All Time XIs – England Women

Today we look at the England Women for our ‘all time XI’ cricket themed post.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my ‘all time XI‘ cricket series. Today is Monday,, which means that it is tipme to look at an international set up, and today’s subject is the England Women’s set up.

ENGLAND WOMEN IN MY LIFETIME

  1. Charlotte Edwards – right handed opening batter. She was an England regular for two decades, and her departure from the international scene caused some controversy when it final;y happened. However, it was undoubtedly the right decision, and within a short time the England Women had reaped rich rewards for making it. I first saw her in action as a teenager, when her more experienced team mates were by and large unable to offer any kind of resistance to Australia, and she chiselled out 74.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. She was moved up to the top of the order after Edwards’ departure and almost immediately began making big scores there. Regular readers of this blog will know that back in 2018, with Cook obviously due to retire soon and Jennings due for the chop (having replaced the proven international failure Mark Stoneman) I advocated that she be given an opportunity to play alongside the men. As it happened Rory Burns who had made an unanswerable case for selection came in, Jennings stayed on for the winter, and Joe Denly got given his test chance. After a disastrous experiment with Jason Roy as red ball opener and a summer of top order strife England subsequently turned to Dominic Sibley who had made a clear case for inclusion and also elevated Zak Crawley on rather less firm ground. I expect that when test cricket resumes post covid-19 the England men’s top three will read Sibley, Burns, Crawley, as it should, and that top three would be the most solid looking England have boasted since Strauss, Cook and Trott were in their prime.
  3. Claire Taylor – right handed batter. She averaged over 40 in both test cricket and ODIs, and no 3 was her regular position.
  4. *Heather Knight – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. She has proven an outstanding captain since being given the job in succession to Edwards, and he record with the bat is excellent as well, while she has taken important wickets with her off spin.
  5. Natalie Sciver – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. The Tokyo born all rounder has been one of the first names on the team sheet ever since first being picked for the side.
  6. +Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the two finest keepers I have ever personally seen in action (the other being Ben Foakes) and a magnificent batter as well. Her presence, plus the batting abilities of the next two in the order enables to the selection of five top line bowlers.
  7. Katherine Brunt – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower middle order batter. She was a pure bowler when she came into the side, but has developed her batting, not quite in the manner of Ellyse Perry and Kiwi Sophie Devine to the point where it is arguably more important to the side than her bowling, but certainly to a sufficient extent to justify selection at no7.
  8. Laura Marsh – off spinner, right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. A multi-purpose bowler, and perfectly capable of batting for long periods in support of a more established batter, as she demonstrated famously in partnership with Heather Knight.
  9. Anya Shrubsole – right arm medium fast bowler. Brunt’s regular new ball partner. She was the hero of the 2017 Women’s World Cup final, taking six wickets to enable England to defend a fairly modest total against India, an achievement that saw her become the first female to appear on the front cover of Wisden.
  10. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spinner. The best of the collection of young spinners currently doing well for England Women, which also features the likes of Kirstie Gordon, Linsey Smith, Sarah Glenn and Sophia Dunkley, with others such as Helen Fenby on the fringes.
  11. Isa Guha – right arm medium pacer. She made her international debut at the age of 17, bagging three cheap wickets to begin a journey that would see her at one time rated the best female bowler on the planet. She is probably better known today as an entertaining commentator who is a regular and welcome part of TMS. She did most of her international bowling into the wind, with Brunt often bowling with the wind at the other end.

This team has a formidable top six, including an incredible wicket keeper, and a collection of five bowlers who between them tick every box save leg spin.

ADDITIONS TO THE ALL TIME XI

  • Janette Brittin – right handed opening batter. Her record demands inclusion, although Beaumont still has time in which to change that.
  • *Rachael Heyhoe-Flint – right handed batter. Amagnificent captain, and a batter who averaged 45.54 in test cricket and just over 58 in ODIs.
  • Carole Hodges – right handed batter, off spinner. A magnificent all-rounder, whose feats included an ODI performance in which she scored 96 with the bat and her bowling figures included a hat trick.
  • Enid Bakewell – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. An extraordinary all round record, averaging almost 60 with the bat and under 17 with the ball, including being the firsst player of either sex to score a century and claim a 10-wicket haul in the same test match.

