Train v Plane

A look at the London to Glasgow Train vs Plane race organized by Campaign for Better Transport that took place yesterday.

This post is inspired by a contest set up by Campaign for Better Transport. With COP26 taking place in Glasgow the campaign group set up a race from London to Glasgow with one guy using train and one guy going by plane. I will give the details of that contest and then describe how I myself would get to Glasgow from King’s Lynn.

LONDON TO GLASGOW RACE

The train guy had a four stop tube journey to Euston and then a fast train service to Glasgow. The plane guy had to get to Luton Airport, get through airport security and board the plane, and then get a shuttle bus from the airport at the other end to central Glasgow.

The plane guy got to the destination first, by two measly minutes. As against that the train guy had a straightforward, stress free journey, whereas the plane guy did not. The other point is that the plane journey causes seven times the carbon emissions of the train journey. A total gain of two minutes on a journey of that length cannot be worth either the extra stress or the extra pollution, thus although this race did not quite have the result I was hoping for it is enough to say:

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Here for extra evidence is the final tweet from CBT about the race:

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KING’S LYNN TO GLASGOW

If I was to travel from King’s Lynn to Glasgow I would do so using two modes of public transport plus of course Shanks’ Pony at each end of the journey. I would walk from my bungalow to King’s Lynn bus station from where I would catch an ExCel bus to Peterborough and would then take the train from Peterborough to Glasgow. The reason for starting the route by bus is that if I use train all the way from King’s Lynn I have to change at Ely, whereas the bus goes direct to Peterborough. From King’s Lynn there is no remotely local airport that would be even vaguely sensible to use – the two nearest, Norwich and Stansted both entail starting one’s journey by travelling in the wrong direction, so even a die-hard plane aficionado would probably be forced to accept that plane is really not an option for this journey.

From my childhood home in south London the best route would be Northern line from Tooting Bec to Stockwell, Victoria line from Stockwell to Euston (the extra speed of the Victoria line justifying the apparently unnecessary change at Stockwell, which also happens to be a cross-platform interchange) and the fast train from Euston to Glasgow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

XIs I Would Want To Watch

This post was inspired by a tweet from Third Man Cricket, which I reproduce below to set the scene:

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I shall be producing three XIs – a current men’s XI, an all time men’s XI and a current women’s XI. In the latter I will mention several names who would feature in an all time version.

MEN’S CURRENT XI

  1. Dean Elgar (left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner). The South African has established himself as one of the best long form openers around, and he is a natural counterpoint to the other opening batter.
  2. Chris Gayle (left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner). The greatest T20 batter the world has yet seen, he can also handle long form cricket, as evidenced by two test triple centuries.
  3. *Tom Abell (right handed batter, right arm medium pacer, captain). With Elgar and Gayle opening he would likely get to the middle somewhat later than he usually does for Somerset, for whom he plays. Until September when things went pear shaped both for him and for Somerset he was having a fantastic season, and I for one look forward to seeing him playing test cricket.
  4. Joe Root (right handed batter, occasional off spinner). Since the start of 2021 seven test centuries have been scored by England batters, and six of those stand to the credit of Joe Root.
  5. Kane Williamson (right handed batter). The Kiwi recently led his side to victory in the first ever World Test Championship final.
  6. +Ben Foakes (right handed batter, wicket keeper). The best keeper currently playing the game, and at no6, with a bit of ballast between him and the genuine tail enders he should fare well.
  7. Matt Critchley (right handed batter, leg spinner). His bowling is not necessarily going to feature (as you will see I have gone spin heavy). He has had an excellent season for Derbyshire and would certainly be in my Ashes tour party.
  8. R Ashwin (off spinner, right handed batter). The best off spinner currently playing the game, and as England learned in India recently a more than useful lower order batter.
  9. Kagiso Rabada (right arm fast bowler, right handed batter). One half of an explosive new ball pairing I have selected.
  10. Jack Leach (left arm orthodox spinner, left handed batter). England’s best current spinner, with 340 FC wickets at 26 a piece. His test record from 16 games reads 62 wickets at 29.98, very respectable. His next outing unless that tour gets cancelled will be in The Ashes later this year.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah (right arm fast, right handed batter). His spell on the final afternoon at The Oval broke England’s resistance in that match. He is also one of the select few visiting fast bowlers to have rattled the Australians in their own backyard.

