Setting the scene for a major post about Ancient Ostia – lots of pictures of Rome, and a glimpse to the second part of the holiday with another waterfall video.
This is a continuation of the story of my Italian holiday (2-11 September inclusive) that I started in my previous post. It sets the stage for the account of our visit to ancient Ostia that will be the subject of my next post in this series.
EVENING AND MORNING
With my sister and nephew due to arrive late in the evening my parents and I did some local exploring, including walking right round the outside of Castel Sant’Angelo. In the opera of that name the tragic heroine Tosca throws herself from the top of the Castel (they use a bit of dramatic license to have her land in the Tiber. It is also that stretch of the Tiber that features in one of the Daniel Craig Bond movies, where Bond’s car ends up at the bottom of the river.
The following morning my mother, my sister and I went out to find a bakery (the local supermarket had stocked bread, but it was not very impressive). We were out for much longer than we intended, but we did find some decent bread, and snacks for everyone. Our snacks eaten it was time for the main part of the day, the trip to ancient Ostia which involved a bus trip and then a train journey (cost 1 euro 50 each way per person, which buys you 100 minutes of travel time from the moment the ticket is composted – how nice to find sensibly priced public transport as opposed Britain’s extortionate fares).
After the photographs from that first evening and morning I will end this post with another waterfall video.
Today’s variation on the all-time XI theme links science, mythology and history. I also use this post to highlight the Dominic Cummings situation.
Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. I have a Sunday spectacular for you, with a team of players who share names with characters from history or mythology taking on a team of players who share names with scientists or science writers.
THE MYTH & HISTORY XI
*WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types, captain. The three Graces in a cricketing contest refers to this man and his brothers EM and GF who all played for England, all featuring in the Oval test match of 1880. The Three Graces were three sisters in Greek mythology, daughters of Zeus and the nymph Eurynome. Their names were Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne. You can fet full details here.
Septimus Kinneir – left handed opening batter. In a first class career that began in 1898 and ended in 1914 he amassed 15,641 runs at 32.72, with a best score of 268 not out. Septimus is a Latin name meaning ‘seventh son’, and if you add an ‘i’ you get Septimius, which gives Lucius Septimius Severus, one of the better Roman emperors.
Krishnamachari Srikkanth – right handed batter. His 38 was the highest individual score of the 1983 World Cup final (India 183 all out beat West Indies 140 all out by 43 runs, in one of the greatest of all sporting upsets). The first seven letters of his forename spell out Krishna, an important Indian deity.
Julius Caesar – right handed batter, occasional right arm fast bowler. I have not made him up – he played for Surrey in the 1850s. The Julii Caesares were a famous Roman family, the most famous of all being the original ‘Caesar’, murdered on the ides of March in 44BCE. Appropriately enough given his name the cricketing Julius Caesar took a very aggressive approach to his batting.
Nicholas Felix– left handed batter. Another legendary player of the mid 19th century. His real surname was Wanostrocht (‘pronounced one-horse-trot’), but he played under the nom de guerre ‘Felix’ because he was also a schoolmaster and did not wish the parents of his charges to know about his cricketing sideline. He was an early player turned writer, author of ‘Felix On The Bat’. His name sake for this purpose was Felix, governor of Judaea in the reign of the emperor Claudius.
Octavius Radcliffe– right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played for Gloucestershire, and got selected for the 1891-2 Ashes tour. The Octavii were a Roman family which had two known branches, one of which was senatorial for most of its existence but died out in the mid 80s BCE, and the other of which did not number any senators until the very time that the senior branch died out, when Gaius Octavius whose father had made a fortune as banker was accepted into the senate. He reached the rank of Praetor, second highest in the ranking of magistrates in the Roman republic but died before he could become consul. His son, also Gaius Octavius was adopted in the will of his great uncle Julius Caesar and became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, and eventually the emperor Augustus.
Xenophon Constantine Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. We have already met him in ‘The CLR James Trophy‘. As well as the historical Xenophon who I mentioned in that post his middle name connects to the first christian emperor of Rome, Constantine.
Alfred Shaw – right arm slow to medium bowler. One of the most economical bowlers ever to play the game, he paid just 12 per wicket through a long career in which he bowled more overs than he conceded runs. His historical namesake isof course the only English monarch ever to have been dubbed ‘the Great’, Alfred of Wessex, king from 871 to 899CE.
Freya Davies– right arm fast medium bowler. She is only just starting her career, but she has seven T20I wickets at 21 each, and an economy rate in that format of 5.88, which is highly impressive. If you add a j to her first name you get Freyja, a nordic/ teutonic goddess.
Gideon Elliott– right arm fast bowler. I covered his brief but spectacular first class career in ‘Days In The Sun‘. His analogue is the biblical Gideon, who fought against the Midianites. His story appears in The Book of Judges, and I am both unrepentant and unapologetic in describing both that and indeed the bible of which it is part as mythology.
This team has a respectable top six, a fine keeper and four skilled and well varied bowlers. It is a fairly impressive looking side, especially given the selection criteria.
THE SCIENCE XI
Marcus Trescothick – left handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer, slip fielder. I covered him in my Somerset post. He serves here as an introduction to two authors. Marcus Chown writes about cosmology, and among the books of his to be found on my shelves are “The Never Ending Days of Being Dead”, “We Need To Talk About Kelvin” and “Afterglow Of Creation”. He currently has a short article of the 1665 plague here. Marcus Du Sautoy writes about mathematics, and became the second holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science after Richard Dawkins. His books, all highly readable, include “The Music of Primes” and “Number Mysteries”.
