100 Cricketers – Gower, Cook and Pietersen

INTRODUCTION

I launched this series with an introduction a while back and devoted a stand-alone post to Tammy Beaumont. Now after a some delays I continue with the remaining specialist batters from my first XI. I will deal with them in chronological order, starting with…

DAVID GOWER

I saw the last day of test cricket in the English season of 1990 live at The Oval. England were battling to save the game and thereby secure a series win, and the not out batsmen overnight were Mike Atherton and David Gower. Atherton did not last long that morning, but Gower batted magnificently through the day, finishing on 157 not out. John Morris kept him company for a good while but failed to reveal the stroke play that had earned him what was to a brief chance at international level. Allan Lamb then made a half century to ensure that no embarrassments could happen. Robin Smith had time to play one cut shot before the end. However, all of these players, and indeed the Indian bowling attack, were merely supporting cast for a day that belonged to Gower. 

There would be only two more years of Gower at international level before he was passed over for a tour of India (an unqualified disaster for England, although Graeme Hick and Chris Lewis each had moments in the sun during that series) and announced his international retirement. 

In the course of his test career David Gower scored over 8,000 runs at an average of  44, and he scored them in all circumstances and against all opponents. At Perth in 1978 while Geoffrey Boycott was taking 454 minutes to score 77 (one all-run four, but no boundary hits) Gower scored his maiden Ashes century. At Edgbaston in 1979 he took 200 not out off India. At Jamaica in 1981 he secured a draw for England by defying possibly the most fearsome pace quartet ever seen in cricket history (Garner, Croft, Marshall, Holding) for eight hours and an undefeated 154 – England would wait seven more years and ten straight defeats before they next shared the honours with the West Indies. In the 1985 Ashes he made three scores in excess of 150, two of which contributed to innings victories by England. Even in the 1990-1 Ashes down under, when England were crushed by an Australian side that knew itself to be the best in the world he made two centuries in the series.

A David Gower innings would stick in the memory. It never looked like he had really hit a ball until you saw it speeding to the boundary. It was precisley because he was so very good that his dismissals often looked absolutely terrible – how could such a player produce a shot like that?

KEVIN PIETERSEN

Fast forward 15 years to 2005 but stay at The Oval, and again a final day of the test match season started with England needing to secure a draw to win the series. This was an Ashes series, and since 1989 when a combination of injuries and a rebel tour to Apartheid South Africa saw England surrender the Ashes (only the weather prevented Australia from making history by winning all six matches in a six match series) the urn had been firmly in Australian possession. Kevin Pietersen (three fifties but as yet no century in his debut series) was dropped early in this innings by Shane Warne (who had a magnificent series overall), but England were definitely struggling at lunch time. 

Post lunch Pietersen decided that attack was the only form of defence and went after the bowlingn to spectacular effect. Paul Collingwood for an hour and Ashley Giles for two and a half hours played crucial supporting roles. By the time Pietersen was out for 158 England were well and truly safe.

Pietersen went on to play many more fine innings for England, although his career eventually ended in somewhat controversial circumstances, but if he had never scored another run after that day in 2005 he would have done enough to ensure imperishable fame. No one who witnessed that innings will ever forget it.

ALASTAIR COOK

England’s all-time leading run scorer, whose career started with a fifty and century against India in 2006 and ended in the same fashion 12 years later. In between times it included the most successful visit to Australia by anyone named Cook since Captain James of that ilk was in his prime. Having saved the first match at Brisbane with 235 not out he then contributed 148 at Adelaide, Pietersen making 227 and finally ensured that England would win the series by scoring 189 at Sydney. In total the series brought him 766 runs, second only for an English batter in Australia to Hammond’s 905 in the 1928-9 series.

As well as making big runs all the way through his career Cook also managed to be fit and available every time England needed him, a remarkable feat of longevity and endurance when so much cricket is being played. 

LOOKING AHEAD

Having covered the specialist batters from my first XI I will next be considering the all-rounders, including the wicketkeeper.

Special Post: Oval and Vauxhall

A piece principally about Ashes moments at the Oval cricket ground, with an introductory mention of the history of the two stations that serve it.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my series “London Station by Station”. I hope you will enjoy this post and that some of you will be encouraged to share it.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GAS HOLDERS

I am treating these two stations together because they are at opposite ends of the Oval cricket ground. Oval was one of the original six stations of the City and South London Railway, the world’s first deep-level tube railway, which opened in 1890. Vauxhall only opened as an underground station in 1971, part of the newest section of the Victoria line, but is also a main-line railway station and would have opened in that capacity long before Oval.