This side has a strong batting line up, with everyone down to Ashwin at eight capable of major contributions, and has a splendid range of bowling options, though some my consider it light on seam/pace options, with Tom Abell the only bowler of that type other than the new ball pair. Ashwin and Leach should function well together as a spin duo, and although this is mainly about players I would want to see in action I would expect this combination to fare well against any opposition.

MEN’S ALL TIME

  1. *WG Grace (right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career, captain). The founding father of cricket as we know it, his career figures are staggering – 54,896 first class runs, beaten only by Hobbs, Woolley, Hendren and Mead, and 2,876 wickets, beaten only by Rhodes, Freeman, Parker, Hearne and Tom Goddard. From hitting a then ground record 224 v Surrey at The Oval (maiden FC ton) to saving a Gentlemen vs Players match by scoring 74 on his 58th birthday, his great moments in FC cricket spanned 40 years.
  2. Victor Trumper (right handed opening batter). In the wet season of 1902 he had what was virtually a royal progress around England, amassing 2,570 runs in first class matches for the Australians, including 11 centuries. The highlight both of that season and of his career came in the fourth test match at Manchester, when reached his century before lunch on the first day. England hit back strongly, and at one stage in the final innings were 92-3, needing only a further 32 to complete victory, but a batting collapse saw them all out for 120 giving Austalia victory by three runs and with it The Ashes.
  3. George Gunn (right handed batter). One of cricket’s great eccentrics, he could do almost anything depending on his mood. He once gave his wicket away because he did not want to bat in the hot weather, and on another occasion he responded to being told that lunch was being taken later than usual by getting himself out so that he could eat at his regular time. He was would dance down the pitch against fast bowlers. Neville Cardus described him as “o rare George Gunn”. His brother William was an England regular and also the original Gunn of Gunn & Moore batmakers. Although she is also a native of Nottinghamshire as far as I am aware Jenny Gunn who has recently finished a long career for the England women’s team is unrelated to him.
  4. Frank Woolley (left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner). The only player ever achieve the first class career treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches. He scored his runs at a tremendous rate, and must have been incredible to watch in action.
  5. Wally Hammond (right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler). His chief glory was his cover drive, rated by Don Bradman as the greatest example of that shot the he ever saw (and Bradman as well as being the best batter ever to play the game saw almost every great player of the 20th century).
  6. Garry Sobers (left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket). The most complete player the game has ever known, and surely one of the most watchable as well.
  7. Gilbert Jessop (right handed batter, right arm fast bowler). The fastest scorer the game has ever seen, a fine bowler (it was actually in this capacity that he was first selected for England) and a gun fielder.
  8. +Alan Knott (wicket keeper, right handed batter). One of the greatest ever exponents of the keepers art and a more than useful lower middle order batter, noted for his ability to improvise long before that was a major thing in cricket.
  9. Harold Larwood (right arm fast bowler, right handed batter). One of three English fast bowlers to have blitzed the Aussies on their own pitches, along with Tyson in 1954-5 and Snow in 1970-1. In the final match of the 1932-3 Ashes, what turned out to be his last ever test appearance, he scored 98 as nightwatch. On his previous tour of Australia in 1928-9 he had scored 70 from no9 in the first test match.
  10. Syd Barnes (right arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter). 189 wickets from just 27 matches, an average of seven wickets per game, and they cost him only 16.43 a piece. His great weapon was a leg break, delivered at fast medium pace. The only bowler other than him to master a delivery of this type was Alec Bedser.
  11. William Mycroft (left arm fast bowler, right handed batter). The only non-test player in the XI, but over 800 FC wickets at 12 a piece. In 1876 he became the first player ever to take 17 wickets in a first class match, for Derbyshire against Hampshire, but Hampshire sneaked home by one wicket.

This side is fantastically equipped in all departments, and would fare well against most combinations.

