Rain and Records

A look at the end of the test match summer, and at the state of the Bob Willis Trophy.

INTRODUCTION

From Friday through Tuesday at those times the weather permitted England and Pakistan did battle at the Ageas bowl in the last test match of this strangest of all summers, and from Saturday through Tuesday the fourth round of the Bob Willis Trophy took place, again with considerable interference from the weather. I look back at the test match and forward to the final round of BWT fixtures.

YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE TO THE FORE

England amassed 583-8 declared in their first innings, a performance underpinned by Zak Crawley who scored 267, his first test century. The only higher scores for a maiden test ton have been Brian Lara’s 277 at Sydney, Tip Foster (287 in his first ever test innings at Sydney), Bobby Simpson’s 311 at Old Trafford and Garry Sobers’ 365 not out at Sabina Park. Among England batters only Compton (278 v Pakistan), Foster (287 v Australia), Cook (294 v India), John Edrich (310 not out v New Zealand), Andy Sandham (325 v West Indies), Graham Gooch (333 v India), Walter Hammond (336 not out v New Zealand) and Len Hutton (364 v Australia) have ever scored more in a single innings. Only Hutton has ever scored more at a younger age than Crawley, who is just 22 years old. Thereafter, in the cricket that the weather permitted the spotlight was focussed on 38 year old James Anderson, as he first took a five-for (and had three catches missed) in Pakistan’s first innings, to which skipper Azhar Ali contributed a splendid 141 not out. This put Anderson on 598 test wickets, and England enforced the follow on as they had to. By the end of day 4, as the weather played havoc with the match Pakistan were 100-2 in their second innings, with one of the wickets to Anderson moving him on to 599, and yet another catch having gone begging off his bowling. There was heavy overnight rain, and it continued to rain for most of the morning, finally stopping just after 11AM. The sodden ground then had to dry out before play could commence, but eventually, at 4:15PM, with a possible 42 overs (27 mandatory and a further 15 if a result seemed possible) to be bowled. Anderson did not break through in his first spell, and as England hurried through overs to get to the second new ball Joe Root took a wicket with his part time off spin and Dom Sibley bowled one of the filthiest overs ever seen in a test match with his even more part time leg spin. The new ball was taken, and in his third over with it James Anderson induced a nick from Azhar Ali and the ball was pouched by a waiting slip fielder, bringing him to 600 test wickets. No one who bowled above medium pace had previously reached this landmark, and of the three spinners who had got there only one, Muttiah Muralitharan had done so in fewer balls bowled. Shortly after this a well struck four brought up a remarkable statistical landmark highlighted by Andy Zaltzman on Test Match Special: 1,000,000 runs in test matches involving England. A little later the last 15 overs were called, and after one ball thereof the teams decided to accept a draw as the pitch was doing precious little, and they were all eager to get away from the biosecure bubble and back to loved ones.

At the moment there is no way of knowing when England will next be in test match action, but James Anderson has every intention of still being in action when they do, and since he is still regularly clocking 85mph even at the age of 38 (while it is not unusual for veteran bowlers to be very successful due to the smarts they have acquired from years of experience it is unusual for a bowler of that age not to have slowed down – Walsh was barely exceeding 80mph when he toured England in 2000, likewise Shaun Pollock and Glenn McGrath in their veteran years) and is statistically bowling better than he ever has I for one am not counting him out.

I would like to thank both the West Indies who visited for three test matches immediately before Pakistan came over and Pakistan for braving the uncertainties created by this pandemic and coming to play, ensuring we had some cricket. I also tender a second huge thank you to the West Indies because their women are coming over to play against our women after India and South Africa cried off. I hope that England will reciprocate as soon as possible.

