Second Test Restrospective

Some thoughts on the second Ashes test at Lord’s and a lot of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The weather-hit second Ashes test at Lord’s ended yesterday evening, with Australia undoubtedly the happier of two sides to come away with a draw. This post contains my thoughts on the match and today’s announcement of an unchanged England squad for the third test, which gets underway on Thursday.

A GREAT TEST MATCH

A third of this match was lost to the weather and yet it was not far away from providing a definite result even so. England scored 258 in the first innings, Burns and Bairstow making fifites, and Denly producing a classic “Vince” – a well compiled 30. England bowled well to claim a slender first innings lead. Jofra Archer struck Smith a blow to the head, from which he briefly resumed, before getting out for 92 (progress for England after he had scored twin tons in the first test match). Smith did not take the field for England’s second innings and his place in the batting order was taken under the concussion rule by Manus Labuschagne. England did not start well – Roy and Root (who does not look to be relishing the no3 slot) both fell cheaply, Denly had a second “Vince” of the match, 26 this time round, and Burns fell for a gritty 29. However, Stokes in the company of first Buttler and then Bairstow dug England out of a hole and then propelled them to a declaration, being on 116 not out when England declared to set Australia 267 off 48 overs (a little overcautious – surely the declaration should have coincided with Stokes reaching the hundred). Archer was electrifying with the ball on this final afternoon and evening and Leach confirmed the rightness of selecting him as first spinner by taking three cheap wickets and comfortably outbowling Lyon, an absolute reversal of what happened with Moeen Ali in the first test match. Australia finished on 154-6 when Aleem Dar called time with three balls left in the match and four Aussie wickets standing (evidently he felt there was no chance of someone being stumped off a wide, then followed by a hat trick to finish it – and I can’t argue with that). A combination of overcaution on England’s part and the fact that, good is he is, Leach is no Underwood saw to it that the impossible did not quite come to pass, but this was still the second best match to take place at Lord’s this season.

England’s huge improvement in this match should not mask the fact that several problems remain in their line up. I am going to run down the list player by player with my thoughts (click on the player name to view their cricinfo details:

  1. Rory Burns – his fighting efforts in both innings here, following his Edgbaston ton confirm that he has arrived at the highest level, meaning that there is now only one problem in the opening slots.
  2. Jason RoyI believe that it is right for England to persevere with him, but I do not see him as a test match opener – no3 or 4 is more like it. Both his dismissals in this match were down to bad batting and not good bowling.
  3. Joe Rootit was right for England to move him up to no3, and such moves should be given a fair trial, but I for one will not surprised to see him back at no4 before too long.
  4. Joe Denlybatted decently for a time in both innings but then got out (again his wickets were given rather than being taken, in both innings). If he has a longish term future at test level (bear in mind that he is already 32, ) I think it more likely to be as opener than no 4, however he would not be part of my long term plans.
  5. Ben Stokeshis second innings century was a quite magnificent knock, starting cautiously, with England in trouble and then opening out as prospects of defeat faded. If England can accept that at test level he is not a front-line bowler, but rather someone who may bowl a few overs here or there I could see him batting higher up the order – he is technically excellent and has a full range of scoring shots at his disposal. Only Root in the current squad is definitely ahead of him on batting ability.
  6. Jos Buttler he played well in the second innings, when England badly needed it.
  7. Jonny Bairstow – He had his best test match with the bat in some time, and there were no huge howlers behind the stumps. I still rate Foakes ahead of him in both departments, but his return to form is welcome.
  8. Chris Woakes – bowled well, and made a solid effort with the bat in the first innings.
  9. Jofra Archera magnificent test debut, he was electrifying with the ball in his hand. He has taken to test cricket the way ducks took to 1990s England scorecards!
  10. Stuart Broad – In the absence of Anderson (likely to be out for the series) he is leading the bowling attack, and his performance in this match was one of which he can be proud.
  11. Jack LeachHe bowled well in this match, with his three second innings wickets being less than his bowling merited. As mentioned earlier he outbowled Lyon in this game, confirming along the way his status as England’s no 1 spinner.

England still have to find a second opener alongside Burns (Dominic Sibley has to be considered, there is still time to try my ultra-radical solution and as another outside bet, young George Bartlett of Somerset has had a fine season, plays fast bowling well and is better suited to long form cricket than limited overs stuff), unless Root starts delivering from there soon no 3 also remains a problem. There is also the question (and in the not distant future England will be playing somewhere where such a bowling attack is mandatory) of who will be second spinner (depending on how radical you are prepared to be I suggest either Matthew Parkinson, or for an attempt at a ‘mystery bowler’ option Helen Fenby). I would like to see Sam Curran and Lewis Gregory accommodated somehow as well. However, unquestionably after this performance England are looking in better shape than they were a few days ago.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual  sign off…

P1260150 (2)P1260151 (2)P1260152 (2)

P1260153 (2)
Pictures from yesterday’s walk

P1260153 (3)P1260154 (2)P1260154 (3)P1260154 (4)P1260154 (5)P1260155 (2)P1260156 (2)P1260157 (2)P1260159 (2)P1260162 (2)

P1260163 (2)
Information board near the station
P1260164 (2)
My bungalow is just off the northern edge of this map.

P1260165 (2)P1260166 (2)P1260167 (2)P1260168 (2)P1260169 (2)P1260171 (2)P1260172 (2)P1260173 (2)P1260174 (2)P1260175 (2)P1260176 (2)P1260178 (2)P1260179 (2)

P1260179 (3)
The las pic from yesterday’s walk.
P1260183 (2)
Pictures from today’s walk, which as you will see was longer.

P1260184 (2)P1260185 (2)P1260186 (2)P1260188 (2)P1260189 (2)

P1260190 (2)
I got to “Cormorant Platform”, the first time I have done so since becoming ill.

P1260191 (2)P1260192 (2)P1260193 (2)P1260194 (2)P1260195 (2)P1260196 (2)P1260197 (2)P1260198 (2)P1260199 (2)P1260200 (2)P1260201 (2)P1260202 (2)P1260202 (3)P1260202 (4)P1260202 (5)

P1260203 (2)
The South Gate

P1260206 (2)P1260207 (2)P1260210 (2)

P1260211 (2)
I think that this white bird is a breed of goose (it is too large to be a duck and both too solid and not long enough in the neck to be a swan).

P1260212 (2)P1260213 (2)P1260214 (2)P1260217 (2)P1260218 (2)P1260219 (2)

Yesterday’s Women’s Super League Triple Header

An account of yesterday’s triple header opening to the Women’s Super League and a highly controversial suggestion re England men’s team spin difficulties.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was the opening day of what will be the final season of the Women’s Super League and featured three matches, all of which were excellent in their different ways. This post looks at all three and also stirs the pot a bit in relation to events from the third match.

GAME 1: SOUTHERN VIPERS V LANCASHIRE THUNDER

This match was largely dominated by two players, both turning out for the Southern Vipers. Tammy Beaumont, my controversial pick for the vacant opening slot in the men’s XI (see here for more detail), made a superb half-century and pouched two fine catches in the field. Dani Wyatt also scored a half-century, pouched a catch and also collected two wickets with her off-spin. With Stafanie Taylor also making 40 the Southern Vipers won by a comfortable 34 runs. In amongst the carnage of that Southern Vipers innings left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone took 1-12 from her four overs. Also noteworthy was fellow spinner Alex Hartley’s 2-34 from her four. All the bowling figures for the Southern Vipers were good, with 18 year old Lauren Bell recording  2-19 from her four.

GAME 2: LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING V WESTERN STORM

This was a low scoring match. Loughborough Lightning scored a modest 125-7, which would have been far worse but for Amy Jones who made 65. Obviously in a total like that no one got really clobbered, but in a continuing theme the most economical bowler was a spinner, Deepti Sharma, who had 1-17 from her four overs. Western Storm knocked the target off with seven wickets and three whole overs to spare. No bowlers had headline making performances in this innings, but 19 year-old Sarah Glenn had 2-13 from three overs, while Kirstie Gordon, yet another young spinner, bowled her full allocation, going for 27.

