The Start Of The Bob Willis Trophy

A first post on the Bob Willis Trophy, a bit of mathematics and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the start of the competition that has been devised to replace the county championship in this pandemic hit season, play in which got underway at 11AM this morning. The second ODI between England and Ireland gets underway at the Ageas Bowl shortly.

HONOURING A LEGEND

Bob Willis, the former fast bowler who was only the second England bowler to take as many as 300 test wickets, following in the footsteps of Fred Trueman, died on December 4th 2019. When it became apparent a normal county championship would be impossible to stage it was only natural that his name should be attached to the replacement competition. Willis’ finest hour came at Headingley in 1981. He he taken no wickets in either innings, when with Australia 56-1 in their second innings needing only a further 74 for victory he was given one last chance to save his test career. Just under an hour later Australia were 75-8 and Willis had taken six wickets in as many overs (the other, the adhesive Border, had fallen to Chris Old). Dennis Lillee and Ray Bright launched a counter attack that yielded 35 runs in four overs before Lillee mistimed a drive and Gatting ran in, dived and held the catch. Alderman was dropped twice of Botham, but the first ball of Willis’ 16th over of the innings and tenth off the reel uprooted Bright’s middle stump to give England victory by 18 runs, with Willis having figures of 8-43. Willis would play on another three years, captaining the side for a period.

AN EXPERIMENT BORN OF NECESSITY

The 18 First Class counties have been split into three regions, South, Central and North. Each region will be play five rounds of matches, so that each side plays each other side in their region twice. At the end of this the two teams with the most points will play a final at Lord’s, which will be contested over five days instead of the regular four for a county fixture. Certain other changes have been made to the normal format of county games: the number of points for a draw has been increased from five to eight so that teams who suffer a lot of adverse weather will not too badly affected, a new ball will only be available at 90 overs rather than 80, the first innings for each county cannot last beyond 120 overs, and the minimum lead to be able to enforce the follow-on will be 200 rather than 150 runs. One beneficial side effect of these arrangements should be that spinners come into the game more than at present (Surrey and Middlesex, whose game I have listened to some of, are each playing two spinners, in Surrey’s case first class debutant Daniel Moriarty and England hopeful Amar Virdi, who would be the most obvious replacement for Dom Bess in the off spinner;s role). England is somewhat overburdened with bowlers who move the ball around a bit at medium pace or fractionally above and short of both genuine pace and spin. Surrey and Warwickshire were going to be experimenting with letting in spectators, but that has been prevented by the fact that Covid-19 cases are spiking upward making caution once more the order of the day.

A MEASURE OF MATHEMATICS

I have solutions to provide to the two problems I posed in my previous post, and I also have a new problem to set. My first was this one:

This was a bit of trick question. The answer is the both final shapes have the same number of faces (14 as it happens). Here is a published solution from Mahdi Raza:

FaceOff Sol

The second problem I posed was this one:

SNN

The fact that the result is not allowed to be negative at any stage means that only five square numbers need be considered as possible plays for Mei – 1, 4, 9, 16 and 25. 25 + 9 = 34, which means that if either of these numbers is chosen Yuri is left with a square number and reaches 0 at the first attempt, which leaves 1, 4 and 16 as options. 

Case 1: Mei plays 16. This reduces the number to 18. Yuri’s choices are now 1, 4, 9 or 16, of which 9 is instantly ruled out since it gives the game to Mei. However a choice of 16 by Yuri reduces the number to 2. Mei’s next move is forced 0 she subtracts 1, leaving 1 remaining and a win for Yuri as he also subtracts 1.

Case 2: Mei plays 4. This reduces the number to 30. All Yuri now has to do is play 25, reducing the number to 5, and whether Mei subtracts 1 or 4 she leaves a square number which Yuri thus reduces to 0 winning the game.

