Archive for the Cricket Category

On the Coronavirus and the Cricket

Posted in Covid-19, Cricket with tags , , on July 29, 2020 by telescoper

Yesterday the UK Government reported that there were 119 Covid-19 related deaths in the United Kingdom:


In other news, it was also announced yesterday that Stuart Broad and I have now taken 500 Test wickets between us…

The people who do things and what they do

Posted in Art, Cricket, Football, Opera, Television with tags , on July 19, 2020 by telescoper

It’s a tough lesson to learn in life that the people you admire or idolize for their contribution in a particular arena (whether that be sport, art, science or something else) turn out to be people you can’t stand in terms of their character or political views.

You have to separate, for example, having a high regard for Ian Botham’s cricketing prowess from having a high regard for his personal character. In fact I can think of few sportspeople whose company I’d enjoy socially.

The same goes in many other spheres. Richard Feynman was a truly great physicist but I’ve never bought into the personality cult surrounding him. In fact I doubt I would have liked him very much at all if we’d ever met in person. They say you should never meet your heroes. They’re right.

Another example is Richard Wagner, a brilliant composer but really horrible man, who brings us to this clip from the end of Twilight of the Gods (the last episode of Series 7 of Inspector Morse, first broadcast in 1993).

I won’t spoil the plot if you haven’t seen it but it involves a famous opera singer, Gladys Probert, who visits Oxford to perform and receive an honorary degree. On the way to the ceremony she is shot, but was she the intended victim?

Opera-loving Morse is a huge admirer of Gladys Probert but in the course of his investigation he uncovers some unpleasant truths about her private life. He solves the crime but the case leaves him dispirited.

Here is the ending. John Thaw is Inspector Morse and Kevin Whateley is Detective Sergeant Lewis.

Cricket Lovely Cricket!

Posted in Cricket, Music with tags , , on July 8, 2020 by telescoper

How great it is to see the return of Test Match cricket to England and the comforting familiarity it brings of sitting around not watching any play because of the pouring rain and Stygian gloom.

There may not have been much cricket at Southampton today (lovely or otherwise) but I couldn’t resist sharing this bit of West Indies cricketing nostalgia in calypso form, vintage 1950, by Lord Beginner..

Predictive Blogging

Posted in Covid-19, Cricket, Opera, Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , on May 27, 2020 by telescoper

News has emerged that on 14th April 2020 Dominic Cummings doctored an old blog post to make it look like he had predicted a coronavirus outbreak. Given the indisputable fact that Mr Cummings is a career liar this should not in itself come as a surprise. What might surprise a few people is that this episode reveals that this self-styled genius is must in reality be rather stupid if he thought he could get away with hiding such a blatant attempt at self-promotion. Still, the truth obviously no longer matters in post-Brexit Britain so he probably won’t face any serious consequences.

I, of course would, never add things to old blog posts to make myself look clever.

I would, however, like to point out just a few of the various uncannily accurate predictions I have made in the course of my almost twelve years of blogging.

For example, in this September 2009 review of a performance of La Traviata by Welsh National Opera I wrote:

My love of Italian opera makes me regret even more that the UK will be be leaving the European Union in 2020.

And in this account of the May 2015 England versus New Zealand Test Match at Lord’s you will find:

… it was still quite gloomy and dark. My mood was sombre, thinking about Donald Trump’s forthcoming victory in the 2016 United States Presidential Elections.

My prescience is not only limited to politics, however. In my 2013 post about the Queen’s Birthday Honours List you will read:

The name that stood out for me in this year’s list is Professor Jim Hough, who gets an OBE. Jim is Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Glasgow, and his speciality is in the detection of gravitational waves. Gravitational waves haven’t actually been detected yet, of course, but the experimental techniques designed to find them have increased their sensitivity by many orders of magnitude in recent years, Jim having played a large part in those improvements. I imagine he will be absolutely thrilled in February 2016, when gravitational waves are finally detected.

You see now that Niels Bohr wasn’t quite right when he said “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future”. Sometimes it’s the past that’s hardest to predict.


R.I.P. Bob Willis (1949-2019)

Posted in Cricket with tags , on December 4, 2019 by telescoper

Just back from a lecture to find news of the death at the age of 70 of former England fast bowler and captain Bob Willis. I’m sure I’m not the only person who is now reminiscing about that day at Headingley in 1981 when Australia needed only 130 to win and, as Wisden later described it, “Willis ran in to bowl as if the Devil were at his heels”. As Christopher Martin-Jenkins wrote:

With his Test career in doubt for the umpteenth time, Willis, of the big heart and vicious bounce, gave it everything he knew. Brushing aside the cost of regular no-balls, he bowled at fierce pace to a shorter length and a straighter line than in the first innings. And suddenly Australia’s foundation crumbled…

R.I.P. Bob Willis (1949-2019)

End of Summer Rains

Posted in Cricket, Maynooth with tags , , , on September 26, 2019 by telescoper

The rain is pouring down here in Maynooth, but this isn’t the only place to have had inclement weather today:

The picture above shows the scene this morning at Chester-le-Street in County Durham where the County Championship Division 2 match between Durham and Glamorgan was taking place. Or rather, wasn’t taking place. The game was abandoned this morning owing to a the cumulative effect of heavy rain over the last few days that allowed only 86 overs to be bowled in total over the four days.

This match being declared a draw, Glamorgan finish the season in 4th place on 167 points, missing out on promotion to Division 1 but having performed much better than last season. They were top of the table early on, but the loss of the excellent Marnus Labuschagne to Ashes duty for Australia proved a big blow and they fell back in the second half of the season. Anyway, at least they’ll probably win a few games next season, while they would undoubtedly struggle in Division 1. Lancashire finish top of the Division 2 table by a country mile, while Northants and Gloucester also go up.

I always thing of the last day of the County Championship as the end of summer. This year most of the final round of games has been hit by the weather so it’s a rather damp ending. This is also the first year in a while in which I haven’t seen any live cricket. Still, there’s always next year.

That’s basically all I have time to write about today as I’ve been running around all day – including popping into the library to give the webinar I mentioned yesterday. Moreover, at 6pm local time all the power in the building is going off and we’re to be turfed out while some repair work is done. I’ll shortly have to go round checking all the computers are switched off.

The England Cricket Team – Another Apology

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , on September 8, 2019 by telescoper

I’m sure that I wasn’t the only person who reacted to England being bowled out for a paltry 67 in the first innings of the Third Ashes Test at Headingley by concluding that the England batsmen were hopelessly inept, that they would certainly lose the match, that the team had absolutely no chance of regaining the Ashes, and that Joe Root should be sacked as England captain.

But after their subsequent one-wicket victory in that match inspired by Ben Stokes, I thought I was wrong, and apologised unreservedly to Joe Root and the England team for having doubted their ability.

Now, after being comprehensively outplayed at Old Trafford, losing by 185 runs, and allowing Australia to retain the Ashes I realise that my previous apology was incorrect, that England’s cricketers are actually inept, and that Joe Root should indeed be sacked as England captain.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

Boris Johnson is 55.

The England Cricket Team – An Apology

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on August 25, 2019 by telescoper

I’m sure that I’m not the only person who reacted to England being bowled out for a paltry 67 in the first innings of the Third Ashes Test at Headingley by concluding that the England batsmen were hopelessly inept, that they would certainly lose the match, that the team had absolutely no chance of regaining the Ashes, and that Joe Root should be sacked as England captain.

However, after today’s exciting one-wicket victory inspired by Ben Stokes, I now realise that I was wrong, and that the England first innings was a cunning ploy to lure the Australians into a false sense of security before seizing control in the second innings.

I apologise unreservedly to Joe Root and the England team for having so obviously misunderstood their tactics.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

Geoffrey Boycott is 78 (not out).

The Rise of Jofra Archer

Posted in Biographical, Cricket with tags , , , on August 23, 2019 by telescoper

With all the news yesterday I got a bit nostalgic and yesterday’s play in the 3rd Ashes Test at Headingley added another element to that. Three years ago this summer I left my post at Sussex University and moved back to Cardiff. I took a break from work of a month before taking up a part-time position at the Data Innovation Research Institute. During the break I took in some cricket, including (part of) the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Sussex at Sophia Gardens, which I watched with a friend who lives in Cardiff. In the Sussex team for that match was a young fast bowler called Jofra Archer.

It struck me then that although he was young and a bit inexperienced he was a natural fast bowler, tall and with a good high action that allowed him to take full advantage of his height and generate a lot of pace and bounce. He was a little wayward at times and a bit expensive but took four wickets in the Glamorgan first innings.

While I was watching the game I noticed a guy sitting in the same stand who seemed a bit nervous. Sometimes changing his seat at the end of each over, at one point sitting near us. During a break in the play we had a chat and it turned out that the nervous spectator was Jofra’s father. He said that he went to watch his son play whenever he could. Then we were lucky enough to chat to the man himself in between deliveries when he was fielding on the third man boundary.

Fast forward three years and the young man has come on tremendously is now a star Test bowler. He’s worked hard to add control to his natural pace and, bowling at speeds of up to 96 mph, he’s able to trouble the world’s best batsmen (including Steve Smith). Yesterday he took 6-45 against Australia and now looks set to be a regular in the England Test team for the foreseeable future (as long as he stays fit). I hope Mr Archer Senior was in the crowd. I bet he’s very proud!

Australia were all out yesterday for 179, which has raised England’s hopes of levelling the series. I think I’ll reserve judgement until I see how England bat on the Headingley pitch against Australia’s quicks. I have a feeling they’re going to struggle…

UPDATE: I don’t like to say I told you so but at lunch on Day 2 England are 54 for 6…
..and soon after lunch all out for 67 off 27 overs and 5 balls. Grim.

A Reminiscence of Cricket

Posted in Cricket, Literature, Poetry with tags , , , , on August 19, 2019 by telescoper

W.G. Grace, photographed in 1902

Not a lot of people know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was a keen amateur cricketer who played ten first-class matches (for the MCC). He was an occasional bowler who only took one wicket in a first-class game, that of W.G. Grace, which was such a momentous event for him that he wrote this poem about it:

Once in my heyday of cricket,
One day I shall ever recall!
I captured that glorious wicket,
The greatest, the grandest of all.

Before me he stands like a vision,
Bearded and burly and brown,
A smile of good humoured derision
As he waits for the first to come down.

A statue from Thebes or from Knossos,
A Hercules shrouded in white,
Assyrian bull-like colossus,
He stands in his might.

With the beard of a Goth or a Vandal,
His bat hanging ready and free,
His great hairy hands on the handle,
And his menacing eyes upon me.

And I – I had tricks for the rabbits,
The feeble of mind or eye,
I could see all the duffer’s bad habits
And where his ruin might lie.

The capture of such might elate one,
But it seemed like one horrible jest
That I should serve tosh to the great one,
Who had broken the hearts of the best.

Well, here goes! Good Lord, what a rotter!
Such a sitter as never was dreamt;
It was clay in the hands of the potter,
But he tapped it with quiet contempt.

The second was better – a leetle;
It was low, but was nearly long-hop;
As the housemaid comes down on the beetle
So down came the bat with a chop.

He was sizing me up with some wonder,
My broken-kneed action and ways;
I could see the grim menace from under
The striped peak that shaded his gaze.

The third was a gift or it looked it-
A foot off the wicket or so;
His huge figure swooped as he hooked it,
His great body swung to the blow.

Still when my dreams are night-marish,
I picture that terrible smite,
It was meant for a neighboring parish,
Or any place out of sight.

But – yes, there’s a but to the story –
The blade swished a trifle too low;
Oh wonder, and vision of glory!
It was up like a shaft from a bow.

Up, up like a towering game bird,
Up, up to a speck in the blue,
And then coming down like the same bird,
Dead straight on the line that it flew.

Good Lord, it was mine! Such a soarer
Would call for a safe pair of hands;
None safer than Derbyshire Storer,
And there, face uplifted, he stands

Wicket keep Storer, the knowing,
Wary and steady of nerve,
Watching it falling and growing
Marking the pace and curve.

I stood with my two eyes fixed on it,
Paralysed, helpless, inert;
There was ‘plunk’ as the gloves shut upon it,
And he cuddled it up to his shirt.

Out – beyond question or wrangle!
Homeward he lurched to his lunch!
His bat was tucked up at an angle,
His great shoulders curved to a hunch.

Walking he rumbled and grumbled,
Scolding himself and not me;
One glove was off, and he fumbled,
Twisting the other hand free

Did I give Storer the credit
The thanks he so splendidly earned?
It was mere empty talk if I said it,
For Grace had already returned.

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930).