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Category archive: Sport

Sunday August 02 2015

Playing?  Yes.  It’s like they think test match cricket is some sort of mere game.

Cricket, says Cricinfo’s George Dobell, is no longer like this:

A few years ago - 2004 if memory serves - an elderly spectator settled down to watch a day of cricket at Horsham before the 11am start of play and promptly died. It was not until 9pm that anyone noticed. Such was the character of the crowd, and the cricket, that one more silent, motionless man in a chair hardly stood out.

He’s right.  The current England side is full of one-day cricketers.  And when they tried to beef up their top order for their latest test match, all they could think of to do was to sack one of the top order grafters (Ballance) and bring in yet another one-day batsman, a one-day batsman (Bairstow) who has done well in county championship cricket this year, so in he came.  Nobody will be surprised if they sack another grafter (Lyth), and I would not be surprised if another one-day belter (Hales? Roy?) came into the team to replace him, because one-day belters is all that there are to pick.

After all, if batting like Kevin Pietersen is what all the best batsmen do best these days, why try to find old-school grafters in the Boycott manner, if no such people exist of the necessary class?  (By the way, a basic reason why there is no clamour for Pietersen to return to the England team is that he now has no rarity value.  Bell, Root, Stokes, Buttler, Ali, all bat the way Pietersen does.  So does Bairstow.)

One day cricket also rewards those who can bat, in a twist-or-bust sort of way, and who can bowl in a similar fashion.  This doubles their chances of making an impact in a one-day game.  They get to place two bets instead of just the one.  England now have two such, Stokes and Ali.  Plus, Broad can bat after a fashion, and Root can bowl after a fashion.  Which means that England now bat, in a one-day sort of way, right down to number eight, where Ali now operates, and they now have five regular bowlers, because two of them are now Stokes and Ali.

Australia have the same feel about them.  Mitchell Marsh is supposed to be a batter and a bowler.  Mitchell Johnson is a dangerous slogger.  They too are inclined to try to hit their way out of trouble, David Warner style, rather than to graft their way out of it, the way they used to in the days of people like Bill Lawry, Australia’s Boycott (i.e. the guy Boycott was England’s answer to), whom I remember from my childhood.  Lawry grafted always, whatever the situation was.  Now, Warner slogs, whatever the situation is.

And now, all wicket-keepers can bat up a storm, ever since Gilchrist created that template, and actually, before that.  I remember am England chap called Parks, who could bat better than he could keep.  Now everyone picks the wicket-keeper who bats best, and they then give him extra tuition with a wicket-keeping coach.

The most memorable old-school test match I can remember was this one.  Six hundred played six hundred, and that was it.

For me, a turning point was Kevin Pietersen’s innings on the final day of the final test of the 2005 Ashes series, at the Oval.  England were 126-5, with Warne threatening to finish them off and leave Australia needing 150 to win and with plenty of time for them to do just that, and level the series and go home with the Ashes.  So, the one surviving front-line England batsman, Pietersen, had a match to save.  There were two ways for him to do it.  He could try to bat for a long time and make no runs.  Or, instead, he could try to slog lots of runs and thereby get England too far ahead, which is what he actually did.  Meanwhile, Paul Collingwood batted for about an hour and got next to nothing, which was also useful, but nobody except me remembers that.  Giles was spared having to bowl, but batted very capably instead.  I remember at the time how the commentators said, after Pietersen had just hit another six, that this was a strange way to save a match, but save it he did, and rather quickly, because England were suddenly way beyond Australia’s reach.

The most one-day thing of all about the current England v Australia contest is the way that these supposedly five-day games have all so far finished early, with one, one and then two entire days to spare.  At one point that most recent game looked like it might end with three days to spare.

Also very one-day is that all three games have been won, by whoever happened to win them, by large margins.  One team just happens to slog or bowl its way into a dominant position.  The other team tries to slog quick runs or take quick wickets to get itself back into the game, and, as teams doing this usually do, they fail, and the dominant-from-the-start-to-the-finish winner wins by a mile.

