Archive for the Cricket Category

Back to Cardiff

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket, Football on May 19, 2017 by telescoper

Despite torrential rain and flooding (in England) and the failure of the electronic passport readers at Heathrow Terminal 5, I managed to get back to Cardiff (via plane, bus and train) more-or-less when I expected and all in one piece, if a little tired. It was good to get home and have a nice cup of tea. I love lots of things about Italy, but I’ve never found anywhere in that wonderful country to have a decent cuppa.

When I walked home from Cardiff Central last night I noticed that road barriers have started to appear on the streets near the Principality Stadium. This is because the final of the UEFA Champions League between Juventus and Real Madrid will take place there on Saturday 3rd June. This will be easily the biggest sporting event ever held in Cardiff, with up to a quarter of a million people coming into the city, only 80,000 or so of whom will be able to watch the event in the Stadium. There’ll be a lot of disruption to traffic in the City Centre, both for security reasons and because of the sheer number of people packing the place.

Hotels in and around Cardiff sold out months ago, and an enormous campsite is being created on Pontcanna fields to house some of the people who couldn’t find a room. I’m not sure I would pay £195 for 3 nights to sleep in a tent, but some will. I just hope it’s not too noisy around my house! I was thinking of going away and renting my house out for the period, but I want to be in Cardiff for my birthday treat – a performance of Der Rosenkavalier by Welsh National Opera.

Talking of sport, since the weather was pleasant when I got up this morning, I decided to reacclimatise after a few days away by popping into the SSE SWALEC Stadium in Sophia Gardens to watch the first sessions’s play of the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Nottingham.

I’m glad I went because it was an absorbing morning’s cricket, with some excellent bowling and fielding by Glamorgan restricting Nottinghamshire to just 64 for 2 off 31 overs. The second wicket to fall involved a superlative catch in the slips by Aneurin Donald. It’s good to see Glamorgan playing with a spring in their step. After a poor start to the season they finished 4th (out of nine teams) in the Royal London One-Day Cup Southern division, which although they missed out on a semi-final place, is a creditable result and a distinct improvement on last year. Let’s hope they can carry on that progress into the County Championship.

A Good Day

Posted in Cricket, Football on May 7, 2017 by telescoper

I spent all day today at the SWALEC stadium in Sophia Gardens watching yet another one-day match, this time between Glamorgan and Essex.

It was overcast early on, as you can see from the picture (which for some reason has decided to rotate itself).

Glamorgan won the toss and batted, but lost both openers cheaply. Ingram and Bragg then dug in and slowly tried to build a decent total. By “slowly”, I mean very slowly. After 10 overs Glamorgan had crawled to 26 for 2. The batsmen gradually began to assert themselves but were prevented by good fielding and bowling from really cutting loose. Then Ingram decided to take the bull by the horns. He hit three towering sixes (including one over the top of the pavilion) on his way to a brilliant 142. Still, Glamorgan’s total of 281 for 7 off their 50 overs  didn’t really look enough…

Near the end of the Glamorgan innings I checked the football scores and discovered that Newcastle United had beaten Barnsley 3-0 while Brighton & Hove Albion let in a late equaliser at Aston Villa. That meant that Newcastle United won the Championship title. I celebrated in appropriate style in the Members bar between the innings.

Essex lost two very quick wickets – they were 2 for 2 at one point –  but captain Alastair Cook and Varun Chopra put together a century partnership. When Cook was out, Ravi Bopara joined Chopra for another 100 stand.

After 41 overs Essex were looking comfortable  on 214 for 3, needing just another 68 to win. Glamorgan’s bowlers had lost control at a similar point in their last match, so most of the spectators thought Essex would rattle off the runs without too much difficulty.

As so often happens in cricket, one incident turned the match. Chopra smashed a delivery from Meschede back at the bowler. It was a difficult chance and Meschede couldn’t hold on, but the ball ricocheted from his outstretched hand onto the stumps at the non-strikers end, with Bopara well out of his ground.

From that point the Essex batsmen came and went at regular intervals, as Glamorgan’s bowlers showed much greater discipline and common sense than on Friday. Aiming at the stumps has to be a good tactic in a situation when the batsman have to score at a reasonable rate: if the batsman misses going for a shot then the ball hits. Seems obvious, but it’s not what they did in the last game.

