Thoughts About The Ashes Squad

A look at the England tour party for the upcoming Ashes and my selections for the Gabba.

A few days ago the England squad for the upcoming Ashes tour was announced. They opted for a squad of 17, and picked the following players:

In the rest of this post I will look at the problems with this party and then name the XI I would pick for the Gabba.

FOUR SELECTION HOWLERS

There are four players who certainly should not be in the squad. First is Jonathan Bairstow, a great white ball player whose test career comprises one fat year (Dec 2015 to Dec 2016) and eight lean ones. His place should have been given the Ben Foakes, who has been shamefully treated by the England selectors over the last few years.

Second is Dom Bess. English off spinners have generally struggled in Australia. Swann, the best English offie of my lifetime, paid almost 40 per scalp on the successful 2010-11 trip and broke down midway through the 2013-14 trip. Bess is nowhere near being in the same class as Swann, and is a disaster waiting to happen in Australia. This place should have been given to one of Matt Parkinson (pays 23.5 per first class wicket) or if you want more batting depth available Liam Patterson-White (left arm spin bowling all rounder) or Matt Critchley (batter who bowls leg spin and has had a fine season).

Third is Zak Crawley, a man who averages 11 in test cricket since his sole major innings at that level. Tom Abell should have been selected to fill the no three slot, with the bonus that he can offer some support in the bowling department with his medium pace and that if he manages to establish himself at test level he will be a serious candidate to replace Root as skipper when the time comes.

Fourth is Dawid Malan, a man now in his mid-thirties whose test average is rather less than his age. I would have selected Tom Haines as reserve opener in place of Malan.

I will not deem it a mistake but I also have concerns about two veteran seamers, Anderson and Broad both being named in the tour party. Neither have the greatest records in Australia and the likelihood of both of them being fit for the whole of a five match series seems small. Jofra Archer and Olly Stone are both crocked, but a gamble on the extra pace of Saqib Mahmood or Brydon Carse might have been taken.

AN XI FOR THE GABBA

Having laid out my most pressing concerns about the tour party and established the like the Irishman being asked for directions “I wouldn’t have started from here” it is time to select an XI for the Gabba:

The opening pair presents no problems – Burns and Hameed have two century stands in three innings and to break them up at this point would be positively frolicking with disaster.

No three is tougher, but since he is in the party it makes sense to stick with Malan for all my entirely justified misgivings about him.

No four is the one position that no one will argue about – Joe Root, the skipper, retains his regular slot.

Number five is a close call between two players who have yet to fully establish themselves at test level, and I opt for Ollie Pope over Dan Lawrence – Aussie pitches should suit Pope.

Number six is Jos Buttler, the keeper (no six is his best position, and the balance of the side also dictates that he should bat there).

Chris Woakes has to be at seven if one wants four genuine seam options and a spinner, and his record batting at seven in tests is stellar (albeit from a small sample size).

Ollie Robinson has inked himself into the side given the way he has performed in his test career to date, and he is well capable of batting at no eight.

Mark Wood is the only genuinely fast bowler in the squad, and the Gabba should suit him (I would spare him from the thankless task of attempting to extract life from the Adelaide Oval, as I suspect he will need a bit of nursing to get through the series).

There is only one spinner of genuine test standard in the squad, and with possibly exception of Perth he should play every match, so Jack Leach gets in at number ten.

At number eleven is England’s all time leading test wicket taker, James Anderson.

This side (Burns, Hameed, Malan, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Robinson, Wood, Leach, Anderson) is slightly short on batting, with two of the top five definitely unproven (Pope may change that, but I actually regard Malan as proven in the wrong way – provenly not good enough) but does have the bowling resources to take 20 wickets at less than ruinous cost with Anderson, the height of Robinson, the pace of Wood, the spin of Leach and Woakes as fourth seamer. Here courtesy of Wisden is a picture of my team:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off:

Picking an England XI for the First Test Match v India

I pick my England XI (constrained by the squad from which it will be picked) for the first test match v India which starts on Wednesday.

