In the last week there have been two significant milestones in the story of my recovery from the cancer that nearly killed me back in October. In this post I deal with them in turn.
THE BIG OPERATION
I went into hospital early on Friday morning to have the original source of all the trouble, my right testicle, removed. Since they had decided they were keeping me in overnight anyway my surgery was performed quite some time after my parents and I had arrived. It went well, and I was transferred to a recovery ward for the night. Once I had demonstrated that I was able to walk the following day they were ready to discharge me, but not before they had taken me off the morphine based painkillers I had been on, limiting to me to paracetamol. Fortunately the pain from the operation site is not actually as bad as all that, and the paracetamol are sufficient for the job.
THE BIG NEWS
On Monday I was back at Addenbrookes to see the oncology people. They were happy with the state of the operation site. Far more significantly they confirmed that my tumour markers are now back at normal, healthy levels. After a couple of appointments next month (which were set up just after we had left Addenbrookes, and which I found out about the following morning) it will be three monthly, and then six monthly check ups for a five-year period. Once I am fully recovered from the operation I will be on the last (admittedly long) road to a full recovery.
On Tuesday afternoon I visited the Norfolk Hospice at Tapping House to discuss future physio options. They can offer me Thursday morning sessions there, and of course I will be taking them up. I am thinking at the moment of notifying them that I will be ready 2 weeks today (next week is probably pushing it too far).
An account of goings on the County Championship, a brief mention of physio at Tapping House and lots of photographs.
The County Championship matches currently in progress are now on day 3 of 4. In this post I will look at all of them before sharing some more of my photos.
THE STATE OF PLAY IN
THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
This is what is happening around the country…
Nottinghamshire v Essex – Nottinghamshire 187 and 157, Essex 241 and 81-1, Essex need a further 24 to win.
The Nottinghamshire batting has failed twice, leaving Essex a fairly clear run to victory. No Nottinghamshire batter topped 50 in either innings. Nick Browne made 67 in the Essex first dig, while spinner Simon Harmer destroyed the Notts second innings with 6-50. Tom Westley is on the verge of only the second half-century of the match and is being staunchly supported by the only knight of the realmcurrently playing first class cricket. Joe Clarke of my “Five to Follow” made 48 and 1 for Notts.
Kent v Yorkshire – Yorkshire 210 and 328-4, Kent 296.
Kent took what would have looked a useful first innings lead, but Yorkshire have turned this one around in their second innings. They will now be eyeing up a declaration to give Kent an awkward period of batting before the close today and then the whole of tomorrow. 81 for Zak Crawley and 103 from wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson were Kent’s main batting efforts, while Gary Ballance is 143 not out in the second Yorkshire innings. Ben Coad and Duanne Olivier each took three wickets for Yorkshire.
Surrey v Somerset – Surrey 380 and 19-2, Somerset 398.
This one could go a long way to deciding the ultimate destiny of the title as it features the defending champions (Surrey) and the form side thus far this year (Somerset). So far this shaping up as Lewis Gregory’s match – three wickets in the first innings, a magnificent 129 not out, including 10 fours and five sixes to give Somerset a first innings lead and already has a second innings wicket (the other second innings wicket has gone to the Devonian giant Craig Overton). Somerset have quite a tradition of pace bowlers who love to give the ball a wallop – Sammy Woods, Arthur Wellard, Maurice Tremlett (grandfather of Chris, father of Tim), the one with whom we do not compare up and coming allrounders because it gives them an impossible benchmark and a few other lesser names, and Gregory with the development of his batting bids fair to join them. It would be a big ask for anyone to start out in an Ashes series, but I certainly hope that Gregory will be in the winter touring parties. George Bartlett failed in the Somerset first innings but may get a second chance, if Somerset bowl Surrey out.
Warwickshire v Hampshire – Hampshire 354 and 186-3, Warwickshire 233.
I suspect that Hampshire will be looking at batting until there is an hour to go in this day’s play before sticking Warwickshire back in to face a huge target in the fourth innings. The fact that they are going at over five an over in a four-day game tells me that they are looking very definitely at victory. Alsopmade 150 in the first Hampshire innings, Sibleycarried his bat through the Warwickshire first innings for his sixth century in as many matches. 23 year-old Oliver Soames scored 62 in the second Hampshire innings, 22 year-old Joe Weatherley 46, while Northeast and Rossouware currently batting together.
Glamorgan v Gloucestershire – Glamorgan 250 and 184-1, Gloucestershire 463.
Glamorgan are making a fight of this in their second innings, but probably need to bat until teatime tomorrow to save this one after conceding such a huge first innings deficit. Ryan Higgins matched James Bracey’s century in the Gloucestershire innings, while Hemphrey and Wagg made fifties in the Glamorgan first innings. Hemphrey has made another fifty in the second innings while Nicholas Selman is on 83 not out. 20 year-old offspinner George Drissell took 4-83 in the Glamorgan first innings.
Middlesex v Leicestershire – Middlesex 349 and 147-8, Leicestershire 268. After taking a useful looking first innings lead Middlesex are making an utter Horlick’s of their second innings, giving Leicestershire a way back into the match. Sixties for Ackerman and Dearden were the principal scores for Leicestershire, while no one has reached 40 in the Middlesex second innings. Tom Taylor and Chris Wright each have three wickets.
Worcestershire v Durham – Durham 273 and 107-5, Worcestershire 390.
Durham are deep in trouble in this one. A century for Wessels and 61 for 21 year old Some helped Worcestershire to a substantial first innings lead. In the Durham second innings Burnham and Liam Trevaskis are together, the latter having picked up a wicket with his slow left-arm in the Worcestershire innings.
Essex have completed their win over Nottinghamshire. Westley fell for 49, but Dan Lawrence and the knight saw Essex home, the latter finishing with 40 not out. Jack Leach has just bagged a wicket with his slow-leftarmers, reducing Surrey to 43-3, a mere 24 runs on – defo looking good for Somerset.
Some of these photographs were taken at Tapping House where I had a physio session on Tuesday. All the exercises went well, highlighted by the arms only part of cycling, where I clocked up the equivalent of a mile in three minutes.
The final South Group games in the Royal London Cup, a brief mention of Tapping House and loads of photographs.
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…
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 Worcetsershire – Derbyshire 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 Warwickshire – Leicestershire 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 Javidand 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.
Somerset v Surrey– Surrey 289-9 from 50 overs.
Surrey batted well, but could never get right away. Dean Elgar made 64, Ben Foakes46, Jamie Smith 40 and Ryan Patel 41 not out off 32. FI expect or Somerset the best bowling came from the Overtons, Jamiewith 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.
Kent v Middlesex – Middlesex 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 Smithwas 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.
I select an England squad from players I have witnessed and a true all-time England squad.
This is the start of a new series which will appear on this blog periodically in between posts about other things. I will pick two squads in each of these posts – one restricted to players whose performances I have witnessed live and one true all-time squad, using my considerable knowledge of cricket history. I will also be including a few other things after the main body of the post. We will being the main part of the post with…
ENGLAND SQUAD FROM PLAYERS I HAVE WITNESSED LIVE
To begin with we need an opening pair. I refuse to consider those who went on the two English rebel tours to South Africa. The serious contenders left are:
Mike Atherton – 7,.728 runs at 37.69 from 115 test matches. A fine record, though that average was reduced by his encounters with Glenn McGrath who seriously had the wood on him.
Alec Stewart – 8,463 test runs at 39.54 from 133 test matches. These already impressive figures conceal the fact that Stewart the specialist batter (the role in which I would be using him) averaged 47, while Stewart the keeper averaged 34.
Marcus Trescothick – 76 test matches produced 5,825 runs at 43.79. An attack-minded left hander, Trescothick hit the ground running at Test level with 66 against the West Indies on debut, and until mental health issues caused his premature retirement from international cricket he went from strength to strength.
Andrew Strauss– 100 test matches, 7,037 runs at 40.91. An consistent opener who did even better as captain than he did in the ranks.
Alastair Cook – England’s all time leading test run scorer, with 12,472 at 45.35, he started his test career with a fifty and a century against India and ended it 12 years later with a fifty and a century against India.
Of these five I can accommodate three in my squad (an opening pair and a reserve opener), and my choice, with due respect to Messrs Atherton and Trescothick is to go for Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart (mainly defensive left hander and more attacking right hander) as my first choice opening pair and Strauss as the reserve opener. It is a close call between Strauss and Trescothick, but Strauss’ captaincy experience gives him an edge.
My designated number three bat and captain is Michael Vaughan. Number three has traditonally been a problem position for England, but Vaughan was magnificent there – his only rival in my lifetime is Jonathan Trott, but since I want Vaughan as captain he gets the nod. When it comes to picking three middle-order batters there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from. There are two left-handers, David Gowerand Graham Thorpe and a phalanx of right-handers including Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root and Paul Collingwood who all did fine things at test level. I can only select three, two to be in the first XI and one as cover, and my choices are Joe Root, David Gower and Kevin Pietersen.
With all due respect to Andrew Flintoffand Ben Stokes who have both had great achievements at the highest level there is only one candidate for the allrounders role in my view and that is Ian Botham.
There are four potential candidates for the wicketkeepers slot, of whom I need to select two since I do not intend using Stewart in that role. My four candidates are:
Jack Russell – a magnificent keeper, but his test batting average of 27.10 was a little on the low side.
Matt Prior – there was never a question about his batting skills, but his keeping took a while to develop, though he became very good indeed.
Jonny Bairstow – A fine attacking batter and a good keeper, but rarely able to combine the two at test level
Ben Foakes– A magnificent keeper and averaging over 40 in his brief test career so far.
It will be considered controversial in some circles to give the nod to someone still in the early stages of their career, but my choices are Ben Foakes as first choice keeper and Matt Prior as reserve.
Andrew Strauss (reserve opener)
The likely first XI, assuming a pitch that does not favour any particular type of bowling would be: Stewart, Cook, *Vaughan, Root, Gower, +Foakes, Botham, Swann, Broad, Anderson and Harmison, with Kevin Pietersen just missing the final cut in favour of Root (Gower’s lefthandedness works to his advantage).
THE ALL TIME SQUAD
For this one I start with the greatest of all opening pairs, Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe. In addition to being one half of the greatest of all opening pairs Herbert Sutcliffe’s averages suggest, as does everything ever written about him, a big match temperament par excellence – 52.02 in first class cricket, 60.73 in all test cricket and in the cauldron of The Ashes, 66.85. As reserve opener I select W G Grace, reckoning that his test batting average (32.29) was reduced both by the pitches he played on and the fact that he was already 32 when he played his first test match in 1880, and his career at that level lasted until within a couple of months of his 51st birthday. My remaining choices for batting slots are Joe Root (captain), Denis Compton, Walter Hammond and Frank Woolley (the latter two more than handy bowlers as well as great fielders, and Woolley a left-hander). For the wicketkeepers I opt for Les Ames as first choice and Ben Foakes as reserve. Ian Botham retains his place as designated all-rounder. For the bowlers I retain Anderson, and augment his presence with Fred Trueman, Syd Barnes (189 wickets at 16.43 from just 27 matches) and George Lohmann (112 wickets in 18 test matches at an eye-popping 10.75). My two players selected as spinners are Hedley Verity (slow-left arm) and Jim Laker (off-spin).
Thus my squad list reads:
W G Grace (reserve opener)
*Joe Root Walter Hammond
The first XI in batting order, assuming the pitch does not justify either two specialist spinners or an all-seam attack is: Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Compton, *Root, Woolley, +Ames, Botham, Lohmann, Laker, Trueman and Barnes. I select Laker ahead of Verity as the lone specialist spinner because Woolley was a good enough slow-left armer to have taken 10 wickets in a test match and Compton could bowl slow left-arm wrist spin.
A BIT OF NEWS
Today as part of my continuing recovery from cancer I attended a physio session at Tapping House, and it went very well. I handled all four of the exercises I did today reasonably well, and my breathing behaved itself. It is a nice small group, and the setting is good.
An account of my first visit to Tapping House Hospice and the physio assessment that took place there.
At 11AM today, exactly as planned, a vehicle arrived to collect me and take me to Tapping House Hospice for a an introduction to their physio arrangements. The physio came in person along with the driver. In the rest of this post I will describe what happened.
THE JOURNEY THERE
Major housing developments have opened up a lot of North Lynn in recent years, and we were able to head for the main road to Hillington, the village in which the hospice is situated, by way of Lynn Sport and the industrial area of North Lynn. The journey pased without incident, and the physio then conducted me to the room wherein the sessions will take place when I can start them (next week’s sessions are already full, but it is just possible that I will be able to attend sessions from the week after next).
The assessment consisted of a number of parts:
Get up from a chair and sit back down five times in a row.
Stand in front of the chair with my eyes closed and my feet together for 90 seconds – I felt that I was shaking like a leaf when I did this but apparently the reality was less dramatic than what I felt.
Walk to the door leading into the ‘snug’
Walk a short distance, turn around and walk back (the physio neasured the appropriate distance).
Put one foot on a step and bring it back down again five times
Then it was time to sample the equipment – two minutes on the treadmill at its lowest speed, three minutes on a bicycle simulation (it offers much more physical support than a real bike, but you pedal it as if on a bike – my average speed over the three minutes was 14.1kph – just a tick over 8.5mph – a baseline figure against which future attempts can be measured) and a brief introduction the all-over workout machine, which I did not enjoy since my balance has never been the best, and I did not feel secure at any stage.
I think I have missed something as there were supposed to be seven stages, but this is what I remember of the assessment.
Louise made some sensible suggestions about outside walking, involving making use of the area immediately outside my bungalow, which I shall put into practice from tomorrow (weather permitting) – I did actually manage a visit to the very local shop yesterday, but it was tiring. She also helped me with some advice on regulating the breathing, which I shall endeavour to make full use of.
The journey home passed uneventfully, and although we had taken the precaution of bringing the wheelchair along for the ride it proved to be unnecessary, and we probably won’t bother with it next time I go to Tapping House. I enjoyed my first visit to the hospice, and look forward with more enthusiasm than apprehension to getting involved in group physio sessions once there is a space for me.
I have just had a visit from Louise, a therapist at Tapping House to fit a new toilet seat and frame to make it easier for me to use the toilet, and to discuss possibilities re therapy at Tapping House. This post attempts to give an overview of the situation.
MY CURRENT STATE OF HEALTH
My body appears to have responded well overall to the cancer treatments I have endured over the last few months – as I have mentioned elsewhere the tumour counts appear to be regularly falling. I am currently experiencing breathing issues which could be caused by any of several possibly linked issues:
One of the areas worst affected by the tumours were my lungs, and although the tumours there appear to have almost gone the current issues could still relate back to the cancer.
One of the drugs used in my chemotherapy is known to sometimes have an adverse effect on chests and lungs, and it is possible that this is a contributory factor.
I have recently had a lung infection, and currently have a mild chest infection for which I am on antibiotics, and there is no doubt that both of these have contributed to the problems.
Finally I have through necessity been been very inactive for some time, and this may also partially explain why such activity as I am currently capable of tends to leave me breathless.
The therapist has given me some tips on breathing and on posture when on my feet (e.g in the kitchen), and will be in contact with me again in about a week to see if I am improving, with a view if I am to starting me on physio sessions at Tapping House. She has also indicated that she could take me out in the wheelchair for sessions in which I sit for some of the time and walk for some of the time (the weather is exceptionally mild for an English February, and getting outside more would be good for me).
My confidence is starting to improve as time goes by and I do more things without falling or having other accidents.
At some stage, when I am strong enough to go through such a procedure, there remains an operation to be endured, and that will probably entail some recovery time as well.
For the time being I will be seeing at least one carer once per day, which remains a necessity as it ensures that someone who can presumably recognise warning signs will be seeing me daily, and one hopes will be ready to take action if needed.
With a fair wind I could be starting therapy sessions in just over a week, and I hope to spending more time out of the bungalow and to be more physically active in the not too distant future.
An account of yesterday’s very successful meeting with a physio from Tapping House.
Louise Gent, physio at Tapping House Hospice, came to visit yesterday as planned. First of all I showed her my flat and demonstrated things like how I get in and out of bed and down to and back up from the toilet. She has arranged to get me a new piece of equipment for the toilet – a combination of a frame and raised seat because she noticed that to get up I had to put both hands on the metal grip to generate sufficient leverage.
This led on to discussions about…
Louise’s opinion having seen me in action was that my basic mobility is not too bad but that because of the fall I took at the weekend I lack confidence, which is entirely accurate as far I am concerned.
I will be attending regular sessions at Tapping House starting fairly soon. They provide transport for people, so this gets me out of the bungalow as well as helping to rebuild confidence and fitness without overstretching family or friends by needing someone to take me to Hillington where they are based.
Tapping House have made it abundantly clear that they will do all that they can to help me, and I in turn will do my absolute best to benefit from their help, for which I am very grateful.
Just one pic today – while I was watching the world go by from by bungalow a magpie was doing likewise from a perch near the top of a tree that is fully visible through my living room window…