WOMEN’S CURRENT XI

  1. Tammy Beaumont (right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper, occasional off spinner). The diminutive opener demonstrated her enduring class with a superb century against New Zealand at her home ground of Canterbury in the last international fixture of the 2021 season. Her innings laid the foundation for a late onslaught from Danni Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley that propelled England to 347-5 from 50 overs, a total that NZ never looked like chasing.
  2. Laura Wolvaardt (right handed batter). The South African has not yet played test cricket (the women don’t get to play nearly enough of that format) but all indications, including the fact the she is much better in ODIs than in T20Is are that she would be at home in that format.
  3. *Smriti Mandhana (left handed batter, captain). The stylish Indian has just burnished an already hugely impressive record by scoring a test century against Australia in Australia, at Carrara.
  4. Ellyse Perry (right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler). The best all rounder of either sex currently playing the game. If she learns to bowl spin (both off and leg spin would be required) she would rival Sobers for the title of the most complete cricketer of them all.
  5. +Amy Jones (right handed batter, wicket keeper). A brilliant wicket keeper and a fine attacking batter.
  6. Sophia Dunkley (right handed batter, occasional leg spinner). She has rapidly established herself as an England regular.
  7. Deepti Sharma (left handed batter, off spinner). The Indian all rounder helped to build on the platform that Mandhana’s innings referred to above gave India in Carrara, scoring 59 of her own.
  8. Katherine Brunt (right arm fast medium, right handed batter). The veteran from Barnsley remains a formidable bowler, has developed her batting to the point of being not far short of a genuine all rounder, and is always hugely entertaining.
  9. Sophie Ecclestone (left arm orthodox spinner, right handed batter). She takes her international wickets at 20 each and at the age of 22 is the best finger spinner currently playing women’s cricket.
  10. Stella Campbell (right arm fast, right handed batter). The tall (1.86 metres = 6′ 1″ in old money) Aussie teenager is a perfect contrast to the much shorter Brunt. She is also significantly quicker than the Yorkshirewoman, as the tweet below from Hypocaust shows:

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11. Poonam Yadav (leg spinner, right handed batter). From the tallest member of the side, and its fastest bowler, to the shortest and its slowest bowler. She tosses the ball so high that one sometimes wonders whether air traffic control towers pick up tiny white dots on their radar screens when she is bowling. The method is undoubtedly effective for her – she has a magnificent record.

This side features a strong batting line up and a beautifully balance bowling unit, with Campbell, Brunt and Perry to bowl pace and the trio of Yadav, Ecclestone and Sharma providing three very different spin options.

I have chosen not to an all-time women’s XI, but the following players not named above would all be ones I would want to accommodate somehow: Charlotte Edwards (right handed opening batter), Enid Bakewell (right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner), Carole Hodges (right handed batter, off spinner), Karen Rolton (right handed batter), Sarah Taylor (right handed batter, wicket keeper) and Cathryn Fitzpatrick (right arm fast bowler, right handed batter)

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Warwickshire Complete Red Ball Double

An account of Warwickshire completing the red ball double by adding the Bob Willis Trophy to the County Championship.

At 11:40AM today, just 1 hour and ten minutes into the fourth of five scheduled days, and with weather interruptions shortening two of the previous three days Warwickshire completed victory over Lancashire by the crushing margin of an innings and 199 runs to add the Bob Willis Trophy to this years County Championship. This post looks back at the match.

A 440 RUN LEAD

On day 1 Lancashire were rolled for 78 (and it might have been worse – at low water mark they were 12-6) and Warwickshire replied with 120-0 (see here). On day two Warwickshire steam rollered on, leaving 400 behind them as Rob Yates (for the fifth time this season) and Will Rhodes (for the first time of the season) each topped three figures. The sole bright spot for Lancashire lay in the bowling of Parkinson who emerged from the carnage with figures of 3-71. On day three, which through a combination of work and major weather interventions I missed the whole of, Warwickshire extended their innings to 518, Parkinson claiming a fourth wicket along the way. His figures in FC cricket are now 102 wickets at 23.35, comfortably the cheapest average of any current English spinner have 100 or more FC wickets. While Leach has an unquestionable claim on the no1 spinners position for the Ashes, Parkinson should also be in the party, along with Liam Patterson-White of Nottinghamshire. Lancashire then stumbled to 171-6 in their second innings.