The first test in the England v India series for the Pataudi Trophy (The senior Nawab of Pataudi, Iftikhar Ali Khan, played for both England and India, playing for the former in 1932-3 and the latter in 1946 when he was captain, while his son, Mansur Ali Khan, played for India) starts on Wednesday. With that in mind I devote this post to selecting an England XI for that match. The squad from which the XI has to be chosen can be viewed here.

THE TOP THREE

The openers are open and shut – Burns and Sibley will occupy those slots. On the face of it there are several options for no3: Zak Crawley is the incumbent, Jonathan Bairstow has batted there in the past and Haseeb Hameed, in good form at the moment and with a century for a County Select XI v The Indians under his belt into the bargain would also be a logical choice. Restricting ourselves to these three, Crawley is in no sort of form and has played only one major test innings, the 267 against Pakistan which is receding ever further into the past. Bairstow’s recent test record is dire – since the start of 2018 he averages less than 25 at that level. Therefore, with the most obvious candidate for England no 3, Tom Abell, injured at present I go with Hameed, reckoning that he and Sibley are in a bat off for who opens alongside Burns once Abell can come into the side.

THE MIDDLE ORDER

Numbers four and five are clear cut, Root and Stokes. Number six is between Pope and Lawrence, and is a very close call. I plump for Lawrence – Pope at test level has developed an unfortunate habit of making impressive starts but then getting himself out before he manages a significant score. At no7, and keeping wicket in the absence of the injured Foakes, is Jos Buttler.

THE BOWLERS

There are two logical candidates for no8, Ollie Robinson and Sam Curran. Although the latter’s left arm creates an extra bowling variation I plump for the former because I see him as more likely to take wickets at test level. At no9 I opt for Mark Wood, the only express pace bowler in the squad, and as such an automatic pick for me. Number 10 and sole specialist spinner is Jack Leach, who is the only serious candidate for that role at present (although there are some promising youngsters starting to emerge at county level). Rounding out the order is England’s all time leading test wicket taker, James Anderson. My feeling is that it would be foolhardy to select both veterans in the first match of a five test series, and I opt for Anderson ahead of Broad (the latter will then get fired up by his omission!).

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

Tying all this together I present the XI in likeliest batting order as per the above text (I have no truck with XIs being presented in alphabetical order, which is meaningless in a cricketing context – it may be acceptable to present a squad from which the XI is selected in alphabetical order, but never the XI):

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Dominic Sibley
  3. Haseeb Hameed
  4. *Joe Root
  5. Ben Stokes
  6. Dan Lawrence
  7. +Jos Buttler
  8. Ollie Robinson
  9. Mark Wood
  10. Jack Leach
  11. James Anderson

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

County Championship Round Four Preview

A preview of the Championship games starting tomorrow and a bumper crop of photographs.

This post looks ahead to the county championship matches that get underway tomorrow. The competition is organized in an unusual way this year: the counties have been arranged in three groups of six, and will play an opening league stage of 10 rounds, after which there will be a split into three divisions, featuring the top two from each group, the middle two from each group and the bottom two from each group. For the teams who were in the same groups half points will be carried forward into this final stage, which will comprise four further matches. The leading side in the first division at the end of all this will become County Champions, and they and second place will play off for the Bob Willis Trophy.

GROUP ONE

Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire: The ‘Brian Clough Way’ Derby. The main road linking these two east midland cities is now named in honour of Brian Clough who had his greatest successes as a football manager in the two cities concerned. Neither side are going particularly well this year, and Nottinghamshire are without a first class victory since 2018. Many eyes will be on Haseeb Hameed of Nottinghamshire to see if he can kick on from scoring twin centuries last time out, but someone else who definitely merits some attention is Derbyshire’s leg spinning all rounder Matt Critchley.

Worcestershire v Essex: Essex will be looking to rebound from their loss to Warwickshire, and Simon Harmer will have been stung by going wicketless on a fourth day pitch in that game. Dan Lawrence will be looking to score some big runs for Essex.

Durham v Warwickshire: Warwickshire will be looking to build on their success against Essex last time out. Robert Yates will want to prove that his unbeaten ton in that match was not a one off, and Sam Hain is also one to watch.

