Cook Signing Off In Style As England Close In On 4-1 Series Victory

A ‘farewell to Alastair Cook’ post, with some suggestions for the future.

INTRODUCTION

As well as this current match I will be looking to the future (and inevitably back to the past). 

ENGLAND IN COMPLETE COMMAND

Alastair Cook has ensured that tomorrow’s sports pages will feature one story and one story only by reaching a century in his final test innings (it is not quite a duplication of Greg Chappell’s ‘full circle’ act of scoring centuries in his first and last test innings, because Cook reached his maiden ton in the second innings of his debut match, but it is a unique bookending double for Cook because he scored a fiftty and a century on debut and has now done the same in his final test match. The hundred was brought up courtesy of Jasprit Bumrah’s KP impression – shying wildly at the stumps with no chance of a run out even if he had hit and seeing the ball race away for four overthrows, allowing Cook the rare distinction of completing his hundred with a five. Cook has just gone for 147. His aggregate of 218 in his final match is not a record – that belongs to Andy Sandham who at the age of 39 scored 325 and 50 against the West Indies at Sabina Park (in a match that was abandoned as a draw after two days were washed out and England then had to catch the boat home). For the home series against Australia England reverted to the regular opening combo of Hobbs and Sutcliffe, and as fortune would have it Sandham never played again, while second in that roll of honour is Bill Ponsford who scored 266 and 23 the Oval in 1934, helping Australia to clinch the Ashes with victory by 562 runs. Among the welter of records generated by this final innings Cook is now established as the most prolific test match left hander of all time, having moved ahead of Kumar Sanggakkara. Cook finishes with 12472 runs at 45.35 and having occupied the crease in test match cricket for just over 621 hours in the course of his career (103.5 days play = batting for the equivalent of just over 20 of his 161 test matches). 

The fairytale script for the rest of this match has Anderson moving ahead of McGrath to become the leading wicket taking seamer in test cricket history, preferably with the history making wicket being that of Virat Kohli. Given the size of England’s lead and the amount of time left in the game the victory is pretty much nailed on.

THE FUTURE

Thanks to their policy of sticking with Jennings long past his sell by date England now need two new openers. I see the following options for England now:

  1. The cowardly (and in my view indefensible) option of sticking with Jennings and recalling Stoneman so that they have an opening pair who have both played test cricket.
  2. The “safe” option of going with one of Stoneman/ Jennings and presumably one out of Rory Burns or Nick Gubbins
  3. Go for a complete fresh start with Burns and Gubbins both debuting at the top of the order. Preferable in my view to either 1 or 2 but hardly ideal.
  4. The left-field option that I have mentioned in previous posts (here for example) of giving Tammy Beaumont who has been scoring bucketloads in international cricket the opportunity to play alongisde the men and giving the other opening slot to either Burns or Gubbins. 

Option 1 if taken would see me breathing fire, option 2 would be disappointing but unsurprising, I would applaud the taking of option 3, while I recognize that there is basically zero chance of option 4 being taken I would love to see it happen. 

Apart from the retired Cook and the (I hope) dropped Jennings I would include the other nine from this match,  Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood in the touring party to Sri Lanka, add in Bess as an extra spinning option (likely to be needed in that part of the world), certainly give consideration to further beefing up the spin department with Amar Virdi, and pick top order batters Beaumont, Burns and Gubbins envisaging the first two as regular openers and Gubbins as back-up in case of injury. Certainly three genuine openers are needed, and as far as I am concerned if either Stoneman or Jennings feature the selectors will have failed in their duty. England have seven matches to develop a settled side before the Aussies come calling next year, and need to use them properly – and picking two openers who are proven failures at the highest level would not be doing that.

BACK TO THE PRESENT

While I have been writing this England have reached tea with their lead already past 400. The final session should go as follows: cram on as many runs as possible in 1st hour after tea and then declare if not all out, and then get stuck into India hoping to knock the top off their second innings before the close. Being greedy, and tomorrow being a work day, I hope Anderson gets his three to move ahead of McGrath tonight, as if he doesn’t I will almost certainly miss that historic moment. 

If, as now seems likely, England win this series 4-1 will they have deserved it? Absolutely – yes India had good chances at times of four of the five matches in this series but save at Trent Bridge they could not close things out. In match 1 England were 87-7 in their second innings, only 100 to the good, but the last three wickets more than doubled their score to set a target that India could (and ultimately did) get in trouble chasing, in the second game England dominated from start to finish, while in the third India did likewise, in the fourth England were 86-6 in the first innings and recovered to reach 246, and in this match England were 181-7 and then 214-8 in the first innings before India let things slip to such an extent that England tallied 332 in the end, and since that late order revival they have been in control (although India’s tail staged a minor wag of their own to restrict the first innings advantage to a mere 40).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are a few photographs to finish with:

Emu picture
The latest addition to my aunt’s collection of pictures – a very good representation of an Emu
Signature
The artists signature
Oxburgh Hall jigsaw
A high quality jigsaw of Oxburgh Hall, which I photographed before I had to disassemble it and replace in its box as we needed all the space on that table clear (it was Sunday supper at my aunt’s house and there were five of us there).
ceremony, KL war memorial
A ceremony taking place at the main King’s Lynn war memorial.
antique bike
An antique bike outside a shop on Tower Street.

England Selectors’ Ostrich Impression and Other Stuff

Some thoughts on the (in)action of the England selectors this week, some mathematical teasers and a few pictures.

INTRODUCTION

A couple of days ago I wrote about England’s series win over India and presented some problems and solutions. This post is on similar lines, dealing with the actual behaviour of the England selectors and my thoughts thereon.

AN OPPORTUNITY SQUANDERED

England, with the series already in the bag, had a diamond-encrusted golden opportunity to experiment with options to fill gaping holes in their top order. Cook’s announcement of his impending retirement from international cricket should have acted as an extra spur. Instead of which we see very little in the way of forward planning or of experimentation of any sort. Even with the certain knowledge that a new opener will have to come in to replace Cook the selectors persevere with the proven failure Jennings.

Three individuals who can feel more aggrieved than most by this behaviour are Rory Burns (another 90 against Essex yesterday after the latter won the toss and chose to bowl first), Dan Lawrence and Liam Livingstone

In view of Cook’s impending retirement I would have recognized openers at 1,2 and 3 (not a bad approach in test cricket anyway), with a view to the two other openers than forming a partnership in future matches. This is why in the previous post I mentioned Tammy Beaumont, a recognized opener who has been scoring stacks of runs recently. Batting is at least as much about timing and placement as it is about brute power, and that is why I believe (unlike in the case of fast bowling) a woman could mix it with the men even at the highest level, similarly with slow bowling and possibly wicket-keeping (for my money the best user of the gauntlets in world cricket across the board at the moment is Sarah Taylor). A number of the all-time greats of test match batting have been of diminutive stature (Bradman, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Hanif Mohammad and several of the finest Sri Lankans spring to mind instantly). I am well aware that this super-radical option will not happen, but the alternatives that that leaves with are:

  1. Two brand new openers, neither of whom have any experience of international cricket.
  2. One new opener and one opener who has shown already that they are not actually good enough (Jennings)
  3. Two openers who gave failed to prove themselves (presumably Jennings and a recalled Stoneman). 

Of those three options, none of which massively appeal, my choice would number 1, which might end up working out well, and then the question is who to choose to open alongside Burns (whose case for selection is undisputable in the circumstances). 

Having taken the “ostrich option” re their top order difficulties the only outcome from this game that could be acceptable is not merely a win to make it 4-1 for the series but a win by a massive margin. The timidity of the England selectors means that at least one and possibly two England openers will be starting their careers on overseas tours, with their first home test series being against those well known softies, the Aussies.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

I will start as usual with answers and solutions to the previous problems (all from brilliant.org) before offering up some new problems.

WHAT IS THE AREA OF THE QUADRILATERAL

Screenshot 2018-09-03 at 5.08.56 PM

First the answer:

quad answer

The hackers solution is that there are only two really serious possibilites since the shape is a square, namely 67 (giving an area of 289 = sides 17 units long) and 102 (giving an area of 324 = sides 18 units long), and since the question gave one three tries just enter those values for the first two tries (if your first entry does not come up right). Here, courtesy of Jeremy Galvagni is an elegant genuine solution:

quadsol

THE .99 STORE

First the answer:

Screenshot 2018-09-05 at 3.09.42 PM

The figure in front of the .99 part of the price can vary, so all we need to know is how many .99s add up to answer ending in .89, and the answer is 11 (11 x 99 = 1,089, so 11 x 0.99 = 10.89), and the next number of items after 11 that would give us an answer ending in .89 is 111, the lowest price total for which would be $109.89. Thus Marie purchased 11 items.

NEW PROBLEMS

First an astronomy themed problem:

astroproblem

Now a question that has got almost three-quarters of those who tackled in on brilliant, but is not actually difficult:

Bullets

PHOTOGRAPHS

Swimming MoorhenMoorhen on branchTwo MoorhensMoorhensMagpie

Cricket and Other Stuff

Cricket, in the course of which I make a very radical suggestion for dealing with England’s top order woes, and a few other things, including Maths and Public TGransport.