England crushed Australia in the first game.  But then, after they were crushed even more crushingly in the second game, everyone said, oh, England will now go back to grafting.  But no.  They didn’t.  They couldn’t.  They didn’t have the players to do that, even if they had wanted to.  And they won the third game by eight wickets, and only right at the end was Boycott a happy commentator, because the Australian tail in the third innings, and then the England top order in the final innings, both did a bit of “old fashioned” Boycott-type batting, or as close to that as modern batters can now manage.  This was why the match lasted a whopping three days, instead of a mere two.

Monday July 27 2015

Today, from an advert in Shoreditch High Street, I learned of a game which is new to me …:

image

… Zorb football.  As I have already told you, in the heading of this.

Zorbing.

The website in the picture.

Video of people playing Zorb football.

The tackling reminds me of this.

Friday July 24 2015

When G(od)D(aughter) 1 and I left the Park View Cafe, the weather was still grim, as you can see in this picture, which is of an amazing building which we encountered just a few yards down the road:

imageimage

I was amazed.  But so amazed enough that I forgot to take a closer photo of all that signage so I could look it up later.

What is it?  And more to the point, what was it?  Because nobody says “We need a place to do indoor pretend rock climbing” and builds themselves something like that.

Well, here is the website for what it is now.  And here you can read about what it was originally built to accommodate:

For a small district, Stoke Newington is endowed with a generous amount of open space. To its north, there is the extensive West Reservoir, now a non-working facility, but open for leisure and surrounded by greenspace, at the entrance to which is the architecturally bizarre Castle Climbing Centre, once the main Water Board pumping station. It was designed, by William Chadwell Mylne, to look like a towering Scottish castle.

There should be more fake castles of this sort.  Why don’t people build such things now?  You’d think with all the current fascination with fantasy movies, Harry Potter, and so forth, there’d be rock and roll royalty queueing up to erect more stuff like this.  Do they not even try?  Or, do they try, but are they then rebuffed by boring local planning committees, frightened that if they allowed such things, before you knew it, everyone would be building whatever they liked.

“Castle Climbing Centre” ought to mean a Centre where you learn to Climb Castles.  But, it doesn’t.

Friday July 17 2015

It’s true!  Three of weeks ago, I was scratching about for a cricket cat connection, and all the time this cricket cat connection has been out there, and I never knew, until I followed a tweet at Cricinfo!  And there it was!  Philip Clive Roderick Tufnell (nickname: “The Cat”, or so somebody claims), former Middlesex and England spin bowler, now TMS commentator, painter, has climbed aboard the catwagon!  Does he actually like cats?  Is he merely hoping to get internet hits that are the envy of artists who prefer non-feline subjects?  Who knows?  Who cares?

image

Says Tufnell:

I think people are sometimes surprised that art is my thing. I got an O level in art at school (my only one – I was too busy playing cricket!) and my Dad was a silversmith, so there’s a history of creativity in my family. I even worked with my Dad for a while when I was turning professional, and I loved it.

I’m not a landscape water-colourist or anything – you won’t bump into me and my easel on a country walk! Instead, I love to work in abstract art and with different techniques. My studio is full of spray-paint cans, because I really like the effects I can create.

You can see where I’m getting all my exclamation marks!

I love that the cat is a smoker!

Saturday July 11 2015

Who saw that coming?  Not me.  Although in my defence, had Haddin not dropped Root on nought when England were 43-3 and would have been 43-4, it would surely have been a very different match (a match which, having not been dropped, Root (134 and 60 and two wickets at the end with his spin) is now presumably the Man of).  And, I was definitely not the only one who reckoned Australia to be the stronger team, which they may yet prove to be.  Although, this guy hedged his bets and had this to say:

A win for England and the series could be a classic.

I’d settle for a series win for England.  Five nil would be nice.  (Very nice.)

Meanwhile, as worrying for Australia as this loss is the fact that it looks like their much heralded bowling attack may be falling apart.  Harris has retired hurt, and not temporarily.  Now Starc is hobbling.  Johnson will surely have his moments in this series.  (He did today, but only with the bat when it was all over bar Mitchell Johnson having a good day with the bat.)

I started this posting when the ninth wicket fell, in anticipation.  The tenth wicket did not cause any delays.  England win by 169.

