.
  • If his head is in the right place Ben Stokes could be useful as back up bowler but should not be considered for a front-line bowling slot.
  • I am largely happy with the front-line batting for England, with Ben Foakes having made the keepers role his own and Bairstow now surely ensconced as no 3. I am not entirely happy about the continuing presence of Jennings but he did make runs in Sri Lanka and the Sutcliffe Super Radical Solution (Tammy Beaumont to be given her chance among the men) is not going be adopted any time soon.

As against this Australia are short of both form and confidence, and with the honourable exception of Usman Khawaja have no front-line batsman who is currently scoring with any consistency.

Thomas’s predicted Ashes outcome: England 4 Australia 1 (I do not believe that these Aussies are sufficiently bad as to be left winless but England look better in all departments).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Finally for those who have reached the end of this post here are some pictures from my “Cabinet of Curiosities”:

P1210618P1210619P1210620P1210621P1210622P1210623P1210624P1210625P1210627P1210628P1210629

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.

India Demonstrate How Not To Polish Off an Innings

Some thoughts on the current test match, some mathematics, some climate change themed links and some photographs from an upcoming militgaria auction.

INTRODUCTION

Although my first and main focus in on the current test match between England and India I also have my usual assortment of other goodies.

SWITCHBACK RIDE AT THE OVAL

When England were 120-1 at one point yesterday it looked like they were making a solid if slow start. India then took control of the game, England finishing the day 198-7, with Jos Buttler looking to marshal the tail in a recovery act (the first time this millennium that an uninterrupted test match day in England has yielded less than 200 runs). When Rashid was out fairly early this morning to make it 214-8 the question was whether the Broad and Anderson could last long enough to see England to 250. Thanks to some crazy Indian tactics the final England wicket did not fall until the total had reached 332, Buttler top scorer with 87 and Broad a useful 38. Buttler was last out when it finally occurred to India that it might not be a good idea to allow him singles at will and set a field that necessitated improvisation if he wanted to farm the strike.

The “tactic” of concentrating all one’s efforts on the tailender and declining to make any effort to pressurise the senior batter is not one I have ever approved of, and today saw one of it’s many ignominious failures. 

Having failed yet again Jennings now surely has one innings left to save his test career. There are seven test matches for England, six overseas and one at home against recently elevated Ireland before the Aussies come calling, and it is those matches which can be used to bed in a new opening pair (it would be a major ask for an opener to make their debut against them) – and I do not see Jennings being one half of that pair. As I was writing this paragraph Stuart Broad picked up the first Indian wicket. Those who read my previous post know that I have my own highly unorthodox solution to the problem of who the new opening pair should be (the driver of the bus I travelled home from work on yesterday, who is a follower of this blog, commented approvingly on the controversial element of this, so I am not alone). 

If, as now seems to be one of two live possibilties (a draw and overall 3-1 being the other) England end this series with the scoreline 4-1 in their favour India will have chucked this match in the first part of day 2. Virat Kohli is a great player but on all available evidence he has precisely no aptitude for captaincy. In thirty years of being an avid cricket follower I cannot recall a finer demonstration of how not to polish off an innings.

TEASERS

First up solutions to the problems I set on Wednesday (all problems in this section come by way of brilliant.org):

WHICH STAR IS CLOSER?

astroproblem

First the answer:

Star answer

The blue star has changed relative position more than the red, hence it must be closer, while all the other stars are so far distant that they have not changed relative position. 

BULLETS

Bullets

The answer:

Bullet answer

Here is Brian Moehring’s solution:

BMbullets

NEW PROBLEMS

31 problem

Here is another problem:

squacubes

LINKS

Three closely related pieces here. 

  1. Richard Murphy brings news of a campaign victory – the BBC has admitted to getting its coverage of climate change wrong and has warned people that it is not necessary to give airtime to climate change deniers for the sake of balance. Here is the end of Murphy’s piece on this:
    Of course I am pleased.

    And massive credit to Rupert Read for achieving this.

    Next the BBC should stop platforming tax deniers.

    And those who will not disclose their funding.

  2. Rise for Climate – this is a new source of information about actions being taken to combat climate change – feel free to visit and sign up for emails as I have.
  3. Anna presents a detailed and very clearly laid out Q & A on the campaign the prevent the building a big new road through Trosa. An English version follows the Swedish.

PHOTOGRAPHS

These pictures all come from our militaria sale that will be happening on September 19th. Disclaimer: one of the items pictured is a relic from one of history’s vilest regimes – I show it because it is a remarkable specimen which has already attracted large amounts of interest.

