A look back at the test match that concluded yesterday at The Oval and a look forward to Old Trafford.
This post looks back at the test match at The Oval that finished yesterday afternoon with India winning by 157 runs and guaranteeing themselves at least a share of the series and forward to the final match at Old Trafford.
A GREAT TURNAROUND
England won the toss and put India into bat. At first all seemed well, with India soon 127-7, but a fifty of record equalling rapidity from Shardul Thakur boosted India to 191. England’s first innings followed an all too familiar pattern: various players got starts but with the exceptions of Pope (81) and Woakes (50) no one went on to a significant score and England’s advantage was 99, much less than it should have been. On days three and four, under cloudless skies and on a pitch with no devil in it England were toothless. Most of the bowlers were at least reasonably economical, with the sore thumb like exception of Moeen Ali who leaked runs at 4.5 an over. England needed a spinner to bowl a long economical spell and enable the quicker bowlers to be properly rested and got 26-0-118-2, with one of the wickets definitely given away and the other a decent dismissal. With Rohit Sharma scoring a ton, Pujara a fifty and Thakur his second fifty of the match India reached 466, leaving England needing to score 368 which had they done it would have been their largest ever successful run chase, and over 100 more than their previous best such effort at The Oval, 263-9 in “Jessop’s Match” of 1902. Burns and Hameed batted through the closing stages of the fourth day with no alarms, closing on 77-0, with the ask down to 291. On the fifth morning this pair completed their second century stand in three innings as an opening pair. Both fell in quick succession after reaching 50s, but England were still only two down at lunch time. The first hour after lunch settled the destiny of the match. Bumrah bowled a magnificent spell and was brilliantly supported by left arm spinner Jadeja. Bumrah’s post lunch spell read 6-3-6-2. One of those wickets was Bairstow, cleaned up for a duck with a yorker that a fast bowler of an earlier era would have described as “wasted on thee” as it was a far better ball than would actually be required to pierce Bairstow’s “defences” early in an innings. Moeen Ali also collected a duck. His dismissal made it 147-6, and it was a question of when the final wicket would fall. England’s lower order resisted gallantly, but they were all out for 210 not long after tea and India had won by 157 runs.
All credit to India for a magnificent comeback and in the end a thoroughly convincing win. England have several problems, two of which the naming of the squad for Old Trafford addresses.
LOOKING AHEAD TO OLD TRAFFORD
England have named a squad of 16 from which the XI at Old Trafford will be picked. They have made two good calls – Buttler has made himself available and is included, and Leach has been recalled to the squad as well. Unfortunately Ali and Bairstow are both still in the squad, and Malan seemingly retains his no three slot.
The best available XI from the named squad in my opinion is: Burns, Hameed, Malan, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, S Curran, Overton, Wood and Leach (Anderson is not in the squad, and Robinson is running on fumes and with a drawn series the best England can do should be rested.
To my mind two big mistakes have been made with the naming of this squad. Tom Abell should come in at number three (Malan is in his middle thirties and has a very moderate test record), and Matt Parkinson should be given his debut in front of a home crowd. I would also not have bothered including Ali or Bairstow in the squad as neither deserve to play. My chosen XI would thus have been Burns, Hameed, Abell, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Overton, Wood, Leach and Parkinson, reckoning that on a spin friendly ground Woakes, Overton and Wood plus a few overs of Abell’s medium pace would be enough seam options.
My account of an astonishing final day of the Sri Lanka v England test series in Galle, complete with England player ratings and an acknowledgement of Lasith Embuldeniya.
This post deals with the events that unfolded in Galle today, which started with England very much second favourites.
ENGLAND FIRST INNINGS
England resumed 42 runs adrift with one wicket left in their first innings. Five runs were accumulated, four of them by way of a reverse sweep from James Anderson before the end came. Embuldeniya did not add to his seven wickets, but his day was far from done…
SRI LANKA SECOND INNINGS
Sri Lanka started their second innings with an advantage of 37, and plenty of time to build a daunting lead. Unfortunately they lost their heads rather dramatically. Jack Leach and Dominic Bess, bowling much better than they had in the first innings and assisted by some kamikaze batting from the Sri Lankans picked up wickets quickly. By lunch Sri Lanka were six down, and two more wickets fell soon after. There were two splendid catches, Crawley doing well to hang on to one that was hit out of the middle of the bat but straight at him, and Anderson getting underneath a swirling mishit. Embuldeniya, barely rested from his bowling stint, proceeded to play an innings that shamed most of his supposed betters with the bat, producing a first class career best 40 chock full of common sense. He succeeded in having Bess removed from the attack, but then he and no11 Asitha Fernando fell to successive Joe Root deliveries, leaving Sri Lanka all out for 126, and England facing a target of 164 to win.
