All Time XIs – STEM Challenge

Today’s all time XI cricket post features two teams assembled to fight out a STEM challenge.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my all time XI cricket series. Today the focus is on cricketers whose names link to STEM subjects.

MATHEMATICAL XI

  1. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. As I have previously mentioned he averaged 45 for England in this specific role. Undoubtedly his greatest moment as opener came at Barbados in 1994. England had just lost the Trinidad test match, collapsing to 46 all out in pursuit of a target of 194, and nobody had beaten the West Indies at Barbados since 1935. Stewart responded to the challenge with 143 and 118, and England duly won the match.His analogue is Ian Stewart, author of a number of excellent books about mathematics.
  2. Bobby Abel – right handed opening batter. The first ever to carry his bat through an England innings, and holds the record for carrying his bat through the largest first class innings (Surrey 811 all out v Somerset, Abel 357 not out). His alter ego for this purpose is Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.
  3. Carole Hodges – right handed batter, off spinner. A fine all rounder whose regular batting position this was. Her alter ego is Andrew Hodges, author of a book titled ‘One to Nine’.
  4. Stan McCabe – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. An Aussie legend of the 1930s, author of three of the greatest test innings ever played – 187 at Sydney in the first match of the 1932-3 Ashes, 189 not out vs South Africa facing a target of over 400, and playing so brilliantly that the SA captain appealed against the light, and 232 not out at Trent Bridge in 1938, when Bradman called his team out on to the balcony on the grounds that they would probably never see anything like this again. George McCabe did some work on the mathematics of lottery wins.
  5. Harry Graham – right handed batter. A century on test debut at Lords, a feat no repeated at that ground until John Hampshire in 1969. His alter ego is Ronald Graham, he worked out Graham’s number, which is so huge that it could never be written out in full. More about this number and its significance here.
  6. *George Frederick Grace – the youngest Grace of WG’s generation, he was one of the leading all rounders of the 1870s. A freak illness killed him at the age of 29. I have given him his full name to set the stage for the explanation of an admittedly tenuous piece of linking. His middle name of Frederick is the English version of Friedrich and his surname begins with a G, which is just enough, given who I am linking to to give a nod to Carl Friedrich Gauss, one of the greatest of all mathematicians. Gauss showed his brilliance as a child, when his teacher set the class to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100. The teacher was expecting a long break while the students worked on this task, but Gauss realized that the problem could be viewed as 50 pairs of numbers which summed to 101, in otherwords 50 x 101 = 5,050, and was finished very quickly. Later in his life Gauss correctly calculated the orbit of Ceres and told astronomers where they needed to look with their telescopes to see it again.
  7. +Mark Wallace – wicket keeper, left handed batter. A very fine player for Glamorgan who never quite managed to attract the attention of the England selectors. His alter ego is David Foster Wallace, author of a biography of Georg  Cantor.
  8. Graham Napier – right arm medium pace bowler, right handed batter. He was better at limited overs cricket than long form, but he did once hit 17 sixes in a first class innings against Surrey. His analogue is John Napier, pioneer of logarithms.
  9. Jack Newman – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He abd Alec Kennedy carried the Hampshire bowling load together for many years. He is in here as analogue to James Newman who edited a book called ‘World of Mathematics‘.
  10. Srinivas Venkataraghavan – off spinner. One of the great Indian spin quartet of the 1970s, and later a fine umpire. His analogue is Srinivasa Ramanujan, a great Indian mathematician of the early 20th century.
  11. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spinner. The women these days play very little test cricket, but she has had considerable success in the shorter forms, especially given how young she still is. She is here because she shares a first name with Sophie Germain, a great French mathematician who has a class of prime numbers named in her honour. A Sophie Germain prime is a prime number which when you double it and add one gives another prime. There are Sophie Germain prime sequences, where each number obtained by this process is a prime – one well known example goes 89, 179, 359, 719 and 1439 – 2,879 is not itself a Sophie Germain prime because 5759 is equal to 443 x 13.

This team has a good top five, an all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat, and four varied bowlers. There is a lack of genuine pace, but otherwise the bowling looks respectable.

 AN HONOURABLE MENTION

I could also have got the Sophie Germain reference in by picking New Zealand pace bowling all rounder Sophie Devine. I reckoned that selecting the spinner made for a more balanced team.

THE SCIENCES XI

  1. Alan Jones – right handed opening batter, more first class runs than anyone else who never played test cricket. His analogue is evolutionary biologist Steve Jones.
  2. Mike Norman – right handed opening batter. Had a long career with first Northamptonshire and then Leciestershire. He owes his place here to David Norman, author of several paleontology books. He has a subversive streak, and carried out a thought experiment in evolution based on the dinosaurs not going extinct, arriving at the conclusion that one particular lineage of dinosaurs might have arrived at a large brained biped 40 million years ago.
  3. Kepler Wessels – left handed batter. The only player to have scored over 1,000 runs for each of two different countries. His scientific namesake is the one and only Johannes Kepler.
  4. Arthur Ridley – right handed batter, occasional fast bowler. He shared the largest partnership of the 1878 match between MCC and Australia, 22 with AN Monkey Hornby. At 27-2 in the MCC first innings Frederick Robert Spofforth was called up for a bowl, and took 6-4, causing the last eight wickets to crash for six runs. In the second innings after Australia had eked out a lead of eight Spofforth and Boyle opened, Spofforth taking 4-16 and Boyle 6-3, as MCC crashed for 19, making 18 wickets for 25 runs. He has two namesakes from the world of biology, Matthew and Mark Ridley.
  5. *Jack Mason – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler., captain. A fine record which would have been greater still had he not retired to concentrate on his career as a solicitor at the age of 28. Stephen Mason is the author of “A History of Science.”
  6. +John Hubble – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Kept for Kent between Frederick Huish and Les Ames. His namesake is the legendary Edwin Powell Hubble.
  7. Alonzo Drake – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. A remarkable career, ended by World War 1 – in the last two months of his professional career he collected 85 wickets in first class matches and played some crucial innings. His namesake is Frank Drake, creator the Drake Equation, which may ultimately enable the calculation of the likelihood of extraterrestrial civilisations (at the moment the error bars on many of the terms are simply too large for it to of any real value).
  8. Jack Gregory – right arm fast bowler, left handed batter. In first class cricket he averaged 36 with the bat and 20.99 with the ball, while in test cricket he paid 30 per wicket. He formed one half of test cricket’s first great fast bowling partnership, with Ted McDonald. Skipper Warwick Armstrong deployed them with such ruthlessness that Australia won eight straight matches in 1920 and 1921, before a combination of Phil Mead’s batting and some inclement English weather allowed the last two matches of that series to be drawn.His namesake is Andrew Gregory, author of “Eureka! the birth of science”, a title inspired by the great Archimedes of Syracuse.
  9. Harry Boyle – right arm medium pace bowler. Yes, the self same Boyle who combined with Spofforth to dismiss MCC for 19 on that famous day in 1878. His namesake is Robert Boyle, famous for Boyle’s law.
  10. Ken Higgs – right arm fast medium bowler. A successful bowler for first Lancashire and then Leciestershire, including playing for England at one point  He gets in here as namFesake to Peter Higgs, of Higgs boson fame (incidentally the word boson for that class of particles derives from Indian scientist Satyendra Bose).
  11. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar – leg spinner. Among bowlers who never played county championship cricket only Clarrie Grimmett, also a leg spinner, took more first class wickets. His namesake is Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, after whom the Chandrasekhar limit (the most mass a white dwarf can have before gravity causes to collapse an form a neutron star) is named.

This side has a respectable top order, genuine all rounders in Hubble, Drake and Gregory and three varied bowlers. Higgs, Gregory, Boyle, Chandrasekhar and Drake looks a good and well balanced bowling unit.

AN HONOURABLE MENTION

Folk whose vision is particular strong in the green and gold regions of the spectrum will be aware of Jim Higgs, a fine leg spinner of the 1970s, and a candidate for Peter Higgs’ namesake. I felt that with one leg spinner and absolutely blown in the glass no 11 already inked in for selection that fast medium bowler Ken was a better pick in terms of balance.

THE CONTEST

This should be a good contest – the general science XI has a slightly better balance to it, and in Jack Gregory the only serious pace available to either side, but the mathematical team is definitely stronger in batting. Also, the fact that Hodges (especially) and McCabe among the the mathematical team’s top batters are genuine bowling options partially makes up for their lack of pace, and at least with Venkataraghavan, Ecclestone and Hodges bowling varieties of spin it is not all going to be workaday medium pace.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced my two teams for today’s STEM contest, but before I sign off, Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has being running a ‘mythbuster‘ series of posts on his blog, and his latest such takes on the ‘National Debt‘. Now we have reached time for my usual sign off…

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STEM
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Myth & History vs Science

Today’s variation on the all-time XI theme links science, mythology and history. I also use this post to highlight the Dominic Cummings situation.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. I have a Sunday spectacular for you, with a team of players who share names with characters from history or mythology taking on a team of players who share names with scientists or science writers.

