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Category archive: Sport

Thursday November 19 2015

Rather as a politician, when sacked, pretends that he has resigned to spend more time with whatever is left of his family, when a cricketer gets the elbow from the national team, the selectors always now say stuff like this:

James Whitaker, the national selector, said: “Ian Bell has been an outstanding player for many years and undoubtedly still has plenty to offer England in the future. It was clearly a difficult decision but he has struggled for runs in recent series and we felt that it was the right time for him to take a break and spend time working on his game out of the spotlight.

Outstanding player.  More to offer.  Take a break.  Work on his game.  Out of the spotlight.  And sometimes, it’s even true.  After all, Compton and Ballance are both back.  But the difference is age.  Compton and Ballance are still quite young.  Bell is at that age where he is either good now, or not.  He doesn’t have a potential big decade to offer in the future, just one or two more years right now.

Bell’s problem is that he has always been the kind of player who can make a good team better, but he has never been the kind of player good enough to make a bad team good.  And even when he was playing really well, which he did from time to time, you kind of didn’t notice.  He was never a “game changer”, merely a pretty good player, who sometimes did really well, and sometimes not so well.

Talking of bellends, for several years now the comedians on the telly have been using this, to me, peculiar expression, to describe people they are not impressed by and are inclined to mock.  But only now, wanting to add something to this posting, did I learn that the bellend is the head of the penis.  Which presumably makes the bell … Blog and learn.

Tuesday November 17 2015

So there I was, in the bath I think it was, listening to the cricket in Dubai, and Agnew mentioned what sounded like a rather interesting photo, of a very tall cricketer called Mohammad Irfan, being interviewed.  The particular fun being that Irfan is very tall, and both the interviewer and the cameraman are standing on boxes:

Agnew mentioned that he had seen this photo on Twitter, and that was enough of a clue for me to find it (scroll down to Nov 15 until you get to the bit where it says: “Love this pic of Irfan being interviewed") very quickly:


Bonus: another photographer in the shot.

More and more, the world is following me, in no longer wanted to exclude other photographers from its photos, but instead to include other photographers.

Saturday November 14 2015

I never did get to see that gas holder park I was on about yesterday.  I had thought it would be clearly visible and clearly signposted, but it was neither, and I placed myself on the wrong side of a big building site, and never got near it.  I only worked out exactly where it had been hiding when I got home.

But none of that matters.  The point of having a photo-objective of this sort is to get me to a part of town that I might not otherwise be visiting, and in general, to get me out into the town. Gas Holder Park isn’t going anywhere, and my failed attempt to visit it, I got to be on the exact right bit of pavement to take this photo, which is definitely one of my recent favourites:


It’s not just the craziness of the vehicle.  It’s the way that, with no other traffic - or even pedestrians - choosing to get involved in the short, and with my camera tracking the crazy vehicle and thus blurring everything else, the crazy vehicle becomes a sort of disembodied presence, liberated from the urban bustle that it was in fact surrounded by, like it was a movie character on drugs, or something similarly unenmeshed in reality as the rest of us perceive it.

Seconds later, I took another shot of the crazy vehicle as it sped away from me, hoping that it tell me what the white sphere was in aid of.  It wasn’t a great picture ...:


... but it did the job:


And (see above) it’s a recently opened ping pong drinkery.  The white sphere is a ping pong ball.  More about the place here, where there is another picture of the Morris Minor, surrounded by urban bustle, so not on drugs.

Saturday November 07 2015

They’re playing an Old-Timers T20 in New York today.  Here are the two squads, “Sachin’s Blasters” and “Warne’s Warriors”:

SR Tendulkar (Captain), CEL Ambrose, SC Ganguly, CL Hooper, DPMD Jayawardene, L Klusener, BC Lara, VVS Laxman, GD McGrath, Moin Khan†, M Muralitharan, SM Pollock, V Sehwag, Shoaib Akhtar, GP Swann.

SK Warne (Captain), AB Agarkar, AA Donald, ML Hayden, JH Kallis, RT Ponting, JN Rhodes, KC Sangakkara†, Saqlain Mushtaq, A Symonds, MP Vaughan, DL Vettori, CA Walsh, Wasim Akram.

It makes me think of these guys.

Find out what happened here, that also being where I found out about this remarkable enterprise.

Monday November 02 2015

I think my fascination with the Union Jack really got into gear with the Scottish Referendum.  Why then?  Because then, we might have had to abandon it.  It might have become a relic.

