Brathwaite Ends Lean Spell

A look at developments in #WIvSL, some remarkable footage of a volcanic eruption (courtesy of Science girl on twitter), and my latest photographs.

In this post I look at developments in the game between West Indies and Sri Lanka that is just into its second day.

DAY 1: KRAIGG BRATHWAITE DEFIES SRI LANKA

With the West Indies batting first and looking to improve on the draw they recorded in the first game of the series Sri Lanka bowled very well. Veteran seamer Suranga Lakmal was particularly effective, bowling full and just a fraction wide (even in limited overs cricket the umpires would not have been calling wides – he was targetting the area that bowlers like to call ‘fourth stump’) to take three of the first four wickets. For much of the day it seemed that Brathwaite would simply not find anyone to bat well enough with him for the Windies to post a decent total, but then Rahkeem Cornwall, the off spinner who has a decent first class record as lower order batter, set about proving that his maiden test fifty, recorded in the previous match, was no fluke. By the close West Indies had got to 287-7, Brathwaite 99 not out, Cornwall 43 not out.

DAY TWO – LANDMARKS SECURED EARLY

It took one ball of the second day, which is just under way, for Brathwaite to complete his ton with a single, and Cornwall has subsequently got to 50. After three overs of the second day the West Indies are 299-7, Brathwaite 101 not out, Cornwall 53 not out. Lakmal is bowling at one end and left armer Vishwa Fernando at the other, and Cornwall has just brought up the 300 with a two off the latter, taking himself to 55.

LIVE FOOTAGE OF A VOLCANO

Someone who posts on twitter under the name Science Girl has posted some extraordinary footage from Iceland, where volcanic eruptions have been happening lately. You can visit the tweet by clicking here, and the video is embedded below:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off, with as evidence of changing seasons (the sun came out today and it has been genuinely warm here in Norfolk) my first butterfly sightings of 2021 – nothing very exotic, just some tortoiseshells.

As I publish the West Indies have still not lost any further wickets, the score being 302-7 after 92 overs.

India Win The First ODI

An account of yesterday’s India v England ODI, some geological stuff and some photographs.

This post looks back at yesterday’s first ODI between India and England, which took place in Pune.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England’s chosen team was: Roy, Bairstow, Stokes, *Morgan, +Buttler, Billings, Ali, S Curran, T Curran, Rashid, Wood. Livingstone and Parkinson were players many would have wanted to see who were left on the bench. India handed debuts to K Pandya and Krishna, with KL Rahul named as wicket keeper. Their team was: Sharma, Dhawan, *Kohli, Iyer, +Rahul, H Pandya, K Pandya, Thakur, Kumar, K Yadav, Krishna. Morgan won the toss and chose to bowl.

INDIA’S INNINGS

Dhawan played superbly in the early part of the innings, but England also bowled decently and with 9.3 overs to go India were 205-5 with Krunal Pandya on international debut joining KL Rahul. Both these players batted beautifully, England bowled very poorly in the closing stages, a recurring problem for the current outfit, and the total mushroomed to 317-5 by the end of the innings.

ENGLAND’S RESPONSE

Roy and Bairstow began superbly, and at 135-0 in the 14th over that target of 318 was looking manageable. Then Roy fell for 46, his fourth recent instance of getting to 40 and not completing a half century. Stokes was unable to get going at all, Bairstow lost momentum due to the problems at the other end and missed out on his century, and as wickets continued to fall England looked a panic-stricken side. Moeen Ali hinted at a late revival with 30, but when he and then Sam Curran fell in short order to leave Tom Curran, Rashid and Wood nearly 80 to score between them the writing was well and truly on the wall. England were all out for 251, beaten by 66 runs. The debutant Krishna had 4-54, the best figures of the day, but the most significant contribution was from the experienced Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who had figures of 2-30 from nine overs, applying the squeeze at a crucial stage. Roy and Bairstow gave England an excellent platform, but once wickets started to fall no one was able to steady the ship, and the cold hard truth is that England lost all ten wickets for 116 runs on a flat pitch.

LOOKING AHEAD

The batting, Roy and Bairstow apart, looks unreliable. Billings and Morgan are both injury worries, and I think Livingstone has to come in- Stokes did not look comfortable at three, while Livingstone habitually bats high in the order. Among the bowlers Tom Curran has to go – he has taken one wicket in his last nine ODIs, and if you are not taking wickets you have to keep it tight, and he is not doing so at present – India scored 63 off his ten overs without having to exert themselves to punish him. Personally I would be inclined to change the balance of the attack and bring Parkinson in to replace him, but could accept the alternative of selecting Reece Topley in his place. India would inevitably look to target Parkinson if he was selected and I would counter that by giving him the new ball because openers sometimes struggle when confronted with spin first up. I am not going to call for Morgan to go just yet, but he could do with a decent score some time soon, and he needs to a little less inflexible – perhaps the occasional decision to bat first when he wins the toss, and perhaps giving more consideration to certain players.

GEOLOGY CORNER

Courtesy of twitter (in the form of Science, Space & Nature) I can provide some film of a volcanic eruption on Iceland (please click picture link below to view):

Collapsing Crater ๐ŸŒ‹๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธโœจ
โ€ข
the first eruption on Reykjanes Peninsula in over 800 years, situated in Geldingadalur by Festarfjall mountain. Definitely the most surreal thing to ever experienced. You could feel extreme heat coming from the lava
Credit: h0rdur/IG pic.twitter.com/rLZR2Ec9LHโ€” Science, Space & Nature (@ScienceIsNew) March 23, 2021

From the Natural History Museum twitter feed comes some info about the first ever Geological Map of a country (Great Britain) – see screenshot below, and click here for more.

I end this section with a picture of one of the maps on display in my bungalow, an old palaeontological map of Great Britain and Ireland:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

India Take T20I Series

A look at today’s events in Ahmedabad, a mathematical challenge, a new nature themed project and some photographs.

I have a couple of bonus features as well as an account of goings on in Ahmedabad today.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England were unchanged once again, while India chose to give themselves an extra bowling option, selecting T Natarajan in place of KL Rahul. Kohli moved up to open with Rohit Sharma. Eoin Morgan won the toss and chose to bowl.

