Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Sport

Monday May 02 2016

A week ago and more, the story was that Spurs were hunting them down, waiting for them to falter.  But it was Spurs who faltered, twice.  They had leads against both the last two teams the have played, but all they could muster was just the two points.  So Leicester, and most of the rest of the world that cares about such things, is now celebrating:

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All season long, people have been saying that Leicester would falter.  Now people are saying that this is a one-off, and that they’ve been lucky not to have more injuries and to have picked a moment when the hitherto best teams were all “rebuilding”.  We’ll see.  Leicester remind me a bit of Nottingham Forest of old, who were also said not to be front rankers, and had quite a few players rescued from the scrap heap.  They did pretty well, for a while.

Spurs?  Well, they have a new stadium coming soon, so there’s a decent chance this is Spurs on the up too.  On the other hand, there’s nothing like new architecture to take people’s eyes off the ball.  Again, we shall see.

As frequently threatened, this blog is going more and more to be about the process of getting old.  Yesterday’s posting was about that, and so is this one.

I have spent the morning doing various household trivia, internetting, and then, in particular, come eleven o’clock, keeping up with county cricket.  This really takes me back, to the time when, as a small boy, I was glued to my radio, keeping up with county cricket.  Then as now, just the numbers were enough to tell me a lot of what was going on.

Second childhood is catered to by tradesmen with just as much enthusiasm as first childhood is, the difference between that we second childhooders now make all our own decisions.

When I was a child, a magic machine that trotted out not just county cricket scores but entire continuously updated county cricket scorecards would have been a marvel.  Now, I have it, and just at the moment in my life when my actual life is winding down, and county cricket again seems like something interesting.  Between about 1965 and about 1995, I paid almost zero attention to county cricket.  I could not have told you who was winning or who had last won the County Championship during those decades.  The newspapers and the telly had remained interested only in international cricket, there was not yet any internet, and above all, I had a life.  But now that life as such is slipping from my grip, county cricket becomes an attraction again.

Notoriously, old age is the time when you remember your childhood better than anything else, or at least you think you do.  And the things that had intense meaning then have intense meaning still.  So it is that much of commerce now consists of digging into the manic enthusiasms that reigned six or seven decades ago, and rehashing them as things to sell now.  On oldie TV, such as I was watching last night, you see shows devoted to the obsessions of the nearly (but not quite yet) forgotten past all the time, every night.  As the years advance, shows about WW2 are succeeded by shows about 1950s dance halls or crooners or early rock and rollers, or ancient cars and trams and steam trains.  Often the shows now are about how the steam trains themselves are being revived, by manic hobbyists who have just retired from doing sensible things.

I know the feeling.  One of the best train journeys I recall from my boyhood was in the Cornish Riviera Express, driven by a huge 4-6-2 steam engine (for real, not as a “heritage” exercise) in about 1952, out of Waterloo.  I can still recall leaning out of the window on a curve, and seeing the locomotive up at the front, chomping away in all its glory, gushing smoke fit to burst.  I never quite turned into a full-blooded trainspotter, but like I say, I know the feeling.

A bit of a meander, I’m afraid.  But don’t mind me.  You’d best be going now.  I’m sure you have more important things on your mind.

Thursday April 21 2016

Circumstances had placed me at the Angel Tube.  My business was concluded and the weather was wondrous.  So, where to next?  There is a canal near there, but I didn’t fancy another canal walk, so instead I just walked along whatever road presented itself to me, in the general direction of the Big Things of the City (one of them (the Heron Tower) having been turned blazing gold by the early evening sun).  The road turned out to be Goswell Road.  A place of slightly down-at-heal struggle, where you felt that for some, the struggle wasn’t worth it, but for others, maybe.  That kind of in-between sort of a place.  Not as affluent as you’d expect for something that close to the City, but trundling along as best it could.  Big, shabby-modern university buildings.  Building sites.  Ethnic shops.

And then in amongst all this middlingness, a glimpse through what looked like a shop window, into a world of money-no-object designer gloss and nouveau riche ostentation.  What is all this stuff?

It all looked rather Zaha Hadid, especially this shiny but strange object, presumably for sitting on:

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And hey, look, there’s a picture of Zaha Hadid.  This is obviously a place that takes Zaha Hadid pretty seriously, and is very saddened by her recent death:

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Zaha Hadid, I should explain, is the world-renowned starchitect and designer, who recently died at the shockingly young age of 65.  When a starchitect dies at 65, that’s like a rock star dying at 22.  At 65, starchitects, rather like classical conductors, are just getting started.  The thing is, starchitects need power, and their target demographic is old decision-makers, so they tend to be old too.