THE MYTH & HISTORY XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types, captain. The three Graces in a cricketing contest refers to this man and his brothers EM and GF who all played for England, all featuring in the Oval test match of 1880. The Three Graces were three sisters in Greek mythology, daughters of Zeus and the nymph Eurynome. Their names were Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne. You can fet full details here.
  2. Septimus Kinneir – left handed opening batter. In a first class career that began in 1898 and ended in 1914 he amassed 15,641 runs at 32.72, with a best score of 268 not out. Septimus is a Latin name meaning ‘seventh son’, and if you add an ‘i’ you get Septimius, which gives Lucius Septimius Severus, one of the better Roman emperors.
  3. Krishnamachari Srikkanth – right handed batter. His 38 was the highest individual score of the 1983 World Cup final (India 183 all out beat West Indies 140 all out by 43 runs, in one of the greatest of all sporting upsets). The first seven letters of his forename spell out Krishna, an important Indian deity.
  4. Julius Caesar – right handed batter, occasional right arm fast bowler. I have not made him up – he played for Surrey in the 1850s. The Julii Caesares were a famous Roman family, the most famous of all being the original ‘Caesar’, murdered on the ides of March in 44BCE. Appropriately enough given his name the cricketing Julius Caesar took a very aggressive approach to his batting.
  5. Nicholas Felix – left handed batter. Another legendary player of the mid 19th century. His real surname was Wanostrocht (‘pronounced one-horse-trot’), but he played under the nom de guerre ‘Felix’ because he was also a schoolmaster and did not wish the parents of his charges to know about his cricketing sideline. He was an early player turned writer, author of ‘Felix On The Bat’. His name sake for this purpose was Felix, governor of Judaea in the reign of the emperor Claudius.
  6. Octavius Radcliffe – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played for Gloucestershire, and got selected for the 1891-2 Ashes tour. The Octavii were a Roman family which had two known branches, one of which was senatorial for most of its existence but died out in the mid 80s BCE, and the other of which did not number any senators until the very time that the senior branch died out, when Gaius Octavius whose father had made a fortune as banker was accepted into the senate. He reached the rank of Praetor, second highest in the ranking of magistrates in the Roman republic but died before he could become consul. His son, also Gaius Octavius was adopted in the will of his great uncle Julius Caesar and became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, and eventually the emperor Augustus.
  7. +Arthur Frederick Augustus ‘Dick’ Lilley – wicket keeper, right handed batter. We have already met the emperor Augustus, but his first given name, Arthur gives him a link to the mythical King Arthur.
  8. Xenophon Constantine Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. We have already met him in ‘The CLR James Trophy‘. As well as the historical Xenophon who I mentioned in that post his middle name connects to the first christian emperor of Rome, Constantine.
  9. Alfred Shaw – right arm slow to medium bowler. One of the most economical bowlers ever to play the game, he paid just 12 per wicket through a long career in which he bowled more overs than he conceded runs. His historical namesake isof course the only English monarch ever to have been dubbed ‘the Great’, Alfred of Wessex, king from 871 to 899CE.
  10. Freya Davies– right arm fast medium bowler. She is only just starting her career, but she has seven T20I wickets at 21 each, and an economy rate in that format of 5.88, which is highly impressive. If you add a j to her first name you get Freyja, a nordic/ teutonic goddess.
  11. Gideon Elliott – right arm fast bowler. I covered his brief but spectacular first class career in ‘Days In The Sun‘. His analogue is the biblical Gideon, who fought against the Midianites. His story appears in The Book of Judges, and I am both unrepentant and unapologetic in describing both that and indeed the bible of which it is part as mythology.

This team has a respectable top six, a fine keeper and four skilled and well varied bowlers. It is a fairly impressive looking side, especially given the selection criteria.

THE SCIENCE XI

  1. Marcus Trescothick – left handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer, slip fielder. I covered him in my Somerset post. He serves here as an introduction to two authors. Marcus Chown writes about cosmology, and among the books of his to be found on my shelves are “The Never Ending Days of Being Dead”, “We Need To Talk About Kelvin” and “Afterglow Of Creation”. He currently has a short article of the 1665 plague here. Marcus Du Sautoy writes about mathematics, and became the second holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science after Richard Dawkins. His books, all highly readable, include “The Music of Primes” and “Number Mysteries”.
  2. Jimmy Burke – right handed opening batter. An adhesive opening batter who once scored 28 not out in four and a quarter hours (he was playing unselfishly, feeding his partners the strike, and in company with Norman O’Neill who played plenty of strokes, he saw Australia to victory). His full name was James Wallace Burke, which means he shares two names with his analogue, James Burke, author of “The Day The Universe Changed.”
  3. Colin McDonald – right handed batter. He usually opened, but I have dropped him one place in order to preserve the left-right opening combo. He was the batting star of the 1958-9 Ashes, well chronicled by Jack Fingleton in “Four Chukkas to Australia”. His counterpart is David McDonald, author of “The Velvet Claw”.
  4. Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. I have rolled his full name rather than simply calling him Viv Richards because it is that first given name, Isaac, that gets him in here. His scientific counterpart is of course Isaac Newton, to date the only person from the Grantham area to have done anything that warrants being remembered. Newton was one of the greatest of all scientists. Patricia Fara is the author of an excellent book about him, “Newton: The Making of Genius.”
  5. Brian Close – left handed batter, off spinner and occasional medium pacer, fearless close fielder. His England career spanned 27 years, his debut coming in 1949 at the age 18, and his final appearances at that level being against the West Indies in 1976. Ten years after even that he turned out for a match in the Scarborough festival, and with his side due to field noted that protective gear had been set out in the dressing room. He asked about this and was told that it was the short leg fielder. The then 55 year old Close responded to that with “Well, ahm at short leg today and ah doan’t need it.” His scientific counterpart is Brian Clegg, author of “Inflight Science” and “First Scientist”, a biography of Roger Bacon, among others.
  6. Oliver Pope – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averages just over 60 in first class cricket, 47 in his fledgling test career, but I have kept him down at no 6 in this team because there have been suggestions regarding England moving him up, and I believe that at this stage of his career that would be a mistake. His analogue is Oliver Sacks, author of “Uncle Tungsten” and “An Anthropologist on Mars”. I especially recommend the former volume, which is indeed about a relative who worked with and was obsessed by tungsten.
  7. +Rachel Priest – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The Kiwi stumper gets in as counterpart to Rachel Carson, whose ‘Silent Spring’ made waves when it was first published. I have a copy of “The Sea Around Us” on my shelves and have read a couple of other books of hers. Anything with her name on the cover will be worth reading.
  8. Bart King – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. The greatest cricketer ever produced by the USA. The science link is to Brian King, co-author with Martin Plimmer of “Beyond Coincidence.”
  9. Jack Walsh – left arm wrist spin bowler. The Australian who played most of his first class cricket for Leicestershire took 1190 first class wickets at 24.55. His full name was John Edward Walsh, as compared to John Evangelist Walsh, author of “Unravelling Piltdown”, an account of one of the most famous of all scientific hoaxes, which identifies the culprit beyond any real doubt.
  10. Bob Newson – right arm fast bowler. His test bowling average was a horrible 66.25, partly because of his involvement in the infamous timeless test at Durban in 1939. Near the end of that match before the weather made its final intervention he took what was the 12th new ball to be used in its absurd duration. His first class record was 60 wickets at 26.03 each, or outside the test arena 56-1297 for an average of 23.16 each. His scientific counterpart is Lesley Newson, author of “The Atlas of the World’s Worst Natural Disasters”.
  11. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third most prolific wicket taker in first class history with 3,278 scalps. Joint second in the list of first class hat trick takers, having performed the feat on six occasions. His counterpart is Andrew Parker, author of “In The Blink Of An Eye”, a natural history of the eye, and the role that the development of that organ played in the ‘Cambrian Explosion‘. Simon Ings is also the author of a book about eyes, “The Eye”, will Richard Dawkins’ “Mount Improbable” contains a chapter called ‘The Fortyfold Path to Enlightenment’, a title referring the minimum number of times on which eyes have evolved in the history of life on our planet.

This team has a fine top six, a keeper who can bat, and four well varied bowlers, with Close as a back up option in that department.

THE CONTEST

This should be a fine contest. My money would just about be on the team with scientific links.