GAME 3: SURREY STARS V YORKSHIRE DIAMONDS

This was another low scoring affair. The Surrey Stars batted first, and were restricted to 130-9. The highlight of this innings was the bowling of 20 year old legspinner Helen Fenby who, bowling legspin with a very unusual action, removed both openers during the powerplay overs and then came back to bag another two wickets late in the innings, giving her the remarkable figures of 4-20 from her four overs. Linsey Smith, yet another in the phalanx of young spinners on display during the day also bowled her full allocation, taking 1-21, Katie-Ann Levick, a more experienced legspinner had 0-18 from three and Leigh Kasparek, an off-spinner had 3-25 from her four.

Remarkably, that modest Surrey Stars total proved sufficient as Yorkshire Diamonds were bowled out for 121. Mady Villiers, yet another young spinner, had 1-21 from her four overs, while veteran off-spinner Laura Marsh collected 3-17 from her four, while South Africa legspinning allrounder Dane Van Niekerk had 1-27 from 3.5 overs. Nat Sciver produced the only really good bowling figures from a pacer on the day, 2-25 from her four.

ENGLAND WOMEN’S SPIN GLUT AND A HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL SUGGESTION

In addition to all the English spinners mentioned above there is Sophia Dunkley who has international experience. This gives by my count seven spinners in their teens or early twenties plus Levick (28) and Marsh (32), discounting Bell about whose bowling I know little and Wyatt who is mainly a batter. The England women thus have far more spinners than they can ever accommodate in a team, whereas this is an ares where the men are short. When arguing the case for Tammy Beaumont as opener I noted wicketkeeping and spin bowling as areas where the women could quite possibly match the men, as well as batting. Given that no one seems able to pick Helen Fenby because of her action, and that England are somewhat short of male spinners I am tentatively adding her to my list of potentials for playing alongside the men (even if only to give Steve Smith something he has never seen before). Leach, Bess and Parkinson remain my preferred front-line options, and Amar Virdi warrants consideration, but a fifth name between a test spinner’s berth and Moeen Ali can do no harm. Should England lose at Lord’s next week putting them two down with three to play, then the necessity to gamble in an effort to retrieve the situation will make the case for Fenby a little stronger. At any event, England cannot afford Moeen Ali to be anywhere near test match consideration – the last two days at Edgbaston showed that only too clearly.

PETITION AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The LGBT community in Poland is under vicious attack, and there is a petition about this which I urge you all to sign and share be clicking the screenshot below:

LGBT

Time for my usual sign off…

P1250856 (2)
I saw this bird outside my window this morning…
P1250857 (2)
…and got two shots, one of them this close-up
P1250858 (2)
A pollinator on a dandelion

P1250859 (2)P1250860 (2)P1250861 (2)P1250862 (2)P1250863 (2)

P1250864 (2)
Two swans on a stretch of The Gaywood not far from my flat.

P1250865 (2)P1250866 (2)P1250867 (2)P1250868 (2)P1250869 (2)

P1250870 (2)
The first buitterfly of the day (three pics)

P1250871 (2)P1250872 (2)

P1250873 (2)
A peacock butterfly.

P1250875 (2)P1250877 (2)

P1250880 (2)
I am just starting to think about pictures for the 2020 calendar – nominations welcomed in the comments section. This peacock butterfly is a candidate.
P1250880 (3)
This is the original shot, edited but not rotated or cropped from which the last picture came.

P1250881 (2)P1250881 (3)

P1250881 (4)
An albino duck next to a moorhen

P1250882 (2)P1250882 (3)P1250883 (2)

P1250883 (3)
The drake at the front of this shot has a very white body, but the charateristic green head that marks it as a mallard drake.

P1250884 (2)P1250885 (2)P1250886 (2)

England Test XIs With Two Spinners

Some possible ways to incorporate two spinners into the England test team.

INTRODUCTION

This post is inspired by a post that appeared this morning on Toby’s Sporting Views. He was writing about an excellent bowling performance by Somerset’s spinners against Nottinghamshire on day two of their match, and I am looking specifically at an aspect he raised relating to this, namely two spinners playing for England in the Ashes tests this summer.