ADVANTAGE SOMERSET IN THE BWT

The format of the Bob Willis Trophy, tailored to fit special circumstances, is that the 18 first class counties have been grouped into three regional conferences, meaning that five rounds of matches will be played, and then the two best group winners will fight out a five day final at Lord’s. After four rounds of matches Somerset lead the central group with 76 points, Derbyshire the north group with 71 points and Essex the south group with 70 points. Although bonus points (of which as readers of this blog will be aware I am not a huge fan) complicate the issue somewhat, basically any win in their final match will qualify Somerset, since it is next door to impossible to win a match without taking full bowling bonus points, which on its own would put Somerset on 95, meaning that Derbyshire could equal them with a maximum point win and Essex could finish on 94 with a maximum win. Somerset crushed Gloucestershire and the most recent round, dismissing them for 76 and 70. Surrey’s nightmare season went from bad to worse as they were beaten by Kent in spite of the restored Ben Foakes contributing a century and a fifty. A major role for Kent was played by Darren Stevens, an all rounder who bowls medium pace, and who remains a force to be reckoned with at county level even at the age of 44. Limited overs cricket will be the order of the day for most of the rest of this season, which will extend into October because of the hugely delayed start. The T20 blast competition gets underway tomorrow afternoon, with commentaries on all matches accessible via www.bbc.co.uk/cricket.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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England in Control at the Ageas Bowl

A look at the extraordinary events that are unfolding at the Ageas bowl as Zak Crawley establishes himself at the highest level.

INTRODUCTION

It is now all but a 100% certainty that England will win the series against Pakistan, and what follows explains why.

DAY 1

Yesterday after messrs Curran, Foakes and Robinson were allowed to leave the bubble at the Ageas Bowl to play for their counties in the Bob Willis Trophy, leaving an England side of Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Bess, Archer, Broad and Anderson (Dan Lawrence and Ben Stokes had already been released in both cases for family reasons) Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat. The morning session went England’s way as they reached Lunch on 91-2. The loss of Root for 29 and Pope for 0 in quick succession made it 127-4, and seemingly turning in Pakistan’s favour. However, Zak Crawley was playing a magnificent innings, and Buttler continued his good recent form with the bat (pity he has been so bad with the gloves). By the tea interval it was 183-4 with Crawley on the verge of a maiden test century and England were starting to look good. The evening session was brilliant for England and horrible for Pakistan. Late in the day the runs were coming very fast as the Pakistan bowling got decidedly ragged. The day ended with England 332-4, Crawley 171 not out and Buttler within sight of a century of his own.

DAY 2

There have been two disruptions for rain, but in the cricket that has been played England have fared well, with the Pakistan bowling not looking remotely threatening. The score is now 380-4, and the stand between Crawley and Buttler is an all time England fifth wicket record against anyone, and Crawley is seven runs away from becoming the youngest England player to score a test double century since David Gower against India at Edgbaston in 1979. This is Crawley’s first test century and among those who have gone big on their first venture into three figures at this level are Bill Edrich (219 at Durban in 1939), Tip Foster (287 in his first test innings at Sydney in 1903), Bobby Simpson for Australia against England at Old Trafford (311) and at the top of this particular tree Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, 365 not out for West Indies v Pakistan at Sabina Park. Crawley has just brought up the double century with a four to third man, and England are now 391-4. Crawley was picked on potential, with not a lot in the way of major first class batting achievements behind him, and had passed 50 on three previous occasions in his fledgling test career, but this innings has surely settled the number three position for some considerable time to come – it has been a supreme performance, with no definite chances given. The record score for England against Pakistan is 278 by Denis Compton at Trent Bridge in 1954, which is definitely within Crawley’s compass from here. No3 has caused England many problems since I first started following cricket, with only Michael Vaughan and Jonathan Trott really succeeding there before the emergence of Crawley who has looked like a natural at no3.

THE REST OF THE MATCH

The weather forecast is pretty good for the rest of this match, and it is very hard to see any way of England losing from here, especially given that a draw will give them the series, which means they can shut up shop if trouble threatens. The 400 has just come up, and I reckon the way things are going that Crawley and Buttler should have at least half an eye on the all-time test record with wicket stand by anyone – the 405 that Sidney George Barnes and Donald Bradman put on together against England at Sydney in 1946. For the real pessimists the highest ever first innings to lose a test match is 586 by Australia at Sydney in 1894, when England replied with 325 and then in the follow on 437 and Australia got caught on a sticky in the final innings and were all out for 166, with Bobby Peel taking six cheap wickets. My own reckoning is that with England putting up a total like this after being 127-4 Pakistan will be demoralized and that England will win comfortably. Crawley has just had a little bit of good fortune, with an attempted catch becoming a six, and his score is now 222, moving him one run ahead of his mentor Rob Key’s highest test score. Only two England batters have had a higher maiden century, Hammond with 251 at Sydney in 1928 and Tip Foster’s 287 also at Sydney in 1903. The 300 stand has just come up for the fifth wicket.

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 Warm Up Matches

Accounts and predictions relating to today’s cricket world cup warm up matches, a health/fitness update and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Two Cricket World Cup Warm Up matches are under way – both at the halfway stage. They form the main part of this post.

WORLD CUP WARM UP MATCHES

There are two games today:

  • South Africa v Sri Lanka South Africa 338-7 from 50 overs.
    A respectable total for South Africa at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff. 88 from Du Plessis and 65 from Amla were the main batting contributions. Left-arm medium pacer Isuru Udana was economical, taking 1-42 from his 10 overs, while Lakmal and Pradeep each took two wickets, though expensively, going for 140 from 19 between them. This is a tough one to call, but looking the way everyone other than Isuru got treated in this innings I am going to predict that Sri Lanka chase these down.
  • Afghanistan v PakistanPakistan 262 all out from 47.2 overs.
    This match, at Ashley Down, Bristol, has all the makings of a classic. A century from Babar Azam was at the heart of the innings – and on recent evidence Babar Azam scoring a century is not necessarily good news for Pakistan. Mohammad Nabi had 3-46 from his 10 overs and Rashid Khan 2-27 from nine, while fast bowler Dawlat Zadran took 2-37 from 5.5 overs. Nabi and Khan will probably be very economical in the world cup, as opponents look to avoid losing wickets to them and hope to cash on the other less good bowlers. Today I am predicting that Afghanistan will chase down this target to put down a marker for the tournament.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND FITNESS

Today I broke new ground in my slow regaining of fitness and health post cancer. I managed to extend this morning’s walk to just opposite The Hob in The Well, which is close to King’s Lynn town centre. I am hoping to develop sufficient fitness to reach King’s Lynn Library unassisted in time for an NAS event there on June 14th, so that I do not have to rely on some kind person being able to gave me a lift. I finish with my usual sign off…

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England v Pakistan Final ODI At Halfway

A look at the cricket world, especially the England v Pakistan ODI, an all-time England ODI team and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The final ODI between England and Pakistan has reached its halfway stage. I will look at that and other stuff in this post.

CRICKET STUFF

England departed from their usual practice and decided to bat first after winning the toss at Headingley. They have amassed 351-9 from their 50 overs, a good but by no means unassailable total. Big scores from Joe Root and Eoin Morgan were at the heart of things, and there were contributions all down the order. Shaheen Shah Afridi took four wickets but paid dearly for them (82 being hit of his ten overs). The real bowling star was Imad Wasim with 3-53 from his 10 overs. This is a close one to call, but I think England have just enough on the board and will defend this total.

Elsewhere Afghanistan bowled Ireland out for 210 and have just started their reply. Paul Stirling made 71 and William Porterfield 51. Fast bowler Dawlat Zadran and medium fast bowler Aftab Alam each took three wickets and highly rated legspinner Rashid Khan took 2-45 from his full 10 overs.

Pakistan Women have won a T20 match against Pakistan with four wickets and two balls to spare. Tazmin Brits made 70 not out for South Africa and had support from Nadine De Klerk (36) and Sune Luus (28 not out). Offspinner Rameen Shamim took 1-20 from her four overs and while medium pacer Aliya Riaz took 1-26 from her four. Pakistan lost their top three cheaply but Iram Javed (55) with good support from all-rounders Nida Dar (32) and Riaz (30) did the job. South Africa’s opening bowlers Shabnim Ismail (2-12) and Mosaline Daniels (3-13) were outstanding but none of the other bowlers did anything.

Update: I am now rather more confident of England’s ability to defend their score as Chris Woakes has bagged three quick wickets, thus far without cost.

