Ashes Gone -What Should England Do Now?

Conceding the fourth test, and with it The Ashes, this post looks ahead to the fifth test at The Oval, with various changes to the England squad suggested. There are also lots of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

England’s defeat at Old Trafford has yet to be officially confirmed, but barring serious rain it seems inevitable, and that will mean that Australia have retained The Ashes. Even if England somehow escape with a draw (which would be undeserved) they would need to win at The Oval and that looks unlikely given Australia’s overall superiority thus far in the series (save for a few sessions at Lord’s and the amazing final stages of Headingley Australia have been bossing things all through this series). Based on three matches and four days of the fourth cricketing justice demands that Australia retain The Ashes. Thus this post looks at the future and suggests changes for the fifth test based on The Ashes being already gone, though I would still recommend that they make these changes regardless. Having started this post just before play begins on day five there is a question of which will be completed first – this post or Australia’s victory – and my lack of confidence in England’s remaining batting is such that am not betting on which happens first!

THE STORY OF DAYS 1-4

Australia racked up 497-8 declared in their first innings, Steve Smith helping himself to a double century, his third in test cricket, all of them at England’s expense (only Don Bradman, with no fewer than eight, has scored more against England). England just avoided the follow-on, Burns and Root playing substantial innings – the former in the process becoming the first opener not named Cook to score three fifties for England in a series since the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Then Australia went out for quick runs, and got enough to declare yesterday evening, setting England just over 380 to win, Smith by his standards failing, managing a measly 82 (nb – I have had plenty to say regarding his personal conduct, but I have never criticised his batting.). Then Burns and Root fell in successive deliveries in the first over of England’s 2nd innings. Denly and Roy saw things through to the close, but barring more heroics from Stokes, it has hard to see England batting out today.

ENGLAND’S PROBLEMS

Burns’ successes have resolved one of England’s top order problems, but still required there are a)another opener who can do it against the red ball and b) someone who is comfortable at no 3 against the red ball. Additionally I think that Buttler (his first innings effort here notwithstanding) and Bairstow both need replacing, with a genuine frontline batter and a wicketkeeper-batter respectively). The bowling is in a much better state, but at The Oval a second spinner is likely to be needed alongside Leach, and somehow they have to find out a way of getting Smith out.

SORTING THE BATTING

I do not believe that either Roy or Denly belong in a test XI, and even big scores for both of them today will be too little too late as far as I am concerned. I have been arguing in posts since August 31st 2018 for Tammy Beaumont to be given her chance alongside the men, and I stick to that line. At no 3 I opt for a third regular opener, Dominic Sibley, and then Root back where he really belongs at no 4. As wicketkeeper and no 5 I select Ben Foakes, with Ben Stokes rounding out the top six. I then go for all-rounder Lewis Gregory at seven, Jofra Archer at eight, Stuart Broad at nine, Jack Leach at ten, and at 11 my second spinner, to whom I dedicate the next subsection of this post…

HELEN FENBY – THE MYSTERY OPTION

I was alerted to this possibility in a match in which she took four cheap wickets and also surprised all the commentators with her action – if it is a new one on them then perhaps it will be a new one on Steve Smith (all orthodox selections seem to have drawn a blank, so let’s try an unorthodox one). While this would be envisaged XI I would also have in reserve in case conditions warrant it 1) an extra batter, in this case Ollie Pope of Surrey, and 2) a reserve pace bowler, Craig Overton. Thus, my full squad for The Oval would be (all names in hyperlink form):

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Dominic Sibley
  4. *Joe Root
  5. +Ben Foakes
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Lewis Gregory
  8. Jofra Archer
  9. Stuart Broad
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Helen Fenby
  12. Ollie Pope
  13. Craig Overton

FURTHER SUGGESTIONS TO COMPLETE A TEST TOUR PARTY

I want another three players to complete a test touring party, and I reckon that they should be a batter, a pace bowler and a spinner. My three choices for these roles are George Bartlett of Somerset (a look to the future, with a youngster who is better suited in both style and temperament to playing long innings against the red ball than to biffing the white one around – his county colleague Abell and Joe Clarke of Nottinghamshire both also merit consideration), Anderson if he is fit, and if not whoever out of Mark Wood and Olly Stone is fit and Dominic Bess (since I have a left arm spinner and leg spinner in my squad I opt for the off spinner Bess in preference to leg spinner Matt Parkinson).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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A bit like too many of England’s recent batting efforts – a variety of ducks (the big one with the red face is a Muscovy duck).

