England – Third Test And Going Forward

Looking at a possible England line up for the test match that gets underway tomorrow and a radical solution to their current paucity of spin bowling options. Plus some photographs.

This is my preview post for the third test match of the India v England series which starts tomorrow morning UK time. I also take the time to salute another fine performance by England’s women and, prompted by a comment on twitter from The Cricket Men, to revisit one of my more radical solutions to England’s spinning problems.

ENGLAND XI FOR TOMORROW

Crawley has been declared fit to play, and it seems Burns and Pope are going to be given chances to score runs, though both must be running out of road. This virtually sets the top six as Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, Pope, and Foakes is also inked in as keeper, which leaves the bottom four to be decided. Some are making much of the fact that the pitch which previously had some grass on it has been shaved today, but for me, especially with the selectors having ruled out promotions for Parkinson or Virdi, I still see no reason to select Bess, and although I can understand why people want to see Archer I prefer to give Stone a chance in less unfavourable conditions after his fine efforts in the second test match. Thus, with Anderson a mandatory selection for a pink ball test and some justifiable concern over the lower order, I pick Woakes rather than Broad for the no8 slot, thus arriving at Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Woakes, Stone, Leach, Anderson.

ENGLAND’S SPIN ISSUE

Overnight England’s women played an ODI in New Zealand, and won by eight wickets. They restricted the hosts to 178, Sophie Ecclestone with her left arm spin collecting 2-36 from a full allocation of ten overs. Tammy Beaumont (71) and Heather Knight (67 not out) then ensured that this wonderful bowling effort would not go to waste. Ecclestone now has 101 wickets in all forms of international cricket, at 25.90 a piece, and she is still only 21 years old. Other than Leach and Bess, the latter of whom is currently under a cloud the number of male English spinners who have played at least 10 first class matches (basic filter against freak happenings), are still active at that level and pay less than 30 a piece for their wickets totals precisely two: Matt Parkinson (62 wickets at 25) and Amar Virdi (91 wickets at 28). Thus, encouraged by some comments I have seen today (see intro), I am once again going to suggest that Ecclestone deserves to be given a chance to show what she can do playing alongside the men and should be part of England’s elite spin group going forward. For the Ashes tour at the end of the year she could be one of three specialist spinners to travel alongside Leach and Parkinson (unless Bess at his new base of Headingley has a splendid season I cannot see him as a member of that tour party, especially given how poorly English off spinners have generally fared in Oz – see here).

A radical solution to the spin woes of England’s men’s team?

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

The Last Two Matches Of #INDvENG

A speculative little post looking beyond the day-night test to the scenarios that could arise for the fourth match of the series.

This post looks at the last two test of the series and at the implications for the World Test Championship.

THE DAY-NIGHT GAME

I have already outlined my thinking about the team England should have for the this match (see here and here): Sibley, Crawley, Stokes, *Root, Lawrence, Pope, +Foakes, Woakes, Stone, Leach, Anderson.

What happens for the fourth game is heavily dependent on the result of day-nighter. If England win and go 2-1 up in the series they still need to win to qualify for the final of the World Test Championship (badly compromised, but still a global final), as a 2-1 to England or 2-2 series outcome still lets the Aussies in. Any series win for India will see them qualify, so if they win the day-nighter I expect them to go highly conservative for the final match.

For England, a gamble will be warranted one way or the other, but the question is as to the nature of the gamble: If 2-1 up, so that a win and only a win will get them into the final of the WTC then it will be a high stakes gamble increasing the risk of defeat in a bid to maximize the chance of victory, while if 1-2 down it will be a case of using this match to experiment on the grounds that with England out of the WTC running the result no longer matters much.

SCENARIO 1: ENGLAND GOING FOR SERIES WIN

For a day game in India as opposed to a day-nighter I expect two specialist spinners to be required, and given the way Bess has been treated I don’t see him as a likely option, so for me it is time to promote Parkinson from the reserves, and gamble all on a Diplodocus-like tail of Broad, Leach, Anderson, Parkinson, playing both veterans in a match that has assumed such status, using his leg spin to add a bowling variation, with Root/ Lawrence able to bowl off spin should that be required. This to borrow a metaphor from the world of casinos is going all-in, and would I believe be called for in these specific circumstances.

SCENARIO TWO: INDIA GOING FOR SERIES WIN

Here, with England down, I do not play either Broad or Anderson, and I also rest (being very careful to make unmistakably clear that is resting and not dropping) Jack Leach. In this situation I would promote both Parkinson and Virdi from the reserves, and probably go with two out and out speedsters, risking a last four of something like Archer, Stone, Virdi, Parkinson. With victory serving only to usher Australia into the WTC Final I opt to experiment, and may even gamble on Foakes at six with Woakes playing at seven so I have five genuine front line bowling options. I am hoping that someone chooses this as a moment to make a name for themselves, looking to the future.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Looking Ahead To The Ashes: Spinners

A look ahead to the Ashes tour that will end a very hectic year for England, with a particular focus on the spin bowling aspect. Also some photographs.

