Archive for cricket

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.

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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).

 

 

Proper Cricket Update

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on July 7, 2019 by telescoper

Now that the seemingly interminable Round Robin of matches in the ICC World Cup is over, leaving just India, New Zealand, Australia and England to fight on through the Semi-Finals, I thought I’d give a quick update on the state of play in the Proper Cricket, specifically Division 2 of the County Championship.

After their draw last week against Worcestershire, Glamorgan remain unbeaten at the top of the table. Given last season’s performance that’s pretty amazing even if they have played a game more than second-place Lancashire.

Glamorgan aren’t playing in the latest round of matches so I expect Lancashire to go top this week unless they lose their current game (against Northamptonshire) and gain fewer than four bonus points in the process.

Sussex, in third place, got thrashed in their last game, also against Northants, bowled out twice in fewer than eighty overs in total.

Glamorgan’s next game is against Middlesex at Sophia Gardens and then there’s a break in the proper cricket for the Twenty20 slogging matches.

It’s been a good season for Glamorgan so far, and they have a real chance of getting promoted to Division One. Fingers crossed. The big difference has been far more resilient batting, especially in the 2nd innings, but a sensible rotation of the fast bowlers has also helped keep them fresh.

Close of Play

Posted in Cricket with tags , on September 27, 2018 by telescoper

Today has seen the last day’s play of the 2018 County Championship season, yet another sign that summer is over. This has happened very late this year. Indeed I wonder if this is the latest end to a County Championship season ever? Had the last round of matches started before the start of teaching term, I might have gone back to Cardiff for at least some of Glamorgan’s last match but the timing made that impossible.

Glamorgan actually won their last game of the season, yesterday, beating Leicestershire by 132 runs. That was a fairly comfortable victory, but Glamorgan made hard work of it given that Leicestershire were 102 for 8 in their second and managed to reach 270 all out. That was Glamorgan’s second win of the season, the first being their first match of the season, against Gloucestershire. In between these two they’ve endured a wretched season of 10 defeats – including several absolute thrashings – and two draws. It’s true that Glamorgan been unlucky, with injuries to key players, and others being called up for international duty, but it’s worrying that the others just haven’t been good enough to compete. Some young players haven’t come on at all, others seem to have gone backwards, and one (Aneurin Donald) left the club in mid-season. It’s hard not to point the finger and the coaches for this.

I hope Glamorgan have a better season next year. I won’t be renewing my membership, though, as I’ll be spending nearly all my time here in Ireland.

Their final result notwithstanding, Glamorgan are rooted firmly to the bottom of Division Two. The top two teams, promoted to Division One next year are Warwickshire and Kent. Relegated from Division One are Worcestershire and Lancashire. The latter finished level on points with Nottinghamshire, but were relegated because they had won fewer games. Lancashire won their last game, but failed to get enough bonus points in their first innings, collapsing from 273 for 7 to 273 all out. Had they made 300 they would have stayed up. C’est la vie.

The last game of the season to finish was a topsy-turvy affair featuring Surrey versus Essex, the end of which I followed this afternoon on a cricinfo tab while doing other stuff. Surrey had already been confirmed as champions before this last round of matches, and perhaps they were still hung over when they were dismissed for 67 in their first innings on Monday. Essex then declared on 477 for 8, looking set for a comprehensive victory. But Surrey showed their mettle and reached 541 in their second innings, but Essex still needed only 132 to win. In an exciting finish, they slumped to 124 for 9, but managed to win by one wicket.

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!

Glamorgan v Durham: Day 3

Posted in Biographical, Cricket with tags , , , , on August 21, 2018 by telescoper

I flew back this morning from Dublin to Cardiff and, since Sophia Gardens is on the way to my Pontcanna residence from the bus stop, I popped in to watch the last rites of the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Durham.

I got there just in time to see the start of play, with Glamorgan resuming on 79 for 7. Just over half an hour later they were all out for 111 and had list the match by an innings and 30 runs. That despite the fact that Durham only scored 295 in their first innings.

You can’t really blame the tailenders this morning. Glamorgan’s higher-order batsmen folded twice in the match. Their line-up looked weak on paper and so it proved.

Glamorgan have five remaining County Championship matches to play with no overseas batsmen (Marsh & Khawaja having returned to Australian duties). The loss of fast bowler Marchant De Lange for the whole season with a hamstring injury hasn’t helped either. To make matters worse, yesterday Aneurin Donald announced he was leaving the club for Hampshire with immediate effect.

Glamorgan are clearly going to finish bottom of Division 2 of the County Championship. The club having gambled all on success in the Twenty20 format, and lost, they’re now adrift, going nowhere, and with morale at a low ebb. I wouldn’t be surprised if other players joined Donald in seeking pastures new.

The only thing that can turn Glamorgan round is a complete overhaul of its strategy and coaching staff. I’m not sure however whether the club management will do the necessary though.

Anyway, I may get to see some more cricket at Sophia Gardens on my season ticket next month, but I won’t be renewing my membership. Living in Ireland would make it impossible to see enough to justify the expense, even if there were a decent team to watch.

Glamorgan versus Hampshire: Vitality Blast Twenty20

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , , on August 10, 2018 by telescoper

After indifferent weather all day it turned out nice for this evening’s Twenty20 match at Sophia Gardens between Glamorgan and Hampshire. It was a good night for Glamorgan too, as they won by 8 wickets, making it a run of five victories in a row.

Glamorgan won the toss asked Hampshire to bat. Openers Vince and Roussow got the visitors off to a flying start, putting on 58 in less than five overs, before Vince was well caught by David Lloyd (returning to the side after injury) off Hogan.

Glamorgan’s quicker bowlers were expensive but spinners Salter (2 for 16 off 4) and Ingram (1-10 off 2) and medium-pacer Meschede (3 for 21 off 4) established control after the power play, and wickets fell as the Hampshire batsmen struggled to accelerate from their good base and frustration set in. From 90 for 1 in the 8th over they could only manage 151 off their 20. Graham Wagg bowled the last three overs from the Cathedral Road end for just 16. When everyone had expected Hampshire to accelerate, they slowed down dramatically thanks to fine bowling and fielding. The catching, in particular, was outstanding: wickets resulted from mistimed slogs, some of which went very high indeed. No chances went down.

With a target of 152 to win, Glamorgan were favourites, the only real worry being complacency. Donald fell early, run out by a direct hit while clearly not paying attention. That brought Colin Ingram to the crease and he immediately started to play his shots. There were one or two near misses early on, lofted shots just clearing the infield, but when he got into his stride the match was never in doubt. He finished on 71 not out, including four huge sixes and six fours.

Meschede fell with the score on 101, but Kieran Carlson played confidently to finish unbeaten on 31.

Needing a miracle with the score on 146 for 2, Hampshire brought Dale Steyn back on the 16th over. After a single from Carlson, Ingram clouted one to the fine leg boundary for four. The scores were level. Two dot balls followed, then Steyn bowled a bouncer that took off, Ingram ducked and the ball went through the wicketkeepers gloves for four byes. Game over.