England In Control

An update on the test match, a bit of mathematics and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The weather may yet baulk England in the current test match in Manchester, but the West Indies will not be doing so.

YESTERDAY

When I wrote yesterday’s post the West Indies were just starting their response to England’s 369. England took wickets regularly throughout yesterday’s play, the West Indies reaching the close at 137-6, with Holder and Dowrich together. This meant that enforcing the follow-on was still a possibility to be considered.

TODAY

England were possibly over mindful of the chance of enforcing the follow on, and hoping to keep Broad and Anderson to use the new ball in an envisaged West Indies second innings they opened up with Archer and Woakes. Holder and Dowrich were still together 53 minutes into the day when Broad was finally called upon to bowl. He proceeded to whip out the last four wickets, limiting the West Indies to 197, 172 less than England jad scored. Broad’s four wickets today gave him innings figures of 6-31, the 12th time he has taken six or more in a test innings, equalling Sydney Barnes (who however needed only 27 test matches to take his 12 six plus wicket hauls. Broad also scored 62 in the England first innings. At Melbourne in 1883 Billy Bates scored 55 with the bat and took seven wickets in each Aussie innings, including England’s first ever test cricket. In 1980 Ian Botham scored 114 not out and took 6-58 and 7-48 vs India in what was then Bombay (now Mumbai). Shortly after this match he injured his back and was never quite the same bowler again, although he still took plenty of wickets by sheer force of character. At Edgbaston in 2005 Andrew Flintoff scored 73 and 68 and took four wickets in each innings.

England have not altered their batting order for the second innings thus far – Sibley and Burns are in action, but in view of the forecast for tomorrow they would be well advised to be thinking in terms of declaring today so that even if tomorrow is a total washout they still have one full day in which to bowl West Indies out again. West Indies keeper Dowrich is off the field injured, with Shai Hope briefly taking over while Da Silva the reserve keeper got himself padded and gloved for action, and he is now behind the stumps. England when playing against New Zealand in 1986 used four keepers in a single innings – French was injured, Athey took over briefly before Bob Taylor was summoned from a hospitality tent to act as sub for the rest of that day, while Bobby Parks of Hampshire (son of James M Parks, grandson of James H Parks, grand nephew of HW Parks) responded to an SOS and did the job the following day. Da Silva has just made a complete horlicks of a stumping chance, knocking the stumps over without having the ball in his hands.

THE OVAL – THE RETURN OF SPECTATORS

There is a friendly match between Surrey and Middlesex at The Oval which is being used to trial the carefully managed return of spectators – 1,000 (900 Surrey members and 100 Middlesex members) have been allowed into the ground, the spectators seated singly or in small groups, with at least two empty seats between each separate spectator or group of spectators. It appears to be going well so far. In terms of the cricket Surrey are batting today, and Middlesex will bat tomorrow. Will Jacks, one of Surrey’s better young players is batting well according to reports.

A MEASURE OF MATHEMATICS

This section of the post has three parts, beginning with…

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I offered you a calcdoku courtesy of brilliant.org with the task being to work out the sum of the numbers in the diagonal from top left to bottom right. Here is the solution:

SC

The diagonal thus contains two 2s and two 1s for a sum of 6. The key to solving this is the ’64X’  block, which can contain only the numbers 1,2 and 4. It has three quarters of a row and three quarters of a column, and so all three numbers are needed to go in those five squares – the corner being the overlap. That corner contains a 2, which means that the numbers in the other four squares are two 1s and two 4s, making the sixth number a second two. These numbers then force the ‘9+’ block to be 3,4, 2, which in turn force the placing of the remaining of the numbers.

EMMY NOETHER

Emmy Noether was a German mathematician who changed the face of physics by linking two important concepts, conservation laws and symmetries. 102 years and three days ago Noether unveiled her theorem. Emily Conover has an article about this on sciencenews.org. Here is what famousscientists.org have to say about Noether.

A NEW PROBLEM FROM BRILLIANT

This problem is a splendid one which was somewhat spoiled by the conditions as I shall explain:

Fractal

I will make this multiple choice, but not with the options given on brilliant, which were the spoiler – the answers I offer you to pick from are:

a)1.00-1.25
b)1.25-1.50
c)1.50-1.75
d)1.75-1.99

Solution and explanation tomorrow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Seriously Strange Selections

A look at the selections and the early stages of the third test match between England and the West Indies at Old Trafford.

INTRODUCTION

The third test match is under way at Old Trafford. If England win they regain the Wisden Trophy, any other result and the West Indies retain it. Future series between these sides will be contested for the Botham-Richards Trophy, named after two legends of the game and close friends, although Beefy’s record against the West Indies does not really justify his name being on this trophy.

ENGLAND

Ben Stokes is fit enough to play but will not be able to bowl, which led to England opting for five front line bowlers. Less defensibly given those circumstances they also opted to persevere with the inadequate Jos Buttler, who will bat at six and keep wicket. Zak Crawley misses out, meaning that England have gone in with Sibley, Burns, *Root, Stokes, Pope, Buttler, Woakes, Bess, Archer, Broad, Anderson. I think that to go with five bowlers they should have given the gloves to Pope, keeping Crawley in at no3 and dropping Buttler. I would also have preferred Curran over Woakes for the extra variation offered by his left arm.

THE WEST INDIES

Rahkeem Cornwall plays, certainly the heaviest top level cricketer since Warwick Armstrong, and possibly the heaviest since the mighty Alfred Mynn who was in his pomp in the 1840s. Surprisingly Alzarri Joseph rather than the obviously exhausted Shannon Gabriel was the player to miss out. It is no great surprise that West Indies have opted for extra batting strength in the circumstances.

THE PLAY SO FAR

The West Indies won the toss, an in spite of having picked the extra spinner in Cornwall and a weather forecast that suggests that only today of the first four days will be uninterrupted, both of which argue strongly for batting they have decided to bowl first, the selfsame decision that backfired badly on them on the second match of this series.

Dom Sibley was out early, for a duck. Burns and Root batted reasonably well together until Burns unaccountably given the circumstances took a sharp single and a direct hit ran Root out to make it 47-2. That brought Stokes to the crease far too early for comfort, although the West Indies had already had a warning that their choice of which fast bowler to leave out for Cornwall had been wrong when Gabriel limped from the field. With the score at 92 Stokes was bowled by Kemar Roach, the latter’s 199th test wicket (the last West Indian fast bowler to reach 200 was the legendary Curtly Ambrose), bringing Pope to the wicket. So far Pope is looking very impressive, and England need a big score from him. With Burns and Pope together, the biggest all Surrey partnership at test level stands to the credit of Ken Barrington and John Edrich who once shared a second wicket stand of 369 against New Zealand. Burns has just completed his 50, which he should regard as establishing base camp – the main ascent for him begins here.

THE OFF SPINNING RIVALRY

A curio of this match is that the West Indies have a player named Cornwall as their principal off spinner, and his opposite number for England, Dom Bess, was born in Devon. Which side of the Tamar will prevail?

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

We start with the solution to yesterday’s teaser:

Teaser

Powers of two have last digit 2,4,8,6 and then back to 2 and so on ad infinitum. 1,000 being a multiple of four 2^1000 thus has a final digit of 6, which in turn means that 2^1001 ends with a 2.

A video from Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK answering the ‘how are you going to pay for it?’ question:

Please watch the video in full – it is five and a half minutes.

Now for my usual sign off…

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The England Captaincy

Some thoughts on the England test captaincy, a section on masks including an important link, and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

With Joe Root due to return I am going to have a look at the question of the captaincy of the England men’s team ahead of Thursday’s second test.

