Archive for cricket

Close of Play

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on September 29, 2017 by telescoper

Yesterday saw the end of this year’s County Championship season, which I take to be definition of the official end of summer.  It’s happened very late this year. Is this the latest end to a County Championship season ever?

There is, of course, an inconsequential 50-overs game still going on between England and the West Indies but the proper cricket is over and done with until next spring. Glamorgan won their last game earlier this week against Kent in three days, and finished 7th in the 2nd Division. Some good performances by young players (many of whom came through the Academy) adding a ray of optimism to what has been a fairly disappointing season (though with one highlight in a semi-final spot in the Twenty20 `blast’). Worcestershire finished top of the Second Division and Nottinghamshire were second, so they’ll both be playing in Division 1 next season. Essex won the County Champions in great style, unbeaten for the whole season.  The main drama on the final day involved who got relegated along with Warwickshire (the latter having been adrift at the bottom of the Table for some time).  Going into the last round of matches, Somerset looked the most likely to go down but they beat fellow strugglers Middlesex. Hampshire clung on for a draw against Warwickshire, giving them the points they needed to overtake Middlesex who will play in Division 2 next season.

Other big news yesterday was the selection of the England squad to tour Australia and play for the Ashes this Winter: Joe Root (capt, Yorkshire), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (wk, Yorkshire), Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Alastair Cook (Essex), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Ben Foakes (wk, Surrey), Dawid Malan (Middlesex), Craig Overton (Somerset), Ben Stokes (Durham), Mark Stoneman (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire). I’m not particularly impressed with some of the choices (especially Ballance and Vince), and it looks likely that Stokes won’t be available owing to his recent fracas outside a nightclub, but we’ll see.

Anyway, yesterday was also National Poetry Day so it seems apt to mark the end of the County Championship with one of the classic cricket poems, Close of Play  by Thomas Moult.

How shall we live, now that the summer’s ended,
And bat and ball (too soon!) are put aside,
And all our cricket deeds and dreams have blended —
The hit for six, the champion bowled for none,
The match we planned to win and never won? …
Only in Green-winged memory they abide.

How shall we live, who love our loveliest game
With such bright ardour that when stumps are drawn
We talk into the twilight, always the same
Old talk with laughter round off each tale —
Laughter of friends across a pint of ale
In the blue shade of the pavilion.

For the last time a batsman is out, the day
Like the drained glass and the dear sundown field
is empty; what instead of Summer’s play
Can occupy these darkling months ere spring
Hails willows once again the crowned king?
How shall we live so life may not be chilled?

Well, what’s a crimson hearth for, and the lamp
Of winter nights, and these plump yellow books
That cherish Wisden’s soul and bear his stamp —
And bat and ball (too soon!) are put aside,
Time’s ever changing, unalterable score-board,
Thick-clustered with a thousand names adored:
Half the game’s magic in their very looks!

And when we’ve learnt those almanacs by heart,
And shared with Nyren … Cardus ….the distant thrill
That cannot fade since they have had their part,
We’ll trudge wet streets through fog and mire
And praise our heroes by the club-room fire:
O do not doubt the game will hold us still!

 

 

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Summer’s Ending

Posted in Bad Statistics, Biographical, Cricket with tags , , , , , on September 11, 2017 by telescoper

There’s no escaping the signs that summer is drawing to a close. The weather took a decidedly autumnal turn  at the end of last week, and though I resisted the temptation to turn the central heating on at Chateau Coles I fear it won’t be long before I have to face reality and take that step. I hope I can hold out at least until the conventional end of summer, the autumnal equinox, which this year happens at 21.02 BST on Friday, 22 September.

Saturday saw the Last Night of the BBC Proms season. I’ve enjoyed a great many of the concerts but I only listened to a bit of the first half of the Last Night as I find the jingoism of the second half rather hard to stomach. I did catch Nina Stemme on the wireless giving it some welly in the Liebestod from Tristan und Insolde, though.  Pretty good, but difficult to compare with my favourite version by Kirsten Flagstad.

One of the highlights of the season, just a few days ago, was Sir András Schiff’s late-night performance of Book I of The Well Tempered Clavier which had me captivated for two hours, until well past my usual bedtime…

However, as the Proms season ends in London the music-making continues in Cardiff with a new series of international concerts at St David’s Hall and Welsh National Opera’s new season at the Wales Millennium Centre (which starts on 23rd September). I notice also that, having finished his complete Beethoven cycle,  Llŷr Williams is embarking on a series of recitals of music by Schubert, starting on November 9th at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Another sign that summer is over is that the last Test Match of the summer has ended. Excellent bowling by Jimmy Anderson (and, in the first innings, by Ben Stokes) meant that England had only a small total to chase, which they managed comfortably. Victory at Lord’s gives England a 2-1 win for the series over West Indies. That outcome is welcome for England fans, but it doesn’t do much to build confidence for the forthcoming Ashes series in Australia. England’s pace bowlers have shown they can prosper in English conditions, when the Duke ball can be made to swing, but in Australia with the Kookaburra they may find success much harder to come by. More importantly, however, only two of England’s five top-order batsmen are of proven international class, making their batting lineup extremely fragile. So much depends on Cook and Root, as I don’t think it is at all obvious who should take the other three positions, despite a whole summer of experimentation.

There are a few one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches coming up as well as three full weeks of County Championship fixtures. In particular, there are two home games for Glamorgan in the next two weeks (one against Northants, starting tomorrow, and one next week against Gloucestershire). Their last match (away against Derbyshire) was drawn because three of the four days were lost to rain, but weather permitting there should still be a few opportunities to see cricket at Sophia Gardens this year.

And of course it will soon be time to for the start of the new academic year, welcoming new students (including the first intake on our MSc courses in Data-Intensive Physics and Astrophysics and new PhD students in Data-Intensive Science who form the first intake of our new Centre for Doctoral Training). All that happens just a couple of weeks from today, and we’re having a big launch event on 25th-26th September to welcome the new intake and introduce them to our industrial and academic partners.

Anyway, that reminds me that I have quite a lot to do before term starts so I’d better get on with it, especially if I’m going to make time to watch a few days of cricket between now and the end of the month!

On the West Indies Winning

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , , , on August 30, 2017 by telescoper

Back in the office after a rather chaotic Bank Holiday Weekend during which, among other things, I managed to mislay my phone, I couldn’t resist a short post about yesterday’s victory by the West Indies over England at Headingley. I don’t often write about sporting events that I haven’t attended in person, but I thought I’d make an exception in this case for the reasons I’ll outline below.

The first is that, although England will be hurting after losing a game many expected them to win comfortably, I think this result is great for cricket.  Before this game I was gearing up to write a post wondering why there seem to be so few close Test matches these days, the previous series and the first one in this series having been quite one-sided. Although the West Indies won this one fairly comfortably in the end – by five wickets with several overs to spare, it still counts as `close’ in my book because the final day started with any result possible. That doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it makes for a marvellous experience. I wish I had been there. Long may five-day Test matches endure!

Shai Hope, whose beardpower led the West Indies to victory  (Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Secondly, I am not as critical as some of Joe Root’s decision to declare on 490-8 on Monday evening, leaving the visitors 322 to win. He obviously hoped to knock over a  couple of West Indian wickets in the six overs left to play that evening, but that didn’t happen. However, as long as no significant time was lost to the weather (which it wasn’t), that decision meant took the draw out of the equation. If the Windies batted all day on the last day – a big `’if’ – they would comfortably score the runs as only a shade over three an over was required. It’s one of the fascinating curiosities of cricket that maximising the chance of winning by declaring  can also maximise the chance of losing.

In the end, England’s bowlers didn’t perform to their best on the last day and, while many expected the batsmen to feel the pressure, it was England that seemed to crack, losing their cool in the field and dropping a couple of important catches. Crucially, Jimmy Anderson just didn’t get the ball to swing enough to be the threat that he can be. The other likely match-winner, Moeen Ali, did not bowl well either. But let that take nothing away from the excellent performance by the West Indies batsmen, especially Shai Hope (above), who looks a super player. Well played to him, and the rest of his team!

Incidentally, England’s 2nd innings score of 490 for 8 (declared) is the largest Test innings ever in which no batsmen has scored a century. Not a lot of people know that.

I have to admit that I was a bit saddened by the manner of the West Indies defeat in the First Test at Edgbaston because they looked so outclassed. So many of my boyhood sporting heroes were from the West Indies (including such illustrious names as Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, and Malcom Marshall to name but a few) that it was painful to think of the team fading so badly as a force in Test cricket. They seem to have been in decline for some years, but perhaps the comeback starts now. I certainly hope so. The game is richer for having the West Indies as a force.

Finally, on the result. As regularly readers of this blog will know, I’m not averse to placing the odd bet now and then. When Joe Root declared I had a look at the website of Mr William Hill and noticed that the West Indies were 12/1 against to win the match. Largely based on England’s lacklustre bowling in  the first innings (with the exception of James Anderson), the strong batting performance by the West Indies in their first innings,  and the draw having been eliminated from consideration, I decided to put a pony (£25) on a West Indies win.  I had a look at the betting markets along with the score now and then throughout the day yesterday. The available odds changed throughout the day: at 84 for 2 the price was 8-1, at 101 for 2 it was 5-1, at 169 for 2 it was 13/10 and by the time they passed 200 the West Indies were favourites at 11/10 on (England 4/1 against).

At one game apiece with the West Indies on a high,  it’s all set up nicely for the deciding match of the series at Lord’s next week!

 

Natwest T20 Blast: Glamorgan v Middlesex

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , on August 18, 2017 by telescoper

This evening sees the last set of group matches in this summer’s Natwest T20 Blast. Weather permitting, I’ll be at the SSE Swalec Stadium at 7pm to Glamorgan play Middlesex. Glamorgan are currently top of the South Group, with only two teams (Hampshire and Surrey) able to catch them:

This means that Glamorgan have already qualified for the Quarter Finals to take place next week. If they finish in one of the top two places they will have a home tie against the third or fourth club from the North (or, more properly, Midlands) group. If they finish third they will play away against whichever Midlands team finishes second in that group.

Hampshire are also guaranteed a Quarter Final place but there are many possibilities for the other two slots: only Gloucestershire, who played their final game last night, are definitely eliminated.

Normally, a home Quarter Final tie would regarded as a `reward’ for doing well in the group, but this season Glamorgan haven’t won any of their home games (either losing them or having them rained off). They might do better to lose tonight and play their next match somewhere else! However, if they beat Middlesex (or if tonight’s game is rained off) I’ll have another match in this competition to watch at Sophia Gardens. After that, proper cricket resumes in the form of championship matches against Sussex (at Colwyn Bay) and in Cardiff against Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire.

I have to say that I find the format of the Natwest T20 Blast group matches a bit strange. It would make sense for each of the 9 teams in each division to play each of the others home and away. That would mean 16 matches per side altogether. In fact each team plays only 14 matches: each plays six teams home and away and two teams only once. Presumably that is to avoid fixture congestion, but the group games are spread over a six week period, so I would have thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to fit another couple of games in.

This morning the Cardiff weather pulled out all the stops. I woke up to bright sunshine, then a few minutes later the rain was lashing down. Then we had thunder and lightning, with rain and hail, followed by more sunshine. It’s also been rather windy. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen this evening, but I’ve paid for my season ticket so I’ll try to make the best of it!

I’ll update this post with pictures of the action. If there is any!

UPDATE. Play was scheduled to start at 7pm. This was the scene at 7.02. 

Still raining. Toss delayed until further notice.

UPDATE to the UPDATE: After a pitch inspection at 8pm we finally got going at 8.20, with 14 overs a side. There were a couple of short interruptions when the rain started again, but the game was completed.

Glamorgan won the toss and decided to field. Middlesex got off to a terrible start and were at one point 7 for 3, and then 24 for 5. They recovered somewhat but could only reach 99 for 8 off their 14 overs. 

Despite a wobble in the middle when they lost 3 quick wickets, including the talismanic Ingram, Glamorgan reached the required round hundred comfortably to win by 7 wickets. 

Their reward is a home tie against Leicestershire next Wednesday evening. I hope the weather is a bit better then!

Boycott’s Hundredth Hundred

Posted in Cricket, History with tags , , , , on August 11, 2017 by telescoper

And now for something completely different.

Forty years ago today, on 11th August 1977, during the first day of Fourth Test against Australia at Headingley Geoffrey Boycott drove a delivery from Greg Chappell to the onside boundary to reach his century. He thus became the first player to reach one hundred first class hundreds in a Test Match at his home territory at Leeds (in the Midlands).

I wasn’t at the match but I did watch it on TV and I remember seeing that shot, which almost hit the non-striking batsman (Graham Roope), as it happened. It was an interesting experience looking back because few people were in doubt that Boycott would get a hundred that day. It seemed to be an historical inevitably.

Boycott went on to make 191 out of an England total of 436. As always for a Boycott innings, it was based around a solid defence and immense concentration, and he didn’t score quickly by modern standards, but he did hit 14 boundaries on the way to his century (and 22 in the innings overall) and I remember him playing some lovely shots.

The frustration of the Australians of having to bowl at Boycott for so long was almost palpable and when they came out to bat it was as if they had lost the will to live. They were all out for 103 in the first innings and, following on, could manage only 248. England won by an innings and 85 runs.

There’s been a lot of media coverage of Geoffrey Boycott’s hundredth hundred but for myself I’ll just say that it’s nice that the occasion reminded me of that wonderful summer of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, during which Virginia Wade had won Wimbledon, and England regained the Ashes.

The Beard and Hat-Trick Test

Posted in Beards, Cricket with tags , , , on July 31, 2017 by telescoper

I’ve just arrived where I shall be for the next two weeks (of which more anon), but I couldn’t resist noting today’s remarkable finale of the Third Test between England and South Africa, which ended with Moeen Ali taking the last three wickets in consecutive balls. A hat-trick, no less. Quite a spectacular ending for the 100th Test Match played at the Oval.

I was so excited by Moeen’s performance that I tweeted about it and ended up on the BBC website with this analysis:

Fame at last!

The `inimitable Keith Flett’ didn’t need any encouragement from me to write a blog post pointing out that Moeen is the first England player with a beard ever to take a Test hat-trick.

Incidentally, there were quite a few comments on social media about the timing of Joe Root’s declaration, mainly arguing that he’d waited too long. I certainly wouldn’t have declared unless and until England had a lead of 450+, so thought he got it about right. More importantly, his team won with plenty of time to spare.

It’s been a truly topsy-turvy series so far, with England thumping South Africa at Lord’s and the Oval, but losing heavily at Trent Bridge in between. I wonder what will happen in the final test, at Old Trafford?

Probably it will rain…

Par scores in T20 cricket

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on July 26, 2017 by telescoper

So last night Glamorgan won a Natwest T20 Blast match against Gloucestershire by 25 runs having batted first and scored 176 off their 20 overs. Glamorgan are now top of the `South Division’, despite having three games rained off. They play second-placed Surrey on Friday. Weather permitting.

Anyhow, last night when I saw the result I got to wondering what the par score is for a first innings in Twenty20 (i.e. median score for a winning side batting first).  Would you have expected them to win with a score of 176? The answer – and the answers to many other questions – can be found in this interesting post.

P.S. If you can’t be bothered to read the post, the median winning score for men’s T20 matches is about 164 so Glamorgan had a better-than-even chance of winning after their first innings.

Strike Rate

I haven’t blogged for the last two weeks – partly because life has been busy, but also because I’ve struggled to come up with anything to say that provides particular insights about individual BBL or WBBL matches that are being played. I will return to this, and will continue to post key stats about various matches on the Strike Rate twitter account.

In this post, I’m posting my analysis of ‘par scores’ for T20, and how they vary between the men’s and women’s game, and in different parts of the world. This is useful for understanding what sort of score can be expected in particular conditions.

Par scores are calculated as run rates, which can be converted into total scores by multiplying by 20. This is more useful than raw total scores, since not all innings last for the full 20 overs. When a team wins in the second innings…

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