Archive for the Sport Category

Not Bad Godesberg

Posted in Biographical, Cricket with tags , , , , , , on June 10, 2018 by telescoper

Well, dear Readers, at this time I was supposed to be in Bad Godesberg, a municipal district of Bonn, in southern North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany for the 2018 Euclid Consortium Meeting which starts there tomorrow morning. To make sure I didn’t miss the opening sessions I booked a flight to Bonn/Cologne Airport from Heathrow at 8.50am today, and took the National Express Coach from Cardiff at 3.15am in order to make sure I arrived in good time for the flight.

Unfortunately, only 15 minutes after the Coach started on its way I got a text from the airline (a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa called `Eurowings’) had been cancelled. This was either to do with a strike of French Air Traffic Controllers or Thunderstorms; they never really got their story right. After a number of abortive attempts to rebook my flight using the coach’s wifi (e.g. to Frankfurt, whence by train to Bonn). I was advised that the system was overloaded and I should rebook at the airport.

Arriving at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 6.30, there was already a long line at the ticketing desk for Lufthansa/Eurowings. It got longer and longer as people arrived to find other flights had been cancelled too. When, after about 90 minutes in a queue, I finally got to a desk very few rebooking opportuninities were available, all of them involving silly routes (e.g. flying to Berlin, followed by a four and a half hour train trip to Bonn).

Exasperated, I suggested I could fly tomorrow instead if they offered to put me up in a hotel overnight. I didn’t fancy going back to Cardiff just so I could get up at stupid o’clock tomorrow to repeat the exercise. I’ll miss the first session of the meeting, but that’s not the end of the world.

So here I am, not in Bad Godesberg, but in the Holiday Inn at Heathrow Airport. I was booked in, given vouchers for lunch, dinner and breakfast tomorrow morning, and given two vouchers for the shuttle bus to and from Terminal 2. The hotel is characterless, but clean and the food is OK. I arrived about 10am and the room was available for me straight away, so I was able to catch up on a bit of sleep before watching most of Scotland’s memorable victory over England in today’s One Day International.

Now that I’ve had my free dinner (grilled Sea Bass) I am going to get some kip before getting up for my free breakfast and free trip back to the airport. The only question remains: will tomorrow’s flight be cancelled too?

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The Lord’s Day

Posted in Cricket on May 27, 2018 by telescoper

Yesterday I travelled to London (on a very slow train, diverted because of engineering work) in order to watch the third day’s play of the First Test between England and Pakistan at Lord’s.

The above picture was taken from my seat on the top level of the recently refurbished Warner Stand, looking towards the Mound Stand.

Pakistan were well on top going into the third day, having dismissed England for just 184 in their first innings. They started Day 3 on 350 for 8 and added just 13 to their overnight score before Mohammad Abbas was out, at which point the innings closed; Babar Azam had retired hurt the previous day, struck on the arm, and was unable to resume.

England came out to vat, and their performance mirrored the first innings – wickets fell to a mixture of good deliveries and poor shots. Bairstow, for example, was bowled by a beautiful delivery from Amir that nipped back off the seam and Stoneman got one from the legspinner Shadab Khan that turned and kept low. Stokes on the other hand played a weak shot to a nothing ball and was caught at short midwicket.

When Root was out for 68, with the score on 110 for 6, an innings defeat looked inevitable but there then followed a fine century partnership between Jos Buttler and Debutant spinner Dom Bess. I don’t rate Buttler as a Test player and his selection (as a batsman to play at No. 7) was an admission that the higher order was likely to fail, which of course it did. However to give credit where it is due he and Bess played very well, taking England to 235 for 6, adding 125 between them, avoiding an innings defeat and giving England a lead of 56.

It was a good performance from the 7th wicket pair, but England would need at least another 100 runs to have any chance of winning.

England’s batting frailties and later recovery notwithstanding, it was a fine performance in the field from Pakistan who I thought were very impressive.

On Day 4 the England batting collapsed as it had in the first innings: the last four wickets fell for just 7 runs, leaving Pakistan a target 64 to win, which they duly rattled off on less than an hour for the loss of just one wicket.

Well played Pakistan, and congratulations on a thoroughly well deserved victory!

England’s poor performance against this Pakistan team certainly puts that of Ireland a couple of weeks ago into perspective!

Glamorgan v. Middlesex

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket with tags , , , , on May 23, 2018 by telescoper

I took today off on annual leave (as I have to use all my allowance before I depart my job at Cardiff University). My intention was to make the best of the good weather to watch some cricket.

And so it came to pass that this morning I wandered down to Sophia Gardens for the start of the Royal London One-Day Cup (50-over) match between Glamorgan and Middlesex. It also came to pass that about fifteen minutes later I wandered back home again. I hadn’t checked the start time, which was actually 2pm…

The later start screwed up my plans as I had something to do in the evening but I thought I’d at least watch the first team bat (which turned out to be Middlesex).

(I’m not sure what caused the weird stripes on the picture.. .)

It was a lovely afternoon for cricket, and Middlesex got off to a good start in excellent batting conditions. Gradually though Glamorgan’s bowlers established some measure of control. After a mini-collapse of three wickets in three overs (to Ingram’s legspin) it looked like Middlesex might not make 300 (which seems to be the par score in this competition). Unfortunately for Glamorgan, however, de Lange and Wagg were expensive at the death and a flurry of boundaries took Middlesex to 304 for 6 off their 50 overs.

At that point I left Sophia Gardens to get ready to go out.

I’ve just got back to discover that Glamorgan lost by just 2 runs, ending on 302 for 9. It must have been a tense finish, and was a good game overall, but Glamorgan have now lost all three games they have played in this competition..

A Day of Sports in Cardiff

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket, Football with tags , , on May 6, 2018 by telescoper

Today I saw my first day of County Cricket this season at Sophia Gardens. It was actually the 3rd day of Glamorgan against Kent, which also turned out to be the last, as Kent won by six wickets.

Defeat for Glamorgan looked pretty inevitable after a horrendous first innings batting collapse from 57-0 to 94 all out. Although they dismissed Kent for 174 and scored 274 in their second innings, the lead of 194 never looked like being enough. On the other hand Yorkshire won their latest match against Essex despite being all out for 50 in their first innings!

As it turned out, in the warm sunshine and good batting conditions, Glamorgan’s bowlers tried hard but didn’t have much luck and never really looked like precipitating the sort of collapse that they needed to win the game.

Today’s play began with a farcical delay caused by a leak in the underground drainage system beneath the square which caused a wet patch. Play was delayed until 12.40 and the players had an early lunch while the sun did its work drying out the square. I’m not sure how this happened but it didn’t affect the game, which was always going to finish today given that there was no chance of the weather intervening. .

A very disappointing result for Glamorgan, but hopefully they can rebound in their next game.

Anyway, just before 2.30pm those of us inside Sophia Gardens (only abiut 250) could hear the sound of fireworks from the Cardiff City Stadium (which is about 20 minutes walk away). Despite only drawing today’s match against Reading, Cardiff City are promoted to the Premiership for next season in second place. They have Birmingham City to thank for that, who beat Fulham 3-1 to secure their Championship survival and prevent Fulham from finishing ahead of Cardiff. Miss Lemon will be pleased.

At the other end of the table, Barnsley, Burton Albion join already relegated Sunderland in League One. The three relegated clubs, once again, are all from the Midlands. It’s strange how often that happens..

Welcome Back To Sophia Gardens

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket with tags , , on April 30, 2018 by telescoper

As a member of Glamorgan County Cricket Club I today received some important news by email.

It seems that at the end of this month (ie today), the sponsorship deal with an electricity company that involved the cricket ground in Cardiff being called the SSE SWALEC Stadium lapses.

From tomorrow, the First of May, therefore, the ground will be known by the far more attractive name of Sophia Gardens Cardiff. That also happens to be the name by which it was known from 1967 to 2007…

I have to admit that I always struggled to bring myself to call it the SSE SWALEC Stadium, so I’m glad that I no longer have to try!

And while we’re on about gardens here is a picture of some flowers I saw in Cathays Park on my way to work this morning.

The Arithmetic of Relegation

Posted in Biographical, Sport with tags , , , on April 30, 2018 by telescoper

When I got back home after yesterday’s concert, I ate some dinner and settled down to have a look through the Sunday papers. Most of the news was as grim as expected, especially the ongoing fiasco of Brexit, and the scandal engulfing Home Secretary former Home Secretary Amber Rudd who obviously lied to Parliament on at least one occasion. Anyway, turning my attention to the Sports pages there was a write-up of Saturday’s disappointing home defeat for Newcastle United against bottom club West Bromwich Albion. I was gloomy enough to wonder whether Newcastle might actually still get relegated, so looked at the Premiership Table:

Neither West Brom (28 points) nor Stoke (30) can catch Newcastle with only two games to play, but Southampton can in principle get 41 points from here if they win all three games. It’s true that they have a worse goal difference but if Newcastle lost all their three remaining games, and Southampton won all theirs that would change. It therefore looks mathematically possible for Newcastle to be relegated.

However, I then glanced at the fixture list and found that Southampton have to play Swansea in one of their remaining matches. If Southampton win that fixture then the maximum number of points Swansea can get by the end of the competition is 39, so Newcastle can’t be relegated. If Southampton lose or it’s a draw then they can’t catch Newcastle.

I conclude, therefore, that Newcastle United are mathematically safe from relegation. Hooray!

But who will go down? I think West Brom and Stoke will probably get relegated, but I’m not sure about the third team. Huddersfield must be very nervous because their recent form has been poor and they have a very bad goal difference. The betting odds are interesting: BetFred are offering 200/1 on West Brom not being relegated and most bookies are about 8/1 on Stoke to stay up. PaddyPower are quoting 4/9 on Huddersfield and even money on Southampton to go down. If you want to bet on Brighton to get relegated your best odds are with BetVictor who are offering 50-1. Few bookies are quoting odds on West Brom to get relegated, so they obviously think that’s the likely outcome.

I expect these odds to change a lot after the next round of matches.

Judgement Day

Posted in Cardiff, Rugby with tags , , , on April 28, 2018 by telescoper

I’m up early again on a Saturday, travelling back to Cardiff this weekend for the above event later today. It’s actually a School social event for members of the School of Physics & Astronomy that involves two rugby matches at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, featuring all four Welsh teams in the Guinness Pro 14 tournament: the Blues (from Cardiff); Ospreys (from Neath/Swansea); Scarlets (from Llanelli); and Dragons (from Newport). Tickets for the whole event cost just £10 each…

Should be a good day out! I may post a few pictures from the Stadium, so watch this space.

The scene about 20 minutes before Scarlets v Dragons..

It did fill up: the overall attendance was over 65,000.

The Scarlets versus Dragons match was rather one-sided, ending 33-8 to the team from Llanelli. The thing that struck me most about the game was the dire state of the scrummaging. I think only one scrum completely properly in the whole match! The Dragons also conceded a penalty try after repeated infringements at scrums under their own posts.

After a break we had the Ospreys versus Cardiff Blues. Here is the scene shortly after kick off with the Blues (right) immediately under pressure from the Ospreys (left, in white).

After the first 10 minutes I thought the Ospreys were going to run away with the game but it turned out to be an excellent close-fought contest, of much higher quality than the first. Cardiff were actually ahead for much of the game, despite their atrocious performance at the line out. The match ended 26-23 to the Ospreys, with the winning points coming from a drop goal 2 minutes from the end…