Rejigging the team to include these legends gives us a batting line of Edwards, Brittin, C Taylor, *Heyhoe-Flint, Hodges, Bakewell, +S Taylor, Brunt, Shrubsole, Ecclestone, Guha. This makes the batting formidably strong, and gives us three front line seamers in Brunt, Shrubsole and Guha backed by three topline spinners, Ecclestone, Bakewell and Hodges. The similarity in bowling style between Bakewell and Ecclestone can be coped with.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I have already mentioned the phalanx of young spinners currently available to England Women, and I add to that list Alex Hartley, who was part of the 2017 World Cup winning squad, and up-and-coming off spinner Mady Villiers. Isabelle Wong, still in her teens, is quicker by some way (and actually styles herself as a fast bowler, as does her Aussie contemporary Tayla Vlaemink) than any of the seamers I have picked, and I fully expect her to force her way into consideration sooner rather than later. There has been one previous player of Chinese ancetsry to play international cricket, Ellis Achong after whome the ‘chinaman’ was named, and there was also a Sheffield Shield player many years ago by the name of Hunter Poon, while in my brief umpiring career I saw a boy who I believe to have been of Korean descent, named Kim (but no relation AFAIK to the ruling family of North Korea!) take 6-6 in a spell. Three fine all rounders who I could not find space for were Jo Chamberlain, player of the match in a world cup final back in the day,  Melissa Reynard, an unglamorous but mighty effective middle order accumlator and bowler of medium pace, and Jenny Gunn, possessor of the slowest ‘slower ball’ yet seen in international cricket. Danielle Wyatt would be a shoe-in for a T20 side, but her record in other formats is not good enough for her be given serious consideration in this exercise.

WOMEN PLAYING ALONGSIDE THE MEN

I reckon that a female playing alongside the men at the highest level is something that will be seen before too many more years has elapsed. Arran Brindle nee Thompson scored a century in men’s league fixture a few years ago. While it is unlikely that a female could ever bowl as fast the quickest men, batting does not depend solely or even principally on power – timing and placement are key, and there is also no reason why a female spinner should not prove deadly, and I have named a female wicket keeper as one of the best I have ever seen in that department. Of course women who can hold their own alongside the top men,if we do see such, will always be rarities, but I refuse to accept that the possibility should be ruled out entirely.

AN INVITATION

One of my twitter followers, Iain Davidson McKane, suggested that I might offer to produce these to fill third party requests. So, keeping things sensible (perhaps study previous posts in this series to see what I have already done), I now ask readers who have an ‘all time XI’ idea for me to suggest it in the comments. If you have a blog of your own and mention that as well then if your idea works and I can produce a post about it I will link to your blog.

PHOTOGRAPHS

And it is time for my usual sign off…

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For the first time in over two months I have been somewhere other than my bungalow and its bit of garden – not very far afield (I don’t trust this government an iota, and although I am prepared to go out walking now I remain exceedingly cautious).

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EW
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs -Beginning v End of Alphabet

A team of players whose surnames start early in the alphabet against a team of players whose names start late in the alphabet, plus an important petition.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today after a couple of overseas posts we return to home territory, but featuring cricketers from four different centuries. The dividing line between these teams is the centre of the alphabet – our first team have surnames that begin with a letter from early in the alphabet while our second mutatis mutandis have surnames beginning with letters from late in the alphabet.While limiting myself to home players for this post I have aimed to embrace a wide range of types of player with the prime focus on entertainment.

BEGINNING OF THE ALPHABET XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. ‘The Master’ is a good place to start any XI – 61,237 first class runs with 197 centuries at that level.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. A wonderful timer of a cricket ball, probably the smallest player on either side in this contest, but with a proven ability to score big – and quick – she once reached a ton against South Africa off just 47 balls.
  3. James Aylward – left handed batter. One of three 18th century cricketers in this XI, in 1777, a mere eight years after the first record century in any cricket match, he scored 167 versus England, batting through two whole days in the process. He is the ‘sticker’ of this team, surrounded by more aggressive talents.
  4. William ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham – right handed batter. At a time when such scores were very rare he amassed three first class centuries. His special glory so we are told was the cut shot. He was exceptionally long lived, being born in 1766 and not dying until 1862 – in his childhood canals were the new big thing in transportation, and he missed out by a mere six months on living to see the opening of the world’s first underground railway.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. He averaged 50 with the bat over the course of 78 test matches, and he scored his runs fast. According to the man himself in “Playing for England” he developed his left arm wrist spin as a second string to his bow because he was impressed by the Aussie ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith, and because he noticed during the 1946-7 Ashes tour how many of the Aussies had second strings to their bow and thought that he should develop one.
  6. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm pace bowler, brilliant fielder. One of the greatest all rounders ever to play the game. He achieved the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class games on 14 occasions, 11 of them in successive years. Having topped 2,000 to go with over a hundred wickets in both 1904 and 1905 he then achieved the double double in 1906 – 2,385 runs and 208 wickets in first class matches (in the 21st century a non-pandemic hit English season involves 14 first class games, so anyone doing the 1,000 run, 100 wicket double would achieve a feat of similar standing, while 500 runs and 50 wickets would be a jolly impressive all round effort). In the Oval 1902 match in which Jessop blazed his 75 minute century Hirst took the first five Aussie wickets in the first innings and scored 101 for once out in the match (43 and 58 not out to see England home). He also stands alone in first class cricket history thus far in achieving the double double match feat of centuries in both of his own team’s innings and five wicket hauls in both of his opponents innings (Yorkshire v Somerset 1906).
  7. +Leslie Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The only recognized keeper to have tallied a hundred first class hundreds.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed lower middle order batter. The first ever to combine a fifty with a ten wicket match haul in a test match. His 15 appearances at that level brought him 656 runs at 27.33 and 50 wickets at 16.42. His career was ended prematurely by an eye injury. If we were to assume that without that injury he could have kept going until 40, very fair by the standards of the time, that would mean that he could have played in the 1888, 1890, 1893 and 1896 home series against Australia, the 1891-2 and 1894-5 away series against the same opposition and in a couple of the early series in South Africa, which brings him close to 40 test matches, and if he maintained similar output an aggregate of 1,749 runs and 133 wickets. If we accept that nowadays he would be pay half as much again for his wickets, we must also allow that that applies to all bowlers and that he would also score half as many runs again, so an approximate conversion of his averages in to today’s terms sees him average 41 with bat and 24.63 with the ball – a handy person to be coming in at no8!
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium. Possibly the greatest of all bowlers. At Melbourne in the 1911-12 Ashes when Johnny Douglas won the toss and inserted Australia early wickets were needed to back that decision up, and Barnes in his opening burst accounted for the entire Australian top four for a single between them. Australia recovered from this blitz to tally 184, but as at Adelaide 99 years later, the damage had been done on the first morning, and England were in control of the match throughout.
  10. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spinner. She has already enjoyed considerable success in her fledgling career, with a best ODI bowling performance of 4-14 and a T20I bowling performance of 4-13 among her highlights. In total across international formats she has 93 wickets for 1793 runs, an average of 19.28 per wicket, and she only turned 21 less than a fortnight ago.
  11. David Harris – right arm fast (underarm). The first great bowler, so highly prized that late in his career when gout was causing him horrendous problems an armchair would be brought out on to the field so that he could sit down when not actually bowling! If you look at early scorecards (early to mid 18th century) you will see that catches were not generally credited to the bowler, and the single person most responsible for changing that was Harris, who sought extra bounce with the precise intention of inducing batters to yield up catches. All you bowlers of today who rely on slip cordons, bat-pad catchers, short legs, silly mid-ons etc take note of the man who pioneered bowling to induce catches and be grateful that catches are credited to you. I have argued elsewhere for the re-legalization of under arm bowling both of Harris’ type and of under arm spinners such as Simpson-Hayward. The Greg/Trevor Chappell type of ‘grubber’ can be simply dealt with now that balls that bounce more than once are automatically called no-ball – simply add a coda that for the purposes of this law a ball that rolls along the deck shall be considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and is therefore a no ball.

