Nomination For Sunshine Blogger Award (#3) And Other Stuff

A response to my third nomination for a Sunshine Blogger Award and plenty of other stuff.

INTRODUCTION

The nomination that gives this post its title comes from someone I had previously nominated for this award, which is why I am approaching things in the way I am, as I am going to use stuff from my last Sunshine Blogger Award nomination response to cover that side of things.

THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM MY PREVIOUS NOMINATION POST.

First, my thanks to Erika’s Corner (stigmasnomore) for the nomination. Now for those highlights (click the link in the section heading to view the full post):

RulesAnswersQsNominations

I open my questions up to responses from everyone.

THE SECOND MOST EXTRAORDINARY CRICKET MATCH OF 2019

For the most extraordinary match of the year start here. In any other year the inaugural England v Ireland test match at Lord’s would have had no competition for the title of that year’s most extraordinary match. Twice in a few weeks Lord’s was the scene of a match that reached deep into “script rejection” territory.

England slumped to 85 all out on the first day, a combination of poor batting and some good bowling, especially from Tim Murtagh and MarkRed‘ Adair (a nickname I coined in a previous post).

Ireland themselves managed 207 in response, a lead of 122. Olly Stone, Norfolk born fast bowler, took three wickets and surely ensured continuing involvement with test cricket for himself. Then, with England having one over to face at the end of day two Jack Leach, averaging four for Somerset in the county championship this year, was sent out to open, shielding Jason Roy.

Having survived the over in the evening Leach proceeded to make 92, while Roy, shielded from a potential second failure in one day also topped the 50. The came a slide from 177-1 at the high water mark of the innings to 303 all out, a lead of 181. Then in the most extraordinary twist, Stuart Broad, reckoned by some (including me) to be a fading force at test level and Chris Woakes took advantage of swing friendly conditions to rout Ireland for 38, giving England victory by 143 runs.

I note that for the first Ashes test Joe Root has been moved up to number three (desperately needed although he has little relish for it). However, this only deals with one top order problem. The opening pair remains an unresolved issue, with Roy having done so much tter at three than he did opening in the first innings. If England are 30-3 at the start of every innings against Australia they will be absolutely hammered in the series. I continue to hold out for what I now call the ‘Beaumont Solution‘.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have two links to share with you before getting to the pictures:

  1. Anna was kind enough to give me a mention in her post “No 39 in my drawing goals for 2019” and I reciprocate here by advising you to visit the post.

The Skwawkbox has recently put up a post titled 124 policies Labour will deliver in government” – the policies themselves are below, in the form of the graphic (click on it to view it full size) that is the centrepiece of the Skwawkbox post:
Skwawkbox
The feature image of my previous post was a water based insect that at the time I had yet to identify. My research suggests that it is an Azure Damselfly:

British Nature Guide Pic:

Picture

And my close up photograph is below.

P1250638 (3)

Now for my new photographs, and there are plenty of them…

Beer Festival GP
We start with a few pictures from the King’s Lynn Beer Festival at Stuart House (NAS West Norfolk was this year’s designated charity beneficiary)

P1250685 (2)P1250686 (2)P1250687 (2)P1250688 (2)P1250689 (2)P1250691 (2)P1250692 (2)

P1250699 (2)
The moment the 2019 World Cup was won.

P1250700 (2)P1250701 (2)P1250703 (2)P1250704 (2)P1250705 (2)P1250706 (2)P1250707 (2)P1250711 (3)P1250712 (2)P1250713 (2)P1250714 (2)P1250715 (2)P1250716 (2)P1250717 (2)P1250718 (2)P1250719 (2)P1250719 (3)P1250721 (2)P1250722 (2)P1250723 (2)P1250724 (2)P1250730 (2)P1250731 (2)P1250732 (2)P1250735 (2)P1250737 (2)P1250739 (2)P1250741 (2)P1250750 (2)P1250751 (2)P1250754 (2)P1250758 (2)P1250759 (2)

P1250760 (2)
A Peacock Butterfly (relatively uncommon, although known to have some living places in King’s Lynn)
P1250762 (2)
A Painted Lady (a variety of butterfly I had not previosuly observed in King’s Lynn)

P1250763 (2)P1250764 (2)P1250765 (2)P1250766 (2)P1250767 (2)P1250767

Inaugural England v Ireland Test Match Interestingly Poised

England v Ireland and some of the things I have done this week.