What was this rather strange place?  I stepped back to see if there was any clue on the outside.

Here was a clue:

image

Good grief.  This is an actual Zaha Hadid place of work.

I crossed the road, to photo the whole thing:

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To be more exact, this is not the one place where Hadid and all her underlings did everything.  This is the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery, which opened in 2013 (I now learn), which would perhaps have been open for me to walk into had I encountered it earlier in the day.  The place displays many of Hadid’s numerous designs for Small Things, like furniture, lamps, sculptures, jewellery, paintings, and suchlike.

Considering what a wacky designer Hadid was, that’s a surprisingly prosaic building, isn’t it?  I’m guessing that it was not built specifically with her in mind, but was adapted.

So, no wonder that this place now contains memorials to Zaha Hadid, like this:

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There is some reflection of the outside in this next snap, but it gives you an idea of what the place as a whole is like, and what kind of stuff is in it:

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Frankly, for me, all this indoor small stuff does not show Hadid at her very best.  For that, I think, you have to go outside.

Her only building in London so far is the Aquatics Centre, which I photoed, very hastily, when I visited the top of the Big Olympic Thing.  Had I know then that Zaha Hadid had been about to die, I would have taken more photos of this building, and more carefully:

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I would, for instance, have placed it in a gap in that safety netting, rather than just randomly.  Another time.

But notice that even in that casual photo, the beauty, I think, of the building still asserts itself.  It’s like a sports helmet, of the sort worn by cyclists, and by some cricketers.

Even more remarkable is this amazing ancient-modern juxtaposition:

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This is now, apparently, nearing completion.  It might be worth a trip to Antwerp, just to see it.

Zaha Hadid’s underlings are going to try to keep the Zaha Hadid enterprise going, at least the architectural bit.  Good luck people, but you’re surely going to need it.

The rumour I heard is that Hadid was “difficult” to work for.  Maybe this was just an example of that law that says that bossy men are masterful, but bossy women are bossy.  But maybe she really was difficult to work for.  If so, this difficulty looks like it was all of a piece with the sorts of designs she created.

The thing is, Hadid was not some logical, everything-has-a-reason systematic, machines-for-living in, presider over a system of architectural problem solving.  She was the kind of architect who unleashed drama, excitement, at vast extra expense, if what you’re comparing it all with is a big rectangular box.  You only have to look at her stuff to see that any logic involved is just an excuse for a cool looking design.  Why does it look that way?  Because I, Zaha Hadid, say so, and I’m the boss, that’s why.  I make beautiful shapes.  Other people like them and buy them.  Deal with it.

That’s going to be a hard act to replace.

Sunday April 03 2016

Which meant he did it with two whole balls to spare and scored five runs more than necessary.  Here.  West Indies swept the board.  Under 19s, Ladies, and now the Gents.

The name of the four-sixes man begins with “Br” and towards the end there’s “thwait”.  So, this blog can feel some comfort.  It’s only a game.  Which is BMdotcom speak for: My side lost.

Friday April 01 2016

So back on Wednesday afternoon, I said I’d be going out, and I did go out.

I took a ton of photos, including this one, of the Wheel:

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And then this one, of Big Ben:

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And then this one of the Wheel again, and a general view of the River:

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I don’t think I’ll ever quite get used to being able to enjoy a cricket match and a walkabout, simultaneously.

The T20I, as they now call it, has worked out perfectly.  England are in the final (see above) by beating NZ.  Good.

And the West Indies are in the final also, because they beat India.  Even though Gayle was out in only the second over of their very difficult chase.  The Windian Ladies are also in their final.  Also good.

Good because cricket needs the West Indies to care about cricket and to go on playing it and playing it well.  (Indians are not going to lose interest in cricket any time soon, no matter what their team does or doesn’t do.)

Time was when the Windies were great at test cricket.  Then they became crap at test cricket and fans like me feared that they might soon switch their attention to a quite different sort of game.  Well, now they have.  Twenty-twenty cricket.

Sunday March 27 2016

Or: Spoughts thoughts?  You choose.

Sport (spought) has been good to me of late.  Last summer, England won the Ashes.  My local cricket team, Surrey, got promoted to division one, and also got to the final of the fifty overs county knock-out tournament.  England then defeated South Africa in South Africa.  England (a different England but still England) won the Six Nations rugby Grand Slam.  And now (back to cricket again) England have got to the last four of the twenty overs slog competition, alongside the Windies, India and New Zealand.  Few expect England to win this.  But then, few expected England to get to the last four.  No South Africa (beaten amazingly by England).  No Australia (beaten today by India (aka Virat Kholi)).  No Pakistan or Sri Lanka.  But: England still involved.

Concerning the Grand Slam, the best thing about it was England winning all its games, but otherwise it was … a bit crap.  The recently concluded World Cup, in which England did rather less well loomed too large over it.  The World Cup featured no Six Nations sides in its last four, and when watching our local lads stressing and straining against each other you couldn’t help (a) thinking that the Southern Hemispherians would murder them, and (b) that a lot of the best Six Nations players seemed to be Southern Hemispherians themselves.  I mean, what kind of rugby world are we living in when the most threatening French back is called Scott Spedding and was born in Krugersdorp, South Africa?

The Six Nations was worth it just to hear Jonathan Davies, a man whose commentating I have had reason to criticise in the past, say that a certain game is “crucial”, and that Wales have “matured”:

curry-yoosh-ull

mat-yoo-ard

As for the twenty-twenty slogfest now in full slog, well, I have been rooting for England (England’s best batsman being a bloke called Root), but also for Afghanistan.  You might think that as a devout anti-Islamist, which I definitely am, I would be rooting for the Muslim teams to lose.  But actually, I think sport is one of the leading antidotes to Islamo-nuttery, and it is my understanding that the Islamo-nutters regard sport and sports-nuttery not as an expression of Islamo-nuttery, but rather, as a threat to it.  Sports nuttery ultimately causes fellowship with the infidels rather than hatred of them, underneath all the youthful antagonisms which it does indeed inflame.  It’s hard not to get pally with people when you play or follow games with them and against them, especially as you get older, and remember previous hostilities with fondness rather than anger.

So, in short: go Afghanistan!  The Afghanistan twenty-twenty cricket team, I mean.  Afghanistan gave England a hell of a fright and nearly beat them.  And yesterday, they actually did beat the West Indies, even though it didn’t count for so much because the Windies had already got through to the semis and the Afghans would be going home now no matter what.  But, even so, beating the Windies was a big deal, and the cricket world will have noticed, big time.

Here is Cricinfo, at the moment of Afghan triumph:

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I love it when a T20 game really boils up, and they put “dot ball” in bold letters, the way they usually only write “OUT” and “FOUR” and “SIX” and “dropped”, or, as in this case, “an amazing, brave, brilliant running catch!”

And soon after that climax to the game, came this:

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Chris Gayle is quite a character.  Having scored a brilliant century against England that won the Windies that match and put England in the position of having to win everything from then on, his commitment to the West Indian cause is not in doubt, as it might have been had he celebrated like this with the Afghans without having done any other notable things in this tournament.  He has quarrelled with West Indian cricket bureaucrats over the years, and has definitely seemed to have like playing for the Bangalore Royal Challengers more than for the West Indies.

His demeanour after today’s Afghan game is in sharp contrast to his lordly impassivity after taking the wicket of David Miller of South Africa, which reduced South Africa to 47-5, a predicament from which they failed to recover

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One of the delights of virtually following this tournament is that it has been possible to watch little videos of dramatic moments, like the one of Gayle taking this wicket and then not celebrating very much.  The graphic additions to this posting are merely screen captures.  Clicking on them accomplishes nothing.  But if you go to the original commentary from which I took my graphics, you can click on the little black video prompts, and get a little video of the drama just described.

Also: Happy Easter.

Thursday March 17 2016

Getting properly out and about again after my winter hibernation, as I did earlier this week to Victoria Park (it’s easier to scroll down past yesterday’s Gulf Stream posting than to follow those links), reminded me that there are other major viewing spots in London I have yet to check out.

Such as, for instance, this Big Thing:

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I have photoed this Thing many times, but have yet to actually visit the Thing.

Yes it’s Anish Kapoor’s Big Olympic Thing.  Now that all the Olympic fuss has died down, and most of the people who fancied visiting this Thing have visited it, and they’ve finally finished making it as good a Thing as they can, getting into this Thing and up this Thing and to the top of this Thing may finally be a buyer’s market, rather than a hell of queueing and crowding and barging.  I tried the website, to see if I could buy a ticket remotely.  But as so often with me, I couldn’t make it work.  So, I will go there this afternoon, and see if I can buy some kind of ticket, from a person.  If that doesn’t work, then I think I recall seeing a phone number I could ring.  I also seem to recall the webiste mentioning an Old Git season ticket for an entire year that costs hardly more than a single visit.  That would be great.  I do love to go back to places, after I have looked at the first lot of photos and worked out what I was actually photoing.

Whether they will sell me a ticket face-to-face or not, I will still get to check out the fascist expanses of the Olympic Park, or whatever it is they call the big pointless spaces outside the Olympic Stadium.

Part of the top of which is visible in the above photo, which I took from the footbridge at Hackney Wick Overground Station, on my recent trip.

Sunday March 13 2016

The weather over the weekend has been excellent, but I have been stuck indoors watching the Six Nations, which England have just won, even though there’s a still another weekend to go, thanks to Scotland beating France today.

I nearly went out today, despite the rugby, which I could have watched the recording of instead of watching it live.  But this ...:

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... which is the London weather forecast for tomorrow, persuaded me to postpone going out until tomorrow, since the weather tomorrow is also going to be good.  Weather forecasts this near to the actual time they forecast are always accurate.

But, where to go.  I am fast running out of new places in London to visit.  I know that this is not true, but - rather bizarrely - that is how it now feels to me.  And in order to make a proper early start, I need a predetermined destination to get me going.  But, which destination?  Memo to self: before bed tonight, I need to have fixed on something enticing.

What I am already thinking about is to go south, on foot.  Across Vauxhall Bridge, maybe, but then, instead of going somewhere from Vauxhall Station, or walking along beside the river, I have in mind to go onwards, inland, in a south-westerly direction.  What is Kennington Park?  Can Big Things be seen from that?  Time to find out.  Then maybe wander in the general direction of the City, towards the Big Things.

Important.  The mobile phone needs to be powered up, because I will need to know where I am at all times.

Monday February 29 2016

Indeed:

Anyone trying to fly a UAV over the outdoor sets where the next installment of the Star Wars saga is being filmed in Croatia might be met by drones owned by the production company.

I knew there were such things, but it’s good to actually read about them.

The fun really starts when drones on spy missions like this are also armed, so they can fight off the drones that attack them.

Drone v drone fighting is going to be a spectacular sport, just as soon as it starts getting organised.

When me and the Transport Blog gang visited the Farnborough Air Show, way back when we did, it was good, but it felt rather antiquated.  Drone v drone contests – real contests – would liven that up no end.

Saturday February 06 2016

Today I have been what passes with me for busy.  By this I do not mean that I have been doing anything along the lines of work, of benefit to others.  Oh no.  But I have been paying attention to a succession of things, all of which involved me not being in much of a state to do anything else.

There was a game of cricket, there was a game of rugger, and a game of football.  England defeated South Africa.  England defeated Scotland.  And Spurs defeated Watford.  So, three for three. And then I went to hear a talk at Christian Michel’s, about The Unconscious, Freudian and post-Freudian.  Freud, it turns out, was right that there is an Unconscious, but wrong about a lot of the details.

On my way home from that talk, I took a photo.  Technically it was very bad photo, because it was taken through the window of a moving tube train.  It is of an advert at a tube station.  But my photo did the job, which was to immortalise here yet another assemblage of London’s Big Things, in an advert:

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That’s only a bit of the picture, rotated a bit, lightened and contrasted a bit and sharpened a bit.

The advert was for these visitor centres, which sound suspiciously like what used to be called “information desks”.

I see: the Cheesegrater, the Wheel, the BT Tower, Big Ben, the cable car river crossing, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s, and the pointy-topped Canary Wharf tower.  I forgive TfL for plugging the embarrassing Emirates Dangleway.  If they didn’t recommend it, who would?

Because of all that busy-ness, I have no time to put anything else here today.

Tomorrow: Super Bowl!

LATER: AB de Villiers, talking about South Africa now being two down with three to play:

“I can’t help but think, shit we have got to win three games in a row to win this series. Shucks, I mean. But that’s the fact of the matter. In situations like this, whether you are 2-nil up or 2-nil down, you have to take a small step. The next game is important for us. Shucks.”

We all know what shit is, but now learn what a shuck is.

Saturday January 16 2016

Given that I am not actually seeing any visuals on a screen, sleeping through the decisive passage of play of the latest test match in South Africa only made it more dramatic.

There I was, making sure I was awake and able to start the recording of Record (as they have now gone back to calling it (it had been CD)) Review, and then getting up for a piss and a cool down before getting back to bed again for a bit of a lie in, by which time England were all out 323, with a first innings lead of 10.  Before dozing off, I learned that Sinopoli’s Cavalleria Rusticana was the winning Cavalleria Rusticana in a strong field, and then I surfaced again and was informed by my other bedside radio that South Africa had lost no wickets in reply and were ahead at lunch, and then I dozed off again, and then got up properly ... to learn from my computer that South Africa were 44-5, oh no make that 45-6, correction 46-7.  Game over.

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That pic is the last one of these.

A lot of cricket photos these days, including most of this lot, seem to be, not of cricketers doing great things, but of cricketers celebrating having just done them.  The pictures of Moeen Ali’s broken bat are also fun, but again, what you really want to see is the moment when it broke.  The above photo is a refreshing exception.  It shows Broad actually taking the final wicket of the South African innings, with a diving caught and bowled.

LATER:

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One of the pictures in this.

Sunday January 03 2016

Indeed.  6000 miles away, in Cape Town, England have been making hay in the sunshine:

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Sunshine?  Well, I heard a commentator say at the start of the game that it was 43C out in the middle.

I do love the screen capture function.  I can’t think of any better way to frieze an otherwise doomed-to-oblivion sporting moment.  Now, it makes little difference.  But when, as death approaches, I entertain myself by scrolling back through this blog, postings like this one will be very sweet to remember.

England reached 629-6 after being 223-5.  And now, South Africa are 7-1 in reply:

Anderson to van Zyl, OUT, oh no! It goes from bad to worse for South Africa! A shambolic piece of running. Van Zyl pushed the ball into the off side and set off for the run, but Elgar wasn’t interested at all. Van Zyl was halfway down the pitch and had no chance to get back as the throw came in from Compton to Bairstow at the stumps.

Hashim Amla now in.  Out of-form-batsman, and out-of-depth captain of a team already one-down in the series, and he knows at least one of these things and probably both.  So if he also got a double century now, that would cheer me up too, because look what the human species - the species that both I and Hashim Amla are members of - is capable of when under extreme pressure.

Amla doing well now would also be good for cricket.  You know your team is doing well, when you start thinking that if the other guys were to start doing a bit better, that would be good for cricket.  Although, were Amla to get out soon, I could just about stand the disappointment.

Tuesday December 29 2015

In the summer of 2012, there was lots of sculpture made with plastic milk bottles in and around the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Part of it looked like this:

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I remember greatly enjoying this at the time, when I chanced upon it on June 9th 2012 (which happens to be the same day I took these photos of Cannon Street station and St Paul’s and its surroundings, and this photo of a lady wearing sunglasses and holding two cameras).  It helped me enjoy this sculpture that I did not know what I know now (through following the link above), which is that this was in aid of the Olympics.
I came upon this while searching for Wicked Camper vans.  More about that later.  Maybe.  I promise nothing.

Thursday December 10 2015

Where would we be without maps?  In what world would we be living, without maps?  A very different world, I think, and a much less coherent and join-up world.  While travelling we consult maps, and are often unable to distinguish later what we learned by actually going there and being there, and what we merely saw on maps while going where we went, and being where we went.  That was my experience anyway, when, much younger, I roamed about in Europe, on a bike.

However, when I am on a walk with Goddaughter One, I tend to learn rather little from maps, until afterwards.  She is usually the one choosing where we go, and I just follow her lead.  And, I don’t consult a map, because I always have my bag with me, and my camera in the other hand, and would need a third hand for a map, but do not have a third hand.  There is accordingly a basic sense in which, after one of our joint expeditions, I don’t know, at the time, where I am, and don’t know, afterwards, where I have been.

It would be different if I was taking photos with my mobile phone, and also using that as a map.  But, I use a regular old camera to take the pictures I take.  I only use a mobile when (a) I want to take a photo, (b) have forgotten to bring my regular camera, and (c) have remembered to bring my mobile.  This circumstance is very rare.

Take our most recent trek, the one which began when we met up at Manor House tube, talked for a while, and which only really got started after we had found our way to that amazing castle.  I only worked out quite recently that we had started our walk here:

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When we walked from Manor House tube we were walking south.  When we reached the Castle Climbing Centre, we arrived at the southern most point of our travels that day.  Then we took the path in an easterly direction along the canal, i.e. the blue line.  The map looks a bit like a pair of spectacles, I think.

Here are some of the pictures I took that day, when the journey really began:

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As you can see the path we took is called the New River Path (the canal being the New River).  Wikipedia seems to be quite informative about “New River (England)”, but my blogging software seems to refuse to do that link (brackets?), so you’ll have to take my word for it that some of the words there are these ones:

The New River is an artificial waterway in England, opened in 1613 to supply London with fresh drinking water taken from the River Lea and from Chadwell Springs and Amwell Springs (which ceased to flow by the end of the 19th century), and other springs and wells along its course.

I don’t know when those reservoirs happened.  Later, I presume.  Until this expedition, I had no idea that the “New River” even existed.

As I said at the end of this recent posting here, I have some catching up that I want to do.

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.