Jimmy Burke – right handed opening batter. An adhesive opening batter who once scored 28 not out in four and a quarter hours (he was playing unselfishly, feeding his partners the strike, and in company with Norman O’Neill who played plenty of strokes, he saw Australia to victory). His full name was James Wallace Burke, which means he shares two names with his analogue, James Burke, author of “The Day The Universe Changed.”
Colin McDonald– right handed batter. He usually opened, but I have dropped him one place in order to preserve the left-right opening combo. He was the batting star of the 1958-9 Ashes, well chronicled by Jack Fingleton in “Four Chukkas to Australia”. His counterpart is David McDonald, author of “The Velvet Claw”.
Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. I have rolled his full name rather than simply calling him Viv Richards because it is that first given name, Isaac, that gets him in here. His scientific counterpart is of course Isaac Newton, to date the only person from the Grantham area to have done anything that warrants being remembered. Newton was one of the greatest of all scientists. Patricia Fara is the author of an excellent book about him, “Newton: The Making of Genius.”
Brian Close – left handed batter, off spinner and occasional medium pacer, fearless close fielder. His England career spanned 27 years, his debut coming in 1949 at the age 18, and his final appearances at that level being against the West Indies in 1976. Ten years after even that he turned out for a match in the Scarborough festival, and with his side due to field noted that protective gear had been set out in the dressing room. He asked about this and was told that it was the short leg fielder. The then 55 year old Close responded to that with “Well, ahm at short leg today and ah doan’t need it.” His scientific counterpart is Brian Clegg, author of “Inflight Science” and “First Scientist”, a biography of Roger Bacon, among others.
Oliver Pope – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averages just over 60 in first class cricket, 47 in his fledgling test career, but I have kept him down at no 6 in this team because there have been suggestions regarding England moving him up, and I believe that at this stage of his career that would be a mistake. His analogue is Oliver Sacks, author of “Uncle Tungsten” and “An Anthropologist on Mars”. I especially recommend the former volume, which is indeed about a relative who worked with and was obsessed by tungsten.
+Rachel Priest – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The Kiwi stumper gets in as counterpart to Rachel Carson, whose ‘Silent Spring’ made waves when it was first published. I have a copy of “The Sea Around Us” on my shelves and have read a couple of other books of hers. Anything with her name on the cover will be worth reading.
Bart King– right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. The greatest cricketer ever produced by the USA. The science link is to Brian King, co-author with Martin Plimmer of “Beyond Coincidence.”
Jack Walsh– left arm wrist spin bowler. The Australian who played most of his first class cricket for Leicestershire took 1190 first class wickets at 24.55. His full name was John Edward Walsh, as compared to John Evangelist Walsh, author of “Unravelling Piltdown”, an account of one of the most famous of all scientific hoaxes, which identifies the culprit beyond any real doubt.
Bob Newson – right arm fast bowler. His test bowling average was a horrible 66.25, partly because of his involvement in the infamous timeless test at Durban in 1939. Near the end of that match before the weather made its final intervention he took what was the 12th new ball to be used in its absurd duration. His first class record was 60 wickets at 26.03 each, or outside the test arena 56-1297 for an average of 23.16 each. His scientific counterpart is Lesley Newson, author of “The Atlas of the World’s Worst Natural Disasters”.
Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third most prolific wicket taker in first class history with 3,278 scalps. Joint second in the list of first class hat trick takers, having performed the feat on six occasions. His counterpart is Andrew Parker, author of “In The Blink Of An Eye”, a natural history of the eye, and the role that the development of that organ played in the ‘Cambrian Explosion‘. Simon Ings is also the author of a book about eyes, “The Eye”, will Richard Dawkins’ “Mount Improbable” contains a chapter called ‘The Fortyfold Path to Enlightenment’, a title referring the minimum number of times on which eyes have evolved in the history of life on our planet.
This team has a fine top six, a keeper who can bat, and four well varied bowlers, with Close as a back up option in that department.
This should be a fine contest. My money would just about be on the team with scientific links.
A LINK AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS
I have introduced the teams, but there is one thing to do before signing off. As some of my readers will be aware Dominic Cummings, the Rasputin of 21st century Britain, is in deep trouble. Yesterday it was revealed that he had travelled to Durham at the height of the lockdown, and then after some hours of various senior Tories sacrificing their credibility in desperate efforts to defend him, perpetrated at the behest of puppet prime minister Johnson, a second revelation came out yesterday evening regarding a trip to Barnard’s Castle during the lockdown period. The story had moved even further on, with a further sighting of Cummings in Durham on May 10th attested to by multiple witnesses. The lockdown policy, which was sensible but introduced far too late by the Johnson misgovernment, is unenforceable so long as Cummings remains in office, and those calling for his removal now include at least eight Tory MPs, with others doubtless to follow. I fully agree that his position is entirely untenable, and there is a petition running on change.org calling for his removal, which I have already signed, and now I urge all of you to sign and share it by clicking the screenshot below.
Today’s variation upon an ‘all time XI’ cricket theme is built around cultural connections.
Welcome to the latest in my series of variations on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. This one pits a team of cricketers who share names with people who have made cultural contributions against a team of cricketers who wrote books after retirement.
THE CULTURAL XI
Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. See yesterday’s post among others for more about him. I have sneaked him in by adding an e to his surname for the cultural reference – to Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, and also author of one of the pieces included in “The Portable Atheist” edited by Christopher Hitchens.
Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter. A massively successful batter for Hampshire for many years. My cultural reference is to another Marshall with middle initial e, HE Marshall, author of “Our Island Story”.
Michael Vaughan– right handed batter, occasional off spinner. A bit of reaching here, as the reference is to Pip Vaughan-Hughes, a historical novelist whose books I have enjoyed reading.
‘Tup’ Scott – right handed batter. An early Aussie middle order batter, he claims his place in this team as analogue to Manda Scott, a historical novelist whose books include the Pantera series of Roman novels and the Dreaming series of novels about Boudicca.
Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averaged 56.68 in test cricket, so I was particularly please to be able to include him by reference to Charles Doolittle Walcott, the USian palaeontologist who discovered the Burgess Shale, one of the most important of all fossil beds. The best known writer to have covered the Burgess Shale is Stephen Jay Gould.
George Rubens Cox – right handed batter, left arm medium pace bowler, left arm orthodox spinner. I give him his full name to distinguish from another George Cox who also played for Sussex. Although he shares his middle name with Peter Paul Rubens, the Belgian artist, I am actually including him as a hat tip to professor Brian Cox.
*Tony Lock – left arm orthodox spinner. For those wondering about my naming him as captain he was the first ever to captain Western Australia to a Sheffield Shield title, and his years in that role also saw him usher Dennis Lillee on to the cricketing stage. He also had a telling effect on the fortunes of Leicestershire when he became their captain. His analogue is crime writer Joan Lock, two of whose novels “Dean Born” and “Dead Image” I can recommend. Also, addition of an e to his surname brings in philosopher John Locke and engineer Joseph Locke, the latter of whom is commemorated in the name of Locke Park in Barnsley.
+Eric Petrie – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was by reputation a brilliant wicket keeper, but a very limited batter, who I mentioned in passing in my New Zealand post. His inclusion here links to Egyptologist sir Flinders Petrie. Readers of the late Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series will recognize Petrie as one of the few among his fellow Egyptologists about whom Radcliffe Emerson is other than utterly scathing.
Tich Freeman – leg spinner. The second leading wicket taker in first class history, with 3,776, of which all bar 29 were taken after the age of 30. The 5’2″ legspinner is here as analogue to Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s leading scientists and author of “From Eros to Gaia”.
Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. One of the quickest and nastiest ever. His analogue is June Thomson, author of six books of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and the overview/dual biography “Holmes and Watson”. I rate her very high among those who have chronicled adventures of the Baker Street pair since Conan Doyle finsihed.
This team has a strong top five, two all rounders, a splendid keeper and three ifne bowlers. It is somewhat short in the pace bowling department, with one of Cox or Kuiper likely to open the bowling with Thomson. However, they do have a very shrewd captain in Lock.
THE CRICKETER-AUTHORS XI
Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. 8,900 test runs, more runs in first class and list A combined than anyone else in the game’s history. He is the author of “Captaincy”.
David Lloyd – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. As well as having a test double century to his credit, ‘Bumble’ as he is nicknamed is the author of “The World According to Bumble” and “The Ashes According to Bumble”.
Tom Graveney – right handed batter. The second leading scorer of first class runs in the post World War Two era with over 47,000 of them. He is the author of “The Ten Greatest Test Teams”, a book which analyses ten famous combinations and rates which is the very best.
*Greg Chappell– right handed batter, occasional right arm medium (earlier bowled leg spin), brilliant slip fielder. The first Aussie to record 7,000 test runs, he book ended his test career with centuries, 108 v England at Perth to start and 182 v Pakistan to finish. He is the author of “The 100th Summer”, which details the test matches of the 1976-7 season, when he was captain of Australia.
Doug Walters – right handed abtter, occasional right arm medium pace. A stroke maker who succeeded everywhere except England, where never managed a century. His highest test score of 250 came against New Zealand and featured a 217 run partnership with Gary Gilmour who racked up his one and only test ton. He twice scored over 100 runs in a test match session. He was also noted as a partnership breaker. He is the author of “One For The Road”.
Ian Botham – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Author of “The Botham Report” and “Botham’s Century” among other books.
+Tiger Smith– wicket keeper, right handed batter. He actually first played for Warwickshire as a batter, while Dick Lilley retained the gloves. He gave a series of interviews to Pat Murphy, which ultimately became “Tiger Smith”.
Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Author of “Warne’s Century”.
Jim Laker– off spinner. An excellent ‘spin twin’ for Warne, who holds the record for wickets in an Ashes series – 46 at less than 10 each in 1956. He earns his place in this role by dint of being the author of “Cricket Contrasts”.
Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler. The first to record 300 test wickets, an unquestioned great of the game. He is the author of “As It Was” and co-author with John Arlott of “The Thoughts of Trueman Now”.
Matthew Hoggard – right arm fast medium. An ideal type of bowler to share the new ball with Trueman, a position for which he qualifies b y being author of “Welcome To My World”.
This team has a fine top five, a top class all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat and a splendid foursome of bowlers. There is no front line left arm option but I feel that lack can be coped with – overall it looks a fine side.
The second of my two teams would clearly start as favourites, but both have some fine players and I would expect the contest to be a splendid one.
LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS
I have introduced the two teams, but just before I sign off in my usual fashion I have a link to share. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has produced an excellent post about funding government spending, available here. Below is a ‘mind-map’ included in the post:
A variation on the ‘all time XI’ cricket theme inspired by CLR James’ great question “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” – contrives to touch on a huge variety of topics.
Welcome to another variation on the all-time XI theme. This one requires a little preliminary explanation to set the scene, but first before getting into the main body of the post it is time for a…
CORRECTION AND APOLOGY
Some observant readers will have observed, as did one James Carroll on twitter that in yesterday’s post about New Zealand I somehow contrived to leave out Kane Williamson. So, following my usual ‘reverse tabloid’ policy in such matters I take this opportunity to redress the wrong: Williamson replaces Rutherford in the NZ My Time team and if absolutely mandated to do so I could accommodate him in the NZ All Time by dropping Martin Crowe. My thanks to Mr Carroll for being civil about making the correction and my apology to Mr Williamson for an inexcusable oversight.
EXPLAINING THE CLR JAMES TROPHY
The CLR James Trophy gets its name from the question at the heart of that classic cricket book “Beyond a Boundary”, “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” I pit two teams against each other of top level cricketers whose names give me non-cricketing links, with brief explanations of those links. I did consider honouring a former cricketer with a famously broad range of interests, Ed Smith and a polymath in Peter Medawar, but decided to stick with the CLR option. It is time to meet the first of our two XIs…
WG GRACE’S XI
*William Gilbert Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types. The scorer of 54,896 first class runs and taker of 2,876 first class wickets, his parents’ eighth child and fourth son was named in honour of William Gilbert, Royal Physician to Queen Elizabeth I. He was among other things a pioneer in the field of magnetism, author of “De Magnete”, and subject of “Latitude” by Stephen Pumfrey. Another Gloucestershire physician, Dr Jessop, named his 11th child Gilbert, because it was WG’s middle name, while ‘The Champion’ had several cricketing cousins surnamed Gilbert as well.
Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. His average when picked for England in this specific role was 45 per innings. Here he gets in in order to publicize Professor Ian Stewart, author of a stack of books about mathematics, including a series of books of curios “Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities”, “Professor Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasurers” and “Professor Stewart’s Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries”, and many others such as “Does God Play Dice?”, “Nature’s Numbers” and “Taming the Infinite”.
Kepler Wessels – left handed batter. The only man to score over 1,000 test runs for each of two different countries. In his case the connection is by way of his given name, to ground breaking astronomer Johannes Kepler.
Bill Bruce – right handed batter. A successful Aussie of the 1890s. His analogue is Colin Bruce, author of “The Strange Case of Mrs Hudson’s Cat” and “Conned Again Watson”. These two books use stories featuring Baker Street’s most famous duo to explore mysteries of science, mathematics and logic.
Merv Wallace – right handed batter. The Kiwi averaged 44 in first class cricket, but his few appearances at test level were not so successful. The non-cricketing link is Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection. The Wallace line, which runs (among other places) between Lombok and Bali marks the geological and zoological divide between Asia and Australia.
David Hookes – right handed batter. The scorer of the fastest first class hundred by any Australian batter, in just 43 minutes. He is the only one whose name needs altering to create the non-cricketing links – deleting the final s gives Hooke, as in Robert Hooke, the great 17th century scientist, author of Micrographia, and well covered in John Gribbin’s “Science: A History 1543-2001”, while deleting the e from that surname provides a connection to philosopher Bell Hooks, who I learned a little bit about while studying philosophy as one of the modules of my degree.
Franklyn Stephenson – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Our all rounder, one of only two since the reduction of first class fixtures in 1969 to have done the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in an English season, and appropriately he is doing double duty. George and Robert Stephenson were both eminent engineers, among the pioneers of railway development. The most famous Stephenson design with a railway connection was of course ‘The Rocket’. Robert Louis Stephenson, a relative of the engineers, is famous as a novelist. I have read most of his books, the first one I read being “Kidnapped”, while I studied “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” at degree level.
+Jack Russell – wicket keeper, left handed lower middle order batter. His ‘alter ego’ is philosopher Bertrand Russell, author of many books, and one of the writers featured in “Portable Atheist”, edited by Christopher Hitchens.
Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, capable right handed batter. His brief test match career does not look that impressive, but in 75 first class matches he scored 2,696 runs at 28.68 with a best of 206 and took 276 wickets at 24.11 with a best of 8-60. The original Xenophon was an Athenian who went to Sparta when his situation in his home city became untenable, signed up as a mercenary solider there and travelled to Persia as part of an army attempting to overthrow King Artaxerxes and place his brother Cyrus on the throne. After a battle in which Cyrus was killed, Xenophon and his men found themselves in deepest Persia under sentence of death, but managed to escape, and Xenophon eventually returned to Greece, writing up his adventures in a book he called Anabasis. This has been novelized by Conn Iggulden as “Falcon of Sparta”. Much later one Xenophon of Cos served as physician to the Roman Emperor Claudius, being mentioned in Suetonius’ “The Twelve Caesars” and also in the fictional setting of Robert Graves’ “I Claudius” and “Claudius The God”. Finally, to complete Balaskas’ ancient historical links his middle name was Constantine, linking him the first christian Roman Emperor.
George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. Over 2,100 first class wickets and no England cap. He claims his place as second spinner by virtue of his surname, shared by philosopher Daniel C Dennett, among whose books are numbered “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” and “Breaking The Spell”, both of which adorn my shelves.
Danny Morrison – right arm fast medium bowler. He was one of the Kiwis best bowlers of the 1990s and his presence creates two splendid links. Toni Morrison won the Nobel prize for Literature for “Beloved”, and is also the author of a number of other hard hitting books – anything with her name on the cover will be worth reading. Boyd Morrison writes novels that combine action, adventure and elements of science and history – I have a copy of “The Noah’s Ark Quest” and can also recommend “The Tsunami Countdown”.
This team features a good top six, a genuine all rounder in Stephenson, a keeper who can bat, and three varied specialist bowlers. With Grace also worth his place as a bowler the bowling has depth and variety, with Stephenson and Morrison to take the new ball and Dennett, Balaskas and Grace to provide alternatives.
GREVILLE STEVENS XI
Harold Dennis ‘Dickie’ Bird – right handed opening batter. Best known as an umpire, but he was a successful opening bat for Barnsley, and ultimately amassed two first class hundreds, with a best of 181 not out. David Bird is a prolific writer of books about Contract Bridge. He is particularly noted for his humorous stories featuring the monks of St Titus, the nuns of St Hilda’s and latterly staff and pupils alike at Cholmeley and Channing schools, located at opposite ends of the same village.
Alan Melville – right handed opening batter. The South African had a splendid test record, including four successive centuries straddling World War II. His ‘alter ego’ is Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick”.
Hugh Massie – right handed attacking top order batter. He scored 55 in the original ‘Ashes’ test at The Oval in 1882, made out of 66 in under an hour – and had kicked off that tour with an innings of 206, a record first innings in England for an Aussie until 1930 when Bradman opened his English account with a score of 236. His non-cricketing counterpart is historical novelist Allan Massie, author of a series of Roman history themed books including “Augustus”, “Tiberius”, “Caesar” and “Nero’s Heirs”. “Augustus” features a wonderful spoof foreword taking on the persona of master of Michaelhouse College, Cambridge, one Aeneas Fraser-Graham, and declaring that ‘even a glimpse of a photostat is sufficient to assure one of the authenticity of these memoirs’.
HJH ‘Tup’ Scott – right handed bat. Scott was one of three Aussie centurions at The Oval in 1884. He is not in fact here as an analogue for Captain Scott, although I commend to your attention the books about the ‘Captain Scott Invitational XI’ by Marcus Berkmann (“Rain Men” and tangentially “Zimmer Men”) and Harry Thompson (“Penguins Stopped Play”). No he has two ‘alter egos’ for my purposes, Walter Scott, prolific 19th century novelist and someone from whom Emily Bronte of “Wuthering Heights” fame drew inspiration, and Eugenie Scott of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who was one of the contributors to “Scientists Confront Creationism”, edited by Andrew Petto and Laurie Godfrey and highly recommended by me.
Colin Munro – left handed big hitting batter. The Kiwi averages over 50 in first class cricket, though he has only played a couple of tests and those unsuccessfully. He owes his place in this XI to Hector Munro, aka ‘Saki’, a master writer of short stories.
*Greville Stevens – right handed batter, leg spinner. 10,376 first class runs at 29.56, 684 wickets at 26.84. At the close of the 1920 season it was he who ensured that the curtain would descend on Plum Warner’s career with an appropriately grand finish, by clean bowling Herbert Strudwick to settle the destiny of that year’s County Championship. He is here as a tribute the detective work of Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, and the writing of their amanuensis Robin Stevens, who has created the ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ series to chronicle their exploits.
Alonzo Drake – middle order batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The first Yorkshire bowler ever to take all ten wickets in an innings – 10-35 v Somerset in 1914, the outbreak of World War 1 finished his career. Although he is a namesake of Sir Francis Drake who famously played bowls on Plymouth Hoe it is actually another Drake, Frank Drake of SETI fame who gets him into this team. Frank Drake co-authored with Dava Sobel a book titled “Is Anyone Out There?” about the search for extra-terrestrial life. Sobel has a stack of other credits, including “Longitude”, “A More Perfect Heaven”, “The Planets” and “Galileo’s Daughter” all of which I recommend.
+Ian Gould– wicket keeper and right handed lower order batter, later a successful umpire. ‘Gunner’ Gould just about merits his place as a keeper/batter, which makes it possible for me to bring in Stephen Jay Gould, USian scientist, science writer and master essayist. I own a number of his books, including “Questioning The Millennium”, “The Richness of Life”, “Life’s Grandeur”, “Bully for Brontosaurus”, “Ever Since Darwin”, “Dinosaur in a Haystack” and “Urchin in a Storm”. Given the amount of baseball that features in Gould’s oeuvre it seems quite appropriate to find a way a slipping him into a cricket themed post.
Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, left handed attacking lower order bat. The Aussie’s claims for a place need no further elaboration, and he allows me two connections. Samuel Johnson, author of the first recognized dictionary is one. There was a road not massively far from where I lived as a child in south west London called Dr Johnson Avenue, and it had that name because he used to cycle that way when going to visit his friend Mrs Thrale, who also has a road named in her honour that is even closer to my old family home. I used to walk along Thrale Road very frequently because if one was using either Streatham or Streatham Common stations it was the natural way to go. The second connection is Charles Johnson, an African American writer whose books include “Oxherding Tale” and “Dreamer”, the latter based on the life of Martin Luther King.
Max ‘Tangles’ Walker – right arm fast medium. He was a magnificent third string to Lillee and Thomson in the mid 1970s, gaining big movement in the air and off the pitch on occasions. At Edgbaston in 1975 when Mike Denness put Australia in and they scored 359 Walker matched Lillee’s five wickets in the first England innings with five of his own, before ‘Thommo’ turned chief executioner in the second dig. His ‘alter ego’ for my purposes is Alice Walker, well known as author of “The Color Purple”, and also the author of a collection of what she calls “Womanist Prose”, both of which come highly recommended. She became radicalized by her experiences as a student at Spelman College (although she left that institution and moved north the New York where she studied at Sarah Lawrence College), where she met the historian Howard Zinn, someone any of whose books will be worth reading. There is a quote from her which appears on the back cover of “The Zinn Reader”: “What can I say that will in any way convey the love, respect and admiration that I feel for this unassuming hero who was my teacher and mentor, this radical historian and people-loving ‘troublemaker’, this man who stood with us and suffered with us? Howard Zinn was the best teacher I ever had and the funniest.”
Harry Boyle – right arm medium pacer. FR Spofforth’s regular bowling partner. He earns his place as one half of the first great Australian bowling duo. His ‘alter ego’ is Robert Boyle whose contribution to science is covered on pages 126-42 of John Gribbin’s “Science: A History 1543-2001”.
This team has a decent top five, a couple of genuine all rounders, a keeper who can bat, and three fine and varied bowlers. Johnson, Walker, Boyle, Drake and Stevens is a bowling attack that should not struggle overmuch to take 20 wickets.
WG Grace’s XI are the stronger in batting of the two, although no side who can send Johnson in at no9 can be considered deficient in that department. But I suspect that the bowling resources of Greville Stevens’ XI are stronger overall. However countering that is the undeniable fact that WG Grace’s XI have the better keeper. I believe this would be a very close and highly compelling contest, and I cannot pick a winner. Note that the presence of Mr Bird notwithstanding I have not selected players solely on the basis of their names – it is always what they offer as cricketers that comes first.
The correction has been made and due apologies issued, the CLR James Trophy has been introduced and the contending XIs have been put through their paces, so all that now remains is my usual sign off:
My latest variation on an ‘all time XI’ cricket theme. Also features photographs. Read and enjoy!
Welcome to today;s variation on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme. In this post a team who appear deficient in the surname department pit their wits against a team who seem to be all surname.
THE NO SURNAME XI
Bobby Abel – right handed opening bat. We have met the Surrey man before in this series, playing for Davids v Goliaths among others. Abel as a given name of course goes all the way back to the beginning of the Bible. In my more recent times two fictional Abels are Abel Whittle who has a bit part in Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and Abel Fearon, villain in “Steps To The Gallows”, the second book in a series by Edward Marston that currently runs to four books.
Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. We met him in the very first post in this series, dedicated to Surrey. Stewart spelt that way does sometimes feature as a given name, even of Stuart is the more common version. A cricketing Stewart is the illustrious Stewart ‘Stewie’ Dempster, who we will be making the acquaintance of in tomorrow’s post.
Ian Craig – right handed batter. The Aussie was a mere 17 years of age when selected for the 1953 Ashes tour. He never quite delivered at the very highest level, though at Old Trafford in 1956 he battled over four hours for 38 in the second Aussie innings.
Harry Graham – right handed batter. He made his test debut at Lord’s in 1890 and marked the occasion with a ton. The next person to make their debut at Lords with a ton was John Hampshire v West Indies in 1969.
Syd Gregory– right handed batter, excellent fielder. Between his debut in 1890 and has retirement in 1912 Gregory made a record eight tours of England. His finest batting hour came at Sydney in 1894 when he scored 201, helping Australia to a score of 586. Australia ended up losing that one by 10 runs however. In the 1902 match at Old Trafford, which his side won by three runs he took a crucial catch in the England second innings to account for Stanley Jackson.
*Johnny Douglas – right handed batter, right arm medium fast. Douglas took over from Pelham Warner, rendered hors de combat by illness as captain of the 1911-2 Ashes side and guided them, with some important assistance from the sick Warner, to a 4-1 series triumph. 21 years later under the captaincy of a man with the given name Douglas, Mr Jardine, England would duplicate that 4-1 winning margin in Australia.
+Dennis Lindsay – wicket keeper, middle order batter. The stumper once scored over 600 runs in a series versus Australia, in which he also effected over 20 dismissals.
Ashley Giles– left arm orthodox spinner, useful right handed lower order batter. Before the 2005 Ashes series began Terry Alderman stated that “if any Aussie batter gets out to Giles they should go hang themselves.” By the end of that series Giles had accounted for each of the top eight in the Aussie order at least once and intervened twice crucially with the bat. At Trent Bridge he kept his nerve in a very tense finish to put England one up with one to play, and then at The Oval he played a crucial support role while Pietersen was destroying the Aussie bowlers, holding up his end for over two hours and amassing 59 runs of his own. This meant the Australia needed 342 from 18 overs when the England innings ended, an impossible chase even had the weather not intervened one last time (of course given the difference between losing and drawing the series Australia would but for the weather have been obliged to throw everything at attempting this crazy run chase, the draw being valueless to them, and 1-3 very little worse than 1-2).
Shannon Gabriel – right arm fast bowler. The West Indian, part of a cricketing revival in that part of the world after a dreadful period in the early 2000s, is the heir to a great fast bowling tradition. For those who feel that he properly belongs in the other XI, most of the names that come up when I search cricinfo using the name Shannon are of players with forename Shannon, and I also give you current US politician Shannon Bearman. Gabriel is well documented as a given name, going back to the archangel, but I offer you as further examples composer Gabriel Faure and one of the principal characters in Thomas Hardy’s “Far From The Madding Crowd”, Gabriel Oak.
Matt Henry – right arm fast medium bowler. The Kiwis have produced a lot of purveyors of pace/ seam and/or swing over the years (contrary to what some may think, New Zealand is actually an even cloudier country than England, so there is even more natural encouragement for that kind of bowling), and Henry is part of the current crop along with such luminaries as Lockie Ferguson, Trent ‘the conductor’ Boult and Tim Southee (Neil ‘the composer’ Wagner does not wholly count, since although a Kiwi he is actually a product of South Africa).
Devon Malcolm – right arm fast, genuine no11. In the immortal words of then England chairman of selectors Ted Dexter “Who could forget Malcolm Devon?”.
This then is the ‘no surnames’ XI, with a solid top five, an all rounder, a keeper who can certainly bat, and four specialist bowlers. It is short in the spin department, with only Giles as a front line option there, but it still looks a decent side, especially given the actual selection criteria!
THE ALL SURNAME XI
Bransby Beauchamp Cooper – right handed opening bat, born in what is now Bangladesh but was then part of India, raised in England and played his two test matches, the first two ever contested, for Australia. He and WG Grace playing for the Gentlemen against the Players shared a then first class record opening stand of 283, Cooper 101, Grace 180.
Easton McMorris – right handed opening bat. He churned out runs in domestic cricket in the Caribbean, but his test returns were disappointing.
Everton Weekes – right handed batter, lends some much needed class to this side. Everton is not a hugely common surname, but some of my readers may remember snooker commentator Clive Everton, and additionally Weekes’ middle name of De Courcy is the surname of a former Australian batter James De Courcy, who toured England in the 1950s.
*Warwick Armstrong – right handed batter, leg spinner. Although George Giffen, whose playing days overlapped with those of the Gloucestershire legend, was dubbed ‘The WG Grace of Australia’, this man was in many ways a better fit for that moniker. He once tallied 2,000 first class runs and took 100 first class wickets on a tour of England. He captained Australia to a 5-0 triumph in the 1920-1 Ashes, a scoreline not duplicated in Ashes series until 86 years later, when Ponting and company exacted a devastating revenge on England for 2005, and secured retention of the urn by guiding his team the victories in the first three matches of the 1921 series, before the final two games were both drawn. His eventful life can be read about in full in Gideon Haigh’s “The Big Ship”, a title derived from one of Armstrong’s nicknames. At the end of his career he weighed in at 22 stone. I am aware that Warwick is a recognized forename, but I also give you singer Dionne Warwick as an example of it as a surname.
Digby Jephson – right handed bat, right arm fast (under arm). Digby Loder Armroid Jephson to give him his extraordinary full name started the brief revival of under arm bowling in first class cricket that was taken into the test arena by George Simpson-Hayward. Again, Digby is not entirely unknown as a given name, but I can also point to Fraser Digby, former goalkeeper for Swindon Town FC and Andrew Wingfield-Digby, former captain of Dorset in mim. nor counties cricket and briefly chaplain to the England cricket team. Also of course there was the 17th century courtier Kenelm Digby who had a later cricketing namesake who played eight first class matches between 1855 and 1859.
+Ridley Jacobs – wicket keeper, left handed middle order batter. Many years ago there was a government minister named Nicholas Ridley, while in a cricket context Arthur Ridley played in the 1870 Varsity Match (‘Cobden’s Match’) and also played for the MCC in the 1878 match against the Australians that was done and dusted in a day.
Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower order bat. We met him when I turned the spotlight on Australia. This is a player who can form an intermediary in cricket linkages – Yorkshire player and later coach Arthur Mitchell, or commentator Alison Mitchell being obvious starts and West Indian opening batter Johnson Charles being the next link.
Anderson Montgomery Everton Roberts – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. The first Antiguan to play test cricket, being selected just before Viv Richards gained the honour, and the original leader of the four pronged pace assault that propelled the West Indies to the top of the cricket world.
Nixon MccLean – right arm fast bowler, left handed lower order batter.
Beaumont Cranfield – left arm orthodox spinner for Somerset. 137 matches yielded him 621 wickets at 23.98. Of course Beaumont is very well documented surname, the most obvious cricketing example belonging at the other end of the batting order – Tammy of that ilk.
The all surname team has a solid top six, two of whom are genuine all rounders, a keepr who can bat and four bowlers. Johnson, Roberts, MacLean, Cranfield, Armstrong and Jephson is an attack should not struggle to take 20 wickets.
Notwithstanding the question marks over both openers for the ‘All Surname’ XI I still reckon they have a clear edge – their bowling attack looks much the stronger and has greater variety. On a turning pitch Giles on his own would not be a match for Cranfield and Armstrong, while if the pitch offers pace bowlers assistance Johnson, Roberts, MacLean and Jephson clearly offer more than Malcolm, Gabriel, Henry and Douglas. I am not going to take my prediction from the ‘Pidge’ McGrath handbook, but I would confidently predict that the ‘All Surname XI’ would win a five match series 4-1.
A BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE
COMPOSITION OF THESE ELEVENS
I compose these XIs mentally, jotting them down in a notebook preparatory to then creating the tables with abbreviated comments that I use to advertise the contents of the teams and ultimately typing up the blog posts. I use cricinfo to find out details about players, but not in general as a selection tool – sometimes if I am a player or maximum two players short of a full XI I will do a bit of hunting, but most of the players I select are players I have across in my thirty-odd years of being a cricket fan and reading about the game – no game has a greater wealth of literature than cricket. I am already prepped in terms of selections for further posts up to and including Wednesday, plus a post which for reasons I will reveal on that day has to appear a week today.
THE FINISHING LINE
The pinchhitter has reached 300 not out – yes, today’s offering in which I get yet another mention, is the 300th post that blog has produced. A little etymological note: the term pinch hitter originated in baseball, where it referred to sending in a batter who adept at getting on base in preference to a regular batter who may be less reliable, it was pressed into cricket service in the 1990s to refer to batters who did not regularly open in long form cricket but were asked to do so in one day cricket in an effort to get their teams off to a fast start. The first successes with this method were Ian Botham and Mark Greatbatch, deployed in this manner by their countries in the 1992 World Cup, but it was four years later, when Kaluwitherana of Sri Lanka, Mark Waugh of Australia, Sachin Tendulkar of India and various others were used in the same fashion that the term became popular. Certain teams overdid it by using lower order batters rather than actual recognized batters (Zimbabwe tried it with Paul Strang, England with Neil Smith as opposed to Robin ‘Judge’ Smith who they should have used and there were probably others. And now it is time for my usual sign off…
There is a lot to see up on the heights, where I left us last time, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Once we got back to the bridge (see the first post in this ‘series within a series‘) it was time for a decision. The others wanted to go down to the beach to finish, whereas I had by that stage reached a limit, and opted to get the Land Rover back up from the landward side of the bridge (there is a pick up point a very short walk from the bridge). We agreed to meet at the pub near the top of the Land Rover’s run. The Wootons as it is called is very unflashy pub, unlike a couple of others in the area, and I was pleased to find a pint that I had not previously sampled. Although this brings the visit to Tintagel to a close, the next post will actually conclude my account of the outing.