Wednesday July 08 2015

You can lose a test match on the first morning and England are well on the way to losing the first Ashes test in Cardiff, having already lost three wickets before lunch.  England’s trouble is that their top four have none of them been in proper form of late, and the Australian bowlers are all just that bit too good for them to be able to solve this problem by batting themselves into some form against them.  It will only get worse.  If it gets better I will be delighted, but also surprised.  As of now, I expect the result to be much as it was two years ago, when England shaded it three nil, except that it will be three nil to Australia, or something like that.  This time, Australia are better, and England have less good batting (Bell has got worse basically) and two top bowlers who are two years more knackered, plus no Swann.  So, England will lose.  Anything better than that will be a bonus.  We shall see.

And before anyone says I was plunged into doom by these three wickets, I was already pessimistic when it kicked off.  I just wish I had put this an hour and a half sooner.

My mood is not helped by me still having to rely on my stupid laptop and it is like wading through sewage.

Also, I began the day with a Rameau harpsichord CD that had been on pause, and since it is one of those annoying CDs (a triple CD actually) without the tracks and timings on the cover, just in the inside booklet, it is hard to note where I am it in, so a CD started needs to be finished.  And Rameau on the harpsichord, at any rate this particular Rameau on the harpsichord, was very minor key and lugubrious.

Every damn morning the laptop seems to insist on doing a “scheduled scan” (which always discovers nothing but takes for ever)..  This is the sewage aspect.  At least things on that front are now a bit better.  (I was reminded about that by a little box bottom left saying Scan Completed 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 blah blah blah.)

Last night I watched a very depressing documentary about the holocaust, The Allies knew.  But they didn’t believe it, or didn’t want to.  My newly purchased milk is already going sour.  There is a tube strike that has caused the entire tube to shut for the day.  The weather for the ASI boat party this evening looks like being very grim and grey.

At least England haven’t lost another wicket before lunch.  88-3.  Not good, but not catastrophic.  Or not yet.

Wednesday July 01 2015

Yesterday I wrote here about the twenty-first century social obligation to use a mobile phone when meeting up with someone, because of the problems this solves and despite the problems this creates.  Hence the need for me to take my mobile phone with me when going photowalkabout with G(od)D(aughter) 1.

But, on Saturday evening, the evening before GD1 and I went on our walk, I was very nearly deprived of my mobile phone, by which I mean deprived of the ability to make use of it.

What happened was that, while I was also out and about on Saturday evening, a baritone-singing student friend of mezzo-soprano-singing student G(od)D(aughter) 2, sought the help of GD2.  His mobile had run out of puff and needed a recharge.  GD2 uses an iPhone, but Baritone has an Android mobile, so Baritone could not use GD2’s recharger.  What to do?

Between them they decided that I and my Android recharger might be the answer.  I guess that GD2 then rang me on my immobile home number and discovered that I was out.  Then, knowing my aversion and incompetence as a mobile phoner, and especially as a reliable receiver of incoming mobile messages, she did not not attempt to ring me on my mobile.  Or, she did try my mobile and I did not answer.

For various reasons that I still don’t understand and which in any case do not now matter, Baritone ended up coming to my home, armed with GD2’s key to my home, and having made his entrance, he “borrowed” my mobile phone recharger.

I want to emphasise that the above quote marks are not sneer quotes.  They are confusion quotes.

For, what exactly does it mean to “borrow” a mobile phone charger?  What GD2 meant, when she assured Baritone that it would okay for him to “borrow” my phone charger, was that it would be okay for him to charge up his mobile phone, using my charger at my home.  As indeed it would have been.

However, Baritone misunderstood this assurance to mean that it would be okay for him to “borrow” my charger, as in: take it away and make use it throughout Saturday evening, in other places besides mine.  I don’t believe that Baritone would have done this without that assurance from GD2, as he understood it.  After all, whereas charging up your mobile in situ is socially very okay, taking a charger away without permission is surely a twenty-first century social gaff of the first order.  But, Baritone thought that he had permission to do this otherwise unacceptable thing.  GD2 is adamant that she gave no such permission, but I believe that Baritone genuinely thought that this unusual procedure was, in the light of GD2’s assurance, okay.  He made this clear in a written thankyou note he left on my desk.