A LINK AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced the teams, but there is one thing to do before signing off. As some of my readers will be aware Dominic Cummings, the Rasputin of 21st century Britain, is in deep trouble. Yesterday it was revealed that he had travelled to Durham at the height of the lockdown, and then after some hours of various senior Tories sacrificing their credibility in desperate efforts to defend him, perpetrated at the behest of puppet prime minister Johnson, a second revelation came out yesterday evening regarding a trip to Barnard’s Castle during the lockdown period. The story had moved even further on, with a further sighting of Cummings in Durham on May 10th attested to by multiple witnesses. The lockdown policy, which was sensible but introduced far too late by the Johnson misgovernment, is unenforceable so long as Cummings remains in office, and those calling for his removal now include at least eight Tory MPs, with others doubtless to follow. I fully agree that his position is entirely untenable, and there is a petition running on change.org calling for his removal, which I have already signed, and now I urge all of you to sign and share it by clicking the screenshot below.

Scummings petition

Finally, it is time for my usual sign off…

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Science v History
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Cultural XI v Player-Authors XI

Today’s variation upon an ‘all time XI’ cricket theme is built around cultural connections.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest in my series of variations on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. This one pits a team of cricketers who share names with people who have made cultural contributions against a team of cricketers who wrote books after retirement.

THE CULTURAL XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. See yesterday’s post among others for more about him. I have sneaked him in by adding an e to his surname for the cultural reference – to Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, and also author of one of the pieces included in “The Portable Atheist” edited by Christopher Hitchens.
  2. Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter. A massively successful batter for Hampshire for many years. My cultural reference is to another Marshall with middle initial e, HE Marshall, author of “Our Island Story”.
  3. Michael Vaughan – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. A bit of reaching here, as the reference is to Pip Vaughan-Hughes, a historical novelist whose books I have enjoyed reading.
  4. ‘Tup’ Scott – right handed batter. An early Aussie middle order batter, he claims his place in this team as analogue to Manda Scott, a historical novelist whose books include the Pantera series of Roman novels and the Dreaming series of novels about Boudicca.
  5. Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averaged 56.68 in test cricket, so I was particularly please to be able to include him by reference to Charles Doolittle Walcott, the USian palaeontologist who discovered the Burgess Shale, one of the most important of all fossil beds. The best known writer to have covered the Burgess Shale is Stephen Jay Gould.
  6. Adrian Kuiper – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. He gets in as analogue to Gerard Peter Kuiper, a USian astronomer after whom the Kuiper Belt, considered a frontier in our solar system, is named.
    Illustration of Kuiper Belt and Spacecraft locations
  7. George Rubens Cox – right handed batter, left arm medium pace bowler, left arm orthodox spinner. I give him his full name to distinguish from another George Cox who also played for Sussex. Although he shares his middle name with Peter Paul Rubens, the Belgian artist, I am actually including him as a hat tip to professor Brian Cox.
  8. *Tony Lock – left arm orthodox spinner. For those wondering about my naming him as captain he was the first ever to captain Western Australia to a Sheffield Shield title, and his years in that role also saw him usher Dennis Lillee on to the cricketing stage. He also had a telling effect on the fortunes of Leicestershire when he became their captain. His analogue is crime writer Joan Lock, two of whose novels “Dean Born” and “Dead Image” I can recommend. Also, addition of an e to his surname brings in philosopher John Locke and engineer Joseph Locke, the latter of whom is commemorated in the name of Locke Park in Barnsley.
  9. +Eric Petrie – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was by reputation a brilliant wicket keeper, but a very limited batter, who I mentioned in passing in my New Zealand post. His inclusion here links to Egyptologist sir Flinders Petrie. Readers of the late Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series will recognize Petrie as one of the few among his fellow Egyptologists about whom Radcliffe Emerson is other than utterly scathing.
  10. Tich Freeman – leg spinner. The second leading wicket taker in first class history, with 3,776, of which all bar 29 were taken after the age of 30. The 5’2″ legspinner is here as analogue to Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s leading scientists and author of “From Eros to Gaia”.
  11. Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. One of the quickest and nastiest ever. His analogue is June Thomson, author of six books of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and the overview/dual biography “Holmes and Watson”. I rate her very high among those  who have chronicled adventures of the Baker Street pair since Conan Doyle finsihed.

This team has a strong top five, two all rounders, a splendid keeper and three ifne bowlers. It is somewhat short in the pace bowling department, with one of Cox or Kuiper likely to open the bowling with Thomson. However, they do have a very shrewd captain in Lock.

THE CRICKETER-AUTHORS XI

  1. Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. 8,900 test runs, more runs in first class and list A combined than anyone else in the game’s history. He is the author of “Captaincy”.
  2. David Lloyd – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. As well as having a test double century to his credit, ‘Bumble’ as he is nicknamed is the author of “The World According to Bumble” and “The Ashes According to Bumble”.
  3. Tom Graveney – right handed batter. The second leading scorer of first class runs in the post World War Two era with over 47,000 of them.  He is the author of “The Ten Greatest Test Teams”, a book which analyses ten famous combinations and rates which is the very best.
  4. *Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium (earlier bowled leg spin), brilliant slip fielder. The first Aussie to record 7,000 test runs, he book ended his test career with centuries, 108 v England at Perth to start and 182 v Pakistan to finish. He is the author of “The 100th Summer”, which details the test matches of the 1976-7 season, when he was captain of Australia.
  5. Doug Walters – right handed abtter, occasional right arm medium pace. A stroke maker who succeeded everywhere except England, where never managed a century. His highest test score of 250 came against New Zealand and featured a 217 run partnership with Gary Gilmour who racked up his one and only test ton. He twice scored over 100 runs in a test match session. He was also noted as a partnership breaker. He is the author of “One For The Road”.
  6. Ian Botham – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Author of “The Botham Report” and “Botham’s Century” among other books.
  7. +Tiger Smith – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He actually first played for Warwickshire as a batter, while Dick Lilley retained the gloves. He gave a series of interviews to Pat Murphy, which ultimately became “Tiger Smith”.
  8. Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Author of “Warne’s Century”.
  9. Jim Laker – off spinner. An excellent ‘spin twin’ for Warne, who holds the record for wickets in an Ashes series – 46 at less than 10 each in 1956. He earns his place in this role by dint of being the author of “Cricket Contrasts”.
  10. Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler. The first to record 300 test wickets, an unquestioned great of the game. He is the author of “As It Was” and co-author with John Arlott of “The Thoughts of Trueman Now”.
  11. Matthew Hoggard – right arm fast medium. An ideal type of bowler to share the new ball with Trueman, a position for which he qualifies b y being author of “Welcome To My World”.

This team has a fine top five, a top class all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat and a splendid foursome of bowlers. There is no front line left arm option but I feel that lack can be coped with – overall it looks a fine side.

THE CONTEST

The second of my two teams would clearly start as favourites, but both have some fine players and I would expect the contest to be a splendid one.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced the two teams, but just before I sign off in my usual fashion I have a link to share. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has produced an excellent post about funding government spending, available here. Below is a ‘mind-map’ included in the post:

 

https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Screenshot-2020-05-18-at-15.32.06.png

Finally it is time for my usual sign off…

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The first 13 pictures here come from Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution Is True”, a book that has subsequently spawned a website which you visit by clicking here.

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May be a shieldbug (three pictures)

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Literary Clash
The two teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Scientists v Novelists

My latest variation on the all time XI cricket theme pits a team of cricketers who share names with famous scientists against a team who share names with famous writers of fiction.

INTRODUCTION

Another day sees another variation on the all time XI cricket theme. Today we pit a team of cricketers who share names with famous scientists against a team of cricketers who share names with famous novelists. In all bar two cases the shared name is a surname. As per usual I have not selected anyone purely because their name fits. I am well aware that some very eminent scientists also wrote novels – Carl Sagan’s “Contact” is on my shelves to name but one.