At the end of this year, after two more tests in India plus a busy home summer, England head to Australia for what Huw Turbervill in a book of that name called “The Toughest Tour” – an away Ashes series. With nothing else of significance happening in the cricket world today I am going to look ahead to that tour, and in what will be a long piece show what England should do spinners wise.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LEFT ARM SLOW TO MEDIUM PACED BOWLERS

Only once in all of England’s successful tours has the party not included a left arm bowler in the slow to medium pace bracket, the very first ever in 1882-3. In 1884-5 and 1887-8 and again in 1894-5 two left arm orthodox spinners in Bobby Peel and Johnny Briggs were present and both were test regulars during those tours. In 1903-4 Wilfred Rhodes, another left arm orthodox spinner, was a key performer, including a 15 wicket match haul at Melbourne (with eight catches dropped off him into the bargain!) In 1911-2 the bowling was largely dominated by Frank Foster and Syd Barnes, but Frank Woolley, an all rounder whose bowling stock-in-trade was left arm orthodox spin was far from insignificant. In 1928-9, JC ‘Farmer’ White, a left arm orthodox spinner was crucial to England’s success, bowling huge numbers of overs (130 across the two innings of the Adelaide match alone), going at around two an over and taking a good haul of wickets. In 1932-3, although Harold Larwood was the dominant bowling force, Hedley Verity, a left arm orthodox spinner played in four of the five test matches and skipper Jardine was at pains in his own book about that tour, “In Quest of The Ashes” to emphasize his importance to England. In 1954-5 Tyson and Statham were the dominant bowlers, but Johnny Wardle a left arm spinner who could bowl either orthodox or wrist spin (although Hutton’s conservatism as captain meant he was largely confined to the former on that tour) took 10 wickets at 22.9 a piece in a support role. In 1970-1 John Snow was England’s key bowler, but Derek Underwood bowling left arm slow-medium with cut rather than spin as his principle weapon was an important part of the supporting cast. In 1978-9 Philippe-Henri Edmonds, left arm orthodox spin, had a bust up with skipper Brearley and did not play any test matches, with the spinning roles entrusted for those games to Emburey and Miller. In 1986-7 Edmonds was there again in partnership with Emburey and was very important to England’s success, snagging the prize scalp of Border five times in the series. In 2010-11 England used off spinner Graeme Swann in a holding role, in which he took 15 wickets at 39 a piece, but only went for 2.5 an over, while left arm orthodox spinner Monty Panesar was kept on the sidelines, although he was part of the tour party. England have not won down under since that tour.

In 1946-7 England lacked a test class left arm slow to medium bowler, and at one point in that series Bill Voce, left arm fast medium, was asked to attempt orthodox spin as England were getting desperate – scoreline Aus 3, Eng 1, 1 high scoring draw (Morris for Aus and Compton for Eng notching a brace of centuries a piece in that one at Adelaide). In 1962-3 three off spinners were selected in the tour party and no one else who could bowl high class spin (Barrington’s leg breaks would have been the next highest ranking spin option), and England drew the series, not enough to get the Ashes back. In 1982-3 once again three off spinners carried the slow bowling burden – Marks, Miller and Hemmings, with only Hemmings selected purely on the basis of his bowling, and ironically he would produce the highest individual score any of the three managed in the series – 95 in the final match at Sydney as nightwatchman, and England lost the series after having won three successive Ashes contests, and they were to win the next two after it as well.

Thus, there have been only three occasions on which England have won down under without a left arm slow to medium pace bowler playing for them in at least some test matches, and only once, in 1882-3 when they have done so without such a bowler in the party.

Therefore, a bowler of that type can be considered necessary. Jack Leach, left arm orthodox spin, now has 56 wickets from 14 test matches at an average of 30.37, and is obviously improving, so he has to be first pick for a spinner’s berth in the tour party assuming he is fit to play. There are few obvious like for like substitutes for him, but Liam Patterson-White if he plays a full season and does well (at the moment after five first class games he has a bowling average at that level of 21.00) could well be a strong candidate, and Lewis Goldsworthy, a left arm orthodox spinner who can also bat, has had a good Under 19 World Cup and has fared well in the few senior games (all T20s) that he has been given. I hope he gets a full season this summer, and maybe if he performs brilliantly he will merit a place in the tour party. The person with the best first class average among English spinners who have played more than a handful of matches at that level is leg spinner Matt Parkinson, and I would think he should travel as designated second spinner, although only Sydney and Adelaide of Australian venues are remotely likely to produce surfaces justifying the selection of two specialist spinners.

1932-3: A TEMPLATE FOR SUCCESS IN THE 21ST C.

In 1932-3 England travelled with a battery of pace bowlers, two specialist spinners (Verity, left arm orthodox, and Tommy Mitchell, leg spin). They won the series 4-1, with Verity playing in four of the matches (nos 1,3,4 and 5). Mitchell was a less significant figure but what he was asked to do he did well. Incidentally, the one match Verity was not selected for demonstrates that Australia were not the innocent victims they like the world to believe that they were in that series: the pitch for the state game (yes, young folk, back in the day touring teams played matches against local first class sides as well as international fixtures) at Melbourne had been super fast, so when the second test was played there Jardine left Verity out to play a full battery of pace bowlers, Bill Bowes coming in for the only time of the series. On the first morning a delivery from Harold Larwood broke through the rolled top surface of the pitch and raised a puff of dust. By the fourth innings the pitch was turning square and Ironmonger (left arm orthodox spin) and O’Reilly (leg spin) were basically unplayable.

A standard England attack in Australia with their current resources could feature two out of Archer, Stone and Wood, one of Anderson and Broad, and Leach as the spin option, with Woakes also in the equation if one wants to avoid an overly long tail. In the unlikely event of a pitch requiring two specialist spinners Parkinson would come in for one of the quicker bowlers.

I will be keeping an eye out over the coming home season for Lewis Goldsworthy and Liam Patterson-White among others to see if they can genuinely force their way into the equation, but at the moment it is hard to see anyone other than Leach as first choice spinner in Australia, with Parkinson designated second spinner. I will make on cautionary remark in the context of Goldsworthy, and also the young opener Tom Lammonby who may well be in the reckoning if he has a second straight good season: if you are going to select people so early in their careers for international tours they will need careful management – Brian Close was selected for the 1950-1 Ashes tour when not much more than a boy and badly mishandled on that tour, setting his career back years.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

My attention was drawn earlier today to calls being made on the government to support Eurostar, the most climate friendly means of travelling between this country and continental Europe. You can sign and share by clicking here, and below is the infographic that accompanies the text on wearepossible:

Now for my usual sign off. I had to put in a prescription request, and used the longer, parkland route home, as it being half term the schools were closed.

Moeen Ali and England Spinners

A look at England’s spinning options in the wake of the announcement that Moeen Ali will play as a front line spinner in the second test match.

England have named the 12 from whom the XI for the test match will be picked before the toss tomorrow morning. Jofra Archer has a niggle and will miss the match. Foakes, as we knew, is in for Buttler, and Broad replaces Anderson who is being rested ahead of the day-night 3rd test, while Archer’s place will be taken either by Olly Stone or Chris Woakes. Stone is the like for like replacement, an out and out quick bowler, and is more likely to be effective on this pitch (I have seen preview pictures of it, and it is set to be a raging bunsen) than Woakes, so I would be inclined to opt for him. The disgraceful news, and the reason for this post, is that Dominic Bess has been dropped, and Moeen Ali will play as, allegedly, a front line spinner.

THE PROBLEM AND THE NON-SOLUTION

With Archer out, and Bess dropped due to inconsistency, and two spinners an absolute must, England needed to work out how to replace Bess’s lower order runs. The options other than naming Moeen were two: promote one of Parkinson or Virdi from the reserves and go with Woakes rather than Stone if worried about the lower order, or promote one of Parkinson or Virdi from the reserves, and risk a last four of Broad, Stone, Leach, Parkinson/Virdi. Selecting Moeen Ali, now approaching 34, and with a test bowling average of 36.5 to go with his batting average of 29 is foolish – Sundar got the nod for India in the first match because of the possibilities he offered with the bat, batted well, but was ineffective with the ball, and India were soundly beaten. Ali takes almost exactly three wickets per test match that he plays, somewhat better than his overall first class record of less than two wickets per match, but not enough to qualify as a genuine front line bowler. If you do not take large numbers of wickets, and Ali’s stats show that he does not, you have to be economical so that at least you are providng something. Ali, has as high bowling average of 36.5 shows, is not. For Worcestershire, his county, Ali has always been a top order batter whose bowling is very much a second string – his overall first class bowling average is almost 38 per wicket as against his test average of 36.5 per wicket.

There are two reasons I would favour Parkinson over Virdi: Parkinson has a somewhat better FC bowling average – 25.22 as against 28 for Virdi, and also Parkinson is a leg spinner, posing a different kind of challenge to opposition batters. This is particularly relevant with an Ashes tour coming up, since in the home season it is unlikely that any pitch will warrant two specialist spinners and Leach will have the first berth for bowlers in that category. Since Australian pitches started to improve from the crude nature of their earliest pitches, in the mid 1890s, the record of English off spinners in Australia is not great: Only Laker in 1958-9, a series England lost heavily, Titmus in the drawn 1962-3, and Emburey twice in series when Australia were depleted, firstly due to Kerry Packer and then due to Ali Bacher have had really good series bowling off spin for England in Australia. Left arm orthodox spinners of the Leach type fare better, with Peel, Rhodes, ‘Farmer’ White, Verity and Wardle among those to have had very successful visits to Australia. England have traditionally fought shy of leg spinners, but many of the most successful Aussie spinners have been of that type: ‘Ranji’ Hordern, Mailey, Grimmett, O’Reilly, Benaud, Warne, MacGill.