ENGLAND 2ND INNINGS
Crawley did reach double figures for the first time in the series, but then honoured protocol by falling to Embuldeniya for the fourth successive time. Bairstow made a small contribution, Root failed, and Lawrence played a poor shot before he had given himself time to get a proper sight of the ball. At that point the score was 89-4, and England were by no means safe. Embuldeniya had three of the wickets, giving him ten for the match. Sibley was grinding away at one end, and was now joined by Buttler. Buttler batted sensibly, keeping the scoreboard ticking, although Sri Lanka were not doing nearly enough to make things difficult – singles were regularly there for the taking. As England closed in, Sibley completed a 50 which was worth more than a century on a flat track would have been. He had his good fortune, with a couple of close LBW appeals being turned down and being labelled “umpire’s call” by the DRS. However, the second of the two had hit him above the knee roll, and he is quite tall, so one can understand why it was considered too high by the umpire. Also, all fortune, good or ill, to one side, he showed an immense amount of character after a very poor series up to that point. Buttler just missed out on what would have been his second fifty of the match, but he was there at the end as England won by six wickets, to take the series 2-0.
THE PLAYER OF THE MATCH AWARD AND EMBULDENIYA
England’s win by six wickets effectively ensured that Joe Root, who had a second successive great game, would be player of the match. Had Sri Lanka bowled England out a second time and emerged victorious Embuldeniya would have been a deserving recipient, and even had the margin been three wickets rather than six he would have merited consideration. As it was a margin as comfortable as six wickets really did mean that someone from the winning team had to be chosen, and with all respect to Anderson and to Sibley for his gritty second innings effort Root was the only serious candidate. Root was also the Player of the Series, which was an absolute shoo-in. Embuldeniya’s combination of 40 and a 10 wicket haul got some of us thinking about other notable combinations of runs with big wicket hauls, and here are six of the best from test history:
Melbourne 1883 – Billy Bates took seven wickets in each innings, including England’s first ever test hat trick, and scored 55 in England’s only innings
The Oval 1902 – Hugh Trumble scored 64 not out and 7 not out and took eight first innings and four second innings wickets, but as with Embuldeniya could not win it for his side, England sneaking home by one wicket. Trumble had the best match aggregate for Australia with 71 runs, and bowled unchanged through both England innings for his 12 wicket haul.
Alan Davidson 1960 – He took 5-135 in the West Indies first innings of 453, 6-87 in their second innings 284 and contributed 44 to Australia’s first innings 505 and 80 to their second innings 232, having to settle for a place in history as part of test cricket’s first ever tie, rather than a win.
Ian Botham, Bombay 1980 (it was not called Mumbai in those days) – 6-58, 114 not out when no one else even topped 50, 7-48 in an innings victory.
Imran Khan, Faisalabad 1982 – 6-98, 117, 5-82 in an innings win over India
Richard Hadlee, Brisbane 1985 – 9-52 in the first innings, an all time test record for an out and out fast bowler, a blistering 54 (four of each kind of boundary) which enabled skipper Coney to declare with two full days in hand for Australia to be dismissed a second time, and six more wickets to finish the job.
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS
Dominic Sibley – 7/10. His gritty second innings saved a dire series for him, and spared England some potentially major blushes, sending him and them on to India in good heart.
Zak Crawley – 3/10. Two horrific failures with the bat, but he did hold one fine catch during the Sri Lankan second innings.
Jonathan Bairstow – 5/10. stabilised the ship in the England first innings after both openers had gone cheaply, but did then get out first thing on the following morning. A modest contribution to the second innings. Although he batted well at times he never did so for long enough in this series, as evidenced by a highest score of 47.
Joe Root – 9/10. 186 in the first innings, a couple of wickets to end the Sri Lankan second innings, but a failure at a crucial moment in the England second innings blotted his otherwise stellar copybook, costing him one mark.
Dan Lawrence – 3/10. A double failure with the bat this time, and his second innings shot was quite awful. He did take a catch in the field along the way.
Jos Buttler – 7/10. A fifty in the first innings, just missed out on that mark in the second, but played a crucial role in seeing England home. A competent effort with the gloves.