THE LAST RITES

There was some overnight rain in London, but these days Thomas Lord’s third ground is one of the best draining cricket venues in the world, and play started bang on time. Although the Lancashire batters provided a little entertainment there was never any doubt about the eventual result. In the end it was Liam Norwell who had the distinction of claiming the final wicket, Tom Bailey top edging an attempted pull and Michael Burgess doing well get under the catch. It was his third wicket of the innings, a distinction he shared with left arm tweaker Danny Briggs, while Miles, Johal the debutant and Bresnan each had one wicket. Balderson scored 65 for Lancashire. The first Bob Willis Trophy final between Somerset and Essex last year was drawn, with the trophy going to Essex for being ahead on first innings. This year, Warwickshire, for whom ‘big Bob‘ played for many years became the first county to win this match outright, and they did so mightily impressively.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

Return to Work – A Story Three Years in the Making

A post about my recent return to work and some of things associated with it.

Regular followers of this blog will be well aware that I had a very serious illness in 2018 (I put up various posts about this). This post tells the story of my path back to work (albeit on a very part time basis).

A False Dawn – Winter 2019 to Spring 2020

By the time a year had elapsed since the worst of my illness I was thinking about the possibility of returning to work, but I did not feel that winter was the right time (some long term lung damage and a compromised immune system influenced this). The plan which my employer was fully on board with was that I would return in April 2020. Then of course the covid-19 pandemic hit, preventing any possibility of a return to work at that stage. However, on July 1st of this year I returned to work on a one day per week basis…

PUBLIC TRANSPORT NIGHTMARE

At the time of my illness Lynx Bus had taken over the services between King’s Lynn and Fakenham (the town where I work), and at the time of my illness they had been starting to provide a proper service. Unfortunately, as I discovered when checking out bus times for my return I discovered that the pandemic had reduced their services to skeleton levels, and to date that has not changed. James and Sons open their doors between 10AM and 3PM. There are three options, all far from ideal for getting into Fakenham in the morning: 7:00AM direct bus, gets to Fakenham at 7:49, leaving me a couple of hours to kill in Fakenham, leave at the same early hour and go via Hunstanton and Wells, arriving in Fakenham at 9:30, or 10:00, getting to Fakenham at 10:50. Of these three only the latter is really practicable as a route in. Getting home is worse still: there is no direct bus between 1:00PM and 6:00PM. Therefore I board the 3:00PM bus and take the scenic route back to Lynn (Fakenham – Wells – Hunstanton – Lynn), usually arriving home at about 5:45PM. It is these issues with travel that prevent me from committing to more than one day per week.

PRESS RELEASES

The auction of August 31st and September 1st 2021 was notably successful. I put out a press release about lots 1 and 2, two Steven pennies, which went for £700 and £900 respectively.

Many other items sold for huge money at that auction. A gold bracelet of Egyptian pattern attracted particularly vigorous bidding, going for £1,150, while a gold hunter watch went for £600, and a pair of diamond earrings fetched over £400. Here are some the images of lots that sold well…

RECENT IMAGING

My most recent imaging has been for our October auction, in which a number of swagger sticks feature…

THE SEPTEMBER AUCTION

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week James and Sons had a two day stamp auction. By and large things went well. I was a successful bidder on three lots – 663 (French railway stamps, hammer price £5), 892 (Benham mini FDCs, railway themed, hammer price £18) and lot 936 (Channel Tunnel opening FDCs with certificates of authenticity, hammer price £8). I did not originally image these lots, but have done so in great detail since taking possession, and I end this post with those images…

England Women Poised For Series Win Over Kiwis

An account of yesterday’s second ODI between the England and New Zealand women’s teams plus some recent photographs.

There is no cricket happening today (except in that two-bit tournament taking place in Dubai), bu yesterday saw the second of five One Day Internationals between the England and New Zealand women’s teams. This post looks back a wonderful, low scoring contest.