Whatever the correct answer, it is not recalling an ageing proven failure.

SPINNING OPTIONS AND LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD

England’s spin cupboard is not massively well stocked at the moment (hint, just in case someone in a position of influence is reading this, it does not help to punish the only county that dares to prepare spin friendly surfaces for its bowlers). Other than Leach, Parkinson and Virdi (we will ignore Bess, since the statement about his dropping made it fairly clear that he is not coming back any time soon), there are Liam Patterson-White (FC Bowling average 21.00, but only five matches at that level), Daniel Moriarty (17 wickets at 20.11 from two first class appearances) and no one else whose figures bear any kind of close scrutiny. There is still the radical option of giving Sophie Ecclestone, whose figures are extraordinary, a chance alongside the men and seeing how she goes. The young all rounder Lewis Goldsworthy has yet to play First Class cricket, but was excellent in the Under-19 World Cup, and may yet develop into the genuine article. His three senior appearances, all in T20s, have given him 38 not out in his only innings and five wickets at 17.20. He is one to watch for the future.

I would suggest that for the home season England keep Leach as the first choice spinner, with Parkinson to play if a pitch warrants two specialist spinners. I also suggest that those monitoring pitch preparation watch more for green seamers and for absolute roads than for turners. Unless he has significantly backslid in the course of the home season and/or someone has emerged from nowhere with astonishing figures, Parkinson should go to Australia as officially the second choice spinner behind Leach. I would like to see him play a test or two before then, because making a debut against Australia in Australia would be tough, although Reginald ‘Tip’ Foster with 287 in the first innings at the SCG in 1903 did not find it so.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

A Late Injury for England

An injury to Zak Crawley forces a rejig of England’s batting line up, and in the face of continuing hype for a Moeen Ali recall I once again point out the flaws with that idea.

With the first India v England test match due to get underway in Chennai in 33 hours time news has come through of an injury to Zak Crawley. Better news is that Ollie Pope is definitely fit, while the ridiculous news is that Moeen Ali is till being hyped for a test comeback.

REJIGGING THE ENGLAND BATTING ORDER

With Pope returning and Crawley injured, Dan Lawrence who made a decent start to his international career in Sri Lanka will come into the side. For me he goes in at number three, while Pope makes his return at no6. Thus, the team I expect to see is now: Sibley, Burns, Lawrence, *Root, Stokes, Pope, +Buttler, Bess, Archer, Broad, Leach and the team I would personally pick from those in India is: the same top six, and then +Foakes, Archer, Leach, Anderson, Parkinson. I explained in yesterday’s post why I favour the elevation of Parkinson, but I will not be especially annoyed if Bess retains his place, and I would accept a dogged insistence on strict rotation policy for the veterans. I will be furious if Moeen gets selected. Such a move would be doubly flawed: his record shows him to not be worth a place with either bat or ball, and it is a retrograde step bringing back an oldster.

TWO SPINNERS NEEDED

There is more than a possibility that India will have three front line spinners in their ranks, with the most likely trio being R Ashwin (off spin), Kuldeep Yadav (left arm wrist spin) and Axar Patel (left arm orthodox spin), although Washington Sundar (off spin) is also in the reckoning. Thus, for England to go with only one front line spinner plus Moeen as back up would be foolish, especially given that Root or Lawrence could bowl off spin if such was definitely warranted. The presence of two part time off spinners among the batters is a further reason for favouring the Parkinson/ Leach combo, maximizing the variation available to England. Without Parkinson playing the nearest England have to a leg spin option is Sibley, with a princely tally of four first class wickets to his name.

If England are up for a real gamble, and want to suggest a potential career development path to Bess, they could select all three spinners (Bess alongside Leach and Parkinson) and have Bess come in at number seven – he has shown some skill with the bat and I suspect a move up the order, maybe not so dramatically as the legendary Wilfred Rhodes, is in his future. Moeen Ali does not have enough to offer as a bowler, and very much belongs to the past. At no seven, as third spinner, where I am suggesting Bess he would be less of a disaster, but if he is at no8 in a team aiming for a more conventional balance England will be in trouble – you can only win a test match if you can take 20 wickets. It is time for my ‘spinners’ infographic to get yet another run out:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Looking Ahead to India v England

I look at England’s options ahead of the series in India which gets underway on Friday, with a particular focus on spin.

Before I get into the main meat of this post, a note on the coverage of this series: radio commentary is in the hands of talksport2, which means a less good commentary team than if TMS had the rights, while TMS will be running what they call a ‘cricket social’, which does not work anything like as well as commentary, and for TV fans the big news is that UK broadcasting rights have gone to Channel Four, the first time since 2005 that a terrestrial broadcaster has had such rights in this country. Radio coverage (the way I will be following the action) begins at 3:45AM on Friday our time, with the first ball scheduled to bowled at 4:00AM.

INS AND OUTS

Rory Burns is back from paternity leave, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are both available after missing the Sri Lanka tour, and the spin situation remains in flux. Burns will open with Sibley, with Crawley reverting to the number three slot from which he hit 267 against Pakistan not so long ago. Root will be at four. England seem to be being absolutely rigid in their rotation policy re Anderson and Broad, so his heroics in the second match in Galle notwithstanding Anderson is likely to be on the sidelines for this match. The most likely top six given continuing uncertainty over Pope’s shoulder, although he is with the tour party, would seem to be: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root, Stokes, Lawrence. Foakes is finally going to get another chance with the gloves, although probably not until match 2, with Buttler available this time, and that leaves the bowling to sort out. England will probably select two spinners given that the pitch at Chepauk Stadium, Chennai will take spin late in the game, which almost certainly means that Archer will be paired with Broad to take the new ball, though I would personally retain Anderson rather than be quite so dogmatic about the rotation policy with the veterans. This leaves the spinners to sort out.

ENGLAND’S SPINNING WOES

Current incumbents Jack Leach and Dominic Bess each had their good moments in Sri Lanka but each also looked innocuous at times, and Bess in particular struggled to keep things tight enough when nothing was happening as he bowled too many loose balls. Amar Virdi and Matt Parkinson are in India, officially as reserves, and also in India is Moeen Ali, a man in his middle thirties whose record (60 test matches, batting average 29, bowling average 37) is that of someone who is not up to the task in either department. There have been rumblings about a test recall for him, including an article published on the usually sensible Full Toss blog making what was supposed to be the case for his recall. Whatever the right answer to England’s spinning woes is it is not selecting an ageing mediocrity such as Moeen Ali. I expect that the selectors will persevere with Leach and Bess, but myself, for all that it makes the England lower order look a bit shaky I would be inclined to promote Parkinson (leg spin, FC average 25.22) from the reserves to partner Leach, with off spin if it is deemed necessary being bowled by either Lawrence or Root (skipper, please not the order in which I have listed these two options!). In the longer haul, rather than looking backwards to Moeen Ali, England need to look forwards, and in addition to Parkinson I suggest that Virdi, Liam Patterson-White and Daniel Moriarty as being worthy of attention, with Simon Harmer, now eligible for England, being considered as a stop gap solution so long as he accepts coaching younger spinners as part of his England duties. I might also consider whether Sophie Ecclestone’s left arm spin could prove as effective among the men as it has in the women’s game. Looking to the future, left arm spinning all rounder Lewis Goldsworthy will be worth keeping an eye on. Finally, England might not struggle so much to find spinners if counties who produced turning pitches did not find themselves the subject of sanctions from the ECB.

TWO ENGLAND XIS

I offer in infographic form two XIs for the match starting on Friday, the one I think we will actually see, and the one I would pick from those available:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few pics today:

Test Cricket Returns to Pakistan and England Spinners

Looking at the resumption of test cricket in Pakistan and at the question of England spinners, as news arrives of a potential test recall for Moeen Ali.

This post contains two parts, a look at current goings on in Pakistan and a look at England spinners ahead of the upcoming tour of India. The feature infographic provides a brief version of why I less than impressed by news of a possible test recall for Moeen Ali, and I will cover it more fully in the second part of this post. All player details come from cricinfo.com.

SOUTH AFRICA IN TROUBLE

The first test match to be played in Pakistan for some considerable time is under way. South Africa, the visitors, batted first, and did not make a particularly good fist of it. No one in their top six scored less than 13, but only Dean Elgar with 58 managed to get beyond 23. It took a late 35 from George Linde to get South Africa to 220. Five of the top six (where most of the runs should come from) getting into double figures but not even reaching 25 suggests carelessness, and reports I have read of the wickets confirm that more of them were given than were taken.

Pakistan looked to faring even worse when South Africa reduced them to 33-4 by the close of the first day. However, Fawad Alam dug in, and found some good support from the middle and lower order. Alam ground out a determined century, with no8 Faheem Ashraf (fairly new to test cricket, but averaging 31 with the bat and 27 with the ball in first cricket) scoring 64. By the time stumps were drawn at the end of day two, Pakistan were 308-8, a lead of 88. I don’t think it will happen, but personally just for the psychological impact of telling the opposition “you had us 33-4 and now we reckon we have enough of an advantage to win” I would recommend an overnight declaration. It was not all bad for South Africa today however – their women recorded an impressive win in an ODI against Pakistan, Laura Wolvaardt scoring 58 – perhaps the men should give her a bell, as their top order could do with a bit of stiffening.

ENGLAND SPINNERS

Leaving aside Simon Harmer, now technically eligible for England but apparently not in the selector’s minds, England have a number of spinning options they could look at, and Moeen Ali, touted for a test recall in some quarters, is not in my opinion one of them. He pays 36.59 per wicket in test cricket, a marginal improvement on his first class bowling average of 37.94. His batting, which his supporters turn to next demands two retorts: firstly picking people for bowling slots based on what they can do with the bat is flawed, unless they have very similar bowling stats to someone with much less batting skill, and secondly at test level it does not pass muster anyway – while his first class batting average is a respectable 36.72, his test batting average is 28.97, at the good end of ‘bowler who bats’ territory but definitely nowhere close to all-rounder status. In other words England are thinking of recalling someone whose bowling is in the ordinary range of ‘batters who bowl’ (Hammond, who averaged 58.45 with the bat at test level took his wickets at 37.80 for example) and whose batting is at the good end of the range for ‘bowlers who bat’.

Dom Bess, one of the current incumbents, pays 29.46 for his first class wickets, and just over 30 each for his test victims. Sophie Ecclestone, a very successful bowler for England Women, averages 26.28 across the three international formats (the women play so little long form cricket that one has to look across the spectrum) – and yes, I would certainly rate her a better option for a spinner’s berth than Ali. Jack Leach pays 26.06 a time for his first class victims, and averages just over 30 per victim in test cricket. Matt Parkinson, yet to be given his chance at test level pays 25.22 per victim at first class level. Liam Patterson-White has played just five first class matches to date, but has 20 wickets in them at 21.00 a piece. Amar Virdi has paid 28.08 each for his 91 first class wickets. Finally, if you absolutely insist on someone with all round qualities, Lewis Goldsworthy had an excellent under 19 world cup, though he has yet to play first class cricket (it would not be entirely unprecedented for someone to make their first class debut in a test match). Moeen Ali sits firmly in the category of proven failures at the highest level, and any of the players I have listed would be better selections than him – all are young enough to improve, whereas he is not. My personal vote would go to Parkinson, the leg spinner, to support Jack Leach, with Bess coming in if the pitch looks it warrants three spinners (Bess takes wickets when the ball turns, but when there is no assistance for him he leaks too many runs for comfort due to his tendency to bowl the odd loose ball). Whatever the right answer is, it is most definitely not an ageing player who cannot be deemed worthy of a place with either bat or ball.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

My England Line Up for the Second Test

My suggested England team for the second test match at Hamilton in view of the injury to Buttler.

INTRODUCTION

England have to change their line=up from the first test because Jos Buttler is injured, meaning that Ollie Pope will don the gloves (England risked this eventuality with their original selection of the tour party), and someone has to come into the side. In the rest of this post I explain my reasoning and arrive at my XI from the available players.

THE SITUATION

England are one down in a two match series, meaning that they need to win in Hamilton to share the spoils. Although the batters cannot be happy with their performance in match 1 it was the bowlers who really struggled. I have heard that there is a possibility that Woakes will replace Leach, giving England an all-seam attack, but that in my opinion is daft. Knowing that a win is needed I would stack the bowling, replacing the injured Buttler with Parkinson (I would also consider selecting Saqib Mahmood in place of Stuart Broad) and relying on the top six plus Curran, Archer and the adhesive Leach to provide enough runs for what would be a deep and varied bowling attack – Stokes being number 6 in the pecking order. Thus my team (and I will be gobsmacked if the selectors actually pick this side) would be:

  1. Burns
  2. Sibley
  3. Denly
  4. Root
  5. Stokes
  6. +Pope
  7. Curran
  8. Archer
  9. *Leach (see my previous post)
  10. Broad
  11. Parkinson

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few this time…

P1280783 (2)P1280784 (2)P1280785 (2)

P1280786 (2)
RIP blackbird – I do not know how it met its end, there being no obvious clue, but this was a sad sight.

P1280787 (2)P1280790 (2)P1280796 (2)P1280797 (2)P1280798 (2)P1280798 (3)P1280800 (2)

NZ v England T20 Series Goes To Decider

An account of England’s victory over New Zealand in the 4th T20I, some thoughts about General Election 2019 and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

As well as some thoughts on the T20 series in New Zealand I am going to mention the General Election, and my constituency in particular. As usual I have plenty of photographs to share.

ENGLAND ROAR BACK INTO T20 SERIES

In the third match of this five match series England had seemingly been cruising to victory before a collapse in which they lost five wickets for just 10 runs handed the game and with it a 2-1 series lead to New Zealand. Thus in game four in Napier England needed a win to keep the series alive.

England batted first and made a slow start, with only 18 coming from the first four overs. Even when Eoin Morgan joined Dawid Malan in the eighth over the score was not looking that impressive. However Malan and Morgan shared a vicious partnership, Malan reaching a 48 ball century will Morgan outdid him for run rate by monstering 91 off just 40 balls. In among the carnage Ish Sodhi got slapped for 28 in the 17th over of the innings (and was lucky it was not even worse – 26 had come off the first five balls. England finished with their highest ever T20I score of 241-3. New Zealand got away to a flying start in response and were briefly threatening to chase down this imposing total, but Matt Parkinson showed New Zealand just what a real legspinner could do in the conditions. In spite of two chances not going to hand he bagged four wickets in the spell that consigned the Kiwis to defeat. England claimed the final wicket off the penultimate ball of the 17th over with the total at 165, giving them victory by a massive (in this format) 76 runs. I now make England favourites to win the decider – it will not be easy for NZ to recover from this blasting. I suspect that Yorkshire will not be seeing all that much of their new signing Dawid Malan next year as after this he has to be considered an essential part of England’s white ball plans. Parkinson, the young legspinner, has a huge future in (for my money) all formats, and although it would be hard on Leach to be dropped I would consider (especially if he takes more wickets in the final match of this series) picking him as first spinner for the test matches that conclude this tour, or maybe even, unlikely as a such a suggestion seems for a series in New Zealand, going with both specialist spinners. Full scorecard of the game here.

GENERAL ELECTION THOUGHTS

The Tories are lurching from one gaffe to another in this election campaign. Whether it is an empty chair subbing for James Cleverly (the chair certainly fared better than Mr Cleverly would have done), Johnson’s launch taking place in a near empty room or a succession of candidates standing down for various reasons they have been having a shocker. The long standing Tory MP for Northwest Norfolk, Sir Henry Bellingham, is one of those not standing for re-election. I think this is good news for Jo Rust, the Labour candidate, for two reasons. Firstly Sir Henry undoubtedly garnered some votes that were for him personally and not for his party as such. Secondly, and more important, the Brexit Party, who may well have stood aside for Sir Henry will now undoubtedly contest the seat, further cutting into the Tory vote. Overarching these two factors is that rather than being a seat with a Tory incumbent it is now a vacant seat. If you are in Northwest Norfolk and want a non-Tory MP voting for Jo Rust on December 12th is your chance, and it is a better one than in some considerable time. A couple of links to end this section, both from Tax Research UK:

  1. Confirmation that this is The Climate Election in the form of this piece titled “People want zero carbon by 2030. It’s what the Green New Deal requires.
  2. The Tax Research UK take on the succession of Tory Disasters.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

P1280404 (2)P1280405 (2)P1280406 (2)P1280407 (2)P1280408 (2)P1280409 (2)P1280410 (2)P1280411 (2)P1280412 (2)P1280413 (2)P1280415 (2)P1280416 (2)P1280417 (2)P1280418 (2)P1280419 (2)P1280420 (2)

P1280421 (2)
Two adult swans escorting three rather large juveniles (the grey plumage confirms that they are still technically juveniles).

P1280422 (2)P1280423 (2)P1280424 (2)P1280425 (2)P1280426 (2)P1280427 (2)P1280428 (2)P1280429 (2)P1280430 (2)P1280431 (2)P1280432 (2)P1280433 (2)P1280434 (2)P1280435 (2)P1280436 (2)P1280437 (2)P1280438 (2)P1280439 (2)P1280440 (2)P1280441 (2)P1280442 (2)P1280443 (2)P1280444 (2)P1280445 (2)P1280446 (2)P1280447 (2)P1280448 (2)P1280449 (2)P1280450 (2)P1280451 (2)

P1280452 (2)
A spider web in a section of town wall.

P1280453 (2)

P1280454 (2)
This spider web, enhanced by the effect if rain, is in my back garden – the handle of the peg basket is in shot to give it scale,

How My Latest Predictions Fared

Accounts of the final outcomes of yesterday’s Royal London Cup matches, including details of how my latest set of predictions worked out. Also features a couple of twitter finds and some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

At the halfway stage of yesterday’s Royal London Cup fixtures, in accordance with what is now my custom I ventured a set of predictions as to the outcomes. Now I reveal how they fared.

THE OUTCOMES MATCH BY MATCH

Northamptonshire v WarwickshireNorthamptonshire 358-6, Warwickshire 164, Northamptonshire won by 194 runs.
I called this as a Northamptonshire win and was proven correct. The sheer size of the win was a bit of a surprise. Ed Pollock and Alex Thomson joint top-scored for Warwickshire with 36 a piece, while Blessing Muzurabani, Ben Sanderson and Jason Holder each picked uo three wickets for Northamptonshire.

Glamorgan v SomersetSomerset 261-9, Glamorgan 259, Somerset won by 2 runs.
For the second time in a row Craig Overton followed useful late runs (crucial in this case) with early wickets. When Glamorgan were 41-6 it seemed to be all over, but then David Lloyd (84) and Graham Wagg (62) put on 152 to drag their side back into it. At 202-9 Somerset again looked like winners, but then Glamorgan rallied through their last pair, Lucas Carey and Dutchman Timm Van Der Gugten, who looked to have snatched the game for their side until Carey holed out for 39 to end things with Glamorgan two runs adrift. I had called this as a Somerset win, and I was just proven right. It was an absolute classic match, and credit to Glamorgan for their incredible fight back from 41-6, from where a margin of 200 looked likelier than the eventual two! Scottish medium pacer Josh Davey had a List A best 4-36, Overton (surely player of the match) had 3-51 to go with his priceless 41 not out and Dutchman Roelof Van Der Merwe had 2-36 from 5.1 overs, snaring the final wicket.