INTRODUCTION

I have a lot to share since I last posted, besides the situation in the cricket. However the first focus is indeed…

ENGLAND V IRELAND

England went into this test match with two test debutants, Jason Roy and Olly Stone (Lewis Gregory, in the 13, missed out for reasons beyond my comprehension). England won the toss and chose to bat. Some good bowling from Ireland and a terrible batting performance by England resulted in a total of 85 all out. Ireland were themselves all out before the end of day 1, and England sent Jack Leach into open with Rory Burns, shielding Jason Roy. Burns was out cheaply, but Leach and Roy shared an excellent stand that put England into credit, before both were out, Leach for 92. Joe Denly has just been run out as I write this, making England 194-4, a mere 72 to the good. Ollie Stone bowled well in his first test match, picking up three wickets. Burns deserves a little longer to prove himself, and Roy has one fine innings to his credit here, though I suspect that no 3 at test level suits him better than opening. I am unconvinced by Denly, who is nearer the end of his career than the beginning. I continue therefore to argue for the ‘Beaumont solution‘ to England’s current opening woes. Bairstow had just completed a pair, plunging England into trouble. The successful bowler was Mark Adair, surely to acquire the nickname “Red” if he has not already done so, who along with the veteran Murtagh has been Ireland’s best.

If England can put together another 80 or more the prospect of a fine finish remains, but at the moment I make Ireland strong favourites (and good luck to them, they have earned it).

THE KING’S LYNN FESTIVAL

Yes, it is festival time in King’s Lynn. I attended the first of two early music concerts on Saturday evening. It featured the London Handel Players, with a programme of:

  1. Telemann – Concerto for Recorder and Flute in E minor
  2. Vivaldi – Concerto for violin and cello in F major Il Proteo o sia il mondo al rovescio
  3. J S Bach – Concerto for two violins in D minor
  4. William Herschel – Symphony for strings in F Minor (yes, he was also Astronomer Royal and a distinguished mathematician in his day)
  5. Vivaldi – Flute Concerto in D minor Il Gran Mogol
  6. J S Bach – Brandenburg Concerto no 4

It was an excellent and enjoyable evening, although the wine was overpriced even for such an event. The Herschel piece was not quite the equal of the others, but that is only to be expected given his other work.

P1250604 (2)
The stage is set (in St Nicholas’ Chapel)
P1250605 (2)
The Harpsichord, was played with consummate skill, providing excellent background without ever obtruding on one’s consciousness (like wicketkeepers, harpsichordists in group settings do not get noticed if they are doing things right).

P1250606 (2)P1250607 (2)P1250608 (2)P1250609 (2)

P1250610 (2)
As this shows the harpsichord is a very modern version.

P1250611 (2)P1250613 (2)P1250615 (2)P1250616 (2)P1250617 (2)P1250618 (2)P1250619 (2)

NEW PHYSIO SESSIONS

I will be starting new physio sessions at Tapping House a week today. This will help with developing my fitness.

STEAK NIGHT

On Tuesday NAS West Norfolk had a steak night at The Globe near the Tuesday Market Place. I was given a lift both ways, and it was well worth it – the evening was excellent.