THE INDIAN INNINGS

Rohit Sharma batted magnificently, scoring a rapid 65, getting out when seemingly nailed on for a century and more. Kohli played the anchor role to perfection and there were explosive contributions from Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya, promoted on account of his big hitting. India reached 224-2 from their 20, with no England bowler escaping. The highlight for England in the field was a dismissal that appears in the scorebook as C Roy B Rashid, one of the most misleading such entries in cricket history – the wicket was in fact almost solely down to Chris Jordan who ran round the boundary, made an amazing catch and had the presence of mind to realize that his momentum was taking him over the rope and the skill to lob the ball to Roy before that happened. It was a piece of fielding genius to stand with any in the game’s long history.

THE ENGLAND RESPONSE

Roy fell early, but Buttler and the much maligned Dawid Malan batted well for a time, and kept England in the hunt in the process. Both went past 50, Buttler making 52, and Malan going on to 68, in the process of which he became the quickest ever to complete 1,000 T20I runs, getting to that landmark in his 24th innings in that form of the game, two innings fewer than the next best, Babar Azam. However, both were out in quick succession and England soon dropped out of the hunt thereafter. In the end they were 188-8 from their 20, beaten by 36 runs. The crucial intervention on a day which saw 412 runs scored came from Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who took 2-15 from his four overs. Absent him 397 runs came of 36 overs, a rate of 11.03, while he went for 3.75 per over. He has quite correctly been named Player of the Match. More details of today’s events can be found here.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

As so often with these, my source is brilliant.org, but I am being a little unorthodox this time – they changed the wording of their question following complaints, and I am reverting to the original:

You can see this question in its original setting here, but I also have two subsidiary questions: a) what complaints do you think led to the wording being changed? b) Were those complaints actually valid given that this was posed as a mathematical not a philosophical question. Full explanations and answers on Monday.

NATURE AND PHOTOGRAPHS

As a segue into my usual sign off, I include a link to a twitter project being run by my friends Team4Nature. Below is a screenshot to explain things, while the tweet can be seen by clicking here.

Time for my usual sign off…

England XI For Thursday

A suggested England XI for the fourth and final test of the current series, which starts on Thursday. Also a couple of important links and some photographs.

I suggested an England XI for the fourth and final test of the India v England series in my post about the end of the third match. Since then Chris Woakes has gone home, which eliminates one of my chosen XI and I have concluded that a couple of specialist pace bowlers are actually required. Therefore I am presenting a new XI here, with a couple of possible variations noted.

THE SERIES SCENARIO AND SELECTION POLICIES

With England’s hopes of winning the series and of qualifying for the World Test Championship both up in smoke and series levelling victory serving only to usher Australia into the WTC final I am thinking that a degree of experimentalism is called for. In my view, with Root able to bowl respectable off spin it is more valuable if the second specialist spinner can bowl leg spin, giving a new variation to the attack.

THE BATTING

Dan Lawrence struggled at number three and should not be asked to bat there again for some while. Jonathan Bairstow, 2021 vintage, does not belong in a test match squad, let alone first XI. Thus the question is whether one goes with a top three of Sibley, Burns and Crawley or whether one promotes Stokes in the hope that his experience stiffens the top part of the order. With this the last test of the series and a home summer followed by an Ashes series down under next up I opt in this case for the top three that is likeliest to feature there rather than promote Stokes. With Stokes not being promoted the nos four and five slots are spoken for – Root and Stokes. Pope deserves to stay on in the middle order, with apologies to Dan Lawrence who has had the rough end of the stick this tour, and Foakes will keep. I might consider trying Foakes at six and Pope at seven as Pope is more likely to able to score fast with the tail, but they definitely occupy those two slots in some order. Thus our 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 will be either Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, Pope +Foakes or Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, +Foakes, Pope.

THE BOWLING

With an eye to the future and also wishing to see something that has not yet been tried I conclude that both veterans should be rested for this one, and also that Archer who has been underwhelming in his outings so far should miss out, naming Wood (who bowled well in SL) and Stone (who bowled well in the second test of this series), opting for two out and out speedsters. Leach holds his place, and rather than Bess I recommend a promotion from the reserves for Parkinson. My 8,9,10,11 is therefore Wood, Stone, Leach, Parkinson. The full XI is encapsulated in the infographic below:

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

First up, courtesy of twitter (in this case Trisha Greenhalgh) here is an infographic about masks (link to original here):

Then, as a segue into my usual sign off, a petition calling for new law to protect nature, which you can sign and share from here (screenshot of petition text, from e-activist.com is below):

https://e-activist.com/page/75310/petition/1?ea.tracking.id=email&utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_term=&utm_content=2&utm_campaign=

Now, it is time for those photographs…

Cricket Back With A Vengeance

Some thoughts on the Bob Willis Trophy, a sensational ODI and the start of a test match. Some mathematics, an important petition and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back briefly at the first round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures, for longer at yesterday’s incredible ODI and casts an eye over what is happening in Manchester.

BOB WILLIS TROPHY – EIGHT
DEFINITE RESULTS, ONE DRAW

In addition to the three teams who recorded wins before I reached the end of yesterday’s post, five other teams ultimately achieved victories in the first round of the Bob Willis Trophy. The odd game out was the game between Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, where Northamptonshire having escaped from a very difficult situation declined to make a game of it, and declared at 507-6 in their second innings after which the teams shook hands on a draw. Essex beat Kent by two wickets, Middlesex beat Surrey by 190 runs, bowling them out for 123 in the final innings. Worcestershire beat Gloucestershire by eight wickets. Leicestershire were set to score 150 off 17 overs by Lancashire and did it with eight balls to spare. Derbyshire were set 365 in the fourth innings by Nottinghamshire, and 299-7 it looked like they were either going to be bowled out or just hold out for a draw. However, the eighth wicket pair not only pulled off the great escape, they snatched the win off the last possible ball of the game. These outcomes bear all the hallmarks of a thoroughly absorbing set of county matches, but their conclusions were all overshadowed by…

