Stokes has completed the Miracle of Headingley Part II!

Here.

Holy hand grenades, Stokes is a monster! He throws his arms wide and roars! England win by one wicket and the series is level in the most heart-stopping fashion imaginable!

I’ve got nothing clever to say about this. I just wanted a link from here to … it.

Well, I do have one odd thing to nail down in the memory. I had cricinfo going, as well as the BBC radio commentary (no idea if that link will survive but you surely know the one I mean). And all through those last few minutes, cricinfo (link above) was telling me what Aggers (or whoever) was just about to shout about.

When Stokes hit that final winning four, it came up silently on cricinfo. But I needed Aggers (or whoever) to confirm it, before I was convinced. For once, “unbelievable” was, for me, correct.

The World Cup, and now this.

LATER:

Here. At the top of a match report.

Surrey v Middlesex T20: Signs and notices

Last night, good friend of mine and of this blog Darren arranged for me to go with him to a cricket match. Thanks a century by Middlesex captain Dawid Malan, Surrey were on the back foot throughout, and were beaten well before the official end.

Which is perhaps why I found myself enjoying all of the many incidentals of the game at least as much as I enjoyed the game itself. Even before I got inside the ground, I was taking photos of signs, many of them involving the names of Surrey greats of the past, familiar from the many hours of my childhood spent listening to cricket on the radio. Although, while I clearly recall Surridge, Lock, Laker, May and Stewart from those far off times, and while I know who Nat Sciver is and who Jack Hobbs (the gate) was, Tom Richardson (the plaque – never noticed that before) was way before my time:

All but the last three of those were photoed before the game had even begun. Darren says he likes to be there to “soak up the atmosphere”, and so we got there at 4.30 pm, for a 6.30 pm start. I had a great time photoing lots of things that you never normally see in regular cricket photos.

That “Welcome to the Kia Oval” sign I include to ram home that if you are anything officially connected to Surrey and you ever refer to the Kia Oval merely as “The Oval”, you will be savagely punished.

As you can see, the World Cup is still being remembered fondly, and smoking is forbidden throughout the ground, as are a bunch of other things, so you don’t feel tempted to throw them at the players. Or the umpires. Also no musical instruments.

The sign which says “4” on it means that someone has hit a 6, almost certainly Malan. That’s because spectators get given cards with 4 on one side and 6 on the other, to flaunt when someone hits a 4 or a 6, and my photoing was from the wrong side of the sign, so to speak. When someone hit a 4, that sign would say, to me, 6. At first I was puzzled at all the signs saying 6 when it was only 4. As you can maybe tell, this is the first T20 game I’ve ever actually been to.

The sign on a pole is to advertise the game at the Oval against Glamorgan tomorrow evening. Having now lost their first two games, Surrey need to start winning.

LATER: I missed this one!:

Next time I go the Oval, I’ll maybe do a complete photo-inventory of all the signs there that I can find. There have to be many more than I encountered yesterday.

Now thrive the scaffolders: Videoing Kent v Surrey

That expedition to Beckenham, to watch Kent and Surrey play cricket against each other was fun, what with all the cricket to be watched:

But after ruminating on the photos I took, I now find that one of the more interesting things that I saw and photoed was just off the playing area.

To be more precise, they were to be seen on the far right of the above photo. Here’s a crop from within the above photo that zooms (but only digitally) in on what I am referring to:

That thing that you see there is the sight screen, placed there to enable batsmen to see the balls more clearly as they propelled towards them by the bowlers. Don’t move near this thing when the bowler is bowling from this end. Sacrilege! Delay!

But now, please notice the bit of disembodied scaffolding sticking up above this sight screen, at the right hand end of the sight screen.

Happily, I realised at the time I was there (this does not always happen) that this is something I would be interested in. I took a much closer look:

On the left there, the back of the sight screen, and on the right, the object of my interest.

What is it doing?

This:

Another view of the same gizmology:

I think I spy there no less than three video cameras, which are, like the sight screen, directly behind the bowler as he comes in to bowl. And high enough above the action to see the batsman’s efforts to respond to the bowler’s efforts to see the batsman clearly, without the bowler getting in the way.

Here’s a still from the output of one of those cameras, on the day I was there, which I captured here:

If you watch some of that video, you will note that all the videoing, no matter which end the bowler is bowling from, is from the same end. Which explains why I was unable to find any trace of video cameras near the sight screen on the other side of the ground.