INTRODUCTION

As well as some stuff about the state of play in the current England vs India series I have a couple of mathematical problems for you and some of my own photographs at the end.

ENGLAND’S DREADFUL START

England won the toss yesterday morning before the fourth test match of the five match series against India at the Ageas Bowl, Botley Southampton. This was the last thing they managed to do right for some considerable time. At last, with the scoreboard reading a barely credible 86-6, Sam Curran, inexplicably dropped from the last test match and now returning to the fray, emerged from the pavilion. Much of the carnage was more due to good Indian bowling than bad batting, although Jennings (already on borrowed time for my money) will not want to see replays of his LBW (however good a piece of bowling it may have been padding up to one which would have uprooted the middle stump otherwise never looks good). Fortunately England’s tail managed to produce a diplodocid (see picture at end of this paragraph) proportion of the innings. Curran, making the ridiculous decision to drop him from the previous game look positively ludicrous, racked up 78 before he was last out, the total hvaing reached a semi-respectable 246.

Diplodocus
This is why I described the contribution of the England tail as being of diplodocid proportions.

India are currently 135-2 in response. Only once in test match history has a side come back from 0-2 down to take a five match series, in 1936-7 when Australia’s comeback was fuelled by scores of 270, 212 and 169 from Don Bradman in the course of those last three matches. In 1894-5 Australia levelled the series at 2-2 after being 0-2 down but Andrew Stoddart’s England rallied to win the decider. 

England’s continuing top-order woes need to be addressed if they are to avoid surrendering a series on which they seemed nto so long ago to have a vice-like grip. Rory Burns must come into the side in place of Jennings. I would also bring Pope back but place him lower in the order. brief interjection – BIG NEWS – Kohli Is Out! Also, thinking about the need for top order runs I now tender a suggestion far more radical than Rory Burns – there is one England opener who has making stacks of runs all over the place of late – the one and only Tammy Beaumont! The way they have performed thus far none of the current top order are entitled to object to that suggestion.

Beaumont on the attack

Yes going with two new openers would be a colossal gamble, but they could scarcely fare much worse than Cook and Jennings have in this series.

A COUPLE OF MATHEMATICAL TEASERS

Both of these, from my usual source,  are very easy problems which have tripped a number of solvers up. I give them in the reverse order to which they appeared:

Canteen problem.jpg

And

1,001.jpg

HERITAGE OPEN DAY

Heritage Open Day this year is Sunday September 16th. There will be some 60 sites open in the King’s Lynn area, and if you there on the day do make sure you visit. If you happen to visit the cellars at the Bank House between 12 noon and 2PM I will be one of the volunteers you encounter.

TWO STORIES OF BRITISH PUBLIC TRANSPORT DAFTNESS

I start this section with the more minor but also more personal of these stories. Today I made my travel arrangements to Sheffield for a cousin’s wedding. I checked bookings from King’s Lynn to Sheffield, and the cheapest ticket would have cost me £68.20. Knowing that a ‘plan B’ was available I then checked out bookings from Peterborough to Sheffield and lo and behold up came a ticket for just £38.50, which when the two bus tickets on the ExCel are added in amounts to £51 all up. In other words to have travelled by train from King’s Lynn all the way to Sheffield would have cost me 33% more than the combined bus/ train route I am actually taking. Now of course not everyone booking this journey would have known of the alternative, and I wonder how many people have been swindled in this. 

My second story of public transport daftness is that The Elizabeth Line (aka Crossrail) will not now be coming into service until nearly a whole year later than planned (more here).

PHOTOGRAPHS

The pictures here are of items I purchased at our auction on Wednesday (it was reasonably successful, with a few big sales, and a lot of items finding buyers).

121
Lot 121 – I scanned these items rather than photographing of them.

121-a121-b

Under a viaduct and over a bridge
A photograph of the item taken this morning

148148-a148-bBlizzard conditions

360
Two of the four items in this lot were of sufficient interest for me to consider bidding, the Nobel Prize cover, and the one that really settled it, the Classic Locomotives.

360-a360-b

Classic Locomotives FDC
The main cover photographed this morning.
Classic Lcomotives stamps II
The first of two close-ups of the stamps (the reflectivity of the protective covering makes this a challenge).

Classic Locomotives stamps I

Classic Locomotives other side
The ‘cover’ part of this item contains a lot of information when opened up (see also next picture for the other side).

Locos fact sheet