The cricket section of the BBC website is offering you the opportunity to pick your all-time England ODI team – click the screenshot of mine below to do so:

ODI XI

The overall most popular selections will be announced on The Tuffers and Vaughan show tomorrow (unfortunately I shall be in bed by then, but I will look it up on Tuesday).

RAINBOW

This appeared outside my bungalow yesterday evening…

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MORE STAMPS

I have been continuing to mount my stamps.:

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Work in progress – a new page begins tot ake shape.

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FINAL PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Multiuple edits of the same shot (four in this case) to do full justice a very handsome little bird.

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A sparrow caught in flight.

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My second example of a photo edited multiple times (three in this case)

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Super Sunday At The Womens World Cup

An account of Super Sunday at the womens World Cup.

INTRODUCTION

Today featured no fewer than four matches in the womens cricket World Cup. I have been listening to radio commentaries and following the action on cricinfo

SOUTH AFRICA V WEST INDIES

This was about as conclusive a victory as I have ever witnessed. First of all South Africa blew the West Indies away for 48. Marizanne Kapp took four wickets, but the most remarkable performance came from Dane Van Niekerk who matched Kapp’s four wickets, but took hers without conceding a run. South Africa then took a mere 6.2 of their possible 50 overs to knock the runs off. Cricinfo have recently started providing video clips, and below is a two minute video showing the West Indies collapse.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/video_audio/1108001.html

INDIA V PAKISTAN

This was the damp squib of the four matches – India limped to 169-9 from their 50 overs and then Pakistan were bowled out for 74 in response, only getting that many courtesy of a 23 run last wicket stand.

ENGLAND V SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka batted first, and managed 204-8. Fran Wilson took an amazing catch along the way (see link below). Laura Marsh returning to the England side took 4-45 from her ten overs, while Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole both bowled well without picking up wickets.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-womens-world-cup-2017/engine/match/1085953.html

Both openers were out fairly cheaply, Tammy Beaumont for 12 and Lauren Winfield, returning from injury, for 26. A big stand between Sarah Taylor and Heather Knight then took England to the brink of victory, before Knight was out for 82. A crunching boundary straight down the ground from Taylor completed the job, leaving her with 74 not out off 67 balls, and England winners by seven wickets with almost 20 overs to spare. At the other end, not having faced a ball, was Natalie Sciver, fresh from scoring 137 off 92 balls against Pakistan.

AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Half centuries from Bates and Perkins got New Zealand to a total of 219-9. For Australia Mooney and Bolton were out fairly cheaply, before Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry shared a good partnership. 16 year old legspinner Amelia Kerr created a bit of excitement when she accounted for Lanning and Elyse Villani in successive deliveries to make it 143-4, but Alex Blackwell was her usual unflappable self, and New Zealand gained only one more wicket, when with the scores level Ellyse Perry holed out for 71. Perry, having started out as a fast bowler who gave it a whack down the order has developed into the most complete all-rounder of either sex currently playing the game – she bats at number four, averaging over 50, and takes the new ball and (in limited overs matches) bowls at the death. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

None pof the four matches were especially close, but three of them featured quality cricket from various players, and I was pleased to see matches being played concurrently, because one reason why mens world cups always seem so interminable is that in deference to the TV people this does not happen. 

A SUNDAY SPREAD

An account of a walk, some final thoughts on the IDS resignation, some very brief comments about the six nations and some stuff about the World T20

INTRODUCTION

With my parents and my aunt away I have been left to my own devices this Sunday. So I am producing this post which features the World T20, a short section on the most despised British minister in living memory (yesterday I posted to links to pieces here and here), and today I am making my last comments on him, and what I shall be starting with…

A SUNDAY STROLL

The live commentary from the World T20 having finished and it being sunny outside I set off for a long walk, starting as so often by heading to the river via the Purfleet.

The river front, from the Purfleet to the Millfleet was, as one would expect on a Sunday, quiet, although the survey boats were still in evidence.

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A cormorant in flight – although they fly low they fly very fast, so capturing them using this mode of travel is difficult.

The cormorant in flight above leads on to my efforts to capture a swimming cormorant (even more of a challenge, because if they are in the water they are usually looking for food, so surface only briefly between dives but…)

Old Boal Quay provided nothing of interest, but ‘cormorant platform’, the Nar outfall and the stretch of the Great Ouse adjoining Hardings Pits did…

Cormorant Platform
I had thought there would be no ‘cormorant platform’ shot, but just before leaving the river I got this one.

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We have lift off!

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A second capture of a swimming cormorant in one day.

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Neither Harding’s Pits nor the area around St John’s Walk offered very much, but I did get these pictures between the river and hitting the path along Bawsey Drain to to the town centre…

I walked about halfway along the path that follows Bawsey Drain before crossing a bridge and heading through a field and round the edge of another to a couple of ponds, from the second of which a path leads to Littleport Street, and thence a cut a know well that brings on to the train station and finally home.

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The new cycle park at King’s Lynn station.

THE END OF THE 
INHUMANE DESPICABLE SOCIOPATH

Yesterday morning I woke up to news of the resignation of the most hated of all British government Ministers. His resignation statement was obviously bogus since it mentioned conscience (which he has never possessed). The most popular explanation was that it was a kind of ‘IDS of March’ act with Osborne’s being the back into which the dagger was being plunged. Others thought that it was to enable him to concentrate on campaigning for a ‘Brexit’ vote.

Signs are not encouraging as regards his replacement – Mr Crabb (for he it is – a sideways move from his previous position of Welsh Secretary – sorry about the pun) has a voting record similar to that of the man he replaces. Mr Crabb can hardly fail to be an improvement (that is not so much setting the bar low as not setting a bar at all) but he may very well not be much of one.

I will conclude this section with some of twitter highlights about the man…

IDS Resigns
The resignation picture
IDS Votes on benefits
His voting record on Welfare – a hint as to why this resignation was a matter for celebration

IDS UN Investigation

IDS Poster
Mike Sivier of Vox Political produced this offering.
IDS Pie Chart
One view of the real reason for the resignation.
IDS Epitaph
The best epitaph for IDS’s political career – this excoriation from Salma Yaqoob on Question Time was bang on the money.#

SPORT SUPPLEMENT

Sport usually occupies the back pages of print media, so I have put it at the back of this post. First a brief congratulation to England for completing their six nations grand slam (as with Wales’ obliteration of Italy – 67-14 – and Ireland’s win over Scotland the result was no great surprise). The rest of this section is dedicated to the

WORLD T20

This is going be longer than such a section would usually be because of this post which appeared on whyevolutionistrue yesterday. As you will see, this attempt at an explanation is too long to submit as a comment to someone else’s blog. We start with a glossary of a few important terms:

Innings: can either apply to an individual performance or to the team performance. In a cricket context the singular and plural are spelled the same way – ‘inning’ has no meaning.

Over: A fixed number of legal balls (these days six, though at various times in cricket’s long history four, five and eight have been favoured) that the bowler delivers before the action switches to the other end and another bowler.

Run: The unit in which a team score is measured. It is based on running the length of the cricket pitch, which is worth one. Balls that reach the boundary score four (if they bounce before doing so) or six (if they cross on the full).

Wicket: The construction, comprising three stumps and two bails that the batter defends. Cricket is generally an eleven-a-side game, so each side has ten wickets to defend (as there have be two batsman together).

The World T20 is genuinely a world tournament (unlike some sports, cricket only uses international designations when they are genuinely appropriate!), with the full member nations of the ICC qualifying automatically, and the ‘associate members’ playing a pre-qualifying tournament from which some make it to the main event. The T20 part of the format refers to the format of the matches, where each side gets 20 overs to bat, and bowlers are limited to four overs each (so you better have at least five folk in your team who can bowl decently). Scoring in these matches is generally fast, though the England v South Africa match of a few days ago in which a South Africa tally of 229-4 proved insufficient was exceptional even for this format. The India v Pakistan match that provoked the google doodle which in turn provoked the WEIT post had extra spice because of the political situation which also means that those two countries only ever play each other in global tournaments, never in bilateral series. For the record India won, not without a few scares along the way. This morning GB time there was a match between South Africa and Afghanistan, won by South Africa but with the Afghans giving a very good account of themselves.