Case 3: Mei plays 1 which reduces the number to 33. If Yuri plays 25 that reduces the number to 8. Mei has a choice between 1 and 4, and 4 reduces the total to 4 an a win for Yuri, so she has to play 1. If Yuri now plays 4 then Mei plays 1 and Yuri has to do likewise, giving the game to Mei. Thus Yuri plays 1 reducing the number to 6, and Mei can then win the game by playing 4 and making the number 2 with Yuri to play. Thus Yuri cannot play 25 as his first response. If he plays 16 that reduces the number to 17, from which Mei cannot play 1 as that gives Yuri the game. If she plays four that reduces the number to 13, and Yuri’s forced moved of 1 reduces the number to 12, from which Mei cannot play one or nine as they immediately allow winning moves for Yuri. So she plays four, making the number now eight, and Yuri counters with a one which makes the number seven, and whether Mei plays one or four Yuri is in control because his own next move makes the number two. If she plays a nine instantly from 17 that reduces the number to eight and again Yuri is in control. Similarly 16 hands the game straight to Yuri. Thus whatever number Mei starts with Yuri has a winning response. THus, if both players play optimally Mei cannot win.

The new problem involves fractal geometry:

 

There are five answers for you to choose from:

a)

Solution in my next post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off:

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The London Cup and England’s 3rd Test Squad

The London Cup, England’s 3rd test squad, links, a teaser and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Just before starting work on this post I spotted that the England squad for the third test match has been selected. Therefore I will start with a look at that, before moving on to main subject.

A DISAPPOINTING SELECTION

The squad for tomorrow’s 3rd test match against the West Indies contains 14 names, as follows (see here for full details):

Joe Root (Yorkshire) Captain, James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Dominic Bess (Somerset), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).

Ben Foakes, James Bracey and Dan Lawrence have all been overlooked. My choice of 11 from this 14 (like the Irishman who was asked for directions ‘Oi wouldn’t start from here’) would be in batting order: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, +Pope, Curran, Bess, Archer, Broad, Anderson. I refuse ever to name Buttler in a suggested test XI, which from this 14 means I have to give the gloves to Pope. I think England need both their veterans Broad and Anderson, and I also want the spinner, the out and out speedster and with due respect to Woakes I opt for the extra variation provided by Curran’s left arm, gambling on him at number seven. Although I would like to accommodate both speedsters, it would mean either one of the veterans missing out or Bess coming in at number seven which is a trifle too much of a gamble on the batting even for me. 

THE LONDON CUP

Surrey and Middlesex women’s sides convened at The Oval to play a T20 match for The London Cup yesterday evening, starting at 6PM. The game was available on livestream courtesy of http://www.kiaoval.com. Surrey had lost all of the previous five runnings of this event, and were without Nat Sciver, Sophia Dunkley and Bryony Smith, all up at Derby with the national squad.

Surrey bowled first, and opened with medium pace from Amy Gordon and spin purveyed by Claudie Cooper. Middlesex were saved from complete disaster by a robust innings from Cordelia Griffith who made 30, the highest individual score the game. Gayatri Gole came in at 60-5 and reached 28 not out, as Middlesex ended up recovering somewhat to 108-7 from their 20 overs.

Beth Kerins had a spell which started dreadfully – four of the six balls of her first over were rank full tosses but recovered well.

Dani Gregory, a young leg spinner with a very rapid arm action, bowled a spell in which she sent down a number of wides, but also some very good stuff, including this beauty (click link below to view), probably the best single delivery of the match.

Surrey themselves struggled with the bat, especially against Katie Wolfe, the quickest bowler on either side, and Emily Thorpe, another young spinner who looks a real prospect (she got two wickets, both clear cut LBWs, one of them Aylish Cranstone just as she was beginning to like dangerous). They too were 60-5 at low water mark, and their number 7, wicket keeper Kira Chathli, played a fine innings to rescue them. In the 18th over Chathli twice flipped deliveries over the keeper’s head for fours to get Surrey back almost up with the rate. The 19th over was bowled by Katie Wolfe, and until near the end looked like settling it for Middlesex, but then the irrepressible Chathli hit another four and six were needed off the final over. The number nine for Surrey got Chathli back on strike early in the over, and with two balls left three were required for victory. Chathli, cool as a cucumber, slotted one final boundary to take her own score to 28 not out and her side to victory with one ball remaining. Bhavika Gajipra also bowled well for Middlesex.