GREAT BATTER, ORDINARY SKIPPER

Root is England’s leading batter at present, and his selection in that role is absolutely mandatory. However, the captaincy has somewhat adversely affected his batting returns, especially in the matter of converting fifties to hundreds, and he is hardly outstanding as a captain. So should be relieved of the captaincy?

STOKES’ FIRST OUTING NO TRIUMPH

Ben Stokes fared reasonably well as a player in his first outing as skipper, twice scoring 40+ with the bat and taking four cheap wickets in the first West Indies innings. However, he was less impressive as a skipper. His biggest blunder was over Bess in the second innings. Having chosen to bat first in the hope of Bess having a turning pitch to bowl on the final innings Stokes then shied at the last. Although Bess did turn the ball and created two definite wicket taking opportunities and other possibilities he was mysteriously given only ten overs, when he should have been kept going at one end while as many of the overs at the other as practicable were bowled by the blitzmen Archer and Wood. So Stokes is a possible, but certainly not a definite.

THE OTHERS

It is no secret that I think that neither Denly nor Buttler should be in the test side, and since with all due respect to the legendary Mike Brearley I cannot recommend selecting a specialist skipper in general that rules them out. Archer and Wood as out and out speedsters devote too much energy in the field to their craft and would therefore probably struggle as skipper. Anderson and Broad are apparently intended to play on a rotation basis, which rules them out, although Anderson could well handle the job decently. Sibley, Crawley, Pope and my choice as keeper, Foakes are all too new to international cricket to be serious candidates just yet, and the combination of keeping and captaincy is a tough one for anyone to handle. So, if you accept that he is the undisputed no1 spinner the only alternatives to Root and Stokes would appear to be Dom Bess and Rory Burns. If I was going to appoint a new captain, then I would follow my instincts regarding slow bowlers who can handle a bat and go for Bess, but I think that I would prefer to stay with Root for the home summer, and then maybe appoint Bess as captain for a winter tour if one happens.

SOME THOUGHTS ON MASKS

I am still seeing far too few people using protective masks when out and about. As someone who less than two years ago was in hospital and among other things receiving extra oxygen and who always wears a mask when going out (I have recently emerged from several months of shielding, but I continue to take great care) I can tell you which is the greater inconvenience. There are some minor difficulties associated with masks, and I know that not everyone can cope with them (being autistic I would be did I choose to claim it exempt from wearing one), but for most of us the difficulties associated with mask wearing (they don’t combine well with spectacles, a difficulty I freely acknowledge) are as nothing compared to being in hospital and receiving extra oxygen. So, for yourself and others, please wear a mask whenever you go out. Charlie Hancock has an excellent piece in Spyglass Magazine about the type of people who throw hissy fits about being asked to wear masks, titled “100 Years of Anti-Maskers“.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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England Fighting At The Ageas Bowl

Thoughts on the test at the Ageas bowl as England work to build a defensible lead over the West Indies, an important petition and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

England are making a fight of things in the test match at the Ageas bowl. As things stand they remain second favourites, but the humiliation that looked possible at one stage yesterday is not going to eventuate.

DAY 3 FINISH

At first the West Indies did very well, with Archer and Wood both guilty of bowling too short. The West Indies had no complete failures among their top batting, and never lost clumps of wickets. They moved into the lead with only five wickets down, and seemed to be building a very large lead when the sixth wicket pair carried the score to 267, an advantage of 64, with Holder, averaging 33 in test cricket, still to come. Stokes intervened, Bess bowled tidily, Anderson was as formidable as always, and Wood picked up the wicket of Gabriel to end the innings at 318, a lead for the West Indies of 114. Stokes had 4-49, including his opposite number Holder, the first time both captains had accounted for each other in a match involving England since 1996. Wasim Akram would have been more frustrated at being done by the opposition skipper on that last occasion than Mike Atherton. England had 40 minutes of batting to negotiate, and did so without losing a wicket, being 15-0 of 10 overs at the end of the day.

