Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Back to form

On Monday Alastair Cook made his 25th test ton and with another good knock from Trotty England had the platform to go for quick runs which they did.  Although the Kiwis batted better this time around England took wickets regularly and were always on top.  Swann took for wickets to restrict New Zealand to 158-6 at the close.

Tuesday threatened rain which was the only thing that would save NZ and it looked like they might get their wish and once again the Captains tactics were questioned.  In the end there was enough play possible for England to clinch the match with Swann finishing on 6 for 90 and ten wickets in the match.  The first English spinner to take ten at Headingly since Derek Underwood in 1972.

New Zealand’s opening bowlers have performed well in this series, in Boult and Southee they have two good young fast bowlers they should stick with.  Unfortunately the batting which looked impressive on the flat pitches in NZ has proved fragile in more testing conditions.  Only Ross Taylor has looked like he has what it takes to bat in England.  This team does look like it has promise for the future though.

England had to win this series 2-0 and here at last we began to show the form we’ve come to expect but where are England now regarding Ashes selection, what have we learned?  The wicket Keeper is well and truly inked in and all four of England’s bowlers have contributed throughout these last two matches.  The bottom five places of the batting order are settled but with KPego waiting in the wings, one of the batsmen will have to make way.  Of the established players only Cook and Trott have impressed, Bell has not been anywhere near his best.
Compton has had 17 innings in test cricket scoring 479 runs with a fifty in India where he done just enough to keep his place for the NZ tour where he two tons on flat tracks.  He’s had a mare here in this tour and his position must be in doubt.  Waiting in the wings is Joe Root who looks every inch a test cricketer just as Cook did a few years ago.  He has scored 424 in 11 innings starting with an important half century in his debut match in India.  Unlike Compton he had a poor tour of NZ but here on home soil he’s just looked the part, culminating in his first test ton at his home ground.  Bairstow’s short England career has been full of ups and downs and after innings he’s scored 341 in 13 innings.  Bairstow and Compton have similar averages, both around 31 but Root stands head and shoulders above them both at 42.4.

It would be harsh on Nick Compton to be dropped ahead of the Ashes but the blunt truth is; England’s best opening pair is Cook and Root and it’s only a matter of time before they get paired so why not now?  Bell has been inconsistent lately but he will retain his place so assuming the KPego is fit, the likely man to be disappointed is Bairstow.

“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was published in Spain a decade ago and translated into English two years later.  Since then it has been a worldwide success and sits in the “Waterstones loves” section alongside books such as ‘The Kite Runner’.  This coupled with a price of only £2.99 convinced me to pick it up and give it a go.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Set in Barcelona shortly after their civil war it brings that time and place to life and paints it vividly.  As the whole world was in turmoil in those times many of us have no idea what Spain was like in the early years of Franco’s regime.  If Zafon is accurate then it must have been a grim time.  This book is written in the first person, mostly through Daniel, the son of a book shop owner who finds his life mirroring that of a little known author that lived a generation before him and died in mysterious circumstances.  In fact everyone remotely connected to Julian Carax seems to have had more than their share of suffering.  To save his own life and perhaps those of his friends, Daniel must somehow solve the mysteries of the past.  His adversary is a real nasty piece of work with a role in both stories who happens to be a cop.  He makes Rebus look like a saint.

Shadow of the Wind ambles along and I was never really sure where the story was going but it races to a finish and you just need to know what happens.  The book has comedy, romance, murder, intrigue and suspense all blending together in a recipe that works.  I love this book, when I read it I can see the city and I care about the characters.  Read it.

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