Whatev. Such videoing has absolutely transformed my enjoyment of county cricket. As I type this posting in for the first time, I also have on my computer screen a live feed from the Oval, of the final day of the return fixture between Surrey and Kent. Surrey are struggling, but not out of it yet. In the video capture above we see Sam Curran batting. He’s batter at the Oval now, and a lot depends on him.

It’s been fun watching these video feeds get slowly better, with more stationary cameras being added. The destination that all this is leading to is that all county cricket grounds will be smothered in video cameras (just like the rest of the world) and one guy in a van will be able to edit it all together to the point where you might as well be watching the Sky TV coverage of, say, a World Cup Semi-Final between India and New Zealand, which also happens to going on right now (but which I am not watching because I don’t have Sky). Wow. India, replying to NZ’s (surely) below par 239, are 5 for 2. Rohit and Kohli both gone! Make that 5 for 3!!! Rahul also gone. Cricket. Bloody hell.

But I digress. I’ll end the photos in this posting with a photo of the little tents from where the spoken commentary was done, on that day in Beckenham:

The guy in the blue jeans there is Surrey commentating legend Mark Church.

One of the great things about both video and radio feeds from cricket games these days is that when something sensational happens, you can immediately go there and listen to/watch all the drama, by shoving that line a bit backwards. You couldn’t do that with the old donkey powered radio sets of my youth.

As soon as I’m done here, I will be listening to Aggers and Co yelling with amazement about those early Indian wickets. (Well well, the yellow BBC line, for now anyway, refuses to move back from what is happening right now. Shame.)

Anyway, back to scaffolding. Do I have to insist on what a contribution to modern life scaffolding is now making? Well, I hereby do. And it’s not just for new buildings, or for prettying up existing buildings. Here we see a characteristic use of scaffolding, to prop up some new technology, while they are still working out exactly how to do everything. Where exactly should the kit be? How high? How easy does it need to be to fiddle about with. What is the best way to organised all The Wires!? Until you know such things, use scaffolding, and keep your options open.

See also: rock concerts in sports stadiums. Where would they be, without scaffolding? There’s plenty more to be said about scaffolding. For instance, I haven’t even mentioned, in this, how beautiful it can look. Functionalism in its purest and more elegant form.

Plus, I reckon that there is something a lot like scaffolding on the inside of those canvass hutches where Churchy and co did their radio chat.

Surrey sinking fast against Kent. Sam Curran: out. Also: shame. India now 24 for 4, with the last ball of the tenth over. Karthik out. Matt Henry now has three wickets. This time, for some reason, I was able to shove the line back and hear them describe it. Great catch, they’re saying. And I’ll be able to watch the replay of it very soon at the BBC website. (See the “Aggers” link above. No Aggers today, though.) Thought: This is a situation absolutely made for MS Dhoni.

LOL!!!!: Kent, needing a mere 120 to beat Surrey, 0 for 2 after just five balls. Morne Morkel x2.

However it all ends, this is turning into quite a fun day.

LATER:

The scaffolders were thoroughly upstaged, I fear, which they must be very used to.

The key moment, near the end, was the running out, by about an inch, of MS Dhoni for 50. NZ win by 18 runs. Tomorrow: England v Australia, to find out who plays NZ in the final on Sunday. (And Surrey lose.)

Could England make it the full set of four Euro-finalists? (Spoiler: yes it could)

Concerning Arsenal v Valencia, I liked this, from whoever was doing the BBC text commentating:

I know I said I wouldn’t do it. But Valencia have one minute to score five so I’m saying GAME OVER.

Arsenal are going to the Europa League final.

Indeed they are.

Chelsea, on the other hand, having drawn 1-1 in Frankfurt, found themselves drawing 1-1 in London. Chelsea needed to score, but even more, they needed not to be scored against, again, because they’d then have had to score twice more themselves. So, for Chelsea, it made sense to play it carefully and hope to win on penalties.

Which they did, and did.

Way back on April 17th, I quoted a BBC text commentator asking this:

Are we heading for an all-English Champions League final AND an all-English Europa League final?

Mission accomplished. It will be London v London, in Baku, and (as maybe you heard earlier) London v Liverpool in Madrid. West Ham, where were you when London needed you?

Catch up on the Chelsea Frankfurt game here.

By the way, I only just found out that “Eintracht” means “harmony” or “concord” or “unity”. So Eintracht Frankfurt basically means Frankfurt United. Tonight, united in grief. Or maybe not. Is there also a Frankfurt City?

Not again

Indeed. Spurs were cruising to defeat, but then, this:

One more goal and Spurs win.

Yes: Again. Moura scores a third at the death, and Spurs do win.

“That touch from Dele Alli through to Moura …”

“Unbelievable.”

But of course.

“If last night hadn’t happened, could tonight have happened?”

Good point.

LATER – Stephen Pollard:

Told my son he could stay up for the first half. If we stood any chance he could stay up for second half. So of course he had to go to bed.

How do I break it to him tomorrow? How do I stop him never speaking to me again?

Another good point.

I believe it

The word “unbelievable” is being used a lot, as I listen to them talking about this game, but I believe it. I mean, why would the BBC lie about such a thing?

That’s it. That’s the souvenir I wanted to have here. Match report here:

Roared on relentlessly by their fans, the Reds produced an incredible all-action display to claw back and then ultimately overturn their 3-0 deficit from the Nou Camp with an unanswered four-goal salvo in thrilling style.

I suppose “incredible” makes a change from “unbelievable”.

Tomorrow, Spurs need to beat Ajax, also against the odds, which as of now is unbelievable, but which nevertheless could happen. Then, Arsenal and Chelsea need to beat whoever they are each half way to beating in the other Euro-thingy, and it’s a full house for the UK. All four finalists British. That would be … unbelievable.

LATER: Just after 11pm, I googled “Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0” and got 289,000,000 results. Unbelievable.

And hello, what’s this? Google says that the Telegraph has this story:

Liverpool pull off incredible comeback against Barcelona to book place in Champions League final

But, in the actual headline, they changed “incredible” to “epic”. Why? Did some sub-editor have the same thought as I did? I mean, why would you put the word “incredible” in a headline about something you want people to believe did happen?

Two bad nights for Manchester – an amazing night for Spurs

Last night, United crushed in the Champions League by Barca, in Barca. And tonight – glory be – City knocked out by Spurs in a mad scramble of a game in Manchester. So, Spurs win without Kane. They’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

Did you see that result coming? I didn’t, and especially not after City scored after about one minute. And then, after about three more minutes it was 2-2. Bonkers.

Are there any Mancunians who support both United and City against all comers? The way I support all the London teams? If so, such persons had a bad two nights.

Meanwhile, what’s happening at the top of the Premier League means that I am having to set aside my London-wide support for the duration. Man City or Liverpool are going to win it. But Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea are now competing for two Champions League spots next season. So, when Liverpool recently played Chelsea, I found myself, albeit with a heavy heart, supporting Liverpool. Chelsea lost, which meant Spurs stayed ahead of them. Hoo. Ray.

THE FOLLOWING EVENING: Well, I’m back to supporting Chelsea and Arsenal, against Slavia Prague and Napoli respectively, in the Europa League. Both are strolling it. Go, London! Asks the BBC footy feed:

Are we heading for an all-English Champions League final AND an all-English Europa League final?

Despite Brexit. It would be a lovely thing to see, but there’s a bit to do for that to happen. Like Spurs and Liverpool beating Ajax and Barca.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

On supporting Spurs – but not properly

Well, it’s official. I care more about cricket, as played by anyone, than I care about football, as played by Spurs, the football team that I tell myself I support.

If I truly support Spurs, how come I only bothered to wonder the next day how badly they had lost to Barcelona recently, in their clearly doomed attempt to qualify for the last sixteen of the European Champions League, or whatever they call it? Answer me that. On the night, I was so concerned about when the next test match between Australia and India would start, and whether I could hear any commentary on it, that I completely ignored Spurs. When you consider that this Barca/Spurs game was on Tuesday night, and that the Australia/India game didn’t start until the small hours of Friday morning, you can see what a crap Spurs fan I am.

It was only some time on Wednesday that I internetted the news that Spurs had got a draw against Barca (thanks to a late equaliser), and that because Inter Milan had also only got a draw in their game, Spurs had squeaked through, but only after an agonising wait for the Inter result caused by that game going on for a couple of minutes longer.

While all this drama was going on, I was oblivious to it, and was instead scratching about on the internet chasing that cricket game.

Which is still going on. Day 3 will be getting underway in a few hours, on Radio 5 live sports extra. My sleep is already deranged, in a way that usually only happens when England are playing in Australia.

Today, I did keep track of the Spurs Burnley game, which Spurs won (thanks to a very late winner). So: more drama. But although I was aware of this while it was happening, I was again scandalously relaxed about it all, despite this game being billed as a Spurs Must Win If They Are To Stay In With A Chance To Win The League sort of a game. Oh well, I was thinking, as it remained 0-0 right up until extra time. Oh well, that’s how it goes. Maybe next year, when they have their own stadium to play in.

Maybe the reason I am not shouting at Spurs in my kitchen, urging them on to glory, is that they are indeed engaged in building themselves a brand new custom built headquarters, in the form of that new White Hart Lane stadium. So according to my way of thinking, they shouldn’t now be doing this well.

However, it would seem that all the money that the new stadium will bring into the club has caused Spurs to do something now that they haven’t been doing for several decades, which is keep their best players. I’m talking about the likes of Kane, Deli Alli, Moura (who scored the late equaliser against Barca) and Eriksen (who got today’s very late winner). Such stars might still make more money if they went to Real Madrid or some such even richer club. But, at Real, they might not do as well on the pitch as they are now doing for Spurs. They might then fall off the football pyramid of greatness, never to climb back on it again. Footballers are interested in money and glory, not just in money, not least because glory turns into more money later, when they later try to get football jobs without being players any more. Spurs look like they could be about to do both money and glory rather well.

The same goes for the current rather-hard-to-spell Spurs manager who is masterminding all this. Many now assume that he will shortly move to Madrid. I’m not so sure.

I mean, if this is how well these Spurs guys can do while the new Spurs HQ is still being finished, think how well they might do when they get really settled in in the new place and are able to concentrate entirely on football.

Or maybe it’s that a new stadium is not really a new headquarters building, more like a huge new factory, for something like a brand new airplane. Boeing bets the company every time they launch a totally new aircraft. A football club bets itself whenever it moves into a new stadium. But this stadium is actually for doing football, rather than just a place to do lots of headquartering.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

At the Grafton Arms (after recording a talk)

Recently I and Patrick Crozier visited the Grafton Arms. I rather like this pub. These guys also like this pub, because of the Goon Show. Apparently the Goons wrote some of their scripts there, in an upstairs room.

A fact commemorated by this mirror behind the bar, which I only noticed on this visit:

If you look carefully there, you can see me and my camera. Well, it is a mirror. I should have tried to include Patrick.

What took Patrick and me to the Grafton Arms was that we had just been doing one of our recorded conversations, and we needed refreshment. Tune in to the latest one, by going here.

My favourite of these conversations so far has been the one we did about WW1, concerning which Patrick is something of an expert. Our next, or so I hope, will be about transport, concerning which Patrick is also something of an expert.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

67 & 541 – 477/8d & 134/9

For the last four days I have been following Surrey v Essex at the Oval, on Cricinfo mostly. The scores alone were remarkable, hence my title above. Those who do not know cricket should know that, to those who do know cricket, the mere numbers above are truly astounding.

Famed Surrey commentator Churchy couldn’t take his eyes off it:

That’s him on the left. Don’t know who the other bloke is. Kevin Howells? See also this (about the effect on the face of photoing someone from really close-up). And the second of these two guys (both saying: well done Surrey) is another in-your-face face.

Given how good the weather forecasts were (and given how good weather forecasts are) I thought about going there. But I still suspect that, had I done so, a cascade of butterfly effects would have been set in motion, and Surrey would have lost by an innings and about three hundred early on day three, instead of by a mere one wicket on the afternoon of day four, having looked, towards the end, well capable of snatching a win.

Anyone who thinks that only winning matters in sport should ponder how much happier a Surrey fan like me is about this game as it finally turned out, compared to how grumpy I would have been if it really had ended early on day three. Still an Essex win. Same number of Championship points to both sides. Surrey still win the Championship anyway. But what an abject anti-climax that would have been. And what a great actual-climax to the season it actually was.

Had the County Championship still been at stake, and had it depended on this result, I could not have endured it. But, if the Championship had been at stake, it would, I think, have been an entirely different game. Intrinsic to the amazing Surrey recovery was that this was … only a game. Thus did it end up being a great game, because only a game.

I really want to remember this one, hence this posting.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog