Poetry: Fixated by Malcolm Varner

This is the second Varner poem I have posted. This one is from his second book Looking Beyond the Storm: Now the Rainbow is Out and is a cracking work. If you are looking for a book of poetry to add to your collection you should look for this one.

My eyes are fixed on what’s above
For to look below prevents my growth.
And should I fall, well that’s okay.
For when I recover, I’ll still stand tall.
The sky is limitless and calls for me
To jump, fly, to propel into its eternity.
The universe is the destiny of my dreams
And the keeper of my visions.
And as long as my eyes are fixed above,
My soul cannot be held down.

Cricket: When is it ever appropriate to urinate on the pitch?

It has been reported widely today that the English cricket team celebrated their win of the Ashes series at the Oval overnight by having a few drinks in the middle of the field and then, for some players, urinating on the field. This is all allegation at this stage but if it is true this is a disgrace frankly.

Are you kidding me England? After the furore over David Warner’s tap on the chin of Joe Root and angst over Darren Lehmann’s comments regarding Stuart Board in which the ECB have taken the absolute high ground (rightly I concede) what ground will they take now?

I get that sometimes a bunch of guys sitting around in a park having a beer might not try to find a public convenience to relieve themselves and rather might find a close by tree to do. But to do so in the middle of one of the great cricket ground of the world smacks of the arrogance of these guys.

I was more than happy to salute the victory of the England team in this series: they played better cricket as a team when it mattered. The fact is though that throughout this series they have done their best to take the moral high ground and paint Australia’s players and administrators as wild colonials. Last time I checked though said colonials have not taken a mid celebration leak on the middle of one of their fields. Or at least if they have they had the decency of doing so when no one was in the ground.

Hang your heads in shame England cricket! And if the ECB does not come out massively against this abhorrent display then they ought hang their heads in shame too. One wonders if they will do so or if they will continue to show the arrogance of their players and just laugh this off!

Poetry: A Farewell by Lord Tennyson

Keeping with my current focus on the work of Tennyson here is my other favourite Tennyson poem.

Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
Nowhere by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.

But here will sigh thine alder tree
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.

A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever

The Ashes: 5th Test Australia Player Ratings

Given the lack of play in this test match it is a little difficult to hand out ratings for the Australians. There is limited evidence to go off, and a lot of it is more ODI type cricket in nature, but based on that limited evidence this is how I rate Australia’s players:

Chris Rogers: 5 out of 10

Was obdurate in defence in partnership with a rampant Shane Watson and then was dismissed to an innocuous delivery from Swann. Must work on his method against spin bowling. Bizarrely did not get a bat in the second innings.

David Warner: 2 out of 10

Got out in the first innings just way you expect Warner to: fending at a ball outside off stump that he could have left alone. Sick of hearing: “that is just the way he bats”. In a second innings that ought to have been made for him could not get the job done.

Shane Watson: 9 out of 10

Under more pressure than any other player in the Australian team and responded with an attacking innings early that then morphed into a quality hundred. Took a knock to the head and showed immense courage to stay on the field. Elevated to open in the second innings and picked off some quick runs before hitting Swann to long on. Australia is a lesser bowling attack with him not in it.

Michael Clarke: 3.5 out of 10

Has never played a worse 7 than that he did in the first innings. Completely out of sorts albeit scored at a run a ball when chasing a declaration. Tactically courageous with his declaration. Questionable tactics in the field, particularly in the first innings, in not bowling Lyon early enough and not attacking despite his position of strength in the game.

Steve Smith: 9 out of 10

The fidgeter started with the streakiest of shots but after that put on a masterclass of middle order batting. Benefited from a strange decision to bowl Trott whilst in the 90s. Did not really get going in the declaration chase. Has come of age in 2013 and made the number 5 spot his own.

Brad Haddin: 7 out of 10

Dug in with Smith to get him to his hundred and then attacked when fast runs were needed. Golden duck in the second innings can be excused given the situation. Immaculate with the gloves as always. Did his job again and now holds the dismissals world record.

James Faulkner: 7 out of 10

Came in in a ODI type situation in both innings and got on board with the need for fast runs. Took wickets at key junctures for Australia albeit again in ODI type situations. Bowling on the 5th morning was overshadowed by his big mouth.

Peter Siddle: 5 out of 10

Did his job with the bat as nightwatchman. His limitations with the ball on unhelpful wickets again shown in full colour in England’s innings. Will charge in all day but has a sameness about him when not assisted by the wicket. Only given 3 overs in second innings which is an indictment on his form at the moment.

Ryan Harris: 7.5 out of 10

Looked the pick of Australia’s bowlers whenever he had the ball in his hand and again showed why he is the bowler most feared by this English opposition. Australia’s best by a fair way this series.

Mitchell Starc: 6.5 out of 10

Took two wickets during a good spell of bowling but is still too inconsistent and seemingly unable to bowl line and length on day 3. Sick of hearing “he is a wicket taker” as though that makes releasing all pressure on the batters all ok. Showed as much in the second innings when he could not contain any batter for England in the run chase.

Nathan Lyon: 6 out of 10

Bowled some of his best bowling as a test cricketer for, again, limited rewards. Despite easily being Australia’s best spin prospect does not get the support of his captain by way of attacking fields. In and ODI type situation in the second innings did not take wickets which were needed. Must be wondering what he has to do to get the support of the captain.

Shumpty’s Punt: Formula 1 Tips

Tonight the summer break in the Formula 1 is over and attention turns to the Belgian Grand Prix from Spa. Here are couple of bets that might keep things interesting for those watching:

Podium Finish: Kimi Raikkonnen ($2.63)
Not to be classified (does not finish): Roman Grosjean ($3.84)
Points Finish: Sergio Perez ($2.20)
First Driver to Retire: Pastor Maldonado ($13.50)

Can’t wait for the race which is at one of the most interesting tracks on the F1 circuit.

As always: please gamble responsibly.

The Ashes: 5th Test Day 5 Weather Watch

After a washed out day of play yesterday, the final day of this Ashes series looks also like it could be effected by weather.

Here is the forecast from the BBC Weather service for London for Day 5:

A grey start to the day with the risk of early rain. It will become brighter through the morning with some sunny intervals later. Feeling very warm in light winds.

Certainly some hope there for some play today but really, after yesterday’s wash out does it really matter in the context of the test and the series?