THE PRELIMINARIES

Katherine Brunt was rested by England for this match, Danni Wyatt coming in to the side to make her 200th appearance in an England shirt. New Zealand won the toss and put England in.

THE ENGLAND INNINGS

The innings began with a maiden bowled by Jess Kerr to Lauren Winfield-Hill. In the second over Tammy Beaumont cracked three boundaries against Sophie Devine before deciding to shoulder arms to the final ball which came back off the pitch just enough to hit the stumps. Knight joined Winfield-Hill and the prospered for a time, until Knight fell for 18. Thereafter wickets fell at regular intervals, and at 146-9 England looked doomed. At that point Tash Farrant joined Wyatt who had shown signs of finding her best form, and now did so with a vengeance. Farrant scored 22 and helped the last wicked to put on 51. Wyatt on her return to ODI action scored 63 not out, with the only other score above Farrant’s 22 being 39 from Winfield-Hill. Hannah Rowe and Leigh Kasperek took three wickets each.

THE NEW ZEALAND INNINGS

Suzie Bates started as though this was going to be easy for New Zealand, but at 40, of which she contributed 28 she was well caught by Wyatt off Kate Cross. The decision went upstairs, but the catch was definitely clean. Sophie Ecclestone got Maddy Green in her first over to make it 63-2, and in the very next over Cross accounted for Lauren Down (22) to make it 64-3. Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite put on 21, but Satterthwaite never got going, and at 85 her innings ended for 1, a third wicket for Kate Cross. Brooke Halliday joined Devine, and at 111-4, 87 needed for victory, the rain got heavy enough for the umpires to take the players off. The players returned to the field with New Zealand facing an adjusted target of 183 from 42 overs, meaning that they needed 72 from the last 18 to win. Natalie Sciver produced a superb delivery to bowl Devine for 28, making it 114-5. Then Charlie Dean, a 20 year old off spinner making just her second international appearance accounted for Katey Martin (6), Hannah Rowe (7), the big scalp of Halliday (29) and Kasperek (10), and New Zealand were 161-9, with nos 10 and 11 Lea Tahuhu and Jess Kerr together at the crease. With one ball of the 39th over to go the score had inched up to 169, at which point Tahuhu aimed a drive at Tash Farrant and succeeded only in chipping the ball straight to extra cover where Heather Knight made no mistake, and England were home by 14 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. Charlie Dean had 4-36 from eight overs, an outstanding performance which settled the match. The Player of the Match Award went to Danni Wyatt who had followed her 63 no out that gave England an outside chance of winning with an immaculate fielding performance. Ultimately, given that four kiwis reached 20, but Brooke Halliday was their top scorer with 29 this was the right call, and in one it was fitting that on a landmark day for her Wyatt got the award, but also Charlie Dean’s outstanding spell deserved recognition and there was certainly a case for at least a shared award. England lead the series 2-0 and will have a chance to take an unassailable lead tomorrow in the 3rd ODI. There are not many innings in which she bowls in which Ecclestone is other than the most threatening spinner on show but yesterday against New Zealand was definitely one. Full scorecard here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Long Weekend 8: Berwick Upon Tweed and Home

Wrapping up my account of my long weekend away doing family things, plus a couple of important links.

This post wraps up my somewhat syncopated series about a long weekend away doing family things (14-17 August inclusive), by covering the events of the Tuesday. Before I get into the main body of the post I have a couple of links to share: there is a just giving page up in connection with NAS West Norfolk being the Lynn News Charity of the Year 2021, which you can visit by clicking here. Also PhoebeMD has once again opened her blog up to those who wish to promote their own blogs – please do so.

BERWICK UPON TWEED

There is plenty of interest to see in this border town (it has changed hands between England and Scotland many a time in its history). My time in the town was limited by the fact that I had a train home to catch in order to back in time for an evening commitment in King’s Lynn, something I just managed, although an inopportune delay which had a knock on effect on the rest of the journey made it very tight indeed.

THE JOURNEY HOME

The train route from Berwick to York is very scenic, but once past York it becomes quite ordinary. Overall the journey was not too bad, though I was panicking for some of it due to time constraints. The departure from Berwick takes one over a remarkable bridge which features frequently in the photos that end this post, and Alnmouth, which also serves the adjoining town of Alnwick is remarkably attractive.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have set the scene above but the main story of this post is told by the pictures that bring it to a conclusion.