THE SCIENTISTS XI

  1. John Rutherford – right handed opening batter. He was the first Western Australian to be selected for his country, being picked for the 1956 tour of England. Although he failed, in common with most of his team mates, on that tour he had a very respectable first class record, and probably should have been given the opportunity to perform on home soil. His scientific namesake is Ernest Rutherford, born on the other side of the Tasman, and justly famous for his work on the atomic nucleus, and having the element Rutherfordium named in his honour.
  2. Navjot Singh Sidhu – right handed opening batter. At a time when his country found it hard to find anyone to go in against the new ball Sidhu did so and recorded a very respectable average. Although he was better against the quicks he could give mediocre spin and absolute walloping, as John Emburey and Ian Salisbury discovered to their cost on the 1992-3 tour of India. The scientist with whom he shares a name is Simon Singh, author of books that include “Fermat’s Last Theorem”  and “Big Bang”.
  3. Geoff Marsh – right handed batter. A first class triple centurion, and a fine test record as well. Among the many humiliations the 1989 Aussies inflicted on the disorganized and inadequate rabble masquerading as “England” that year Marsh and his left handed partner Taylor became only the second opening pair in Ashes history (after Hobbs and Sutcliffe who did so at Melbourne in 1924 in response to a total of 600) to bat through a whole day’s play – by tea on day 2 England had captured precisely two wickets in five uninterrupted sessions of bowling, before Australia did lose some wickets after that interval as they hustled to a declaration at 602-6, enough to win by an innings and plenty. Two sons, Shaun and Mitchell Marsh have also represented Australia with some success, although neither have a record to place them in the very top bracket. The scientist to whom Geoff owes his selection in this XI is palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, who identified and catalogued a vast number of fossil species in the course of his long and distinguished career.
  4. Derek Randall – right handed batter, brilliant fielder. The heavy scoring Nottinghamshire batter was often made to bat right up at the top of the order for England, a role to which he was not best suited, though he did deliver one Ashes winning innings at no3, a nine and a half hour 150 in scorching heat at Sydney in the 1978-9 series. His speed around the field earned him the nickname ‘Arkle’ in honour of one the most famous racehorses of the time. His scientific namesake is cosmologist Lisa Randall, who I first came across in a wonderful little book by another cosmologist, Janna Levin, titled “How The Universe Got Its Spots”.
  5. Ian Bell – right handed batter. A superb timer of the ball, it often did not look like he had really hit the ball until one saw it speeding to the boundary. He overcame an early reputation for being somewhat soft to become for a period one of the most respected middle order batters in world cricket. His matching scientist is Jocelyn Bell, later Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered the first pulsar. She was scandalously deprived of the Nobel Prize this warranted as the committee decided to give sole credit to her supervisor Anthony Hewish, when at best he deserved a share of the award, though I personally would have limited him to an honourable mention in the citation.
  6. +John Hubble – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of a succession of top drawer keepers that Kent have had down the years, he initially got into the side as a batter, while Fred Huish retained the gloves, but after World War 1 and before the rise of Ames who continued the sequence (which runs on through Evans and Alan Knott to Oliver Graham Robinson of today) he was keeper as of right. His scientific alter ego is of course Edwin Powell Hubble, discoverer of the red shift phenomenon and prover that ours is not the only galaxy in the universe, after whom the Hubble constant and the Hubble space telescope are named. Hubble was able to achieve what he did in no small part due to the hard and largely unheralded work of human ‘computer’ Henrietta Swan Leavitt.
  7. James Franklin – left handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler. The Kiwi who played for Middlesex for a number of years, fully merits his place as all rounder – at his best he was a very fine cricketer indeed. As befits the all rounder of the side he has two eminent scientific namesakes – Rosalind Franklin whose x-ray diffraction photographs helped to reveal the structure of DNA, though she got none of the credit, as her work was shown to Francis Crick and James Watson without her even being consulted and neither of those two saw fit to even mention her in connection with their claimed discovery and Benjamin Franklin, late 18th century polymath.
  8. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The Northamptonshire and England man destroyed Australia in their own backyard in the 1954-5 Ashes. A shooting star in cricket’s skies, his brief spell at the top left him with a test bowling average of 18.56. His scientific alter ego is Neil De Grasse Tyson, astrophysicist, cosmologist and planetary scientist.
  9. Srinivas Venkataraghavan – off spinner. The Indian, one of four specialist spinners who flourished for that country in the 1970s, was an off spinner more noted for accuracy than big turn. After his playing days were finished he went on to a very distinguished career as an umpire. His scientific namesake, slightly sneakily, is Srinivasa Ramanujan, the great Indian mathematician. Ramanujan was brought to England by the eminent Cambridge mathematician Godfrey Harold Hardy, and made serious waves in the few years he had before health problems overcame him. Hardy, in “A Mathematician’s Apology” tells a story of Ramanujan in his final illness: Hardy attempting to make conversation mentioned the number of the cab that had brought him there, 1729, and expressed the opinion that it was a rather dull number, to which Ramanujan said: “No Hardy, it is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.”
  10. Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. Terrifyingly fast in his prime, when he teamed up with Dennis Lillee to lay waste to opposition batting orders. One of the things that gave Clive Lloyd the idea for the ‘four fast bowlers’ strategy he used to such devastating effect for the West Indies was the experience the men from the Caribbean suffered when beaten 5-1 in Australia in 1975, and they struggled badly against Lillee and Thomson, backed up by left arm pace bowler Gary Gilmour and right arm fast medium swing specialist Max Walker. His scientist alter ego is William Thomson, first Baron Kelvin, after whom the absolute temperature scale, and Marcus Chown’s book “We Need To Talk About Kelvin” are both named. There used to be a pub called the Lord Kelvin near King’s Lynn bus station, but it closed a while back, and the building has been slowly but visibly decaying ever since.
  11. *Bhagwath Chandrasakehar – leg spinner. One of the most individual bowlers in cricket’s long history, his right arm was withered from polio suffered as a child, and that was the arm he bowled with. He managed with the aid of the whippy, withered limb to be quick through the air and achieve sharp turn. He is second in the list of first class wicket takers who did not ever bowl in the County Championship behind another very different leg spinner, Clarrie Grimmett. I have gambled by naming him as captain, a role actually performed IRL by his fellow specialist spinner Bishan Bedi.  His scientific namesake is Subrahmanyan Chandrasakehar, a physicist and cosmologist who shared a Nobel Prize with Willy Fowler for work that explained the later evolutionary stages of massive stars. The Chandrasakehar limit, which relates to the collapse of stars after they have gone supernova (it is the greatest mass that a white dwarf can reach before it in it’s own turn collapses further to become a neutron star) is named in his honour.

The ‘scientists XI’ has a respectable top five, a good wicket keeper who can bat at six, an all rounder and four varied specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Tyson, Thomson, Franklin as third seamer, Chandrasakehar and Venkataraghavan should not struggle to take 20 wickets in a match either.

THE NOVELISTS XI

  1. Charlie Harris – right handed opening batter. Like his great Nottinghamshire predecessor George Gunn, Harris was an eccentric. Once when chided for slow scoring by a spectator he pointed his bat handle first towards the culprit and mimed shooting! His fiction writing alter ego for my purposes is Robert Harris, a writer of historical novels, including a trilogy about the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, “Imperium”, “Lustrum” and “Dictator” and a novel about the selection of a new Pope, “Conclave”.
  2. MJK Smith – right handed opening batter. The Warwickshire and England man was a big scorer who never quite established himself at test level, partly because when he was in his prime Boycott and Edrich were normally first choice openers. He has two namesakes I choose to mention: Denis O Smith, a writer of new Sherlock Holmes stories, and Dodie Smith, author of “101 Dalmatians” and “Starlight Barking”, both of which I read and enjoyed as a child.
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various types. Cricket’s first superstar, used in my “CLR James Trophy” post to introduce the man he was named after, royal physician to Elizabeth I William Gilbert. This time he gets in to highlight action/ adventure novelist Tom Grace.
  4. Adrian Rollins – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. The Derbyshire man who could not have been far short of an England call up at his best gets in on account of the novels of James Rollins. The first Rollins novel that I read was “The Judas Strain”, which was set largely in the Angkor temple complex in Cambodia, and featured a bacteria that turned all the bacteria in the human body against their host. It is an excellent read, and I have found that to apply to many other Rollins books.
  5. Stanley Jackson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. A Yorkshire stalwart whose England appearances were limited to home matches against Australia (he scored five test centuries nevertheless). His fiction writing analogue is Douglas Jackson, a writer of historical fiction whose first book was “Caligula”, and who then moved forwards in time through the reigns of Claudius and Nero. This is a popular period with novelists, with Robert Graves’ classics “I, Claudius” and “Claudius The God” overlapping it, along with Roberto Fabbri’s “Vespasian” series and Simon Scarrow’s “Eagles” series.
  6. Dai Davies – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer, right arm off spin. Glamorgan’s first great home grown talent of their first class period (they became a first class county in 1921, he made his debut in 1923, retiring in 1939). He was umpiring in the game at Bournemouth in which Glamorgan sealed their first County Championship in 1948, and is alleged to have responded to the final appeal with “that’s out and we’ve won.”. His fiction writing analogue is David Stuart Davies, a highly skilled Holmesian writer whose credits include “Sherlock Holmes and The Ripper Legacy”, “The Veiled Detective” and many others.
  7. Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Her colossal list of cricketing credits include a test double century and a seven-for in an ODI. Her fiction writing namesake is Anne Perry, author of historical detective novels. Her two main series feature lead characters named Thomas Pitt and William Monk respectively.
  8. +Kycia Knight – wicket keeper, left handed batter. An excellent keeper with a very respectable batting record. Her sister Kyshona also plays for the West Indies. Her fiction writing alter ego is Bernard Knight, creator of the “Crowner John” series of historical detective novels.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. Rated by many as the best bowler of any type to play in the inter-war years, his achievements include topping 25 wickets in each of four successive series. His fiction writing counterpart is Matthew Reilly, a bit of a stretch, but worth it for his extraordinary action adventure novels. Whether it be his Jack West series, the Scarecrow series (these two were effectively amalgamated by “The Four Legendary Kingdoms”, which has been followed by “The Three Secret Cities”, leaving two volumes, the last of which I suspect will be titled “The Omega Event”, to complete that series, or his various stand alone efforts, such as “Temple”, “Tournament” and “The Great Zoo of China” the books are universally excellent. I put up a post about his novels a while back, and recommend you visit it by clicking here.
  10. Craig McDermott – right arm fast bowler. The red headed Queenslander was an excellent fast bowler in his day, though a trifle injury prone. His literary alter ego is Andy McDermott, author of a series of adventure novels featuring archaeologist Nina Wilde and her ex-SAS husband Eddie Chase. The most recent novel in the series is “The Spear of Atlantis”, but you will not be disappointed whichever of these novels you happen to pick up.
  11. Matthew Dunn – right arm fast bowler. At one stage, before injuries started to take their toll he seemed destined for an England call up. As it is he only gets in because he has two literary alter egos: Carola Dunn, author of two excellent series of detective novels, the “Daisy Dalrymple” series and the “Cornish Mysteries”, which feature DS Megan Pencarrow, and Suzannah Dunn, author of historical novels including “Confessions of Katherine Howard” and “Sixth Wife”.

This team has great batting depth, with everyone down to Knight at no8 recognized in that department, and the bowling is well stocked, with Dunn, McDermott and O’Reilly the specialists, and Perry, Grace, Davies and Jackson as more than handy back up options. The spin department is a little light, but even so it looks a good bowling unit.

THE CONTEST

The contest for what I have decided to call the ‘CP Snow Trophy’ looks an absolute cracker. The ‘scientists’ have a somewhat less strong batting line up, but a quite awesome bowling attack, while the ‘novelists’ have a better batting line up, but are less formidable as a bowling unit. It will probably come down to the contributions of WG Grace and Ellyse Perry, and it is hard not to see those two each producing a match winning performance somewhere, so in a five match series the ‘novelists’ are not faring any worse than a 3-2 defeat. Equally it is hard to see Tyson and Thomson not being match winners, so we arrive at 2-2 for four of the five matches – it will go down to the wire.

MATHEMATICAL TEASER

Here, linking both of today’s XIs, is a mathematical problem involving a bit of detective work, courtesy of brilliant.org:

Angle Detective

The original question was officially a multiple choice one, but I solved it in seconds and without reference to the available choices, so I am not making it multiple choice here.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The two sides contending for the ‘CP Snow Trophy’ have been introduced, and I have offered up a mathematical teaser for your attention. I offer one solitary link before my usual sign off: to a piece at gazetteseries calling for an ambitious approach to the reintroduction of beavers to the UK.

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The nest five pictures are all the same shot edited in different ways.

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Scientists v Novelists
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – The CLR James Trophy

A variation on the ‘all time XI’ cricket theme inspired by CLR James’ great question “What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” – contrives to touch on a huge variety of topics.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on the all-time XI theme. This one requires a little preliminary explanation to set the scene, but first before getting into the main body of the post it is time for a…

CORRECTION AND APOLOGY

Some observant readers will have observed, as did one James Carroll on twitter that in yesterday’s post about New Zealand I somehow contrived to leave out Kane Williamson. So, following my usual ‘reverse tabloid’ policy in such matters I take this opportunity to redress the wrong: Williamson replaces Rutherford in the NZ My Time team and if absolutely mandated to do so I could accommodate him in the NZ All Time by dropping Martin Crowe. My thanks to Mr Carroll for being civil about making the correction and my apology to Mr Williamson for an inexcusable oversight.

EXPLAINING THE CLR JAMES TROPHY

The CLR James Trophy gets its name from the question at the heart of that classic cricket book “Beyond a Boundary”, “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” I pit two teams against each other of top level cricketers whose names give me non-cricketing links, with brief explanations of those links. I did consider honouring a former cricketer with a famously broad range of interests, Ed Smith and a polymath in Peter Medawar, but decided to stick with the CLR option. It is time to meet the first of our two XIs…

WG GRACE’S XI

  1. *William Gilbert Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types. The scorer of 54,896 first class runs and taker of 2,876 first class wickets, his parents’ eighth child and fourth son was named in honour of William Gilbert, Royal Physician to Queen Elizabeth I. He was among other things a pioneer in the field of magnetism, author of “De Magnete”, and subject of “Latitude” by Stephen Pumfrey. Another Gloucestershire physician, Dr Jessop, named his 11th child Gilbert, because it was WG’s middle name, while ‘The Champion’ had several cricketing cousins surnamed Gilbert as well.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. His average when picked for England in this specific role was 45 per innings. Here he gets in in order to publicize Professor Ian Stewart, author of a stack of books about mathematics, including a series of books of curios “Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities”, “Professor Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasurers” and “Professor Stewart’s Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries”, and many others such as “Does God Play Dice?”, “Nature’s Numbers” and “Taming the Infinite”.
  3. Kepler Wessels – left handed batter. The only man to score over 1,000 test runs for each of two different countries. In his case the connection is by way of his given name, to ground breaking astronomer Johannes Kepler.
  4. Bill Bruce – right handed batter. A successful Aussie of the 1890s. His analogue is Colin Bruce, author of “The Strange Case of Mrs Hudson’s Cat” and “Conned Again Watson”. These two books use stories featuring Baker Street’s most famous duo to explore mysteries of science, mathematics and logic.
  5. Merv Wallace – right handed batter. The Kiwi averaged 44 in first class cricket, but his few appearances at test level were not so successful. The non-cricketing link is Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection. The Wallace line, which runs (among other places) between Lombok and Bali marks the geological and zoological divide between Asia and Australia.
  6. David Hookes – right handed batter. The scorer of the fastest first class hundred by any Australian batter, in just 43 minutes. He is the only one whose name needs altering to create the non-cricketing links – deleting the final s gives Hooke, as in Robert Hooke, the great 17th century scientist, author of Micrographia, and well covered in John Gribbin’s “Science: A History 1543-2001”, while deleting the e from that surname provides a connection to philosopher Bell Hooks, who I learned a little bit about while studying philosophy as one of the modules of my degree.
  7. Franklyn Stephenson – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Our all rounder, one of only two since the reduction of first class fixtures in 1969 to have done the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in an English season, and appropriately he is doing double duty. George and Robert Stephenson were both eminent engineers, among the pioneers of railway development. The most famous Stephenson design with a railway connection was of course ‘The Rocket’. Robert Louis Stephenson, a relative of the engineers, is famous as a novelist. I have read most of his books, the first one I read being “Kidnapped”, while I studied “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” at degree level.
  8. +Jack Russell – wicket keeper, left handed lower middle order batter. His ‘alter ego’ is philosopher Bertrand Russell, author of many books, and one of the writers featured in “Portable Atheist”, edited by Christopher Hitchens.
  9. Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, capable right handed batter. His brief test match career does not look that impressive, but in 75 first class matches he scored 2,696 runs at 28.68 with a best of 206 and took 276 wickets at 24.11 with a best of 8-60. The original Xenophon was an Athenian who went to Sparta when his situation in his home city became untenable, signed up as a mercenary solider there and travelled to Persia as part of an army attempting to overthrow King Artaxerxes and place his brother Cyrus on the throne. After a battle in which Cyrus was killed, Xenophon and his men found themselves in deepest Persia under sentence of death, but managed to escape, and Xenophon eventually returned to Greece, writing up his adventures in a book he called Anabasis. This has been novelized by Conn Iggulden as “Falcon of Sparta”. Much later one Xenophon of Cos served as physician to the Roman Emperor Claudius, being mentioned in Suetonius’ “The Twelve Caesars” and also in the fictional setting of Robert Graves’ “I Claudius” and “Claudius The God”. Finally, to complete Balaskas’ ancient historical links his middle name was Constantine, linking him the first christian Roman Emperor.
  10. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. Over 2,100 first class wickets and no England cap. He claims his place as second spinner by virtue of his surname, shared by philosopher Daniel C Dennett, among whose books are numbered “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” and “Breaking The Spell”, both of which adorn my shelves.
  11. Danny Morrison – right arm fast medium bowler. He was one of the Kiwis best bowlers of the 1990s and his presence creates two splendid links. Toni Morrison won the Nobel prize for Literature for “Beloved”, and is also the author of a number of other hard hitting books – anything with her name on the cover will be worth reading. Boyd Morrison writes novels that combine action, adventure and elements of science and history – I have a copy of “The Noah’s Ark Quest” and can also recommend “The Tsunami Countdown”.

This team features a good top six, a genuine all rounder in Stephenson, a keeper who can bat, and three varied specialist bowlers. With Grace also worth his place as a bowler the bowling has depth and variety, with Stephenson and Morrison to take the new ball and Dennett, Balaskas and Grace to provide alternatives.

GREVILLE STEVENS XI

  1. Harold Dennis ‘Dickie’ Bird – right handed opening batter. Best known as an umpire, but he was a successful opening bat for Barnsley, and ultimately amassed two first class hundreds, with a best of 181 not out. David Bird is a prolific writer of books about Contract Bridge. He is particularly noted for his humorous stories featuring the monks of St Titus, the nuns of St Hilda’s and latterly staff and pupils alike at Cholmeley and Channing schools, located at opposite ends of the same village.
  2. Alan Melville – right handed opening batter. The South African had a splendid test record, including four successive centuries straddling World War II. His ‘alter ego’ is Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick”.
  3. Hugh Massie – right handed attacking top order batter. He scored 55 in the original ‘Ashes’ test at The Oval in 1882, made out of 66 in under an hour – and had kicked off that tour with an innings of 206, a record first innings in England for an Aussie until 1930 when Bradman opened his English account with a score of 236. His non-cricketing counterpart is historical novelist Allan Massie, author of a series of Roman history themed books including “Augustus”, “Tiberius”, “Caesar” and “Nero’s Heirs”. “Augustus” features a wonderful spoof foreword taking on the persona of master of Michaelhouse College, Cambridge, one Aeneas Fraser-Graham, and declaring that ‘even a glimpse of a photostat is sufficient to assure one of the authenticity of these memoirs’.
  4. HJH ‘Tup’ Scott – right handed bat. Scott was one of three Aussie centurions at The Oval in 1884. He is not in fact here as an analogue for Captain Scott, although I commend to your attention the books about the ‘Captain Scott Invitational XI’ by Marcus Berkmann (“Rain Men” and tangentially “Zimmer Men”) and Harry Thompson (“Penguins Stopped Play”). No he has two ‘alter egos’ for my purposes, Walter Scott, prolific 19th century novelist and someone from whom Emily Bronte of “Wuthering Heights” fame drew inspiration, and Eugenie Scott of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who was one of the contributors to “Scientists Confront Creationism”, edited by Andrew Petto and Laurie Godfrey and highly recommended by me.
  5. Colin Munro – left handed big hitting batter. The Kiwi averages over 50 in first class cricket, though he has only played a couple of tests and those unsuccessfully. He owes his place in this XI to Hector Munro, aka ‘Saki’, a master writer of short stories.
  6. *Greville Stevens – right handed batter, leg spinner. 10,376 first class runs at 29.56, 684 wickets at 26.84. At the close of the 1920 season it was he who ensured that the curtain would descend on Plum Warner’s career with an appropriately grand finish, by clean bowling Herbert Strudwick to settle the destiny of that year’s County Championship. He is here as a tribute the detective work of Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, and the writing of their amanuensis Robin Stevens, who has created the ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ series to chronicle their exploits.
  7. Alonzo Drake – middle order batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The first Yorkshire bowler ever to take all ten wickets in an innings – 10-35 v Somerset in 1914, the outbreak of World War 1 finished his career. Although he is a namesake of Sir Francis Drake who famously played bowls on Plymouth Hoe it is actually another Drake, Frank Drake of SETI fame who gets him into this team. Frank Drake co-authored with Dava Sobel a book titled “Is Anyone Out There?” about the search for extra-terrestrial life. Sobel has a stack of other credits, including “Longitude”, “A More Perfect Heaven”, “The Planets” and “Galileo’s Daughter” all of which I recommend.
  8. +Ian Gould – wicket keeper and right handed lower order batter, later a successful umpire. ‘Gunner’ Gould just about merits his place as a keeper/batter, which makes it possible for me to bring in Stephen Jay Gould, USian scientist, science writer and master essayist. I own a number of his books, including “Questioning The Millennium”, “The Richness of Life”, “Life’s Grandeur”, “Bully for Brontosaurus”, “Ever Since Darwin”, “Dinosaur in a Haystack” and “Urchin in a Storm”. Given the amount of baseball that features in Gould’s oeuvre it seems quite appropriate to find a way a slipping him into a cricket themed post.
  9. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, left handed attacking lower order bat. The Aussie’s claims for a place need no further elaboration, and he allows me two connections. Samuel Johnson, author of the first recognized dictionary is one. There was a road not massively far from where I lived as a child in south west London called Dr Johnson Avenue, and it had that name because he used to cycle that way when going to visit his friend Mrs Thrale, who also has a road named in her honour that is even closer to my old family home. I used to walk along Thrale Road very frequently because if one was using either Streatham or Streatham Common stations it was the natural way to go. The second connection is Charles Johnson, an African American writer whose books include “Oxherding Tale” and “Dreamer”, the latter based on the life of Martin Luther King.
  10. Max ‘Tangles’ Walker – right arm fast medium. He was a magnificent third string to Lillee and Thomson in the mid 1970s, gaining big movement in the air and off the pitch on occasions. At Edgbaston in 1975 when Mike Denness put Australia in and they scored 359 Walker matched Lillee’s five wickets in the first England innings with five of his own, before ‘Thommo’ turned chief executioner in the second dig. His ‘alter ego’ for my purposes is Alice Walker, well known as author of “The Color Purple”, and also the author of a collection of what she calls “Womanist Prose”, both of which come highly recommended. She became radicalized by her experiences as a student at Spelman College (although she left that institution and moved north the New York where she studied at Sarah Lawrence College), where she met the historian Howard Zinn, someone any of whose books will be worth reading. There is a quote from her which appears on the back cover of “The Zinn Reader”: “What can I say that will in any way convey the love, respect and admiration that I feel for this unassuming hero who was my teacher and mentor, this radical historian and people-loving ‘troublemaker’, this man who stood with us and suffered with us? Howard Zinn was the best teacher I ever had and the funniest.”
  11. Harry Boyle – right arm medium pacer. FR Spofforth’s regular bowling partner. He earns his place as one half of the first great Australian bowling duo. His ‘alter ego’ is Robert Boyle whose contribution to science is covered on pages 126-42 of John Gribbin’s “Science: A History 1543-2001”.

This team has a decent top five, a couple of genuine all rounders, a keeper who can bat, and three fine and varied bowlers. Johnson, Walker, Boyle, Drake and Stevens is a bowling attack that should not struggle overmuch to take 20 wickets.

THE CONTEST

WG Grace’s XI are the stronger in batting of the two, although no side who can send Johnson in at no9 can be considered deficient in that department. But I suspect that the bowling resources of Greville Stevens’ XI are stronger overall. However countering that is the undeniable fact that WG Grace’s XI have the better keeper. I believe this would be a very close and highly compelling contest, and I cannot pick a winner. Note that the presence of Mr Bird notwithstanding I have not selected players solely on the basis of their names – it is always what they offer as cricketers that comes first.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The correction has been made and due apologies issued, the CLR James Trophy has been introduced and the contending XIs have been put through their paces, so all that now remains is my usual sign off:

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The best picture I have seen of ‘The Champion’ – this is the first page of the section on Batting in the Badminton Book of Cricket.

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At about 11:30AM this muntjac put in a fleeting appearance.

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CLRJT1
Part 1 of publicity sheet
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Part 2
CLRJT
And the whole bolted together ready for public consumption.

