TFL Updates to your email

Work in London, Use public transport to get there?

If yes, then you probably want to keep uptodate with signal failures, suspensions and traffic problems. The best way to do this is on twitter using @TfLtravelalerts
and while you’re at work you don’t want to be checking it and some work places block twitter meaning you’d be on your phone.

There’s also this thing called the Olympics starting soon – the opening ceremony is on Friday and the main events begin on Monday (though it looks like there’s been some Women’s football on today to kick the first events off).

Everyone who’s used it knows London public transport is challenging at the best of times and can be a right pain when things go wrong. There have already been more people travelling, problems today, and its expected to get worse with over 1 million extra people travelling every day.

Anyway, got this working yesterday and it seems to work really well.

Step 1: Create a new twitter account for this purpose
Step 2: Login to the new account and Follow @Tfltravelalerts
Step 3: Link your twitter account to a account (free to sign up and you get full access for the first month). You will need to sign up by giving it your twitter details, then add the email address you want the notifications to go to.
Step 4: Add a timeline alert – default is to email you after every 10 alerts in 1 email. Unless you put a filter on this is the minimum you can have per email. It works quite well as tfl tends to post alerts quite regularly including many not related to your journey.

England Cricket Team Number 1 in the World

At around 3pm on Saturday 13th August Kevin Pieterson took the catch off the bowling of Tim Bresnan and India were all out losing the 3rd test of the 4 match series. The outcome of this means that regardless of the result of the final test that starts on thursday at the Oval, England will be crowned the Number 1 test team in the world.
The rise has been remarkable. I remember stood by the pavilion in 1999 when England were officially the worst team in the world having lost the test series 2-1 to New Zealand at Home. Something had to change.
But the question that is bugging me is, how good is this England team? I think the stats can prove this, because simple measures such as winning percentage, batting and bowling averages have always been measured and cricinfo has a massive archive of this sort of thing.

However, the first thing to consider is how much cricket is being played today. It will come as no surprise to discover that we are playing nearly double the amount of tests now compared with 50 years ago. This is not only because of the number of teams, but also because of air travel. In the 1950’s England had 1 winter tour and you got there by boat. Today there are 2 or 3 to different countries.

We can still look at how many matches have been won, lost and drawn.
In addition, I am going to focus on the period from 1990/1991 to 2011 as this is 20 years of English cricket and highlights the lows and highs of their performance.

You can probably see from the charts that the number of tests in the last 20 years has stayed roughly constant while in the past it was less. Note the dips for the decade for the first and second world wars when less cricket was played.

In addition, the breakdown shows us in the blue bars where England have done well in a season. Note the winter tours are split from the summer season allowing us to see home vs away.
While looking at the blue bars shows us how few matches England won in the bad days of the 1990s, it is still absolute numbers and better represented as a Winning percentage

First we need to look at this over time

And then focus on 1990 – 2011

We can clearly see the decades and seasons that were weak.
I’ve used a 3 point moving average for the grouped years and a 5 point moving average for the last 20 years in all cases to give a sense of how performance is changing.
You can see the climb following the dreadful winter of 2008/09 where they lost in India and The West Indies
This is followed by a steady rise as the Flower/Strauss regime kicked in. This had the win at home for the ashes in 2009, a successful winter tour, another win at home in 2010, the first ashes away win since 1987 in 2010/11 and series wins against sri lanka and india in 2011.

The next thing I want to consider is batting average across all positions:

This shows that batting average has followed winning percentage over the decades.
We can focus in on the same 20 years:

Again we see the 2006/07 the thrashing england took from australia is highlighted by the dip along with a low average in the 1990’s.

Less telling, but worth noting is the highest score a side has achieved in a season, along with the lowest total in the same time period:

Focusing in on the recent times probably more interesting is the low scores where we see when england have been skittled out:

Of course we can’t look at a side’s performance without thinking of the bowlers, so we need to consider bowling averages

Again we see the bowling averages mirroring the win percentage, but it is a little more complex as you can draw matches without having a good bowling performance. It also suggests that while England’s winning is as good as it was in the 50’s the bowling of Tyson, Statham, Bedsor, Laker and Lock was something special. That said, the batting then wasn’t bad either with Len Hutton, Dennis Compton, Bill Edrich, Peter May, Colin Cowdrey.
However looking at the most recent years we see that England’s bowling has come on most in the last 3 years:

And again we need to see how many runs the team concedes when bowling:

It is a little misleading when looking at the current decade as the season isn’t complete and also it is only 2 years into the decade.