GROUP TWO

Gloucestershire v Leicestershire: Gloucestershire won their first two games and held out for a draw against Hampshire in the third and most recent. That game saw the last pair defy Hampshire for over an hour to secure the draw. Hassan Azad will be looking for runs for Leicestershire to further bolster his England credentials. With an all rounder needed for England Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins will be looking to to continue his fine start to the season.

Somerset v Middlesex: The Lee family clash (Harry Lee was a Middlesex opener of long ago, and his brothers Frank, later a test umpire, and Jack both played for Somerset, and there was one occasion one the scorebook feature all three brothers on one line – Harry was caught by Jack off the bowling of Frank). The reverse of this game was played in round one and Somerset won, a result they will keen to duplicate on their own patch. Tom Lammonby will be looking to continue the rehabilitation from a poor run that his unbeaten 70 in the last match started. Several Somerset bowlers have fared well this season. Ethan Bamber has been impressive with the ball for Middlesex, and Luke Hollman, a leg spin bowling all rounder who is just starting out could well be worth watching.

Surrey v Hampshire: The Phil Mead clash (the dour left hander failed to make the grade at Surrey but moved to Hampshire and set records for the most runs (48,809) and most centuries (138) made by anyone for a single first class side). Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes have both made runs to start this season and will be looking to continue that trend, while Amar Virdi will want to put down a marker given the successes other spinners have been having early this season.

GROUP THREE

Glamorgan v Kent: Indifferent starts for both of these sides. Zak Crawley will be looking to get among the runs for Kent. Kiran Carlson has had one fabulous match for Glamorgan this season.

Yorkshire v Northamptonshire: David Willey, who played for Northamptonshire earlier in his career may feature for Yorkshire. Dom Bess who took six wickets in the final innings of Yorkshire’s last game, in which they beat Sussex, will be looking to continue his revival. For Northamptonshire the obvious one to watch is Ricardo Vasconcelos, with two 150+ scores to his name already this season.

Lancashire v Sussex: First against third in the group. Matt Parkinson will be looking to continue his massively impressive start to the season. For Sussex Oliver Edward Robinson will be looking to underline his England credentials by producing something at a test match venue, and left arm pacer George Garton could well be part of England’s plans, especially if he plays well.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

It will not be possible for fans to watch these games at the grounds, although it is my understanding that we are only a few weeks away from that happening. Commentaries on all games will be available via www.bbc.co.uk/cricket – click the ‘live county cricket’ button and scroll across to select your commentary, livestreams are available via the county websites and youtube, and for extra detail you can keep a cricinfo.com tab open with your chosen game selected.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs to end this post…

County Championship Update

A look at happenings in the county championship as day three draws to a conclusion. A mathematical teaser and some photographs.

In this post I look at what has been going on around the grounds on day three of the county championship. Due to today being one of my fortnightly music therapy sessions I missed the entirety of the morning’s play, which as it turned out meant missing the denouement of the London derby. I am therefore tuned into Leicestershire v Somerset, which is also highly likely to finish today, with Somerset heading towards a convincing win. Elsewhere in the world Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are contesting a test match, but due to the state of the pitch that game has been rendered an utter irrelevance which even the batters who have been bolstering their averages are unlikely to remember beyond stumps being pulled up tomorrow on the stalest of stalemates.

SPINELESS SURREY’S SATURDAY SURRENDER

Surrey resumed this morning just behind Middlesex with seven second innings wickets standing. Those wickets went down in a heap, Surrey crashing to 130 all out, setting Middlesex just 16 to win, a target the latter achieved wtihout losing a wicket in their second innings. Burns made 54 for Surrey, while Roland-Jones (four wickets) and Bamber (three scalps) did most of the damage with the ball. The last seven Surrey wickets fell while 25 runs were scored, the sort of passage of play that deserves to doom a side to defeat as it did.

SOMERSET IN CONTROL

Leicestershire faced an 85 run deficit when they began their second innings in their home match against Somerset. Craig Overton (a remarkable 18-10-25-5) and Jack Leach (20-8-43-3) ensured that Somerset’s victory target would be modest, Leicestershire being restricted to 199 in their second innings, a lead of only 114. Overton has match figures of 8-64, and Leach 5-82, an excellent effort from an England possible and England’s #1 spinner (unless the selectors are going to try the ‘Ecclestone Experiment’). Lammonby, who came into this season with many calling for his elevation but has barely scored a run thus far is finally relocating some form, 32 not out in a score of 51-1. That innings, over two thirds of his season’s run tally, has boosted his FC record to 501 runs at 35.79, with scope for improvement – seeing Somerset home will count heavily in his favour if he manages it. However Hassan Azad had moved ahead of him in the pecking order, though he did not have a great match this time, and there has been another significant development.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Sussex v Yorkshire: Sussex are 59-1 in their second innings, needing a further 176 to beat Yorkshire. Yorkshire battled to 305 in their second innings to give Sussex a genuine target in the fourth innings. There were runs for former England batters Lyth and Ballance, an off spinner named Jack Carson took a five for, and Oliver Edward Robinson, widely expected to feature for England sooner rather than later, took three wickets.

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire: Worcestershire 436 all out, Nottinghamshire 276 all out. Worcestershire should enforce the follow on, going for the win, but may well take the cautious option of batting again. Haseeb Hameed, whose budding test career was interrupted by injury, and who then lost form with Lancashire, scored a century in the Notts innings, a knock that prove of considerable significance to England. Charlie Morris took 3-30 for Worcestershire.

Essex v Warwickshire: Essex are 129-6 in their second innings, an overall lead of 140. The winners of three of the last four English FC trophies are not having things all their own way this time. Dan Lawrence is undefeated on 49, and Simon Harmer is supporting him. Craig Miles has three wickets, with the other three shared between Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Olly Stone.

Northamptonshire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan are 92-2 in their second innings, leading by 135 overall. Billy Root, younger brother of Joe, is batting decently there and he has Nick Selman for company.

Durham v Derbyshire: Durham 475, Derbyshire 267, Durham 48-1. Durham lead by 256, and a big final session could set them up for an overnight declaration (although I suspect that enforcing the follow on would have been a better call by them). The Durham second innings wicket has been claimed by Hudson-Prentice, who bowls right arm medium fast and is beginning to establish a decent reputation for himself. Chris Rushworth, a magnificent county bowler who has never caught the eyes of the England selectors, took 6-58 for Durham.

Kent v Lancashire: Lancashire 525, Kent 169 and 141-0. The large opening stand notwithstanding, Lancashire have done the right thing in sending Kent back in. Bell-Drummond in on 72 and Jordan Cox 62. Tom Bailey took four wickets in the Kent first innings, centurion Luke Wood three and leg spinner Matt Parkinson two. Bailey incidentally looks rather familiar as a line in a scorebook – his initials are TE, the same as Trevor Bailey, once of Essex.

Hampshire v Gloucestershire: Hampshire 470, Gloucestershire 283-5. Gloucestershire need 38 more to avoid the follow on, and if by some chance they fail to get them, then unquestionably Hampshire should enforce it – we are deep in to day three, and bowling Gloucs out a second time is the only route Hampshire have to victory. As I type the sixth Gloucs wicket has just gone at 283. Ryan Higgins, underlining his considerable all round credentials, is undefeated on 70, having already claimed four wickets in the Hampshire innings. Kraigg Brathwaite (WI) and James ‘Bobby’ Bracey (a good chance of playing for England) have both also scored significant runs for Gloucestershire.

Newsflash: Worcestershire have correctly enforced the follow on against Nottinghamshire. Somerset meanwhile have moved on to 72-1, just 43 short of victory over Leicestershire, Lammonby 37 not out.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

At the request of several of my twitter followers I am including a mathematical teaser, the solution to which I shall include in my next blog post. As usual it comes from www.brilliant.org.

Do not be overly intimidated by the four flames – it is not actually as difficult as the setters thought.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

As I reach the final prepublication stages of this post, Lammonby has completed a 50, and Somerset now need just 21 more, still with nine wickets standing. Lammonby now has 55 not out, which gives him 527 runs at 37.64 in FC cricket.

The County Championship Second Round

Some thoughtd on the recently concluded round of County Champ;ionship matches.

INTRODUCTION

The second round of County Championship cricket matches of 2019 has just finished, with Kent completing an eight-wicket win over Warwickshire. In this post I will look at each match in turn for points of interest and singificance.