This team has a splendid top five, one of the greatest of all all rounders, a keeper batter up there with the best in history and a wonderfully varied foursome of bowlers. Barnes, Harris and Hirst represent an excellent trio of pacers, Bates and Ecclestone are two high class spin options. There is no fronnt line leg spinner, but Barnes’ greatest weapon was a leg break delivered at fast medium pace, and there is Compton with his left arm trickery as well should a sixth bowler be needed. I would expect this team to take a lot of beating.

THE END OF THE ALPHABET XI

  1. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. He went through his entire test career with an average in excess of 60 – it ended at 60.73. He was often reckoned to be one of fortune’s favourites, but that was at least partly because when he did benefit from a slice of luck he made it count. For example, at Sydney in the opening match of the 1932-3 Ashes series he was on 43 when he chopped a ball from Bill O’Reilly into his stumps without dislodging a bail – and thus reprieved he went on to a test best 194, setting England up for a ten wicket win (Australia dodged the nnings defeat by the narrowest possible margin, leaving England a single to get in the fourth innings, duly scored by Sutcliffe).
  2. Arthur Shrewsbury – right handed opening batter. He was rated second only to WG Grace in his era. In those days the tea interval was not a regular part of the game, and on resuming his innings after lunch he would ask the dressing room attendant to bring him a cup of tea at four o’clock, so confident was he that he would still be batting by then. He briefly held the highest test innings score by an Englishman, 164 at Lord’s in 1886 which set his side up for an innings victory – two matches later at The Oval Grace reclaimed the record which had been his 152 in 1880 with a score of 170, made out of 216 while he was at the wicket.
  3. *Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. Once, when Kent were chasing 219 in two hours for a victory, his partner suggested that he should try to hit fewer sixes as it took time for the ball to come back from the crowd! Kent won that match, due in no small part to Woolley. At Lord’s in 1921 when Gregory and McDonald were laying waste to the rest of England’s batting he scored 95 and 93.
  4. Eddie Paynter – left handed batter. He averaged 59.23 in test cricket, with double centuries against both Australia and South Africa along the way. He was 28 by the time he broke into the Lancashire team, and World War II brought his career to a close. He it was who officially settled the destiny of the 1932-3 Ashes, hitting the six that won the 4th match of that series giving England an unassailable 3-1 lead (they won the fifth match as well, that one also ending with a six, this time struck by Wally Hammond). None of England’s huge scorers are more frequently overlooked than the little fella from Oswaldtwistle.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The reverse combo to George Hirst, and definitely somewhat more batter than bowler – my intention in this side is that when called on to bowl it will be in short, sharp bursts.
  6. George Osbaldeston – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler (under arm). Another explosive all rounder, the fastest bowler of his day.
  7. +Sarah Taylor – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the two finest English keepers I have seen live (Ben Foakes is the other) and a magnificent stroke making batter. Mental health issues brought her career to a premature close. Across the international formats she scored 6,535 runs at 33.17, took 128 catches and executed 102 stumpings – most of those latter eye-blink swift leg side efforts.
  8. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. One of the quickest ever – I suspect that not even the keeper I have chosen would be making many stumpings off his bowling!
  9. Bill Voce – left arm fast medium bowler. An excellent foil to an outright speedster at the other end.
  10. Linsey Smith – left arm orthodox spinner. One of a phalanx of young spinners currently involved with the England Women’s side – as well as Ecclestone and Aberdonian SLAer Kirstie Gordon there are several leg spinners, including Sophia Dunkley and Sarah Glenn, with Helen Fenby on the periphery. Thus far Smith has only been required in T20Is, but she takes her wickets in that form of the game at a bargain basement 14 a piece.
  11. Douglas Wright – leg spinner. A leg spinner with a 15 yard run up, and whose armoury included a bouncer to ensure that there was no automatic going on to the front foot against him. The problem was, that especially if the fielders were not having  one of their better days, the human world was too fallible a place for his kind of bowling – far too often he simply beat everyone and everything all ends up. When things went his way they could do so in spades – he took a record seven first class hat tricks. He is not quite the only specialist spinner to have had an accredited bouncer – Philippe-Henri Edmonds could also bowl one when the mood took him.