Sam Curran – 4/10. Largely unthreatening with the ball, though he did bag a wicket in the first innings, he hung around briefly with the bat, but did nothing to alter the impression that no7 is a place too high for him in a test batting order.
Dominic Bess – 7-10. His first innings bowling was largely unthreatening, he played a fine support knock in England’s first innings, and bagged four wickets in the second innings.
Mark Wood – 5/10. Three first innings wickets, none in the second. His shot near the end of day three was a poor one, and an absolute shocker in the circumstances.
Jack Leach – 7/10. Toiled through 36 overs in the first innings, getting no wickets. Bowled well in the second and was rewarded with four wickets. He now has more wickets in Sri Lanka than any other England bowler.
James Anderson – 8.5/10. Without his bowling in the first innings England would have been buried – SL would have had over 500 on the board. In the second innings he did not get among the wickets but did take a fine catch, doing well to get under a swirling mishit.
This is England’s fifth successive away test victory, their best run on foreign soil since they followed victories in the last four matches of the 1911-2 Ashes with another three to start the 1913-4 tour of South Africa. The bowling spearhead then was another right arm fast medium with Lancashire connections, albeit more to league cricket than to the county, Sydney Francis Barnes, and he was just a shade older than Anderson is now, being past 40 by the end of the South African series. India will be a much tougher tour – this Sri Lankan team are not used to winning, and that manifests itself in an obvious lack of killer instinct at key moments, whereas India surmounted huge difficulties to best the Aussies in their own backyard.
A look at day three in Galle and a couple of issues raised therein.
This post looks at day three of Sri Lanka v England and at a couple of issues the arise from today’s play.
ROOT VS EMBULDENIYA
Although others contributed a fascinating third day in Galle was dominated by two players. Joe Root of England confirmed that he has rediscovered the art of going seriously big, as it took a run out in the day;s last over to dislodge him, by which time he had moved to 186. The other overarching performer was Sri Lanka’s left arm spinning find Lasith Embuldeniya who took his haul for the innings to seven wickets, Other than the impertubable England skipper the only person to play Embuldeniya with any great comfort was Jos Buttler who made a decent half century. The other significant batting effort on the day came from Dominic Bess, who came in with England staring down the barrel of a three-figure deficit on first innings with Sri Lanka to bat last. By the time he was dismissed the difference between the sides was under 50, and England were looking in the hunt. Unfortunately the odd looking decision to send the flamboyant Wood in ahead of the adhesive Leach with the close of play approaching did not work out well, and then there was the freakish run out of Root which ended the day, leaving England 339-9 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 381, with Leach and Broad to resume batting tomorrow.
ENGLAND’S BALANCING PROBLEMS ABSENT STOKES
Sam Curran looks a place too high in the order as a test match number seven, and the reason he is there is because on flat wickets England need to equip themselves with plenty of bowling options, and with Ben Stokes not available for this series they did not have their great x-factor player to turn to, which left them to choose between lengthening the batting or the bowling. Rightly in view of the conditions in which this series is happening they opted for the latter. There is strong evidence to support the view that if having to choose between batting and bowling strength the bowling strength is more important: Surrey won seven county championships in the 1950s with an average batting side that possessed a stellar bowling attack, Yorkshire won seven championships in the 1930s, and again the key ingredient of their success was a devastating bowling unit, spearheaded by Bill Bowes and Hedley Verity. Finally, in the first decade of the 1900s Yorkshire won five titles, although only one of their batters, David Denton, was good enough to be chosen for England purely on batting skill in that decade, with the key again being an awesome line up of bowlers, headed by the Huddersfield area trio of Hirst, Rhodes and Haigh. Sussex in that same decade had a very deep batting line up, but limited bowling resources, and never came seriously close to winning the title. However, a batting line up with Curran at seven does necessitate those at the top coming to the party and so far this series only the skipper has done so – without him England would undoubtedly be staring a 0-2 defeat in the face rather than being favourites to win the series.
THE ROLE OF DOMINIC BESS
England are desperate for Dominic Bess to establish himself as a test class spinner, because he is a splendid fielder and a capable bat as well. Currently in first class cricket he averages 23.77 with the bat and 29.41 with the ball (137 wickets in 48 matches at that level). In test cricket he averages 24.77 with the bat and 33.37 with the ball (27 wickets in 11 matches). The bowling average and the low wickets/matches ratio – just below 2.5 – both point to the issue: as much he offers outside his main role, barring one good series against South Africa he has yet to deliver in his main role, with the ball.