DAY FOUR SO FAR

Burns and Sibley continued to resist through the morning until 15 minutes before lunch when Burns aimed to crash a long hop from Roston Chase through the off side, executed the shot poorly and succeeded only in edging to deep point to be out for 42. Denly saw things through to lunch in partnership with Sibley. Sibley reached 50, chopped a no-ball into his stumps and then two deliveries later snicked the same bowler, Gabriel, through to keeper Dowrich to be out. That brought Crawley in to join Denly in what looks like being a ‘bat off’ for who keeps their place. Denly has enjoyed some good fortune, while Crawley has looked more solid. England have now wiped off the arrears, and so are building a lead. If they can advance this lead to 200, then with the pitch showing signs of misbehaving, the West Indies will have their work cut out. The batting still to come for England is Stokes, Pope, Buttler, Bess, Archer, Wood and Anderson, of whom all save Anderson are capable to varying degrees of making runs, while Anderson can hold up his end if someone is going well at the other.

LOOKING AHEAD

England have improved as this match has gone on, and the major decision that has to be made is between Crawley and Denly. However, Bracey and Lawrence are knocking on the door for batting spots as well. In the bowling department I do not see an urgent need for changes, although Broad may come in for Anderson if England are in fact adopting a policy of rotating the veterans, and Sam Curran and Oliver Edward Robinson are possibles for bowling slots. I would of course bring Foakes in for Buttler, but it seems that in the eyes of the selectors Buttler can do no wrong, so I do not expect that to happen. Denly has just reached 25, which he does quite frequently, but he rarely goes on – the last five times he has got to 25 he has failed to get as far 40.

AN IMPORTANT PETITION

This petition on change.org, calling for NHS staff be given free parking at work, was drawn to my attention by an aunt who posted the link to it on facebook this morning. Please sign and share it, by clicking on the screenshot below.

Petition

PHOTOGRAPHS

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PS England have reached the 150, still with only two wickets down, and a currently 37 runs to the good.

PPS Joe Denly has just thrown his wicket away for 29, Stokes will be joining Crawley, and that would appear to be the end of Denly’s test career – he was playing in somewhat chancy fashion even before holing out. If Crawley goes on to a big score it is definitely curtains for Denly, and there may also be a case for Lawrence or Bracey coming in, although no3, the disputed slot, is a difficult one to make one’s debut from. England 151-3.

The Resumption of Test Cricket

The resumption of test cricket is our main theme today, and there are as usual some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Test cricket has returned, club cricket restarts in this country on Saturday, and the domestic first class game restarts on August 1st. This means that the ‘all time XI’ series with which I have been filling the gap has performed its task (see yesterday’s sign off post). This post is the first of the new era on this blog.

THE ALL TIME XIS IN RETROSPECT

The series began with an 18 post whistle stop tour of the first class counties, and then as I realized that there was going to be a major wait before I had any real cricket to concentrate on it developed into a wide-ranging series covering national set ups, various esoteric themed XIs and variations on these themes. When it was confirmed that this test series between England and the West Indies would be happening I had my logical point at which to bring the series to a close. Most of the players I selected in my XIs were players I had already heard of, but just occasionally, when I was one or two names short of an XI I used cricinfo.com not merely to check on records but to find players to fill the XI.

THE TEST MATCH – DAY 1

There was some stuff about Black Lives Matter and racism in cricket – Ebony Rainford-Brent and Michael Holding, two black former players, were especially impressive on Sky (video footage of this was made available after the event by Sky themselves). Unfortunately the weather failed to oblige, and very little actual play was possible.

There are no spectators at the ground, all part of keeping it bio-secure, which means that there is no natural crowd noise. Test Match Special have prerecorded background noise as a default setting – it sounds like a low hum in the background – but one can also access a version without the fake crowd noise, which I greatly prefer. England were 35-1 at the end of the first day, with Burns one runs away from his 1,000 career runs in test cricket.