Today is the Saturday of the Oval test, by tradition the last of the summer. At the moment things are not looking rosy for England, but more spectacular turnarounds have been achieved (bowled at for 15 in 1st dig and won by 155 runs a day and a half later – Hampshire v Warwickshire 1922, 523-4D in 1st dig and beaten by ten wickets two days later – Warwickshire v Lancashire 1982 to give but two examples). The Oval in it’s long and illustrious history has seen some of test cricket’s greatest moments:

1880: 1st test match on English soil – England won by five wickets, Billy Murdoch of Australia won a sovereign from ‘W G’ by topping his 152 in the first innings by a single run.

1882: the original ‘Ashes’ match – the term came from a joke obituary penned after this game by Reginald Shirley Brooks. Australia won by 7 runs, England needing a mere 85 to secure the victory were mown down by Fred Spofforth for 77.

1886: A triumph for England, with W G Grace running up 170, at the time the highest test score by an England batsman. Immediately before the fall of the first England wicket the scoreboard nicely indicated the difference in approach between Grace and his opening partner William Scotton (Notts): Batsman no 1: 134           Batsman no 2: 34

1902: Jessop’s Match – England needing 263 in the final innings were 48-5 and in the last-chance saloon with the tables being mopped when Jessop arrived at the crease. He scored 104 in 77 minutes, and so inspired the remainder of the English batsmen, that with those two cool Yorkshiremen, Hirst and Rhodes together at the death England sneaked home by one wicket.

1926: England’s first post World ward I Ashes win, secured by the batting of Sutcliffe (161) and Hobbs (100) and the bowling of young firebrand Larwood and old sage Rhodes – yes the very same Rhodes who was there at the death 24 years earlier.

1938: The biggest margin of victory in test history – England win by an innings and 579. Australia batted without opener Jack Fingleton and even more crucially no 3 Don Bradman in either innings (it was only confirmation that the latter would not be batting that induced England skipper Hammond to declare at 903-7)

1948: Donald Bradman’s farewell to test cricket – a single boundary would have guaranteed him a three figure batting average, but he failed to pick Eric Hollies’ googly, collecting a second-ball duck and finishing wit a final average of 99.94 – still almost 40 runs an innings better than the next best.

1953: England reclaim the Ashes they lost in 1934 with Denis Compton making the winning hit.

1968: A South-African born batsman scores a crucial 158, and then when it looks like England might be baulked by the weather secures a crucial breakthrough with the ball, exposing the Australian tail to the combination of Derek Underwood and a rain affected pitch. This as not sufficient to earn Basil D’Oliveira an immediate place on that winter’s tour of his native land, and the subsequent behaviour of the South African government when he is named as a replacement for Tom Cartwright (offically injured, unoffically unwilling to tour South Africa) sets off a chain of events that will leave South Africa in the sporting wilderness for almost quarter of a century.

1975: Australia 532-9D, England 191 – England in the mire … but a fighting effort all the way down the line in the second innings, Bob Woolmer leading the way with 149 sees England make 538 in the second innings and Australia have to settle for the draw (enough for them to win the series 1-0).

1985: England need only a draw to retain the Ashes, and a second-wicket stand of 351 between Graham Gooch (196) and David Gower (157) gives them a position of dominance they never relinquish, although a collapse, so typical of England in the 1980s and 90s sees that high-water mark of 371-1 turn into 464 all out. Australia’s final surrender is tame indeed, all out for 241 and 129 to lose by an innings and 94, with only Greg Ritchie’s 1st innings 64 worthy of any credit.

2005: For the second time in Oval history an innings of 158 by a South-African born batsman will be crucial to the outcome of the match, and unlike in 1968, the series. This innings would see Kevin Peter Pietersen, considered by many at the start of this match as there for a good time rather than a long time, finish the series as its leading run scorer.

2009: A brilliant combined bowling effort from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann sees Australia all out for 160 after being 72-0 in their first innings, a debut century from Jonathan Trott knocks a few more nails into the coffin, and four more wickets for Swann in the second innings, backed by the other bowlers and by Andrew Flintoff’s last great moment in test cricket – the unassisted run out of Ricky Ponting (not accompanied by the verbal fireworks of Trent Bridge 2005 on this occasion!).

The above was all written without consulting books, but for those who wish to know more about test cricket at this iconic venue, there is a book dedicated to that subject by David Mortimer.

As usual I conclude this post with some map pics…

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KP Brilliant, ECB Rubbish

INTRODUCTION

I am going to start with the part of the blog that has given this post its title, before sharing some links and other stuff.

