Tied in Taunton

A quick report on an extraordinary series of happenings at Taunton, which ended with one of the rarest of all sporting results – a tied cricket match.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s extraordinary events in Taunton have almost certainly sealed the 2018 County Championship for Surrey, who already have a substantial lead at the top and are in complete command of their own match against Essex. 

TWISTS AND TURNS IN TAUNTON

Lancashire were skittled for 99 in the first innings, to which Somerset replied with 192. In their second innings Lancashire reached 170, leaving Somerset an apparently straightforward task of scoring 78 to win the game. Then Somerset started losing wickets, and at 23-5 Lancashire looked favourites. A bit of a recovery followed, spearheaded by some sensible batting by Dominic Bess. Ay 75-8, needing three to win, it looked like Somerset were sneaking it, but then a ninth wicket fell. At 77 Jamie Overton played out a maiden to Graham Onions. Jack Leach then gave a catch off Keshav Maharaj, giving the South African spinner final innings figures of 7-37 (11-102 in the match) and ending the match in a tie. Genuine ties are very rare birds indeed – this is the first I have personally either heard or seen, and the last county championship game to end thus was in 2003, while only two test matches ever have, Australia v West Indies at Brisbane in 1960 and India versus Australia at Madras (now Chennai) in 1986. This was compulsive listening – I hope the US Open tennis coverage which gets underway shortly matches it for drama.

Somerset and Lancashire I salure for you for providing this spectacle, genuine commiserations to Somerset on the almost certain ending of their championship hopes for this season. Also congratulations to Surrey who have scarcely put a foot wrong in the four-day stuff all season and will deserve to see the championship pennant fluttering over The Oval next season. Vic Marks if you are due to be summarising in the test match it might be advisable to have something come up that prevents you from being there – certain of your colleagues, notably Mr Norcross, are likely to be unbearable.

 

A Classic Test Match

some thoughts about the recent test match between England and the West Indies, declarations and umpires.

INTRODUCTION

This post is devoted the second test match of the current England versus West Indies series, which ended at about 6:45PM on Tuesday. 

THE EARLY EXCHANGES

England batted first and reached 258 only because Ben Stokes (100) and Joe Root (59) were reprieved early in their innings by bad West Indies fielding. Kraigg Brathwaite (134) and Shai Hope (147) were the cornerstones of a the West Indies response, which eventually reached 427, a lead of 169. In the second England innings no-one reached three figures but there were solid efforts all the way down the line, and at 490-8 Joe Root decided to declare and give the West Indies a little session of batting just before the close of the fourth day. 

THE FINAL INNINGS

The West Indies made it to the close of the fourth day without losing a wicket. Brathwaite made 95 in this second innings, coming within five of becoming the first batsman ever to score twin centuries in a first-class match at Headingley (and this was the 534th such fixture at the ground), a feat that was finally achieved by player of the match Shai Hope, who also received support from Roston Chase (30) and Jermaine Blackwood (a rapid 41 in the closing stages) who ended up 118 not out, and appropriately enough scored the winning runs. 

There are two features that I am going to make specific comments about, starting with…

JOE ROOT’S DECLARATION

For all that the end result was not what he would have wanted I still say, as I said on twitter at the time, and again a day later when the result was imminent, that this was a good declaration, and that Root was entirely right to go for victory. I remember (though few others will as it was not actually a pafrticularly good match) the Australia v West Indies test match at Adelaide in 2009 when the West Indies were one match down in the series after being soundly defeated at the ‘Gabbatoir’ (a nickname for the Woolloongabba stadium in Brisbane, also known as the Gabba) based on what often happens to visiting teams there) but declined to declare, batting on into the final day. Australia faced a target of 330 off 81, and skipper Ponting decided to settle for the draw rather than going after this target. By the end of the day there were not many people left in the ground (I know whereof I write – I was one of the few who did stay right to the end). I condemn Ponting for this decision to preserve his team’s 1-0 lead in the series rathwer than trying to make it 2-0, as also I condemn the decision of Ryan Ten Doeschate today to extend the Essex second innings into the final afternoon rather than make a serious attempt to win the match by declaring at or even before lunch. PS when I wrote this paragraph I did not realise that Somerset’s “resistance” would be quite so utterly spineless – it now looks like Essex may get their victory after all.

While I do not quite as far as the legendary Sammy Woods (who played for Somerset in the lat 19th and early 20th centuries) who once responded to an enquiry about whether his team might have played for a draw in a game they ended up losing responded with “draws…they’re for bathing in” but I do not hold the draw in high regard and would much prefer a team take risks in the attempt to win than see them play safely for the draw. In the special case of a team being one match to the good going into the final match of a series I would condone a more cautious approach being taken, although Kevin Pietersen’s magnificent series clinching innings at The Oval in 2005 was hardly cautious!

To finish this section: Joe Root was justified in declaring when he did (as was David Gower at Lord’s in 1984 when the result was even more embarrassing for England, courtesy of a magnificent 214 not out from Gordon Greenidge), and this result stands to the credit of the West Indies batting, especially that of Brathwaite and Hope and not to the debit of Root’s declaration. 

SOME SENSIBLE UMPIRING

According to the strict letter of the law play in a purely day game cannot continue if the floodlights are providing more light than the natural light. I congratulate the umpires in this match for not acting with Emeritus Professor of Biosophistry like pedantry and curtailing play due to the light, thus depriving the West Indies of their well-earned victory. There seems little doubt that the light was bad enough to have warranted taking the players off, but the umpires realised given the match situation was such that the players should be kept out there. 

Here are a couple of links relating to this test match:

LOOKING AHEAD

The final match of this series should be good, and almost certainly will feature a moment of history as James Anderson goes into it with 497 test wickets to his credit. Then England have the task of taking on Australia in Australia. This is a seriously tough task, but I think that this England squad can do it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

As always I end this post with some of my own photographs:

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Cricket, Music and Local Elections

Some cricket, some music including references to the Classic FM Hall of Fame, some stuff about upcoming local elections and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

An odd combination of topics to appear in a title, but all will be made clear in the course of this post. There will of course be some of my photographs as well. 

CRICKET

The English cricket season is well underway. Because of an alteration to the structure of the two divisions of first class counties last season to a first division of eight teams and a second division of ten teams, it is now possible for all 18 first class counties to be in action simultaneously, as was not the case when there were nine teams in each division. Over this Easter weekend, for the first time since 1999 (the last season of the single division championship) all 18 of said sides have been in action. Glamorgan lost heavily to Worcestershire before today was underway. Leicestershire had also suffered an innings defeat at the hands of Gloucestershire. Essex and Somerset also finished early, a century from Alastair Cook anchoring Essex in their fourth innings chase of 255. Warwickshire only kept their match against Yorkshire alive into the fourth day because of some assistance from the weather, and having started the season with back to back innings defeats, and three shocking batting performances out of four innings, they must be considered heavy favourites for one of the relegation spots from division 1. Of the five remaining matches, Nottinghamshire are nearly done and dusted against Durham (since I wrote this Nottinghamshire have completed the job as expected, with nine wickets in hand), and it would also seem to be only a matter of time before Kent finish the job against Sussex (this match has also subsequently reached its predicted conclusion). A draw looks the most likely result in the Surrey versus Lancashire, although Surrey are not out of the woods yet. Hampshire and Middlesex also looks like being a draw, although again the Londoners are not quite safe yet. That leaves only…

DERBYSHIRE VERSUS NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Overnight this also looked like a draw was the most likely result, with Derbyshire 128 runs to the good with 10 second winnings standing. However, some behind the scenes discussions obviously took place, since Northamptonshire spent the morning session of today feeding Derbyshire easy runs, handing Reece (168) and Godleman (156 not out) a new record opening stand for Derbyshire. A declaration at 351-1 left Northamptonshire two sessions to score 326 for victory. Whatever happens in these two session neither team will emerge from this match with much credit in my book. While Northamptonshire’s motivation was obvious, Derbyshire could easily have declined the offer, backing their batsmen to score off proper bowling. 

MUSIC

The long Easter weekend is when the Classic FM Hall of Fame is unveiled. It is assembled from listener votes. Each participant votes for their first, second and third favourite pieces of classical music, and the votes are all tallied up. The Hall of Fame comprises the top 300 pieces that emerge at the end of the process, and they are played counting down from 300 to 1 between 10AM and 10PM on each day of the weekend (it used when it first started to be 9AM to 9PM). This is the first occasion on which there has been a clash between the Hall of Fame and live cricket. I have resolved that clash by listening to the cricket when it has been on five live sports extra, and to the music at other times. The only exception to this was on Saturday afternoon, when it was time for…

MUSICAL KEYS

A shortage of available NAS West Norfolk Committee members meant that I was there for both sessions. The attendances were unsurprisingly low in both sessions. However, those who were able to make it had a good time. In the second session I renewed my acquaintanceship with Scratch 2, and next time I shall be moving on to another aspect of this program. Here are some pictures…

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Kirsten, one of the two people from Musical Keys who run these sessions, at a very impressive looking keyboard.

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I shall be adding some mathematics to the mix in two weeks time.

LOCAL ELECTIONS

Various places in the UK will be going to the polls on May 4th. Last time I mentioned this subject I said that I was between Labour and Green, and leaning towards Green. Since then, although I have yet to receive anything from any candidates a search of the King’s Lynn & West Norfolk borough council website turned up the following information about who was standing:

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In view of the fact that there are three candidates in this list of four for whom I am absolutely unwilling to vote and that I regard failing to vote as unacceptable my vote will therefore go to Mr Collis, and I urge others who are voting in this election to cast their votes for Mr Collis as well.

Moving on from my own area, there also elections taking place much more extensively in Wales and Scotland. 

WALES

In Llanbadarn Fawr ward, Powys, the Labour Party candidate is none other than Mike Sivier of Vox Political, a fact which he announced in a post titled “Vote for Mike in the local elections!

– Vox Political’s Mike Sivier is standing as a Labour Party candidate for Powys County Council’s Llanbadarn Fawr ward – and there’s more to him than a nice smile [Image: Mike Sivier].

Today, Mike has put up another post about his candidacy under the title “Shadow cabinet minister is right – local elections are about CANDIDATES, not Corbyn“.

SCOTLAND

The big debate in Scotland at the moment is over whether or not there should be a second independence referendum (#IndyRef2) following the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU, when Scotland was strongly pro-remain. It is not for me as a Sassenach to comment on whether or not Scottish independence is desirable since the only people who should be making decisions about the future of Scotland are the Scots, but I do believe that brexit is a sufficiently major change in circumstances as justify #IndyRef2, especially since one of the main claims of the no camp in 2014 was that an independent Scotland would not be able to join the EU. It would appear, if the article to which I link at the end of this section is anything to go on that the Tories seek to make the local elections in Scotland a sort of ‘pre-referendum’. Anyway, here courtesy of the website indyref2.scot, is a post that goes into detail on the issue, titled “Sending a message

Towards Indyref2…

PHOTOGRAPHS

I posted some photographs in the music section of this post, and I finish the post with some pictures mainly from outside…

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ENDNOTE – CRICKET REVISITED

During the time it took to put the above photos up both Middlesex & Hampshire and Surrey & Lancashire have shaken hands on the predicted draws. These means that only the ‘declaration bowling’ game between Derbyshire and Northamptonshire is still to be settled. 

Championships and Contrivances

Some thoughts on the closing stages of this years County Championship, as it goes into its final day with three potential winners.

INTRODUCTION

Somerset are within touching distance of their first ever County Cricket Championship, but the situation is complicated by the fact that their only two rivals are in direct opposition.

THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY

Courtesy of cricinfo, here is the situation in the key matches:

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The situation is that a draw in the Middlesex v Yorkshire game is not enough for either side – the five points they would each gain from that would still leave them adrift of Somerset. Tomorrow is the last day of the match, which means that time constraints are well and truly in play. Clearly, with a draw rendered worthless by the situation both sides will do all in their power to win the game, which leads given time limitations to the question of just what would be acceptable in the way of a third innings declaration by Middlesex. It is possible that Yorkshire could win the match in the most satisfactory way, by taking the remaining eight Middlesex wickets early enough to give themselves an easy fourth innings target. For Middlesex the question would be how much risk could they take in setting a target bearing in mind that they have to have a legitimate chance of taking 10 wickets to do so?

ACCEPTABLE VS UNACCEPTABLE

Given that Middlesex are still 39 runs behind, unless Yorkshire deliberately concede runs to hasten a declaration (which would certainly cause raised eyebrows in Taunton) it is unlikely that Middlesex would be in a position to consider a declaration much before teatime. My own rough and ready view is that if come the tea break tomorrow Middlesex have a lead of somewhere in the region of 170 that in the circumstances would be an acceptable risk – Yorkshire would have to go for the target, and an asking rate of approximately 5.5 an over with no fielding restrictions would introduce enough risks that Middlesex could hope for the 10 wickets they need. A declaration giving Yorkshire 120 or so to chase in that final session would definitely (albeit actuated by very different motives) be verging on ‘Cronje’ territory, and almost regardless of when it was made, a declaration giving a target of under 100 should be considered as out and out match fixing.

Although I have indicated previously that as an underdog supporter I would like to see Somerset win, the key thing here is that any victory for Middlesex or Yorkshire should be seen to have been won out on the field, and not in the dressing rooms.

Side By Side

Some musings on the county championship (cricket), and an acknowledgement of King’s Lynn’s latest effort to advertise its heritage.

INTRODUCTION

I am posting about two unrelated matters, hence the title, which is borrowed from a series of Bridge Magazine articles written many years ago by Terence Reese. The firs topic of the day is…

CRICKET

As another English season draws to a close there are two topics to cover in this section, first of all…

A THREE WAY TUSSLE FOR THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

Thanks to Somerset continuing their late charge with a 10 wicket victory over Yorkshire, and Lancashire earning a draw against leaders Middlesex the final round of games will commence with Middlesex, Somerset and Yorkshire in that order all in contention for the title. Owing to the fact that a decision to alter the structure of the two divisions has meant that there is only one promotion place up for grabs the second division is now settled, with Essex having secured the promotion.

In the final round of matches Middlesex will play Yorkshire at Lord’s, while Somerset face already relegated Nottinghamshire. While my chief emotion as a cricket fan is gratitude that the championship race is going down to the wire, I cannot claim complete impartiality – despite having grown up in London and possessing a Yorkshire surname, it is my support for the underdog that wins out in this contest – I will be rooting for Somerset. Somerset have never won the championship (Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire are also in this position, although the latter were named as champion county three times in the 1870s, before the official start of the county championship in 1890). Apart from being a historic first, a championship win for Somerset this year would also be a fitting reward for Marcus Trescothick as he approaches the end of a long and distinguished career with the county.

The change in the structure of the two divisions mentioned earlier, moving from nine teams in each to eight in first and ten in the second, is not the most significant one happening in English domestic cricket, that distinction going to…

THE INTRODUCTION OF CITY FRANCHISES

Yes, it has been decided by a vote of 16-3 in favour to augment the existing domestic T20 competition with an eight-team city based competition. I am not going to say either yea or nay at this stage, waiting to see how it works in practice before making a judgement. I mark the break between this section and the second section of the post with some recent photographs from King’s Lynn…

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This is the uncropped version of a butterfly picture
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And this is the cropped version.

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A CODA TO HERITAGE OPEN DAY

Beales Department Store which is near thus bus station in King’s Lynn has recently closed down. Rather than leave the frontage as blank windows, it has been used as an opportunity to advertise our town’s heritage, as shown below…

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Save for the planning notice at the end, these pictures are presented in the order in which they were taken.

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Sport and Spring Weather

Cricket, golf and a walk – features lots of pictures.

INTRODUCTION

The county cricket season is underway, and just after midnight our time the first golf major of the year was decided. Additionally the weather today is so pleasant that for the first time in 2016 I am using my ‘outside study area’…

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AN EXTRAORDINARY FINALE

Reaching the point at which Jack Nicklaus among others has said majors really begin – namely the back nine on Sunday, this years US Masters was looking like Jordan Spieth was going to comfortably retain his title, but then he hit trouble, first in small way with bogeys at 10 and 11 (both very difficult holes) and then in a huge way at the 12th. At this tiny but fearsome par 3 Spieth put two balls in the water, clocking up a quadruple bogey 7 and losing the lead for about the first time of the tournament. England’s Danny Willett recorded a 67 to get to the club house at five under for the tournament, and Spieth reached the 17th needing a birdie, birdie finish to tie (barring miracles neither hole offers any chance of an eagle). A bogey at 17 and it was all over, and Willett, the previously unknown Englishman was the champion. The 18th at Augusta is a long par-four, not remotely drivable, and in any case the longest distance from which anyone has holed out to win a tournament is 176 yards by Robert Gamez (the victim of this freak, not for the first or last time in his career was Greg Norman).

A MORNING WALK

Before the cricket started today (day 2 of 4, Nottinghamshire having peen put in by Surrey had run up 445, Surrey had survived two overs without incident) I headed off for a walk.  I was barely started when the first photo presented itself…

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The riverside stretch to Hardings Pits yielded some cracking pics, a good few featuring cormorants…

The parkland stretch of the walk yielded two different types of train and several birds…

The walk back into town, following Bawsey Drain, yielded a wide variety of shots…

SURREY IN TROUBLE

Having conceded almost 450 by poor bowling, Surrey are now struggling with the bat, at 149-5. Elsewhere, Durham and Somerset are enjoying a low-scoring tussle, while Ben Duckett of Northamptonshire has relieved the Sussex bowlers of 254 (and counting – he’s still there). I shall be doing some prep for my photographic display at the Positive Autism Awareness Conference this Friday once I have published this, which ends with this picture…

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