Today he contributed 32, and looked like he was handling the bowling as well as any of his team mates save Root. It may be that ultimately the way forward for Bess as an international cricketer is to concentrate more on his batting, and aim to be picked as batter who bowls, rather than a bowler who bats. Garry Sobers and Steven Smith were both originally selected at test level as spinners (Sobers was at no9 on test debut, Smith at no8) and ended up making their biggest marks with the bat, although Sobers continued to bowl, whereas Smith has all but given up that aspect of the game. Going back further, Wilfred Rhodes was the best spinner in the world early in his career, and batted no11 for England, and went on to tour Australia in 1911-12 as one of the designated opening batters, hardly bowling at all (he would pick up his bowling after World War 1, and return to the top in that department, finishing his career as once more a specialist bowler, as his sight declined – he would go blind during his retirement – and he could no longer bat). At the moment Bess is always likely to get the nod if England want two front line spinners, and the main in more danger of losing out is Leach, who bowled 36 overs in the first innings here without causing any great problems for the batters, but do not be surprised to see Bess moving up the order in the not distant future, as he seeks to find a more secure niche than ‘bits and pieces guy who gets selected when two spinners are needed’.
Today’s gallery starts with seven pictures on the theme of ‘red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning’, although today’s weather in King’s Lynn, while far from pleasant has not really borne out that saying:
A look at the extraordinary events that are unfolding at the Ageas bowl as Zak Crawley establishes himself at the highest level.
It is now all but a 100% certainty that England will win the series against Pakistan, and what follows explains why.
Yesterday after messrs Curran, Foakes and Robinson were allowed to leave the bubble at the Ageas Bowl to play for their counties in the Bob Willis Trophy, leaving an England side of Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Bess, Archer, Broad and Anderson (Dan Lawrence and Ben Stokes had already been released in both cases for family reasons) Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat. The morning session went England’s way as they reached Lunch on 91-2. The loss of Root for 29 and Pope for 0 in quick succession made it 127-4, and seemingly turning in Pakistan’s favour. However, Zak Crawley was playing a magnificent innings, and Buttler continued his good recent form with the bat (pity he has been so bad with the gloves). By the tea interval it was 183-4 with Crawley on the verge of a maiden test century and England were starting to look good. The evening session was brilliant for England and horrible for Pakistan. Late in the day the runs were coming very fast as the Pakistan bowling got decidedly ragged. The day ended with England 332-4, Crawley 171 not out and Buttler within sight of a century of his own.
There have been two disruptions for rain, but in the cricket that has been played England have fared well, with the Pakistan bowling not looking remotely threatening. The score is now 380-4, and the stand between Crawley and Buttler is an all time England fifth wicket record against anyone, and Crawley is seven runs away from becoming the youngest England player to score a test double century since David Gower against India at Edgbaston in 1979. This is Crawley’s first test century and among those who have gone big on their first venture into three figures at this level are Bill Edrich (219 at Durban in 1939), Tip Foster (287 in his first test innings at Sydney in 1903), Bobby Simpson for Australia against England at Old Trafford (311) and at the top of this particular tree Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, 365 not out for West Indies v Pakistan at Sabina Park. Crawley has just brought up the double century with a four to third man, and England are now 391-4. Crawley was picked on potential, with not a lot in the way of major first class batting achievements behind him, and had passed 50 on three previous occasions in his fledgling test career, but this innings has surely settled the number three position for some considerable time to come – it has been a supreme performance, with no definite chances given. The record score for England against Pakistan is 278 by Denis Compton at Trent Bridge in 1954, which is definitely within Crawley’s compass from here. No3 has caused England many problems since I first started following cricket, with only Michael Vaughan and Jonathan Trott really succeeding there before the emergence of Crawley who has looked like a natural at no3.
THE REST OF THE MATCH
The weather forecast is pretty good for the rest of this match, and it is very hard to see any way of England losing from here, especially given that a draw will give them the series, which means they can shut up shop if trouble threatens. The 400 has just come up, and I reckon the way things are going that Crawley and Buttler should have at least half an eye on the all-time test record with wicket stand by anyone – the 405 that Sidney George Barnes and Donald Bradman put on together against England at Sydney in 1946. For the real pessimists the highest ever first innings to lose a test match is 586 by Australia at Sydney in 1894, when England replied with 325 and then in the follow on 437 and Australia got caught on a sticky in the final innings and were all out for 166, with Bobby Peel taking six cheap wickets. My own reckoning is that with England putting up a total like this after being 127-4 Pakistan will be demoralized and that England will win comfortably. Crawley has just had a little bit of good fortune, with an attempted catch becoming a six, and his score is now 222, moving him one run ahead of his mentor Rob Key’s highest test score. Only two England batters have had a higher maiden century, Hammond with 251 at Sydney in 1928 and Tip Foster’s 287 also at Sydney in 1903. The 300 stand has just come up for the fifth wicket.