Continuing my account of my visit to Cornwall, with the ascent of St Michael’s Mount.
Welcome to the latest post in my series about my stay in Cornwall. This post takes us up St Michael’s Mount and covers some of the stuff at the top. There will be at least two and possibly three more posts about the day.
BASE CAMP (!)
Among the places at ground level, before the ascent begins are the restaurant where we would be having lunch and a visitor’s centre which provides a comprehensive introduction. After these one passes through a field that contains a dairy cottage before the ascent begins.
THE ASCENT BEGINS
The climb up to the buildings on top of the mount begins by way of The Pilgrims Steps, continues past the Giant’s Well and the Giant’s Heart and a cannon emplacement. Then comes the first indoor section and a roof terrace where we pause until the next post in this series…
Through a combination of work commitments and still having large numbers of photos to edit it has been a while since I posted, so just to remind people I was in Greece from May 12th to May 19th, and have so far produced five posts relating to that holiday:
Aperiftif – setting the scene for subseqent posts going into more detail about the holiday and various aspects thereof.
Whereas nothing at Methoni is above 800 years old, and most of it is around half that age (making it a youngster in terms of Greek sites) Nestor’s Palace at Pylos (about 15 kilometres from the modern town of that name) was in its pomp 3,300 years ago or thereabouts, which means that even by Greek standards it counts as old (although Gortyn on the island of Crete is about twice as old as even this). In an effort to preserve these remains a shelter has been built around the site, and part of this structure is a raised walkway from which visitors view the site – no walking round at ground level these days.
NESTOR’S PALACE IN PICTURES
It is now time for the combination of my camera and photo-editing skills to take over and give you a virtual tour of Nestor’s Palace…
SEA VIEWS FROM THE PALACE
Here are my remaining sea views from the palace itself…
Setting the scene for the accounts of Methoni and Nestor’s palace.
On the Tuesday of my Greek holiday (Tuesday 15th May) we visited first the Venetian castle at Methoni and then Nestor’s palace at Pylos. This post sets the scene for the rest of that day by describing things up to the point at which we were poised to visit the castle.
We had intended to get underway by nine o’clock and we did. Although being in the back of a hatchback with small rear windows is somewhat limiting of what one can photograph I got a few shots as we approached our main destination.
THE AQUEDUCT CLOSE UP
I took full advantage of our brief stop…
THE FINAL APPROACH TO METHONI
We passed a scene that featured both good and bad…
The wind turbines on the hill are a positive sign, but the derelict shell of a building at the bottom is unfortunate to say the least. After parking in Methoni we passed the Venetial Well en route to a cafe…
At the cafe we were served water and decided to sample their chocolate crepes, which proved to be ill-advised. These were served in absurd quantities, and the principal covering was nutella. I realised after eating one of the three crepes I was served that I needed to scrape away the nutella before continuing with the others. Half way through the second I gave up, realising that trouble was in store if I continued eating the stuff. This decision came too late to entirely save me from adverse consequences, but at least meant that I only became a little nauseous rather than ever actually feeling or being sick.
Once we were all finished it was time to visit the castle, which will form the subject of my next post.
An account of a visit to the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand.
The feature of yesterday was a walk along the coast from Fort Picklecombe to the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand, and then back. I have many photos from yesterday, and will be sharing the general ones here. I have a fairly sizeable collection of pictures of boats and ships already, and I will be doing a special post about these immediately I have completed this one.
FORT PICKLECOMBE TO THE VILLAGES
In olden times the two villages in this post were on opposite sides of the Devon/ Cornwall boundary – Kingsand in Devon and Cawsand in Cornwall, but nowadays both are comfortably within Cornwall, since the county boundary is the Tamar River. This part of Cornwall, known as the Rame Peninsula has its own official website. The coast path which we followed on our way to the villages is good although a little sticky in places (prolonged heavy rain would undoubtably turn it into a quagmire). Here are some photos from this section of the journey:
KINGSAND AND CAWSAND
We visited the Post Office, where my parents had some stuff to post and something to collect, and then walked down to the sea front by way of a road that was unsuitable for motor vehicles. Here are some pictures from Kingsand and Cawsand…
This establishment ticked one box instantly – investigation of the bar revealed the presence of locally brewed cask ale. They had three of the Dartmoor Brewery’s products available, and as someone who is a dedicated Holmesian as well as a fan of locally brewed ales I opted for “Legend”, with its connection to “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. This proved to be a very good choice – it was an excellent drink. As well as the website, which I linked to in the heading of this section they have a twitter account, @devonport_inn. Here are some pictures taken while enjoying my pint…
THE WALK BACK
We started out along the sea front. My mother abandoned this route quite earlu, but my father and I continued along the sea front rather longer (in retrospect this was an over adventurous decision given some of the terrain we had to contend with). By the time we saw a wooden staircase leading up to a campsite near the fort we were glad of a definite way back to the official route. I conclude this post with some photos from the walk back…