Good Riddance 2020

A farewell to 2020 (don’t let the door hit your bum on the way out), an account of the last cricket match of 2020 and a new year’s message to my readers.

The end of 2020 is now less than ten hours distant (in UK, some of you are already into 2021, and have been able to celebrate New Year’s Eve – well done NZ), and it will be a great relief to see it out, though 2021 offers little sign of immediate improvement for us Brits (although those north of Hadrian’s Wall might do themselves a favour by going for a UDI). A stark indication of quite how badly Johnson and his cronies are letting the country down: yesterday 981 people in Britain died due to Covid-19, while across the Irish sea just nine suffered the same fate.

As a cricket fan, 2020 has been a fine year since the resumption of cricket in the summer (my congratulations to the West Indies, both men’s and women’s teams for making the journey and ensuring the home summer saw some international cricket – as soon as a visit from this island becomes an asset rather than a liability those tours should be reciprocated. I am going to devote most of the rest of this post to covering the last top level cricket match of 2020.

ADELAIDE STRIKERS V PERTH SCORCHERS

This BBL match featured one team doing less well than expected or hoped (Strikers) and a team doing appallingly (Scorchers). Strikers batted first, and every time they seemed be getting going a wicket fell. Finch batted well but could find no serious support. Then, down to him and Rashid Khan (best known for being the no1 rated T20 bowler on the planet but also a more than useful lower order batter whose approach is ideally suited to short form cricket), he was overly timid about claiming the Power Surge, and Rashid fell with it still unclaimed. At the end of their innings the Strikers had 146-9, a total that should not pose the chasing side much of a problem, but Scorchers as mentioned earlier were winless.

Scorchers started the chase well, with Jason Roy doing most of the scoring. However when both openers, Roy for 49 and Livingstone for an unconvincing 8, fell in the same over one had to wonder if the Scorchers were about to suffer another case of the collywobbles. Although a third wicket fell just before halfway, a boundary of the final ball of the tenth over secured Scorchers the Bash Boost point. Some would say that they also delayed claiming the Power Surge longer than they ought, but at least they managed to take it with two set batters at the crease, and by the time it ended the chase had been reduced to 14 off four overs, which would take a lot of messing up.

The 17th over of the innings was Peter Siddle’s third and he made a good fist of it, meaning that the target was still 10 going into the 18th. Successive fours off the third and fourth balls of that over completed the job, giving Scorchers a win by seven wickets and all four points. It was a satisfying end for me on two counts: 1) I had predicted at the start of the 17th that Siddle would not get to bowl his 4th because the game would end before he could and 2) much more importantly it meant that the Strikers were properly punished for mucking up over the Power Surge.

The more I follow of this year’s Big Bash the more I think that it must be better to go for the Power Surge too early rather than too late, which is why I cannot wholly endorse Scorchers waiting until the end of the 15th to go for it, but unquestionably they approached it miles better than the Strikers.

If the Scorchers could contrive to use this hugely impressive victory as a springboard back into the tournament it would represent a comeback to send Lazarus green with envy on their part.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just before my usual sign off, which on this occasion includes a video, I have a few final words of 2020 for my readers: thank you all, and here’s to a better 2021

The Long and Short of Cricket

A look back at the recent Australia v India test match, and at today’s amazing BBL game between Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat, plus some thoughts on the BBL’s innovations for this year.

No, on this occasion my title does not refer to Mohammad Irfan and Poonam Yadav, though in another context it could! Instead I refer to the longest and shortest formats of top level cricket – 5-day test cricket and T20.

INDIA MAKE IT 1-1 WITH VICTORY AT MELBOURNE

India had lost the first match of the series at Adelaide after being bowled out for 36 in their second innings (see this post for more on that game), and Kohli had departed from the squad to be present at the birth of his child. Australia batted first, and with Bumrah and Ashwin featuring prominently, were dismissed for 195, no one managing to reach 50. India responded with a determined batting effort led by stand-in skipper Rahane who redeemed himself for running out Kohli in Adelaide by reaching a gritty century, while Ravindra Jadeja, one of the finest of contemporary all-rounders and a brilliant fielder to boot, contributed 62 to the cause, and India built a first innings lead of 131. At one point it looked like they might not have to bat again, but young Cameron Green and Pat Cummins resisted stoutly to take Australia into credit and the game into a fourth day. Green and Cummins continued their partnership on the fourth morning, but once they were separated resistance was limited. For the second time in the match no Aussie managed a fifty, but they did just reach 200 before Hazlewood shouldered arms to a straight one and was bowled to end the innings. Low totals have sometimes been defended, but very rarely as low as 70, and India lost only two wickets in reaching their goal.

Steve Smith failed twice, Labuschagne managed some resistance in the first innings but not a substantial score, and Cameron Green’s promise aside there do not appear to many sources of runs for Australia at the moment, and bowlers, even such fine ones as Australia possess, cannot win matches if they don’t have anything to defend. David Warner returns for the next match at the SCG, with presumably the shockingly out of form and lacking in confidence Joe Burns dropping out. Also waiting in the wings, though currently not fully fit for action, is Will Pucovski who has produced some Ponsfordesque scores for Victoria. Travis Head in the Aussie middle order has what appears to be a respectable batting average, but what his average does not show is the fact that he has a severe case of ‘Watsonitis’ – he scores runs, but never seems able to turn a good start into a really major innings.

India meanwhile are strengthened by the return from injury of Rohit Sharma, who will presumably resume his opening berth alongside Agarwal.

BBL THOUGHTS

This section is provoked by today’s astonishing game between Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat (the Hurricanes were nominally the home team, even though the match was taking place at the Gabba!)

Hurricanes batted first, and after 10 overs were 65-3 with Malan going well and Ingram newly arrived at the other end. Malan fell not long after, bringing Colin Ingram and Tim David together. They shared a good partnership, but Hurricanes failed to take advantage of the opportunity to claim the Power Surge with two destructive hitters together at the crease. After 18 overs they were 140-6, and had to take the Power Surge. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, on of three Afghan spinners (Rashid Khan, leg spin, and Zahir Khan, left arm wrist spin, being the others) to have BBL contracts bowled the 19th, and it was a quite superb over, not only going for only one run, but also yielding three wickets, giving Mujeeb 5-15 from his four overs. The 20th over was better for the Hurricanes, although they only lasted four balls of it, that was enough to boost their total by nine. That gave them precisely 150 to defend, a fairly modest total by BBL standards.

However, the Hurricanes were as brilliant at the start of their bowling innings as they had been poor in the second half of their batting innings, and the Heat were 8-3 early on and looking in some trouble. Then Max Bryant and Lewis Gregory shared an excellent partnership and seemed to have at least secured their side the Bash Boost bonus point for being ahead after 10 overs. Bryant was out to the penultimate ball of the ninth, making it 60-4, six need for the Bash Boost point. However, a combination of good bowling and tentative batting saw them just miss out. Gregory’s dismissal in the 11th over made it 66-5, and brought Bazley into join Peirson. They were still together at the end of the 14th, at which point Heat took the Power Surge. Overall these two overs were good for the Heat, the loss of Peirson not withstanding, and Heat needed 31 from 24 balls for the win. With Bazley going well and Steketee connecting with a couple of decent blows that came down to 15 off 12 balls. The 19th started with two dots, but then Bazley hit a six to reduce the task to nine off nine balls. The over ended with Heat needing seven to win. That came down to four off two balls with Steketee on strike. Steketee got two off the penultimate ball, and that meant two needed off one ball, or one to take it to a Super Over. Steketee went for the tying run off that final ball, but it was judged that although his bat was over the line before the bails were dislodged it was also in the air, and he was given run out, to make it 149-8 and victory for the Hurricanes by one run.

It was a magnificent game, but I would have preferred the Heat to win so that the Hurricanes got properly punished for mishandling the second half of their batting innings.

ON #BBL10’S INNOVATIONS

There have been three innovations to this year’s BBL, two which had their own impact on today’s game. They are: the Bash Boost point for the team who are ahead at the ten over mark, the Power Surge (instead of six overs of power play restrictions at the start of the innings there are four, with two more to be claimed at any time after the tenth over by the batting side) and the ‘x-factor sub’, whereby after 10 overs of the first innings a player who has a) not batted and b) bowled no more than one over can be replaced by a designated ‘x-factor’ sub.

I am a huge fan of the Bash Boost point, it has created points of interest in games which would otherwise have been dead, and today it was very closely fought.

I like the concept of the Power Surge, but it requires flexibility of thought, and not many sides have thus far shown that. I would say that all things being equal the ideal time to take it would be at the end of the 15th, using it as a launch pad for the final quarter of the innings. One might go earlier in two situations: the openers are still together after 10 overs and you want to use the Power Surge to launch you towards a really huge total, and also if you have lost a few wickets, your innings needs a shot in the arm and/or you want to ensure that you have two decent batters to use the Power Surge. I can see no case for delaying it right to the end, and I think the Hurricanes stuffed up big time, for all that it did not end up costing them, in their own innings – they should have taken the Power Surge while Ingram, who could really have cashed in on it was still there.

As for the ‘x-factor sub’, that belongs in the circular file. I fully understand the need for ‘concussion protocol subs’, but basically I remain convinced that teams should finish the match containing the same players who started it.

A final recommendation for the BBL: for goodness sake use the DRS – unlike football with the disastrous VAR we actually have a method of using technology to help with decisions that usually works, and it should be automatic to use it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

England All Time T20 XIs

Three all-time England T20XIs selected with differing criteria in response to a twitter challenge from The Cricket Men, some photographs and a video.

This post is a response to a challenge thrown out on twitter yesterday by The Cricket Men. I have extended their brief, and rather than one XI will be naming three: one made up exclusively of T20 players, one which features two past greats who methods I believe would have been especially suited to T20, and one which is made up entirely of past greats.

CONVENTIONAL T20 XI

  1. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. An explosive batter, just right for opening a T20 innings.
  2. +Jos Buttler – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Possibly the finest limited overs batter England have ever had, and a shoo-in for this XI.
  3. Dawid Malan – left handed batter, occasional left arm spinner. Officially the highest rated T20I batter ever, with 915 points following his amazing series against South Africa.
  4. Jonny Bairstow – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. One of the most devastating of short form batters around. His 86 not out in the first match of the series against South Africa first kept England in the contest and then led them to victory.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Explosive with the bat, and a golden arm with the ball, though probably seventh bowler in this combination.
  6. Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. A must for this XI.
  7. Sam Curran – left handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler. His stocks went through the roof in this year’s IPL, and his performances against South Africa confirmed his advancement.
  8. Chris Woakes – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A big hitting batter and a crafty operator with the ball.
  9. Adil Rashid – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is superb in this form of the game, economical with the ball even when he is not picking up wickets.
  10. *Graeme Swann – right handed batter, off spinner. I preferred him to Moeen Ali for the second spinner’s role because he was a much better bowler, although not as good in his secondary role.
  11. Jofra Archer – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. With all due respect to Messrs Flintoff and Stokes, likely sixth and seventh bowlers in this combination, we need some genuine pace at our disposal, and for me Archer is the man to provide it

PAST GREATS INTO THE MIX

My second XI involves the addition of two blasts from the past who I consider would have been particularly effective in this format:

  1. *Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Jessop was the fastest scoring top line batter the game has ever seen, and bear in mind that for most of his career a ball had to go right out of the ground as opposed to just over the ropes to count six. He was also a highly skilled quick bowler who once bowled unchanged through a first class innings conceding just three runs (v Northants in 1907, in a total of 12 all out – George Dennett 8-9, Jessop 2-3). Finally, he was what is now termed a ‘gun’ fielder to the extent that most reckonings of his contribution in this department have him effectively coming to the crease already 30 not out. I have also named him as captain, a job he did for Gloucestershire for some years.
  2. Jos Buttler
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Kevin Pietersen
  5. Jonny Bairstow
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Sam Curran
  8. Adil Rashid
  9. Graeme Swann
  10. Jofra Archer
  11. Derek Underwood – right handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. He was famously miserly at the bowling crease, and his style of bowling, with taking the pace of the ball so often being desirable at T20, would seem well suited to this format.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST

My final selection comprises entirely players from the past:

  1. Gilbert Jessop
  2. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of varying types, excellent close catcher, captain. With his range of skills and forceful personality he just has to feature.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant fielder. His attacking brilliance with the bat makes him well suited to the no3 slot in this team and he would also be full value in the field.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Capable of scoring all round the wicket.
  5. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the 1930s the Walter Lawrence trophy, awarded to the scorer of the fastest first class hundred of the English season, was launched. In two of it’s first three seasons it went to Les Ames, the only recognized keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds. He holds the record for career first class stumpings – 418 of them in total.
  6. Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner. The scorer of the fastest competitive first class century (35 minutes vs Northants, there have been a few instances of players getting to the mark quicker against bowlers deliberately feeding them runs to bring about a declaration), a brilliant fielder, and a regular wicket taker. Also, although no one could usurp the mighty WG for the captaincy, I acknowledge his skills in this area by naming him vice captain of the XI.
  7. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest all rounders ever to play the game, and his attacking approach would be well suited to short form cricket. Like Jessop he was what we now call a ‘gun’ fielder, in his case usually patrolling mid off.
  8. Billy Bates – right handed batter, off spinner. He had a remarkable record, including a 55 and two seven-fors in the same test match, at Melbourne in 1883. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen in 1881 he had a spell of 17 overs for eight runs (so much for those carefree, all-attacking amateurs!), so he could certainly keep it tight.
  9. Bill Lockwood – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Variation of pace was mentioned in the context of certain earlier bowlers, notably Alfred Shaw and the Australia FR Spofforth, but the first bowler about whom the phrase ‘slower ball’ was regularly used was this man, and his version appears to have been the deadliest to see the light of day until Franklyn Stephenson came on the scene almost a century later. Given the role the slower balls play in the armoury of T20 bowlers I suggest that one of the great early masters of the craft has to be included.
  10. Derek Underwood
  11. William Mycroft – right handed batter, left arm fast bowler. His extraordinary record (863 wickets in 138 first matches at 12.09 apiece), the fact that he could move the ball as well as propel it at great pace and his the fact that he bowled left handed all militate in his favour.

BRIEF ANALYSES OF THE XIS

My pure T20 squad has good batting depth, with everyone in it having some degree of skill with the bat, and seven genuine bowling options. It is well equipped to handle every challenge and would give a good account of itself.

The second squad has even greater bowling depth, and although it features one genuine tailender in Underwood the bowling depth is awesome.

My final offering, the blasts from the past combination, is simply awesome, with recognized batting talent all the way down to Lockwood at no9, and so much depth and variety in the bowling that Compton, by no means poor in that department, would probably be 10th choice bowler on most surfaces.

A FEW OF THE MISSING

These names all relate to the blasts from the past. Alfred Shaw, the man who bowled more first class overs than he conceded runs, was one I would have loved to include, while two fast medium bowlers who hit the ball miles when they batted, Jim Smith of Middlesex and Arthur Wellard of Somerset also commanded attention but could not quite get in. Cecil Parkin of Lancashire, with his penchant for bowling six different types of delivery per over, would have been good in T20, and I nearly selected him ahead of Bates. The great SF Barnes would have been formidable at any form of the game but I think he would have found being limited to four overs per innings insupportable, so he missed out. Some of you will doubtless have your own ideas, and I hope you will post them in the comments.

PHOTOGRAPHS

A very contrasting set of photographs, featuring yesterday’s snow and today’s far more benign weather.

To finish, here is a video of the snow falling yesterday (a rare happening in King’s Lynn):

All Time XIs – T20 Clash

In today’s variation on the all-time XI theme we look at T20 cricket, with a team of former greats all of whom would have been well suited to that format pitted against a team of the best actual T20 players.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s variation on the ‘all time XI‘ theme looks at the game’s shortest regular format, T20 (one innings each of 20 overs per side), and I pit a team who were in their prime before top level limited overs cricket was played against a team of T20 experts.

T20 PLAYING CONDITIONS

At least five bowlers must be used, and no bowler may bowl more than four overs in a T20 innings. For the first six overs no more than two fielders may be stationed more than 30 metres from the bat, and thereafter no more than five. This format has been very successful since its top level introduction in 2003, with T20 tournaments flourishing all round the world. Having briefly set the scene it is time to meet our teams starting with…

THE PRET20 FRANCHISE XI

  1. Garry Sobers – left handed bat, every kind of left arm bowling known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete cricketer ever to play the game, he was an absolute must for this side.
  2. Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler and brilliant fielder. Even if his batting was his only recommendation the most consistently fast scorer the game has ever known would have been a ‘shoo-in’. Add his intelligent bowling and fielding that was estimated as being worth 30 an innings to his team and, from a century before the format was used at top level you have the blueprint for the perfect T20 exponent.
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various styles, fine close catcher. My chosen captain.
  4. Frank Woolley – left handed bat, left arm orthodox spin bowler, brilliant close catcher.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed bat, left arm wrist spinner, fine fielder.
  6. +Leslie Ames – right handed bat, wicket keeper. He won the Lawrence trophy for the fastest hundred of the season twice in the first three years of its existence. He was one of the Kent batters who combined to chase down 219 in two hours, with no fielding restrictions in place.
  7. Bill Lockwood – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler. He was one of the pioneers of the ‘slower ball’, a type of delivery that is especially useful in T20, and it is for that reason that I have included him here.
  8. Jim Laker – off spinner and right handed lower order bat.
  9. Alfred Shaw – right arm medium/ slow bowler, lower order bat. The Nottinghamshire man bowled more overs in first class cricket than he conceded runs. He paid just 12 a piece for his first class wickets. He once said that “length and variation of pace are the secrets of successful bowling”, and though he would probably get hit occasionally I think his method would work beautifully in T20.
  10. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. His match against Nottinghamshire in 1932 provides a vignette of his bowling skills – in the first Notts innings on a pitch not assisting him he operated as a stock bowler taking 2-64 in 41 overs. In their second innings, after an overnight thunderstorm had gingered up the pitch he took 10-10 in 19.4 overs, with 16 maidens, still the cheapest ‘all ten’ in first class history. He was noted for being especially skilled at varying his pace to suit the conditions, and even in T20 it is hard to imagine anyone ‘collaring’ him.
  11. David Harris – right arm fast bowler. Hambledon’s finest, who once sent a spell of 170 deliveries from which one solitary single was garnered by the opposition. I have argued elsewhere (see the Eccentrics post in this series) that proper styles of underarm bowling such as his, and the lobs of Simpson-Hayward mentioned in that post, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers should be legal. The grubber can be covered under today’s legislation with the single addition that a ball rolled along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and will therefore be called no-ball.

This XI is strong in batting, everyone other than Ames would be capable of contributing with the ball, and the bowling is staggeringly rich in variety as well. Their designated fielding substitute can be Sydney Copley, who while on the Notts groundstaff took an astonishing catch as sub in the 1930 test match there to dismiss Stan McCabe (who unlike another Aussie top order batter dismissed by a sub in more recent times did not give vent to a string of obscenities on his way back to the pavilion), breaking a threatening partnership. Now we we turn to…

T20 ERA FRANCHISE XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening bat, occasional off spinner. The ‘Universe Boss’ has to open the innings for this team, his record in this format being simply astonishing. As a very tall left handed bat he forms a perfect contrast to the person I have chosen to open with him…
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat of diminutive stature but possessed of a full range of strokes, good footwork and incredible timing. Her many highlights include a 47 ball hundred against South Africa. Additionally, I consider that the completeness of the contrast between her and Gayle would pose a huge challenge to opposition bowlers. Yesterday’s post featured a video clip showing her in action – please go back and watch it.
  3. *Virat Kohli – right handed batter. The best all format batter currently in world cricket – Steve Smith is better at test cricket, and Chris Gayle is better at T20.
  4. Glenn Maxwell – right handed batter, off spinner. A man with an incredible record in limited overs cricket, and had I failed to select him I probably wouldn’t have needed radio equipment to hear the howls of protest from Australia.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The x-factor all rounder.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. His career started before the establishment of top level T20, but he did play the format before he finished.
  7. Rashid Khan – right arm leg spinner, lower order batter. The Afghan has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket, and has had some successes in his few forays into long form cricket as well. Save for being brutalized by Eoin Morgan in the 2019 world cup he has had few bad days.
  8. R Ashwin – off spinner, lower order bat. An excellent limited overs record. Also, the possibility for what would be the cricket incident to end all cricket incidents were he to (as he has done to others) ‘Mankad’ WG Grace!
  9. Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. He went in a few months from people questioning whether England should pick him to being an essential part of a world cup winning outfit.
  10. Chris Jordan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order bat, brilliant fielder. One of the most effective bowlers at mixing the pace up and sowing confusion that way, his fielding is so good as to practically be worth picking him even if you don’t plan to use his bowling.
  11. Lasith Malinga – right arm fast bowler. The Sri Lankan slinger would be especially dangerous in the ‘death overs’.

This team has depth in batting, with only Malinga absolutely ruled out of making a significant contribution in that department, and a splendid range of bowling options to choose from. As a designated fielding sub I give them (who else?) the one and only Gary Pratt. I apologize for the player names not being formatted as links to their cricinfo profiles – that site is currently malfunctioning – hope normal service will soon be resumed.

THE CONTEST AND AN EXPLANATION

This would be a heck of a contest, with I think the PreT20 team just about favourites, but any of these 22 players could be the match winner.

Until this post my all-time XIs have all been picked with long form cricket in mind. The reason I changed that today was because of the following tweet from the folks at cricinfo:

They were asking specifically about T20 and their options were Gayle or Kohli, and I voted for Gayle, but as I explained, it is actually a very poor comparison, since Gayle’s bowling gives him a second string that wins it for him at T20 (and at that format, and only that format, he is of more value even purely as a batter than Kohli). I decided to use this blog post to address their question at greater length than can be managed in a tweet, meaning that post I was mentally planning for today will feature tomorrow instead (yes, when sufficiently provoked even an autistic person can make rapid changes to their plans). Note that while I have named Gayle as one half of the ultimate example of a contrasting opening pair I have also named Kohli as no 3 and skipper.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few of links before signing off. First, the pinchhitter has again mentioned me in today’s offering, which I urge you to read. Second, to bring to the cricket part of this post to a close, a quiz in The Guardian.

Finally, a mathematical teaser adapted from a problem I solved on brilliant.org this morning (I considered their version waaay too easy, since they had made it multiple choice):

Measurement

 

Finally, after a good sized chunk of cricket and a measure of mathematics it is time for my regular sign off:

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P1320288 (2)
The first squirrel I have seen recently.

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Franchise Squad From The Before The White Ball Era

I name a franchise squad comprising entirely players from before white ball cricket was played – and challenge cricket fans among my readers to do likewise.

INTRODUCTION

I am deviating briefly from my coverage of my stay in Cornwall because mention was made of players from the past who would have been useful in franchise cricket during this morning’s BBL commentary on Test Match Special, and I got thinking about a franchise squad comprised of players who flourished before white ball cricket was played.

RULES

To be eligible for consideration under my rules players must have retired before the inaugural T20 cup took place in 2003. Also, unless a very good reason can be found players considered for this must have had some international experience. At least one recognized wicketkeeper must be in the squad.

THOMAS’S SQUAD

I have named 15 for my squad, an envisaged first XI and four reserves.

GILBERT LAIRD JESSOP

The most consistently fast scoring batter in the game’s history (he reached 100 in less than an hour at the crease 11 times in first class cricket, and in a career that included 53 centuries he only once batted as long as three hours in), a gun fielder (his credits include a direct hit run out of Victor Trumper in a test match) and a crafty pace bowler. If one had a time machine to fetch him in his prime into the present day he would send an IPL auction into meltdown.

GARFIELD ST AUBRUN SOBERS

Quite simply the most complete cricketer who ever played the game – a batter capable of hitting six sixes in an over and who averaged 57.78 in test cricket, three bowlers in one (left arm seam and swing, slow left arm orthodox and slow left arm wrist spin, the latter of which would be especially useful in T20) and a brilliant fielder.

ISAAC VIVIAN ALEXANDER RICHARDS

The best batter in the early days of ODI cricket and a brilliant fielder. In view of who else is available to bowl in this squad his off spin would be unlikely to be called on.

ROBERT GRAEME POLLOCK

He averaged over 60 in test cricket, and although he never played ODIs due to South Africa being in isolation by the time that form of cricket took off he averaged over 50 in List A cricket with a best of 222 not out.

FRANK EDWARD WOOLLEY

The only cricketer to have achieved the career triple of 10,000 runs (58,969 no less), 1,000 wickets (2,066 of those) and 1,000 catches (1,018) in first class cricket, and the only non-wicketkeeper to have pouched 1,000 catches.

BASIL LEWIS D’OLIVEIRA

An attacking middle order batter and the sort of medium pace nibbler who would be very useful in T20.

LESLIE ETHELBERT GEORGE AMES

The only recognized wicketkeeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds, and he won the Lawrence trophy for the fastest hundred of the season twice in the first three years of its existence.

GEORGE HERBERT HIRST

He achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a first class season 14 times in his career, including the only occasion on which anyone managed the ‘double double’ (1906, 2,385 runs and 208 wickets). An aggressive right handed bat and left arm pace bowler, he was also like Jessop what is now termed a gun fielder.

JAMES CHARLES LAKER

Probably (sorry Nathan Lyon fans, I do not buy your claims on his behalf) the best ever at what he did, namely bowling off spin. In 1956 he took 46 wickets in the Ashes series, including 19-90 in the 4th match at Old Trafford), and also helped his county to beat the Aussies by taking 10-88 (off 46 overs on a good wicket in the first innings of the match) and 2-42 in the second Aussie innings.

ALFRED SHAW

He bowled more overs in first class cricket (no List A in his day) than he conceded runs (25,699 overs bowled, 24,873 runs conceded), and captured just over 2,000 first class wickets. His impeccable length and canny variations of pace would make him an excellent option in T20. I also choose him as captain – he proved himself good at the job at a time when few professional cricketers got the chance (most captains in his era were, nominally at least, amateurs who did not get paid to play cricket).

CLARENCE VICTOR GRIMMETT

Clarrie Grimmett (aka Scarl, Old Grum or Fox) the New Zealand born Aussie leg spinner took 216 wickets in only 37 test matches (he had to wait until he was 33 to get the call), and a record first-class tally for someone who never played County Championship cricket (1,424, again at just about six wickets per game). He was exceedingly economical, commanded a range of variations (and was forever experimenting with new types of delivery), and as such would seem made for T20 bowling (although like Shaw above he would probably not have been best pleased at being restricted to four overs per innings).

WALTER REGINALD HAMMOND

A stroke playing batter with a formidable record (over 50,000 first class runs including 167 centuries), a superb slip fielder and a very capable bowler (and in T20, knowing that he would not be bowling more than four overs at any one time he may have been a little less unenthusiastic about this aspect of his game than he was in first class and test cricket). He once hit the first five balls of a days play, bowled by no less a personage than Ted Macdonald, for fours, and according to reports it was only a good bit of fielding that stopped being six fours out of six for the over.

MULVANTRAI HIMMATLAL “VINOO” MANKAD

A slow left-arm bowler, a fine batter (he regularly opened for his country in test cricket) and a capable fielder. He was the first bowler in test cricket to run out an opposition batter for backing up too far, causing a controversy that continues to flare up every time something similar happens (my sympathies are exclusively with the bowler – the batter who gets run out is trying to gain an unfair advantage). If he were to be in the team it would be fun to have Ashwin in the ranks of the opposition!

MICHAEL JOHN PROCTER

An aggressive middle order batter, a fine fielder and a fast bowler who could also bowl off breaks, Procter could come in for anyone save Ames without the side as a whole suffering.

WILLIAM JOSEPH OREILLY

A very different type of legspinner to Grimmett, bowling at around medium pace and generating extra bounce (he was tall, unlike Grimmett), O’Reilly (though he would be voluble in expressing his dislike of the format, and I am quite certain that what he would have to say about The Hundred/ Harrison’s Harebrained Have a Hit would be unprintable) would be excellent at this form of the game.

This squad gives me a plentiful supply of attacking batters, a huge range of bowling options including every style of bowling and plenty of excellent fielders.

CONCLUSION, CHALLENGE AND PHOTOGRAPHS

For ease of references here is my squad listed without comments: 1)Gilbert Jessop, 2) Garry Sobers, 3)Viv Richards, 4)Graeme Pollock, 5)Frank Woolley, 6)Basil D’Oliveira
7) +Les Ames, 8)George Hirst, 9)Jim Laker 10)*Alfred Shaw 11)Clarrie Grimmett, Reserves: Wally Hammond, Vinoo Mankad, Mike Procter, Bill O’Reilly.

For the cricket fans among my readers here is a challenge: name your own franchise squad comprising players from before T20 cricket started, either directly in the comments, or in a post of your own which you link to in the comments below.

Here are a few Cornish photos to finish…

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Two shots showing waves crashing over the breakwater that is visible from my parents living room.

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A few shots from Cawsand, the closest village to my parents home.

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Three views of Fort Picklecombe from Cawsand.

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A heron standing on the breakwater (two shots)

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The officers mess at Fort Picklecombe (permission for the building was given on condition that this part be modelled on Warwick Castle).

 

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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A SUNDAY SPREAD

An account of a walk, some final thoughts on the IDS resignation, some very brief comments about the six nations and some stuff about the World T20

INTRODUCTION

With my parents and my aunt away I have been left to my own devices this Sunday. So I am producing this post which features the World T20, a short section on the most despised British minister in living memory (yesterday I posted to links to pieces here and here), and today I am making my last comments on him, and what I shall be starting with…

A SUNDAY STROLL

The live commentary from the World T20 having finished and it being sunny outside I set off for a long walk, starting as so often by heading to the river via the Purfleet.

The river front, from the Purfleet to the Millfleet was, as one would expect on a Sunday, quiet, although the survey boats were still in evidence.

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A cormorant in flight – although they fly low they fly very fast, so capturing them using this mode of travel is difficult.

The cormorant in flight above leads on to my efforts to capture a swimming cormorant (even more of a challenge, because if they are in the water they are usually looking for food, so surface only briefly between dives but…)

Old Boal Quay provided nothing of interest, but ‘cormorant platform’, the Nar outfall and the stretch of the Great Ouse adjoining Hardings Pits did…

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I had thought there would be no ‘cormorant platform’ shot, but just before leaving the river I got this one.

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We have lift off!

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A second capture of a swimming cormorant in one day.

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Neither Harding’s Pits nor the area around St John’s Walk offered very much, but I did get these pictures between the river and hitting the path along Bawsey Drain to to the town centre…

I walked about halfway along the path that follows Bawsey Drain before crossing a bridge and heading through a field and round the edge of another to a couple of ponds, from the second of which a path leads to Littleport Street, and thence a cut a know well that brings on to the train station and finally home.

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The new cycle park at King’s Lynn station.

THE END OF THE 
INHUMANE DESPICABLE SOCIOPATH

Yesterday morning I woke up to news of the resignation of the most hated of all British government Ministers. His resignation statement was obviously bogus since it mentioned conscience (which he has never possessed). The most popular explanation was that it was a kind of ‘IDS of March’ act with Osborne’s being the back into which the dagger was being plunged. Others thought that it was to enable him to concentrate on campaigning for a ‘Brexit’ vote.

Signs are not encouraging as regards his replacement – Mr Crabb (for he it is – a sideways move from his previous position of Welsh Secretary – sorry about the pun) has a voting record similar to that of the man he replaces. Mr Crabb can hardly fail to be an improvement (that is not so much setting the bar low as not setting a bar at all) but he may very well not be much of one.

I will conclude this section with some of twitter highlights about the man…

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The resignation picture

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His voting record on Welfare – a hint as to why this resignation was a matter for celebration

IDS UN Investigation

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Mike Sivier of Vox Political produced this offering.

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One view of the real reason for the resignation.

IDS Epitaph
The best epitaph for IDS’s political career – this excoriation from Salma Yaqoob on Question Time was bang on the money.#

SPORT SUPPLEMENT

Sport usually occupies the back pages of print media, so I have put it at the back of this post. First a brief congratulation to England for completing their six nations grand slam (as with Wales’ obliteration of Italy – 67-14 – and Ireland’s win over Scotland the result was no great surprise). The rest of this section is dedicated to the

WORLD T20

This is going be longer than such a section would usually be because of this post which appeared on whyevolutionistrue yesterday. As you will see, this attempt at an explanation is too long to submit as a comment to someone else’s blog. We start with a glossary of a few important terms:

Innings: can either apply to an individual performance or to the team performance. In a cricket context the singular and plural are spelled the same way – ‘inning’ has no meaning.

Over: A fixed number of legal balls (these days six, though at various times in cricket’s long history four, five and eight have been favoured) that the bowler delivers before the action switches to the other end and another bowler.

Run: The unit in which a team score is measured. It is based on running the length of the cricket pitch, which is worth one. Balls that reach the boundary score four (if they bounce before doing so) or six (if they cross on the full).

Wicket: The construction, comprising three stumps and two bails that the batter defends. Cricket is generally an eleven-a-side game, so each side has ten wickets to defend (as there have be two batsman together).

The World T20 is genuinely a world tournament (unlike some sports, cricket only uses international designations when they are genuinely appropriate!), with the full member nations of the ICC qualifying automatically, and the ‘associate members’ playing a pre-qualifying tournament from which some make it to the main event. The T20 part of the format refers to the format of the matches, where each side gets 20 overs to bat, and bowlers are limited to four overs each (so you better have at least five folk in your team who can bowl decently). Scoring in these matches is generally fast, though the England v South Africa match of a few days ago in which a South Africa tally of 229-4 proved insufficient was exceptional even for this format. The India v Pakistan match that provoked the google doodle which in turn provoked the WEIT post had extra spice because of the political situation which also means that those two countries only ever play each other in global tournaments, never in bilateral series. For the record India won, not without a few scares along the way. This morning GB time there was a match between South Africa and Afghanistan, won by South Africa but with the Afghans giving a very good account of themselves.