A look at developments in the test match, some mathematics and plenty of photographs
The series opener between England and Pakistan is now into its third day of play. This post looks at developments in that match so far.
THE PAKISTAN INNINGS
A weather hit opening day ended with Pakistan two down, Babar Azam already past 50 and Shan Masood not far short. England bowled well on the second morning but did not get full benefit for their efforts in that department as they were badly let down by Jos Buttler who had an absolute nightmare behind the stumps. Post lunch England bowled poorly, and Masood cashed in, being well supported by Shadab Khan. Masood eventually reached 156 before his resistance was ended. Pakistan tallied 326 in total for their innings, a score that looks very good on this pitch.
England were soon 12-3 in reply, with both openers and Stokes out cheaply. Root batted a long time but did not score many, and Buttler was just able to survive to the close after Root’s dismissal. At the end of day 2 England were 92-4, with Pope who had looked a class above anyone else in the order approaching a 50. This morning Pakistan bowled superbly and England did well to get through the opening session for the loss of only one wicket – Pope got an absolute beauty. Woakes was hit by a bouncer but resisted through to lunch in company with Buttler. Early in the afternoon session Buttler has been bowled by leg spinner Yasir Shah for 38 to make it 159-6. Bess will be next man in. Taking into account Buttler’s errors with the gauntlets a generously inclined assessor would now say that he is only in a double-figure rather than a triple-figure deficit for the match. Stokes’ unfitness for bowling means that England have little batting left – Woakes is more bowler than batter (though his record in England specifically is excellent), Bess can handle a bat, but against an attack equipped with serious pace and quality wrist spin (more difficult to handle than finger spin) little can be hoped for, much less expected, from Broad, Archer and Anderson. This Pakistan team look to be made of sterner stuff than the West Indies – Masood’s ton was his third in as many tests, while Azam’s innings was a magnificent performance, and his record suggests that he deserves to be bracketed with Kohli, Smith and Williamson and placed ahead of the current version of Root as a batter. The pace bowling, with a left arm quick in Shaheen Afridi, a right arm quick in the person of 17 year old Naseem Shah, and an excellent exemplar of the steady medium-fast bowler in Mohammad Abbas looks superb. Yasir Shah with his leg spin and the second leg spinner Shadab Khan whose bowling has not yet been called on are likely to play an ever increasing role as the match goes on, and Yasir Shah has already accounted for a couple of wickets, Root yesterday as Pakistan’s keeper demonstrated that it is perfectly possible to make dismissals off a spin bowler on this pitch and Buttler today, bowled through the gate, once again failing to navigate his personal ‘Bermuda triangle’ which is located between 21 and 50. Ben Foakes has a first class batting average of 38 (having played just over 100 matches at that level – a very impressive record for someone for whom batting is the second string of the bow) and is also the best pure keeper in the country, and various young keepers are beginning to establish themselves at county level and would also be more deserving of the test gauntlets than Buttler, though my own feeling is that Foakes deserves an extended run as England’s acknowledged no1 test keeper before a youngster is blooded. Yasir Shah has nabbed a third wicket, that of Bess, while I was writing this. Archer has been sent in at no9, ahead of Broad and Anderson, and England need something major from Woakes backed by the tail – with the pitch already helping the bowlers quite a bit anything approaching a major deficit will be insuperable, and at the moment that is exactly what England will be facing.
A SOLUTION AND A NEW PROBLEM
I offered this problem from brilliant up in my previous post:
No multi-choice here (this is much too easy for that), but a bonus challenge: part 1) if there was a third square of the same size but divided into 49 smaller squares shaded in similar fashion which would have the largest shaded area, and part 2)what is the general rule relating the number of squares into which the big square is divided and the proportion of it that ends up shaded?
The first shape contains nine squares of which five are shaded, while the second contains 25 squares of which 13 are shaded. 5/9 = 0.55…, while 13/25 = 0.52, so the first shape has a greater shaded area. The 7X7 square would have an even smaller proportion of its area shaded – 25/49 = 0.51. The general rule is that the greater the number of squares the shape is divided into the closer the shaded area approaches to half the total area, while always remaining just above that limit.
Here is another problem from brilliant:
Yasir Shah has just collected his fourth wicket, that of Woakes to make it 170-8, and England are definitely in the mire.
A cricket hat trick at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, the origin of the phrase hat trick and some photographs,
This post looks at a great night for cricket, and also at the origins of the term hat trick and some of the more notable examples. There are also of course some of my photographs at the end.
SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
First the ‘team of the year’ award went to England’s world-cup winning cricket team (only if the rugby team had beaten South Africa in the final of their tournament would this even have been a contest), then the ‘moment of the year’ went toJos Buttler’srun out of Martin Guptill that sealed that victory, again not really a contest. Finally the Sports Personality of the Year went to Ben Stokes (with great respect to Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thomson who had strong cases – sorry Lewis Hamilton, being at the wheel of the best car out there does not give you a case). Ben Stokes is the fifth cricketer to be thus honoured after off-spinner Jim Laker (1956, 46 wickets at less than 10 a piece in an Ashes winning series, plus an all-ten – 10-88 from 46 overs in the first innings for Surrey against Australia), white-haired grafter David Steele (1975, brought in at the behest of new captain Tony Greigto stiffen the top order and responded with 365 runs in three test matches), Ian Botham (1981 – Botham’s Ashes) and Andrew Flintoff (2005, Ashes superhero).
So that is the story of cricket’s hat trick at SPOTY 2019, which leads on to….
THE ORIGIN OF THE PHRASE HAT TRICK
In the early 1850s Heathfield Harman Stephenson (Surrey) travelled north with the All England XI (one of a number of travelling elevens that existed at that time and for some years after, a development that could have radically altered the way in which cricket was organized had the MCC not taken urgent action to get the biggest draw in the game, W G Grace, on side – his membership was proposed the Treasurer of the club and seconded by the Secretary, so desperate were they) to play a match at the Hyde Park ground in Sheffield. During that match he dismissed three of the opposition with successive deliveries (not the first to do so in a big match – Nottingham tearaway Sam Redgate had accounted for Fuller Pilch, Alfred Mynn and James Stearman in successive balls in 1840) and this feat so impressed the locals that someone passed a hat round to collect money to present to Stephenson, and hat and contents were both given to the player, and the phrase hat trick was born. It has subsequently come to be used in other sports for notable achievements involving the number three, but it is in origin a pure cricket phrase.
VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Before the photographs, here is the moment that secured cricket’s hat trick of awards at SPOTY:
Just before my usual sign off, a shout out to Sarah Glenn, who after taking 2-38 on debut and 2-37 in her second match for England then starred in the weather ruined final gamed of that series by collecting 4-18, which means that three matches into her ODI career she has total figures of 8-93, for an average of 11.625 per wicket.
An autistic cancer survivor’s eye (and ear) view of yesterday’s World Cup Final at Lord’s.
First a little bit of background about the occasion from my point of view. On Friday I went in to hospital for a procedure known as a “Radical Inguinal Orchidectomy” as the latest stage in the treatment of the cancer that less than a year ago threatened to kill me. The operation was performed under general anaesthetic, and I was kept in hospital overnight, and only discharged on the Saturday once I had demonstrated my capacity to walk unaided. Thus yesterday, the day of the Mens Cricket Cup World Final, was my first full day out of hospital after the operation.