Heritage Open Day 2021

Yesterday was Heritage Open Day 2021, and this is my account of the day as I experienced it.

Heritage Open Day in King’s Lynn happens on the second Sunday in September (except last year when for reasons not needing elaboration it did not happen at all), which this year was yesterday. This post describes the day as I experienced it, and is rather longer than my usual posts.

THE BEGINNING:
TUESDAY MARKET PLACE

There is a classic car show in the Tuesday Market Place in conjunction with Heritage Open Day, and viewed as the museum pieces that such contraptions should become some of the specimens are seriously impressive…

THE CUSTOM HOUSE

The first building I visited this time round was The Custom House, one of the two most iconic buildings in Lynn (The Townhall/ Guildhall is the other). They have an excellent little display upstairs, and it was well worth venturing indoors to see it…

THE RED MOUNT CHAPEL

A favourite of mine, standing on its own in the middle of an area of parkland, with the bandstand visible through the trees and the ruins of the Guanock Gate about 100 yards away. There are actually two chapels, the upper chapel and the lower chapel, and the thick walls and small windows that the outside of the building features are testament to the need to guard against religious persecution in earlier times…

THE JEWISH CEMETERY

This is near the top end of Millfleet, and most of the year if one spots it one can glimspe through the gate and see some of it. It was fully open for Heritage Open Day, and with lots of extra information made available…

ST NICHOLAS CHAPEL

I know this place well, but was interested to see what might be happening there in Heritage Open Day, and have no regrets about having ventured in.

VOLUNTEERING:
HAMPTON COURT GARDEN

I was assigned the 2PM to 4PM shift at Hampton Court Garden, also referred to as the Secret Garden, because most of the time very few people are aware of it’s existence – the only clue from the street any time other than Heritage Open Day is a very ordinary looking navy blue door set into the wall, an even the passage providing direct access from the courtyard is one that you would only know as such if you had been told (the extreme lowness of the door into the garden that way means that it cannot be used on Heritage Open Day for Health and Safety reasons). There are at least three places called Hampton Court, the famous one in Surrey, another in Herefordshire, and this one (Wolsey’s former pad in Surrey is the parvenu of the three). This Hampton Court is named in honour of John Hampton who was responsible for the newest side of the courtyard, which actually made it a courtyard (even this, two centuries younger than anything else there, dates from the 17th century). He was a baker who made good use of being based at the heart of a town that was the third busiest port in England at the time – he specialized in ship’s biscuits, for which he had a captive market.

The part of Hampton Court visible from the garden dates from 1440 and started life as an arcade fronted warehouse facing directly onto the river (it is the last surviving example of such a frontage in England). The earliest part of Hampton Court dates from 1350, and the first expansion happened in 1400.

The warehouse lost its raison d’etre through two factors: ships got bigger, and the river silted up. A new quayside was constructed resulting in the relocation of the river to its current location fractionally east of Hampton Court, and this left the warehouse quite literally high and dry.

It was nearly lost forever in the mid 20th century, because in the 1930s Hampton Court was basically derelict. At one time the council intended to knock it down and replace it with a modern block of flats but then a very determined lady by the name of Mrs Lane came on the scene. She bought the place up bit by bit and renovation work started. From this the King’s Lynn Preservation Trust came into being, and they own the freehold on Hampton Court to this day, with the individual flats, which are all different from one another, being leasehold properties.

My chief responsibility in my stewarding role was take note of numbers of people coming to visit. These numbers were reassuringly high – by the end of the day the tally was in the region of 500 visitors, and there were many expression of surprise and delight from those to whom it was a new place.

OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS

These remaining photographs were taken at various places in and around town during the day but do not belong in any specific section…

A Plan for Australia

A detailed look at possibilities for The Ashes.

With the last test of the series against India cancelled officially due to a Covid outbreak in the Indian ranks and unofficially due to the Indian players and board prioritizing the IPL over test cricket, I offer up detailed suggestions for the upcoming Ashes tour.