AN ODI TO REMEMBER

It is often the case that limited overs games do not remain in the memory for any longer than they take to play, but often does not equal always, and most general rules have exceptions. Yesterday’s game between England and Ireland was precisely such a game. England batted first, Roy and Bairstow both failed, while Vince added to his considerable oeuvre of elegant miniatures, once more failing to produce a full scale masterwork. At 44-3 England looked to be in deep trouble, but Tom Banton produced his first ODI 50 at a vital time, skipper Morgan scored a majestic hundred and the lower order produced some useful runs. England eventually tallied 328, which looked enough for them to defend. An early wicket did not augur well for Ireland either, but then Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie produced the best batting of the day to get Ireland within range. Both fell before it was quite a done deal, leaving the veteran Kevin O’Brien and the 20 year old Harry Tector together for the closing stages. It ultimately came down to eight needed off the final over, which Saqib Mahmood accepted responsibility for bowling. Tector hit a four, Mahmood bowled a no-ball and suddenly it was three needed off four balls. The first of those balls was a dot, but Tector then scored two off the third to last delivery to level the scores and took a single of the penultimate ball of the game to take the victory and ten points in the ODI Super League for Ireland. Although it went right down to the wire Ireland looked in control for most of their batting innings and any result other than the actual one would have been a travesty of cricketing justice. Well played Ireland – or if you prefer: Dโ€™imir go maith, ร‰ire!

Plenty more will be seen of this Irish side, especially Harry Tector and Curtis Campher, the latter named of whom had a fine debut series. Most of the England side too will feature again, but Moeen Ali and James Vince are both in serious jeopardy – Moeen cannot buy a run at present and his bowling is not sufficient to command a place in its own right while Vince is a player of fine shots who never seems to play a major innings, and although he bowled three overs yesterday he is not a serious bowler, while Banton’s runs yesterday came although he was batting out of position – he normally bats at or very close to the top of the order.

THE TEST MATCH AT MANCHESTER

Another England team is in action between today and Sunday in Manchester, playing the first match of a three match test series against Pakistan. England are unchanged from the third test against the West Indies as Stokes is still not fully fit to bowl, England do not believe that three seamers plus Bess can take 20 wickets between them and the England management retains its absurd faith in Buttler as a test cricketer. Pakistan won the toss and have chosen to bat. They are 121-2 of 41.1 with the players currently off the field for bad light. Archer and Woakes have a wicket a piece, Broad and Anderson have none and Bess has bowled five overs to date. Babar Azam had reached a 50 and left handed opener Shan Masood is not far away from that mark, with Abid Ali and Azhar Ali the two to go, the latter for a duck. Pakistan have taken a minor gamble with their own batting, putting the young leg spinner Shadab Khan at no6, which most would reckon is a place or even two higher than his batting skills currently merit. If Pakistan can get to 300 in this innings that could well be enough for England to struggle – their recent history when faced with anything approaching a substantial total is not exactly encouraging.

SOLUTION AND NEW PROBLEM

Yesterday I posed this problem adapted from brilliant:

My change is that where they gave a list of options for what was closest the the probability that someone testing positive actually has the disease I simply ask: To the nearest whole number what is the percentage chance that someone who has tested positive for the disease actually has it? Answer in my next post (my own explanation, plus a particularly impressive published solution).

The way I worked this one out was: if we imagine a sample of 1,000 people, 50 will have the disease and 950 won’t. Of the 50 who do have the disease 47 will have tested positive while three test negative (94% accuracy on positives). Of the 950 who do not have the disease 96% will have tested negative and 4% won’t. That 4% of 950 is 38, so the probability of a someone who has tested positive actually having the disease is 47/ (47+38) = 47/85. This comes to 55.29% to two decimal places, or to the nearest whole percentage 55% and that is the answer. Below is a jpg of a brilliantly economical published solution from Inesh Chattopadhyay:

Inesh

Today’s question is incredibly easy, and I also offer a bonus challenge:

Shading

No multi-choice here (this is much too easy for that), but a bonus challenge: part 1) if there was a third square of the same size but divided into 49 smaller squares shaded in similar fashion which would have the largest shaded area, and part 2)what is the general rule relating the number of squares into which the big square is divided and the proportion of it that ends up shaded?

A PETITION AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

Jo Corbyn, chair of NAS Norwich, has a petition on change.org calling on the government to stop cutting people’s life-saving social care. Below is a jpg of the petition, formatted as a link so that you can sign and share it – please do so:

Petition

My usual sign off…

IMG_2516 (2)IMG_2518 (2)IMG_2518 (3)IMG_2518 (4)IMG_2519 (2)IMG_2520 (2)IMG_2521 (2)IMG_2522 (2)IMG_2523 (2)IMG_2524 (2)IMG_2525 (2)IMG_2528 (2)IMG_2529 (2)IMG_2530 (2)IMG_2531 (2)IMG_2531 (3)IMG_2532 (2)IMG_2532 (3)IMG_2532 (4)IMG_2533 (2)IMG_2533 (3)IMG_2534 (2)IMG_2534 (3)IMG_2535 (2)IMG_2535 (3)IMG_2536 (2)IMG_2537 (2)IMG_2537 (3)IMG_2539 (2)IMG_2539 (3)IMG_2539 (4)IMG_2540 (2)IMG_2540 (3)IMG_2541 (2)IMG_2542 (2)IMG_2542 (3)IMG_2543 (2)IMG_2543 (3)IMG_2544 (2)IMG_2544 (3)IMG_2545 (2)IMG_2545 (3)IMG_2545 (4)IMG_2546 (2)IMG_2546 (3)IMG_2547 (2)IMG_2547 (3)IMG_2552 (2)IMG_2552 (3)IMG_2554 (2)IMG_2554 (3)IMG_2555 (2)IMG_2555 (3)IMG_2556 (2)IMG_2556 (3)IMG_2557 (2)IMG_2559 (2)IMG_2559 (3)IMG_2560 (2)IMG_2561 (2)IMG_2561 (3)

IMG_2562 (2)
This was by far my best butterfly pic of the day…

IMG_2562 (3)
…so I devoted some attention…

IMG_2562 (4)
…to making the most…

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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.ย 

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 Resumption Of ODI Cricket

A little look at the ODI between England and Ireland, and upcoming cricket development. Two mathematical challenges and some photographs, including some butterflies.

