That’s more like it (LATER: except that it wasn’t)

So far, Surrey have been doing well against Hants, who are now 120 for 8. At lunch, Hants were 60 for 5. And I love that those five wickets were taken by Clarke, Clark, Clarke, Clarke and Clark. That’s Rikki Clarke with the e and Jordan Clark without the e. Rikki Clarke has since got another, and has 5 for 21.

This is the game I’m talking about. Wickets are tumbling all over the country, so 120 for 8 may not (that sound you hear is of bets being hedged) end up being such a bad score. Yeah, now it’s 135 for 8. Morkel, now bowling, has 0 for 37. This year, Morkel is not the force he was last year. Even so, this makes a nice change from all this.

Surrey just brought Clark back on, and he now has three wickets. Jordan Clark. Hants 135 for 9. They were 26 for 4 at one early point. Not unrelated, I surmise, to the fact that they are starting county matches at 10.30am rather than 11am, now that it’s not summer any more.

TWO DAYS LATER: Well that was a hell of a lot less like it that it had started out seeming to be. Far from taking my mind off the England test team (currently 226 for 7 in their first innings in the final test), Surrey copied it. In the first test this summer, as I recall, England got eight early wickets, but nevertheless contrived to lose by a lot. Surrey have just done exactly the same, losing this game by a whopping 272, having started out by having had Hants 90 for 8.

I am a true cricket fan. I am unable to ignore cricket merely because it is going badly for the teams I support. Real fans don’t just enjoy. They suffer. It’s the rule.

LATER: Surrey coach Di Venuto holds forth and it’s not nice.

Ashes to Ashes

In the Old Trafford Test, now nearing its end, which is a must-not-lose game for England, England have to bat tonight and all day tomorrow for a draw. They’ll need a lot of skill, and a lot of luck. And, they needed a good start.

In their first innings, England’s top scorers were Burns and Root. So, this was not what England wanted from the third and fourth balls of their innings:

At the crease now, Joe Denly and Jason Roy, who do not inspire confidence, despite having swapped positions, Denly now being 2 and Roy 4. A cricinfo commenter observed:

Roy faced his first ball of the innings before Denly. Poetic justice for Denly?

I thought that Jason Roy, what with him being class, would turn himself into a test match batsman. The Jos Buttler theory, you might say. I think Roy would do well, against lesser sides. But he has not done well against these Australian bowlers.

How you score goals

I am a Spurs supporter, so I should be a lot more distraught about this than I am, snatched from the BBC feed:

Former Spurs player Gary Lineker immediately explains why Arsenal deserved their goal:

That’s how you score goals. Gamble on where the ball will go and attack that space, rather than wait to see where the ball will go. Most of the time it won’t go where you run to, but when it does…. it’s a tap-in. Aubameyang does it beautifully.

Everyone who knows about these things says it will either be Liverpool of Man City who win this thing.

The Ashes resume on Wednesday. Everyone who knows about those things says it will be either England or Australia who win that thing. Which means that England have to win both games, or failing that win one of the games and draw the other, to get the Ashes back. I don’t think they’ll manage this. But then, when it all started, I thought Australia would be well ahead by now.

As they nearly were.

Meanwhile this bird has just realised golf balls bounce on concrete …

… and is now having the time of its life, or so the tweet from #DanClarkSport says.

No, say commenters. The bird thinks the golf ball is an egg and is trying to break it and get a meal. The bouncing of the ball is a bug, and a rather alarming bug, not a feature.

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.

Drones replacing sheepdogs (and some embedded video about this)

This is the first time I’ve tried embedding a bit of video in this blog. Let’s see how this works:

Seems to have worked. Another major improvement of this blog over the old one, especially important for me at moments like this, is that when I press “Save draft” and them “Preview”, I get a preview of exactly how things will end up looking. The old blog, for some idiot reason, couldn’t or wouldn’t do this. Not exactly. Well, maybe it could have, but I couldn’t make it.

I found this news report, about how drones are replacing sheepdogs on the farms of New Zealand, here. This is definitely the most interesting “other creatures” thing I learned about during the last seven days. I first got a clue about this story when semi-watching a BBC4 TV documentary about the wildlife of New Zealand. They must have digressed into not-so-wild life.

According to the above video, drones haven’t yet learned how to function when it’s raining. So sheepdogs, for the time being, are still useful when it’s wet. But work is surely progressing on that, and the days of sheepdogs as workers on farms are surely numbered. These things can take a long time, so it will be a big number. But, a number.

Sheepdogs will not completely die out. Like horses, they will survive as sporting entertainers. And drones will give viewers a much better view of all the action.

LATER: I just realised it’s Thursday today, rather than Friday, which is the day I usually focus especially on cats, dogs, etc. Well, no matter. I’m probably the only one who noticed, so I’m not even going to apologise.

The transgender rights row in sport is coming rapidly to the boil

Mick Hartley quotes from a piece behind the Times paywall, about a male-who-identifies-as-female cricketer, who is doing very well for him(her)self, in (hitherto) women’s cricket:

There is a new star in the Kent women’s cricket team – its first transgender player is opening after one season.

Maxine Blythin, who is more than 6ft tall and under England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) rules can self-identify as a woman, has a batting average of 124 this season and has hit four centuries already. …

Fair Play for Women has said the policy is unfair, especially at a time when the game is improving opportunities for female players. A £20m semi-professional competition for women starts next year.

“Letting males who self-ID as women play in women’s competitions is demonstrably unfair,” the campaign group tweeted last week. “The ECB knows males have a performance advantage over females. This is [why] it lets women use lighter & smaller cricket balls & why boundaries are set closer.”

The ECB is very proud that it has created an “inclusive environment for all participants”. Says Hartley:

Well, all participants apart from the women, who have to compete against a biologically male athlete. But who cares about them?

Plenty will, when women’s sports teams stop having just a sprinkling of such persons in among all the biological women, and are instead dominated by male-identifying-as-female players. Note Hartley’s singular “a” in front of “biologically male athlete”. That singular is going to turn plural very soon, unless this foolishness is ended now. It will end, quite soon. But not before there has been a big fight that, as of now, the mostly-men in charge of sport are reluctant to have.

This would appear to be the relevant page of the Fair Play For Women website.

At the top, it says:

During the summer of 2018 the government launched a public consultation about changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Powerful transgender interest groups lobbied hard for full deregulation of the legal transition process, demanding a move to a simplified approach known as Sex Self-ID, that would allow any man to change his birth certificate on demand to say he was born female.

There is nothing remotely “simplified” about Sex Self-ID. When biological men feel female, it cannot not get complicated.

Herbert Sutcliffe with possum

Asked Cricinfo, a while back: Who has made the most runs in an Ashes Test only to end on the losing side? I love that kind of thing, so of course I went to find out who it was, and I encountered this charming photo of the answer:

The Ashes record is held by the England opener Herbert Sutcliffe, who scored 303 runs – 176 and 127 – in a seven-day Test in Melbourne in 1924-25.

According to this, the above photo first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 14th 1933.

Of Sutcliffe, Wikipedia, who picked out this same photo of him, says:

A right-handed batsman, Sutcliffe was noted for his concentration and determination, qualities which made him invaluable to his teams in adverse batting conditions; and he is remembered as one of the game’s finest “bad wicket batsmen”. His fame rests mainly in the great opening partnership he formed with Jack Hobbs for England between 1924 and 1930. He also formed notable opening partnerships at Yorkshire with Percy Holmes and, in his last few seasons, the young Len Hutton. During Sutcliffe’s career, Yorkshire won the County Championship 12 times. Sutcliffe played in 54 Test matches for England and on three occasions he toured Australia, where he enjoyed outstanding success.

What England wouldn’t now give for such a batsman.

Police horses outside my front window

Quite a few times, during the last few days, I’ve been hearing the clip-clop of what I already knew to be police horses, outside my home. I knew they were police horses, because those are the only horses I ever see in my vicinity. After a couple of such soundings, I tried to photo them, but by the time I got my camera going, they’d gone.

Yesterday, however, they were back, and I got luckier:

Nice of them to turn right like that, so I could get a less unflattering view of them, wasn’t it?

I tried googling to find where such horses might be based, but am none the wiser. There’s a Facebook page, which keeps saying that there are stables to be found in the middle of Victoria Station, which can’t be right. I’m guessing the stables are just “somewhere in Victoria”, and that’s how they like to keep it. But, what do I know? Not even that, actually.

In this Guardian piece about the work of such horses and their riders, it says this:

The Metropolitan Police has 150 officers and 120 horses at eight stables across London who perform a variety of roles, from high visibility patrolling to appearing at ceremonial functions and carrying out public order duties such as …

Such as the football match the article describes, a friendly, between England and Sweden. And it would seem that what I observed must have been “high visibility patrolling”.

Concerning the football match, we later read this:

It is incredibly moving to watch a line of just six horses effortlessly holding back 35,000 fans. The relationship between the police and the British public may be troubled, but judging by this night at least, it seems the force’s equine members still draw a healthy respect.

Healthy respect? My guess is it’s more a case of everyone knowing that hurting human cops is okay, because all’s fair in love and rioting. But hurt a horse, and the whole world considers you scum. I remember the IRA hurting a horse, and the reaction from everyone was: right, that does it. I do not like the IRA any more. Bombing humans to death in places like Manchester and Ireland. That’s okay. But, a horse? Now they’ve crossed a line.