And it normally would have been okay.  Had I not been going on an expedition the following day with GD1, then the charger could have made its way back to my home some time on or around Sunday, and all would have been fine.  But, for all the reasons that were explained in the previous posting, I needed that charger by quite early on Sunday morning at the latest.

So, despite GD2s protestations, I acquit Baritone of wrongdoing.

But then again, Baritone is a baritone.  And baritones often behave very badly, quite often at the expense of notably virtuous mezzo-sopranos.  So maybe I’m being too kind.

All was speedily corrected by GD2, who was rather insulted by the profuseness of my thanks when she brought my charger back at 8am on Sunday morning.  Of course I got your charger back.  (See what I mean about virtuous mezzo-sopranos.)

It was just as well that I did get it back.  In addition to using my mobile for all that meeting up at the start of the day, I also used it for its map app, and to tell me how Surrey were doing against Gloucester.  Very well, as it happened.  Nothing like your sports team winning to keep you going when you are knackered.

However, I now understand better why people have cameras with mobile phones built into them.  What with my bag and all, I was having constantly to choose between knowing where I was, and photoing it.

Surrey are on a bit of a roll just now.  This evening they beat Gloucester again, in a T20 slog at the Oval.  Surrey needed a mere six runs from the last four balls.  So, how did they get them?  The last four balls went: wicket, dot, dot, six.  In English that’s: probable Surrey victory, possible Surrey victory, almost impossible Surrey victory, Surrey victory.  I got that off my laptop, but I could have got it from my mobile, if I had been out and about.  Provided it hadn’t run out of puff.

Friday June 26 2015

What with my computer misbehaving, and having a meeting chez moi this evening, I am only in the mood for a bit of frivolity.  Which is fine, because Friday is the day set aside here for frivolity of a feline nature.  Earlier in the week I was able to connect the subjects of drones and cricket.  Today, how about cats a cricket? And cats and drones?

Well, the best cats and cricket connection I have recently noticed occurred in a Channel 5 telly show called “Psycho Pussies: When Cats Attack”.  Having spent the last few weeks showing us how various animals, cats, dogs, pets, or just animals, make us LOL, they now turned to the dark side of feline behaviour.

I was only half watching, but my impression was that they were talking to the same small bunch of owners – owners willing to live with psycho pussies – over and over again.  I surmise that (a) most cats do not thus misbehave, and that in most of the cases where cats do thus misbehave (b) evolution swings into action in the form of a lethal injection.  But, there were a few masochistic pscho pussy owners, one of whom dressed up in cricket gear by way of self-protection rather than take the obvious lethal step.  And there was my connection.  Remember that for Friday, I said.  And I wasn’t the only one to notice this cat/cricket angle.

image

As for cats and drones, well the internet is flooded with gruesome pictures of that dead cat that some psycho artist turned into a quadcopter, or whatever the small and amateur drones are now called.  (Real Drones are as yet only used by Americans, to kill people.) I seem to recall doing a blog posting way back about this feline quadcopter, but cannot now find it.

However, far more amusing than this old and horrible story was what I also found during my quest for a drone cat connection, namely this:

image

The point being that for some, drones are, just like cats, pets.  And, pets get lost.  And when pets get lost, posters get put up, appealing for help.

I don’t reckon neighbours will be so sympathetic and cooperative, though.

Wednesday June 24 2015

I like cricket.  And I like drones.  But which is best?

There’s only one way to find out.  Fight.

Actually, all the drone did there was hover, waiting to be clobbered, which, a minute and a half in, it duly was, by Chris Gayle.

What I want to see is a game where drones fight against each other.  Or a war.  Either would do.

Or, perhaps a demo.

Tuesday June 09 2015

Preview – England begin latest rebuild, announced the Cricinfo front page, betting on this latest one being a flop.  But then what happens?