TEASER, LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

A couple of pieces from Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK:

  1. The right response to the question ‘What taxes should be raised to pay for coronavirus?’ is ‘None’
  2. The UK government’s own accounts show that QE cancels government debt

A very easy teaser from brilliant.org:

Teaser

This was offered with multiple choice answers, but I am not going to be that generous. I will however give one hint: this is a problem about pattern recognition, not calculation.

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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This panel is on Railway Road.

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A swan reflected in the water…
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…and reversing it, Escher style, so that the reflected swan looks like it is the original.

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All Time XIs – Middlesex

Continuing my all-time XIs series with Middlesex.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next post in my All Time XIs series. We move on to our eighth county (a feat that even a modern day overseas mercenary might find difficult!), Middlesex. On the All Time XI theme, the fulltoss blog has just served up a very interesting XI of bizarre test debut stories – please do have a gander. After I have gone through my chosen XI I am going to include another section in this post explaining the particular challenges that this assignment has posed.

MIDDLESEX ALL TIME XI

  1. *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter and captain. He was alone in scoring two inividual hundreds in the 2005 Ashes, won the Compton-Miller trophy for his batting and captaincy in the 2009 Ashes (highlighted by a first innings 161 at Lord’s to put England in command of that match) and then captained England to a first Ashes win in Australia since 1986-7 (and first overseas Ashes win under a captain not to answer to Mike since Ray Illingworth’s 1970-1 triumph!). In 2011 his captaincy career reached its apogee when he led England to a convincing series win over India that propelled them to the top of the world test rankings, a mere 12 years after defeat against New Zealand had consigned them to bottom of the pile.
  2. Jack Robertson – An underrated opener whose 331 not out vs Derbyshire remains the highest ever individual score for Middlesex. In the 1947 season when Bill Edrich and Denis Compton made all the headlines he scored 12 centuries of his own, and it was often a solid start from him that they were cashing in on.
  3. Bill Edrich – one of five members of his family (three of his brothers, plus cousin John – see my Surrey team) to play first class cricket, an excellent no 3 bat and a superb fielder and a very useful bowler of right arm fast medium (on one occasion during the 1948 Ashes he shared the new ball for England with Alec Bedser). His first really big score at the highest level came the match that killed the notion of timeless tests stone dead, at Durban at the end of 1938-9 tour of South Africa, when he contributed 219 to an England score that reached 654-5 in pursuit of a victory target of 696 before the rain came down and the match had to be abandoned as a draw for fear of England missing their boat home. His career was split into two portions by World War II, during which he served in the RAF.
  4. Denis Compton – for much of his career he combined cricket for Middlesex and England with football for Arsenal, though he was not quite a double international – he played for England in wartime matches which were not given full international status. He was forever forgetting things, including on one memorable occasion his bat – he borrowed a spare from a team mate and scored 158 with it. In 1947 he scored 3,816 first class runs, with 18 centuries. During the 1948-9 tour of South Africa he scored 300 not out in 181 minutes at Benoni, the fastest ever first class triple hundred (Charlie Macartney for Australia v Nottinghamshire in 1921 reached 300 in 198 minutes on his way to a score of 345 in 232 minutes). 5,800 test runs at 50 shows how good he was. He reached the career landmark of 100 first class hundreds in his 552nd innings, quicker than anyone else save Don Bradman who got there in just 295 innings. In addition to his batting he bowled left arm wrist spin and was an excellent fielder. Don Bradman paid Compton the tribute of selecting him at number three, the equivalent position to the Don’s own in the Australian XI in his all time England XI, which you can read about in Roland Perry’s “Bradman’s Best Ashes Teams”.