P1250643 (2)P1250644 (2)P1250645 (2)P1250646 (2)P1250648 (2)P1250647 (2)P1250649 (2)P1250651 (2)

PHOTOGRAPHS

I finish with my usual sign off…

P1250594 (2)P1250595 (2)P1250596 (2)P1250597 (2)P1250598 (2)P1250599 (2)P1250600 (2)P1250601 (2)P1250602 (2)P1250603 (2)P1250620 (2)P1250621 (2)P1250622 (2)P1250624 (2)P1250626 (2)P1250627 (2)P1250629 (2)P1250631 (2)P1250634 (2)P1250635 (2)P1250636 (2)

P1250637 (2)
I have been taking walks when I can to rebuild my fitness, and on one of them this week I got the pond on Loke Road, and this water-based insect was one of the things I saw while there (two more pics)

P1250638 (2)P1250638 (3)P1250639 (2)P1250640 (2)P1250641 (2)P1250642 (2)

Lewis Gregory in England Squad

Celebrating the inclusion of Lewis Gregory in the England squad for the game against Ireland.

INTRODUCTION

Some of my recent posts (particularly those about England test teams accommodating two spinners) have taken the inclusion of Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory as read…

IT IS NOW

Today on cricinfo I was delighted to see that on this occasion at least what is obvious to me has also proven obvious to Ed Smith (whose opinions matter rather more in the current scheme of things!) and Gregory is in the squad announced for the one off test match against Ireland next week. True, given what he has been doing for Somerset recently this was a totally obvious call, but anyone who has followed English cricket as long as I have knows that that does not necessarily mean that it will happen!

I am delighted that Lewis Gregory has been given the call-up and I seriously hope that he plays rather than winding up as drinks waiter. A second of my calls – Jason Roy into the test team off the back of a tremendous World Cup – has also been made by a higher authority. My biggest call of all has yet to be made, but ever the optimist I am not prepared to abandon it just yet.

The cricinfo article can be read here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

P1250593 (2)P1250592 (2)P1250589 (2)P1250588 (2)P1250587 (2)P1250586 (2)P1250585 (2)P1250584 (2)P1250583 (2)P1250581 (2)P1250579 (2)

World Cup Final Stages Approaching

A look at the permutations for the semi-finals of the Men’s Cricket World Cup (nb the inaugural Women’s Cricket World Cup took place in 1973, two years before the men got started), plus a shed,load of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The 2019 cricket men’s world cup semi-finals are all but sorted now. This post examines the possible permutations.

FAREWELLS

Afghanistan, The West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan are heading home after the group stage unless Pakistan can beat Bangladesh by 320 runs or thereabouts (due to the workings of “net run rates” Pakistan cannot go through if Bangladesh bat first).

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SEMIS

Barring an astonishing miracle result for Pakistan against Bangladesh the semi finals will be Australia v New Zealand and England v India. Three of these four teams definitely deserve to be there, while New Zealand are somewhat fortunate, and arrive in the semi-finals on a serious downturn having been thumped in their last two games, one by England.

SEMI FINAL 1: AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Australia will be heavy favourites for this one, having played well throughout, while New Zealand have been poor in their last two games. Although I would love to see New Zealand deliver a sucker punch to the Aussies I cannot see it happening, therefore my prediction for this one is that Australia will win and go through to the final.

SEMI FINAL 2: ENGLAND V INDIA

Having put themselves under pressure by indifferent early from England have hit top gear just in time, despatching India and New Zealand in their last two games, both by comfortable margins. India had already secured their place in the semifinals by the time they came up against England. In view of the record of chasing sides in this competition so far I reckon that whoever wins the toss must opt to bat first and get their runs on the board. If England win that toss and make the right decision I reckon that they will win, just as they did in the group game between the two sides. If India bat first they will be favourites but I will not rule out England completely even then. Overall prediction: England, but I would not put money on it.

POTENTIAL FINALS

  • Australia v England – This will depend heavily on the toss – if England get their runs on the board they will be favourites, likewise Australia. I think England would be marginally less likely to lose chasing than Australia, so by the thickness of a cigarette paper I make them favourites if this final materialises.
  • Australia v India – Again this will come down to the toss – assuming they make the correct decision whoever wins it collects the cup.
  • New Zealand v England – New Zealand would be cock-a-whoop at beating Australia but may also be unable having achieved that to summon up the resolve for one last effort, and based on the group game between the two I would make England firm favourites for this one.
  • New Zealand v India – India would be favourites for this one for the same reasons as England in the one above.

Of these potential finals I would most like it to be New Zealand v England, with England b Australia 2nd choice and New Zealand v India third choice. A win for either New Zealand or England would be a first in the men’s world cup, while for India it would be their third triumph and for Australia their sixth. A final thought: If the miracle happens in the Pakistan v Bangladesh game then I believe that sheer relief at managing to qualify will be enough to propel Pakistan to victory – in that circumstance they would be alone among the four semi-finalists in having no pressure on them.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

P1250058 (2)P1250059 (2)P1250060 (2)P1250062 (2)P1250063 (2)P1250126 (2)P1250127 (2)P1250128 (2)P1250129 (2)

P1250130 (2)
Gettring really good pictures of these butterflies is a challenge – this one is porbably my best yet.

P1250131 (2)P1250132 (2)P1250133 (2)P1250134 (2)P1250136 (2)P1250137 (2)P1250139 (2)P1250140 (2)P1250141 (2)P1250143 (2)P1250145 (2)

P1250146 (2)
A female pheasant views the world from atop a car at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House.

P1250147 (2)P1250148 (2)P1250149 (2)P1250150 (2)P1250151 (2)P1250152 (2)P1250153 (2)P1250154 (2)P1250155 (2)P1250156 (2)P1250157 (2)P1250170 (2)P1250172 (2)P1250173 (2)P1250174 (2)P1250174 (3)P1250175 (2)P1250176 (2)P1250177 (2)P1250178 (2)P1250236 (2)P1250237 (2)P1250239 (2)P1250240 (2)P1250242 (2)P1250332 (2)P1250333 (2)P1250334 (2)P1250335 (2)P1250336 (2)P1250337 (2)P1250338 (2)P1250339 (2)P1250340 (2)P1250344 (2)P1250346 (2)P1250347 (2)P1250348 (2)P1250350 (2)P1250351 (2)

P1250352 (2)
The weights we use for some of our exercises during therapy sessions at Tapping House.
P1250353 (2)
Raffe prizes at Tapping House
P1250354 (2)
I bought a ticket to support the cause, and this would be my first choice prize should the opportunity arise.

P1250356 (2)P1250357 (2)P1250358 (2)P1250360 (2)P1250361 (2)P1250362 (2)P1250363 (2)P1250364 (2)P1250365 (2)

How My Second Set of Predictions Fared

A look at the conclusions of yesterday’s Royal London Cup matches and an analysis of my predictions at the half way stages.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday, when all the day fixtures in the Royal London Cup had reached their half-way stage I covered what was happening and made predictions for each result. Today I complete the story be revealing the results and mentioning noteworthy efforts from the second half of each game. 

YESTERDAY’S ROYAL LONDON CUP MATCHES

This is how it all unfolded:

  • Derbyshire v NorthamptonshireDerbyshire 268-6, Northamptonshire 215 (43.5 overs), Derbyshire won by 53 runs
    I backed Derbyshire to win this one because of the fightback they had made in the latter stages of their innings. This one was more one sided even than the margin suggests. At one point Northants were 112-8 before a lower order fightback gave them a hint of respectability. There were four wickets for young medium pacer Alex Hughes, three for Van Beek and two for Rampaul. Luke Procter scored an unbeaten 50, but no other Northants batter merits a mention.
  • Warwickshire v YorkshireWarwickshire 270-8 Yorkshire 270-9 TIED!!
    I got this one wrong, expecting Yorkshire to chase them down. At 112-6 it looked a certain win for Warwickshire, but Jonny Tattersall (79) and Tim Bresnan (89) staged a revival that very nearly won it for Yorkshire. England all-rounder Chris Woakes took 3-47 and the hugely promising teenager Henry Brookes took 3-50. Kiwi veteran Jeetan Patel was the most economical with 2-41.
  • Durham vLeicestershire  – Leicestershire 233-9, Durham 234-4 (45.3 overs) Durham won by six wickets
    This was an easy call after that poor Leicestershire innings, and an easy win for Durham in the end. Cameron Bancroft scored 118 not out, and received support from various of the Durham order. Dieter Klein and Gavin Griffiths each had a couple of wickets.
  • Hampshire v GlamorganGlamorgan 292-9 Hampshire 293-3 (41.5overs) Hampshire won by seven wickets.
    I had this down as a Glamorgan win. In the event Hampshire made it look very easy indeed, and Glamorgan’s future in this competition, even after just two matches looks bleak – they failed horrendously to chase in their first game and failed just as epically to defend in this one. Tom Alsop, a 23 year-old wicketkeeper batter opened the Hampshire innings and was 130 not out off 115 baals when they completed the win. Former England man James Vince scored 95 off 78 balls to put Hampshire in complete control of the chase. I will draw a veil over the Glamorgan bowling figures.
  • Nottinghamshire v Lancashire Nottinghamshire 417-7, Lancashire 406-9 Nottinghamshire won by 11 runs
    I called this one correctly. Lancashire made a tremendous effort, and until the dismissal of their captain Dane Vilas (166 off 100 balls) an extraordinary victory appeared to be on the cards. In the end that Nottinghamshire total was just enough. Steven Croft scored 110 off 82 balls. James Pattinson with 5-61 off his 10 overs was the star of the bowlers – if he had gone at the same rate as his colleagues Lancashire would have got home with time to spare (approximately an over and a half if you care to do the calculation).
  • Somerset v Kent Somerset 358-9, Kent 94 (27 overs) – Somerset won by 264 runs
    With that total on the board I called this one in Somerset’s favour, but even I was surprised by the margin of victory. AfterS had piled up their huge total Kent needed a good start to stay in the contest. Unfortunately for them they got the reverse, as Craig Overton followed his 66 by taking three early wickets (he would add two more before the end, finishing with 5-18) and Kent were reeling at 25-4. Thereafter Kent tried to salvage a hint of respectability and failed. The margin was a record for one first class county over another in limited overs cricket (various previous limited overs competitions featured minor county sides, so the distinction is needed). A detailed analysis of this match can be found here
  • Essex v Middlesex Middlessex 366-8, Essex 328 (49.2 overs) Middlesex won by 38 runs
    Again a big enough total to predict the final outcome with some confidence, but Essex put up a fine fight. Varun Chopra made 127 off 127 balls and Tom Westley 77 off 59 balls. For Middlesex Nathan Sowter, a 26 year-old legspinner with little previous experience of top level cricket took 6-62 from 9.2 overs

I called five of these matches correctly and two wrongly, making my overall record of predictions in this competition now eight right and four wrong. As with the first round there was a “day/night” match which was not far enough advanced for me to make a prediction on at the time:

Surrey v Sussex Surrey 274-9, Sussex 278-8 (48.1 overs)
This was a humdinger of a match. Surrey’s problem in their innings was that no-one went to a really big score – Foakes led the way with 64 and Will Jacks managed 56, while Mir Hamza rook 4-43. Tom Curran (3-37 from 10) and Gareth Batty (2-39 from 10) bowled excellently for Surrey, Morne Morkel and Rikki Clarke were respectable, but the fifth set of 10 overs let Surrey down, as Plunkett (6 overs, 1-57) and Jacks (4 overs for 26) both bowled very poorly. Sussex’s matchwinner was David Wiese (92 not out), while Luke Wright scored 69.

The first set of fixtures provided a lot of very one-sided games, but no one could complain about the fare on offer this time round – fine cricket featured in most if not all of the matches and several were very close, including the incredible tie between Yorkshire and Warwickshire.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

P1220952P1220953P1220954P1220955P1220957P1220958P1220959P1220960P1220961P1220962P1220963P1220965P1220966P1220967P1220968P1220971P1220973P1220974P1220975P1220976P1220977P1220978P1220979P1220980P1220982P1220983P1220984P1220985P1220986

The Royal London Cup Round 2 Fixtures

A look at what is happening in the Royal London Cup, complete with predictions. Also some of my photopgraphs.

INTRODUCTION

The seven daytime Royal London Cup Fixtures taking place today have all reached the halfway stage, and as in this post, where I was 3/5 on predictions I will be essaying predictions as to the outcomes of these fixtures, as well as drawing attention to noteworthy efforts within the matches. Wihtou further ado…

THE ROYAL LONDON CUP 19/4

  • Derbyshire v NorthamptonshireDerbyshire 268-6 from 50 overs
    This total represents a fightback by Derbyshire, as at one stage they were 137-5. This and the fact that the sides batting first all won their games last time out influences me to call this one in Derbyshir’s favour. Billy Godleman played the anchor role for Derbyshire with 87 off 124 balls, while Matt Critchley scored 64 not out off 51 balls, having come in at 137-5. Blessing Muzurabani picked up 2-54 and Jason Holder 2-62. 
  • Warwickshire v YorkshireWarwickshire 270-8 from 50 overs
    Various Warwickshire players got starts, but only Tim Ambrose (77 off 108 balls) made a really significant score. Matthew Pillans added another three wickets to the five he took in the opening game, while Bresnan and Poysden took two each. I would expect Yorkshire to make it two wins out of two – all it will take is two of their top order play significant innings.
  • Durham v Leicestershire Leciestershire 233-9 from 50 overs
    Leicestershire were 112-7 at the low water mark of their innings, so this score represents a fight back. However, although it runs contrary to my hopes given their awful choice of captain I expect Durham to win this fairly easily and make it two wins from two. Tom Taylor made 59 off 63 balls and Dieter Klein, also mainly a bowler, scored 46 off 71 balls in the latter stages. Brydon Carse took 3-58, while Liam Trevaskis had 2-37 from his full 10 overs.
  • Hampshire v GlamorganGlamorgan 292-9 overs
    This is a tough one to call – Glamorgan’s total looks quite good, but none of their batters got more than 68 (achieved by David Lloyd off 62 balls and Graham Wagg off 57 balls). Kyle Abbott took 3-47 and Liam Dawson 2-57. Bearing in mind the successes of sides batting first so far this season I am going to predict a win for Glamorgan. 
  • Notinghamshire v Lancashire Nottinghamshire 417-7 from 50 overs
    A monster score by Nottinghamshire. Cricket is a glorious game precisely because it is wonderfully unpredictable, but it will the story of the day if Lancashire chase these down. My prediction is therefore a Nottinghamshire victory. Joe Clarke made 139 off 99 balls at the top off the order, Ben Slater hit 74 off 82, Tom Moores 74 off 39 and Luke Fletcher 46 not out off 17 at the end. Graham Onions managed 2–70 from his 10, quite an achievement in such a huge score, and Saqib Mahmood, a young medium pacer, collected 2-88 from his 10.
  • Somerset v Kent Somerset 358-9 from 50 overs
    A big total for Somerset, and one that I confidently expect them to defend. Tom Banton, a 20 year old keeper-batter scored 107 off 79 balls at the top of the Somerset order, Lewis Gregory contributed 51 from 45, and Craig Overton scored 66 not out off 36 at the death. Stevens, Podmore, Klassen and Milnes each took two wickets, the veteran Stevens managing to go for only 50 from his ten overs.
  • Essex v MiddlesexMiddlesex 366-8 from 50 overs
    A great effort by Middlesex. Dawid Malan led off with 95 from 102 balls, and Nick Gubbins with 56 off 57 kept things going when Middlesex might have got into trouble, before George Scott, a 23 year old right hander, scored 63 off just 28 balls to give the total a late boost. Peter Siddle took 3-71 and Dan Lawrence’s leg spin brought him 2-63 – his batting will be needed later if Essex are to get anywhere near chasing this total down. I expect Middlesex to win this one, especially given that teams batting first have done so well so far this season.

Thus my calls in these games are: Derbyshire, Yorskhire, Durham, Glamorgan, Nottinghamshire, Somersert and Middlesex. The Surrey v Sussex match is at too early a stage for a prediction as it is a day/night game. Surrey are 206-4 in the 40th over. Will Jacks made 56 for Surrey, Foakes has 41 not out and Pope, just starting to hit the launchpad, is 32 not out. None the Sussex bowlers have really noteworthy figures. If Foakes and Pope keep going and propel Surrey to something in the vicinity of 300 they will be favourites, while if Sussex keep Surrey below about 270 they will have a good chance. Update – Pope has just gone for 33, making 209-5, swinging things back towards Sussex. Rikki Clarke has joined Foakes. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

P1220922P1220923P1220924P1220925P1220926P1220928P1220929P1220932P1220935P1220937P1220938P1220939P1220940P1220941P1220942P1220943P1220944P1220945P1220946P1220947P1220949P1220950P1220951

All-Time Squads – England

I select an England squad from players I have witnessed and a true all-time England squad.

INTRODUCTION

This is the start of a new series which will appear on this blog periodically in between posts about other things. I will pick two squads in each of these posts – one restricted to players whose performances I have witnessed live and one true all-time squad, using my considerable knowledge of cricket history. I will also be including a few other things after the main body of the post. We will being the main part of the post with…

ENGLAND SQUAD FROM PLAYERS I HAVE WITNESSED LIVE

To begin with we need an opening pair. I refuse to consider those who went on the two English rebel tours to South Africa. The serious contenders left are:

  • Mike Atherton – 7,.728 runs at 37.69 from 115 test matches. A fine record, though that average was reduced by his encounters with Glenn McGrath who seriously had the wood on him. 
  • Alec Stewart – 8,463 test runs at 39.54 from 133 test matches. These already impressive figures conceal the fact that Stewart the specialist batter (the role in which I would be using him) averaged 47, while Stewart the keeper averaged 34. 
  • Marcus Trescothick – 76 test matches produced 5,825 runs at 43.79. An attack-minded left hander, Trescothick hit the ground running at Test level with 66 against the West Indies on debut, and until mental health issues caused his premature retirement from international cricket he went from strength to strength.
  • Andrew Strauss – 100 test matches, 7,037 runs at 40.91. An consistent opener who did even better as captain than he did in the ranks. 
  • Alastair Cook England’s all time leading test run scorer, with 12,472 at 45.35, he started his test career with a fifty and a century against India and ended it 12 years later with a fifty and a century against India. 

Of these five I can accommodate three in my squad (an opening pair and a reserve opener), and my choice, with due respect to Messrs Atherton and Trescothick is to go for Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart (mainly defensive left hander and more attacking right hander) as my first choice opening pair and Strauss as the reserve opener. It is a close call between Strauss and Trescothick, but Strauss’ captaincy experience gives him an edge.

My designated number three bat and captain is Michael Vaughan. Number three has traditonally been a problem position for England, but Vaughan was magnificent there – his only rival in my lifetime is Jonathan Trott, but since I want Vaughan as captain he gets the nod. When it comes to picking three middle-order batters there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from. There are two left-handers, David Gower and Graham Thorpe and a phalanx of right-handers including Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root and Paul Collingwood who all did fine things at test level. I can only select three, two to be in the first XI and one as cover, and my choices are Joe Root, David Gower and Kevin Pietersen. 

With all due respect to Andrew Flintoff and Ben Stokes who have both had great achievements at the highest level there is only one candidate for the allrounders role in my view and that is Ian Botham

There are four potential candidates for the wicketkeepers slot, of whom I need to select two since I do not intend using Stewart in that role. My four candidates are:

  • Jack Russell – a magnificent keeper, but his test batting average of 27.10 was a little on the low side.
  • Matt Prior – there was never a question about his batting skills, but his keeping took a while to develop, though he became very good indeed.
  • Jonny Bairstow – A fine attacking batter and a good keeper, but rarely able to combine the two at test level
  • Ben Foakes – A magnificent keeper and averaging over 40 in his brief test career so far.

It will be considered controversial in some circles to give the nod to someone still in the early stages of their career, but my choices are Ben Foakes as first choice keeper and Matt Prior as reserve. 

I have now selected a total of ten players, and a regulation squad would be 16, so I have six places available to fill the squad. For quick bowlers I go for James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Simon Jones and Steve Harmison. Phil Tufnell was too inconsistent and Ashley Giles not really good enough, so my choices for the spinners slots are Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

Thus my squad of sixteen is:

Alec Stewart
Alastair Cook
Andrew Strauss (reserve opener)
*Michael Vaughan
David Gower
Kevin Pietersen
Joe Root
Ian Botham
+Ben Foakes
+Matt Prior
James Anderson
Stuart Broad
Steve Harmison
Simon Jones
Graeme Swann
Monty Panesar

The likely first XI, assuming a pitch that does not favour any particular type of bowling would be: Stewart, Cook, *Vaughan, Root, Gower, +Foakes, Botham, Swann, Broad, Anderson and Harmison, with Kevin Pietersen just missing the final cut in favour of Root (Gower’s lefthandedness works to his advantage).

THE ALL TIME SQUAD

For this one I start with the greatest of all opening pairs, Jack Hobbs and Herbert SutcliffeIn addition to being one half of the greatest of all opening pairs Herbert Sutcliffe’s averages suggest, as does everything ever written about him, a big match temperament par excellence – 52.02 in first class cricket, 60.73 in all test cricket and in the cauldron of The Ashes, 66.85. As reserve opener I select W G Grace, reckoning that his test batting average (32.29) was reduced both by the pitches he played on and the fact that he was already 32 when he played his first test match in 1880, and his career at that level lasted until within a couple of months of his 51st birthday. My remaining choices for batting slots are Joe Root (captain), Denis Compton, Walter Hammond and Frank Woolley (the latter two more than handy bowlers as well as great fielders, and Woolley a left-hander). For the wicketkeepers I opt for Les Ames as first choice and Ben Foakes as reserve. Ian Botham retains his place as designated all-rounder. For the bowlers I retain Anderson, and augment his presence with Fred Trueman, Syd Barnes (189 wickets at 16.43 from just 27 matches) and George Lohmann (112 wickets in 18 test matches at an eye-popping 10.75). My two players selected as spinners are Hedley Verity (slow-left arm) and Jim Laker (off-spin).

Thus my squad list reads:

Jack Hobbs
Herbert Sutcliffe
W G Grace (reserve opener)
Denis Compton
*Joe Root
Walter Hammond
Frank Woolley
+Les Ames
+Ben Foakes
Ian Botham
Fred Trueman
Syd Barnes
George Lohmann
James Anderson
Jim Laker
Hedley Verity

The first XI in batting order, assuming the pitch does not justify either two specialist spinners or an all-seam attack is: Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Compton, *Root, Woolley, +Ames, Botham, Lohmann, Laker, Trueman and Barnes. I select Laker ahead of Verity as the lone specialist spinner because Woolley was a good enough slow-left armer to have taken 10 wickets in a test match and Compton could bowl slow left-arm wrist spin.

A BIT OF NEWS

Today as part of my continuing recovery from cancer I attended a physio session at Tapping House, and it went very well. I handled all four of the exercises I did today reasonably well, and my breathing behaved itself. It is a nice small group, and the setting is good.

PICTURES

My usual sign off…

P1220843
The first 11 pictures here are from Tapping House.

P1220845P1220848

P1220849
It took three attempts…
P1220850
to get a decent picture…
P1220852
…of this bird which I saw crossing the carpark at Tapping House.

P1220853P1220854P1220857P1220858

P1220859
Tapping House’s youngest visitors!
P1220860
Back home.

P1220864P1220865P1220866P1220867P1220868P1220869P1220870P1220871P1220872P1220874P1220876P1220877P1220878P1220879P1220880