Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
Carolyn Mohr on The ups and downs of English
Michael Jennings on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
priscila on The ups and downs of English
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
Most recent entries
- Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
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Category archive: Sport
The IPL (twenty-twenty cricket) is so far proving to be one of the best yet. Just now, there was this, from Amit Mishra, this being his last over, to win it for Sunrisers Hyderabad against the Pune Warriors, by 11 runs:
1 W 1 W W W
When Mishra went in to bat, Hyderabad were 44-6. Mishra got 30 and Hyderabad struggled to 119-8, which never looked enough, until Mishra got stuck in, and Pune panicked, as in really panicked, even more than they had already been panicking. At one point Pune were 101-4, for heaven’s sakes, needing just 19 more runs. So, last six wickets for seven runs. In the end, it wasn’t even that close!
As I keep on saying, the English really should be allowed to get in on this.
At least Eoin Morgan (Eoin sounds like Owen) is doing okay. He is the nearest thing to an Englishman making any sort of impact in this tournament.
I was at Wembley last Saturday, to see Wigan beat Millwall in the FA Cup semi. I am doing a longer posting on the crowd violence that happened during the second half, but will also be referring also to the architecture of the place. Hence me posting this picture here now:
The point being that the Arch, as seen from inside the stadium, is not that special. It only gets interesting photographically if something else happens in front of it, or beyond it, like if a helicopter were to crash into it or if behind it there was an eclipse of the moon, or in this case if there are balloons in the frame. The Arch’s purpose is to draw attention to the stadium from outside, and especially from afar, rather than to make much of a difference to the experience of actually being inside the place.
The Arch does make the process of approaching the stadium from Wembley Park tube more interesting than it would otherwise be. Here is a shot I took after the game, looking back at the stadium, in the wet and gloom of the evening:
Talking of shots like that, does anyone know how to get rid of that upwards perspective effect, in the programme I use (ArchSoft PhotoStudio 5.5)? I want to widen out the sky there, if you get my meaning. I want to make the buildings, on the left especially, go upwards rather than inwards. Any suggestions?
LATER: My favourite Wembley Arch picture.
One of the about seventy seven signs of aging is definitely being more sensitive to the weather, and in particular the cold. I remember feeling this way as a small child, when first compelled to travel every morning to school. Now, I feel it again. I actually “caught a chill” earlier this week, and had to take to my bed for a whole day.
However, I will soon be getting out from under the weather, if the next ten day weather forecast is anything to go by, which it is. As of today, it looked like that (see right).
Talking of short range weather forecasts, James Delingpole did a silly piece in the Daily Mail a while back, saying the Met Office is a total waste of space. But it is precisely because the Met Office’s short-range weather forecasts are generally so spot-on that its mad opinions about the weather in the more distant future are taken so seriously. If the short-range forecasts were as bad as so many unthinking idiots say, the Met Office wouldn’t be half such a menace on the C(atastrophic) A(nthropogenic) G(lobal) W(arming) front. This Delingpole article played right into the hands of CAGW-ers. Asked the News Statesman: Was there ANYTHING in James Delingpole’s Daily Mail piece which was true? Yes. The Met Office is bonkers about CAGW. But Delingpole’s attempts to prove that the Met Office never gets anything right were indeed ridiculous, and did the anti-CAGW team no favours at all.
But I digress. To more serious matters. There is another reason I am glad the weather is going to perk up soon, which is that rugby matches are far more entertaining when the weather is nicer.
The Six Nations began with what the commentators were all telling each other was one of the best Six Nations first weekends ever. All three games were full of tries. England won. Okay, only against Scotland, but they won, and actually Scotland are looking a bit better now, with some backs who can actually run fast. Ireland and Wales scored lots of tries against each other. Italy beat France. It doesn’t get much better for an England fan.
But then the weather turned nasty and the games turned attritional. England beat Ireland, but nobody scored any tries. England beat France, with one fortuitous England try which shouldn’t have been allowed. Italy reverted to being … Italy. The one truly entertaining thing about the next two weekends, after the entirely entertaining first weekend, is that now it’s England played 3 won 3 and France played 3 won ZERO! Arf arf. Sorry Antoine.
Talking of England v France, I’ve been reading (and watching the telly) about the 100 Years War. And it seems that towards the end, the French cheated by having guns. That explains a lot.
So anyway, no more 6N rugby until the weekend after next, and I really miss it, just as I did the weekend before last. The Six Nations takes seven weekends to get done, with weekends 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 being occupied with games, and weekends 3 and 5 being skipped. During weekends 3 and 5, I pine, and watch ancient rugby games, the way I never would normally, to fill the rugby gap.
The best ones I recently watched were two epic Wales wins against France, in 1999 (France 33 Wales 34) and 2001 (France 35 Wales 43), on VHS tapes. Sorry Antoine. But the next one I’ll be watching will be 2002 (Wales 33 France 37).
After checking out the bottom of the Shard, my next date last Thursday was at the Rose and Crown in Southwark, which meant that I had time to kill. I decided to go back along the Jubilee Line to Southwark, and then walk on towards Lower Marsh, one of my favourite places.
On my way there, I saw this sign, which flags up one of the many reasons I was in such a good mood that day:
This time of year is one of my favourites partly because the days are getting longer again, which lifts the spirits of any photographer of my sort, who relies so much on daylight. But lengthening is not nearly as good as actually lengthy, and February and March are still pretty grim. Except that they are not grim at all, because of the Six Nations. This is the northern hemisphere rugby tournament that takes place around now, annually, between England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and also, for quite a few years now: Italy.
The commentators were all drooling after Weekend One, which was a try fest. All three games this weekend were consequently very enticing. Could Italy go 2 for 2? Could England do likewise? Who would be 0 for 2, France or Wales? But those games happened this weekend, not last Thursday, so more about them Real Soon Now, maybe (for I promise nothing), but not now.
One thing I will say is that the Six Nations has a lot to do with the fact that it is now nearly Monday, and I am still telling you about last Thursday.
Yesterday was an excellent day for me, photographically. Usually, after an enjoyable and productive photo-walk, I show you people only a tiny sliver of what I took, and quite often not even that. But today, Friday, I want to do a bit more than that, with a series of postings of various sorts of things I snapped.
Meanwhile, Friday being Friday, some sensational cat news, which I spotted in one of London’s free newspapers towards the end of the day:
Monopoly fans have voted to give the iron the boot and welcome in the cat as the new token for the much-loved board game.
I guess time was when the Iron was a huge deal in life, far more than mere pets. Not any more.
I recommend googling “monopoly cat”.
And: Good to know. I’m improving myself.
So I stayed up very late, again, to follow the beginning of Australia v South Africa. It all started pretty sedately. One wicket fell, but then things proceeded without incident until South Africa got to 60-1, at which point I could not stay awake and went to bed. Once in bed, I woke up and couldn’t get to sleep, but I went to bed.
At which point, I now learn, this happened:
… 2-61 (Petersen, 22.4 ov), 3-63 (Kallis, 24.3 ov), 4-67 (Amla, 26.5 ov),5-67 (de Villiers, 27.4 ov), 6-75 (Elgar, 30.5 ov), ...
By the close it had evened out, with SA getting to 225, thanks to du Plessis, again, and Australia losing two top order wickets before the close. But then, Australia always lose top order wickets early these days. Then Clarke scores a double century.
Last time the Ashes were played, neither Clarke nor Ponting could buy a run. Ponting still can’t and is accordingly retiring. But what if Clarke scores lots of double centuries when next he plays against England?
Luckily, now that Cook is the England captain he scores centuries every time. But will that be enough?
I only get excited about sport when my teams are winning, or (as in the case of the recent US presidential election, when I think they are). Is this common sense? Or a character defect? Evidence of grown upness? Or of fickleness and feebleness? Well, I know what works for me.
Match 2 Day 3 of the four match series between India and England in Mumbai saw the England cricket team have their best day since I don’t know when. By the end of it, India were 117-7, only 31 ahead, but Gambhir was still in and he and/or a bit of tail-end flailing could yet put England under severe pressure in the final innings. Who was to say that the Indian spinners would be so ineffective the second time around, or that England wouldn’t have a second innings just like their first, but without the 300 runs scored by Cook and Pietersen. When Day 4 began, England could still lose, and all the more humiliatingly because of how good things were looking.
Said Vic Marks:
I don’t want to dampen English optimism but there is a scenario where the last three wickets get India a three-figure lead and then it’s sweaty palm time.
I agree. Don’t burn your fences until they’ve hatched.
Nevertheless, to quote Marks some more:
… England are on the brink of a famous victory and one that would absolutely ignite this series.
And so it proved. And I had to stay awake, again, until 4am and beyond, again, just to check that all was well.
I was helped in staying awake by an absorbing morning between Australia and South Africa in Adelaide, which preceded the start of play in Mumbai. Australia already had South Africa four down, and were chasing further wickets on the final day. In the morning, they got none.
Much has been said about the amazing not out century scored by debutant du Plessis, and this was indeed amazing. Kallis later also did very well. But I was particularly intrigued by the contribution of A. B. de Villiers.
6 2 4 6 4 1
That makes 23 in 6 balls. He took his team to victory with an over to spare, by scoring 47 in 32 balls, with five fours and three sixes. In this innings against Australia, de Villiers faced 246 balls. The least he has scored on previous occasions when he has faced this many balls in the one innings, or so I read in one of the media reports of this innings, was around 150. This time, he got 33. Best statistic? Number of boundaries. Zero. I watched this on computerised telly. (Yes, I have my ways.)
Fellow testcricketlag sufferer Michael Jennings emailed me yesterday as follows:
I ruin my sleep for several days, and in return all I get is Australia falling two wickets short of winning. Quite annoying. We were down a bowler to injury, but so were they, so I guess I can’t really blame that.
I will also point out that Australia scored 202 runs in the final session of the first day, and South Africa managed 49 in the final session of the final day. Both were extremely good performances, of course.
And it appears that England can be very good if Pieterson and Cook can actually play successfully together. I wonder if they can keep it up.
This makes two postings already this morning, and it isn’t yet 2am. Wish me luck getting to sleep.
Incoming from Michael J:
Amongst other things, 482 was the most runs Australia have scored in a day in a test match since 1910, Michael Clarke scored 120 runs in the final session, Australia scored 202 runs in the final session, and Michael Clarke became the first player to score four double centuries in a calendar year. (He still has another two and a half tests to play). After all that, David Warner’s 119 off 112 balls earlier in the day almost looks an insignificant footnote.
And what’s more, 482-5 after 55-3.
I went to bed when Warner got out (210-4), figuring that at that point the big hitting had ended. Wrong.
Makes a change from this, doesn’t it?
Incoming from Michael Jennings:
Now, back to serious stuff, the Australia v South Africa test series starts in just under an hour. If Australia win this series they get the number one spot back - possibly a little prematurely, but I will take it if it happens. And in truth, if they win this series I think they will deserve it as much as anyone else does.
I am now tracking this here.
As I said to Antoine in that election chat we recorded, this is the kind of cricket match I would have liked to follow twenty years ago, but couldn’t. Now, I can.
The new Surrey captain is already off the mark.
As earlier reported here, Surrey were this year in definite danger of being relegated from Division One of the County Championship. They are out of danger now, but while the battle lasted, it was quite a battle.
Promotion is one thing. Relegation is something else again. It is one thing to hope that rival teams to yours will merely fail to win. It is something rather nastier to hope, as I was hoping last week, that two particular other teams would both lose and be relegated, as they now have been. These mean-spirited emotions are surely familiar to English football fans. They were new to me. My preferred football team, Spurs, seldom gets threatened with relegation, from the Premier League. Their default finishing position used to be eleventh and is now more like fifth. Never in my recent recollection have Spurs been something like nineteenth with only a fortnight to go. Besides which, that’s only football. Cricket is cricket.
As the penultimate round of games got started last Wednesday Sept 4th, Surrey were well placed to escape the drop, being a dozen or so points ahead of Worcestershire and last year’s surprise Championship winners, Lancashire. Oddly, the weather all over England, so vile for much of the summer, was perfect and remained so for the next four days. Result weather. Nobody was going to be relegated while being denied the chance to avoid it by rain.
Worcester played Warwickshire. Victory for Warks would guarantee them the championship, and on that first morning, they destroyed the Worcester first innings. By the end of day one, Warks basically had the game won, and they duly did win inside three days. Warks County Champs. But screw that, the important thing was: Worcester couldn’t now catch Surrey, no matter what Surrey did, so goodbye Worcester.
The serious battle, then, was between Surrey and Lancs, and it looked highly likely that they would only settle their differences in the Lancs v Surrey game that is due to start tomorrow, in Liverpool. Meanwhile, Lancs played Middlesex at Lord’s. (Go Middx!) Surrey played Nottinghamshire at the Oval.
In both these games, the difference between the first innings was small. Surrey, batting first, got a small but still worthwhile lead of 42. Middx and Lancs both got bigger but almost exactly equal first innings scores. This meant Lancs got more batting points than Surrey, but had less time than Surrey to force a win.
On the third day, Friday of last week, Surrey and Middlesex both batted nervously, both trying to build a safe lead that they could defend the following day. Both eventually succeeded, but we fans were not to know this before they had accomplished it. And half way through Saturday it was nearly over. The numerous Surrey spinners (including a certain Kevin Pietersen, who got two top order wickets) knocked over Notts, Surrey winning by 195.
Meanwhile, Lancs just couldn’t finish off the Middlx second innings.
At which point, a big difference between football and cricket suddenly loomed large. Football matches in such circumstances all end within minutes of one another. But cricket matches end when they end. Once Surrey had won against Notts, Lancs knew that only a frantic victory slog, following a Middx safety first declaration, could save them. They had to beat Middx. They had to make 300 in just under 40 overs, or die trying. A draw was now no good to them. So, they flailed away, lost wickets at regular intervals, and lost. Goodbye Lancs. Had Surrey not won, Lancs could have drawn their game against Middx, and then gone back to Liverpool, and bet everything on beating Surrey, in what would have been a classic relegation decider. As it is, this game will still go ahead, but everything is now decided.
Meanwhile, Middx, flush with the points they got handed to them by a desperate Lancs, leepfrogged up to second in the county championship. That won’t last. Their season is over, and rival counties will overtake them. But even so, thank you Surrey! By winning your game with hours to spare, you handed us another dozen points!
Imagine Spurs and Arsenal being so gracious towards one another.
In the midst of all this, on the Wednesday I think it was, there was also an England South Africa one day game going on. I did know this, but for several hours completely forgot about it.
Darren Hopkinson, responding to this earlier posting about the fortunes (and misfortunes) of Surrey County Cricket Club, said he had a photo of the scoreboard at the same time I did a Cricinfo screen capture, both of us capturing what may prove to be the pivotal achievement of Surrey’s season. Would I like a copy? Yes I would.
Here is the scoreboard bit:
But just as interesting to me is what the scoreboard there is surrounded by. Empty seats. Here is the full original photo:
Okay it’s on a Monday, but even so.
One of the great attractions of watching cricket when I was a kid was that at a cricket match you weren’t stuck in one place. You could get up and stroll around, chat with friends, chat with strangers. But you can’t, when stuck in one seat among hundreds like this, just get up and wander around. Such places as this make sense when full, but are self-mockingly awful when empty.
Some clever designer should be put to work designing seating that could be turned into platforms to parade about on, sell hot dogs on, discuss business on, drink coffee at coffee tables on, when the number of people present is such that this would be possible. Either seats that twiddle magically, or some kind of cover that just superimposes something else on top of them. I know, I know, expense, health and safety. But something must be done about this rows of empty seats awfulness.
The contract would be a bit odd, because it would say come and have a great time in a great place, but forget about that coffee table if lots of other people show up besides you. But I reckon this would be a far better deal than now. Great if rather few people are there, because all those empty seats have been magically hidden away or got around or whatever. Great if lots of people show up, because that’s great already.
LATER: Remembering Maynard.
Meanwhile, England are now trying not to lose in the final day of the series against South Africa at Lord’s. They are now 41-3, “chasing” (i.e. not chasing) 346.
If England were to chase for real and to get those runs, they would draw the series and still be the top ranked test team. If they lose this game, South Africa win this series 2-0 and go top of the rankings. If England draw, South Africa win the series 1-0 and go top. Yet, England are playing not to lose this game rather than to win it:
. . . . 1 . | . . . . . . | . . . . . . | . . . . . . | . . . . . 1 |
As soon as they announced it, I was very keen on the test match ranking system, even though I still don’t know how they do the sums. I believed then, and believe still, that this system confers meaning on games that would otherwise mean far less.
But the trouble is, there is no one moment at which you must be top. To win a World Cup, you have to win a particular tournament, and finally one particular game. There can be no “building for the future” when you are playing in a World Cup Final. This is it. If this game at Lord’s were a World Cup Final, and the test rankings were being fixed now for the next, say, three years, England would go down swinging. They would not be playing for a draw.
As it is, England are almost certainly now calculating that they would do better to surrender the top spot now, but in a way that enables them to get back to the top if they play their next few matches better, than try to keep the top spot now and probably thus fall further behind during the next few games.
It is even possible that their determination to draw rather than win this game is actually strengthened by the test ranking system. “Win each series” gets replaced by “do as well as possible in each game but try nothing silly”.
If England were to draw this game, with Trott, Taylor and Bairstow (the remaining top order batters) all batting well, they would be well pleased. That, for England, would be a result.
Not that that is now going to happen. Taylor run out trying to get a fourth run.
Bloody hell. 45-4. Are England still trying to win?
Enter Jonny B.
First the Surrey disintegration, following The Maynard Death. Now this. Crushed at the Oval, and now being crushed again at Lord’s.
How long will Strauss remain captain of this team, and thus a test match cricketer? How hard will they try to sort out the Pietersen mess? Hard, I hope.
But what’s this?
. 3 . . . 4 | 1 . . 4 4 . | . . . 4 . 4 | . 2 . . . . | 4 . . . 4 . |
England 79-4 now. South Africa buying a wicket presumably, and having everyone in close catching positions. Jonny B 20 in 15 balls. Makes sense.
And oh look, incoming from Michael J:
If South Africa win (or even draw) this match, they will take the number one ranking off England. If Australia then beat South Africa in Australia in November (by any margin), Australia will take the number one raking off South Africa.
Judging by recent performances of South Africa and Australia, I don’t think this is extremely likely, but who knows? (Australia tend to play above themselves against South Africa). It is very possible that next year’s Ashes series could start with England holding the Ashes but Australia holding the number one spot.
All of which shows how successful the test ranking system is at keeping everyone interested. Everyone who already is interested, that is to say.
But the four day game between Surrey and Middlesex that ended yesterday was far funnier, as it far more unpredictable.
Even since Tom Maynard got himself topped by a train earlier in the season, Surrey have been heading inexorably out of the top division of the County Championship. They lost a top batsman, Maynard, of course. They lost another (then) top batsman, Hamilton-Brown, who was Maynard’s good buddy from school, and who shared a house with him. Hamilton-Brown just could not take playing serious cricket in the immediate aftermath of the Maynard catastrophe, and was given compassionate leave.
Just before all this blew up, Surrey had decided that Mark Ramprakash was no longer Mark Ramprakash, and he was retired. In retrospect, they must have cursed the timing, but you can’t reverse a decision like that.
And the rest of the Surrey batting, notably Davies and de Bruyn, had a loss of form that has lasted pretty much ever since all this misery.
Into the side, on the back of no more than belief amongst the coaches, presumably, that they were the best people available, have come second string batters like, well, Burns and Harinath. Burns showed sparks of adequacy, but Harinath scarcely even that. Yet, needs must.
So, Surrey v Middx. Day 1. Surrey all out 144, after the usual batting fiasco. Middx 99-1. Game over, you’d think. I certainly did. But on day 2, the bowlers, notably the spinner Kartik, rally, and Middx are reduced to 188-9, only leading on first innings by 44. Game on. But then, a last wicket stand takes Middx to nearly a hundred ahead, and Surrey start to bat again, losing their first wicket at 13. Ansari. Ansari has filled in well in one day games. Today, for instance, he hit a useful 30. In general, this season, after the top order has disappeared for about nothing, Ansari, if playing, has tended to make enough runs for the game to last long enough not to be a total embarrassment. But him getting out cheaply in a four day game was no surprise.
But then, Burns and Harinath, instead of following Ansari back to the pavilion with similarly small scores, leaving Surrey then to slump to something like 50 for 6 or 7 overnight (losing by an innings or nearly that the following morning), do something very peculiar. They do not get out. Instead they reach 86-1 by the close of day 2.
And then, on day 3, this is what happens:
Since the Maynard Death, Surrey have basically had only one batsman capable of making a big, game changing score, and he only very fleetingly: Kevin Pietersen. Other than him, nothing. No big innings. And no big stands. (See what I mean about how they must be cursing the Ramps retirement.) Yet, Burns and Harinath both make hundreds and put on over two hundred. The rest of the Surrey batting do their best to lose the game, but by then it is settled, Middx will have to bat properly to win.
Only the Middx tail does bat properly, very properly as it happens. But it isn’t quite enough, and Surrey win … by 8 runs.
Yes, Batty and Kartik did very well, each taking eight wickets in the match. But they can bowl, that’s a given. Spinners are, well, spinners, sociologically men apart, like goalies. When a mere batsman dies during a drunken night out, they care, but not as much as normal cricketers do. They just carry on spinning. Also, if they do care, what do they do? Bowl half a dozen long hops. Big deal. What do batsmen in mourning do? Score half a dozen ducks. Different, I think you will agree
The surprise was, in this Middx game, not that Batty and Kartik bowled well, but that Batty and Kartik got the chance to bowl well. They did get that chance, courtesy of Burns and Harinath.
See Gareth Batty, now club captain following Hamilton-Brown jacking it in, talking about the game, in the video here (scroll down).
If Surrey do not get relegated, this will be when that did not happen.