THE MATCHES

I will deal with the drawn matches first.

  • Glamorgan v NorthamptonshireGlamorgan 570-8 declared and 70-1, Northants 750
    A travesty of a game. 1390 runs for 17 wickets, an average of 81.76 runs per wicket tells its own story of a pitch that quite clearly never offered anything to any bowler of any description. Glamorgan should be slapped with a hefty points deduction to punish them for producing such a pitch. With a maximum of 24 points available from a single game I suggest a 50 point penalty, to make this offence worth slightly more than two maximum point victories. This sort of match is far worse than a low scoring affair that finishes early.
  • Gloucestershire v Derbyshire– Derbyshire 291 and 388-3 declared, Gloucestershire 350
    Slow batting here combined with a surface that offered little to bowlers saw a match that looked like a draw from a long way out. Wayne Madsen scored a double century for Derbyshire today and Alex Hughes reached a century.
  • Surrey v Essex Surrey 395 and 324-6 declared, Essex 448 and 0-0
    Surrey made the game safe, with 98 from Rory Burns, 69 from Ollie Pope and 54 from Will Jacks, before declaring to get in a quick over at Essex in order avoid being docked a point for slow over rates. There was some interference from the weather during the four days.

Now we have the games at which defnite results were achieved.

  • Nottinghamshire v SomersetNottinghamshire 263 and 126, Somerset 403, Somerset won by an innings and 14 runs
    Somerset’s victory was created principally by the efforts of four players. Lewis Gregory with 6-68 in the first Nottinghamshire innings and a quickfire 50 with the bat, George Bartlett and Tom Abell came who came together after Somerset had lost three quick wickets in their innings and put on 223 together, Bartlett making 133 and Abell 101, and Jack Leach with 6-36 in the Nottinghamshire second innings did the business for Somerset. Joe Clarke failed twice for Nottinghamshire, and although there were some decent scores in the first Nottinghamshire innings no one looked capable of making the sort of runs that Clarke can when he gets going. Somerset go into the one-day tournament with two wins from two, the only team to have managed that. 
  • Hampshire v Yorkshire Yorkshire 554-7 declared, Hampshire 302 and 208, Yorkshire won by an innings and 44 runs
    This was nearly even worse for Hampshire than the actual result – at one stage they were 59-8 in their second innings before Liam Dawson (92) and Keith Barker (64) staged a resistance act that put the pitiful efforts of the Hampshire top order into perspective. 
  • Warwickshire v KentKent 504-9 declared and 124-2, Warwickshire 346 and 280, Kent won by eight wickets.
    Warwickshire were probably nine first innings runs short of escaping with a draw – that being the margin by which they avoided the follow-on. At one stage an innings victory for Kent looke likely, when Warwickshire were 121-7 in their second innings, but Tim Ambrose (107) and 19 year old Henry Brookes (84, a new career best), put on 144 together, which meant that Kent had a run chase to finish the game, something they never looked like failing to do. Opener Zak Crawley had a fine match with scores of 108 and 45 for Kent, and Warwickshire opener Dominic Sibley scored 132 in their first innings, his fifth hundred in as many games. Brookes is selected for his bowling (now 24 wickets at 26.08 from seven first class games), but this 84 was his third fifty in ten first innings, and he now averages 29.33 with the bat as well – a more than handy second string to his bow.
  • Durham v Sussex Durham 224 and 189, Sussex 202 and 212-4, Sussex won by six wickets
    Stian van Zyl scored an unbeaten century to guide Sussex to victory in this match. Liam Trevaskis made 54 in the first Durham innings, and South Africa Gareth Harte 74 not out in their second, while Luke Wells hit 98 not out in the first Sussex innings. 
  • Leicestershire v WorcestershireWorcestershire 553-6 declared, Leicestershire 302 and 233, Worcestershire won by an innings and 18 runs.
    After Worcestershire piled up a huge total Josh Tongue with 4-46 and Ed Barnard with 3-40 did most of the damage in the Leicestershire first innings, and then Charlie Morris took a career best 7-45 in their second. 
  • Middlesex v LancashireMiddlesex 265 and 200, Lancashire 427 and 39-3, Lancashire won by seven wickets
    Middlesex were flattered by this result – two of the three wickets they took before Lancashire completed victory fell to the rarely used bowling of Sam Robson. A target of 39 presented no opportunities for big scores, but Haseeb Hameed followed up on his first innings hundred by remaining unbeaten. Glen Maxwelwas the destroyer in the Middlesex second innings, the Aussie’s off-spin snaring five victims. Haseeb’s return to form has generated considerable excitement because he did well for England before an injury interrupted his progress, but he has had two successive very poor seasons before starting this one well, and it needs more than one big performance to earn an England recall – I certainly put Zak Crawley ahead of him in the pecking order, and regular readers know that I have my own unorthodox solution to England’s top order woes as well, so Hameed is definitely not above third in my personal pecking order for opening options.