Zooming in we see the seasons where the wins are partly to do with a good low bowling average

This shows the current england team is doing well against it’s opposition in the same way that the great england teams have done in the past. What it doesn’t show is whether they are better than them or not as that relies on considering the opposition. When I look at the bowling rankings I don’t see the same quality as I did 10 years ago when Warne, McGrath, Pollock, Murali, Kumble, Harbhajan were in their pomp. Still, we have Dale Steyn, Graham Swann, Morne Morkel, Daniel Vettori but there are not enough members in the 300 club in the top of the rankings. So the issue will always be are england number 1 because australia are going through a lull, india don’t tour well, and nobody else is there to challenge them. Perhaps next summer will provide the best challenge when south africa arrive in england searching for that number 1 ranking.

England vs Sri Lanka 1st test Cardiff 2011

It frustrates me at times when I hear the news that I’ve been anticipating for some time
Anderson injury causes England concern

Why is it frustrating? Because the ECB coaching system doesn’t seem to want to embrace technologies such as biomechanics to prevent this sort of thing.
Ever since I saw James Anderson bowl first in 2002 when making his ODI debut in Australia I have just thought stress fracture.
What happened in May 2006? Anderson hit by stress fracture

And his rehab began after a year out of the game. It was treated by remodelling his action. The bowling coach at the time was the rather inept Kevin Shine who tried to turn his mixed action into a side on action. While this would’ve maximised the swing he could generate I believe that his natural action is a chest on approach and it is only his delivery stride in the landing of his back foot that is causing him problems.

It took me quite some time to track a photo that demonstrates this but here’s one from 2009 after he had ignored the rehab following the recovery:

jimmy anderson

The key thing to note with this is that if you are bowling side on the front arm (left in this case) should be inside the line of the head. Jimmy clearly has his outside. The next thing to look at is the head position – this is falling to his left hand side. This is because his back foot is landing parallel to the return crease. He then pulls his left arm outside the left hand side of his head which causes his head to fall away to the left. This has the effect of pulling his left side down, twisting the back which will over time cause a stress fracture as the force after bowling as many overs as an international cricketer does wears away at the back.

Kevin Shine, the england bowling coach at the time, attempted to get his left arm inside the line of the head to straighten it up – the problem with that is that you have to turn yourself into a side on bowler. The solution in my mind and one that many bowlers who use technology come to is change the position of the back leg to be perpendicular to the return crease.

A good example would be Shaun Pollock who did exactly this to avoid injury:
shaun pollock

Compare this to Anderson’s landing:

Having said all this the ECB really needs to consider papers like this one from the australian universities when advising bowlers early in their careers. It is far easier to change a bowling action when you’re 18-21 than when you’re over 30 as became increasingly obvious with Andrew Flintoff – his problems were different, attempts were made but in the end his career was brought to an early end because of a flawed bowling action

Ashes 2009 starts 8th July

The clock is ticking – less than 10 days to go till the start of the ashes

Adnrew Straus vs Ricky Ponting…

It’s too tough to call, but what we do know is there will be no Michael Vaughan, a chance of England playing 2 spinners, and it all begins on 8th July at 10am at Cardiff.

I’ll keep it short. Read it in the paper and it looks like a hilariously funny blog with the talk about John “Bhooka Naan” Buchanan coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders among others.
Nobody seems to know who the source of the stories is but all will be revealed sooner or later. In the meantime here’s the link:
and here is a link to the guardian’s article on the blog

51 All Out – What Next?

51 all out scoreboard
Yesterday, the first test England vs West Indies ended with a dramatic result in Sabina Park as Jerome Taylor and Sulieman Benn routed England for just 51. Both ended with 8 wickets in the match, but it was Taylor who finished with Man of the Match for his 5 wickets in the second innings and devastating figures of:
9 – 4 – 11- 5

England leave Kingston in tatters, shell-shocked, with new captain Andrew Strauss, and no official coach.
Changes will be in order for the 2nd Test which starts on Friday, but all is not well in the England camp.

Meanwhile things are rosy in Chris Gayle’s West Indian dressing room:
Chris Gayle

English Sports Coaches

Following the resignation of both Peter Moores (and Kevin Pieterson) this month I have resisted the urge to post anything until the dust settled a little bit more.
I was very curious about his appointment nearly 2 years ago and posted an entry on Peter Moores

However, when I heard that Peter Moores was also going to be paid off to compensate for his contract not being completed I started thinking about the bigger picture – how much money has been spent on England sports coaches over the last say 10 years?

Sven Sven-Göran Eriksson
Football manager Jan 2001 – Jan 2006. Salary £4.5 million – total £22.5 million
steve mclaren Steve Mclaren
Football manager 1st August 2006 – 22nd November 2007. Salary £3 million plus £5 million break clause payoff – total £8 million+
Andy Robinson Andy Robinson
Head Rugby Coach October 2004 – November 2006. Salary £330,000 – total £700,000
Duncan Fletcher Duncan Fletcher
Head Cricket Coach 2000-2007. Salary £350,000 plus 1 year break clause payoff – total £2.8 million
Peter Moores Peter Moores
Head Cricket Coach April 2007- Jan 2009. Salary £250,000 plus 1 year break clause payoff – total £710,000

This totals nearly £35 million though it is clear to see that the football coaches are earning a vast amount more money than their cricket and rugby counterparts. We also see that sacking a coach can be very costly if a payoff is involved

England vs India 1st test 2008 & the 1st test in 1986

What links my last post to this post is that they are both about what is happening now and what happened 22 years ago.
This year Venice has had the worst floods since 1986
Tomorrow is the final day of a test match that reminds me of one of the most famous tests in 1986

So, the 1st test between India and England is at the MA Chidambaram Stadium
Chepauk, Chennai, India
and sees the match finely balanced with India being set 387 to win and approx 120 overs to do it in. With 90 overs remaining they have 256 more runs to score and 9 wickets in hand. If they achieve it, it will be the highest total on this ground scored to win a test match – the current highest for a side batting last and winning is 155 in 2001.
An interesting match in itself, however the match I want to look at happened in 1986, though again we have a similarity, because like the 2001 match it was Australia vs India.
Back then, the city of Chennai was known as Madras, and in September was to become the stage of one of the greatest games of cricket.
Part of the reason for it’s greatness is it is the 2nd of only two international tied tests. Note this is not a drawn match, as tied refers to both sides scoring identical scores and losing all 20 wickets over the course of 5 days.
Both sides were full of greats:
David Boon, Dean Jones, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Armanath, Mohammad Azharuddin, Ravi Shastri, Kapil Dev, Craig McDermott, the list goes on.

The scorecard is available here – on it’s own does not tell the full story, but is essential to follow.

The Wisden Almanack article on the match details some of the finer points which I will attempt to summarise (though you need to create an account to read it).

Winning the toss, Australia batted first and scored 574 for 7 declared in the first innings over 3 days thanks to 122 by David Boon, 210 by Dean Jones (playing in only his 3rd test match) and 106 by captain Allan Border. Jones had to have treatment for exhaustion, nausea and cramps after his 8 hour innings which was the highest by an Australian in india. The humid weather conditions made the innings even more impressive – reports state that it was 40 degC in the middle and 80% humidity. This was Australia’s highest total in india, setting a good platform. The pitch favoured the spinners, with Yadav, Maninder Singh and Shastri bowling over 135 overs between them (of the 170 overs delivered). Yadav and Shastri took 5 of the 7 wickets to fall.

In reply, India lost wickets and were struggling at 65-3, 142-4, and 206-5.
The follow on target was 375 and looked a long way off, but thanks to a century from captail Kapil Dev they surpassed it and got to 397 before being dismissed. Australian off spinner Greg Matthews took his first 5 wicket haul in a test match. Their other spinner Ray Bright took 2 wickets also.

Australia had a lead of 177 with less than 2 days to go there was not much time to force a result. Ending day 4 on 170/5 again the spinners had taken the wickets, this time Shastri and Maninder Singh shared the 5 between them.

Border decided to gamble the following morning setting India 348 to win in 87 overs

The scoring rate had been high throughout the game
Aus 1st inns: 3.36
Ind 1st inns: 4.42
Aus 2nd inns 3.46

348 in 87 required 4 runs per over exactly and had been done by India before when they scored 406 to beat the West Indies in 1977. In that match they did have 147 overs to do it. In addition, Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Armanath were part of that winning team. So, coupled with playing at home, hopes would’ve been high especially since the popularity of one day cricket batsmen had learnt how to score at over 4 runs per over on a regular basis.

There were no hundreds this time, but Gavaskar lead the way with a anchoring innings of 90
Armanath hit a similarly paced 51 as was Azharuddin’s 42
Going to tea at 190 for 2,
CS Pandit upped the scoring with a run a ball 39
Shastri hit 48 off 40 balls but lost Cheetan Sharma for 23 with 18 needed off the last 5 overs

The damage was again done by the spinners Matthews and Bright

India got to 344 for 9 with 8 balls remaining.
Shastri was in with the last man Maninder Singh
Going into the final over with Shastri on strike…
He hit a 2 and a single leaving the scores tied with Maninder on strike and 4 balls remaining

At 5.18 pm after defending the first ball was defended Matthews had Maninder Singh adjudged lbw to collect his 2nd 5 wicket haul and 10 wickets in the match. The match was tied and the 30,000 supporters there would talk about it for the rest of their lives.

Dean Jones (210) and Kapil Dev (119) were awarded the man of the match awards though Matthew’s profile suggests he shared much of the plaudits for the “match-winning” figures:
68.1 overs, 10 maidens 10 for 249

Matthews never performed bowled anywhere near as well in a test again with those two 5 wicket hauls remaining the only ones in his 33 test match career. He finished averaging 48 with the ball and 41 with the bat. His profile also says that while every other player sweated profusely during the match, he wore a wooly jumper throughout

Floods in Venice

floods in st marks square, venice
This picture really says it all – this is St Mark’s square and the flood water is up to the hips
The worst flood for 20 years

The Venetians call it “Acqua Alta” or High Water as it literally translates. It comes in 2 forms really.
There is the mild flooding that comes with the tidal lagoon.
This affects a few areas more than others as the water flows up through the drains into the streets. Warning signs for tourists show which areas are most likely to be affected. It’s not a huge problem at this stage, and life goes on.
It looks like this in St Mark’s square:
Aqua Alta in St Mark's Square

What you see in the first photo though is the more dramatic where the water comes into the squares from the open water
This can only happen when the tide is high and the water level has been raised significantly either by rain or low air pressure. This leads to the dramatic flooding we see now when the water mark around St Mark’s Square hits 1.5 Metres (over 5 foot). 90% of the city is flooded. Tables have to be erected & raised to enable people to get around. Many homes (especially those on the ground floor) are flooded.

There are some plus points to acqua alta, especially if you’re a wakeboarder:

Youtube link to Wakeboarding in St Marks Square
And some pictures of the Wakeboarding

Darren Who?

It’s morning at Headingly on Friday 18th July and the question on who will make way for the fit & in form Andrew Flintoff is the question on everyone’s mind. This is soon answered but immediately becomes old news as Geoff Miller, national selector, delivered a a crurve ball (or should i say googly). This is because Ryan Sidebottom was forced to pull out because of a side strain.

His replacement was named as Darren Pattinson… photo below:
Darren Pattinson
At which point everyone apart from those who have been following Nottinghamshire’s season this year was baffled, as Pattinson has only played 11 matches at first class level (6 of which have been in the UK).
The Times is asking Who is Darren Pattinson?

In summary, he was born in Grimsby, moved to Australia, played club cricket for Dandenong (in Melbourne) and made his debut for Victoria in November 2006. Recommended by a fellow australian playing county cricket in the UK, he signed a 2 year contract with Notts starting this season. He has taken 29 wickets costing an average of 20.86 each so far. In the time before making his debut in Australia he found work as a roof tiler.

He was included almost certainly unnoticed in England’s 30 man Champions Trophy squad of players

The question remains though why such an inexperienced player has been picked at international level. England captain Michael Vaughan said he’d only seen him play once and that was in a Twenty 20 match.

The last time I can remember anything remotely like this happening is when Fidel Edwards was picked for the 2nd test at Kingston vs Sri Lanka in 2003 having played only 1 first class match. The Jamaican Observer was asking “Fidel Who? Not Castro?”
They had to eat their words because Edwards took 5-36 in the first innings. He was slightly overshadowed by Corey Collymore who took 7-57 in the second inning which earned him the man of the match as West Indies won the match and 2 match series 1-0.

However, the differences between Edwards and Pattinson are numerous
Edwards was 21 when he was selected – Pattinson is 29
Edwards was selected by the West Indies captain Brian Lara after he faced him in the nets between the 1st & 2nd tests
No one questioned whether Edwards would play for the West Indies if he put in performances – Pattinson is only confirmed to be in the UK for 2 years.
Edwards has a unique action and regularly bowls at 90 mph. Pattinson has a good but ordinary action and bowls at 80-85 mph.

I’m still baffled and with England losing the 2nd test yesterday questions will be asked as to why someone who has played so few matches was chosen over someone from the academy (youth) or those who have been performing for their county and has international experience.