All Time XIs – New Zealand

It being Monday, today’s exploration on the ‘all time’ cricket XI theme looks at an international unit, in this case New Zealand.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest in my series of ‘all time XI’ themed posts. Today being a Monday we are looking at an international outfit, and under the spotlight today is the land of the long white cloud (actually more often the land of the the thick black cloud) New Zealand.

NEW ZEALAND IN MY LIFETIME

  1. John Wright – right handed opening batter. He was the first Kiwi to reach the landmark of 5,000 test runs. He was at one time successful for Derbyshire as well.
  2. Bryan  Young – right handed opening batter. He came late to this role but performed it conscientiously and successfully when the time came.
  3. *Stephen Fleming – left handed top order batter, excellent captain. A successful captain and a big run scorer, though a stickler would point the relative dearth of centuries in his record.
  4. Martin Crowe – right handed middle order batter. He scored almost 20,000 first class runs. His elder brother Jeff also played for NZ, though not so successfully. The other family link is that world famous actor Russell Crowe is a cousin. Martin Crowe’s maiden test century, against England in the 1983-4 series was the key innings that inspired his team to save a game that England has been bossing – Coney then made 174 not out and Lance Cairns played a useful supporting knock at the end. Against Sri Lanka, facing a huge first innings deficit he shared a New Zealand record partnership for any wicket with Andrew Jones, making 299 himself as the Kiwis reached safety on 671-4. He was unfortunate to find himself in the midst of a vicious controversy when Somerset named as overseas player in preference to either of the two West Indians Viv Richards and Joel Garner, which prompted the acrimonious departure from the club of Ian Botham.
  5. Ken Rutherford – right handed batter – his test batting career got off to a start that might have made a tail ender blush, but he ended up with a fine record, and was also a good captain for a period.
  6. +BJ Watling – wicket keeper and gritty middle order batter. He is the pivot of this side, and I have good cause to know just how dangerous he is – it was a long innings by him that out New Zealand in control of England’s last series there, a position they never relinquished.
  7. Amelia Kerr – leg spinner and right handed middle order bat. My pick is the genuine all rounder. As is all too common with the best female players she has not had the opportunity to show what she can do in long form cricket, but a 232 not out in a 50 overs a side international match plus her leg spin bowling is recommendation enough for me.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed attacking lower middle order bat. Quite simply his country’s GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). What makes his performances at the highest level all the more impressive is that his support cast was generally speaking pretty ordinary. Graham Gooch, scorer of 183 not out against the 1986 Kiwis, the first to win a test series in England, described facing New Zealand as being like “facing a world XI at one end and Ilford 2nds at the other.” He became the first person knighted specifically in connection with cricket to play a test after acquiring the ‘Sir’ in front of his name (Bradman played his final first class match as Sir DG Bradman, while the Hon Sir FS Jackson was not knighted for reasons to do with cricket).
  9. Daniel Vettori – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower middle order batter. At the age of 20 he helped consign England to the bottom of the world test rankings not long after they had been shown the door of the World Cup they were hosting, and from then until his retirement he was an essential part of New Zealand’s plans. In later years the captaincy and the fact that he also had to do a lot of batting somewhat reduced his effectiveness as a bowler, but the 1999 version bowled left arm orthodox spin as well as I have seen it bowled.
  10. Trent Boult – left arm fast medium bowler. The ‘conductor’ has been an effective leader of New Zealand’s pace attack for some years now, and just a few months ago he caused England considerable problems. He also gives my chosen pace attack an extra element of variety, bowling with his left hand.
  11. Danny Morrison – right arm fast medium. Danny ‘the duck’ (hence his position at no11) was New Zealand’s outstanding pace bowler of the 1990s, and could be relied on to provide excellent back up in that department for Messrs. Hadlee and Boult.