I will look tomorrow at some players who could be considered for England (and bear in mind that the next test match is not until July, and is against Ireland, surely an opportunity to blood some new players) and will pick out a suggested squad.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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An Important Petition

A link to petition that needs more signatures, plus links to the supporting information. Some pictures, a few thoughts about the recently concluded test match and a couple of extra links.

INTRODUCTION

I will be covering other stuff as well, but I am giving top billing to an autism related petition.

EDWARD TIMPSON MP MAKE BRIGHTON & HOVE DISTRICT COUNCIL CEASE ILLEGAL SECTION 47 SS INVESTIGATIONS

Here is the petition – main link is in the infographic:

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Here is the opening paragraph of the petition:

Too many LAs are conducting illegal S47 child protection investigations and traumatising families.  Brighton & Hove City Council is conducting at least one such an investigation right now against an innocent autism family (my own – autistic parent with autistic children), which indicates a pattern of behaviour is likely, as it wouldn’t be a one-off incident.  Brighton & Hove City Council is conducting this investigation on the basis of entire autism ignorance (towards parent and children) and illegal disability discrimination.  How can an autism parent perform their usual superhero job whilst being put through this trauma?  LAs behaving illegally must be stamped out.

Here are links to all the updates that have been posted on this petition:

You now have access to all the information I have seen about this case and should know what to do. If in signing this petition you mention me and this blog I will receive an email notification telling me that you have signed.

SOME PICTURES

After a large chunk of text it is time for some pictures. There are some from yesterday and some from today:

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The menu at the Rose & Crown in Harpley, where my parents took me for lunch yesterday (it was an excellent meal – thanks)

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The next five pics are also from the Rose & Crown, four showing decorative features and one the dessert menu.

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The redeveloped back of King’s Lynn Town Hall

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A TEST MATCH SETTLED BY A COIN TOSS AND A DISASTROUS 49 MINUTES

Test matches are scheduled to last for five days, and this one made it deep into the fifth of those of five days. India beat England by 246 runs and are to be congratulated, although as the title of this section suggests they were helped by good fortune. Winning the toss meant that they got to bat when the pitch was at its easiest. England’s disastrous 49 minutes occurred on the second evening, when they surrendered four wickets to end that day on 103-5 in reply to 455. Of the five wickets England lost that day only Cook got a really difficult delivery – the others assisted in their own downfall.

Facing 405 to win or 150 overs to survive on an increasingly difficult pitch England were never in the hunt, and the dismissal of Joe Root for 25 was the death knell, leaving the lower order to fight it out for as long as they could. Haseeb Hameed showed great concentration and determination at the top of the order before one shot along the ground to pin him LBW (a genuinely unplayable ball).

Virat Kohli demonstrated his skill with the bat, amending a decidedly dodgy previous record against England with scores in this match of 167 and 85. The latter was an innings that made it look like the match was taking place on two different pitches – at one end everyone else was struggling in the face of an excellent bowling performance from England, and at the other Kohli met every ball with the middle of his bat.

England showed enough to suggest that this series is not a lost cause, especially with three matches still to play.

A COUPLE OF LINKS TO FINISH

First, a petition on 38 Degrees calling for the scrapping of the ‘Sovereign Grant’ (I would prefer to scrap the Royal Family outright, but at least making them pay their own way would be a move in the right direction).

I end with a link to piece by DPAC, drawing attention to a disgraceful example of ableism at CEX.