This.  England batted first and this is what the Cricinfo guy said after their innings had finished:

5.45pm, tea  Well that is extraordinary. Two scintillating hundreds, first from Joe Root but then usurped by Jos Buttler. Eoin Morgan and Adil Rashid playing their parts too in big partnerships, and all after losing a wicket first ball of the innings! Just some of the records here: England’s first ODI score of over 400, the first score over 400 in an ODI in England, the most sixes in an innings from England, the world record seventh-wicket stand in an ODI. Few others I’m sure. But England have played a blinder here and if New Zealand can get anywhere close to chasing it, we’re in for an outrageous evening. See you in 25 mins…

The last over of the England innings went like this: 1 W W 6 1nb 6 1.  Both the sixes were hit by England’s number ten, Plunkett, in an innings consisting of those last four balls there after those two Ws.  This took England well past 400 just when it looked like they might not get to 400 after all, on account of Buttler and then Rashid (they of the record seventh-wicket stand) getting out near the end.

Jason Roy getting himself out to the first ball of the match was by no means at all the worst one-day innings you’ll ever see or hear about, because at least Roy only consumed one ball making zero runs.  Thirty balls making not much more than zero is what will cost you your place in an ODI side, not very few balls making very few.  Provided you don’t make too much of a habit of it, getting out first or second or third ball is okay.  It comes with the territory.

Paul Collingwood was recently accused by various scumbag headline writers - headline writers are the origin of most of the biggest media lies, I find - of calling for “no consequences” cricket.  But if you actually read the reports below the scumbag headlines by the scumbag headline writers, you find that what Collingwood really said was stuff like this:

“The guys in world cricket now who have taken the game to the next level are people like AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, Chris Gayle and they are playing as if they are in the back yard. It’s as if there are no consequences on their wicket whatsoever. Somehow a coach has to get that environment, certainly in the one-day form of the game, to where he can say ‘lads, you’re backed, don’t worry, you have games to fail, go out there and prove what you can do’. I think that is an important factor in how to get the utmost amount of skills from each player.”

“It’s as if there are no consequences ...” Of course there are consequences if you make a succession of small scores and no big ones, as Collingwood perfectly well knows and as he never denied.  But the best players play as if that wasn’t the case, because they know that every few tries they’ll make big runs.

Talking of Jason Roy, Roy usually plays for Surrey, and also today, Surrey trounced Leicester with a day to spare, and are now promotion contenders.  Leicester, big deal, I hear you sneer.  But Surrey have had a bad habit of late of not taking enough wickets in such situations.  They have, over recent years, bought in all sorts of big name England or nearly-England bowlers, who then try to bowl sides out at the Oval and lose the will to live, never mind bowl.  This win was accomplished by younger bowlers with less starry names, notably by one young bowler called Curran, who also batted well.  Also, Surrey now have a new spinner who is coming along nicely called Ansari, and there is talk of him playing for England soon, because he bowls better than Moeen Ali.  But Surrey didn’t buy Ansari in after he had already proved his worth, they spotted him early and trained him up themselves.  Ansari is also quite a good batter, having learned in recent months the art of hitting boundaries, which he never used to do until this season.  It would be nice to see Surrey creating England players (or in Curran’s case maybe South African players, unless England come calling first) rather than just buying them in after someone else has created them, so to speak.

But I digress.  In the NZ reply to England, the one-man wrecking ball that is Brendan McCullum hit two fours and then got out, off the last three balls of the first over.  And whereas England were able to do without Roy, and later Stokes and new boy Billings, all of whom struck out with the bat, NZ really needed some slogging from McCullum to get them going, and they never truly recovered from his early departure.  There were, in other words, consequences to McCullum getting out so quickly.  See also: the recent World Cup Final.  NZ ended up getting less than half England’s score, losing by 210.

England won the first test match against NZ in style, only to lose the second not at all in style.  So they could easily make a hash of the next ODI against NZ, as everyone realises.  But in the meantime: hurrah, and I am now going to settle down to watch the TV highlights.

Friday June 05 2015

Indeed.  Photoed by me in September 2005, i.e. just under a decade ago:

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Had I known how interested I would later become in white vans, I would have done a proper picture of the white van there.  At the time all I cared about was the new Wembley Stadium, in the background there.  But it says something that I considered this particular white van to be a worthy foreground to all that Big Arch activity.  It also shows how white van graphics have progressed since then, the ones there being very straight and rectangular, like they’re done with Letraset, as maybe they were.

On the day I took that shot, I also took other shots like this one ...:

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... and this one, which I recall especially liking at the time:

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Blue sky.  That never fails.  Not then, not now.

Thursday May 28 2015

I was out and about again today, and I have now got into the habit of photoing newspaper front pages, often in the shop where I usually buy my monthly copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine (by “music”, they mean classical music).  Which means that the guy in the shop doesn’t mind me photoing other stuff.

The big story just now is of course FIFA, and the badness of Blatter:

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But, this front page story also got my attention:

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I don’t mean the FIFA stuff flagged up in the big yellow bit at the top of the page.  I mean the bit below, where it says “Cameron cuts off labour funding”.  Although the Daily Telegraph itself now lives behind a paywall, I managed to find the story here.

This would appear to confirm what my friend Tim Evans says about Cameron.  He is a much more determined and focussed politician than he lets on, and much more “right wing”.  He is systematically destroying the Labour Party.  Trying to, at any rate.

But, and this is what pisses off many libertarians, he is a politician whose focus is on changing institutions (in this case destroying an institution) rather than in spreading ideas.  Also, he does things one at a time, which means he leaves a ton of bad stuff untouched, and often does other bad stuff, to protect the main task in hand.

All of the above flies in the face of the Samizdata orthodoxy, which is perhaps why I am thinking aloud about this stuff here, rather than there.  If I put anything there about this stuff, I will have to think it through better than I have so far.

Monday May 25 2015

Am I going to have to stop denouncing test matches that clash with the IPL?  The IPL didn’t seem to have a lot of close finishes this time around.  (Yesterday’s final was over long before it was over, if you get my meaning.) And now, both England and New Zealand have all their top players playing test cricket, in England, in May.  And playing it really well.  NZ, a far better team now than they were only a few years back, got over 500 in their first innings and a serious first innings lead.  But yesterday Cook batted all day, and Stokes scored a century that absolutely did not take all day.

What struck me, watching Stokes on the C5 highlights yesterday evening, was how sweetly his off-drives were struck.  He is no mere slogger, although he definitely can slog.  Thanks to Stokes, England can now, on the final day, win.

Stokes hitting two blistering scores at number six (he also got 92 in the first innings), and Root not wasting any time at number five, means that Pietersen can now kiss his test career a final goodbye.  Had the England batting failed in this mini-series against NZ, and above all had it failed slowly, the cries for Pietersen to come in and beef it up and speed it up would have grown in volume.  As it was, the slow guys at the top failed (Lyth and Ballance both twice over), apart from Cook yesterday, while the quick batters got on with it.  This leaves no place for Pietersen.  Bell?  A decent innings in the next game will end any moans about him.

Meanwhile, this test match, as of today, is a real cracker.  And today is one of those great test days in London where they cut the prices for the last day and Lord’s suddenly fills up with people like me.  Not actually me, today.  But I thought about it.  And if I thought about actually going, it can’t be that I think the game is meaningless.  Score one for the Old Farts who think that the IPL is just a faraway T20 slog of which we know little.

This game began with England being 30 for 4.  Now NZ are 12 for 3, “chasing” (the inverted commas there meaning: forget about it) 345.  Broad, a bowler who, in between match winning performances, looks like a bit of a waste of space, has two wickets already.  Plus, Taylor, whom Broad has just got out, was dropped off him in the previous over, and that now gets mentally chalked up by both sides as further evidence that another wicket is liable to fall at any moment.

Earlier in the week Paul Collingwood of Durham was talking up Stokes, also of Durham.  He can bat, said Collingwood, which he could say with confidence after Stokes made his first innings 92.  Stokes can also bowl, said Collingwood and should do so earlier than he has tended to so far in his test career.  He is not just a filler in, said Collingwood.  Well, now, with the score a mere 16 for 3, Stokes is bowling.

At lunch, NZ 21 for 3.

LATER: And just when I thought KP was forgotten, there was Boycott on the radio talking him up, as a replacement for the as-of-now non-firing Ian Bell.  So if England get hammered in the first two Ashes tests, with Bell getting four more blobs or near blobs ...  Maybe KP ...  I just added a question mark to my title.

LATER: Take a bow, Collingwood!  Stokes gets Williamson and McCullum in two balls!  NZ 61 for 5.

Sunday May 24 2015

Indeed.  Both of them were photographed by me, in central London, yesterday afternoon.

The first was very striking mainly because of its colour, or the colour it was showing to me.  Very pretty in pink:

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Seriously, I found this bus very eye-catching.  You don’t expect to see a London double decker decked out in that colour.

It was selling ice lollies.

The second strange bus was this:

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Something to do with Bayern Munich, as you can see.  I stood as far away from this bus as I could, but the pavement was just not deep enough.  But, you get the picture.

When I got home, I quickly found that the website shown there gets you to some sort of Bayern Munich fan club.  Dittelbrunn is a place just north of Schweinfurt.

But why “Gulp”?  Was “Gulp ‘82” some kind of tournament they won, in 1982?  I asked the internet what gulp means in German, but sadly, all the internet wanted to tell me was the German for gulp.  Anyone?

Thursday May 21 2015

After an hour in the first test against New Zealand, England are now 30 for 4.  This is exactly the sort of start the England bosses did not want, because it will amplify the clamour for the return of Kevin Petersen.

Quoth Cricinfo:

Here’s Ed: “Oh dear, an inevitably miserable summer for English cricket has now commenced ... and can already hear the plaintive cries of ‘KP, blah blah, must bring KP back ... blah, blah ... it’s SCANDALOUS, KP, blah blah, he’s box-office, you know ...’”

Well, you can see which side “Ed” is on.  As for me, well, I want cricket to be entertaining and diverting.  Whatever England do or do not manage this summer, first against New Zealand, and then against Australia, it will certainly be entertaining and diverting.  If England win, hurrah!  If they lose, then there will be all the “KP, blah blah” that Ed refers to.  Sport is, among other things, soap opera, and it promises to be hugely soapy and operatic this summer, because England now look like doing very badly.

My main opinion about English cricket just now is, as it has long been, that the people running it seem to imagine that the I(ndian) P(remier) L(eague), now nearing its climax for this year, is “just another T20 slogfest”, when in truth it is the Indian T20 slogfest, which means that you can earn more money playing in it than in the rest of your year as a cricketer.  Something like that anyway.  It’s a lot of money, especially if you are really good at it.  And money talks.  Money says that the world’s best players now all want to play in the IPL, and that they will not want to play stupid test matches in England against England.

I will never forget the first day of a recent England/WI series, in England, in mid-may, when Gayle scored a terrific century.  But, not a terrific century for the West Indies against England, a terrific century for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.  I also distinctly remember blogging about this at the time, on the day, but cannot find anything by me about this.

Yes I can.  Here:

I remember very little about that meaningless test series in England, but I do remember that on the first day of it, Chris Gayle scored a brilliant century. I watched this brilliant century on my television. But Gayle did not score this brilliant century for the West Indies, against England. He scored it for the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

You would think that the ECB would have got the message. How soon before cricket fandom everywhere just hoots with derision at these “test matches” in the sodden and frigid English spring? Such tests test nobody except the out-of-their depth second-stringers sucked into them. With the star players of the touring side missing, these tests mean very little. Sport is all about meaning. Drain the meaning from a game, and the thing is dead in the water. Literally in the water, if you are playing in England, in May, and you don’t get lucky.

So, memory does not deceive.

Well, it would seem that England still have the trick of enticing the best New Zealanders to come and play test matches in England, in mid-May.  That is, the NZ cricket bosses are still able to insist that their IPL-ers come to England, in the nick of time.  But this still isn’t satisfactory.  I will be interested to see, when I watch the highlights of day one this evening on the telly, how big the crowd is.

England, at lunch, are now somewhat less soapy and less operatic 113 for 4, after the beginnings of a decent stand between Root and Stokes.  But still very iffy.

Here is a picture I took in 2005 of Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne, which I spotted at Waterloo Station in June of that year (it’s not one of those pictures):

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Having had lunch, England are now 182 for 4, and the big stand by Root and Stokes is getting bigger and bigger.  Stokes is really stepping on it.  Hurrah!  If England end up with a decent score, the KP clamour will fade.

And, happy coincidence, my other team, Surrey, are also right now enjoying a century stand for the fifth wicket, this time by Sanga and Roy.  Roy is really stepping on it.

Happy days.

MOMENTS LATER: Stokes out, Sanga out, withing seconds of each other.  Not so happy.