A BIG SQUAD NEEDED

In view of the situation, with Covid still very much with us, and Australia unlikely to allow reinforcements to be flown in mid-series England will need a large squad to give themselves a chance of getting through the tour. Thus the bulk of this post will look at 22 players who I have arranged into two teams who might contest a warm-up match. Before I get into that part of the post I need to clear up a few details, and after I have finished I will mention a couple of other players of promise.

PLAYERS NOT COVERED
IN THIS POST

There are some well known names who for various reasons do not feature in the main part of the post:

  • Players who are hors de combat for various reasons: Jofra Archer and Olly Stone are both definitely unavailable due to injuries, and even if Stuart Broad recovers in time to make the tour an away Ashes series is probably not advisable for someone coming back from a serious injury. Ben Stokes must also be regarded as unavailable at present – until and unless he himself states that he is ready to return to the side he should not be a factor in anyone’s calculations.
  • Players who are surplus to test requirements: I have seen enough of Moeen Ali, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow to be certain that none of them belong in the test arena. Ali averages less than 29 with the bat, almost 37 with the ball and appears to be on the decline into the bargain, Bairstow had one good 12 month period starting in December 2015, but either side of that has consistently averaged in the mid 20s in a career that spans nine years, while Malan has produced one major test innings in his life and is now in his mid 30s.
  • Players I do not think need to play a warm up fixture, though they will be in the squad: Joe Root and Jos Buttler. The former would give whichever side he was part of a huge advantage, while we all know what the latter is capable of.

TEAM ABELL

  1. Tom Haines: Sussex, left handed opening batter. This season has been a breakout one for the youngster (23 years old), with him averaging close to 50 with the bat for his county.
  2. Alex Davies: Warwickshire (leaving Lancashire at the end of this season), right handed opening batter, occasional wicket keeper. He has had two strong seasons in a row (is avergaing 48 this season), and the fact that in retaliation for his decision to move to Warwickshire Lancashire have been vindictive enough to drop him (a classic example of cutting the nose off to spite the face) should have no bearing on whether or not he gets picked for this party.
  3. *Tom Abell: Somerset, right handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler, captain. He has been superb for Somerset this season and is an excellent skipper.
  4. Harry Brook: Yorkshire, right handed batter. The 22 year old Yorkshireman has a modest overall record but has been excellent this season and appears to have a fine temperament.
  5. Ollie Pope: Surrey, right handed batter, occasional keeper. Has an awesome record for Surrey but has yet to translate this to a higher level, though he did score 81 in the first innings of the last test at his home ground, and appears one of two genuine candidate for this slot.
  6. Oliver George Robinson: Kent, wicket keeper, right handed batter. The 23 year old is one of a number of talented young keeper batters that England have available to them.
  7. Matt Critchley: Derbyshire, right handed batter, leg spinner. His bowling does not quite allow him to be called an all rounder, but he has been batting well for Derbyshire of late, and his leg spin is not entirely to be disregarded.
  8. Craig Overton: Somerset, right arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter. As Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett showed a decade ago extra height can be a valuable asset in Australia, and the giant Devonian has it in spades. He is also a more than handy batter to have coming at eight.
  9. Mark Wood: Durham, right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. With Archer and Stone both hors de combat he is the only express bowler England can seriously consider (Brydon Carse, his Durham team mate, is just as quick but has an uninspiring red ball record, and I have come to hate seeing players picked for test cricket based on white ball performances).
  10. Jack Leach: Somerset, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed lower order batter. He is the only current England spinner with a respectable test record (62 wickets in 16 matches at 29.98 – so almost four wickets a game and an average the right side of 30). In first class cricket there are a couple of spinners with cheaper averages than his 26 per wicket, but they have many fewer wickets than he does. It is one of the great absurdities of the last couple of years that he has not been England’s first choice spinner on a regular basis.
  11. James Anderson: Lancashire, right arm fast medium bowler, left handed lower order batter. England’s all time leading wicket taker. He was the leading wicket taker in the series last time England won in Australia a decade ago, and there is little sign of his powers waning for all that he turned 39 during this season