All Time XIs: Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers

My latest variation on the ‘All Time XI’ theme, the answer to yesterday’s maths teaser, an important petition, a soupcon of science and nature and some photographs – enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

Another day brings another variation on the ‘All Time XIs‘ theme. Today’s is based on a well known piece of cricket folklore – the belief that left handers are naturally more elegant than their right handed colleagues. Like all good folklore it has a basis in fact, but it is definitely an overstatement of the case. Thus today I challenge it by providing an XI of strictly functional left handers and to oppose it an XI of notably elegant right handers. Note that some the bowlers in the left handers XI  batted with their right hands – it is their bowling for which they are picked, and mutatis mutandis for the right handed batter who bowled with his left. First to parade their skills are…

THE FUNCTIONAL LEFT HANDERS XI

  1. Gary Kirsten – the South African, half brother of Derbyshire’s Peter Kirsten, had seemingly limitless patience and concentration but a decidedly limited range of strokes.
  2. Sir Alastair Cook – the Essex and England man, his country’s all time leading scorer of test runs, was another who cultivated a limited range of strokes but used those he did possess to great effect.
  3. Graeme Smith – the former South African was mighty effective, but an aesthetic disaster (among top order batters named Smith it is an interesting question as to whether he or current Aussie right hander Steve represents the greatest aesthetic outrage).
  4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – the Guyanese stayer had the oddes batting stance I have ever seen, so open that he was almost at 45 degrees to the bowler as opposed to the recommended side-on position (Austin Matthews who played for Glamorgan many decades ago as a bowler of medium pace and lower middle order batter wrote a coaching manual after his retirement in which he stated “cricket is a sideways game”), and while the method worked for him it was very much ‘one not to watch’.
  5. *Allan Borderthe nuggety NSW, Queensland and Australia middle order man had in the words of Frances Edmonds “not so much a style as a modus operandi”. This quote appears in “Cricket XXXX cricket” her humorous book about the 1986-7 Ashes (she also wrote “Another Bloody Tour”, which somehow managed to be amusing about England’s unqualified disastrous Caribbean excursion of 1985-6. For about the first decade of his long career he pretty much was, in batting terms, Australia’s resistance.
  6. Jimmy Adams – his obdurate approach saw him dubbed ‘Jimmy Padams’.
  7. +Jack Russell – wicket keeper and as a batter just about the ultimate in lower middle order irritants, sometimes very usefully for his country.
  8. Richard IllingworthWorcestershire and England slow left armer (emphatically NOT a spinner – if he ever turned one I never saw it). His economical, reliable but unthreatening methods were often preferred by England selectors of the time to the higher risk Phil Tufnell.
  9. Ryan Sidebottom – the Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and England fast medium bowler had long run up which his pace never quite seemed to justify.
  10. Doug Bollinger – the NSW and Australia fast medium bowler was another whose run up appeared to promise more pace than he actually proved capable of delivering. I saw him bowl live at Adelaide v the West Indies in 2009, and, the first innings scalp of Gayle not withstanding he looked unimpressive, while his ‘efforts’ at the same ground in the 2010 Ashes match there were of a very low order.
  11. Paul Adams – the left arm wrist spinner’s action was once memorably likened to a frog in a blender. South Africa have not in recent times been overly understanding or supportive of spinners, and Adams probably should have played more test cricket than he actually did.

This line up has a solid top six, though no genuine all rounder, a splendid keeper who could do useful work with the bat and four bowlers of differing left handed types. They would take some digging out and might put up some decent totals because of that, but they would struggle to capture 20 wickets unless Paul Adams found some assistance in the surface. Now we meet their opponents…

THE ELEGANT RIGHT HANDERS

  1. Jack Robertson – the Middlesex man was a highly regarded stylist, and although he only got picked for 11 test matches an average of 46 at that level suggests that he had steel to go with that style.
  2. Reggie Spooner – opener for Lancashire and occasionally England. Noted for grace and poise at the crease. Neville Cardus used to watch Lancashire whenever he could in his schooldays, and later, established through his decades of work for the Manchester Guardian as one of cricket’s finest writers he waxed lyrical about Spooner and his part of what Cardus claimed as a uniquely distinctive top three – MacLaren, Spooner, JT Tyldesley. (the latter an ancestor of Michael Vaughan – can elegant batting be inherited?!). Spooner was the first ever to score 200 in a ‘Roses’ match, and did so in under four hours at the crease – they were not always dour affairs.
  3. *Sir Frank Worrell – the first black captain of the West Indies (yes, as with England and so-called ‘amateur’ skippers the Windies had their own captaincy fetish, in their case a belief that blacks had to be led by someone white skinned), and generally reckoned the most stylish of the ‘Three W’s” who dominated Caribbean batting in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  4. Tom Graveney – another whose grace and elegance at the crease had folk waxing lyrical – and he backed it up with over 47,000 first class runs.
  5. Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings – noted as one of the most attractive batters in a very successful Kent unit (four championships in seven years) that was also noted for playing particularly dazzling cricket. Such was the nature of his driving that for him and him alone George Hirst would retreat a few yards from his usual mid off position.
  6. Keith Miller – whether batting, bowling fast (or his occasional off spin with which he once took a test match seven-for on a rain affected Gabba pitch) or fielding he never failed to cut a dash. Once when playing in a ‘picnic match’ at East Molesey (the opposite bank of the Thames to Hampton Court Palace) he took on a challenge to land a ball on Tagg’s Island, a carry of 140 yards (just over 125 metres), and was only just short of making it.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper who kept with panther like grace to the quick bowlers (given the nature of Caribbean bowling units is his day it is impossible to comment on his keeping to class spinners) and batted attractively in the middle order, scoring four test centuries and averaging 30 at that level.
  8. Ray Lindwall – fast bowler, attacking lower order bat. His run up and bowling action are routinely described as being ‘poetry in motion’, and in addition to the pace he possessed he could swing the ball both ways seemingly at will.
  9. Michael Holding – fast bowler, referred to as ‘Whispering Death’ on account of the silence of his approach to the bowling crease. His opening over to Boycott at Bridgetown in 1981 has become a classic cricketing scare story – the Yorkshireman was beaten by four of the six deliveries, got bat on one and was comprehensively bowled by the sixth. Five years earlier, on a pitch at The Oval from which no one else could even raise a squeak he had recorded match figures of 14-149, the best ever test match figures by a West Indian.
  10. Sydney Barnes – the greatest bowler of them all. Even at Warwickshire in 1894 where he achieved little his bowling action was noted for its beauty, and CLR James, watching a 59 year old Barnes in action in the Lancashire League, noted that his arm remained classically high and straight. Mr James, by the way is the author of that sine qua non of cricket books “Beyond a Boundary’, which takes as its theme the question “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”, and my collection also features a book of his writings titled “Cricket”, and he contributed a chapter about Worrell to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, as well as being the author of “Black Jacobins”, a history of the Toussaint l’Ouverture rebellion in what is now Haiti.
  11. David Harris – cricket’s first great bowler (see Phil Edmonds “100 Greatest Bowlers” and John Nyren’s “Cricketers of My Time”) and even if you refuse to permit under arm (he played in the late 18th century when all bowling was under arm) I counter by saying that I reckon he could have mastered over arm had it been legal in his day. See also my Eccentric XI post for my opinion on real under arm, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers (although Harris was in part responsible for a change in cricket’s approach from relying on balls either rolling or at least shooting through to looking to cause problems by generating extra bounce, which he was an expert at – the very early bats looked more like hockey sticks than today’s cricket bats precisely because they were intended to counter balls at ground level, and it was Harris who was more responsible than any other for the shape of bats changing towards what we now recognize). Late in his career Harris suffered dreadfully from gout, but such was the value of his bowling that his team would bring an armchair on to the field, and when not actually engaged in bowling he would have a sit down. The Hambledon ace, who I felt I could not mention in connection with Hampshire, for all that he lived there, gets his moment in the sun this time round.

This team as a high quality to five, a great all rounder at six, an excellent wicket keeper at seven and four varied bowlers (Barnes, for all his official fast medium designation, can be classed as a spinner, while Harris if his actual bowling style is permitted offers a variation of a different sort, Miller as mentioned had off spin as a variation, and Worrell was a recognized bowler of left arm fast medium who also occasionally turned his hand to left arm spin.

THE CONTEST

I suspect that what I shall provisionally call the Strauss/ Trumper trophy, honouring a functional left hander and a stylish right hander, would go to the Elegant Right Handers, because while the functional left handers would take a lot of dislodging I have no doubts that the right handers could take 20 wickets, whereas the left handers are lacking in that department. The big question for Worrell as captain of the right handers, given that Barnes would not tolerate not being given the new ball is which of Holding or Lindwall does not get it – my reckoning is probably that Lindwall shares the new ball with Barnes and Holding comes on first change when Lindwall needs a rest.

A QUESTION ANSWERED

Yesterday I included a teaser from brilliant.org:

Brilliant Challenge

The four possible answers were 94, 96, 98 or 100.

My own method of solving this, a mixture of cheat and punt, was to start by ruling out 100, as that is a square number, and it would therefore be out of keeping with brilliant for it to be the right answer. I then looked at the the areas given and noted that they added up to 56 – could I see a connection between 56 and one of the other answers? Yes, a very appealing one came instantly to mind – both have seven as a factor. A quick mental calculation confirmed that the ratio of 98 to 56 was 1.75, and that was enough for me to take a punt (I had already ensured that my problem solving streak had gone into another day – and it is now equal in days to Bobby Abel’s indvidual Surrey record innings in runs), and I was right.

Here is a more authentic solution courtesy of David Vreken:

DV Sol

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

As we move towards the conclusion of today’s post I have a few links to share.

  • The pinchhitter have given me an extended mention in today’s offering, and apparently a copy of one of the ‘Chapelli’ books I mentioned in yesterday’s post is en route to pinchhitter HQ. If you have found this blog by way of pinchhitter please comment, and likewise, if anyone has found pinchhittter by way of me why not let them know.
  • A very important petition on change.org, calling for the surcharge that penalises NHS and Care workers from abroad to be scrapped – as someone who owes a huge debt of gratitude to workers in both categories I urge you to sign and share.
  • A science piece from Culture’s Ways about Sagittarius A*, believed to be the location of a supermassive black hole – the picture below is formatted as a link:
    Sagittarius A*, thought to be the location of a supermassive black hole Culture's Ways

And now it is time to sign off with my usual photographic flourish…

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This butterfly, which strayed into my bungalow yesterday, set me a poser – it was not in a my Butterfly book. My sister responded to my twitter inquiry with a reference to butterflyconservation.org and a suggestion of either Brimstone or Clouded Yellow. My own feeling having visited the site and looked at their pictures is that is a Brimstone.

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The combination of the colour and the delicate veining in the wings lends them the appearance of small green leaves – a fine example of mimicry in the natural world.

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The teams
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.

 

 

Cornish Winter Break 4: Eden Project (2)

Continuing my account of the family outing to the Eden Project.

INTRODUCTION

In my last post I began my coverage of a family outing to the Eden Project, and in this post I continue it with my coverage of the new building next to the biomes, which is dedicated to stuff which is usually invisible.

MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE

This was time extremely well spent. As is my way I tell the rest of the story in pictures:

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What this building is all about (and as I hope the rest of these pictures convey, it is done magnificently).

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This creation is right in the centre of the building.

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A close up of one of the ‘smoke rings’ blown the machine in the centre of the building.

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Another close up of a ‘smoke ring’

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My next and final post about the Eden Project will deal with the Mediterranean Biome where we finished our visit.

100 Cricketers: 4th XI Numbers 3,4 and 5

A continuation of my “100 cricketers” series, dealing with numbers 3,4 and 5 in my 4th XI and containing some photographs and a bonus feature.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, dealing numbers 3,4 and 5 in my 4th XI. Having taken the bowlers out of position for reasons made clear in that post I will be finishing the 4th XI with the all-rounders, in which post I will also introduce the 5th XI. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, and the post in which I introduce the 4th XI here. We go straight to the business area of the post today with…

SUZIE BATES

I have commented before on the lack of test cricket played by the women, and the fact that Suzie Bates has played none of this form of the game (though over 100 times in each of ODIs and T20Is) demonstrates this point starkly. Her averages are the right way round however, and both are very respectable (42.64 in ODIs and 30.69 in T20Is). Her right-arm medium pace is very much secondary to her batting, but averages of 33.29 per wicket in ODIs and 24.67 per wicket in T20Is show that it is not entirely negligible. She has 10 ODI centuries to her credit with a best of 168. 

BRIAN LARA

The only man ever to hold world records for the highest test and first-class individual scores simultaneously, and the only one to set the world test record twice (375 at Antigua in 1994 and 400 not out at Antigua again in 2004, Matthew Hayden having battered 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth in the meantime, being his two test records – I heard commentary on both, England being the victims on each occasion, the latter of which still stands, as does the 501 not out he scored for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994). A caveat against these three huge scores is that all came in drawn matches – the team had no opportunity to push for the win. In the case of the Warwickshire innings he actually asked his captain not to declare as he fancied going for the record (this is one of the incidents recorded by said captain, Dermot Reeve, in his book Winning Ways). The pitch at St Johns where he played the other two innings (the second match was relocated there after the brand spanking new Sir Viv Richards stadium was discovered to be unfit for play) is notorious for its flatness, to the extent that it has been joked that the prisoners who help to prepare it (it adjoins the prison) should made to bowl on their creations since they are supposed to be being punished.

However, Lara has also played a number of high quality match-winning innings in all forms of the game. He remains the West Indies leading test run scorer with 11,953, just ahead of Shivnarine Chanderpaul who racked up 11,867 in his very different style.

V V S LAXMAN

After his amazing 281 which, helped by 180 from Rahul Dravid and some excellent off-spin bowling from Harbhajan Singh turned the Kolkata 2001 test match on its head, leading only the third (and at the time of writing last) occasion on which a team following on went on to win a match (Sydney 1894, England victorious by 10 runs and Headling 1981, England beating Australia by 18 runs were the other two) it was said that those initials stand Very Very Special – actually they stand for Vangipurappu Venkata Sai. Undoubtedly that V V S was the best recognised set of initials post “W G” (these stand alone and unchallengable as the most recognisable initials in sporting, never mind cricket history) until A B De Villiers and M S Dhoni came along. 

Only one of my top five in this XI is left handed – Lara, but as you will see when I deal with the two I selected as all-rounders there is still a frontline left handed batter to come.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND LINKS

When I saw a post on whyevolutionistrue titled “An Underground Map of Science” I was naturally intrigued at a juxtaposition of two favourites. I reproduce the map below, linking to the WEIT post, and the original map, from crispian.net can be viewed here (requires scrolling as it is bigger than the screen).

scimap.jpg

I conclude this post with some of my own photographs:

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Universal: A Journey Through The Cosmos – Book Review

A brief review of Universal: A Journey Thtpugh The Cosmos

INTRODUCTION

I found a copy of this book, by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw when the mobile library called near my bungalow. 

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A WHISTLESTOP TOUR OF THE COSMOS

I found this book a thoroughly excellent read. It manages to be stimulating and intellectually challenging without ever making one feel out of ones depth. The material is beautifully laid out, and for me the ambition of covering 13.7 billion years of history in one smallish volume is achieved. 

The book is also superbly illustrated, with the colour plates at the back particularly worth seeing. I have photographed a number of the illustrations and the colour plates but not all – after all I think that you should read the book and look at the pictures yourself.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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My Third Admission to Addenbrookes

A detailed account of my third admission to Addenbrookes.

INTRODUCTION

As promised in my previous post I am now going to give a full account of my most recent admission to Addenbrookes. 

THE BUILD UP

Although I was admitted on a Sunday this story begins with the Friday (January 25th) before. That day I felt very tired and not really able to do anything, but hoped that a quiet day would see things improve because I was not feeling ill as such. I only managed to eat half of my sausage and chips supper that evening, and was still very tired and downbeat the following day. That Saturday evening I had supper at my aunt’s house but got very tired indeed, and by the following morning I was effectively not functioning at all. 

THE READMISSION

On Sunday afternoon my aunt drove me down to Addenbrooke’s for an emergency readmission. Two possible causes of the problem emerged as front runners very quickly – a lung infection or a delayed reaction to the Bleomycin. My breathing was at a dangerously low level, and I was on a high dose of extra oxygen for a whole week, before it was halved, and then, on my eighth day as an in-patient removed altogether.

I was moved up to the very familiar surroundings of Ward D9, having been allocated bed 13 (a sensible choice, as it is in a small room with just three other beds and the arrangements are such as to provide a measure of privacy.

OCCUPYING MYSELF AS A PATIENT

My father made several trips to Cambridge Central Library to get me books to read in my hospital bed (focussing on science – my brain is functioning pretty well at the moment, and low oxygen levels not withstanding I was overall feeling not too bad). I had also been equipped with puzzle books, and I devoted some time to planning future writing in between these activities. 

This developed into a plan for a series of cricket posts in the course which I plan to write about 100 cricketers who mean a lot to me. I have divided my cricketers into nine XIs and one player to round out the 100 at the end. Within that division I have subdivided each 11 into parts to be covered in individual posts. The plan is for the 1st and 100th cricketers to get individual posts to themselves (and #cricketer 1 in the list habitually bats at no 1 in the order, being a choice that suits my purpose in several ways).

I also received a postcard from family in Sweden while I was in hospital, which came with a nice little extra:

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A Sweden 2019 stamp – I love that fish.

AWAITING DISCHARGE

From Monday morning (three days ago) onwards I was basically waiting to be discharged. I had fully accepted, especially given that this was my second emergency readmission in quite a short space of time, that I could not be discharged until a care package was in place for me. Nevertheless, it was difficult to retain patience when eager to be back home and when particularly wanting to be out in time to attend a certificate presentation. For a while at least I will be needing regular professional attention because my autism causes me not to realise how seriously things can be going wrong (e.g a general feeling of fatigue that turns out to be a lung infection making itself felt), and frankly I am no keener than anyone else on the notion of further readmissions to Addenbrookes, though I will of course be visiting as an outpatient for a considerable time to come. 

HOME AGAIN

At last, just after 7PM yesterday, I arrived home and was able to start settling myself back into home life. I am on antibiotics for the lung infection, anabolic steroids and various other medications. Also, I am wearing compression stockings on my legs as a safety device (the swelling in the left leg has now definitely gone, and with it the pain I was experiencing in that area, but I will retain the stockings until told otherwise).