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PS – contrary to the mischievous comparison made in the introduction to this post England have not lost a wicket thus far today.

New Shoes and England Looking Down Both Barrels

More (as promised) on my new shoes and an account of England’s Ashes Woes, as well as lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

In my previous post I included a picture of my new shoes, bought in Holt on Wednesday along with a challenge to my followers. In this post I complete that story and look at England’s current woes in the Ashes series.

THE SHOES

First up, the picture from my previous post and its accompanying challenge:

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The pair of shoes – can you identify their many plus points from this picture (all will be revealed in my next post)?

Here are the particularly good points of these shoes as I noted them:

  • Soft and padded leather uppers
  • user-friendly and sturdy laces
  • soles that are a) thick, meaning that they should last a long time and b) rubber, meaning that they will provide good grip even in wet conditions
  • Also, an advantage that is often available to me as a man with size seven (40 in Continental Europe) feet, they were massively discounted – £49 instead of £125.

Well done if you identified all the above. Here are some more pictures looking more closely at some of the features identified:

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The full underside
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The Ecco name

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See what I mean about the thickness of the soles?

I wore the shoes for a couple of hours on Wednesday to get an early feel for them, and was pleased. Yesterday I put them to a stiffer test, because my physio session was cancelled due to staff sickness. Thus I decided that a long walk was in order (see the photos at the end of this post), and used it to give the new shoes their first real test. They passed with flying colours – my feet were aching by the end of the walk, but that was tiredness, not because the shoes had caused them any problems.

ENGLAND’S ASHES WOES

After a magnificent bowling effort yesterday, spearheaded by Jofra Archer (6-45) accounted for Australia for 179 (and that after they had been 136-2) England’s batters proceeded to throw away the good start, slumping to 67 all out, with only Joe Denly (12) making double figures. Broad has claimed an early wicket in Australia’s second innings, but given that short of rain of ‘ark building’ intensity a draw is now a virtual impossibility it has hard to see how England can keep their Ashes hopes alive. At minimum they need a superlative bowling effort after having had a mere 27.5 overs respite and then a jolly sight more application in their second innings to have a chance.

All of the problems in this innings (most of the wickets were given rather than being taken) are ones we have seen before. The following are the most obvious needs for this squad (and with the Ashes likely gone the last two tests should be used for experimentation):

  1. An opening batter alongside Burns (Roy is not suited to this role in red ball cricket, though he may be able to handle no 3 if the openers see off the new ball). Absent anyone who has made a really commanding case I once again suggest the radical solution of dropping Tammy Beaumont a line and seeing if she is up for having a go alongside the men (I first suggested this about a year ago).
  2. Roy or Stokes (if you fancy a calculated gamble) at no 3, to enable…
  3. Root to revert to no 4 where he really belongs.
  4. Ollie Pope in at no 5 to stiffen up the middle order (he is fresh off the back of a double century, and has a first class average of almost 60).
  5. Stokes down a place to no 6 if you don’t put him at no 3, otherwise Ben Foakes to bat here as keeper
  6. If Stokes is at no 6, then Foakes bats 7, otherwise Roy (if deep batting is needed) or Lewis Gregory (if you want five genuine bowlers possibly with Stokes as 6th).
  7. No change needed at nos 8-11 – the bowlers acquitted themselves well, though Sam Curran has to be considered, and a second spinner (for my money either Matthew Parkinson or Helen Fenby depending on how radical you are prepared to be) should be in the squad.