This team has a powerful top four, two explosive all rounders, one of the finest of all keeper batters and a strong and varied quartet of specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Tyson and Voce sharing the new ball, Osbaldeston and Stokes offering pace back up and spin twins Smith and Wright also looks impressive

THE CONTEST

This contest, for what I shall call the ‘Bakewell – Nichols Trophy’, in honour of two fine all rounders, Stan Nichols, a left handed batter and right arm fast bowler and Enid Bakewell, who batted right handed and bowled slow left arm would be an absolute belter. It is mighty hard to pick a winner, but I think that Barnes just gives the side from the beginning of the alphabet the edge, and I would suggest that a five match series would finish 3-2 to the team from the beginning of the alphabet.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

There is a petition currently running calling on the government of Botswana not to legalize elephant hunting. Please click on the screenshot below to sign and share:

Botswana

Petition Pic

Above is the picture accompanying the tweet that drew my attention to this petition.

Now, with the teams introduced and an important link shared it is time for my usual sign off:

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A tiny bug crawling over the page of my copy of Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution Is True”

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Alphabet
The teams in tabulated form.

Autism Related Events

Some recent autism and disability related events and a farewell to wicketkeeping legend Sarah Taylor.

INTRODUCTION

There have been two significant events in as many days for me, and I mention both of them in this post.

NORFOLK DISABILITY PRIDE PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION

On Sunday I travelled to Norwich for the Norfolk Disability Pride event, which included the photographic exhibition at which I won third prize (£25 voucher for WEX Photography, which I discovered to my chagrin that I cannot redeem online), for this photograph:

Carbis Bay II

This photograph was taken through a train window while travelling between St Erth and St Ives in the far west of Cornwall.

A big screen was set up on the ground floor of the Norwich Millennium Library displaying this and other photographs for the exhibition (the above was not the only one of pictures to feature, and several others got appreciative responses from viewers), while a variety of groups connected with disability had stands in the foyer of the Forum building, immediately outside the library. In the Auditorium, off to one side of the foyer, was a #ToyLikeMe exhibition (a campaign to increase the number of toys that feature disabled people).

Not wishing to be overly late home I caught the 3:10 bus back from Norwich (as well that I did, since by the time it got to Lynn the rain was coming down in stair rods, and it being Sunday the last no 2 bus to enable me to avoid walking all the way home from the town centre left just after the ExCel bus from Norwich had arrived at the bus station, so I only got a bit wet rather than thoroughly drenched).

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Unlike some buses used for PR purposes this one had no lies printed on it!

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The prize winning picture on the big screen.

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small ‘sesnory; donkeys outside the Forum building

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This was a good feature…
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…especially this part of it!

AUTISM FRIENDLY SOCIAL GROUP

The first of these took place last night at King’s Lynn Library, London Road, between 5PM and 6:45PM, and it is intended that they will become a regular event, with two more sessions, for Wednesday 16th October, 5PM to 6:45PM and Monday 28th October 5PM to 6:45PM already confirmed. Various games and puzzles are available for those so inclined, and refreshments are provided. We had a few people come last night, and I hope that more will get involved as word spreads, but the important thing is that the group runs – even if only a few benefit, that is better than none.

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The official flyer for the social group.
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One of the games they have – I am hoping in due course to play it (did not happen last night).

SARAH TAYLOR’S RETIREMENT

A top class batter, and for my money the best wicketkeeper of either sex to have played in the 21st century, Sarah Taylor has hung up the gloves after an international career that spanned 13 seasons and much of the cricket playing globe. She has made the decision on mental health grounds, and I hope all would wish her well for the future. Those involved with the England Women’s set up deserve credit for their efforts to help her over the years since her mental health issues first came to light, and she deserves credit for being open and honest about them, as well as for her deeds as a player, shown below, courtesy of cricinfo:

Full name Sarah Jane Taylor

Born May 20, 1989, London Hospital, Whitechapel, London

Current age 30 years 134 days

Major teams Adelaide Strikers Women, England Development Squad Women, England Women, Rubies

Playing role Top-order batsman

Batting style Right-hand bat

Fielding position Wicketkeeper

Sarah Jane Taylor
Batting and fielding averages
Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
Tests 10 17 1 300 40 18.75 605 49.58 0 0 50 0 18 2
ODIs 126 119 13 4056 147 38.26 4927 82.32 7 20 462 4 87 51
T20Is 90 87 12 2177 77 29.02 1967 110.67 0 16 241 6 23 51
Bowling averages
Mat Inns Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 4w 5w 10
Tests 10
ODIs 126
T20Is 90

Note especially the number of stumpings (most of them slick leg side efforts) that she executed in her career – wicketkeepers are often colloquially referred to as ‘stumpers’, but increasingly few of them truly merit the term.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Two attempts to capture swnas from the road bridge over the Gaywood near Kettlewell Lane on a dark and rainy night (on my way home from the Librrary yesterday).