INTRODUCTION

England are playing Ireland today in the first One Day International anywhere for 139 days. It is England’s first home ODI since the 2019 World Cup final.

BIO-SECURE BUBBLES AND SELECTION

A combination of the rules surrounding bio-secure bubbles and the need to make up for time lost to the pandemic means that England are without their multi-format players (yet another reason why Buttler should have been dropped from the test squad – he is much more valuable as a limited overs player than as a long format player), which means that six of the World Cup Final eleven are missing. Ireland are in transition, and two youngsters, Curtis Campher and Harry Tector (the middle of three brothers, in between Jack and Tim, the last named of whom is according to some the best cricketer) are making their international debuts.

ENGLAND OFF TO A FLYER

Ireland are batting, though whether they still will be by the time I have finished this post is open to question, since they have already lost five wickets, including one of the debutants, Tector. Campher is still batting, and is in partnership with the veteran Kevin O’Brien. This is also the first ODI to contribute to the new ODI League which will decide who qualifies for the next world cup. David Willey, left arm medium fast, and Saqib Mahmood, right arm fast, have done the damage with the ball so far, while Adil Rashid (leg spin) and Tom Curran (right arm fast medium) are currently in action, with vice-captain Moeen Ali presumably fifth bowler should such be required. Tom Banton of Somerset may get an opportunity to demonstrate his batting skills later in the game.

UPCOMING FOR ENGLAND

The ODI squad have another two matches in this series against Ireland, while the first test match of the second series of the summer, against Pakistan, gets underway on Thursday. Pakistan look a stronger combination than the West Indies, making a strong start very important. Australia are due to visit for an ODI series in September. Some steps have already been taken towards spectators returning to the grounds, and more trials will be conducted during the Bob Willis Trophy, the county tournament that is taking the place of the County Championship for what remains of this season. It is not just about making sure that numbers in the ground are safe, but also of ensuring that travel to and from the grounds can be conducted safely. O’Brien has just holed out off the bowling of Rashid to make it 79-6. Simi Singh and Andrew McBrine both have some sort of batting skill, McCarthy is definitely a tail ender and Craig Young is a genuine no11. Simi Singh has just been run out for 0 to make it 79-7. McBrine is next man in. Save for a memorable occasion in New Zealand 42 years ago when Boycott was the victim, courtesy of Botham who had been instructed to up the run rate by any means necessary, there has never been a good time to suffer a run out, but this was a more than usually bad time from an Irish perspective for such a thing to happen.

TWO MATHEMATICAL TEASERS

I have two problems from brilliant to share with you. I start with one officially rated at three daggers (I am showing you two stills from what is actually an animation), but which I consider very much easier than that:

FacesC

My second offering is more difficult, but not nearly as difficult is the five dagger rating suggests:

SNN

This had multiple choice answers originally, but I am not offering them. It is considerably less difficult than the rating suggests, though I admit to spending a measurable length of time thinking about it before coming up with the answer (solving these problems is a ‘before breakfast’ activity for me,ย  and I never spend hugely long on any of them). Solutions tomorrow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off:

Butterflies
Butterflies seen yesterday and today while out walking.

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There is a very large clump of Buddleia growing adjacent to the bridge that carries Littleport Street across the Gaywood river, which is often a good place to observe butterflies, and it was there that I spotted this peacock this morning (six shots in the attempt to do full justice to so splendid a specimen).

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PS Well done to Ireland – after that awful start they are still batting, now on 124-7, Campher now on 46, and McBrine 23.

Looking Ahead To Friday

Some speculations about possible inclusions for the third test, an all-time XI created around one of the possibles for the West Indies, the solution to yesterday’s teaser and a bumper collection of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the options for each time ahead of the deciding test match between England and the West Indies on Friday. There is a match taking place at The Oval tonight which may be interesting, and will be viewable courtesy of Surrey County Cricket Club’s livestream.

ENGLAND

I think the current top six can and should be retained, so I shall nothing further about them. Buttler has to go, and the question of his replacement is tied up with the question of how England should line up bowler wise. Here the problem is condensing the choices into at most five, and possibly only four. It would be rough on Jimmy Anderson not to play at his home ground, but equally Stuart Broad bowled two magnificent spells in the game just concluded and would not react well to being rested for the decider. Curran’s left arm and Archer’s extreme pace now that he can be selected again give them edges, as does the former’s batting. Woakes had a solid game with the ball in the match just concluded, and he also has batting skill on his side. Bess remains first choice spinner and the question is whether Jack Leach should also be selected. Going the two spinners route would require the selection of five players who are predominantly bowlers, and I feel that at least one of Curran or Woakes would have to be picked in this circumstance, as Bess at 7, Archer at 8, Leach at 9, Broad at 10 and Anderson at 11 leaves the lower order looking very fragile. A bowling foursome, if Leach is not to be picked should be Bess, Archer, Broad, Anderson, with Ben Foakes getting the gloves and batting at seven. For the two spinner route Pope gets the gloves, and the remainder of the order goes either Woakes, Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach or if you are prepared to gamble a bit more Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach, Broad I am going to plump for two spinners and a bit of a gamble on the batting and suggest as the final XI: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, +Pope, Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach, Broad.

WEST INDIES

The West Indies’ big question is whether to pick Rahkeem Cornwall, and if so how they will fit him in. This depends on whether they are want extra batting strength to maximize their chances of retaining the Wisden Trophy, which they do by avoiding defeat, or whether they are determined to go all out to attempt to become the first West Indies side to win a series in England since 1988. The cautious approach entails bring Cornwall in for Shannon Gabriel, have him bat at nine below Holder, so that West Indies have only two outright tailenders, Joseph and Roach. The more aggressive approach is to drop a batter, presumably Shai Hope who has done precious little since scoring those twin tons at Headingley in 2017, and have a 7,8,9,10,11 of Holder, Cornwall, Joseph, Roach, Gabriel. To me the latter approach has far more appeal, and a side of Campbell, Brathwaite, Brooks, Blackwood, Chase, +Dowrich, Holder, Cornwall, Joseph, Roach, Gabriel thus eventuates. Cornwall is best known for being the heaviest international cricketer since Warwick Armstrong in 1921, so, in the spirit of my lockdown series of All Time XIs, we move on to…

THE PLUS SIZED XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career, captain. As a youngster he was a champion sprinter and hurdler as well as a quality cricketer but in later years his weight mushroomed, reaching somewhere in the region of 20 stone near the end of his career. In 1895, less than two months short of his 47th birthday, he scored 1,000 first class runs in the first three weeks of his season (May 9th – 30th), including his 100th first class hundred (no 2 on the list of century makers at the time being Arthur Shrewsbury on 41).
  2. Colin Milburn – right handed opening batter. His career was ended prematurely by the car accident that cost him his left eye, but his record up to that point was very impressive.
  3. Mike Gatting – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler.
  4. Mark Cosgrove – left handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. Australia were never keen on selecting him because of his bulk, but he scored plenty of runs in first class cricket.
  5. Inzamam-ul-Haq – right handed batter. He was once dubbed ‘Aloo’, which translates as ‘Potato’ on account of his shape. He had a long test career in which he averaged 49 with the bat.
  6. Warwick Armstrong – right handed batter, leg spinner. At the end of his test career he weighed in at 22 stone, and yet in those last two years he did as much batting as Steve Waugh in a comparable period and bowled as many overs of leg spin as Shane Warne in a comparable period. He was nicknamed ‘Big Ship’, and there is a book about him by Gideon Haigh titled “Big Ship”.
  7. Alfred Mynn – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. ‘The Lion of Kent’ weighed in at 18 stone in his pomp, and later grew even heavier, allegedly weighing in at 24 stone by the end of his career.
  8. Rahkeem Cornwall – off spinner, useful right handed lower order batter. His averages are just the right way round at first class level – 23.75 with the bat and 23.57 with the ball. He is taller than Armstrong was by a couple of inches and weighs about the same.
  9. Jim Smith – right arm fast medium bowler, ultra-aggressive right handed lower order batter. 6’4″ tall and weighing in at 17 stone. He once clubbed a 50 in just 11 minutes off genuine bowling – not declaration stuff. He was born in Wiltshire, and under the rules of the day had to qualify by residence for a first class county, in his case Middlesex. He took 172 first class wickets in his first full season, finishing sixth in the national bowling averages, and helped by the fact that with Lord’s as his home ground he was enjoying success in front of the right people he was selected for that winter’s tour. Unfortunately for fans of big hitting he and Arthur Wellard of Somerset were only once selected in the same England team.
  10. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler. 6’8″ tall and broad and solid in proportion to that great height. He is perhaps here under slightly false pretenses since he did not noticeably carry extra weight, but he was certainly a big unit.
  11. +Mordecai Sherwin – wicket keeper. Given the nature of the job it is no great surprise that plus sized wicket keepers are something of a rarity. However, this guy weighed 17 stone and was still able to pull off 836 dismissals in 328 first class appearances (611 catches and 225 stumpings).

This side has a strong top five (Gatting, with a test average of 35.55, is probably the least impressive of the quintet as a batter), two genuine all rounders in Armstrong and Mynn, a trio of fine bowlers, two of whom can bat a bit and an excellent keeper. The bowling attack, with Garner, Smith and Mynn to bowl pace, Armstrong, Cornwall and Grace purveying slower stuff and Gatting and Cosgrove available as seventh and eighth bowlers is strong and varied, although there is no left armer. Thus, even given the selection criteria, this is a team that would take some beating.

HXI

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I offered up this from brilliant yesterday:

Here is Liam Robertson’s solution:

Sol

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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England’s Triumph At Old Trafford

An account of the test match that finished yesterday evening with a victory for England, a look forward to the decider which starts on Friday, some links and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back at the test match that concluded yesterday evening in Manchester and forward to the one that starts at the same ground on Friday morning.

THE TALE OF THE TAPE

Thursday morning at Old Trafford was grey and rainy, and so play got underway late. England were deprived of Archer due to that player’s misconduct in between the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford, had already decided to rest Wood and Anderson, while Crawley was correctly retained with Joe Denly losing his place, presumably permanently. Thus England’s line up read: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Bess, Broad. This was a very strong batting line up, but there was no genuine pace in the bowling attack, with the possible exception of Stokes. The West Indies were unchanged.

Jason Holder won the toss for the West Indies and immediately made the first mistake of the match when he allowed himself to be influenced by the overhead conditions and chose to bowl first on a very flat looking pitch. At first things did not look too bad for the West Indies as Burns and Crawley fell cheaply, and even when Root was third out the score had only reached 81. At this point Ben Stokes got into the action, and was scarcely to be out of ti again for the rest of the match. Sibley was looking secure at one end, and now Stokes displayed considerable resolve and patience to stay with him. By the end of the first day the fourth wicket pair were still in occupation and the score was 207-3, and the decision to bowl first stood revealed as a ghastly howler on Holder’s part. On the second day Stokes and Sibley consolidated their position, with Sibley reaching his second test century just before lunch, and Stokes completing his tenth such score just afterwards. Finally, with the score at 341 Sibley fell for 120, having also completed a century of a much rarer kind – 100 balls left alone in the course of a single innings. GThe stand of 260 was the second highest ever for any wicket at Old Trafford, though some way short of England’s all time fourth wicket record stand, the 411 put on by Peter May and Colin Cowdrey versus the West Indies at Edgbaston in 1957. Pope fell cheaply, bringing Buttler to the crease at 352-5, and with an opportunity, undeserved in many opnions including mine, to cash in on tired bowlers. Ben Stokes was finally dislodged for 176, his second highest test score, with the score at 395, Woakes fell first ball which brought Curran to the crease. At 426 Buttler who had made a less than impressive (given the ultra favourable circumstances) 40 was caught off the bowling of Holder. One run later Curran was out. Dom Bess, in company with Stuart Broad, played a useful cameo reaching 31 not out before Root declared with the score at 469-9. John Campbell was out in the mini-session of batting the West Indies had before day 2 closed, Alzarri Joseph was sent in as nightwatchman and took them through to the close, at which point they were 32-1. Day three was washed out, a big dent to England’s hopes. In the middle of the fourth afternoon the West Indies were 235-4 and the draw was a strong favourite. Then that man Stokes intervened again, bowling a hostile spell in which he accounted for the obdurate Kraigg Brathwaite and destabilized the West Indies innings. Stuart Broad then bowled a magnificent spell with the second new ball before Woakes took a couple of late wickets, and the West Indies were all out for 287, giving England a lead of 182. With quick runs needed England sent in Buttler and Stokes. Buttler proceeded to be bowled for a third-ball duck, a dismissal which really should end his test career (he is a magnificent limited overs player but has never been anything special in long form cricket), which brought Zak Crawley to the wicket. Crawley made 11 before he too fell, and England closed the 4th day on 37-2, with Stokes and Root in occupation. England, as they had to in the circumstances, needing a win to keep both the Wisden trophy and their slender hopes of the World Test Championship alive, went on the all out attack on the final morning, blazing 91 off 11 overs before declaring at 129-3, with Stokes 78 not out and Pope 12 not out off seven balls. This left the West Indies needing 312 to win and with 85 overs to get them.

Broad bowled superbly with the new ball, and the West Indies rapidly plunged to 37-4. Blackwood and Brooks then put on exactly 100 together before that man Stokes broke the partnership, dismissing Blackwood for 55. Woakes then cleaned up Dowrich for a duck, bringing skipper Holder in to join Brooks. Holder and Brooks took the score to 161 before Curran pinned Brooks LBW, which went to review where it came up as umpires call, the third time a West Indian had suffered that fate in the innings. Holder and Roach offered some resistance before Bess made the crucial breakthrough, bowling Holder for 35, to make at 183-8, and leave three tailenders tasked with holding out for more than 20 overs to save the game. Alzarri Joseph scored nine, was then caught by Bess of the bowling of Stokes to make it 192-9. I had an evening engagement and was not able to catch the fall of the final wicket, that of Kemar Roach, caught by Pope off the bowling of Bess. England took that wicket just after umpire Richard Illingworth had signalled the start of the last 15 overs of the game and had won by 113 runs, meaning that the third match of this series will be a ‘winner takes all’ battle.

STOKES THE COLOSSUS

Stokes’ performance in this match saw him displace Jason Holder at the top of the test match all rounders rankings, and it also saw him rise to no3 in the world batting rankings behind Virat Kohli and ‘sandpaper’ Steve Smith. Stokes’ participation in this match was as follows: 176 off 356 balls spread over 487 minutes at the crease in the first innings, 1-29 off 13 overs in the second, with that wicket coming in the spell that destabilized the West Indies innings, 78 not out off 57 balls to set up the declaration in the third innings and 14.4 overs for figures of 2-30 (he was unable to complete his final over, the last two balls of it being bowled by Joe Root). At Lord’s in 1952 Mulvantrai Himmatlal ‘Vinoo’ Mankad scored 72 in the first innings, bowled a marathon stint of 73 overs in the England reply, scored 184 in the third innings and bowled a further 24 overs in the second England innings, this all round effort all coming to nought as his side were beaten anyway. In first class cricket there are George Hirst’s spectacular dominance over Somerset in 1906 – 111, 117 not out, six first innings wicket and five second innings wickets, George Giffen’s 271 not out, 7-70 and 9-98 for South Australia versus Victoria, while in 1874 WG Grace had a spell of sustained brilliance in which he combined centuries with ten wicket match hauls five times in the space of six matches. At club level there is the feat of Dr M E Pavri, an Indian all rounder who apparently bowled at a lively pace (he toured England in the 1880s, long before his country were promoted to test status, and there is a story of him sending a stump nine yards backwards in a match at Norwich), and who decided on one occasion that teammates were unnecessary, taking on an XI all on his own. In that game he batted first, scored 52 not out before deciding that he had enough runs to serve his purposes, and then without fielders to aid him dismissed the opposing XI for 38 to win the match.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS

  1. Dom Sibley – 9 – a magnificent display of concentration in his only innings, though he was reprieved when Jason Holder dropped a fairly regulation chance, so it was not an absolutely blemish free effort.
  2. Rory Burns – 3 – a failure with the bat, nothing notably good or bad in the field.
  3. Zak Crawley 4a first baller in the first innings, and also failed in the second innings thrash for runs, managing 11 off 15 balls, which does at least represent a half decent scoring rate.
  4. *Joe Rootย – 6 – two scores in the twenties, though in the second innings he was good foil to Stokes while the latter was lashing out. He was possibly a little conservative in the matter of the second innings declaration, but overall he captained well.
  5. Ben Stokesย – 10 – he batted England into a commanding position with his first innings effort, his bowling intervention in the first West Indies innings was crucial in reopening the possibility of an England win, his second innings batting effort in altogether different circumstances was precisely what the team needed, and he again made the crucial breakthrough in the final innings when he broke the Brooks/Blackwood partnership. I reckon even Craig Revel-Horwood would have rated this performance a 10.
  6. Ollie Pope – 5 – failed in the first innings, 12 not out off 7 balls in the second to help England to the declaration and he performed the last action of the game, taking the catch that dismissed Kemar Roach.
  7. +Jos Buttler3 – his first innings 40 was unimpressive given the circumstances, he responded to being given the opportunity to open the innings and bat in his best T20 fashion with a third ball duck, and although he held on to three catches in the match this must be the end of the road for Buttler the test cricketer.
  8. Chris Woakes6.5 – failed with the bat in his only innings, but bowled well in both innings, reminding everyone that he is always difficult to play in English conditions.
  9. Sam Curran – 6 – only 17 with the bat, but bowled quite well. It was with his dismissal of Brooks in the second innings to make it 161-7 that moved victory from possible to probable.
  10. Dom Bess – 6.5 – his 31 not out in the first innings was a useful knock, he was economical though not penetrative in the first West Indies innings, and it was his delivery to bowl Jason Holder that effectively sealed the destiny of this match, while he completed a trio of late interventions by then catching Alzarri Joseph and finally picking up the wicket of Roach to complete the victory.
  11. Stuart Broad – 8.5 – he bowled a magnificent spell with the second new ball in the West Indies first innings to ensure that England would have a substantial advantage and bowled another fine spell with the new ball in the West Indies second innings which left them in tatters at 37-4.