  5. Patsy Hendren – the third leading first class run scorer of all time with 57,611 (behind Hobbs – 61,237 if you are a traditionalist, 61,760 if you are a revisionist – and Woolley, 58,969) and the second leading centurion of all time with 170 (Hobbs 197 if you are traditionalist, 199 if you are a revisionist). He was also a brilliant fielder and a practical joker. During the 1928-9 Ashes he was involved in a famous exchange with Douglas Jardine. Jardine was getting the bird from Aussie spectators and Hendren said to him “they don’t seem to like you very much, Mr Jardine”, to which Jardine responded “it is ****ing mutual” – playwright Ben Travers was party to the exchange and mentioned it in his book “94 Declared”.
  6. Bernard Bosanquet – the creator of the googly and a hard hitting middle order batter. Under today’s laws the googly may well have been still born, its first victim Sam Coe being done by one which bounced four times before hitting the stumps and would therefore have been called no-ball today (worse still for Coe he was on 98 at the time). Bosanquet scored over 11,000 first class runs in his career.
  7. +John Murray – only one wicketkeeper has ever made more career dismissals than Murray, Bob Taylor of Derbyshire and England. Murray was also a very useful bat. In the Oval test match of 1966 England were 166-7 when he arrived at the crease to join Tom Graveney (see my Gloucestershire piece). Graveney made 165, Murray 112 an to add insult to already considerable injury nos 10 and 11, Ken Higgs and John Snow then weighed in with half centuries of their own to boost the final total to 527. Unsurprisingly deflated by this the West Indies subsequently went down to an innings defeat, some consolation for England at the end of the series in which they had been thoroughly outplayed.
  8. Fred Titmus – a long serving off spinner and useful lower order bat, he had an excellent tour of Australia in 1962-3. He made his first class debut in 1949, and his career only ended in 1982.
  9. Gubby Allen – a fast bowler who was also a capable bat – he scored a test century against New Zealand, helping to turn 190-7 into 436 all out. He holds the record innings figures for a Middlesex bowler – 10-40 against Lancashire. His career figures were limited by the fact that he was that rare thing, a genuine amateur who played at the top level and worked for a living in a non-cricket related job, hence the fact that he played less than 150 times for Middlesex in the course of a 29 year span.
  10. Jack Hearne – the fourth leading wicket taker in first class history, with 3,061 scalps. He bowled medium-fast, took nine wickets in a first class innings on no fewer than eight occasions. In 1899 at Headingley he took what may be regarded as the best of all test match hat tricks, Clem Hill, Syd Gregory and Monty Noble, two specialist batters and an all-rounder.
  11. Wayne Daniel – the West Indies had so many great fast bowlers when he was in his prime that he got little opportunity at test level, but his record as an overseas player for Middlesex was excellent. He was also very popular with his team mates – Mike Brearley in “The Art of Captaincy” writes about him in glowing terms.

This team is a solid opening pair, including a left handed bat in Strauss, a powerful engine room at nos 3-5, a hard hitting all rounder at six, an excellent keeper/ batter at seven and four varied bowlers to round out the order. The bowling has two purveyors of out and out speed in Allen and Daniel (with Edrich’s fast-medium also available at need), a crafty medium-fast operator in Hearne, an off spinner in Titmus, Bosanquet’s wrist spin and Compton’s left arm wrist spin, an attack that boasts both depth and variety.

DIFFICULTIES AND CONTROVERSIES

Middlesex have produced many great names down the years, and a vast number of Middlesex names are well known, because until quite recently playing a lot of your matches at Lord’s gave you a huge advantage in terms of being seen by suitably influential people. This side was difficult to select because doing so meant leaving out huge numbers of players all of whom will have their advocates. I would hope that my comments immediately below the selections would explain my thinking, especially as regards balancing the side to contain both depth and variety with both bat and ball.

I am now going to look down the order at some of those who missed out – please be aware that I had positive reasons for including those I did, not negative reasons for leaving people out.