This side contains a solid top five, a talented keeper/batter at six, a player in good batting for at seven, and a well balanced front four bowlers, with support available from Critchley’s leg spin and Abell’s medium pace. Now it is time for a look at the opposition…

TEAM BURNS

  1. *Rory Burns: Surrey, left handed opening batter, captain. Only one English batter not named Root has scored a test ton in 2021, this man. He also has two fifties in his last three innings and is showing signs of forming a successful opening partnership with…
  2. Haseeb Hameed: Nottinghamshire, right handed opening batter. Having begun a renaissance after moving from Lancashire following a couple of lean seasons he announced his return to form to a wider audience when he scored a ton for the County Select XI v The Indians. His subsequent recall to the test ranks has seen two fifties in three innings back, both coming in century stands with Burns.
  3. James Bracey:Gloucestershire, right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. A typical moment in recent England selection history saw this man make his test debut in his second favourite role and batting way out of position at number seven. Not altogether surprisingly he fared poorly on that occasion, but he deserves another chance, this time in his proper position and preferred role.
  4. Liam Livingstone: Lancashire, right handed batter, occasional purveyor of both off and leg spin. Has a good FC record, although he is better known for his white ball exploits.
  5. Dan Lawrence: Essex, right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He and Pope are the principal contenders for the no5 slot, and both have shown promise with neither staking an unassailable claim to the place.
  6. +Ben Foakes: Surrey, right handed batter, wicket keeper. The best English keeper currently playing the game and a fine middle order batter. I put him at six to insulate him just a bit from batting with the tail – nos 7 and 8 can both be counted as all rounders and the no9 is better than most lower order batters.
  7. Chris Woakes: Warwickshire, right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. With the colossus Stokes having to be regarded as hors de combat this man is the best all rounder available to England, and he would walk into almost any test side. His return to test action against India at The Oval saw him take a good haul of wickets, score a 50 and offer some decent resistance in the second innings when England were slumping.
  8. Liam Patterson-White: Nottinghamshire, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed batter. He recently reached a maiden first class hundred at the expense of Somerset, and his wickets in that match took his bowling average below 30. His temperament appears to be excellent as well. He has less FC experience than anyone else in either side.
  9. Oliver Edward Robinson: Sussex, right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. He has had a sensational start to his test career, and as a bowler who uses his great height to cause opponents problems he may well enjoy bowling in the homeland of Glenn McGrath. His batting can also be valuable.
  10. Matt Parkinson: Lancashire, leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. After 29 first class games the young leg spinner has 93 wickets at 23.95. That average is excellent, but there is a concern over the relatively low wickets per game ratio. Nevertheless I feel that he deserves a place in this tour party – no current English spinner with over 5oFC wickets has taken them more cheaply than the Lancastrian.
  11. Saqib Mahmood: Lancashire, right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. He has 70 wickets in FC cricket at 26 a piece and is quite sharp.

This side contains a good top five, one of the greatest of all wicket keepers, genuine all rounders at seven and eight, a bowler who can bat at nine and two excellent bowlers to round out the XI.

I conclude this section with a graphic:

ODDS AND ENDS

This section looks at a few other players who may be on the radar before long:

  • English off spinners have generally struggled down under (even Graeme Swann paid almost 40 per wicket in 2010-11, and failed to make it through the 2013-14 series), which is why none feature in my selections. There are two whose current records suggest they may make the grade eventually: Jack Carson of Sussex and Amar Virdi of Surrey.
  • Dan Moriarty, a left arm orthodox spinner, has a remarkable record in his fledgling first class career and may well be a candidate for elevation in the near future.
  • Luke Hollman, a leg spinning all rounder, has recently recorded a ten wicket match haul for Middlesex, and he may be a candidate in future.
  • When qualified for England Ricardo Vasconcelos of Northamptonshire will be a candidate for a top order berth.
  • Various fast medium bowlers whose chief weapon is accuracy have been overlooked because bowlers of that type rarely make much impact down under: Ben Coad, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter and Ben Sanderson are four who have very fine county records.

Please feel free to comment with suggestions of your own.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Well done for making it to the end of this post and enjoy my usual sign off…