2
Lot 2 – this dagger is definitely genuine – and will go for a lot of money.

2-a2-b2-d2-e2-f2-g2-h2-c2-i

10
Lot 10, this will be on the front cover of the catalogue.
51
Lot 51

51-a51-b51-c51-e51-f51-g51-d

231
Lot 231
402
Lot 402
406
Lot 406
405
Lot 405

405-d405-c405-b405-a

404-c
Lot 404

404-b404-a404

204
Lot 204

204-a204-b204-c

373
Lot 373
372
Lot 372

372-a372-b372-c372-d372-f372-e

407
Lot 407 – this uniform will bring the cujrtain down on the sale.

407-a407-b407-c

Congratulations to England on a Series Win Against the World Number One Ranked Test Nation

Congratulations to England on their series win, a farewell to Alastair Cook who has announced his impending retirement from international cricket, some maths problems and solutions and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This is going to be a long post because there is a massive story to cover concerning the cricket in addition to the match itself. I will also be including some mathematical problems and solutions and of course some of my own photographs.

ENGLAND WIN A THRILLER TO TAKE THE SERIES 3-1 WITH A MATCH TO GO

On Thursday when England stumbled to 86-6 after winning the toss and batting I was not expecting to be writing a piece of this nature. England failed to polish off the Indian first innings when they had a chance of a lead. When Stokes stuffed skipper Root (run out 48) it was 122-5 and England led by only 97. Then came another lower order fightback, and with Curran adding 46 to his first innings 78 England set India 245 to win. The match was settled while I was at the Mencap Beach Hut, Old Hunstanton on an NAS West Norfolk day out. As usual the key wicket was that of Kohli, and once he had gone India never got back into contention, Moeen Ali adding four wickets to the five he took in the first dig (he is very much a bowler who likes being at home – 91 wickets at 31 in England, 51 at 52 abroad) to help settle things. In neither innings did England’s top order deliver sufficiently (a recurring problem). Aside from Root’s 48 from his preferred no 4 slot in the second innings, the highest score from an England player in the top four was Jennings’ second innings 36. I am now going to through England player by player.

  1. A N Cook – see next section
  2. K K Jennings – a failure in the first innings, and in many ways a worse story in the second – an opener who gets as far as 36 should be settled in for the long haul. I believe that with the series safely won and the situation ripe for experimentation he should be dropped.
  3. J E Root – the skipper dropped himself to no 4 in the second innings and it took a run out to get rid of him then. 
  4. J M Bairstow – he was sufficiently injured to prevent him from keeping but not apparently from batting, but if he is to play as a specialist batsman it should be at no 3.
  5. B A Stokes – the new, responsible Stokes played well up to a point in this match but in the second innings he overdid the blocking to the point of handing the initiative to India. Also running out the skipper never looks great (save perhaps at Christchurch in 1978 when Botham, allegedly acting on instructions from vice captain Willis to do whatever was needed to up the run rate, stitched up skipper Boycott).
  6. J C Buttler – one of only two England batsmen to have topped the 250 run mark thus far in the series (the other being the wunderkind Curran) and competent behind the stumps.
  7. M M Ali – a useful batting effort after England’s disastrous start on day 1 and two good bowling performances. His mid-match promotion to number three (where he did recently hid a double century for Worcestershire v Yorkshire) shows how desperate England are to find a way for Root to bat at four.
  8. S M Curran – about the only thing the youngster hasn’t done in this series is walk on water! He is establishing himself as a star player.
  9. A U Rashid – a poor match with both bat and ball, but he is too good not be firing again soon.
  10. S C J Broad – a solid match for the veteran new ball bowler. He has now drawn level with Sir Richard Hadlee in the all-time test wicket takers list.
  11. J M Anderson – a quiet match for one of the all-time great swing bowlers, but even though he did not take many wickets he continued to command respect. 

I will end the cricket part of this post by naming my team for The Oval.

FAREWELL ALASTAIR COOK

Alastair Cook, after 160 test matches, the last 158 in sequence (the longest unbroken run of appearances in test history, and not likely to be challenged any time soon) has announced that the last match of this series, at The Oval, will be his international swansong. This marks the end of an epoch not just for England but for test cricket – in many ways Cook is the last true test match batsman, having made his debut before T20 was a really major thing and unlike many who get seduced by the bright lights and big money at tournaments such as the IPL he abandoned short form cricket to concentrate on his test match career. His achievements in test cricket placve him firmly among the greats of the game, and I think he has timed his announcement exactly right, bowing out on his own terms (which he had more than earned the right to do)  and before too many people began to ask just why he continued to be picked. 

On the 2010-11 Ashes tour Alastair Cook had to most successful visit to that part of the world by anyone named Cook since Captain James called by in 1770, and the most successful by an England batsman since Hammond in 1928-9. He played three monumental innings in that series, a match saving 235 not out at the Gabba (also sometimes referred to as the ‘Gabbatoir’ on account of what often happens to visiting sides there), his 148 at Adelaide that set the stage for the Pietersen innings that put Australia right out of that game and the 189 at Sydney in the final game that ensured that the final scoreline for the series would reflect England’s dominance (a 2-2 draw would have been an utter travesty, and even 2-1 to England after a drawn final match would have looked better than Australia deserved).

I have no doubt that there will be occasions in the near future when England find themselves wishing for Cook’s cool head and fighting qualities. It will be hard to get used to an England order without the name Cook at the top of it. 

From this huge cricket fan and devotee of test cricket the message is “Well done Alastair, and thanks for some fabulous memories, especially of the Aussies being humbled in their own backyards”.

THE TEAM FOR THE OVAL

HI do not expect that thsi team will actually be picked (!) but it is what I would do in these circumstances, with the series already won: A N Cook, R J Burns, T T Beaumont, *J E Root, O J D Pope, S M Curran, +J C Buttler, M M Ali, A U Rashid, S C J Broad, J M Anderson.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

I begin with the solutions to the two problems I posed in my last post:

AKSHATHA AND DEV

A & D Answer

I give you a beautiful published solution from David Vreken:

Vreken strikes again!

1001 PROBLEM

Here is the answer:

1001 ans

I published a solution to this problem, which although more than half of all solvers got it wrong is actually very easy. My solution:

  1. 1001 is odd, and the only even prime number is two.
  2. 1001 – 2  = 999, which is obviously divisible by three (full prime factorization is 3 x 3 x 3 x 37)
  3. Negative numbers do not apply to these questions as with them no number matches the definition of a prime, but even if they did, 1,003 (1,001 – -2) is composite anyway (17 x 59).

WHAT IS THE AREA OF THE QUADRILATERAL?

This is first of two new problems from brilliant.org for you:

Screenshot 2018-09-03 at 5.08.56 PM

There are two ways to solve this one, the official method and a hack (no bonus points awarded for guessing which method I adopted!).

HOW MANY ITEMS?

Prices ending in 99

Incidentally this question should not be taken as suggesting that I approve of this method of pricing – the reverse is actually the case, I think it is utterly ridiculous and very irritating.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Church, North Norfolk
A church in North Norfolk
Sandcruiser
The new ‘Sandcruiser’ wheelchair at the beach hut.
Shell deposit
A deposit of shells

Hovercraft

Sandcruiser in action
The sandcruiser in action

Wind turbinesLincolnshire

Dolphin kite
No – not a real dolphin performing a record breaking acrobatic feat – merely a flashy kite being flown in the breeze.

No Flying birds

Bentley I
A vintage Bentley (six shots in total)

Bentley IIBentley MascotAA badgeThrough the windscreenDashboard

Amber
Possibly a small piece of amber with something preserved inside it.
fish
there were fish in this shballow water.

England Versus India

An account of the first three matches of the test series between England and India plus some photographs

INTRODUCTION

I have not written about the goings on in the current England versus India Test series as yet, because I have been busy writing about other stuff. This post repairs the omission.

MATCH 1 AT EDGBASTON

This was a nail-biter of a game, with fortunes swinging constantly as it progressed. When India were 115-6 in response to England’s 287 it looked like the home side were firmly in the driving seat, but Virat Kohli marshalled the lower order to such purpose that India trailed by only 13 on first innings. When England then slumped to 87-7 in their second innings it looked settled in India’s favour, but Sam Curran played a fine innings to give England a target of 194 to defend. England took wickets consistently, but not until Kohli was finally dislodged by a Ben Stokes yorker that trapped him plumb in front to make it 141-7, leaving nos 8, 9, 10 and 11 needing to cobble together a further 53 did the home side actually look favourites. They managed only 20 of those runs, and England were one up in the series. Curran was deservedly named player of the match (Kohli’s contribution of 149 and 51 was not enough to save his side from defeat, so it would have been wrong for him have got the award).

SECOND TEST MATCH AT LORD’S

India batted first in very difficult conditions. Nevertheless, and magnificently as England’s seamers bowled in conditions made to measure for them, a tally of 107 all out looked pretty definitively inadequate. When England were 131-5 themselves it looked less so, but a monster partnership between Bairstow and Woakes (in in place of the unavailable Stokes) effectively settled the outcome of the match. Woakes completed his maiden test century, being 137 not out when England declared, while Bairstow missed adding to his own tally of such scores by a mere four. India collapsed again (130 all out this time) and England were 2-0 up in the series. Anderson became the first bowler to take 100 test wickets at Lord’s in the course of this game, and only the second ever to 100 at a single venue anywhere (the first, Muttiah Muralitharan, did so at no fewer than three different venues). Woakes’ century meant that joined the select list of cricketers to feature on batting and bowling honours boards at Lord’s (Ian Botham is there, and among overseas cricketers Keith Miller is the sole person on both boards). 

THE THIRD TEST AT TRENT BRIDGE

Before this match got underway England perpetrated a blunder, setting the scene for four and little bit days in which such things would become routine, by dropping Sam Curran after two matches in which he performed excellently to make way for Ben Stokes, now cleared of all criminal charges, to return to the squad. I personally would not have selected Stokes at all, but even had a gun at the head proposition forced me to do so nothing would have induced to me to drop Curran (yeah, pull that trigger if dropping Curran is the price to pay for you not doing so!). 

Perhaps feeling after the first two matches that they could bowl India out on anything England put them in after winning the toss. India tallied 329, helped by some butter-fingered English fielding. The match was won and lost in the space of an hour and a half on day two when England being 54-0 in reply to 329 became England 128-9 in reply to 329. Buttler and Anderson got the final England first innings total up to 161. In their second innings India reached 352-7 before declaring leaving England two days and a mini-session to negotiate or 521 to score. Kohli had his second century of the series, having misssed out by three in the first innings. Cook and Jennings did the first part of their mammoth task, getting England to the close without losing a wicket. Both then fell early on day four, and two more quick wickets followed, at which point Buttler and Stokes joined forces. Their partnership at least showed some belated fight, and Buttler completed his maiden test hundred, while Stokes batted for a long time in largely defensive manner. Another clatter of wickets followed the breaking of the partnership and it was only some bloody-mindedness on the part of Rashid and Anderson (who had earlier in the game become only the second bowler to record 100 wickets in test matches against India, behind Muralitharan) took the game into a fifth day.

Somewhat bizarrely the Trent Bridge authorities decided to charge £10 for admission on a day that could have lasted for one ball (actually it managed to last for 17, meaning that anyone who paid to get in did so a rate of just under 59p per delivery). At the MCG in 1982, when again the final day could have lasted one ball, but there was also an outside chance of a home victory (37 needed with one wicket left BUT at the crease with no 11 Jeff Thomson was a certain Allan Robert Border) the authorities there did not charge admission. On that earlier occasion those who took advantage of the freebie got 85 minutes of gut-wrenching tension and one of the closest finishes of all time (England won by three runs after Thomson nicked one from Botham that would have had the umpire spreading his arms had the no11 simply ignored it, Tavare palmed the ball upwards and Geoff Miller took the rebound. Here, with in excess of 200 required and nos9 and 11 together at the crease there could only be one result (the largest number of runs that a last wicket pair have ever knocked off to win a first-class match is 76 way back in the fifties). Thus England were well beaten and lead the series 2-1.

LOOKING AHEAD

England’s top four is their major current problem area. At Trent Bridge those positions were filled by:

  • England’s all-time leading test run scorer but also someone who has not had a decent score since the Melbourne featherbed in December.
  • Someone who is clearly out of his depth at this level (Jennings)
  • One of the three best batsmen currently eligible for test cricket (Root – Kohli and kiwi Kane Williamson are the other two) to be found anywhere in the world.
  • A fine young batsman who at this stage of his career is not a test match number four.

The above situation, India managing a decent first innings total and the fact that Root for once had a poor game put a lot of pressure on the middle order, and Buttler and Stokes kin the second inninsg apart, they folded under it.

My suggested squad for the fourth test is: A N Cook, R J Burns (someone with a magnificent record as an opening batsman who is probably ready for elevation to the test match ranks), B A Stokes, J E Root*, O Pope (I did not say that he is not a test match batsman, and I believe that he can be, and should be persevered with, just not as high as number four, a position he never occupies even for his county), J C Buttler+, C Woakes, S Curran, A Rashid, S C J Broad, J M Anderson. If two spinners are warranted then Bess comes in for Broad, with Curran sharing the new ball with Anderson (the latter being a change I might make anyway, having Broad as third seamer). When recovered from his injury Bairstow comes in to the squad, probably replacing Stokes at no 3, just possibly coming as opener, bringing down the curtain on Cook’s illustrious career. Some of these suggestions, especially even considering dropping Cook might be seen in certain quarters as heretical. 

I still just about make England favourites for the series (after all, they are still ahead), but they need to respond better to opponents making decent totals – this not the first time in recent years that they have folded in response to a respectable but not massive total – it happened twice against South Africa last year.

PHOTOGRAPHS

For you hardy souls who have made it to the end of this post, here are some of my photos:

White buiterfly with black spotsMoorhen and chick

Pride in the Park from afar II
The first of a number of shots here featuring the inaugural King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Pride – I found out about the event which took place a week ago too late to take part, as I already had other commitments, one of which I was on my way to honour when I took this.

Pride in the Park from afar IMoorhenMallard familySquirrelBaden Powellbirds and a churchWing spanCormorants and gullsWhite Butterfly

Muntjac II
I had to photograph this muntjac from long range – as soon as they spot a human they flee.

Red Admiral IIRed AdmiralBandstandPride in the parkPride flagGuildhall