OPENERS

Andrew Stoddart (a great captain as well), Pelham Warner and Mike Brearley would all have merited consideration for one of these berths, as would Desmond Haynes had I not already decided that the overseas player should be a bowler.

NOS 3-5

My three selections all had absolutely commanding cases for inclusion – it tells you how strong Middlesex have been in this department that there was no room for long time England stalwart Mike Gatting.

NO 6

The traditional all rounder’s berth, and there were a wealth of options to fill it. Vyell Walker, ‘Young’ Jack Hearne (to distinguish him from ‘Old’ Jack, picked as a specialist bowler), Greville Stevens, Aussie exiles Albert Trott and Frank Tarrant,  and Walter Robins were just six of the names who could have been considered. I awarded the palm to Bosanquet for his innovative qualities.

THE KEEPER

Again, Middlesex have been well served in this department, with Hylton Phillipson, Gregor MacGregor and Paul Downton having also represented their country down the years.

THE BOWLERS

Vintcent Van Der Bijl would have his advocates for the overseas player/ fast bowler role that I gave to Wayne Daniel, and he would be equally as deserving. Among the spinners who missed out were John Emburey, Phil Edmonds and Phil Tufnell. Among quicker home grown bowlers Steven Finn, Toby Roland-Jones, Angus Fraser, Norman Cowans and John Price would all have their advocates, and I would not argue against them, merely for my own choices. I end this section by saying: if you want to suggest people for inclusion, be they those I have highlighted or others, by all means do so, but consider the balance of the selected team, and tell me which of my choices should be dropped to make way for yours.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Yes folks, we’ve reached the end of today’s journey, and it is time for my usual sign off…

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The Royal London Cup Playoffs

A look at the playoffs in the Royal London Cup and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Today features the Royal London Cup playoffs, with Somerset playing Worcestershire and Lancashire playing Middlesex for the right to join group winners Hampshire (clear favourites to win the competition) and Nottinghamshire in the semi-finals. Although my last set of predictions worked out horribly, only one being correct, giving me a tally of 28/49 overall I shall be trying again with these two matches.

THE STATE OF PLAY AND PREDICTIONS

  • Worcestershire v SomersetSomerset 337-8 from 50 overs.
    The main contribution to a fine batting effort for Somerset was 112 from 20 year-old wicketkeeper Tom Banton (his second century of the competition), and he was well backed by useful contributions all down the order. I predict that Somerset will defend this total and therefore take their place in the semi-final against Nottinghamshire.
  • Lancashire v MiddlesexLancashire 210-3 from 38.2 overs.
    96 from Jennings and 68 from Croft have put Lancashire in a strong position. Nevertheless, given some of the totals I have seen chased down recently I am going to predict that Middlesex win this one and go on to play Hampshire in the semi-final.

In addition to these two matches Scotland and Afghanistan are playing an ODI. Scotland have amassed 325-7 from 50 overs and Afghanistan are 41-1 in reply at present. I think Scotland will defend their impressive total, which gives me thee predictions: Somerset, Middlesex and Scotland.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off..

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Cricket, Music and Local Elections

Some cricket, some music including references to the Classic FM Hall of Fame, some stuff about upcoming local elections and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

An odd combination of topics to appear in a title, but all will be made clear in the course of this post. There will of course be some of my photographs as well. 

