Friday, 22 August 2014

Dreams are weird

Last night I dreamed I had a  field of brown cattle and a large shed in my back garden, which had grown from the current tiny patch and become a large rolling field with stone walls and the occasional tree.  Come to think of it there was no sign of my house...
After dark the cows came into the shelter of the shed where I also kept a dinosaur.  A T Rex to be precise.  Now you could expect the Rex to feast on the cattle but this one was a lover not a biter and was only interested in shagging the cows.  A short time later there were several tiny dino-cows running around.
What the fuck was that all about?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Norfolk break

The fifth and final test was all over inside three days with another emphatic England win by an innings and 244 runs.  England played with an unchanged side and this time Jordan and Woakes came to the party to support the main two bowlers but the early damage was done by Broad and Anderson who was named man of the series.  With the bat Root scored another century and there were fifty plus scores for Cook and Ballance along with 40+ from Buttler.  As good as this victory was, it told us nothing as India were simply pathetic showing no fight whatsoever.  A year ago I sat on the beach listening to England clinch the Ashes and here I listened to them clinch another series.

There are now over six months until England’s next test series and a few question marks still hang over the team as they prepare for the Ashes next summer.  We are still no closer to finding an opening partner for Cook as Robson just hasn’t done enough and although Moeen Ali has improved as a spinner he still hasn’t impressed enough with the bat.  I’m still far from convinced we know who our best support bowlers are either.  Jimmy Anderson is just three wickets away from breaking Sir Ian Botham’s record for test wickets but he has a long wait until he gets the chance.

Over the next few months we have loads of ODI cricket and it looks like we’ll get to see more of Alex Hales in this form of the game.  He’s having a great summer in all formats at domestic level and could prove to be a match winner for England.  If he does well in this series against India and also in the world cup early next year he may well find himself opening at test level.  Watch this space.

While the test match was unfolding I spent a lovely weekend camping with the family in north Norfolk.  We pitched our tent at a site just behind the dunes at Waxham, close to the Broads and other attractions.  We spent a day in Norwich where Shelley & I found the castle really interesting.  Madi preferred the shops and Isaac enjoyed Pizza hut.  

 The best thing about camping at Waxham is a five minute walk across the dunes brings you to a lovely sandy beach with fantastic views and always Seals playing in the surf.  Unfortunately the British weather prevented us spending too much time on the beach but evening walks with the sun setting behind us were a must.
 Another good thing about being close to the coast is the opportunity to eat fresh seafood.  We enjoyed fantastic meals at the Hickling Greyhound and also the Lion at Somerton.  Both are friendly, family pubs where we were made to feel very welcome and I’d recommend them both to anyone visiting the area.
 At Great Yarmouth the children had fun at the Pleasure beach and all of us loved the Sealife centre which was fantastic.  It’s been a few years since we last visited and in that time it’s undergone a complete overhaul and is really well laid out.  Sealife is a clever company, they know what kids like to see and have added Penguins to the cast of thousands of fish and other sea creatures.  Kids also love ‘finding Nemo’ and weren’t disappointed but everyone’s favourites are the sharks.  I also couldn’t resist popping into “Pownall’s” tackle shop to have a look at the huge stuffed Pike on display.

A place I won’t recommend is “Buddah’s banquet” in Great Yarmouth.  We entered with the intention of having a meal but were made to feel like the staff couldn’t be bothered with our custom so we left quickly.  The kids always have fun in Yarmouth but this experience sums the place up from my point of view.  Peel away the gaudy seaside veneer and it really is a shit hole.  I don’t need piers, neon and crash bang wallop; just give me nature, sand dunes, a nice beach and the sea.

Elly Griffith’s novels are often set in Norfolk.  I really enjoyed reading ‘The Crossing Places’ a while back and recently picked up a copy of the ‘The outcast dead’.  Although I enjoyed this book it wasn’t as good as the first.  It didn’t seem to flow and seemed more like another chapter in a longer story than a novel in its own right but I suppose that’s exactly what it is.  Some of the less convincing characters from ‘Crossing places’ are still around and they just don’t work for me.  That said I'm sure I'll read another Elly Grtffiths novel in the future.

I also read “The girl who saved the King of Sweden” by Jonas Johansson which was damn funny and just as mad cap and enjoyable as “The one hundred year old man…” which I read last year.  If you like Tom Sharpe’s type of humour then you’ll like these books.  
My current book is also set in Norfolk; "Norfolk Mystery" by Ian Sansom, more on this to follow...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Were England very good or India very bad?

The fourth test has been and gone, all over inside three days with another emphatic England win, the margin an innings and 54 runs.  In brief, India won the toss and elected to bat in gloomy conditions.  Anderson swung the ball all over the place to take 3-46 and Broad bowled mean for a superb 6-25.  England then batted pretty well with Bell getting 58 but at this point India actually managed to win a session.  When Buttler joined Root the lead was just 18 but a stand of 134 put England in control, both batsmen scored 70+ and the lead was over 200. The only downside was an injury to Broad which meant he couldn’t bowl.  In the end he wasn’t needed.  Anderson and Ali done the damage with the ball then Jordan tidied up.

Once again England played very well but on the other hand India were awful, a truly gutless display.  Yes their best bowler, Sharma is injured but let’s be honest, he isn’t that good anyway!  The bowlers who have played have done OK it’s the batsmen that have let them down and the fielding hasn’t been up to much either.

England are starting to look just a couple of players short of a good side now.  At the top of the order Sam Robson hasn’t taken his chance.  He’ll probably be given one last chance at the Oval but I’d like to see someone else given a go.  After this match there is a six month break for the test team before three tests in the Carribean next spring. I’d like to see Carberry given another chance or failing that Compton was surely discarded too early?  Moeen Ali is taking wickets but still doesn’t look like a top class spinner.  I like him and hope he retains his place but he needs to score runs consistently to do so.  In the last two matches Woakes and Jordan have just not taken enough wickets and have rarely looked like doing so.  Ben Stokes will come back into the side at some point as should Plunkett if fit.  Waiting in the wings is Stephen Finn who will one day become a great bowler.

My XI for the Oval;

Cook, Carberry, Ballance, Bell, Root, Ali, Buttler, Plunkett, Broad, Finn, Anderson + Stokes as cover for Plunkett.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

More test cricket

Last time I found a moment to witter away on here I moaned because England’s senior cricketers hadn’t been producing the goods.  Since then the third test has come and gone, Cook & Bell scored big runs and Anderson took a bag of wickets.  There was also big runs from Ballance, six wickets from Ali and contributions from Root, Broad and Buttler on debut.  This led to a comfortable England win, in fact this was the best performance since England won away in India a couple of years ago.  Plunkett and Stokes were left out for this match with Woakes and Jordan coming into the side.  Neither made any headlines but were both unlucky to finish wicket less in the match. 

This leaves the series beautifully poised at 1-1 with two matches to play and the fourth test starts at Old Trafford tomorrow!  This wicket should suit England’s bowlers, Plunkett is unfit so it seems likely England will name an unchanged side.  The four seam bowlers will be expected to take wickets on this surface and after his performance at Southampton the pressure is off Ali for now.  He looks a good cricketer but I’m still not convinced he’s a really top level spinner though I’d love to be proven wrong.  Of England’s side Robson may start to feel pressure if he doesn’t make runs.  It would be good for England if Root could move back to open and free up a space for another bowler.

I expect England to go on and win the series 3-1 from here but I’m still not sure we have a side that can compete with Australia next summer.