THE MATCH ITSELF
New Zealand had beaten India through a splendid display of controlled seam and swing bowling to qualify for the final while England had disposed of arch-rivals Australia with satisfying ease to book their place in the final. Everything seemed to point to an England win, but New Zealand had dealt very well with theoretically far superior opposition in the semi-final. As it was on free-to-air TV (the first time any cricket match in England has been thus broadcast since 2005) I was initially picked up by my father and taken over to my aunt’s house to watch the match. England bowled well to restrict New Zealand to 241. New Zealand however learned well from the England bowlers and England were soon behind the required rate. I missed a tiny bit of the England innings when I was taken home, being by then thoroughly exhausted. Back in my own home I listened to the astonishing climax and followed the ball-by-ball updates on cricinfo. The possessor of the coolest name in international cricket, Colin de Grandhomme, bowled the most economical allocation of 10 overs by anyone in the entire tournament (1-25), but Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes kept cool heads and kept England just about in contention deep into the final overs. When the final over began England needed 16 to win, and they got 15 of them to tie (aided by a very fortunate four overthrows which gave them six instead of two on one of the deliveries), which meant a “super over’. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler took centre stage once more, while after a long delay Trent Boult accepted responsibility for bowling the over for New Zealand. England made 15 runs of the over. 24-year old Jofra Archer accepted responsibility for bowling the final over, while New Zealand sent out Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill. Archer’s first delivery was somewhat harshly called a wide, and then Neesham blasted a six, at which point it looked all over for England, but Archer responded and eventually it came to two needed of one ball, with Guptill on strike for the first time. Guptill hit it out into the deep, where Jason Roy fielded, and arrowed in a superb throw to Jos Buttler who whipped the bails off to run out Guptill, who was obliged by circumstances to go all out for the second. Thus the super-over contest had also ended in a tie. The next method of dividing the two teams if the super over did not work was on boundaries hit, and on that criterion England were ahead and so finally, after three previous losing finals (1979, 1987-8 and 1991-2) England’s men had won a cricket world cup. The Women’s cricket world cup is also held by England courtesy of a wonderful piece of bowling by Anya Shrubsole at Lord’s two years ago. This is the first time any country other than Australia have held both men’s and women’s world cups simultaneously. A low scoring day provided just about the most thrilling contest ever seen in any sport, with England taking the spoils by the narrowest possible margin – the cricket equivalent of winning by a Planck Length!
This match is ‘Exhibit A’ in the argument against anyone who dares claim that cricket is boring. Cricket has produced plenty of extraordinary games before in its long history – Warwickshire v Hampshire in 1922, when Hampshire recovered from bowled out for 15 in their first dig to win by 155 runs, Headingley 1981, when Ian Botham, with assistance from Graham Dilley, Chris Old and Bob Willis gave England something to defend when they seemed down and out, and Willis than saved his international career by taking 8-43 to win it for England being just two that spring to mind. Also, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th test matches of the 2005 Ashes series were all classics in their different ways.
This match on its own would probably be sufficient to call this the greatest world cup ever, but there were plenty of other good matches along the way.
Ben Stokes with his Herculean efforts in this match redeemed himself completely for a somewhat chequered past. Also, he has shown a consistency here that has previously eluded him – his 84 was his fourth 80-plus of the tournament and he also scored a 79. One way of accommodating him in the test side, which needs to be thought about would to gamble a little by having Ben Foakes at five, followed by Stokes, Gregory, Bess, Archer, Leach and Anderson, meaning that Stokes would be fourth seamer, backing up the main attack of Archer, Anderson, Gregory and the spinners.
Some thoughts on the current test match, some mathematics, some climate change themed links and some photographs from an upcoming militgaria auction.
Although my first and main focus in on the current test match between England and India I also have my usual assortment of other goodies.
SWITCHBACK RIDE AT THE OVAL
When England were 120-1 at one point yesterday it looked like they were making a solid if slow start. India then took control of the game, England finishing the day 198-7, with Jos Buttler looking to marshal the tail in a recovery act (the first time this millennium that an uninterrupted test match day in England has yielded less than 200 runs). When Rashid was out fairly early this morning to make it 214-8 the question was whether the Broad and Anderson could last long enough to see England to 250. Thanks to some crazy Indian tactics the final England wicket did not fall until the total had reached 332, Buttler top scorer with 87 and Broad a useful 38. Buttler was last out when it finally occurred to India that it might not be a good idea to allow him singles at will and set a field that necessitated improvisation if he wanted to farm the strike.
The “tactic” of concentrating all one’s efforts on the tailender and declining to make any effort to pressurise the senior batter is not one I have ever approved of, and today saw one of it’s many ignominious failures.
Having failed yet again Jennings now surely has one innings left to save his test career. There are seven test matches for England, six overseas and one at home against recently elevated Ireland before the Aussies come calling, and it is those matches which can be used to bed in a new opening pair (it would be a major ask for an opener to make their debut against them) – and I do not see Jennings being one half of that pair. As I was writing this paragraph Stuart Broad picked up the first Indian wicket. Those who read my previous postknow that I have my own highly unorthodox solution to the problem of who the new opening pair should be (the driver of the bus I travelled home from work on yesterday, who is a follower of this blog, commented approvingly on the controversial element of this, so I am not alone).
If, as now seems to be one of two live possibilties (a draw and overall 3-1 being the other) England end this series with the scoreline 4-1 in their favour India will have chucked this match in the first part of day 2. Virat Kohli is a great player but on all available evidence he has precisely no aptitude for captaincy. In thirty years of being an avid cricket follower I cannot recall a finer demonstration of how not to polish off an innings.