This team has a solid opening pair, an excellent no 3,4 and 5, a fine keeper at six, Amelia Kerr the x-factor all rounder at seven and a fine bowling line up. The bowling attack, with a varied pace trio of Hadlee, Boult and Morrison backed by the contrasting spin styles of Vettori and Kerr also looks pretty impressive.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Had it not been for Stephen Fleming’s claims, and my desire that he should be captain, Andrew Jones would have been a strong contender for the no3 slot, and some would say that I should have picked him as an opener anyway. Nathan Astle, an explosive batter and sometimes useful purveyor of slow-medium would definitely have his advocates, as would big hitting all rounder Chris Cairns. ‘Two Metre Peter’ Fulton would have his advocates for an opening slot. Among the seam/swing/pace options I have overlooked were Shane Bond, the quickest his country has ever produced but sadly blighted by injuries, Tim Southee the ever reliable and Neil ‘the composer’ Wagner whose bouncers sometimes confound opposition batters. Colin De Grandhomme, a magnificent limited overs player, might have had the number seven slot I gave to Kerr, but his bowling offers less. I also considered another big hitting female all-rounder, Sophie Devine, but decided I wanted the extra spin option offered by Kerr. Brendon McCullum would have his advocates for the wicket keeping slot, as would Adam Parore, while I also thought about Ian Smith, but he will have to make do with being part of the commentary team, for which role he is a ‘shoo-in’. Finally, combative off spinner John Bracewell would have been the obvious choice had I wanted a third spin option.

THE NEW NAMES IN THE ALL TIME XI

  • Bert Sutcliffe, a left handed attack minded opener, who averaged just over 40 in a test career that began at Christchurch in 1947 and ended at Edgbaston in 1965 comes in at the top of the order. For Otago against Canterbury he once scored 385. Otago’s all out tally in that innings was precisely 500, and in their two efforts Canterbury scored 382 runs off the bat – three fewer than Sutcliffe managed on his own! One over, bowled a chap named Poore, had Sutcliffe in two minds in the way bowlers don’t want – he hit three deliveries for four and three for six.
  • Glenn Turner, a right handed opening batter, the only Kiwi to score a hundred first class hundreds. During the Kiwis 1973 tour of England he reached his thousand first class runs before the end of May, one of only two to do that in an English season since World War II, the other being Graeme Hick in 1988.
  • Martin Donnelly, left handed middle order bat, scorer of Lord’s centuries in The Varsity Match, for The Gentlemen against The Players and in a test match for New Zealand. Also, in a 1945 match for The Dominions against England he made a century, considered by observers the outstanding innings in a game that also featured a ton by Keith Miller and one in each innings by Wally Hammond.
  •  +Stewie Demspter – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Charles Stewart Dempster played a mere 10 test matches for New Zealand, before devoting himself to county cricket with Leicestershire. In this 10 test matches he scored 723 runs at 65.72, assisted it is true by four not outs, but even not taking the not outs into account that average would still be 48.20. Selecting him as keeper, a role he did on occasion perform, was the only way I could fit him in.
  • Jack ‘Bull’ Cowie – right arm fast bowler. He took his test wickets at 21 each, and one contemporary writer was moved to comment “had he been English or Australian he would no doubt have been termed a wonder of the age.” His last test series was in 1949 at the age of 37, and even then on flat pitches (all four test matches were drawn) he caused plenty of problems.

With these players coming in our All Time New Zealand XI reads: B Sutcliffe, GM Turner, *S Fleming, MD Crowe, MP Donnelly, +CS Dempster, AC Kerr, RJ Hadlee, DL Vettori, T Boult, J Cowie. This combo, with a great opening pair, Dempster in for Watling and Cowie looking a distinct cut above Morrison looks like a superb unit.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Merv Wallace, who came close to 1,000 first class runs before the end of May on that 1949 tour was considered for a batting place. John Richard Reid, a man whose range of cricketing skills was huge, was also a big miss. Middle order batters Geoff Howarth and Bevan Congdon both had good records at a time when New Zealand collectively had little to shout about. Two keepers, Eric Petrie and Ken Wadsworth, were both outstanding practitioners, but neither could offer much with bat, Petrie in particular being a genuine ‘bunny’ in that regard. Brian Taylor, who scored a century and bagged a five wicket haul on his test debut earned consideration as an all rounder, but there is no shortage of pace options. Of the cricketing Hadlees, other than Richard the only one who many would seriously consider was Dayle, a fast bowler who at one time was rated higher than his brother, but ended up many leagues behind. New Zealand have had few class spinners play for them, which leads neatly on to…

THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY

One name dominates this category, that of leg spinner Clarrie Grimmett, who crossed the Tasman to better himself. He failed to claim a place in either the NSW or Victorian state sides, but eventually managed to establish himself for South Australia, and at 33 made his test debut for his adopted country, bagging 11 England wickets for 82 runs. In 37 test matches he took 216 wickets, a wickets to matches ratio outstanding for anyone not named Sydney Barnes. He was dropped for the 1938 Ashes tour, a decision that Bill O’Reilly for one considered to be crazy – Frank Ward who travelled in his place did little, while Chuck Fleetwood-Smith had his moments but was as erratic, unpredictable and expensive as anyone familiar with his approach would have expected.

Two others who would have merited consideration had they not abandoned the possibility of playing for their country were leg spinner Bill Merritt whose first class victims (mainly for Northamptonshire) cost 24 each and fast bowler Tom Pritchard who had an impressive record for Warwickshire (818 wickets at 23.30 in all first class cricket, and he lived – just – long enough to celebrate the most impressive of all centuries, dying 165 days after reaching that landmark birthday).

PHOTOGRAPHS

We have concluded our virtual tour of the home of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movie series, and it remains only to apply my usual sign off…

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NZ
The teams in tabulated form, with abbreviated comments.

 

 

My England Line Up for the Second Test

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

INTRODUCTION

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

THE SITUATION

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few this time…

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

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England Humiliated in New Zealand

An account of England’s calamitous surrender in the first Test match in New Zealand, and a radical suggestion for Joe Root’s replacement as England test captain.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back at what happened during the last three days of the first test in New Zealand and then at a possible new England captain.

A SPECTACULAR REVERSAL

Those who read my last post will recall that England were extremely well placed after two days of the first test match – they had made 353 and New Zealand were 144-4 in reply. How then did this turn into a humiliating innings defeat for England? Well the tale of the tape is this…

Day 3: B J Watling batted all day at one end, well supported by De Grandhomme (55) and Santner who defended stoutly after De Grandhomme fell, and New Zealand by the close were 394-6, already 41 to the good.

Day 4: Watling and Santner first consolidated their overnight position and then opened out, Watling completing a double century while Santner reached his maiden test century. Eventually, with 615 on the board, New Zealand declared and England had 27 overs to get through before the close of day. They looked to be managing this when Sibley fell to a poor shot. Then Burns, troubled by Santner, played an injudicious shot trying to get to the other end and was caught off a top edge. Finally, to leave England looking down both barrels, Jack Leach got hit on the grille by one from Santner that rose unexpectedly and two balls later lost his wicket. That left England with seven wickets standing and needing to bat the final day out to save the game.

Day 5: England looked adequate for the first hour, but then Root fell to a poor stroke and a collapse set in, only alleviated to an extent by a late flourish from Archer and Curran who delayed the inevitable and provided a bit of late entertainment. Once their partnership was broken it did not take Broad long to extend his record of ducks scored for England, and the final margin was an innings and 65 runs. Of the seven members of the England team (Burns, Sibley, Denly, Root, Stokes, Pope, Buttler) who were there either principally or solely for their batting six in this dismal second innings contributed to their own downfalls.

Not only is this another horrible defeat for him as captain, there is no longer any denying that Root as captain is incompatible with getting the best out of Root the batter, and it is in the latter capacity that England have most need of him (as a captain he is very average, whereas at his best he is one of the finest batters in the world). While acknowledging that Burns has demonstrated for Surrey that he can combine being captain with scoring big runs I feel that it is time to look away from batters for this role. While fast bowlers rarely make good captains, there is some history of slow bowlers enjoying success in the role, including among slow left armers the likes of Tony Lock (Leicestershire and Western Australia), Daniel Vettori (New Zealand) and Bishan Singh Bedi (India). So, my choice for England’s next test skipper is Jack Leach – he is established in the side, has demonstrated that he has an excellent temperament, and is still young enough to hold the role for some years. The fulltoss blog has looked at some potentials here, but I think they missed the best call. A full scorecard of the debacle can viewed here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Some festive pics here as well as a few of my more usual type…

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The Elves getting ready to help in Santa’s grotto at Dobbies on Friday evening.

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Immediately outside the grotto (I was there in my caapcity as NAS West Norfolk branch secretary, and got to walk through after the children had received their presents)

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The one obvious howler in the set up – polar bears and penguins do not co-exist as they reside at opposte ends of the Earth)

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The Greatest World Cup Final Ever

An autistic cancer survivor’s eye (and ear) view of yesterday’s World Cup Final at Lord’s.

INTRODUCTION

First a little bit of background about the occasion from my point of view. On Friday I went in to hospital for a procedure known as a “Radical Inguinal Orchidectomy” as the latest stage in the treatment of the cancer that less than a year ago threatened to kill me. The operation was performed under general anaesthetic, and I was kept in hospital overnight, and only discharged on the Saturday once I had demonstrated my capacity to walk unaided. Thus yesterday, the day of the Mens Cricket Cup World Final, was my first full day out of hospital after the operation.

THE MATCH ITSELF

New Zealand had beaten India through a splendid display of controlled seam and swing bowling to qualify for the final while England had disposed of arch-rivals Australia with satisfying ease to book their place in the final. Everything seemed to point to an England win, but New Zealand had dealt very well with theoretically far superior opposition in the semi-final. As it was on free-to-air TV (the first time any cricket match in England has been thus broadcast since 2005) I was initially picked up by my father and taken over to my aunt’s house to watch the match. England bowled well to restrict New Zealand to 241. New Zealand however learned well from the England bowlers and England were soon behind the required rate. I missed a tiny bit of the England innings when I was taken home, being by then thoroughly exhausted. Back in my own home I listened to the astonishing climax and followed the ball-by-ball updates on cricinfo. The possessor of the coolest name in international cricket, Colin de Grandhomme, bowled the most economical allocation of 10 overs by anyone in the entire tournament (1-25), but Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes kept cool heads and kept England just about in contention deep into the final overs. When the final over began England needed 16 to win, and they got 15 of them to tie (aided by a very fortunate four overthrows which gave them six instead of two on one of the deliveries), which meant a “super over’. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler took centre stage once more, while after a long delay Trent Boult accepted responsibility for bowling the over for New Zealand. England made 15 runs of the over. 24-year old Jofra Archer accepted responsibility for bowling the final over, while New Zealand sent out Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill. Archer’s first delivery was somewhat harshly called a wide, and then Neesham blasted a six, at which point it looked all over for England, but Archer responded and eventually it came to two needed of one ball, with Guptill on strike for the first time. Guptill hit it out into the deep, where Jason Roy fielded, and arrowed in a superb throw to Jos Buttler who whipped the bails off to run out Guptill, who was obliged by circumstances to go all out for the second. Thus the super-over contest had also ended in a tie. The next method of dividing the two teams if the super over did not work was on boundaries hit, and on that criterion England were ahead and so finally, after three previous losing finals (1979, 1987-8 and 1991-2) England’s men had won a cricket world cup. The Women’s cricket world cup is also held by England courtesy of a wonderful piece of bowling by Anya Shrubsole at Lord’s two years ago. This is the first time any country other than Australia have held both men’s and women’s world cups simultaneously. A low scoring day provided just about the most thrilling contest ever seen in any sport, with England taking the spoils by the narrowest possible margin – the cricket equivalent of winning by a Planck Length!

This match is ‘Exhibit A’ in the argument against anyone who dares claim that cricket is boring. Cricket has produced plenty of extraordinary games before in its long history – Warwickshire v Hampshire in 1922, when Hampshire recovered from bowled out for 15 in their first dig to win by 155 runs, Headingley 1981, when Ian Botham, with assistance from Graham Dilley, Chris Old and Bob Willis gave England something to defend when they seemed down and out, and Willis than saved his international career by taking 8-43 to win it for England being just two that spring to mind. Also, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th test matches of the 2005 Ashes series were all classics in their different ways.

This match on its own would probably be sufficient to call this the greatest world cup ever, but there were plenty of other good matches along the way.

Ben Stokes with his Herculean efforts in this match redeemed himself completely for a somewhat chequered past. Also, he has shown a consistency here that has previously eluded him – his 84 was his fourth 80-plus of the tournament and he also scored a 79. One way of accommodating him in the test side, which needs to be thought about would to gamble a little by having Ben Foakes at five, followed by Stokes, Gregory, Bess, Archer, Leach and Anderson, meaning that Stokes would be fourth seamer, backing up the main attack of Archer, Anderson, Gregory and the spinners.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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World Cup Final Stages Approaching

A look at the permutations for the semi-finals of the Men’s Cricket World Cup (nb the inaugural Women’s Cricket World Cup took place in 1973, two years before the men got started), plus a shed,load of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The 2019 cricket men’s world cup semi-finals are all but sorted now. This post examines the possible permutations.

FAREWELLS

Afghanistan, The West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan are heading home after the group stage unless Pakistan can beat Bangladesh by 320 runs or thereabouts (due to the workings of “net run rates” Pakistan cannot go through if Bangladesh bat first).

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SEMIS

Barring an astonishing miracle result for Pakistan against Bangladesh the semi finals will be Australia v New Zealand and England v India. Three of these four teams definitely deserve to be there, while New Zealand are somewhat fortunate, and arrive in the semi-finals on a serious downturn having been thumped in their last two games, one by England.

SEMI FINAL 1: AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Australia will be heavy favourites for this one, having played well throughout, while New Zealand have been poor in their last two games. Although I would love to see New Zealand deliver a sucker punch to the Aussies I cannot see it happening, therefore my prediction for this one is that Australia will win and go through to the final.

SEMI FINAL 2: ENGLAND V INDIA

Having put themselves under pressure by indifferent early from England have hit top gear just in time, despatching India and New Zealand in their last two games, both by comfortable margins. India had already secured their place in the semifinals by the time they came up against England. In view of the record of chasing sides in this competition so far I reckon that whoever wins the toss must opt to bat first and get their runs on the board. If England win that toss and make the right decision I reckon that they will win, just as they did in the group game between the two sides. If India bat first they will be favourites but I will not rule out England completely even then. Overall prediction: England, but I would not put money on it.

POTENTIAL FINALS

  • Australia v England – This will depend heavily on the toss – if England get their runs on the board they will be favourites, likewise Australia. I think England would be marginally less likely to lose chasing than Australia, so by the thickness of a cigarette paper I make them favourites if this final materialises.
  • Australia v India – Again this will come down to the toss – assuming they make the correct decision whoever wins it collects the cup.
  • New Zealand v England – New Zealand would be cock-a-whoop at beating Australia but may also be unable having achieved that to summon up the resolve for one last effort, and based on the group game between the two I would make England firm favourites for this one.
  • New Zealand v India – India would be favourites for this one for the same reasons as England in the one above.

Of these potential finals I would most like it to be New Zealand v England, with England b Australia 2nd choice and New Zealand v India third choice. A win for either New Zealand or England would be a first in the men’s world cup, while for India it would be their third triumph and for Australia their sixth. A final thought: If the miracle happens in the Pakistan v Bangladesh game then I believe that sheer relief at managing to qualify will be enough to propel Pakistan to victory – in that circumstance they would be alone among the four semi-finalists in having no pressure on them.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign-off…

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Gettring really good pictures of these butterflies is a challenge – this one is porbably my best yet.

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A female pheasant views the world from atop a car at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House.

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The weights we use for some of our exercises during therapy sessions at Tapping House.
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Raffe prizes at Tapping House
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I bought a ticket to support the cause, and this would be my first choice prize should the opportunity arise.

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World Cup Hotting Up

Some more thoughts about the 2019 cricket world cup/

INTRODUCTION

Bangladesh and Afghanistan are in action today in the cricket world cup, and following several interesting results and very tight games over the last few days there is more riding on this game than would have been expected.

THE PERMUTATIONS

Afghanistan are definitely not going to qualify for the next stage, since they are without a win so far, but a win for them would make their presence at the world cup harder to argue with (I firmly believe that they should be here, and that the tournament should have involved more teams in any case – see here). If Bangladesh win they will give themselves a serious chance of qualifying for the next stage, which in turn would give tomorrow’s match between international cricket’s two oldest foes – England and Australia – even more of a needle match than it already would be.

Bangladesh were put in and made 262-8 from their 50 overs, a gettable total, but Afghanistan are not the best chasers – they muffed a chase of barely 200 against Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament. I am not sure whether an outsider making the last four or the lowest ranked team in the tournament recording a win means more, but either situation has plenty going for it. Whichever happens it can be said to be one in the eye for the myopic ones who openly resent the presence of lesser ranking teams (there are still a few of these around sadly). Yesterday there was a fine finish to New Zealand v West Indies, when a magnificent innings by Carlos Brathwaite nearly pulled the game out of the fire for the Windies.