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100 Cricketers: The Second XI – The Allrounders

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with a post tailored to International Women’s Day.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers series“. I decided to change the order in which I presented what is left of my second XI (see the introductory post for how I have subdivided my selected 100) because today is International Women’s Day and following a change to my second XI focussing on the allrounders mean that two of the three cricketers to feature today are female. My most recent post in the series introduced the opening pair from this XI, and I will talk about the remaining specialist batters from it in my next post and then the bowlers, also introducing my third XI in that post. I will start with the one male cricketer to be featured today before handing over the women for the remainder of the post…

IAN BOTHAM

He started his test career with five-fors in each of his first two matches against Australia in 1977. Against New Zealand that winter he hit his maiden test hundred, also claiming eight wickets in that match. Against Pakistan in the 1978 home series came two more hundreds, the second backed by a Lord’s ground record bowling analysis for an innings of 8-34. In the Jubilee Match against India he scored 114 not out and had match figures of 13-106 (The only others to have scored a century and had a ten-wicket haul in the same test match are Enid Bakewell for England Women, Betty Wilson for Australia Women and Imran Khan for Pakistan, although Alan Davidsons contribution in the 1960 tied test at Brisbane – 5-135, 44, 6-87 and 80 also deserves an honourable mention in this context). A disastrous spell as captain, not helped by the fact that his opposition for nine of his twelve matches in charge were the West Indies at their absolute zenith, was immediately followed a remarkable trio of matches back under the leadership of Mike Brearley. First at Headingley his 149 not out, backed up by Graham Dilley (56), Chris Old (29) and Bob Willis (who lasted over half an hour while Botham was blazing away) gave England 130 to bowl at, when they had been 92 behind with only three second wickets standing. A combination of the Bob Willis bowling for his international future and panic setting into the Australian team gave England victory by 18 runs to square the series. Then at Edgbaston, when Botham was called up as a last throw of the dice in another game that Australia looked to be winning his presence caused the self-destruct button to be pressed once again (of the five wickets he gained in that final spell at a cost of just one run only one, Ray Bright, got a really difficult delivery, while Kent, Marsh and Lillee all surrendered their wickets to ordinary deliveries, and Alderman at that stage of his career needed nothing more than a straight one to finish him). The third successive Botham special came at Old Trafford, when England were 104-5 in their second innings, 205 to the good. This innings came in three parts – the first 30 balls saw Botham accrue just three singles, then he changed gear to reach 28 of 53 balls (25 off the previous 23) before the arrival of the new ball sent him into overdrive and he plundered 90 off his last 49 balls to finish with 118 from 102 balls – the century off 86. Alan Knott and John Emburey followed up with half centuries, and Australia made a gallant effort facing a victory target of 506 but England won by 103 runs to retain the ashes.

Thereafter big performances from Botham became fewer and further between, but he remained a great wicket taker through sheer force of character, and scored the last of his 14 test hundreds at Brisbane in 1986 – setting England on their way to what would be their last Ashes win down under until the 2010-11 series. At Melbourne, when England completed their series victory a half-fit Botham took five first innings wicktes, sharing the spoils with Gladstone Small who went on to be Man of the Match. 

He finally retired in 1993, when it became clear that the England selectors would not pick him again. Sadly for us followers of the game they had not got over him, and a succession of promising young cricketers would have their careers ruined by being dubbed “the next Botham”. 

In the late 1990s he wrote The Botham Report, a hard hitting book which spelt out what was wrong with English cricket at the time, and what he thought needed doing to put it right. Many of his ideas have been put into practice with considerable success, as albeit with a few black spots along the way English cricket has fared rather better since the year 2000 than it did in the 1980s and 1990s.