With 2 overs left, Essex had stuttered to 268 for 7 but were still favourites in my book. But with the first ball of the penultimate over De Lange clean bowled ten Doeschate (the last of four batsman to be bowled by full deliveries aimed at middle stump), making it 268 for 8. The pendulum had swung in Glamorgan’s favour. Or had it? Essex managed another 7 off the rest of the over.

Seven runs were then needed off the last over, with two wickets left. Hogan bowling,  the crowd buzzing. First ball: 2 runs. Groans from the crowd. Then two dot balls. Cheers. Then an awful mix-up and a run out. Five needed off two balls. One wicket left. Next ball: the batsmen ran a bye to the wicketkeeper. Four needed off the last ball..

…but they could only run two. Glamorgan won by one run.

It was a very exciting finale, and a much-needed  morale-boosting victory for Glamorgan. Well played both teams!

Oh, and when I got home I saw the news that France didn’t elect a fascist as President.

Yes, it’s been a good day. A very good day.

Another One Day

Posted in Cricket on May 5, 2017 by telescoper

I had the day off today so I could watch Glamorgan play Somerset in the Royal London Cup.


It was a bright but very windy day at Sophia Gardens. Glamorgan won the toss and put Somerset in to bat. The home team’s bowlers did reasonably well, for 40 overs or so, at restricting the scoring but only took three wickets at a cost of 204. In the last ten overs, however, thanks to excellent strokeplay and (it has to be said) undisciplined bowling, Somerset pushed their total up to 338. By the end, Glamorgan looked a demoralised side.

I felt that total was going to be beyond Glamorgan’s batsmen, and so it proved. They crumbled rapidly and were all out for 168, not even halfway to their target.

While I was watching Glamorgan bat I realised that they’ve lost every game I’ve watched. Undaunted, I’ll be back on Sunday (weather permitting) to watch them try to maintain their unblemished record against Essex.

P.s As the match finished early, I headed over the river from Sophia Gardens and across Bute Park to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to listen to the free Friday evening jazz, which was most enjoyable.

A Good Friday’s Cricket 

Posted in Cricket with tags on April 14, 2017 by telescoper

Some time ago I decided to become a member at Glamorgan County Cricket Club for this season, the price of which includes admission to all County Championship, One Day and Twenty20 games for the season. Since the SWALEC Stadium at Sophia Gardens is only ten minutes’ walk from my house, I hope to catch a fair amount of cricket this summer.

And so it came to pass that this morning I found myself watching the first County Championship game of the season in Cardiff, between Glamorgan and Worcestershire. Glamorgan lost their first match of the season (away against Northamptonshire) inside two days, by an innings and 22 runs, so the home fans were hoping for a stronger performance in this match.

The ground was fairly sparsely populated, as per usual for County Cricket, but there were enough people there to create an atmosphere and not so many to cause long queues at the bar.

In overcast and rather chilly conditions, Worcestershire used the uncontested toss to invite Glamorgan to bat first. As they had done against Northamptonshire, Glamorgan’s batsmen struggled, losing eight wickets for 105  in the first session. Another thrashing looked inevitable.

After lunch, however, the situation improved as Lloyd, in partnership first with Carey and then with Hogan, added over a hundred at about eight an over. Glamorgan were eventually all out for 207. Lloyd was last out, for 88.

Worcestershire lost both openers with just one run on the board, but Fell and Clarke added 79 runs before both got out in quick succession. At 80 for 4 a collapse looked on the cards, but Kohler-Cadmore and wicket-keeper Cox put together a century partnership before bad light brought play to an early close.

Worcestershire at 180 for 4 definitely have the upper hand, but with 387 runs having been scored and 14 wickets having fallen, it was a good day’s cricket.

Incidentally, this summer Glamorgan are celebrating 50 years of cricket at Sophia Gardens. Before 1967 they played their games on a cricket ground in Cardiff Arms Park, which was next to the famous rugby stadium. However this site is right next to the River Taff and suffered from very poor drainage. The sheer number of rugby games – both local and international – combined with the drainage problem meant the pitch was often in very poor condition, compared to the other home international rugby grounds. It was therefore decided to move the cricket ground and build a second rugby stadium. It’s quite a complicated story, but that is basically why nowadays there are two rugby stadiums side by side in central Cardiff, the huge  Millennium Stadium (now called the Principality Stadium) for internationals, and the much smaller Cardiff Arms Park, home to Cardiff Blues.

The cricket didn’t move far, however, as Sophia Gardens is just a short walk from the city centre and even closer to my house! I’ll be there tomorrow, to find out what Day 2 has to offer.

Spring Things

Posted in Biographical, Cricket, Football, Politics, Rugby on March 13, 2017 by telescoper

I’m aware that my posts have been a bit thin recently. This is partly because I’ve had so much to do recently. I know I’m supposed to be working part-time, but that isn’t the way it’s working out. I’m being paid part-time, but without any obvious reduction in workload. Not at the moment anyway, although that’s probably mainly because of a load of deadlines coming together.

The other reason is that I’ve not been very well. On top of other things I caught a bug of some sort in January that laid me pretty low and caused continuous coughing and spluttering but seemed not to be too nasty. The problem is that I just couldn’t shake it off. When I finally started to feel better I immediately got worse again. I think I might have had two different forms of the lurgy in quick succession. Now I seem to be clear of the obvious symptoms, but just generally knackered. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting on a bit, the usual winter flu things are harder to shake off. Or maybe I should have taken some time off, but that would have meant missing even more deadlines…

Anyway, while I’ve been moping around feeling sorry for myself, Spring seems to have arrived.

On the sporting front, the 2017 Six Nations is heading towards its conclusion. With England sure to win the Championship after thrashing Scotland 61-21 on Saturday, all that remains is the question of whether they can round it off with a second successive Grand Slam by beating Ireland in the last match. To show how little I know about rugby, I thought Scotland would beat England on Saturday. I even bet on Scotland to win,  but they never really got out of the blocks and were thoroughly trounced.

There are signs of life at the SWALEC stadium now too. I’ve seen the Glamorgan players practising outside a few times now that the weather has improved a bit. I have joined as a full member this year so hope to be able to get to quite a few of the County Championship games. The fixture list arrived last week, another sign that Spring is here.

On the football side, Newcastle United had three tough away games against rivals for the Championship (Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading). They managed to beat the first two and draw 0-0 in the third, which was a good performance. But then they lost an apparently more straightforward home game against Fulham on Saturday. They’re still top of the table (on goal difference), but could still blow it. There are still nine games left of a season which seems to have gone on for ages already!

And then of course there’s the likely triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by Prime Minister Theresa May, assuming Parliament agrees to give her permission to do so. Then we begin the process of separating ourselves from the European Union. There’s a strong chance this will lead to Scottish independence and, perhaps a few years further down the line, a united Ireland. Holland goes to the polls on Wednesday 15th – the Ides of March – and we’ll see whether the Dutch are as willing to fall for divisive far-right rhetoric as the British and Americans have proved to be. I doubt it, actually, but there have been too many shocks recently to be sure.

Farewell, Captain Cook

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on February 6, 2017 by telescoper

So Alastair Cook has resigned from his post as Captain of the England (and Wales) Cricket team, having been skipper for 59 test matches since 2012. After their drubbing in India this is hardly surprising, but I hope he finds his form and continues as an opening batsman. He’s only 32 so should have a few more years in him.

When he started as captain I felt that he was far too cautious, something perhaps he inherited from his predecessor Andrew Strauss. I think he got marginally better as time went by, but I always felt he didn’t have sufficient presence on the field to be a great team leader and too often let things drift when England were fielding. Anyway, I don’t want to be too harsh – he did lead England to two Ashes victories!

Farewell, then, Alastair Cook. But who should take his place? Is it the youngster, Joe Root? Or should Geoffrey Boycott come out of retirement to wield his stick of rhubarb in the corridor of uncertainty once more?

End of Summer, Start of Autumn

Posted in Biographical, Cricket with tags , , , on September 22, 2016 by telescoper

It’s a lovely warm sunny day in Cardiff today, but it is nevertheless the end of summer. The autumnal equinox came and went today (22nd September) at 14.21 Universal Time (that’s 15.21 British Summer Time), so from now on it’s all downhill (in that the Subsolar point has just crossed the equator on the southward journey it began at the Summer Solstice).

Many people adopt the autumnal equinox as the official start of autumn, but I go for an alternative criterion: summer is over when the County Championship is over. It turns out that, at least for Glamorgan, that coincided very closely to the equinox. Having bowled out Leicestershire for a paltry 96 at Grace Road in the first innings of their final Division 2 match, they went on to establish a handy first-innings lead of 103. They were then set a modest second-innings target of 181 to win. Unfortunately, their batting frailties were once again cruelly exposed and they collapsed from 144 for 4 to 154 all out and lost by 26 runs. That abject batting display sums up their season really.

Meanwhile, in Division 1 of the Championship, Middlesex are playing Yorkshire at Lord’s, a match whose outcome will determine who wins the Championship. Middlesex only need to draw to be champions, but as I write they’ve just lost an early wicket in their second innings, with Yorkshire having a first-innings lead of 120, so it’s by no means out of the question that Yorkshire might win and be champions again.

Another sign that summer is over is that the new cohort of students has arrived. This being “Freshers’ Week” there have been numerous events arranged to introduce them to various aspects of university life. Lectures proper being in Monday, when the Autumn Semester begins in earnest. I don’t have any teaching until the Spring.

This time of year always reminds me when I left home to go to University, as thousands of fledgling students have just done. I went through this rite of passage 34 years ago, getting on a train at Newcastle Central station with my bags of books and clothes. I said goodbye to my parents there. There was never any question of them taking me in the car all the way to Cambridge. It wasn’t practical and I wouldn’t have wanted them to do it anyway. After changing from the Inter City at Peterborough onto a local train, me and my luggage trundled through the flatness of East Anglia until it reached Cambridge.

I don’t remember much about the actual journey, but I must have felt a mixture of fear and excitement. Nobody in my family had ever been to University before, let alone to Cambridge. Come to think of it, nobody from my family has done so since either. I was a bit worried about whether the course I would take in Natural Sciences would turn out to be very difficult, but I think my main concern was how I would fit in generally.

I had been working between leaving school and starting my undergraduate course, so I had some money in the bank and I was also to receive a full grant. I wasn’t really worried about cash. But I hadn’t come from a posh family and didn’t really know the form. I didn’t have much experience of life outside the North East either. I’d been to London only once before going to Cambridge, and had never been abroad.

I didn’t have any posh clothes, a deficiency I thought would mark me as an outsider. I had always been grateful for having to wear a school uniform (which was bought with vouchers from the Council) because it meant that I dressed the same as the other kids at School, most of whom came from much wealthier families. But this turned out not to matter at all. Regardless of their family background, students were generally a mixture of shabby and fashionable, like they are today. Physics students in particular didn’t even bother with the fashionable bit. Although I didn’t have a proper dinner jacket for the Matriculation Dinner, held for all the new undergraduates, nobody said anything about my dark suit which I was told would be acceptable as long as it was a “lounge suit”. Whatever that is.

Taking a taxi from Cambridge station, I finally arrived at Magdalene College. I waited outside, a bundle of nerves, before entering the Porter’s Lodge and starting my life as a student. My name was found and ticked off and a key issued for my room in the Lutyens building. It turned out to be a large room, with a kind of screen that could be pulled across to divide the room into two, although I never actually used this contraption. There was a single bed and a kind of cupboard containing a sink and a mirror in the bit that could be hidden by the screen. The rest of the room contained a sofa, a table, a desk, and various chairs, all of them quite old but solidly made. Outside my  room, on the landing, was the gyp room, a kind of small kitchen, where I was to make countless cups of tea over the following months, although I never actually cooked anything there.

I struggled in with my bags and sat on the bed. It wasn’t at all like I had imagined. I realised that no amount of imagining would ever really have prepared me for what was going to happen at University.

I  stared at my luggage. I suddenly felt like I had landed on a strange island, and couldn’t remember why I had gone there or what I was supposed to be doing.

After 34 years you get used to that feeling…