After some poor weather threatened to spoil it this world cup is now shaping up very well. I continue to maintain that more teams should be involved – these tournaments should be used to grow the game, and a tournament with “world” in its title should be truly global (as for an American-only championship being called “The World Series”, that is just beneath contempt).

PICTURES

My usual sign off, this time in several parts…

NEW PURCHASES

James and Sons recently held an auction at which I won three lots…

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Lot 293 (two pics)

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Lot 416 (four images)

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Lot 446

HUNSTANTON BEACH HUT

NAS West Norfolk hired the Mencap beach hut at Hunstanton for the day, and I was given a lift (thank you Rick and Emma)…

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BEES AND BUTTERFLIES

I have lavender growing outside my front window, and that attracts these creatures in numbers (I think judging by size and appearance that butterflies are Large Tortoiseshells)…

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This is a jay – bringing the number of species of corvids I have seen outside my bungalow to four – rooks, jackdaws and magpies as well.

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An Object Lesson In Two Games

A post inspired by a tweet from former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain.

INTRODUCTION

This post is inspired by a tweet from former England captain Nasser Hussain:

Those who know anything about me can probably guess my answer, but please read on anyway…

CONGRATULATIONS BANGLADESH

Just before getting to the meat of my post I belatedly congratulate Bangladesh for a magnificent seven wicket victory over the West Indies, chasing down 322 with eight and a half overs to spare. Shakib-al-Hasan made a superb century for Bangladesh and masterminded the chase.

NASSER’S TWO GAMES

The England-Afghanistan game featured a brief period of spectacular play, when Eoin Morgan blasted 120 off 46 deliveries, having just had a catch dropped. He shared a partnership with Joe Root worth 189 to which Root contributed 43, while Morgan scored 142 and there were four extras. At The Oval on 1886 W G Grace reached 134 not out by the time his opening partner W H Scotton of Nottinghamshire was out for 34 (two extras meant that this stand was worth 170, which coincidentally was WG’s final score when he was out to make it 216-2), while at Old Trafford in 1981, again against Australia Ian Botham scored 118 while Chris Tavare advanced his score by 28 (three extras meant that this stand was worth 149). Morgan’s amazing spree included 17 sixes, a record in a single innings in any form of international cricket, but precisely because it was so amazing it killed the game as a contest, and long before it had finished the final outcome was very obvious, which meant that the rest of the match lost something.

By contrast, the South Africa – New Zealand game went down to the wire, the latter eventually being seen home by Kane Williamson who hit the second ball of the final over for six to bring up his century and then coolly took a single of the next delivery to complete the job. This was a pulsating contest, commanding full attention all the way through. Its eventual outcome has almost certainly condemned South Africa to an early exit from the tournament.

England – Afghanistan saw 640 runs scored, South Africa – New Zealand only just over 480 and the lower scoring game was definitely the better of the two overall. Also, for all its spectacular qualities I cannot rate Morgan’s innings as high as I do Williamson’s – the latter was a clearly defined matchwinner, whereas England would probably have managed to win even if Morgan had made a blob.

South Africa – New Zealand was the game of the tournament so far, and Kane Williamson’s knock to see the latter home was as far as I am concerned the innings of the tournament to date. Morgan’s performance was spectacular, and wonderful while it lasted but it robbed that match of much interest by ending it as a contest before it was half over.

I welcome the fact that this world cup has not been the absolute run fest some predicted, because I continue to believe that at its best cricket is a contest between bat and ball, not a ludicrous spectacle in which bowlers are reduced to mere servants to fulfill the whims of the batters.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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The first pictures in this selection are from Tapping House, where I continue to attend physio sessions – my upper body strength is apparently quite good,

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My birthday present from my fellow NAS West Norfolk committee members – I wonder if anyone had given one of these to Mr Smith or Mr Warner?! (the actual day was May 31st, and for the record it was number 44.

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A few pics from Golding’s in King’s Lynn town centre

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Once a huge eysore the outside if this supermarket has been done up recently,

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My birthday present from my sister.

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A blackbird pays a visit to the feeder.