Somerset Against The Clock

A look at Hampshire v Somerset and the rest of the closing stages of the fifth round of Championship matches, plus a teaser, plus some photographs.

Welcome to this post, which looks at the closing stages of the current round of County Championship fixtures, with particular attention on the game at Southampton.

SOMERSET ON SONG

Yesterday was a near universal washout in the County Championship, but this game did see some action, during which Somerset claimed the wicket of Sam Northeast. When the light closed in Hampshire were 110-4, still 147 to the bad. Hampshire have dug in and fought hard, but their inability to score with any speed means that they are still highly likely to lose this match. Joe Weatherley fell for 44 after 279 minutes and 209 balls of resistance, James Vince made 42, and Liam Dawson and Lewis McManus have also come and gone. Hampshire are currently 198-8, still 59 short of avoiding the innings defeat, with Felix Organ and Keith Barker batting together and only Mohammad Abbas, a genuine no11, to come. Craig Overton has bowled magnificently, his current figures being 34-16-45-5. Josh Davey has 3-27 from 21 overs. Hampshire are going at 1.8. If this had been a first innings performance Hampshire would have batted the whole 110 over bonus point period and not accrued a single point, while Somerset would have two of a possible three. The trouble with this ultra-attritional approach of Hampshire’s is that if they do not bat right through the day they will certainly lose the match – there is no runs/time equation for Somerset to worry about.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Three matches have already concluded. Middlesex were beaten by Gloucestershire yesterday, consolidating the latter’s hold on top place in the group. Middlesex had conceded a first innings lead of 63 (210 plays 273) and a second innings batting collapse then left Gloucestershire needing only 90 to win, a feat they accomplished without much trouble. Middlesex have been in the game or even ahead of the game at some point or other of most of their matches, but have had a tendency to have a horror session that costs them the game.

Nottinghamshire have beaten Essex by an innings and 30 runs. Essex managed just 99 and 194.

Northamptonshire routed Sussex by an innings and 120 runs. Sussex slumped to 106 all out in the first innings, Northants declared on 441-9 and Sussex could do no better than 215 at the second attempt. Only Oliver Edward Robinson, with 49 not out in the first Sussex dig and bowling figures of 5-58 had a decent match for Sussex.

Barring miracles all the other games are going end in draws due to the intervention of the weather.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

With Somerset’s main opposition being the clock this one seemed appropriate for today. I have reframed the problem slightly from the brilliant.org version because their version opened up a hack, of which I duly availed myself. I reproduce most of the problem below before ending with my own formulation:

Brilliant offered four possible answers, and their choices spoiled the problem by making it impossible not to solve. Instead I ask you to give a five minute window within which Ivan got back. Solutions to both this and yesterday’s teaser in my next blog post, and a full explanation of the flaw in the brilliant multi-choice options.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Scorchers Shamed

An account of today’s BBL ‘Qualifier’ between Sixers and Scorchers, including a disgraceful incident involving AJ Tye, and thoughts about the Power Surge.

The title of this post, devoted to today’s #BBL10 qualifier is dual purpose, relating both the Scorcher’s overall performance today and to the incident that ended the match.

SIXERS SLAM SCORCHERS

Scorchers batted first and started slowly, Roy falling in the third over for a nine ball three. They finished their Power Play overs strongly, taking 25 off the last 11 balls to be 30-1 after four overs. The second phase of their innings was solid, overs 5-10 inclusive yielding 44-1, to give a halfway score of 74-2, with two well set batters, one the very dangerous Colin Munro, together at the crease. It was a situation that demanded an early use of the Power Surge to launch the second half of the innings, but Scorchers did not take the opportunity, and they paid for their voluntary surrender of the initiative lest the Surge cause a fall of wickets, as the third quarter of their innings was an unqualified disaster, yielding them 24-2 to reach the three-quarter way stage at 98-4. At that point they did take the Power Surge (leaving it any later would have been truly appalling). They made superb use of those two overs, scoring 34 off them, a gain of at least 20 on what they would have scored from those overs in ordinary play. They then kept the momentum going to finish their 20 overs with 167-6, a defensible looking total. Their top scorer was Josh Inglis, a wicketkeeper, who as Yorkshire-born Aussie may potentially follow in the footsteps of Hanson Carter, the best Aussie keeper between Jim Kelly and Bertie Oldfield, who was also born in Yorkshire.

Sixers started brightly, taking 13 off the first over of the reply, and being 43-0 at the end of the Power Play, 13 runs and one wicket to the good. They lost Philippe late in the first half of their innings, but still had a superb overs 5-10, scoring 61-1 in that period, 17 more than Scorchers had managed, in what had been a good period for them. I would have thought an early Power Surge was called for, but Sixers did not go for it. By the the end of the 15th Scorchers were 151-1 and the only question was whether James Vince, by then on 89, would reach a ton before the end. Although Daniel Hughes hit a boundary to level the scores with Vince on 98, he then avoided scoring off any of the last three balls of that over. The 18th over began with the scores level, setting the stage for…

AJ TYE’S ABJECT ASSAULT ON THE SPIRIT OF CRICKET

Tye, an experienced and successful bowler, bowled to Vince with the scores level and Vince 98 not out. He produced what was blatantly obviously a deliberate wide, a mean and petty ‘dog in the manger’ type gesture that denied Vince any chance to complete a century that would have been thoroughly merited. I have umpired a few games at a low level, and temporarily donning my umpire’s hat, I would have been tempted to tell Tye loudly that I was not going to oblige him by calling a wide and that he better bowl the next one straight. I certainly think the Scorchers should drop Tye for their next game, which will be against the winners of the match between Thunder and Heat, and the winners of that will take on Sixers in the final. I will certainly be rooting against the Scorchers when the time comes. Is my dim view of this just because the offender is an Aussie? No, and I offer as evidence to back up my own criticisms the fact that one Richard Thomas Ponting, not normally known for Aussie bashing, is on my side as well. Very little in cricket is new, given the game’s long history, and there was an incident in a long ago ODI when David Gower, called up to bowl by way of a concession of defeat, again with a batter, this time Greg Chappell, on 98, bowled a deliberate no-ball. Gower’s behaviour then was marginally less inexcusable than Tye’s today because he was a non-bowler and one can understand him not being impressed by being made to act as a sacrificial offering.

THE POWER SURGE

I have stated my thoughts on the taking of the Power Surge before, but I am going to extend on them here. Firstly, I am more and more convinced that one should have a good reason for not going early, rather than allowing caution to dictate. Scorchers paid for their failure to go when in a perfect position to do so, and it was only Sixers utter dominance that enabled them to get away with delaying their own surge. The extra point about the runs from the surge overs is that is not just a question of how many do you get from them, it also a question of how many would you have scored anyway from those overs even without the surge, and that is where leaving it late is a definite loser – you will be throwing the bat at pretty much everything in the closing stages of a T20 innings anyway, so would be scoring faster than at other stages of the innings. Scorcher’s surge was worth about +20 to them compared to two ordinary overs at that stage, because they did make it count when they finally took it. Had those two overs been, to take the extreme, the last two of the innings, then they would have been maybe +10 had they scored the same 34. However, had Scorchers gone in overs 11-12, when they had two top batters together, including the potentially devastating Munro, those same 34 runs would have had them 108-2 with eight overs to go and a total of 180 a definite goal, with more a distinct possibility. As it was, timing it when they did, even that huge surge only brought a total of 170 on to the horizon, and in the end they were just short of that. Here as a reminder is a Power Surge inforgraphic I created earlier:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My parents are in King’s Lynn because my aunt is undergoing a medical procedure and needs to be kept company for 24 hours. They arrived yesterday, and we had a chat over my back garden fence, and I took delivery of a glass vessel which bears my name, and is now the only one of what was a pair, due to a recent accident, and it dominates today’s photo gallery…

Yesterdays Results and Predictions for Today

The outcome of yesterday’s predictions, and accounts and predicitions from today’s Royal London Cup matches plus some other features.

INTRODUCTION

Today we beign with a look back at such actions as there was in yesterdays two Royal London Cup matches, and then around the grounds at today’s matches, most of which are now at the half-way stage.

YESTERDAY’S MATCHES

Just the two games:

  • Middlesex v SurreyMiddlesex 277 all out from 50 overs, Surrey 240 all out from 48 overs, Middlesex won by 37 runs.
    Surrey were always behind the rate in this one, although they retained hope until Ben Foakes (71, the highest individual score of the game) was out. For Middlesex Tom Helm and Nathan Sowter each took four wickets. I had called this one for Surrey.
  • Glamorgan v Kent Glamorgan 68-2 from 15 overs, no result, rain
    The rain never did ease in this one, so ended as a no result. Kent would have been heavy favourites had the rain eased off enough to allow them a 10 over run chase of what would presumably have been around about 75-80. As it is, although my comments on this one allowed for the possibility of the weather triumphing I can hardly count it as a successful prediction, since I really called it in Kent’s favour.

Thus, for the first time in six match days I was wrong on more predictions than I was right on – 0/2 to be precise. However, my record remains 18/29.

TODAY’S PREDICTIONS

A number of matches to call…

  • Hampshire v GloucestershireHampshire 331-8 from 50 overs
    At 65-4 this was looking poor for Hampshire, but James Vince and Liam Dawson rescued the home team with a stand 186, before Dawson was out for 73. Vince went on to a Hampshire List A record individual score of 190, being out with one ball remaining in the innings. Chris Liddle with 4-66 was the star of the Gloucestershire bowlers. Thanks to Vince’s innings I think Hampshire will win this one. The commentary team featured Emily Windsor, a 21 year old batter for Hampshire Women.
  • Northamptonshire v WorcestershireWorcestershire 254-9 from 50 overs.
    A modest total by today’s standards for Worcestershire. Hamish Rutherford made 126, but no one else reached 30. For Northants Cobb, Sanderson Keogh  and Buck all took two wickets, while Muzarabani was economical in his opening spell (1-13 from five overs). I expect Northants to knock these off with some comfort.
  • Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire Nottinghamshire 433-7 from 50 overs
    A huge total for Nottinghamshire. All of the top six in their order reached fifty, the scores being as follows: Chris Nash 56 off 53, Joe Clarke 55 off 44, Ben Duckett 86 off 61, Jake Libby 66 off 52, Tom Moores 50 off 32 and Steven Mullaney 81 off 41. Gavin Griffiths took 3-92 from nine overs and I will spare the blushes of the remaining Leicestershire bowlers.
  • Warwickshire v DurhamWarwickshire 248-8 from 50 overs
    62 from Tim Ambrose and 50 a piece from Sam Hain and Chris Woakes saved Warwickshire from complete disaster, but this is a modest score (only one lower total was defended in this competition last season, and only one so far this season). For Durham Ben Carse had 3-46, Matty Potts 2-46 and the two most economical bowlers, Liam Trevaskis and Ben Raine, each with 1-29 from seven overs did not get to bowl their full allocation! Nevertheless, I expect Durham to win this one with something to spare.
  • Yorkshire v DerbyshireYorkshire 308-2 in 40 overs, rain has intervened.
    Huge scoring from Yorkshire, and with only two wickets lost they were heavy favourites for a 400plus score when the rain came. This will be reflected in the adjusted total that Derbyshire have to chase – the scoring rate required will certainly by a minimum of 8.25 an over, perhaps 8.50 or even 9.00 depending on how many overs are left for the Derbyshire innings (the D/L bases these things on resources, which include wickets and overs remaining, and with 20% of their overs and 80% of their wickets remaining Yorkshire had plenty of resources to have a real dart in the closing stages of their innings). Therefore, assuming that the rain eases sufficiently for a match to be completed I expect Yorkshire to win comfortably. All four Yorkshire players who batted had 50s: Tom Kohler-Cadmore 79 off 92, Adam Lyth 78 off 60, David Willey 72 not out off 49 and Harry Brook 59 not out off 40. The Derbyshire biolwing figures are best not talked about.

The other game, between Essex and Somerset at Colchester was scheduled to start at 1:00PM but delayed by rain until 3PM and is already reduced to 39 overs per side. It is too early to attempt to call this one, though Somerset have made a decent start.

LINKS AND PICTURES

Emboldened by the fact that a petition calling for him to be sacked had garnered 40,000 signatures Farmer’s Weekly put up a poll asking whether people thought the BBC should sack Chris Packham. At the moment 71% of the 78208 people who have voted are in the “no” camp along with me (this means that 55,579 voters do not think he should be sacked, comfortably exceeding the number of signatories to the petition). Click here to view the article and vote if it is still open.

From brilliant.org I offer you a little teaser:

orange

Three twitter finds to lead up to my regular sign off:

Now for my regular sign off…

P1230273P1230274P1230276P1230277P1230279P1230280P1230281P1230282P1230283P1230284P1230285P1230286P1230287P1230288P1230289P1230290P1230291

 

Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.

THE TEAM

My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson

MY REASONING

The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

FW
The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.

FW2FW3MHIMHII

PW1
These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.

PW2PW3LBB

 

Christmas Report On The England Men’s Cricket Team

Christmas report on the England men’s team, and some Muscovy duck pictures.

INTRODUCTION

While the England Women’s team have had a fabulous year, thoroughly deserving to win Team of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (and had there been any justice Anya Shrubsole would have been Sports Personality of the Year) life has been tougher for the men. The confirmation in the early hours of Monday morning UK time that the Ashes had been lost (yes folks, I was listening to TMS right to the bitter end) lies behind this post (going up now through a combination of thinking before I wrote and work commitments yesterday). I end as usual with some of my own photographs.

THE FIRST THREE TEST MATCHES

Gritty fifties from Stoneman and Vince on the opening day notwithstanding Brisbane was a bad match for England. The ease with which Warner and Bancroft knocked off the 170 needed to win in the second innings, and the immovability of Aussie skipper Smith in their first innings were the most worrying sings.

Adelaide kicked off with Joe Root deciding to field first when he won the toss. An Australian tally of 442-8D in the course of the first day and a half made that decision look worse than it was (it was still poor, though not down there with Nasser Hussain at Brisbane 2002). England were then all out for 227, and as this was as a day-night test with the night session due to start it seemed mandatory to enforce the follow-on, but Steve Smith declined to do so. Australia stuttered under the lights to 50-4, and England’s best bowling effort of the series so far continued the following morning reducing Australia to 138 all out, leaving England 354 to get. England made a decent fist of things, and  at 170-3 it looked like they might just get them. Unfortunately both for England and for cricket as a whole (there are a lot of captains these days who almost automatically decline to enforce the follow-on, and had England chased down this target of 354 it might have made those people think) a wicket just before the close of day 4 and then a clatter the following morning put paid to that.

So it was on the Perth for the last Ashes game to be staged at the WACA (a new stadium just across the road will stage future Perth tests), a venue where England had only one once, way back in 1978. Precedents for a comeback from 0-2 down in a five match series are equally thin on the ground – the only successful example being Don Bradman’s 1936-7 Aussies (Bradman himself produced scores of 270, 212 and 169 in the third, fourth and fifth matches of that series, and also produced a tactical masterstroke in those days of uncovered pitches in that third test when faced with a terror track he sent in tail-enders O’Reilly and Fleetwood-Smith to miss everything until the close of that day – Bradman emerged the following day at 97-5 to join regular opener Jack Fingleton who had come at no 6, and with the pitch now eased they put on 346 for the sixth wicket to settle the issue), although 42 years earlier Australia had won the 3rd and 4th matches after being 0-2 down before England won the final game of that series. 

England batted first in Perth, and at 131-4 a familiar pattern seemed to be emerging, but then Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow got going, and both made hundreds. Malan went on to 140. Once their 237 run partnership was broken the rest of the innings subsided quickly, but 403 still seemed a respectable total. When Australia were 248-4 England still looked in with a shout, but by the end of day 3 Australia were 549-4, Smith having set a new career best and Mitchell Marsh in front of his home crowd turning his maiden test hundred into 181 not out. Smith and Marsh both fell quickly the following morning, and Starc was also out cheaply, but Tim Paine and Pat Cummins made useful contributions, and Australia declared at 662-9, leaving England four and a half sessions to survive for the draw. By the close of that fourth day Bairstow and Malan were together once more, with the only convincing batting effort up to then having come from Vince, who played very well for his 55 and was unlucky to get an absolute brute of a ball from Starc.

It rained overnight, and the covers at the WACA proved inadequate, leaving a wet patch on a good length at one end, which delayed the start of the fifth day’s play. Root argued for an abandonment, while Smith of course tried to hasten the start of play. I fully understand why Root tried to get play abandoned, but actually I am glad he failed in the attempt – to keep a series alive in that fashion would have been deeply unsatisfactory. At Headingley in 1975 a delicately poised final day (Australia 220-3 needing 445 to win, and Rick McCosker five away from what would have been a maiden test hundred) was abandoned after protesters sabotaged the pitch (“George Davis is innocent” – according to Peter Chappell, namesake of two members of that Australian team, but not according to the courts, or his future record – released from that sentence for armed robbery, he was soon back inside for another armed robbery to which he pleaded guilty). 

Once the game finally commenced it was soon obvious which way the wind was blowing, and for the third time in the space of a year (following two occasions against India last winter) England had managed to lose by an innings margin after tallying 400 first up.

ENGLAND PLAYER BY PLAYER

Alastair Cook: 150 tests, the last 148 of them in sequence – remarkable longevity. At the moment he is having a rough trot, and when Cook is having a rough trot (as he did in the early part of 2010) it is often hard to imagine where his next run is coming from.

Mark Stoneman: some gritty performances thus far, but he needs to start turning those fifties in to hundreds some time soon.

James Vince: to put it mildly a controversial choice for the crucial number three slot, and notwitshstanding two fine innings so far, one in Brisbane and one in Perth, he has not yet done enough to convince – see my closing comment about Stoneman.

Joe Root: would seem to be the latest in a long line of England players to suffer captaincy-itis, not only he is failing to make runs, he is getting out in un-Rootlike ways. England need his batting to be at its best, so perhaps someone else should be made captain (see later for my controversial suggestion).

Dawid Malan: his 140 at Perth and fighting effort in the second innings as well confirms his arrival as a test batsman of quality. Also, while it never looked threatening his part time leg spin was at least economical.

Jonny Bairstow: other than his first innings performance at Perth not thus far a great series for the wicketkeeper-batsman.

Moeen Ali: Fulfils a useful all-round role, although England offspinners have rarely been successful in Australia (the chief exceptions being Laker in 1958-9, Titmus in 1962-3 and Emburey in 1986-7). Also, if England do decide that Root needs to be replaced as captain to enable him to concentrate solely on what he does best – his batting – then Moeen would be my choice for the job.

Chris Woakes: Save for his bowling in the second innings at Adelaide he has not looked very threatening in this series. That game was also the scene of his only significant batting effort of the series so far. Right-arm medium fast when the ball is not deviating (and it generally doesn’t in Australia) simply will not trouble good batsmen.

Craig Overton: Looks like he belongs at this level, but my comments about Woakes’ style of bowling in Australian conditions also apply to him.

Stuart Broad: A nightmare series for him, not because he has bowled especially badly, though he has consistently been pitching it too short, but because he has looked completely unthreatening and has bowling figures that reflect that.

Jimmy Anderson: continues to climb the wicket taking charts. His 12 wickets at 25 apiece in this series, while all his colleagues have been taking drubbings is a remarkable effort in the face of adversity. I fully expect that in the early stages at Melbourne he will move ahead of Courtney Walsh in the wicket takers list (current Anderson 518, Walsh 519), leaving only Glenn McGrath among the quick bowlers ahead of him. He has bowled beautifully this series but with Broad off the boil his ‘support’ has simply not been up to standard. 

THE REST OF THE SERIES

Before I get into this section let me clear that I do not believe for an instant that had the likes of Ben Stokes, Mark Wood and Toby Roland-Jones been available England would be doing a whole lot better. Certainly to be deprived of the services of three such excellent cricketers simultaneously is unfortunate but England are 3-0 down because they have been outclassed throughout this series (only in Adelaide to England ever look close to making a game of it – the Malan-Bairstow partnership in the first innings at Perth was the only other major period in the series to date in which England had the whip hand).

The good news for England is that their records at Melbourne and Sydney are better tahn their records elsewhere in Australia. While the batsmen need to score more runs, it is the bowlers who (Anderson apart) really need to pick things up – England have not yet taken 20 wickets in a match in this series, and at Perth they failed to even take 10. 

I think England can pick themselves up and win at least one of the two remaining matches. In many ways it would be an injustice to Australia were England to win both and make it look respectable at 3-2 – this England side does not deserve better than 4-1 (though I also think it does not deserve worse – it is not as shambolic as Flintoff’s 2006-7 squad who really did deserve to be on the wrong end of a 5-0,  as in the end they were. 

The take home message of the three matches played so far is one that England should already have learned a long time ago – a bowling ‘attack’ of four right-arm medium-fast bowlers and an offspinner will not cut the mustard in Oz. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

A little while back I reported sighting some birds which turned out to be Muscovy ducks (Cairina moschata). Well, I have seen another (this time a single bird), this time in The Walks. 

Cairina Moschata 1
The first four pictures were taken on Monday afternoon.

Cairina Moschata 2Cairina Moschata 3Cairina Moschata 4

CmI
These are all from today – six pictures of the whole bird…

CmIICmIIICmIVCmVCm VI

Cmsideprofile
…two pictures of the profile view of its head.

Cmprofile

Cmheadfronton
…a front-on pic…

Cmtailfeathers
…and a pic of the tail feathers.