Play was officially called off just before 6PM, due to bad light (given the presence of floodlights why do they not have a selection of white balls available, so that play can continue under the lights even if it is dark – there are no spectators to get home, and the Ageas bowl was chosen as a venue precisely because there is a hotel there for the players to use, so they have no travelling to do?).

DAY 2 SO FAR

The weather has been better, and play got under way at 11AM sharp (again, why not an early start to make up for lost time?) The West Indies, relying on four pace bowlers, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, Shannon Gabriel and the captain Jason Holder (if they decide they need spin it will be bowled by Roston Chase – Rahkeem Cornwall is not involved in this match) bowled very well. England did not bat especially well, and Denly, Burns, Crawley and Pope all fell before lunch, which was reached with England 106-5 from 42 overs. Gabriel was especially impressive, accounting for all of England’s top three, Burns, Sibley and Denly, and the giant Holder took the other two wickets. Since lunch Stokes and Buttler have batted reasonably well, although Stokes has benefitted from two dropped chances so far, one either side of lunch, and England are currently 127-5 off 48 overs. England’s remaining batters are Bess, Wood, Archer and Anderson (at least I presume they will come in in that order). I would not have selected Denly,  preferring to give Lawrence a debut and keep Crawley at three. I would also have selected Foakes in preference to Buttler, and the latter could do with producing a serious score in red ball cricket. I am pleased that both the out and out speedsters, Wood and Archer are in the side. On this surface, which does appear to be decidedly bowler friendly England are not in quite as desperate trouble as the score might seem to indicate – if they can conjure another 100 they will have a defensible looking total (and Bess has a test 50, Wood has made useful runs at test level and Archer is supposedly capable of batting, so it does not quite all rest on Stokes and Buttler – though one of them will need to bat through from here). I also note that four of the five England wickets have fallen to good bowling rather than poor batting (Pope, who had looked in impressive touch, will not want to see his dismissal again but none of the others have too much with which to reproach themselves). In summary of the play so far: well bowled the West Indies. I do not think England made the wrong decision in opting to bat first: if you choose to bowl you need quick wickets to justify that decision, which puts extra pressure on the bowlers, and it is quite possible that by the final innings the pitch will be assisting Bess as much as it helps the quicker bowlers.

HOME COUNTRY UMPIRES

Another change wrought by the pandemic is that umpires can no longer safely be jetted in from round the world, so we have home country umpires back in charge. The two guys in the middle, Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth, have not so far had the best of times – two LBWs which were quickly given ‘not out’ in the middle were reviewed by the West Indies and overturned pretty smartly by the TV replay umpire Michael Gough. On the plus side this has shown that with DRS in place and being used wisely (are you reading this, Mr Paine?) that giving ‘home’ decisions is no longer so much of an issue as it was when third country umpires were introduced, because they just get overturned. While I have been typing this England have passed the 150 with no further wickets down, although Stokes is still somewhat riding his luck.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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PS – just as I finalize this before publication Stokes’ luck has run out – he has gone for 43 and England are 154-6. Dom Bess has come in at no8 as expected.

Ashes Gone -What Should England Do Now?

Conceding the fourth test, and with it The Ashes, this post looks ahead to the fifth test at The Oval, with various changes to the England squad suggested. There are also lots of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

England’s defeat at Old Trafford has yet to be officially confirmed, but barring serious rain it seems inevitable, and that will mean that Australia have retained The Ashes. Even if England somehow escape with a draw (which would be undeserved) they would need to win at The Oval and that looks unlikely given Australia’s overall superiority thus far in the series (save for a few sessions at Lord’s and the amazing final stages of Headingley Australia have been bossing things all through this series). Based on three matches and four days of the fourth cricketing justice demands that Australia retain The Ashes. Thus this post looks at the future and suggests changes for the fifth test based on The Ashes being already gone, though I would still recommend that they make these changes regardless. Having started this post just before play begins on day five there is a question of which will be completed first – this post or Australia’s victory – and my lack of confidence in England’s remaining batting is such that am not betting on which happens first!