SARAH TAYLOR

I have said before when commenting about her in this blog that I regard her as the best wicketkeeper of either sex currently playing the game. She is also a very fine batter. Mental health issues have interfered with her career of late, but at least the way in which these are being handled by the authorities show that they are learning (far too late and after far too many tragedies) how to handle such things – everything possible is being done to help her. 

Although she seems to have been around for a very long time she is still only 29, and so could yet have plenty of time ahead of her at the top. 

Whatever happens she has already done enough to ensure that she will never be forgotten by those who have witnessed her in action.

AMELIA KERR

I was astonished in the middle of the last English cricket season to see that a 17 year old, then known (if she was known at all) as a leg-spin bowler had scored a double-century in an ODI. I checked out the scorecard, managed to see highlights of the innings, and was amazed that someone that young could play that amazingly well. Her 232 not out is a record for a women’s ODI.

She currently averages 39.91 in ODIs (strike rate 108 runs per 100 balls) and takes her  wickets in that form of the game at 22.17 a piece. Because the women play so little test cricket she has yet to sample that form of the game. 

Maybe, as I have suggested about Tammy Beaumont and the current problems with the England men’s team’s top order, she could be given a call-up to the New Zealand men’s team to see what she can do in that environment.

I expect Kerr’s career, whether she stays in the women’s game or gets called up to play alongside the men to be a long and illustrious one – there will be people with questions to answer if it is not so.

PHOTOGRAPHS

If possible I always like to include some of my photographs in my blog posts, so here we are:

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When thinking about photographs to accompany this blog post I realised that although I have had this map for many years I have never previously photographed it.

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A Tale of Two Cricket Matches

An account of two recent cricket matches involving England and South Africa, first the England men’s humiliation at Trent Bridge, and then the nailbiter of a Women’s World Cup semi-final at Bristol.

INTRODUCTION

Both of the matches of my title were cricket matches between England and South Africa. The first was the test match between the men’s teams, and the second was the women’s world cup semi-final. A couple of notes about links in this piece:

  1. All cricket related links are to cricinfo, and…
  2. Some links are in red – these are to video footage.

IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES

England had won the first test match of the series handily, with Joe Root scoring 190 in his first innings as England captain and Moeen Ali being player of the match for his first inning 87 and match haul of 10-112. Among England’s male players only Ian Botham with 114 not out and 13-106 v India in 1979 has topped Ali’s all-round haul in a single game (Enid Bakewell was the first player of either sex to combine a match aggregate of 100 runs with a haul of 10 or more wickets, hence the earlier caveat). 

Thus at Trent Bridge England should have been strong favourites. South Africa won the toss, batted first and made 335 in their first innings and England by bad batting handed South Africa a lead of 130, South Africa extended this to 473 with two days to play before sending England back in, messrs Elgar and Amla having demonstrated how to make runs on this pitch, each batting a long time. England’s second innings was quite simply shambolic, with batter after batter handing their wickets away. Four wickets down by lunch on the penultimate day it worse afterwards, with England being all out for 133 at approsimately 3PM. South Africa, having given themselves two days to dismiss England a second time had required less than two full sessions and were victors be 340 runs. 

ENGLAND’S MISTAKES

The first mistake England made was with the selection of the side. According to the powers that be Moeen Ali is happier as a second spinner than as either a sole spinner or as first spinner. However I find it hard to believe that even he could really consider himself no2 to Liam Dawson. Dawson is an ill thought out selection reminiscent of the dark days of the 1990s. For his county he averages in the low thirties with the bat and the high thirties with the ball, so even at that level he comes out as clearly not good enough in either department to warrant selection – the reverse of the true all-rounder. If a pitch warrants two spinners (and no Trent Bridge pitch in my lifetime ever has) the other spinner should be a genuine front-line option such as Dominic Bess (first class bowling average 19.83 per wicket – what are you waiting for selectors?). The other logical alternative would have been to bring in an extra batter (there are any number of possibilities) to strengthen this department. England’s batting in both innings smacked of panic. Other than Root whose 78 in the first innings was a gem and Cook who played well for a time in the second no England batter is entitled to be other than embarrassed by the way they played in this match. The scorecard, in all it’s gory detail, can be viewed here.