Then, during the recently concluded Rugby World Cup, the Brits all got knocked out by the time the semi-finals came around.  But, the two nations whose national flags involve the Union Jack (for the time being anyway), Australia and New Zealand (England’s flag is the red and white flag of St George), were the two finalists.  So, the Union Jack triumphed, even if the nation that originated it did not.

So, I am now always on the lookout for Union Jacks, especially when the colours are being played with.  The shape is wonderful, I think, but the colours can get repetitious and they come alive when altered somewhat.

And today, I found just such a Union Jack, in a shop, in Tottenham court Road.  I went in and photoed it, several times.  Nobody objected, or tried to sell me furniture.  Or even to sell me the Union Jack that I was photoing.  I just did my photos, and also a few others of cat cushions, and then made my exit.

image imageimage image

If you look at a mirror, you tend to see yourself.  If you photograph a mirror, you tend to photo yourself taking a photo, unless you are a Real Photographer.  I am not, even if one of the above photos does exclude me.

£149 is what this mirror would cost you.

As I type this, Simon Schama is concluding his TV series about The Face of Britain, the final episode being entitled “The Face in the Mirror”.  He is doing selfies, or “self-portraits” as they have mostly been known, until now.  I expect that we will be shown regular folks posing with their selfie sticks, right at the end.

No.  No selfie sticks.  Instead: Gormleys.  I photoed Gormleys, way back, in London.  Schama had them photoed at the seaside.

Thursday October 29 2015

From the Washington Post, yesterday:

What if your self-driving car decides one death is better than two - and that one is you?

The piece also asks if it is only a matter of time before regular driving is banned.  I think this will happen in lots of places, and driving a car will become like riding a horse. It will be something you do only for fun.  I probably won’t live to see this, but I probably will live to see it quite widely discussed.

Sunday October 18 2015

I’m talking rugby, not life.  If you came here because of the above headline but care only about life, relax, the Northern Hemisphere is safe.  It isn’t being culled.  It is merely that the Northern Hemisphere’s rugby teams haven’t been doing very well in the Rugby World Cup, which is now taking place in England.

Watching Ireland lose to Argentina had me conflicted, as they say.  On the one hand, another Home Nation succumbs to a Southern Hemisphere monster.  But on the other hand, England don’t now need to feel quite so bad.  Wales knocked out England by a whisker, and that was disappointing.  But England, Wales, and now Ireland, all got beaten by Southern Hemisphere sides.

And if Scotland do anything different against Australia in the last of the quarter-finals, about to be played, it will be a major upset.

England merely got the same bad news just the one game earlier.

Which means that, unless Scotland have entirely failed to read this script, the semis will be NZ v South Africa, Australia v Argentina.  These four teams have their own tournament every year, in their own stadiums.  Now, they are having another such tournament, in England.

As for France, well, they have done almost as badly as England, and perhaps worse.  They beat their minnows, as England did.  But, like England, they lost very upsettingly in the group stage to a home nation, Ireland in their case, and they were then completely shredded by the All Blacks.  Many neutrals had hoped for a repeat of 1999 or 2007.  By the end, even the humiliation of NZ only winning by one mere point in 2011 was expunged from the record.  This time around, the margin was: 49.

John Inverdale told a good joke after England got beaten by Australia 13-33.  He was in a taxi afterwards with a couple of England supporters, and one of them said: that was as bad as 1066.  Not really, said the other.  It was only 1333.

But 1362 (the year of the battles of Brignais and of Launac (blog and learn)) is quelque chose else again.  And if an All Black hadn’t dropped the ball just as he was about to score yet another try right at the end, it would have been 1367 or 1369, years in which other things presumably also happened in France.

LATER: Scotland have NOT been reading the above script.  They now lead Australia 34-32 with five minutes to go.  In-obscene-present-participle-credible.
But, penalty to Australia.  They lead 35-34 with a minute to go.  End.  “Southern Hemisphere clean sweep”, see above.

Saturday October 17 2015

Every so often I check out Jonathan Gewirtz’s photos, often because I am reminded to do this when I read Chicago Boyz, for which Jonathan writes.  Yesterday, I found my way to this wonderful photo of the cranes of Miami.  Because that photo has “Copyright 2013 Johathan Gewirtz” written across the middle of it, I looked for other Miami crane photos, and found this ( by “ozanablue"):


Then, I think my finger slipped.  Anyway, something happened, and I found myself looking at another terrific Gewirtz Miami crane snap, also adorned with a Copyright notice, but from which I have sliced out this:


That slice is much smaller as well as much (vertically) thinner than the meteorologically imposing original.  But, as is the rule here with anything I “borrow”, if JG sees this and wants even this small slice of his picture removed from here, it will be done pronto.

Those container ship cranes will surely be looked back at by historians as one of the great visual symbols of our time, to sum up all the peaceful material and trading progress that we as a species have been making in recent decades.

Shame our cranes of this sort are too far away from the centre of London for a picture of them to be able to include our Big Things as well.  Because our Big Thing’s are better than Miami’s.

Talking of cranes, another English one attracting admiring attention is this one, who bowls leg spin for Hampshire.  (Another spinner nearly won it for England today, in Abu Dhabi (where they also have cranes (they now have them everywhere important that’s next to the sea)).)

Saturday October 10 2015

I feel an orthodoxy developing.  Former England rugby international Austin Healey:

For now, let’s postpone the period of introspection and focus on maintaining what has the potential to be the best World Cup ever. Even with the final few pool matches to be played, it has been the best tournament in terms of attendance and the overall quality.

There you go.  We may be crap at playing these games, but we invented them all, and we have lots of great stadiums.  We know how to organise a game, even if we can no longer play it.

Plus, we have lots of immigrants from everywhere on the planet to come and cheer for everyone taking part.  We do tend to hate and fear foreigners quite a lot, especially in large clumps, but not as much as the damn foreigners do.  Which is what passes for friendliness, in the world now.  And these are not the kind of foreigners who want to live here in huge numbers of one nationality, and to corrupt our women and steal our jobs and defraud our welfare system.  (None of that applies to England’s football fans, who seem to be about two percent scum of the earth, which can rather spoil things.)

As for me, I find that I really am enjoying this jamboree.  I am enjoying all the pent-up anger of England’s anti-Lancaster tendency (I like to think of them “Yorkists"), who have been biting their tongues for the last few months, but who are now letting it all spill out.  Their ire seems mostly concentrated on Lancaster’s dithering and bizarre selection decisions, which have indeed seemed peculiar even to an ignorant onlooker like me.

Also, freed from the torture of hope, I find I am settling down to enjoy the rugby.  This afternoon’s game, for instance, is looking like an absolute belter.  As of now, with the clock having just past 35 minutes of the first half, it stands at 23-23.  Correction, make that 26-23, to Samoa, against Scotland.  Next up, Wales v Oz, and then England v Uruguay.

In the latter game, if all goes well, England will capture that vital third place in the group spot, and thereby qualify for the next World Cup in Japan.

Sunday October 04 2015

England got dumped out of their own Rugby World Cup last night.  Not having had any great hopes for England this time around, I was not that distraught, but I do regret this.  I have nothing original to add to what all the proper commentators are saying.


That’s a photo I took earlier this evening.  I find newspaper front pages to be excellent souvenirs, when I look back at them, months or years later.

I do, however, have an observation to offer about London soccer.  Here is a list of the London teams (all of which I support (but Spurs the most)) in the Premier League: Arsenal, Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford (is Watford a London club? - don’t know), Chelsea.  And at the moment, that is the order in which they stand in the Premier league.  2 Arsenal, 4 Palace, 6 West Ham, 8 Spurs, 12 Watford, 16 Chelsea.  Chelsea now have 8 points from 8 games.

Is this just early randomness?  In two months time will Chelsea be 4th, West Ham 13th and Crystal Palace 15th (with Arsenal 2nd and Spurs 8th, as now)?  Or has something actually changed?  Is it like this at the beginning of every season, and does it then right itself?

After writing the above, I put that question to Patrick Crozier, and he said that Chelsea are in real trouble, on account of their Manager, Jose Mourinho, having a go at Chelsea’s medical lady, when she was just doing her job.  This upset the entire team, because you are apparently not supposed to criticize “members of the team” in public, and she is a member of the team.  And the entire team is now playing badly.

There is also the fact that this medical lady is prettier than Mourinho, which I am guessing is a situation he is not used to having to deal with.

We shall see.  Chelsea now have a mere 10 points fewer than leaders Man City.  That’s surely not much of a gap, at this point in the season.  A month of good results and this gap could quickly vanish.

Thursday September 24 2015

The platinum blonde woman who sings the introductory song sounds very unmusical and strangulated to me.  When she sings “A new age has begun”, it sounds like “Anewwayjazzbeegun”, with no breaks between words at all.  Very peculiar.  I now learn that I am not the only one to be unhappy about this singing.

My first observation of the actual rugby: lots of handling errors.  My impression is that the balls are bigger, fatter, lighter, bouncier, a bit like balloons.  So, when they hit your chest they don’t just stick there, they bounce off your chest and you’ve dropped it.

How good were Japan?  Yes, very good.  But.  But.  How bad were South Africa? Very, very bad.  There is a back story there, which the television commentators I am hearing seem extremely anxious not to discuss.  It’s all: the mighty Boks.  Apparently, they haven’t persuaded enough black men to play rugby, and racial quotas are deranging and demoralising them.  “Political football” etc.  Lawrence Dallaglio mentioned this stuff once, in passing, speaking of them “falling off tackles” (I think that was the phrase).  Of not really trying, in other words.  Other than that, nothing.  Japan got totally stuffed by Scotland yesterday, 45-10.  Okay, the Japanese hadn’t had much of a rest.  But even so, a bizarre result, unless Japan beating South Africa was at least as much because South Africa were bad as because Japan were good.  Scotland v South Africa might be … very interesting.

I really like London’s new Olympic Stadium.  Whenever I saw it before, it contained the 2012 Olympics, and I hate the Olympics so much that I couldn’t see how very nice the stadium is.  Now I can see this.  I think I now prefer the inside of the Olympic Stadium to the inside of New Wembley.  The only interesting thing about New Wemley is the big arch, seen from the outside.  That’s terrific.  One of London’s great new landmarks.  But the inside of New Wembley, which I have actually visited in person, is very dreary.  But maybe I was just in a bad mood, on account of it being football, and on account of this idiot jumping about in front of me whenever anything faintly interesting happened, so I had to either get up off my seat to see anything, or remain seated and in ignorance.

England look okay to me, but okay presumably won’t be enough to win.  But then again, most other teams seem only okay also.  Except the All Blacks of course.  How will they contrive to lose this tournament, I wonder?  They usually seem to find a way.  Last time around, they did win, but only by one point.

Saturday September 19 2015

Jade Dernbach’s international career ended last year, amidst much derision and recrimination.

Surrey very nearly won today’s ODI Final against Gloucester.  If Surrey had won, everyone would now be talking about how well Dernbach has done for Surrey this year.  As it was, Surrey, having been ahead of the game all day long, instead lost three tail end wickets in a heap at the end and lost by six runs.

Had Surrey won, Dernbach would have been Man of the Match, having taken six wickets, including a hat trick at the end of the Gloucester innings and even better, at the beginning of the Gloucester innings, the prize wicket of Michael Klinger for a three ball duck in the first over of the game.

As regulars here will know, I was at the semi-final at the Oval that got Surrey to today’s final.  (It was probably my day of the year so far.) Dernbach did well in that game also.

Sangakkara hit 19 runs off Surrey’s penultimate over of batting.  Notts, needing 19 to win in their last 2 overs, could only manage 5 and a wicket off their penultimate over, bowled by Dernbach.  The wicket was Notts captain Chris Read, bamboozled by Dernbach’s disguised slow ball.  Read is the kind of batsman who could have got Notts home with balls to spare, but Dernbach did him.  Those two penultimate overs were the difference between the two teams that day.

As for me, I photoed the first of these two penultimacies:


But when I should have been photoing the equivalent scoreboard description of the second penultimacy (you can read about it by scrolling down here), I was instead busy taking this photo:


Which just goes to show that photoing cricket matches, like photoing anything else, is a skill.  Everything you have to do - which actually means everything you have to remember to do - at the right time and in the right order - is easy and obvious, just commonsense really.  But, doing seventy three bits of commonsense at the exact right time and in the exact right order adds up to uncommon sense.  Or, as it is commonly known, knowledge.

I digress.  But the point of my digression is that I also digressed in my photography at that cricket game, at what was clearly, at the time I digressed, a critical moment.  There really is no excuse for the above photographic omission, except for me to say that I have not photoed very many cricket matches and am not very good at it.

After my day at the Oval, I am now strongly tempted to correct that, given what else you can see from the place, if you are a member.  A crane and a Shard are a bug, when you should be photoing the scoreboard.  But normally they would be a feature.

LATER: In other sports news, Perry de Havilland has a strange dream, and I had the exact same dream myself.

Wednesday September 16 2015

Now, some more pictures from that fabulous day out at the Oval, which was over a week ago now.

This time, it’s adverts.  The crowd was, as already discussed, sparse.  It was sparse because the game was played on a Monday, so that Sky could fit it into its schedule, but because Sky were present, the adverts at the ground packed an extra punch.  I assume that a cricket club like Surrey has people who obsess not so much about cricket as about money, and it must be good news on the money front that all these adverts were to be seen on Sky TV.

You see adverts in lots of the photos of and television coverage of sports events, but it isn’t much talked about.  Neither are all the empty seats that so often occur at sports events nowadays, particularly cricket matches.  But, these pictures focus attention on all the adverts I saw at that game, by cropping out everything else.

Click on these adverts, and you get the original pictures from which I extracted them, which mostly also feature a lot of empty seats:


An odd effect of what I did here with all these adverts is that the more money you spent on your advert and the bigger and wider and more noticeable your advert was, at the Oval, the thinner it now is on BMdotcom.

Life can be cruel.

Monday September 14 2015

A notable Brian has just died. Close.

Scyld Berry writes about the bravest man to ever play cricket:

The story was that when a ball hit him on the head at short-leg, he shouted “catch it!” Eric Morecombe joked that the start of the cricket season was the sound of leather on Brian Close.

RIP Tweet by Alan Butcher (which was how I learned about this):

Was once in a Roller with Brian Close. Went over a speed bump too quick. His head went clean through the roof upholstery.

Close was also one of the few men ever to make Boycott get a move on (see para 11).

He was a great England captain, briefly, but was then sacked for … well, for wanting to win too much, basically.  Then reinstated briefly, much later.  Should have been captain all that time.

Saturday September 12 2015

The day I spent at the Oval with Darren last Monday was enjoyable for me in so many ways.  I am now definitely considering becoming a Surrey Member myself next season, a snip at just under two hundred quid.  Seriously, that’s how great a day it was for me.  But it was not quite the day that I had been expecting.

The thing was, Surrey had, after many disappointments in the recent past, finally been promoted just three days earlier.  Half way through the game against Derby, the reportage was all about how well Derby had been doing.  But the Surrey first innings tail did not so much wag as flail like the tail of a crocodile, and then the Surrey spinners polished Derby off on day four, to win the game by an innings and plenty, with several hours to spare.

So, last Monday, I was expecting the Oval to be seething with boisterous celebration.  But once the game began, I soon realised that this was not going to happen.  The place was that far from being deserted, and looked even more sparsely populated from where Darren and I were at first sitting, what with the bulk of the Surrey support being below us and out of our sight.

The thing about last Monday was that it was on a Monday.  And why this game, of all games, on a Monday?  A semi-final of the annual 50-50 county tournament ought surely to be staged at a time when regular people can show up to watch it, shouldn’t it?  So, why wasn’t it?

The answer of course is: television:

image image imageimage image image

That’s Gary Wilson of Surrey striding off at the end of the Surrey innings (they batted first), doing a great job of pretending that the TV guy who is poking his huge camera in his face just isn’t there.

These are not the kind of pictures of cricket that you usually see, are they?  Usually, you see only the sort of pictures that this TV guy himself is taking, not pictures of him.  He is not supposed to be part of the story which he is, so very obtrusively, helping to tell.  Yet even the very day on which this match took place cannot be explained without reference to that TV guy, and all his mates.


That’s a picture, taken moments later, of Sky TV discussing that Surrey first innings with Notts fast bowler and recent England Ashes hero Stuart Broad.  What did Broad say?  I don’t know.  I wasn’t watching this game on my telly.  I was merely there.

But why Monday, rather than Sunday or Saturday?  I mean, more people watch the telly at the weekend, surely.  Well yes, they do.  And Sky TV did indeed show the first semi-final on Sunday.  (Yorkshire, crowned only days later as the 2015 champions of the four day game, were beaten in this first semi-final by Gloucester, with surprising ease.) So, why not the other semi- between Surrey and Notts, on the Saturday?

Because on Saturday, Sky TV were showing the second England v Australia ODI, and there would be no point in Sky buying both those games if they had happened on the same one day.  So, the other semi- got shoved over to Monday.  The schools were back at school.  Workers were back at work.  But, television rules.

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So this was mostly an Old Geezer day, from the live spectator point of you.  But, despite all those empty seats, this particular Old Geezer had a terrific time, not least because of all those TV cameramen whom I was able to take photos of.

I promise nothing, but I do now hope that there’ll be a whole lot more to follow about this marvellous day out.