SETTING PARAMETERS

I am basing all my possible XIs around five specialist batters with Ben Foakes at six and wearing the gloves. The other fixed position, since he is indispensable in test cricket at present is James Anderson at no 11 and as one of new ball bowlers. Therefore the positions up for dispute are 7, 8, 9 and 10, which will be filled by two spinners and two quicks. Thus form my purposes each permutation will involve four cricketers, as I need not mention the others. Neither Adil Rashid nor Moeen Ali have done enough with the ball of late to merit consideration, and Lancashire’s Matthew Parkinson while promising is not as yet ready for elevation, so the two spinners would be Leach and Bess, becoming a latter day Lock and Laker.

1: THE PURE ENGLISH

In so far as such a line-up can be typical English this one is. It features Lewis Gregory at number 7, Sam Curran at number 8 and sharing the new ball with James Anderson, with Bess and Leach the two spinners at nos 9 and 10.

2: EXTRA PACE I

This one dispenses with Curran, and brings in either Jofra Archer or Mark Wood to bowl outright fast, sharing the new ball with Anderson.

3: EXTRA PACE II

This one dispenses with Gregory, having Curran move up to seven and playing one of Archer or Wood  along with the two spinners and Anderson. This is more of a gamble as it misses out on Gregory’s batting, which is better than that of any of the others.

4: THE OUTRIGHT GAMBLE

This one dispenses with both Curran and Gregory, and brings in both of the super-speedsters Wood and Archer, one of whom would perforce come on first change. This would likely mean Archer at no 7, Bess at no 8, Leach no 9, Wood no 10 and Anderson no 11, which is where the gamble is – there is no one who can really be called an all-rounder here, just five bowlers.

5: ANOTHER GAMBLE

My final possibility features picking Ben Stokes as a front-line batter and fill-in pacer, and having only four top-line bowlers, Curran, Bess, Leach and Anderson. If one of Curran or Anderson were to break down this side would then be using Stokes as a new-ball bowler, which makes it a very high risk strategy.

THOMAS’S PICK

Overall I would like one out and out ‘blitzman’ bowler in the team, and picking only two top line pacers for a test match is too rich even for my blood, so with all respect to Sam Curran I am going for Extra Pace I as my bowling combo. Injuries not intervening a possible line-up for match 1 if I was doing the selecting would be:

  1. Beaumont (see here for more on this controversial choice)
  2. Burns
  3. Roy (no 3 has been difficult for some time and Roy is at least in splendid form)
  4. *Root 
  5. Buttler
  6. +Foakes
  7. Gregory
  8. Archer
  9. Bess
  10. Leach
  11. Anderson

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

P1250416 (2)P1250418 (2)P1250421 (2)P1250424 (2)P1250425 (2)P1250426 (2)P1250427 (2)P1250428 (2)P1250430 (2)P1250431 (2)P1250432 (2)P1250433 (2)P1250434 (2)P1250436 (2)P1250438 (2)P1250440 (2)P1250441 (2)P1250442 (2)P1250443 (2)P1250444 (2)P1250445 (2)P1250446 (2)P1250448 (2)P1250449 (2)P1250451 (2)P1250452 (2)P1250530 (2)

The Royal London Cup South Group Final Games

The final South Group games in the Royal London Cup, a brief mention of Tapping House and loads of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

We have reached the halfway stage of the last set of matches in the South group of the Royal London Cup. By the end of today we will know who two of the semi-finalists are and who will be playing off for the right to join them. Before looking at today’s matches it is time to reveal all about…

YESTERDAY’S PREDICTIONS

This is what happened in yesterday’s matches:

  • Northamptonshire v Nottinghamshire –  Northamptonshire 325-7 from 50 overs, Nottinghamshire 328-9 from 49.3 overs, Nottinghamshire won by one wicket.
    This one went down to the wire. In the end a magnificent innings by Samit Patel (136 not out) saw Nottinghamshire home. Tom Sole bowled only two overs for Northants (0-17), and my first prediction failed.
  • Derbyshire v WorcetsershireDerbyshire 351-9 from 50 overs, Worcestershire 353-6 from 48.2 overs, Worcestershire won by four wickets.
    130 off 62 balls from Ricky Wessels put Worctesreshire in control of this chase, and with Tom Fell (49 off 56) and Callum Ferguson (103 off 95) also performing well they emerged comfortable winners, spoiling another of my predictions. 
  • Leicestershire v WarwickshireLeicestershire 340 all out from 49.3 overs, Warwickshire 304 all out from 47.1 overs, Leciestershire won by 36 runs.
    Ed Pollock (57) and Robert Yates (66) both got going for Warwickshire, but neither produced a really big score, and nor did anyone else. Tom Taylor ensured that there could be no arguments over player of the match by following his 98 not out with 3-58 and a fine catch. Other than Taylor, Callum Parkinson (brother of Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson) took 1-55 from 10 overs of slow left-arm, and part time spinners Ateeq Javid and Colin Ackerman hac a combined 1-38 from nine, suggesting that they could have been profitably given more overs, just as Warwickshire had missed a trick regarding the offspin of Yates and Banks. I called this one correctly.
  • Durham v Yorkshire no result, Durham 182-2 from 34.2 overs.
    The rain settled this one, ending Durham’s involvement in the competition. 

I had one correct prediction and two wrong ones, putting me on 27/45 overall.

TODAY’S MATCHES

  • Somerset v Surrey Surrey 289-9 from 50 overs.
    Surrey batted well, but could never get right away. Dean Elgar made 64, Ben Foakes 46, Jamie Smith 40 and Ryan Patel 41 not out off 32. FI expect or Somerset the best bowling came from the Overtons, Jamie with 4-64 off nine overs and Craig, continuing his excellent form in the competition, 3-48 from 10. Slow left-armer Roelof Van Der Merwe was economical, recording 1-45 from 10. I predict that Surrey will defend these.
  • Sussex v Glamorgan Sussex 347-7 from 50 overs.
    110 from Laurie Evans, 96 from Luke Wright and 57 not out from David Wiese were the principal contributions to a fine total. Marchant De Lange took 3-74,  22 year-old medium pacer Daniel Douthwaite 2-46 and Lucas Carey 2-64. I expect Sussex to defend these easily.
  • Kent v MiddlesexMiddlesex 380-5 from 50 overs.
    A massive score for Middlesex, dominated by Max Holden, a 21 year-old who bats left handed and bowls right-arm offbreaks, who scored 166 off 139 balls. The other main score was 94 from Kiwi Ross Taylor. No Kent bowler fared at all well. I expect Middlesex to win this with plenty to spare.
  • Essex v Gloucestershire Essex 293 all out from 49.5 overs.
    From a batting point of view this was all about Varun Chopra who scored 156. Leg spinning all-rounder Rishi Patel was next best with 26. Slow left-armer Tom Smith was the pick of the bowlers, emerging with 1-44 from his 10. With Simon Harmer, Tom Westley and possibly Dan Lawrence available to bowl spin of various kinds in addition to Patel I expect Essex to defend these.

Thus my predictions are for wins for Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex and Essex.

BACK TO TAPPING HOUSE

I attended my physio session at Tapping House today and everything went pretty well. We were doing ‘strength and power’ exercises today. Anyway, it was good to get back there, not having been able to go last week.

P1230467P1230468P1230469P1230470P1230471P1230472P1230474P1230476P1230477P1230478P1230479P1230486P1230489P1230490P1230491P1230492P1230495P1230496P1230498

GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

P1230411P1230412P1230413P1230416P1230417P1230418P1230419P1230420P1230421P1230422P1230423P1230424P1230425P1230426P1230427P1230428P1230430P1230431P1230435P1230436P1230439P1230441P1230442P1230445P1230447P1230448P1230449P1230450P1230451P1230452P1230453P1230454P1230455P1230456P1230458P1230459P1230460P1230463P1230466P1230503P1230504P1230505P1230506P1230507