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES

On what should have been the final day of the men’s test match but for England’s spinelessness the women’s teams convened at Bristol for a world-cup semi-final. The final will be played at Lord’s and is already sold out. South Africa batted first and were restricted to 218-6 from their overs, Mignon Du Preez top scoring with 76 not out, and Laura Wolvaardt making 66. South Africa bowled better than they had batted, and the outcome remained in doubt right to the end. Anya Shrubsole who had earlier finished with 1-33 from her 10 overs settled things by hitting her first ball, the third-last possible ball of the match through the covers for four. Sarah Taylor’s 54 and a brilliant wicket-keeping performance highlighted by the spectacular stumping of Trisha Chetty off the bowling of Natalie Sciver earned her the player of the match award. Sciver incidentally is the pioneer of a shot that in honour of her first name and the f**tballing term ‘nutmeg’ commentator Charles Dagnall has dubbed the ‘Natmeg’, one example of which she played in this match. Video highlights of this amazing match can be seen here (runs for just under five minutes), while the scorecard can be viewed here.

THE ROLE OF EXTRAS

To set the scene for the rest of this section here are the extras (a cricket term for runs scored not off the bat) from both innings:

When South Africa batted: 

Extras (w 4) 4

When England batted

Extras (b 5, w 17, nb 3) 25

A note on the designations within extras: Byes (b) stands for runs scored when there is no contact made with the ball but either the batters are able to take runs, or the ball goes to the boundary unimpeded, legbyes (lb), of which there were none in this match, are runs scored when the ball hits the pad but not the bat. Wides (w) are deliveries that are too wide for the batter to be able to play, and no-balls are deliveries that are ruled illegal for some other infraction (bowler overstepping the crease, high full-toss etc). The 21 run difference between the two tallies shown above is of major significance given that England reached the target with just two balls to spare, and there is yet a further point.

WIDES AND NO-BALLS – WHAT APPEARS IN PRINT DOES NOT TELL THE FULL STORY OF HOW EXPENSIVE THEY ARE

England bowled four wides in the match, South Africa 17 and three no-balls. That is a 16-run difference, but the actual costs are likely be even more different because:

  • When a delivery is called wide, as well as incurring a one-run penalty an extra delivery must be bowled to replace it. Thus a wide costs the original penalty, plus possible extras (if it goes unimpeded to the boundary it costs 5, the original 1, plus four foir the boundary) plus any runs scored off the seventh delivery of the over, which the bowler had they been disciplined would not have had to bowl
  • When a delivery is called a no-ball, the batter can still score off it, the delivery immediately following it is designated a ‘free-hit’, meaning that the batter cannot be dismissed off it, and as with a wide an extra delivery must be bowled to replace it. Thus a no-ball actually costs the original penalty, any runs hit of that delivery, the lack of a wicket-taking opportunity on the next delivery and any runs of the seventh delivery of the over (which would otherwise not have needed to be bowled). 

Therefore the discrepancy between the sides in terms of wides and no-balls is probably much greater than shown on the score-card, and this in a very close match. Sarah Taylor certainly deserved her player of the match award, but the much tighter discipline shown by England’s bowlers than their South African counterparts was also crucial to the result.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After over 1,100 words those of you are still with me deserve some pictures, so here we are:

Bee1Bee2

Puppet theatre
This puppet theatre is in town for the Lynn Festival

Purfleet1Moorhen chick

Greyfriars
Greyfriars Tower
Library
King’s Lynn library

Squirrel

Red Mount Chapel
The Red Mount Chapel
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The unedited Red Mount chapel picture.
Guanock Gate
The Guanock Gate

Moorhen and algaeStationPollinator

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The first of three pictures featuring the Custom House

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West Lynn Church
West Lynn Church
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Just as a bee pic was worthy start to this series of photos, another bee pic is a worthy finish to it.

Super Sunday At The Womens World Cup

An account of Super Sunday at the womens World Cup.

INTRODUCTION

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

SOUTH AFRICA V WEST INDIES

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

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

INDIA V PAKISTAN

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

ENGLAND V SRI LANKA

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

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

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

AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

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

FINAL THOUGHTS

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