Stokes, Woakes and Foakes could all be playing in the second test

In January 2019, I noted that an England cricket team took to the field which included all three of Stokes, Woakes and Foakes. But that was a mere warm-up game, against something called the West Indies President’s XI, so it hardly counted. However, on Saturday first thing in the morning our time, the second test of the four India v England tests looks like it might feature this same England trio. Wicket keeper Buttler and veteran quick bowler Anderson, both having played so very well in the first test, have both been dropped, as in “rotated”. Foakes is in for Buttler. And instead of Anderson and Broad both playing, Broad is in, plus one other specialist quick. This would have been Archer, but Archer is damaged. So, also included in the England twelve, one or other of them to replace Archer, are quick bowlers Olly Stone and … Woakes.

England’s batting is a worry, despite all the talk about how they scored ten out of ten in the first game. Its greatest current strength, Root, is also its greatest current weakness. What if Root fails to make about two hundred, as has been his habit in the last few games, and instead gets out in the England first innings for a small score, like under fifty? That could cost England the match. So, England will want to give the rest of their batting as much chance as they can to do well. Woakes is a much better batter than Stone. Stone, meanwhile, is a bit of an unknown quantity as a bowler. Woakes is not as quick as Archer, or Stone, but he is a good bowler, and I think he will play. Which means that the Stokes, Woakes, Foakes combination, this time in a real cricket match, is a real possibility.

If so, this will be one of cricket’s better recent joakes.

LATER: Not to be. Stone plays, rather than Woakes. And we’ll soon see if that works, because India have won the toss and, of course, will bat first.

Stone gets Shubman Gill for a duck, with his third ball! India 0-1.

What do I know?

The greatest ever sport weekend

Seriously, I can’t remember a weekend when there’s ever been more sport of the sort that I pay attention to. This particular weekend towards the beginning of February is usually pretty good, but this year it really has been remarkable.

It began with the second day of the India v England cricket test match, in the small hours of Saturday morning, and continued on Saturday morning with the final of the Big Bash in Australia. The Vince Sixers defeated the Livingstone Scorchers, teams which I thus name because all I care about in that tournament is how well the Brits do, and Vince did very well indeed. There was Premier League soccer to get excited about, which I do, a bit, both Saturday afternoon and evening and today afternoon and evening.

This was also the first weekend of the Six Nations, which is rugby union. Scotland beat England on Saturday, which was not nice, but this wasn’t because England were rubbish. It was because Scotland were not rubbish, and England were caught by surprise. Scotland being not rubbish made a nice change from the last twenty years or so of Scotland vying with Italy for bottom spot. All the Six Nations needs now is for Italy also to become a serious threat, and this tournament could enter a golden age of total unpredictability. But first up on Saturday, Italy were smashed again, by France. So that doesn’t seem like it’ll be happening any time soon.

Sunday morning. Day three of the India v England test match. England, having batted big, manage to get six Indian wickets. Afternoon, another six Nations, Wales beating Ireland. Soccer, with Spurs winning. Harry Kane back with Spurs and Spurs were accordingly back winning a game, which was nice. Then Man City thrashed Liverpool, and are now favourites, insofar as such a thing can exist in this anyone-can-beat-anyone season. Man City have an England guy called Foden, who everyone says is going to be really good. His goal at the end against Liverpool was quite something.

And now, late on Sunday evening and into Sunday morning, it’s only the Super Bowl. Number 55, or Super Bowl LV as nobody says. Live on British TV. I’m watching the beginning of that now. Brady beating Mahomes 2-0 in touchdowns so far.

And then when that’s done, it’ll straight back to the cricket out in India, also live on British TV. Day 4. Because the BBC is not being allowed to even commentate, let alone show video, of the cricket in India, they are pretty much ignoring it other than at their website, and are instead trying to get excited about tennis. There is apparently a big tennis tournament, going on somewhere on the planet, but I do not know or care where. All of which means that if I want to know how England are doing in that game, I have to get up and watch TV. Which I can do. Piece of piss, and of course it makes sense to combine it with that.

Which is a lot of sport. No wonder, this weekend, I have accomplished nothing. When I was middle aged, wondered if I’d still be paying attention to, and more to the point caring about, sport, when I got old. Turns out I still do. Especially the cricket and the rugby.

I hope you don’t mind the absence of links in this. My thinking is: If you care about any of these contests, you’ll already be linked into them. If you don’t care, then any link to whatever it is you don’t care about won’t add anything to your life.

Cricket lag will now be unavoidable

Oh dear. I’ve just discovered that this is happening, on Channel 4 TV:

You don’t need a jet to screw up your sleep patterns. Interesting television at 4am will do the job just as well.

I was just looking for daily highlights. Instead, I discover the whole thing.

For some reason this bit of computer graphics refused to allow Gadwin, my screen scanner, to scan it. So, I photoed it. “Rating 7”. Bloody cheek.

The game I’m now watching is this one. The very first thing I saw was Stokes getting out. Pujara nearly dropped it, but he didn’t. England now 431-4, with Root approaching his second double century in the space of three test matches.

And Root now has his two hundred, going to it with a six. 440-4. The stadium is empty, but he won’t care.

On cricket and sleep

Last night India beat Australia, in Australia, and I listened to it on the radio. That is to say, I listened to a lot of it.

But, I didn’t listen to all of it. I know I didn’t listen to all of it because there were big jumps in the score. Shubman Gill went from being about fifty not out, to having been out quite a while ago for nearly a hundred. Pant did another huge jump and a couple of Indian wickets fell, in a similar memory-hole fashion, later in the “day”.

This is not a posting trying to make you like cricket. But, one very interesting feature of cricket is how statistically detailed the unfolding of the story is, and always has been. Football can go from 1-0 with an early goal, to 1-0 with no further goals, to 1-0 as in the early scoring team wins it. You could be listening to the radio commentary and nod off a bit, and not even really be sure that you had nodded off.

But cricket scoring never stops dead like that. Runs are continuously scored, wickets keep falling. Miss out on an hour of that, and you immediately realise that you missed a huge chunk.

So it is that I absolutely know for sure that I didn’t listen to all of the India v Australia cricket last night. I listened to India making a solid start, in their chase for over three hundred in the day. I definitely caught the end, when India won it. But for big bits in between, I was … asleep.

With sleep, the difference between a bit and none can be all the difference. For cricket lag, the cricket version of jet lag, to set in thoroughly, you need to be wide awake exactly when you shouldn’t be. In my recent experience, a bursting bladder, by requiring you to be physically active, is surer way to doing that then merely dozing in a bed, listening to cricket in foreign parts, parts of it.

Will I get a good night’s sleep tonight? At the regular time? Because of the above, I do not rule out the possibility.

Tendulkar and his worshippers

I think this is an amazing photo, and not just because I happen to be obsessed with the phenomenon of mass digital photoing. I think I’d love this photo however my interest, or lack of it, in photoing, or for that matter in cricket, might have developed. I think it really tells you something about the job of being an elite sportsman:

What this is is the moment when cricket super-legend Sachin Tendulkar stepped out of the privacy of his changing room to walk out onto the pitch in Mumbai, to play his very last innings in test match cricket.

Others admired this photo very much also. It was the MCC-Wisden Photograph of the Year 2013. I was ignoring Twitter then, which is why I missed it back then. If I’d seen it, I’m sure I’d have noticed it.

India all out 36

Says Michael J, WFF? My sentiments exactly.

What I’m finding interesting is how so many closer observers than I of this drama are saying that it wasn’t bad batting, so much as (like this guy says) great bowling in perfect conditions for exactly such bowling.

Too bad Geoff Boycott seems to be past his commentating sell-by. I’d love to have heard what he thought about this Indian collapse. In the above linked-to piece, Sidharth Monga says that this collapse was like when Broad bowled Australia out for 60 at Trent Bridge, back when that happened. But Boycott then had lots to say about how the Australian batting was technically all wrong. Basically, as I recall, it was pushing the bat forward too firmly instead of holding back and playing more wristily and gently. Maybe he’d have noticed something technical that the Indian batsmen just did wrong.

How to work with Indians

Michael Jennings:

The ability to talk endlessly about cricket is a tremendously useful skill when the prospect of working with Indians comes up.

There are more Indian cricket fans in India than there are people in Europe.

A lion with a strange shaped face

Here are a couple of photos of one of my favourite local London Things. It’s the Crimea and Indian Mutiny memorial, outside Westminster Abbey:

On the left, I lined it up with the twin towers of the Abbey. And on the right we are looking back up Victoria Street. On the right, the cranes that are finishing the building of The Broadway.

Around the base of this memorial are four lions, which all look like this:

At least, I presume they are lions. I am no sort of expert on how lions look. But I know that there are other lion statues in London, such as the ones in Trafalgar Square, and such as the one at the south end of Westminster Bridge, which have faces on them that look quite different from the above lion. They have heads that are a completely different shape to this Crimea lion, which to my never-seen-a-real-lion-in-my-life-or-not-that-I-recall eye, look more like some brand of monkey, or even like a dog.

I photoed these photos last Wednesday, and I have yet to recover from that expedition, having been suffering lately from aches and pains which this walk was supposed to help but didn’t. Now that Lockdown has locked down again, I’ll probably be showing photos from that day here for about the next month, on and off. There have already been this and these. So expect more, but not today.

East India DLR station

Yes, it’s 2017 again, April, and I’m on my way home after a hard afternoon’s photoing out east. I get to that moment when suddenly, snap, my energy is all gone, and I just want home. So I drag myself to the nearest rail station. And this time, that rail station was East India:

Something to do with the East India docks, I presume.

Why show photos of that? Well, London can’t be all spectacular Big Things and lavish world renowned river views. Much of the secret of great cities is the amount of humdrum and utterly replaceable stuff they contain, and replaceability equals growability. A city can’t be great if it’s not growing, and it can’t grow if everywhere in it is finished.

As for the architecture, if that’s the word, of places like this DLR station, that’s now reached that awkward spot of being too new to be old and picturesque, but not new enough actually to be new any more, like pop music that your elder brother likes.

Which means it’s architecture that nobody (apart from me) thinks worth photoing. People just use it constantly, and forget about it. But there it is. One day some of it will be old and picturesque, and there will be complaints about it being torn down to be replaced by further humdrummery, or perhaps by resplendent and finished Big Things.

Meanwhile, I find that such railway stations are not only deserving of themselves being noticed, but are often, because of being elevated (to enable their tracks to go over existing roads) very good spots for noticing other things. Like the Shard (8), or that building rather cheerfully tricked out in yellow, green and blue (7). The building in (4) was trying hard to look good also, even if I reckon it failed. Or how about that strange bus stop road colouring that looks like a carpet has been unrolled (6)?

I’ve never understood those strange rolls of wire that you see beside railways (11). Is that for if they find they need more wire, which they can then pull towards them through tubes? That would make sense.

I do understand selfies, and the hair pats that so often go with them (12). I reckon they were lining themselves up with the Shard.

Perhaps most diverting of all, to me anyway, is the contrast between the extreme fussiness and complexity of the main body of this thing (1) (2) (3), with all its “expressed” structure (think of the just-that-bit-earlier-than-this Lloyds building in the City), with the relative banality of what the fuss is all in aid of (5). The architects of these places had their heads full of bigger, more award-winning Things than they were allowed actually to build, as architect heads so often are.

Telephone pollsters can take a hike!

Bloomberg:

A new online study finds that Republicans and independents are twice as likely as Democrats to say they would not give their true opinion in a telephone poll question about their preference for president in the 2020 election. That raises the possibility that polls understate support for President Donald Trump.

The headline above this story refers to the “Shy Trump Voter”.

Were I an American right now, I would not be a “shy” Trump voter. I’d be a Trump voter. But if, before I voted, some telephone pollster with whom I was wholly unacquainted was foolish enough to ring me up and ask me to tell him how I’d be voting, I’d stop the attempted conversation right there, tell him “no, not doing this” and put the phone down. There’d be nothing shy about the way I said this.

I have a good friend who rings me up from time to time, asking me about how I view the political landscape. That’s entirely different. He’s a friend. I enjoy those conversations a lot.

But election polling done by strangers has always baffled me. Who the fuck do these people think they are? Why does anyone give them the time of day?

Indian accent man: “Hello, my name is Barry.” Not doing that either.

Presumably, I am already on some kind of pollster’s black list. “Oh, he’s one of the fuck-offs.” Because, I seldom get bothered by these inquisitive arseholes, wanting to take up my time, and me to bestow valuable information upon them, in exchange for nothing. I could presumably put them on some sort of phone black list of my own, but I can’t be bothered. Besides which, me confirming, every few months or years, my status as one of the fuck-offs, is one of my life’s many little pleasures. That opinion of mine, about them, I am very happy to bestow upon them.