Thus my 13 for the 4th match would be: Burns, Beaumont, Stokes, *Root, Pope, +Foakes, Roy, Woakes, Archer, Broad, Leach, Gregory, Fenby, with the first 11 names listed likely to play unless conditions warrant Gregory for Roy or Fenby for Roy if two spinners are warranted. As for Denly, he has had too many nearly innings, most of them given away by ill-judged shots and has to go. Australia’s new opener Harris has just fallen to Jack Leach making Australia 36-2. Eight more wickets and then some much better batting now the requirement.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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I have noticed huges numbers of flies that mimic wasps in King’s Lynn this year, including a numnber that I photographed yesterday.

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A swallow captured in flight…
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…and cropped much closer

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Some Thoughts On The England Squad For Lord’s

Some thoughts on the England squad for the second Ashes test at Lord’s and lots of photos, along with an invitation for calendar nominations.

INTRODUCTION

In this post I look at the England squad announced for the second Ashes test at Lord’s, which starts on Wednesday.  There are also of course plenty of photographs for you to enjoy.

THE SQUAD

The squad, as shown at the end of a cricinfo article introducing it is as shown below:

Eng Squad
There is much that I agree with in this squad, but also some things I am not happy about…

MY THOUGHTS ON THE SQUAD

Archer had to come in, especially with Anderson and Stone both injured. I am not happy about the continuing presence of Broad and Denly, although if the latter is put in as Burns‘ opening partner that looks better than playing Roy right at the top of the order. In place of Broad I would have Lewis Gregory, whose ability to swing the ball and all-round skills fill some of the hole left by James Anderson, while his all-rounder status means that he cannot be considered as that impossible thing, a “like-for-like” replacement for Anderson. I would not feature either Buttler or Bairstow (the proverbial gun to the head proposition would see me select Buttler at test level) preferring Foakes as keeper and wanting a second genuine spin option, one of the following:

  1. Matthew Parkinson, the young Lancashire legspinner (even though as a batter he is as the old saying puts it “the ferret who follows the rabbits”).
  2. Dominic Bess, Leach’s regular spinning partner at “Ciderabad” aka Taunton.
  3. Amar Virdi, who recently took 14 wickets in a match for Surrey.
  4. Helen Fenby – her action took all the commentators by surprise the other day (and brought her four cheap wickets) – perhaps it will have the same effect on Steve Smith (surely something can unsettle him).

Still, the selectors have at least done the bare minimum that they had to after the Edgbaston debacle – jettison Moeen Ali.

PHOTOGRAPHS

As a lead in to my usual sign off, here is a graphic that I got from British Nature Guide by way of their twitter account, which I follow:

Butterflies

Now for my usual sign off…

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This is making its second appearance – I misidentified it first time round as being a type of painted lady, it is actually a “Comma”

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What I did in yesterday’s physio session.

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From now on, use the graphic (and better, follow the link to the website) to identify the butterlfies.

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I invite commneters to naminate pictures they particuarly like for the aspi.blog 2020 Wall Calendar.

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An azure damselfly in flight…
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…and a c,lose-up view extracted from the same original.
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These two pictures suggest that the butterflies are not done yet!

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The next four pictures featyure some species of dragonfly – I have not been able to identify which

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Appropriately enough for Norfolk, this is a ‘Red Admiral’ .

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Yesterday’s Women’s Super League Triple Header

An account of yesterday’s triple header opening to the Women’s Super League and a highly controversial suggestion re England men’s team spin difficulties.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was the opening day of what will be the final season of the Women’s Super League and featured three matches, all of which were excellent in their different ways. This post looks at all three and also stirs the pot a bit in relation to events from the third match.

GAME 1: SOUTHERN VIPERS V LANCASHIRE THUNDER

This match was largely dominated by two players, both turning out for the Southern Vipers. Tammy Beaumont, my controversial pick for the vacant opening slot in the men’s XI (see here for more detail), made a superb half-century and pouched two fine catches in the field. Dani Wyatt also scored a half-century, pouched a catch and also collected two wickets with her off-spin. With Stafanie Taylor also making 40 the Southern Vipers won by a comfortable 34 runs. In amongst the carnage of that Southern Vipers innings left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone took 1-12 from her four overs. Also noteworthy was fellow spinner Alex Hartley’s 2-34 from her four. All the bowling figures for the Southern Vipers were good, with 18 year old Lauren Bell recording  2-19 from her four.

GAME 2: LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING V WESTERN STORM

This was a low scoring match. Loughborough Lightning scored a modest 125-7, which would have been far worse but for Amy Jones who made 65. Obviously in a total like that no one got really clobbered, but in a continuing theme the most economical bowler was a spinner, Deepti Sharma, who had 1-17 from her four overs. Western Storm knocked the target off with seven wickets and three whole overs to spare. No bowlers had headline making performances in this innings, but 19 year-old Sarah Glenn had 2-13 from three overs, while Kirstie Gordon, yet another young spinner, bowled her full allocation, going for 27.

GAME 3: SURREY STARS V YORKSHIRE DIAMONDS

This was another low scoring affair. The Surrey Stars batted first, and were restricted to 130-9. The highlight of this innings was the bowling of 20 year old legspinner Helen Fenby who, bowling legspin with a very unusual action, removed both openers during the powerplay overs and then came back to bag another two wickets late in the innings, giving her the remarkable figures of 4-20 from her four overs. Linsey Smith, yet another in the phalanx of young spinners on display during the day also bowled her full allocation, taking 1-21, Katie-Ann Levick, a more experienced legspinner had 0-18 from three and Leigh Kasparek, an off-spinner had 3-25 from her four.

Remarkably, that modest Surrey Stars total proved sufficient as Yorkshire Diamonds were bowled out for 121. Mady Villiers, yet another young spinner, had 1-21 from her four overs, while veteran off-spinner Laura Marsh collected 3-17 from her four, while South Africa legspinning allrounder Dane Van Niekerk had 1-27 from 3.5 overs. Nat Sciver produced the only really good bowling figures from a pacer on the day, 2-25 from her four.

ENGLAND WOMEN’S SPIN GLUT AND A HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL SUGGESTION

In addition to all the English spinners mentioned above there is Sophia Dunkley who has international experience. This gives by my count seven spinners in their teens or early twenties plus Levick (28) and Marsh (32), discounting Bell about whose bowling I know little and Wyatt who is mainly a batter. The England women thus have far more spinners than they can ever accommodate in a team, whereas this is an ares where the men are short. When arguing the case for Tammy Beaumont as opener I noted wicketkeeping and spin bowling as areas where the women could quite possibly match the men, as well as batting. Given that no one seems able to pick Helen Fenby because of her action, and that England are somewhat short of male spinners I am tentatively adding her to my list of potentials for playing alongside the men (even if only to give Steve Smith something he has never seen before). Leach, Bess and Parkinson remain my preferred front-line options, and Amar Virdi warrants consideration, but a fifth name between a test spinner’s berth and Moeen Ali can do no harm. Should England lose at Lord’s next week putting them two down with three to play, then the necessity to gamble in an effort to retrieve the situation will make the case for Fenby a little stronger. At any event, England cannot afford Moeen Ali to be anywhere near test match consideration – the last two days at Edgbaston showed that only too clearly.

PETITION AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The LGBT community in Poland is under vicious attack, and there is a petition about this which I urge you all to sign and share be clicking the screenshot below:

LGBT

Time for my usual sign off…

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I saw this bird outside my window this morning…
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…and got two shots, one of them this close-up
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A pollinator on a dandelion

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Two swans on a stretch of The Gaywood not far from my flat.

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The first buitterfly of the day (three pics)

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A peacock butterfly.

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I am just starting to think about pictures for the 2020 calendar – nominations welcomed in the comments section. This peacock butterfly is a candidate.
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This is the original shot, edited but not rotated or cropped from which the last picture came.

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An albino duck next to a moorhen

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The drake at the front of this shot has a very white body, but the charateristic green head that marks it as a mallard drake.

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