Week ending 23rd March – It’s not cricket, but wow!

Netherlands cricketThis week really saw the t20 World Cup start to take shape and there were some epic matches already.  The one that takes the cake though has to be Ireland vs. Netherlands (on Friday) where The Netherlands accomplished the almost impossible, created some new records and set the standard for possible scores so high I doubt many will reach this again!  190 runs from 13.5 overs looks impossible (when I played that would be a good score in 40 overs).  The only thing that didn’t happen, but nearly did, was six sixes in an over.  What is the take home message from this?  Well most of the Dutch players are County Cricketers, so that has to be good for the game.  It is also a key illustration of how well you can play with a clear mind, when the pressure is lifted by there not really being a chance.  Love or hate this style of cricket, it is changing the way the game is played and will affect the longer game.  More of these unusual shots will be played in the longer game when quick runs are required to achieve specific outcomes.  I think the take home message is that it is impossible to bowl defensively against such a barrage – I feel sorry for bowlers in t20 cricket.  I doubt any of the major teams will ever match this game for sheer entertainment value.  Mind you the lightening strikes at the England New Zealand game were quite dramatic.

What else for me during this week? Early in the week, while the weather was still warm, I went up on the roof and fitted the new metal aerial bracket to secure the satellite dish against strong winds – it is really solid now.   A trip to the dentist mid-week, which was reassuring in that she said my teeth were in good condition.  The shoe rack is now finished and in place; although, there was a slight problem with part of the house electrics that protrudes and I had to fit the rack around this.  It was really just a problem of having less manoeuvrability when assembling it in situ.  The rack has all of the shoes on it and some space for more, so that has worked out well.

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Week Ending 16th March – from cricket to repairs

As usual the week started with housework and with the sun shining I decided to clean the windows again (excluding the side windows that are so difficult to access), so it was a case of ladders up and down the stairs again – should keep me fit with three flights of stairs.  That took most of the morning and only allowed me to vacuum the dinning room suite and the stairs.  I also decided to have a go at the chrome door handles outside of the patio and balcony doors – they have corroded quite badly in the salt air over winter and are pitted and rough.  My solution to this problem is an old “recipe” for cleaning chrome and is well documented elsewhere – rubbing down with aluminium foil – this worked reasonably well, there are still some pit marks after one go at rubbing down, but there is more shine and it feels smoother to the hand.

WI v EnglandThis week the t20 Internationals were concluded between England and West Indies.  I have to say i was unimpressed by the way England batted and watching someone (Hales), who was world-ranked No. 1, going back to all spin and always playing across the line did not suggest to me someone that is world class.  In fact, within the top four there are no players willing to play straight to spin!  I think there is still a management problem with England, which relates to their unwillingness to change tactics, and it really is time for them to explore the concept of form dictating position in the batting order.  They could also learn a lot from the West indies bowling methods, especially accurate yorkers and the key is the word accurate – I am surprised how frequently professional bowlers completely miss the length they should be bowling and England are very bad at this.  Mind you, I also feel criticism of The West indies is justified; although they played well overall I think that sometimes they are a little lazy – the bowler getting back to the stumps for a run out, or backing up throws.

img_about_vanToward the end of the week we had to call DynoRod to solve a blocked toilet, if it is not one thing it is another, they were very good.  it turned out the main drain pipe from the toilet was jammed solid, which I got to see on their camera, and this had to be “moved” with a high pressure hose.  Now we have to get the plumber to adjust the flush volume as that is probably where the problem began!  So much for being green!

TImage014he fine weather meant that I was also able to start oiling the patio furniture, which has survived the wettest winter in living memory remarkably well.  This also got me around to oiling the wooden step at the patio and balcony doors.  they look at lot better now, but the room got a bit smelly – more solvent abuse!  It was good to be able to unwrap the patio furniture and “air” the umbrella.  It is also good to be able to talk about warm weather!

Another job involved a second bracket for the satellite dish, which had moved in the gales around Christmas and the bracket and some washers I needed to complete this job arrived.  It was just a little too windy to get up there, so maybe next week.

At the week-end I baked some soda bread as something of an experiment.  it came out okay, I was surprised.  I tried a very simple recipe of just plain flour, self-raising wholemeal flour, salt, baking powder and a yoghurt-milk mix (buttermilk substitute).  I didn’t want any sugar in the bread and I wanted wholemeal.  We ate it with pate and it was tasty.

Week ending 9th March – DIY through to Rugby via Cricket

I spent some of this week staining and making the final assembly of the shoe rack – a slow process as i have to wait for the stain to dry and working in the garage is tricky because of the solvent – and it is now nearly finished.  WI v EnglandI have discovered one thing from this process and that is that wood stains also age wood by picking up every crease, indent and scratch, interesting but not quite what I wanted!  I have also decided not to varnish the wood, I’ll wait to see how things go before I decide, but I think the varnish may not look so good.

At the beginning of the week there was a trip to the library to collect a DVD (Riddick) and then return it a couple of days later.  That also gave us a chance to pop into some of the shops to pick up a few items.  However, in between I spent a fair bit of time watching the cricket I recorded from the ODIs (I am still watching!).  Although we eventually won the series the play was somewhat haphazard and I was not really impressed by any of the batting.  For me the England team look unbalanced at the moment and while Root looks reasonably solid, I am not sure about Moeen Ali or Michael Lumb (who I used to watch at Hampshire).  Neither look really solid and able to bat through an ODI, which should be the aim of openers surely.  Some people may think I am being over-critical and both have, in fact, batted well and given England a good start in some of the matches, but also both have also got out at inappropriate times to poor shots.  I think this is where the problem lies for the modern batsmen – shot selection and when to attempt unusual shots – the t20 tournaments have developed the batting skills of modern players along the lines of making shots that seem impossible and overcome the problem of tight bowling, but they are always risky.  The great batsmen can play these shots, but choose the time to do so very carefully and weigh all of the risks.  However, there is always a tendency to see these shots as a way to entertain the crowd or to overcome a barren spell (neither is bad if it comes off) and this can mean a reckless shot leads to dismissal at a bad time.  I would argue that this is the problem that led to criticism and ultimately the dropping of Kevin Petersen (possibly incorrectly), but what is really needed is a better match plan about how and when to use such shots.  This is part of my personal theory that professional cricketers, more than any other sportsmen, need high quality sports psychologists who should be able to input to match plans and discuss the various scenarios that would lead to use of extravagant shot selection.  Okay, it sounds simplistic and, in actuality, free will would still dominate such decisions, but the fact that the great players do this naturally shows the plan works, but how to implement this better is something I cannot comment on – I’ll leave that to the experts (mind you I am not sure the England Management are experts).

Well that is my rant about cricket over with (again) and now it is time for rugby.  We went down The Cricketers for Sunday lunch and rugby, it was a good atmosphere and a good match for England; although, they did manage to keep Wales in the game with constant penalties – something they really need to sort out.

Sunday 2nd March – England one day cricket game 2

The morning was spent finishing the second stage of the shoe rack, it is all ready for the staining (an oak finish) and then clear varnish.  I had to clean up the dust from sanding it, which took a while, so that was the morning gone!

In the afternoon and evening I watched England playing in the one day cricket match from Antigua.  I haven’t seen the end of the game yet, but already I was amazed by one controversial moment – an obvious missed stumping was sent to the third umpire, he took an age to make a decision (I think there should be a time limit), which means there must have been doubt, but instead of finding in the batsman’s favour (as would have happened before TV review) he gave him out.  The doubt was far to great for such a decision and in my view it was clearly a missed stumping.  So, we have another problem with the review system and I think the resolution must be to enshrine the “benefit of the doubt” into the regulations covering TV review.  This could be combined with a sensible time limit that should force such a decision when there is too much doubt.

BravoThe other notable happening was Dwayne Bravo being struck by a short pitch delivery from Stuart Broad.  It looked like a nasty blow via the helmet onto the back of his neck, but it was good to see that Broad went straight up to him to check he was okay and that he was able to continue after a few minutes.  I have to say I worry that the protection afforded by helmets sometimes makes the batsmen take their eyes off the ball and this seemed to be an example, but helmets are a must as they do protect the batsmen.

At least England went on to win despite looking poor in the early stages and it took an eighth wicket stand to ensure the win!

Friday 7th February–TOFC Meeting

I was woken early by the sound of refuse being taken away, so I got up to put the wheelie bins back in the garage.  Today was a meeting of TOFC (detailed elsewhere) so we had to get out for the train around 11am at the latest.  It turned out we were early at the station and got the stopper train, which got us into Portsmouth and Southsea a few minutes earlier.

By the time we got to Portsmouth the weather had cheered up a little and the sun was shining (makes a pleasant change), but when we got home again (about 4pm) the sun had gone and the rain started just after we got into the house.  So the weather still dominates conversations, the news and everyone’s thoughts!

Charles DickensThe Guildhall Square was busy when we got there as they were unveiling a new statue of Charles Dickens – it looked a lot smaller and near the ground, but otherwise okay as statues go.  It was nice to hear that someone from The University (Prof. Tony Pointon) was closely involved in arranging this memento.

Elsewhere, the winter Olympics started today, I missed that ceremony, but I am afraid the winter Olympics don’t really do much for me.  This evening I watched a recording of The Big Bash cricket from Perth – the home team won (their first win after three appearances in the final I believe).  It was a reasonable match but the win was made in the last few overs of the Perth Scorcher’s innings (batting first).  Off to Winchester tomorrow, so maybe an early night tonight.

Wednesday 5th February–Stormy days!

train_in_stormI woke up to yet more powerful winds and pouring rain (it was really bad overnight) as yet another storm swept across the battered UK!  We had planned on a holiday in Falmouth a couple of years back, but moved house instead.  I am not sure we will get there for a while now since the storms have washed away the mainline railway through Cornwall!  This subject also dominated the news today, but at least I heard some common sense being discussed today – with the suggestion of a long-term approach to the problems of flooding and coordinated (joined-up) thinking by politicians with heads of amenities, farmers and environmentalists.  Of course, joined-up thinking by politicians is something we don’t do in this country – the adversary nature of parliament prevents it happening most of the time (I only have to think of my thoughts about why the baby-boom generation are blamed for the cost of pensions when governments did nothing for decades, a perfect of example of non-joined-up thinking!).  So, following on from yesterday’s comments, I await with bated breath the idea that politicians might work together to produce a long-term plan for water management in the UK!

More bad news was the London tube being on strike – trying to prevent ticket office closures, but that looks like a fight that will be lost as technology replaces manual ticketing.  Oh! And a house (or two) were blown away by a gas explosion – it is all happening today!

kevin_pietersen_paTo take my mind off such dreary thoughts and to keep up to date with cricket, I watched the second semi-final of The Big Bash this morning.  Sadly, it was badly affected by rain (yes it does rain in Sydney) and just to make it worse, the English players dropped a catch and got dismissed cheaply.  Still there was some tremendous hitting and some amazing sixes scored – all very entertaining, much better than baseball (which I likened it to yesterday).
Cricket was also in the news as the questions begin to be asked about the dropping of Kevin Pietersen from the England squad.  My own view is that this has not been a well thought out manoeuvre and there may well be problems later.  There is no doubt that he has often had a negative effect within the squad, but his talent should be handled better.  It is becoming clear that Cook must have felt undermined as a captain by Pietersen’s attitude and on-field actions and I agree he needs to be more “in charge”, but dumping one your best players is not a good way to win cricket matches (even I had to put up with some players when I captained Genetics at Newcastle University, but a few drinks and a laugh solved most problems).  I still think England have poor back-room staff who are poor at understanding sport psychology and end up over influencing players and management to the detriment of England as a team.  Still, what do I know and, until the England management and the ECB explain the reason for their action against Pietersen, we will never really know what has happened?  One thing I do agree about is that his choice of shot, for a professional cricket, is often bizarre and maybe that is enough reason for him to go, well maybe?

I finished painting the utilities box for Kathy, it goes in the bathroom, sitting on a ledge we have in there, and holds all sorts of tubes and containers – very handy.  The next major job is a large shoe rack for the under stairs cupboard, but I have to order the wood for that.  The weather has meant I have been indoors all day again, so looking forward to Friday now!

Tuesday 4th February – Big Bash Semi (day 1)

Currently it is bright sunshine, but earlier (and overnight) is was pouring with rain (again).  this has to be the worst wet weather I can remember and we are due some more rain later, so today is going to be watching The Big Bash t20 cricket on TV and then painting a utilities box I have built for the wife – the wet weather has made paint drying, in the garage, a very slow process.252px-Big_Bash_League_Logo_svg

I have watched quite a few, second-halves of The Big Bash and enjoyed the play; although it is not really cricket.  I think the format is interesting – a game every day in the league stages – and it reminds me a little of baseball.  I think the UK need to look at how t20 fits into the cricket season – I am not sure this season’s extended t20 season will work well.  Nice to see some English players doing well and also to see leg spin having a major impact.  As usual, for an Englishman, I supported the underdogs (Hobart) ad, for once, they actually won!

Woken up from a deep sleep this morning for a delivery – paint for the walls, so just waiting for the builders to make some repairs then I’ll paint the stairwell.  That should be fun (NOT) as the walls go up a long way.  I am not sure how to arrange this yet, I may need some more ladders!  Also sent out the reminder email for the next TOFC meeting, which will be this Friday.  Not much else happening today – made a fruit salad, cooked dinner as usual (chicken and hoi sin) and dried out my tool boxes on the patio (wet from all the overnight rain).  Overall, a quiet day.