 

England Take the Moral Victory in Rajkot

My account of the first test match between India and England at Rajkot.

INTRODUCTION

At just after 11AM GMT yesterday the first test match of the five match series between Inida and England was confirmed as a draw.

THE FIRST INNINGS

Alastair Cook made the first right move of the series when he won the toss and chose to bat (on a plumb pitch, with the only hope of interesting developments being if it deteriorated this was a clear cut decision). Gary Ballance’s wretched form had finally caught up with him, and 19 year old Haseeb Hameed whose family originated in these parts came in for his debut, with Ben Duckett dropping to number four so that Hameed could open. In the two match series in Bangladesh England’s top five had a combined record of three 50 plus scores in 20 innings with no one reaching three figures. Here Joe Root and Moeen Ali (nos 3 and 5 respectively) racked up centuries, and Ben Stokes, for once given a base from which he could build rather than attempt to rebuild added another as England totalled 537, effectively putting defeat out of the question right from the start.

Ravi Ashwin, the offspinner who was expected to prove far too good for England’s batting finished with the less than commanding innings figures of 2-167. Jadeja, on home turf (with that surname he is definitely connected to the old royal family of Nawanagar, who ruled here in the days of the princely states, and produced cricketing legends of earlier times Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji) took three wickets.

THE SECOND INNINGS

Murali Vijay and Chesteshwar Pujara each reached three figures, while Ashwin somewhat redeemed his bowling figures with 70. India were all out for 488, giving England a lead of 49. These two huge first innings scores had been acquired comparatively slowly as both sides bowled tightly, and the fourth of five days was nearing its conclusion by the time India’s last wicket fell. Adil Rashid, given the opportunity to bowl with runs on the board, picked up 4-114, while the other spinners, Moeen Ali and Zafar Ansari each picked up two wickets. None of the faster bowlers were able to extract anything from this pitch, but Stuart Broad, playing in his 100th test, was economical, taking 1-78 from his 29 overs and Woakes who finished wicketless was positively Scrooge like in only conceding 57 from 31 overs.

THE THIRD INNINGS

While it would have been nice to see England go on the all-out attack and see if they could make a genuinely challenging declaration I can fully understand, especially given events in Dhaka not so long ago, why Cook took the safer option of batting the game into oblivion before declaring to see if his bowlers could take a few Indian wickets at the end.Cook himself made 130, his 30th test century, while the debutant Hameed made 82, and Ben Stokes, promoted to have a bash before the declaration made 29 not out in quick time. England called a halt at 260-3, leaving India a purely nominal target of 310 off 49 overs. Ashwin took 1-63 in this innings, giving him match figures of 3-230.

THE FOURTH INNINGS

Given that four and a half days of action had produced a combined 1295-23 it was most unlikely that any result other than a draw would eventuate, so the real question was whether England could nab some wickets and thereby claim a moral victory. In the event, India finished on 172-6, with only Virat Kohli, 49 not out, emerging from the innings with real credit. Rashid took 3-64, emerging with comfortably the best match bowling performance on either side, while Woakes, Ansari and Ali all picked up wickets.

THE FINAL VERDICT

A total match score over the five days of 1467-29 makes the truth about this game obvious. The pitch, which never offered serious assistance to any kind of bowler, won hands down. For England almost everyone emerged with some kind of credit, with most of the batsmen making runs and the bowlers sticking well to the Sisyphean task inflicted on them by the groundsman. India, although never in serious danger of losing this game have less to be happy about – although he is a spinner rather than a quick bowler Ashwin’s 3-230 in this match have a bit of a look of Gillespie ’05 about them. England have bounced back well from their disaster in Dhaka. Haseeb Hameed has made a splendid start to his career, and has probably settled the question of an opening partner for Cook – in a few years time England will probably be faced with finding someone to replace Cook as Hameed’s opening partner.

PICTURES

These pictures are from work…

581
The first ten images here are of framed sets of cigarette cards, the first two bieing crickets from 1938 and 1934 respectively.

582583584585586587588589590

410
These two images are of the last of the collector’s models

418

brass-for-ebay
Not an auction lot – this collection of brass taps and fitments are being sold on ebay!

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