Kent v Sussex Kent 298, Sussex 302-3 (40 overs) – Sussex won by seven wickets with 10 overs to spare.
I got this one wrong – I had called it as a Kent win. The match was won for Sussex by two men, north Wales born Philip Salt (137 not out off 106 balls, he now has 422 list A runs at 42.20 and a strike rate of 108.20 in that form of the game – clearly one to watch for the future, as he is only just 22) and Hastings born Harry Finch (89 off 68 balls, he now has 1,056 list A runs at 42.24 and a strike rate of 78.57 in that form, and is 24 years old). For Kent Matt Milnes took two wickets but also got carted – 73 off nine overs, while wily old Darren Stevens had 1-34 from eight overs.

Leciestershire v Worcestershire Leicestershire 377-4 from 50 overs, Worcestershire 339 from 46.2 overs, Leicestershire won by 38 runs.
Worcetsreshire fought gamely in the face of a huge total but never managed at any stage to get on terms with the task. 131 from Ross Whiteley was the main contribution, and he was supported by Brett D’Oliveira (grandson of Basil, son of Damian, 57) and Ed Barnard (61). Dieter Klein took 4-72 and Claude Ackerman 3-55 to follow his mighty innings. A correct prediction from me.

Gloucestershire v Middlesex Gloucestershire 283-7, Middlesex 287-4 from 42.2 overs, Middlesex won by six wickets with 7.4 overs to spare.
I called this one incorrectly, backing Gloucestershire to defend. When the Middlesex score was 103-4 this one was looking fairly good for me, but Steve Eskinazi (107 not out) and Nick Gubbins (98 not out) saw their side to what was in the end a very comfortable victory. Australian seamer Daniel Worrall took 2-30 from six overs, but no one else did anything of significance with the ball.  

Yorkshire v LancashireLancashire 311-6, Yorkshire 310 all out (50 overs exactly) Lancashire won by one run.
Having had a tie in their last game, Yorkshire lost this one by a single run, suffering two run outs at the end to settle it. Tom Kohler-Cadmore scored 97 off 113 balls, Gary Ballance 72 off 64, and Johnny Tattersall 49 off 29 to bring his side very close to the line before being run out. Saqib Mahmood took 3-76 and bowled the crucial final over, legspinner Matt Parkinson took 2-47 from his 10 (a key performance in so close and high scoring a match) and there was a wicket a piece for Graham Onions, Glen Maxwell and Liam Hurt (so new on the scene that his profile is very sketchy – his date of birth is not recorded, not what hand he bats with, nor what style of bowler he is, and given that he too was economical for such a high scooring game – 42 runs off eight overs, this could be the first sighting of future star). I had called this one as Yorkshire win, and a single run saved my bacon and extended my record of calling more correctly than wrongly to a third round of this competition.

Derbyshire v NottinghamshireDerbyshire 297-8, Nottinghamshire 299-4 (45.1 overs) Nottinghamshire won by six wickets with 4.5 overs to spare.
I had expected Derbyshire to defend their 297-8, but in the end Nottinghamshire were comfortable winners. Ben Slater made 83 off 100 balls, and then from 173-4 Tom Moores hit 52 not out off 46 balls and skipper Steven Mullaney 68 not out off 47 balls to carry Nottinghamshire to victory. Alfie Gleadall, whose date of birth like that of Liam Hurt is shown as ‘unknown’, but who I can reveal to be left handed batter and right-arm medium fast bowler took 3-43 from seven overs, and no other Derbyshire bowler deserves to have their figures quoted.

Thus I was right with four of my predictions and wrong with three, making my overall tally thus far 12 right and seven wrong, a success rate of 63.16% (63.15789 to five decimal places, they key being that the third decimal is a 7, i..e 5 or greater, so we round up), and I have had more right than wrong on all three occasions I have done this so far, though this time  that was only just the case.

LINKS AND PICTURES

We start with a basic primer on climate science from Parents for Future SE:
CSB

My second offering comes from Election Maps UK and shows what our House of Commons would look like under PR:

PRH

I have two elections coming up, a local council election in which the four candidates are two Labour and two Tory, meaning that I will vote Labour. I do not yet know who all the candidates in the European election on May 22 are, but if there is a Green to vote for in that I will vote for them. In a general election under our current deeply flawed system, given the nature of my constituency I would have to vote Labour, as only Labour have anything approaching the support base needed to unseat the sitting Tory MP – whereas under PR I would be voting Green.

Now we have my regular sign off…

P1230017P1230018P1230019P1230020P1230021P1230022P1230023P1230024P1230025P1230026P1230027P1230028P1230030P1230032P1230040P1230041P1230044P1230045P1230046P1230047P1230050P1230051P1230052P1230053P1230054P1230068P1230069P1230070P1230071P1230072P1230081P1230082P1230083P1230084P1230085P1230086P1230087