KP BRILLIANT, ECB RUBBISH

I had hoped that the appointment of Andrew Strauss as director would lead to some better decisions being taken. Sadly, that hope has been almost instantly dashed. Kevin Peter Pietersen, playing county cricket for Surrey in a bid to win back his England place, produced the sixth highest score in county championship history, 355 not out, against Leciestershire at the Oval. The last 200 or thereabouts of these runs were scored in the company of numbers 10 and 11 in the Surrey batting order. Surely then, having demonstrated that he still has the appetite and commitment to play big innings in the long form of the game it was time for the ECB to bring him back into the fold.

Instead Mr Strauss effectively slammed the door in Pietersen’s face citing issues of trust. In 30 years of being an avid cricket fan (and therefore including the dark days of the late 1980s and most of the 1990s) I have rarely if ever seen a pettier, more short-sighted decision  Listening to the second day of this match (later today I will tune in for what is left) I was simply amazed by the quality of the batting. During the afternoon and evening sessions I was reminded of the line that Jemmy Shaw is alleged to have uttered when called up for another spell against an apparently immovable WG “Noa point boolin’ good uns now, it’s joost a case of ah puts where ah pleases an’ ‘ee puts it where ‘ee pleases”.

When after work yesterday I read the accounts of what had happened at the ECB I could barely believe it. If England, having turned their backs, apparently for good, on Kevin Pietersen do anything less this summer than beat both New Zealand and Australia then it is my belief that Strauss as the author of the final decision against Pietersen must go. It is after all, without a shadow of a doubt, the bowlers for those two countries who will be happiest about this announcement.

LINKS

While the Pietersen decision covered above rankles, it is as nothing compared to a decision that Charlton Athletic FC may be about to make. In the continuing absence of rules regarding the signing of convicted criminals, this football club may be about sign someone who was part of a gang that raped a 14 year-old girl. If, like me, you consider this an utter outrage,, here is a link to a petition for you to sign and share.

My second link is to another very important petition, this time against the repeal of the Human Rights Act.

My final link in the mini-section, before a pictorial interlude, is a to an interesting post from Faraday’s Candle

PICTORIAL INTERLUDE

The first two pictures you will see here are not mine, but come from other sources, however, I also have some of my own after that…

This, courtesy of the Mental Health Foundation is a very important infographic.
This, courtesy of the Mental Health Foundation is a very important infographic.
This diagram comes courtesy of Tax Research UK: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/05/10/venn-diagrams-for-our-times-the-new-political-landscape/
This diagram comes courtesy of Tax Research UK: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/05/10/venn-diagrams-for-our-times-the-new-political-landscape/

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AUTISM RELATED MATTERS

I am finishing this post with a few things that relate to autism, as I am on the autistic spectrum, and take a close interest in such matters. First of all, a call to keep the pressure on Katie Hopkins to apologise to the autistic community. Then I have two blog posts relating to autism to share with you:

1) A piece on parents of autistic children from Huffington Post.

2) A piece from a blog that I only discovered (via twitter) this morning, autisticglobetrotting.

I encourage everyone to share any or all of this blog post as widely as possible. I have one final message for those who have stayed with me to the end:

TY3

Spring is Here

Before I get to the main meat of this post I have some links to share.

LINKS

First of all, here is a very interesting and important blog post from Paddy-Joe Moran. Next, courtesy of 38 degrees comes a short video. Cosmos Up produces a variety of interesting stories about a wide range of subjects, and the one I have chosen to share concerns oceans elsewhere than on our own planet. There are actually two outcomes that will be decided by a votes counted up on May 7th, the second being the vote for Britain’s national bird (my choice is pictured below)

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My next story comes from the Independent and concerns tougher penalties for dog walkers who do not scoop when the animal poops – excellent so long as the get enforced – see if you agree by reading the article. This section ends with a splendid graphic, which is shown here, but as it is not my own I have also included a link to the original.Graphic

SPRING

Today, for the first time in 2015, I am making use of the ‘outside study area’ of my flat…

The 'outside study area'
The ‘outside study area’
A close up of the picture on my outside table - still in good condition after a winter outside.
A close up of the picture on my outside table – still in good condition after a winter outside.

The cricket season is under way, although England are in the West Indies for a series starting later this afternoon. A certain K P Pietersen started his season for Surrey by hammering 170 at The Parks yesterday. I suspect that it will take several more innings of similar magnitude before the England selectors display any inclination to take the slightest bit of notice of him.

The comparison between yesterday and today is shown up well by these pictures taken along the same stretch of the Great Ouse…

The next four pictures you will see were taken yesterday.
The next four pictures you will see were taken yesterday.

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These
These
The next three pictures were taken today.
The next three pictures were taken today.

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I have some more splendid pics to share with you to finish this post…

The survey boat the features in the next three pictures was around yesterday.
The survey boat the features in the next three pictures was around yesterday.

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West Lynn church.
West Lynn church.

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