First up solutions to the problems I set on Wednesday (all problems in this section come by way of brilliant.org):
WHICH STAR IS CLOSER?
First the answer:
The blue star has changed relative position more than the red, hence it must be closer, while all the other stars are so far distant that they have not changed relative position.
Here is Brian Moehring’s solution:
Here is another problem:
Three closely related pieces here.
Richard Murphy brings news of a campaign victory – the BBC has admitted to getting its coverage of climate change wrong and has warned people that it is not necessary to give airtime to climate change deniers for the sake of balance. Here is the end of Murphy’s pieceon this: Of course I am pleased.
These pictures all come from our militaria sale that will be happening on September 19th. Disclaimer: one of the items pictured is a relic from one of history’s vilest regimes – I show it because it is a remarkable specimen which has already attracted large amounts of interest.
A post provoked by an asinine comment I saw on cricinfo yesterday, dealing with the question of failure to convert in cricket.
This post was provoked by something I saw yesterday morning on cricinfo’s online coverage of the second ODI between England and Australia (I was at work, so could not listen to the commentary, but having this tab open and peeking occasionally in between doing other stuff was manageable – I was constantly using the internet for work purposes anyhow).
ENGLAND 2-0 UP IN SERIES
England won this match by four wickets, with plenty of time to spare. Joe Root was there at the end on 46 not out. In the first match he had been there at the end on 91 not out. This coincidence that both times he was just short of a personal landmark led to a character posting under the name Dave (knowing what I do of such types I am not prepared to say that this is actually their name) to post a comment about Joe Root failing to convert. My response to this display of asininity is as follows:
Failing to convert implies regularly getting out before reaching important landmarks and Joe Root was undefeated in both innings.
Individual landmarks are valuable, and generally to win one needs someone to go to and well beyond several such, but cricket is a team game, and on both occasions Root missed his landmarks through playing a support role to people who were going more fluently at the other end (Jason Roy in game one, and Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes in game two).
Joe Root has proven frequently that he can go on to and well past significant personal landmarks.
To end this section I quote a post from a few minutes after Dave’s which provides an indication of how good Root actually is in ODI chases:
Hypocaust: “Joe Root now has the 3rd highest average (87.06) in victorious ODI chases (min. 20 innings), behind Dhoni (102.72) and Kohli (93.64) and just ahead of Bevan (86.25).”
An account of the dramatic finish to yesterday’s ODI between England and Sri Lanka, some links and some photographs.
This post is about the closing stages of yesterday’s ODI between England and Sri Lanka, which I listened to once I had got home from work.
A DISTANT PROSPECT
When I switched the commentary on Sri Lanka had made a respectable 286, which by that stage was looking positively mountainous since England were 39-4. When skipper Eoin Morgan was out for 42 to make the score 73-5, and Moeen Ali also fell cheaply to a poor shot the situation looked even grimmer for England, as Chris Woakes walked out to join Jos Buttler…
A GREAT PARTNERSHIP
Buttler and Woakes fared better than had seemd posssible when they came together, and gradually victory moved from the realms of fantasy to a distant but imaginable outcome to a genuine possibility. Two wickets in quick succession, Buttler and then Dvaid Willey seemed to have once again settled things in Sri Lanka’s favour, but Liam Plunkett (surely the most talented batsman ever to be at number 10 by design) played well alongside Woakes who established a record score for a number 8 in an ODI. In the end it came down to…
A SPECTACULAR FINAL OVER
At the start of this final over 14 were needed for England to win. Good bowling restricted England to seven off the first five, meaning that unless a wide or a no-ball was bowled England could no longer win. Neither was forthcoming, but Liam Plunkett did hit that final ball for six to level the scores and earn England a tie after a come-back of epic proportions.
My first link, just to tie up the loose ends from the first part of this post is to an official account of yesterday’s ODI, courtesy of cricinfo.
My next two links are both to posts from that legal eagle of the blogging world jackofkent, first a detailed analysis of what he sees as the flaws of referendums, and second, acoompanied by a screenshot below and some subsidiary comments of my own afterwards a proposal for banning referendums:
I would change clause 2 of the above act to read:
2. This Act can only be repealed by a unanimous vote in the house (for the purposes of this Act abstentions and absences count as votes against).
For anyone who has read all the foregoing text here is your bonus in the form of some recent photographs: