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Category archive: Australasia

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.

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):

image

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.

Wednesday March 04 2015

Yes, incoming from Michael Jennings:

As I see it, we have five teams in this World Cup who are any good and have some chance of winning it: Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lankan in Group A, and India and South Africa in Group B.

New Zealand will win Group A, the winner of the game between Australia and Sri Lanka on Sunday will come second, and the loser of that game will come third. (England will probably limp into fourth.) Barring major upsets, India will win Group B and South Africa will come second. Pakistan and the West Indies (or possibly even Ireland) will take the third and fourth places, but it is very hard to say in what order at this point.

This means in the quarter finals, New Zealand, India, and the winners of Australia v Sri Lanka get relatively easy quarter finals, and South Africa and the losers of Australia v Sri Lanka get a tough one. Given South Africa’s history of choking in World Cup knockout matches, I can’t imagine this thrills them. The possibility of playing Australia at home in the quarter final really doesn’t thrill them, I suspect.

Australia will want to beat Sri Lanka, though. Not only do they avoid South Africa in the quarter final, but that way they also avoid the possibility of having to play New Zealand in New Zealand in the semi-final. If they beat Sri Lanka and come second in the group, the only way they can play New Zealand again would be at the MCG in the final. The New Zealand crowd was apparently rather abusive towards the Australian players last week, and Australian crowds remember such things and have a tendency to want to get their own back. (The New Zealand players were apparently paragons of sportsmanship, though.)

Makes sense.

I’m following it from here.

Alas, the team I’ve been supporting (aside from Dead Team Walking England), Afghanistan, have just been crushed by Australia, by what I am guessing is a record (of some sort) margin.  These record margins have become a World Cup Thing, presumably because net run rate now looms large in qualification calculations.  So, when you get on top, you make sure you stay on top and cash in.  It will be interesting to see if anyone does qualify, or fail to qualify, because of run rate calculations.

Sunday March 01 2015

The other day (to be more exact: on this day) I described England as a “dead team walking”, in the currently unfolding Cricket World Cup.  So, if England now turn around and start winning and winning well, well, that’s good because hurrah England.  But if England carry on losing, and losing badly, then hurrah me for being right.

How to snatch happiness out of thin air: be a prophet of doom proved right.  There are other ways to place a bet besides spending money.

This explains a lot about the world, I think.  Basically, as Steven Pinker has pointed out in the first half of that excellent (because of its first half) book of his, everything (approximately speaking) is getting better, slowly and with many back-trackings, but surely.  Yet to listen to publicly expressed opinion, both public and posh, you’d think that everything was getting worse, all the time.  And it’s been like that throughout most of recorded history.  But people are not really that pessimistic.  All that is really happening is that people are predicting the worst in order to be happy if the worst happens, and also happy if the worst does not happen.

Friday February 27 2015

Indeed:

image

If you know your cricket, you can learn an amazing amount about what just happened from a screen like that.

For me, the most remarkable bit is where it says: “80 runs, 3.2 overs ...” What we see, basically, is the moment when the game went from difficult for the Windies to win, to impossible.

Match report here.

I had the radio on all night to listen to this game, woke up at about 7am when SA were about 320 off nearly fifty overs, listened until they were 378 with one over to go, went for a piss, and came back to find them having finished on 408.  30 off the last over, including four sixes.  I then switched off, in order to get back to sleep quickly enough for it to be worth it, confident the game was over as a contest.  So it proved.  Gayle made 215 in the previous Windies game, but I was not surprised to see him get out for a small score against SA.

I also had the radio on for the previous night, when Afghanistan beat Scotland, in a see-sawing thriller.

I am now suffering from World Cup lag.  I think as reason why I am enjoying this tournament so much is that England are a dead team walking.  They were a long shot going into the tournament, and it would now take a total miracle for them to win it, by which I mean about three miracles laid end to end.  That means I can relax and enjoy all the other teams knocking seven bells out of each other.  And if those miracles do start happening, I can enjoy them too, as a bonus.

Thursday February 26 2015

This is cool, says Instapundit, and he’s not wrong:

For all his joie de vivre, Jardine is a master drone builder and pilot whose skills have produced remarkable footage for shows like Australian Top Gear, the BBC’s Into the Volcano, and a range of music videos. His company Aerobot sells camera-outfitted drones, including custom jobs that require unique specifications like, say, the capacity to lift an IMAX camera. From a sprawling patch of coastline real estate in Queensland, Australia, Jardine builds, tests, and tweaks his creations; the rural tranquility is conducive to a process that may occasionally lead to unidentified falling objects.

Simply put, if you’ve got a drone flying challenge, Jardine is your first call.

So, Mr Jardine is now flying his flying robots over volcanoes.  There are going to be lots of calls to have these things entirely banned, but they are just too useful for that to happen.

When I was a kid and making airplanes out of balsa wood and paper, powered with rubber band propellers, I remember thinking that such toys were potentially a lot more than mere toys.  I’m actually surprised at how long it has taken for this to be proved right.

What were the recent developments that made useful drones like Jardine’s possible?  It is down to the power-to-weight ratio of the latest mini-engines?  I tried googling “why drones work”, but all I got was arguments saying that it’s good to use drones to kill America’s enemies, not why they are now usable for such missions.

Monday February 02 2015

Incoming from Michael J:

Katy Perry and dancing Nazi sharks. I guess this is why you stay up for the Superbowl.

image

Actually I missed KP’s half time performance, but I have it on one of my various TV hard disks.  I did stay up until the Superbowl ended, but I found myself only giving it about a third of my attention.

I did tune in at the end.  That bizarre catch was fun.  But the game ended the way it did because, at any rate in the opinion of all the commentators, the Seattle Seahawks made a horrible mistake.  ("I cannot believe that call!") Truly great games are won because of something wonderful, not something horrible.  In an ideal world, you want the losers thinking, not: “Oh Shit, What Were We Thinking?!?!?  We’ll have nightmares about that for the rest of our lives.” You want them thinking: “Well, there was nothing we could have done about that.” And the winners can spend the rest of their lives remembering that they did it, not that the other guys did it for them.

And then this morning there was this:

6 1 6 . 6 6 | . 4 W 4 W 1 | 1 . 1wd 6 6 6

That’s the last three overs of the England Second Eleven‘s batting effort against the South Africa Second Eleven.  I love how you can now follow these bizarrely obscure games.  Ben Stokes, who has been having a rough time of it of late, is the one hitting six of those seven sixes at the end, and finishing on 151 not out (off 86 balls) , out of 378-6.  Perhaps someone in the England First Eleven (recently crushed by Australia in a triangular warm-up tournament) will get hurt during the forthcoming World Cup, and Stokes will be inserted into their team.  Such is the romance of sport.

Finally, here is a piece by cricket boffin Ed Smith, about how having fun is very important.  Because of fun, Alexander Fleming invented penicillin, etc.  But the real reason for fun is that having fun is fun.  It’s articles like this that cause insane parents to send their children to Fun Classes.

I shouldn’t mock.  It’s a good piece.  And fun is what this blog here is mostly about.

Tuesday January 27 2015

Lexington Green, here:

What if … ?

What would a history of the British Empire look like if it did not use the “rise and fall” metaphor?

What would that history look like if it examined not just the political framework or just the superficial gilt and glitter, or just the cruelty and crimes, but the deeper and more enduring substance?

What if someone wrote a history of the impact of the English speaking people and their institutions (political, financial, professional, commercial, military, technical, scientific, cultural), and the infinitely complex web of interconnections between them, as a continuous and unbroken story, with a past a present … and a future?

In other words, what if we were to read a history that did not see a rising British Empire followed by a falling Empire, then a rising American Empire which displaced it, but an organism which has taken on many forms over many centuries, and on many continents, but is nonetheless a single life?

What if we assume that the British Empire was not something that ended, but that the Anglosphere, of which the Empire was one expression, is something that has never stopped growing and evolving, and taking on new institutional forms?

What if it looked at the unremitting advance, the pitiless onslaught, universal insinuation, of the English speakers on the rest of the world, seizing big chunks of it (North America, Australia), sloshing up into many parts of it and receding again (India, Nigeria, Malaya), carving permanent marks in the cultural landscape they left behind, all the while getting wealthier and more powerful and pushing the frontiers of science and technology and all the other forms of material progress?

What if jet travel and the Internet have at last conquered the tyranny of distance which the Empire Federationists of a century ago dreamed that steam and telegraph cables would conquer? What if they were just a century too early?

What if linguistic and cultural commonalities are more important than mere geographical location in creating political unity in this newly shrunken world?

I recall musing along the same kind of lines myself, a while back.

The important thing is, this mustn’t be advertised first as a plan.  If that happens, then all the people who are against the Anglosphere, and who prefer places like Spain and Venezuela and Cuba and Hell, will use their ownership of the Mainstream Media to Put A Stop to the plan.  What needs to happen is for us to just do it, and then after about two decades of us having just done it, they’ll realise that it is a fate (as the Hellists will describe it) accompli.

Because, guess what, we probably are already doing it.

BMdotcom What if? of the day
Some batsman – some neck
Home advantage and hoping for the best in the World Cup
Early tries by my guys
Games lovely games
England crush Australia and keep the Ashes
Gloomy Earl’s Court picture
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Ashes black out
Who was the youngest batsman to reach 7000 runs in Tests?
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Interesting software NewZ
Australian selection inconsistency and getting the causal link the wrong way round
Quite a morning
Australian cricket is doomed! - or maybe not
Views from Kings College
Carnage at Adelaide
Interwar Old English pub dwarfed by modernity
NZ doing a bit better than England
New bridge in Melbourne
Sportsmanship by us – bullying by them
Boxing Day morning at the MCG
The Green alliance
No wickets in the first over shock
The Ashes: chickens and now a swallow
How quickly the mood can change!
Wagga Wagga has been flooded by the Murrumbidgee River
And it resumes …
A down and up weekend
More blood to Australia
First blood to Australia
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Nice try
Twenty ten twenty ten
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Ums and ahs
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Stepping forward into the abyss!
In other news …
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Another Samizdata piece
Dongling at Michael’s
Brisbane church dwarfed by modernity and this posting behaving very strangely
Keith Windschuttle on history - truth - Robert Hughes
A new British citizen
Guido Fawkes gets Douglas Jardine wrong
New Zealand crumple at Trent Bridge
First Jaques – then Ponting – then Katich – then Hussey cleaned up
Ashes news
Fourth innings heroics
More rugby talk
Australia out! – New Zealand out! – pass forward!
Further pictorial shallowness