Archive for the Cricket Category

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…


Glamorgan versus Gloucestershire

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on September 7, 2016 by telescoper


As this eventful summer draws to a close I thought I’d make the most of my part-time status and take a day off to sample the last game of County Cricket at the Swalec Stadium in Sophia Gardens.

This was the second day of Glamorgan’s match against Gloucestershire. Day 1 had seen Glamorgan bowled out for 220 and Gloucestershire reach 62-3 in reply at stumps.

Glamorgan’s bowlers strained for the early wickets they needed but they didn’t create enough pressure to precipitate a collapse, and Gloucestershire ended on 347 for 8. Young legspinner Carlson bowled particularly well, but didn’t have much luck.

County Cricket is very relaxing. Neither a tense as Test cricket nor as hectic as  limited-overs, it has its own kind of atmosphere and goes at its own tempo, absorbing in its own modest way.

Glamorgan look like losing this game, and run a risk of finishing at the bottom of the County Championship. Still, there’s always next year…

UPDATE: Gloucestershire were all out for 363 on the morning of Day 3. Glamorgan then predictably struggled with the bat yet again, and were bowled out for 232 leaving Gloucestershire 90 to win. Their openers rattled off the runs in fewer than 20 overs by 5pm. Gloucestershire won by 10 wickets.

Glamorgan versus Sussex

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , on August 23, 2016 by telescoper

Another of life’s little coincidences came my way today in the form of a County Championship match between Glamorgan and Sussex in Cardiff. Naturally, being on holiday, and the SWALEC Stadium being very close to my house, I took the opportunity to see the first day’s play.


Sussex used the uncontested toss to put Glamorgan in to bat. It was a warm sunny day with light cloud and no wind. One would have imagined conditions would have been good for batting, but the Sussex skipper may have seen something in the pitch or, perhaps more likely, knew about Glamorgan’s batting frailties…

As it turned out, there didn’t seem to be much pace in the pitch, but there was definitely some swing and movement for the Sussex bowlers from the start. Glamorgan’s batsman struggled early on, losing a wicket in the very first over, and slumped to 54 for 5 at one stage, recovering only slightly to 87 for 5 at lunch.

After the interval the recovery continued, largely because of Wagg (who eventually fell for an excellent 57) and Morgan who was unbeaten at the close. Glamorgan finished on 252 all out on the stroke of the tea interval. Not a great score, but a lot better than looked likely at 54 for 5.

During the tea interval I wandered onto the field and looked at the pitch, which had quite a bit of green in it:


Perhaps that’s why Sussex put Glamorgan in?

Anyway, when Sussex came out to bat it was a different story. Openers Joyce and Nash put on 111 for the first wicket, but Nelson did the trick for Glamorgan and Joyce was out just before stumps bringing in a nightwatchman (Briggs) to face the last couple of overs.

A full day’s cricket of 95 overs in the sunshine yielded 363 runs for the loss of 12 wickets. Not bad at all! It’s just a pity there were only a few hundred people in the crowd!

Sussex are obviously in a strong position but the weather forecast for the later part of this week is not good so they should push on tomorrow and try to force a result!

Glamorgan versus Yorkshire

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , on August 11, 2016 by telescoper

Following the Natwest T20 Blast between Sussex and Glamorgan a couple of weeks ago, I decided tonight to follow Glamorgan’s progress in the competition in their Quarter-final match in Cardiff against Yorkshire.

The SWALEC Stadium – just down the road from my house – wasn’t quite full for the match, but there was a healthy crowd of about 10,000, including lots of families with kids. Part of the reason for that must be the fact that tickets were cheap: £10 for adults and a fiver for kids. Adult tickets for the match at Hove were £26 each…

Anyway, although it was cloudy and not particularly warm, at least it stayed dry.


Yorkshire won the toss and batted, getting off to an excellent start largely thanks to the positive batting of David Willey. They reached 101 for 1 of just 9 overs, suggesting the  real possibility of a score of over 200. However, they lost wickets in quick succession – including that of top scorer Willey for 79 (off just 38 balls) and their innings stuttered, eventually closing on 180 for 8. That’s a good score, but Glamorgan were probably pleased to have restricted Yorkshire to nine an over.

Having watched Glamorgan’s batsmen struggle against Sussex I wasn’t exactly filled with confidence that they would reach Yorkshire’s total. They got off to a calamitous start, with opener Lloyd playing on to his first ball from Bresnan. From then on they  never looked like coping with the Yorkshire bowling and were eventually bowled out in 13 overs for 90, just half of Yorkshire’s score. And it could have been worse: at one point they were 37 for 6.

Anyway this leaves only four teams in the competition: Durham, Northants, Notts and Yorkshire. All – you will notice – from the Midlands.

Jonathan Agnew & Brian Johnston: 25 Years of the Legover – YouTube

Posted in Cricket with tags , on August 10, 2016 by telescoper

By the way, this wonderful moment in cricket history happened exactly 25 years ago today…

Cricket, Lovely (5-day Test) Cricket

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on August 7, 2016 by telescoper

Just spent a lazy Sunday pottering about, clearing a backlog of crosswords, and listening on the wireless to the final day of the Third Test between England and Pakistan taking place at Edgbaston (in the Midlands).

It turned out to be an eventful day, to say the least! England had overcome a first-innings deficit of 103 to finish Day 4 on 414 for 5, a lead of 311. As I suspected, they continued to bat on the morning of Day 5 but the declaration came earlier than expected, after they added just 31 runs in four overs. Pakistan needed to score 343 to win, a stiff but not impossible challenge.

I must be getting a bit cautious in my old age, but I would probably have wanted 30  more runs in so to be sure Pakistan had no chance of winning, but it seems Alastair Cook is getting a bit bolder in his captaincy…

Anyway, Pakistan lost an early wicket but otherwise proceeded fairly comfortably, a draw looking increasingly likely. Suddenly, though, some reverse swing started to appear, and wickets began to tumble. In no time at all they were 125 for 7, four wickets falling in as many overs. They limped to 151 for 9 but with 25 overs to survive with only one wicket left, Pakistan looked doomed.

The last pair, Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan decided to have a go, Sohail in particular throwing the bat to good effect and enjoying a sizeable chunk of good fortune. The overs passed. The England bowlers started to look tired. Could this pair do what Jimmy and Money had done for England against Australia at Cardiff all those years ago?

But no. All of a sudden it was over, as Man of the Match Moeen Ali took the final wicket (caught and beard) with 14 overs to spare. England won by 141 runs, with about an hour’s play left, and so take a 2-1 lead in the series with one match to play.

There has been some talk about reducing Test Matches to four days, to try to force a faster tempo which will appeal more to the public. I think that would be a shame. It is true that some passages of play in this series, and indeed in this match, have been slow, but the games have been absorbing precisely because of the tension generated by the shifting tactical situation.

So I hope we keep the 5-day format for Test cricket. I love it!