THE STORY OF DAYS 1-4

Australia racked up 497-8 declared in their first innings, Steve Smith helping himself to a double century, his third in test cricket, all of them at England’s expense (only Don Bradman, with no fewer than eight, has scored more against England). England just avoided the follow-on, Burns and Root playing substantial innings – the former in the process becoming the first opener not named Cook to score three fifties for England in a series since the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Then Australia went out for quick runs, and got enough to declare yesterday evening, setting England just over 380 to win, Smith by his standards failing, managing a measly 82 (nb – I have had plenty to say regarding his personal conduct, but I have never criticised his batting.). Then Burns and Root fell in successive deliveries in the first over of England’s 2nd innings. Denly and Roy saw things through to the close, but barring more heroics from Stokes, it has hard to see England batting out today.

ENGLAND’S PROBLEMS

Burns’ successes have resolved one of England’s top order problems, but still required there are a)another opener who can do it against the red ball and b) someone who is comfortable at no 3 against the red ball. Additionally I think that Buttler (his first innings effort here notwithstanding) and Bairstow both need replacing, with a genuine frontline batter and a wicketkeeper-batter respectively). The bowling is in a much better state, but at The Oval a second spinner is likely to be needed alongside Leach, and somehow they have to find out a way of getting Smith out.

SORTING THE BATTING

I do not believe that either Roy or Denly belong in a test XI, and even big scores for both of them today will be too little too late as far as I am concerned. I have been arguing in posts since August 31st 2018 for Tammy Beaumont to be given her chance alongside the men, and I stick to that line. At no 3 I opt for a third regular opener, Dominic Sibley, and then Root back where he really belongs at no 4. As wicketkeeper and no 5 I select Ben Foakes, with Ben Stokes rounding out the top six. I then go for all-rounder Lewis Gregory at seven, Jofra Archer at eight, Stuart Broad at nine, Jack Leach at ten, and at 11 my second spinner, to whom I dedicate the next subsection of this post…

HELEN FENBY – THE MYSTERY OPTION

I was alerted to this possibility in a match in which she took four cheap wickets and also surprised all the commentators with her action – if it is a new one on them then perhaps it will be a new one on Steve Smith (all orthodox selections seem to have drawn a blank, so let’s try an unorthodox one). While this would be envisaged XI I would also have in reserve in case conditions warrant it 1) an extra batter, in this case Ollie Pope of Surrey, and 2) a reserve pace bowler, Craig Overton. Thus, my full squad for The Oval would be (all names in hyperlink form):

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Dominic Sibley
  4. *Joe Root
  5. +Ben Foakes
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Lewis Gregory
  8. Jofra Archer
  9. Stuart Broad
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Helen Fenby
  12. Ollie Pope
  13. Craig Overton

FURTHER SUGGESTIONS TO COMPLETE A TEST TOUR PARTY

I want another three players to complete a test touring party, and I reckon that they should be a batter, a pace bowler and a spinner. My three choices for these roles are George Bartlett of Somerset (a look to the future, with a youngster who is better suited in both style and temperament to playing long innings against the red ball than to biffing the white one around – his county colleague Abell and Joe Clarke of Nottinghamshire both also merit consideration), Anderson if he is fit, and if not whoever out of Mark Wood and Olly Stone is fit and Dominic Bess (since I have a left arm spinner and leg spinner in my squad I opt for the off spinner Bess in preference to leg spinner Matt Parkinson).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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A bit like too many of England’s recent batting efforts – a variety of ducks (the big one with the red face is a Muscovy duck).

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PS – contrary to the mischievous comparison made in the introduction to this post England have not lost a wicket thus far today.

England Ahead On Points In 1st Ashes Test

Some thoughts on the Ashes match in progress at Edgbaston, suggestions for Lord’s and plenty of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The first match of the five-test Men’s Ashes series is under way at Edgbaston, now into the third day. This post looks at what has been going on to date.

THE PRELIMINARIES

Australia somewhat surprisingly included Peter Siddle in their team, but there were no other surprises from them. England did not particularly surprise with their choices but there were several question marks in their XI:

  1. Jason Roy opening is a questionable choice in Test cricket – in his debut match against Ireland he failed in the 1st innings and made runs from no 3 in the 2nd innings.
  2. Joe Denly at no 4 – this is a 32 year old who had not featured in an England test XI before the back end of last year.
  3. Moeen Ali as sole spinner – NO WAY: if they were going with only one spinner Jack Leach should have been the choice, especially after his performance at Lord’s last week. The pitch is now looking very much like a two-spinner surface, in which case the choice should either have been the safe Leach and Bess double act or a look to the future in the form of Lancashire’s Matthew Parkinson (although this latter would have meant Leach at no 9, and Anderson getting a promotion to no 10)
  4. Broad and Anderson are both getting on a bit, and the latter named has been injured recently – to select both was foolhardy (it is no secret to readers of this blog that Stuart Broad would not be in my starting XI in test cricket these days).

England started superbly, reducing Australia to 122-8 in their first innings, at which point Siddle joined Steve Smith. The last two Australia wickets added 162, with Smith going on to 144. At that point, with England’s top order an unknown quantity things did not look good. However Rory Burns became the first England opener since Alastair Cook at Melbourne in 2017 (on a pitch that warranted white lines being painted down the  middle of it) to bat through an entire uninterrupted test match day, and was well supported by Root, Denly and Stokes. Australia started today well, taking four fairly quick wickets, but then Woakes and Broad shared a stubborn ninth wicket stand, giving Eng;and a first innings lead of 90. Anderson, who managed only four overs in the first innings before leaving the field injured batted briefly, and may bowl a few overs with the new ball, but it seems likely given the injury he has sustained that his Ashes series is effectively over. England therefore will be relying largely on Woakes, Broad, Stokes and Ali to prevent an Australian revival (if the ball continues to show signs of turn they may also use Denly’s leg spin, which would be a huge indictment of the original selection). Update – England have just emerged for the start of the second Aussie innings and Sam Curran is on the field for James Anderson.

Whether England win this one or not changes need to be made for the second test match. Anderson clearly will not figure, so a new ball bowler is needed. Ali is not good enough as a bowler to be the first choice spinner in a test XI and should be replaced, with Leach being first choice spinner and either Bess or Parkinson 2nd. Bairstow has been failing with the bat at test level of late, and I would replace him as wicketkeeper with Ben Foakes. I approve of Joe Root batting no 3, and would drop Roy to no 4, where has stroke making could be seen to better advantage. I have mentioned my controversial choice to open alongside Burns many times before, and though Burns has produced the major innings needed to confirm his place I stick to my thinking from the back end of last season onwards. Therefore my 13 for Lord’s would be:

  1. Burns
  2. Beaumont
  3. *Root
  4. Roy
  5. +Foakes
  6. Stokes
  7. Lewis Gregory (with Anderson likely gone for the series it is surely time for this move)
  8. Chris Woakes
  9. Jofra Archer
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Olly Stone
  12. Sam Curran (could play in place of Gregory, Woakes or Archer)
  13. Matthew Parkinson (with all respect to Bess I gamble on the legspinner as second specialist spin option, in the knowledge that the skipper can bowl passable off-breaks if needed)

David Warner (most infamous of the ‘sandpaper trio’) has been dismissed by Stuart Broad while I write this, giving that worthy his 450th test match scalp.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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King’s Lynn has lost a lot of railway connections over the years.

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A large white.

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An azure damselfly in flight (three pics, all frok the same original)

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A variety of “painted lady” I think

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Four shots of a “peacock butterfly

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A couple of shots of nearly fledged young ducks.

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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:

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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