CRICKET

The English cricket season is well underway. Because of an alteration to the structure of the two divisions of first class counties last season to a first division of eight teams and a second division of ten teams, it is now possible for all 18 first class counties to be in action simultaneously, as was not the case when there were nine teams in each division. Over this Easter weekend, for the first time since 1999 (the last season of the single division championship) all 18 of said sides have been in action. Glamorgan lost heavily to Worcestershire before today was underway. Leicestershire had also suffered an innings defeat at the hands of Gloucestershire. Essex and Somerset also finished early, a century from Alastair Cook anchoring Essex in their fourth innings chase of 255. Warwickshire only kept their match against Yorkshire alive into the fourth day because of some assistance from the weather, and having started the season with back to back innings defeats, and three shocking batting performances out of four innings, they must be considered heavy favourites for one of the relegation spots from division 1. Of the five remaining matches, Nottinghamshire are nearly done and dusted against Durham (since I wrote this Nottinghamshire have completed the job as expected, with nine wickets in hand), and it would also seem to be only a matter of time before Kent finish the job against Sussex (this match has also subsequently reached its predicted conclusion). A draw looks the most likely result in the Surrey versus Lancashire, although Surrey are not out of the woods yet. Hampshire and Middlesex also looks like being a draw, although again the Londoners are not quite safe yet. That leaves only…

DERBYSHIRE VERSUS NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Overnight this also looked like a draw was the most likely result, with Derbyshire 128 runs to the good with 10 second winnings standing. However, some behind the scenes discussions obviously took place, since Northamptonshire spent the morning session of today feeding Derbyshire easy runs, handing Reece (168) and Godleman (156 not out) a new record opening stand for Derbyshire. A declaration at 351-1 left Northamptonshire two sessions to score 326 for victory. Whatever happens in these two session neither team will emerge from this match with much credit in my book. While Northamptonshire’s motivation was obvious, Derbyshire could easily have declined the offer, backing their batsmen to score off proper bowling. 

MUSIC

The long Easter weekend is when the Classic FM Hall of Fame is unveiled. It is assembled from listener votes. Each participant votes for their first, second and third favourite pieces of classical music, and the votes are all tallied up. The Hall of Fame comprises the top 300 pieces that emerge at the end of the process, and they are played counting down from 300 to 1 between 10AM and 10PM on each day of the weekend (it used when it first started to be 9AM to 9PM). This is the first occasion on which there has been a clash between the Hall of Fame and live cricket. I have resolved that clash by listening to the cricket when it has been on five live sports extra, and to the music at other times. The only exception to this was on Saturday afternoon, when it was time for…

MUSICAL KEYS

A shortage of available NAS West Norfolk Committee members meant that I was there for both sessions. The attendances were unsurprisingly low in both sessions. However, those who were able to make it had a good time. In the second session I renewed my acquaintanceship with Scratch 2, and next time I shall be moving on to another aspect of this program. Here are some pictures…

Kirsten
Kirsten, one of the two people from Musical Keys who run these sessions, at a very impressive looking keyboard.

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MK8
I shall be adding some mathematics to the mix in two weeks time.

LOCAL ELECTIONS

Various places in the UK will be going to the polls on May 4th. Last time I mentioned this subject I said that I was between Labour and Green, and leaning towards Green. Since then, although I have yet to receive anything from any candidates a search of the King’s Lynn & West Norfolk borough council website turned up the following information about who was standing:

candidates

In view of the fact that there are three candidates in this list of four for whom I am absolutely unwilling to vote and that I regard failing to vote as unacceptable my vote will therefore go to Mr Collis, and I urge others who are voting in this election to cast their votes for Mr Collis as well.

Moving on from my own area, there also elections taking place much more extensively in Wales and Scotland. 

WALES

In Llanbadarn Fawr ward, Powys, the Labour Party candidate is none other than Mike Sivier of Vox Political, a fact which he announced in a post titled “Vote for Mike in the local elections!

– Vox Political’s Mike Sivier is standing as a Labour Party candidate for Powys County Council’s Llanbadarn Fawr ward – and there’s more to him than a nice smile [Image: Mike Sivier].

Today, Mike has put up another post about his candidacy under the title “Shadow cabinet minister is right – local elections are about CANDIDATES, not Corbyn“.

SCOTLAND

The big debate in Scotland at the moment is over whether or not there should be a second independence referendum (#IndyRef2) following the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU, when Scotland was strongly pro-remain. It is not for me as a Sassenach to comment on whether or not Scottish independence is desirable since the only people who should be making decisions about the future of Scotland are the Scots, but I do believe that brexit is a sufficiently major change in circumstances as justify #IndyRef2, especially since one of the main claims of the no camp in 2014 was that an independent Scotland would not be able to join the EU. It would appear, if the article to which I link at the end of this section is anything to go on that the Tories seek to make the local elections in Scotland a sort of ‘pre-referendum’. Anyway, here courtesy of the website indyref2.scot, is a post that goes into detail on the issue, titled “Sending a message

Towards Indyref2…

PHOTOGRAPHS

I posted some photographs in the music section of this post, and I finish the post with some pictures mainly from outside…

15thCGHBb1BlackbirdcloseupBlackbird and flowerDSCN6005Mh1MinsterHB

ENDNOTE – CRICKET REVISITED

During the time it took to put the above photos up both Middlesex & Hampshire and Surrey & Lancashire have shaken hands on the predicted draws. These means that only the ‘declaration bowling’ game between Derbyshire and Northamptonshire is still to be settled. 

Championships and Contrivances

Some thoughts on the closing stages of this years County Championship, as it goes into its final day with three potential winners.

INTRODUCTION

Somerset are within touching distance of their first ever County Cricket Championship, but the situation is complicated by the fact that their only two rivals are in direct opposition.

THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY

Courtesy of cricinfo, here is the situation in the key matches:

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The situation is that a draw in the Middlesex v Yorkshire game is not enough for either side – the five points they would each gain from that would still leave them adrift of Somerset. Tomorrow is the last day of the match, which means that time constraints are well and truly in play. Clearly, with a draw rendered worthless by the situation both sides will do all in their power to win the game, which leads given time limitations to the question of just what would be acceptable in the way of a third innings declaration by Middlesex. It is possible that Yorkshire could win the match in the most satisfactory way, by taking the remaining eight Middlesex wickets early enough to give themselves an easy fourth innings target. For Middlesex the question would be how much risk could they take in setting a target bearing in mind that they have to have a legitimate chance of taking 10 wickets to do so?

ACCEPTABLE VS UNACCEPTABLE

Given that Middlesex are still 39 runs behind, unless Yorkshire deliberately concede runs to hasten a declaration (which would certainly cause raised eyebrows in Taunton) it is unlikely that Middlesex would be in a position to consider a declaration much before teatime. My own rough and ready view is that if come the tea break tomorrow Middlesex have a lead of somewhere in the region of 170 that in the circumstances would be an acceptable risk – Yorkshire would have to go for the target, and an asking rate of approximately 5.5 an over with no fielding restrictions would introduce enough risks that Middlesex could hope for the 10 wickets they need. A declaration giving Yorkshire 120 or so to chase in that final session would definitely (albeit actuated by very different motives) be verging on ‘Cronje’ territory, and almost regardless of when it was made, a declaration giving a target of under 100 should be considered as out and out match fixing.

Although I have indicated previously that as an underdog supporter I would like to see Somerset win, the key thing here is that any victory for Middlesex or Yorkshire should be seen to have been won out on the field, and not in the dressing rooms.

Side By Side

Some musings on the county championship (cricket), and an acknowledgement of King’s Lynn’s latest effort to advertise its heritage.

INTRODUCTION

I am posting about two unrelated matters, hence the title, which is borrowed from a series of Bridge Magazine articles written many years ago by Terence Reese. The firs topic of the day is…

CRICKET

As another English season draws to a close there are two topics to cover in this section, first of all…

A THREE WAY TUSSLE FOR THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

Thanks to Somerset continuing their late charge with a 10 wicket victory over Yorkshire, and Lancashire earning a draw against leaders Middlesex the final round of games will commence with Middlesex, Somerset and Yorkshire in that order all in contention for the title. Owing to the fact that a decision to alter the structure of the two divisions has meant that there is only one promotion place up for grabs the second division is now settled, with Essex having secured the promotion.

In the final round of matches Middlesex will play Yorkshire at Lord’s, while Somerset face already relegated Nottinghamshire. While my chief emotion as a cricket fan is gratitude that the championship race is going down to the wire, I cannot claim complete impartiality – despite having grown up in London and possessing a Yorkshire surname, it is my support for the underdog that wins out in this contest – I will be rooting for Somerset. Somerset have never won the championship (Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire are also in this position, although the latter were named as champion county three times in the 1870s, before the official start of the county championship in 1890). Apart from being a historic first, a championship win for Somerset this year would also be a fitting reward for Marcus Trescothick as he approaches the end of a long and distinguished career with the county.

The change in the structure of the two divisions mentioned earlier, moving from nine teams in each to eight in first and ten in the second, is not the most significant one happening in English domestic cricket, that distinction going to…

THE INTRODUCTION OF CITY FRANCHISES

Yes, it has been decided by a vote of 16-3 in favour to augment the existing domestic T20 competition with an eight-team city based competition. I am not going to say either yea or nay at this stage, waiting to see how it works in practice before making a judgement. I mark the break between this section and the second section of the post with some recent photographs from King’s Lynn…

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This is the uncropped version of a butterfly picture
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And this is the cropped version.

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A CODA TO HERITAGE OPEN DAY

Beales Department Store which is near thus bus station in King’s Lynn has recently closed down. Rather than leave the frontage as blank windows, it has been used as an opportunity to advertise our town’s heritage, as shown below…

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Save for the planning notice at the end, these pictures are presented in the order in which they were taken.

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Special Post: Southgate

INTRODUCTION

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

A TUBE QUIRK AND A CRICKETING BROTHERHOOD

Southgate opened in 1933, as part of a northern extension of the Piccadilly line. The location is notable for two things, one underground and one a sporting connection.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

As this picture from London Underground: The Official Handbook shows, the platform at Southgate is one from which you can see daylight.

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This quirk, unique for a tube tunnel (although the cut and cover tunnel at Hounslow West has the same feature), is because the station is in a small hill, which the line burrows through. Apart from the tiny stretch including Southgate station, the Piccadilly is in the open from Arnos Grove to Cockfosters.

A CRICKETING BROTHERHOOD

There were no fewer than seven cricketing brothers named Walker who came from Southgate. Vyell Walker, the most famous of the seven achieved an astonishing feat in 1859 when he scored a century and then followed up by taking all ten of his opponents wickets in the next innings. In the whole subsequent history of first class cricket only W G Grace achieved the feat.

The cricket ground at Southgate still bears the Walker family name, and Middlesex sometimes play county games there.

MAPS

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The Diagrammatic History
The Diagrammatic History

A mixed bag

Once a very absorbing days play had ended between Lancashire and Middlesex I decided to go out for a walk and enhanced my photo collection. The two sides are scrapping to avoid relegation to the second division of the county championship, and with two days to go Middlesex are heavy favourites to do so. This is because owing to the bonus point system (5 batting and 3 bowling points available in the first 110 overs of each first innings) and their standings prior to the match starting, mere victory is not good enough for Lancashire, they also need to outscore Middlesex on bonus points. With six wickets currently down and some 40 runs needed to reach the next batting bonus point mark, Lancashires sole hope is to reach 300 for the loss of no more than two further wickets (a third, being the ninth in total would give Middlesex full bowling points and thereby condemn Lancashire) and then declare and bowl Middlesex out cheaply enough to have a manageable fourth innings run chase. I resume this having had to break off for a days work, and a check of www.cricinfo.com tells me that Lancashire did reach the magic 300 only 8 down and declared, so the relegation battle is still live. The final day tomorrow could see some fireworks as Lancashire have to go all out for whatever target they are left when they bowl Middlesex out, since a draw for them would be just as bad as a loss.

Some big news from work: the BBC have picked up on the Olympic medal story. The full story can be viewed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-29360899 and I have of course already mentioned it on our own facebook and twitter accounts.

As usual I have plenty of photos for you to enjoy…

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The Great Ouse at night
The Great Ouse at night

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