LOOKING FORWARD TO FRIDAY

It is possible that England will want to play two spinners in the decider, and they could also maintain their rotation policy with Broad and Anderson, although I suspect that even in King’s Lynn I will not need the assistance of a radio to hear Mr Broad’s response should be told that he is being rested for the decider, and there is also the question of whether to play Archer in the decider. Of the three specialist batters who failed in this match two, Burns and Pope already have test hundreds, and it seems likely that the third, Crawley, will be joining them sooner rather than later, so I am not unduly worried about them. Buttler, just to re-emphasize the point has to go. Thus I offer up three potential line ups, two of which have permutations:

Potential Line ups

The first line up brings in Archer for his extra pace but sticks to one spinner and a choice between Broad and Anderson. The second line up accommodates two spinners but runs the risk of having Stokes as third seamer. The third line up is gamblers line up, entails Pope as keeper, a job he has done in test cricket, and five regular bowlers, with Stokes as back up. If England do decide to go with two spinners that would be my preferred option, although the second line up does at least have variety going for it – right arm fast (Archer), left arm medium fast (Curran), off spin and left arm orthodox spin plus x-factor Stokes. England need a win to regain the Wisden trophy and retain an interest in the World Test Championship, while the West Indies have not won a series in England since 1988, and so although a draw would see them retain the Wisden trophy it would not be a great result for them. So far this has been a splendid series, with England bouncing back well after the loss in Southampton.

TYING THINGS TOGETHER

The full scorecard for this fine match can be viewed here, courtesy of cricinfo. My other posts about this match are:

For a different view, here is the fulltoss blog’s account.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have a varied trio of links to share today:

And now it is time for my usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Non-test Battle

Today’s all time XIscricket post, probably the penultimate in the series, gives the limelight to some of the best players not to have graced the test arena.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s installment in my ‘all time XIs’ cricket series is envisaged to be the penultimate one – I have already selected my teams for tomorrow, and on Thursday I shall be writing about the resumption of test cricket, with one full day and part of the second to provide me with material if all goes well (overlapping the finish of this series with the restart of test cricket is part waiting for developments in the test match and part insurance policy in case of rain. Today we have a team of players who flourished too early and/or in the wrong country to play test cricket and a team of players whose selectors overlooked them in spite of consistent success at first class level.

SYDNEY SMITH’S XI

  1. John Thewlis – right handed opening batter. He finished just before test cricket started. He scored the first first class century ever for Yorkshire, thereby inking himself indelibly into cricket’s history.
  2. Ephraim Lockwood – right handed opening batter. He was called up by Yorkshire in emergency as a teenager. When he walked out to open the innings with his uncle, the aforementioned Thewlis, he was jeered by spectators because he did not have the correct kit. They had plenty of time to amuse themselves at the expense of his sartorial inadequacy since he contributed 91 to an opening stand of 176. In August 1876 he was captaining Yorkshire against Gloucestershire at Clifton, with WG Grace coming off the back of 344 for MCC against Kent and 177 against Notts in his last two innings leading the home county. Grace won the toss, batted, and allegedly said in appreciation of the pitch “I shan;t get myself out today, you will have to get me”. He proceeded to make a chanceless triple century, his second in less than a week, driving the Yorkshire fielders and bowlers to the brink of mutiny. At one point Allen Hill flatly refused to bowl when asked to do by his captain.
  3. Mahadevan Sathasivam – right handed batter. He only got to play in 11 first class matches, spread over five years, and he averaged 41.83, several decades before his country, Sri Lanka, attained test status.
  4. Steve Tikolo – right handed batter. Kenya’s finest ever batter, he played in the 1996 world cup, being part of the historic win against the West Indies and also making 96 against Sri Lanka in a defeat. His first class average of 48 was much better than his limited overs record and suggests that he would have been well suited to test cricket.
  5. Ryan ten Doeschate – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. The finest cricketer The Netherlands have ever had, he was a stalwart for Essex through most of the first two decades of the 21st century. His first class figures are excellent, his ODI record makes breathtaking reading, even allowing for the weakness of some of the opponents he faced in that format.
  6. *Sydney Smith – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. A West Indian, he qualified by residence for Northamptonshire in 1909, did the double in his first season and went on to a distinguished first class career, averaging 31 with the bat and 18 with ball (approx equivalents on today’s flatter pitches, 46 and 27). Inspired by his presence Northamptonshire, promoted to first class status in 1905 and previously known only for taking hammerings, finished second in 1912, a position that 108 years on they have not improved on.
  7. +Fred Wyld – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A good enough batter to have a first class hundred to his name. His career ended just before test cricket in England started – he was part of the MCC side that played Australia in the game at Lord’s in 1878 that produced the lowest aggregate ever for a completed first class match – 105 runs for 31 wickets. In the second innings he and Flowers, also of Notts, shared a stand that accounted for 15 of MCC’s 19 all out.
  8. Bart King – right arm fast bowler. The greatest of all USian cricketers, but not quite great enough to propel them to test match status (it was talked about at one point). He had a credit balance between his batting and bowling averages, averaging 20 with the bat and 15 with the ball in first class cricket.
  9. Palwankar Baloo – left arm orthodox spinner. He took his first class wickets at 15 a piece, playing a decade or so before his country gained test status. As a low caste commoner he could not, unlike ‘Ranji’, ‘Duleep’ and the elder Nawab of Pataudi light out for England and establish himself there. Indeed caste prejudice delayed his selection for The Hindus in what was then the Bombay Quadrangular, and which later became the Bombay Pentangular and later still was abolished.
  10. Sandeep Lamichhane – leg spinner. The Nepali has made a big name for himself playing franchise and limited overs cricket, and I hope that he will eventually get to play regular first class cricket. There is little chance of him ever being a test player, because Nepal are not currently close to being strong enough as a whole to compete at that level, and such elevations need to managed carefully – Bangladesh and Zimbabwe both suffered from ill-timed promotions to the top table, as in a different way have Ireland, while Afghanistan’s promotion was properly managed.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. He was just too old to catch the start of test cricket, being born in 1841. He took 863 wickets in 138 first class appearances at 12.09.

This side has a strong top five, a genuine all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat and four excellent and well varied bowlers. Mycroft and King look an excellent new ball pairing, with ten Doeschate as support seamer if needed, and Lamichhane, Baloo and Smith to bowl spin.

CEC PEPPER’S XI

  1. John Langridge – right handed opening batter. He amassed 76 centuries in his long first class career, but was never once selected for England. He also pouched 788 catches in the field.
  2. Alan Jones – right handed opening batter. He was selected for England against the Rest of the World in the hastily arranged series of 1970 which took the place of the planned visit by South Africa, but that series was not accorded test status (although illogically certain later matches between Australia and non-national XIs have been given test status and contribute to, to give just one example, Shane Warne’s wicket tally. He scored more first class runs, 36,049 of them including 56 centuries, than anyone else who never to got to play test cricket.
  3. Percy Perrin – right handed batter. He amassed 66 first centuries, including a best of 343 not out, which at the time he compiled it was the fifth highest score ever in first class cricket. His driving off the front foot was so fierce that opposition teams would regularly have four fielders posted in the deep to reduce his scoring rate from such shots. Yet the England selectors ignored him completely. Ironically once his own career was done he became a selector himself, and was at one stage chairman of selectors.
  4. Jamie Siddons – right handed batter. His career began in the mid 1980s and ended at the start of the 21st century. In that period he scored just over 11,000 first class runs at an average of 45, a very impressive record, but not quite enough to secure him a baggy green.
  5. Tony Cottey – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. The 5’4″ Swansea native scored almost 15,000 first class runs at an average of 36. He also tended to produce when his side really needed it – he would be far more likely to make a hundred if he came in at 30-3 than from 300-3. However, England selectors have always seemed to have great difficulty comprehending what is going on to their west, and Cottey was a victim of this, somehow being entirely overlooked at a time when the England middle order was not generally noted for its solidity.
  6. Basil D’Oliveira – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. He did get to play test cricket eventually, but his international career started for England when he was in his mid-thirties, instead of for his native land a decade earlier. His performances in the cricket he was allowed to play in his native land, and for the SACBOC XI, the only remotely representative South African side to be selected prior to the 1990s (there were no whites involved, but not because they were excluded – they chose not to participate) give a hint of what the world missed because of this. While I acknowledge, as I did yesterday, the misfortunes of those such as Graeme Pollock, whose careers were ended prematurely by their country’s isolation I am far more concerned for the likes of Krom Hendricks and others who were deprived of the opportunity to forge an international career purely because of the colour of their skin, and my selection of Basil D’Oliveira, a man who in spite of being well past his cricketing prime by the time he got to play test cricket averaged 40 at that level and took some important wickets (notably that of Barry Jarman at The Oval in 1968 in the game in which he scored 158 in the first innings, which opened up the tail for Derek Underwood) is an acknowledgement of their plight.
  7. *Cec Pepper – leg spinner, right handed batter. He averaged 29.64 with the bat and 29.35 with the ball in a 44 match first class career. He was also a highly regarded Lancashire League pro, having decided that he was not going to be selected for his native Australia. Once his playing days were finished he became an umpire.
  8. +Colin Metson – wicket keeper, right handed batter. An excellent keeper for many years, but England were always looking for a better batter to do the job. It was true that Metson was no great shakes with the willow, but he did score useful runs on occasion (and nearly all of his runs were useful – like Cottey he responded well to his side being in need).
  9. Don Shepherd – off spinner. He took more first class wickets than any other bowler who never played test cricket (2,218 at 21.32). It must be acknowledged that England had a wealth of good off spinners at the time, with Appleyard and Laker overlapping the early part of his career, Illingworth, Titmus, David Allen and John Mortimore being around during the latter part of his career, but nevertheless it does look odd that he never got picked at all.
  10. Eddie Gilbert – right arm fast bowler. Playing for Queensland against NSW he once produced a spell that included inflicting on Bradman what the great man himself described as “the luckiest duck I ever made.” NSW were dug out of trouble on that occasion by Stan McCabe who scored a double century. Bowling against Jardine in one of the minor matches of the 1932-3 Ashes tour he scored a hit on the England skipper’s hip which according to eyewitness Bill Bowes left a discoloured area the size of a soup plate. Had Australia decided to fight fire with fire, he along with ‘Bull’ Alexander, Laurie Nash and Jack Scott was one of the fast bowlers they might have turned to. As it happened Australia went for the moral high ground, and for firing of whingy cables to the MCC headquarters in London (nb the first complaining cable was sent when Australia were headed for heavy defeat in the third match of the series at Adelaide – no complaints after the opener in Sydney when McCabe made runs in an Aussie defeat, nor after the second at Melbourne when Bradman made a ton in an Aussie win, but only once it was obvious that England were taking a firm grip on the series did the complaining start). Eddie Gilbert may well have been a victim of prejudice – he was aboriginal, and the first player of acknowledged aboriginal descent to don the baggy green was Jason Gillespie in the 1990s.
  11. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. 2,151 first class wickets at 19.82 for the Gloucestershire man, and never an England cap. When he was in his absolute prime in the years running up to world war 1, first Wilfred Rhodes and then Colin Blythe (2,503 first class wickets at 16) were the left arm spinners of choice for England, and with Woolley a regular pick for his batting and also a fine left arm spinner there was simply no vacancy for a second specialist in that role.

This side has a strong top six, a genuine all rounder at seven, a splendid keeper and three excellent specialist bowlers. The pace department is weak, but George Dennett regularly took the new ball for Gloucestershire, and Pepper as a Lancashire League pro must have done so on occasions as well. I might have strengthened the pace bowling department by including Tony Nicholson (879 wickets at 19.76 each for Yorkshire), but I wanted Pepper as captain, and felt that Dennett and Shepherd had irrefutable cases for selection and that I could not afford to drop a batter to accommodate Nicholson.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

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A damselfly of some description on a leaf

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you can just see the folded wings, pressed right against the long body in these two close ups.

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