31 July 2009

Another cricket post... I promise I'll stop soon!

A few cricket things...

  1. Still smarting from the bowl-out fiasco at Old Trafford!
  2. The ECB have listened to my earlier post about the congestion of the domestic calendar. Next year will see an extended 4 day cricket, T20 and one other limited overs competition. Hoorah! At least I think that's what it says. If it's a choice between 50 and 40 overs, I choose 50.
  3. I've just noticed that Graeme Swann seems to be emerging as unofficial team spokesman for England. More often than not, he is the one providing an end of day interview, and he comes across very well; The journalists must love him.
  4. Come on England!

30 July 2009

It's just not cricket!

Following days of rain in Manchester, there is a result in the quarter final of the Twenty20 competition. Somerset have won on a bowl-out.

I think that this is even worse than a penalty shootout in football. Cricket is a tactical and subtle game - even in its Twenty20 format. It's like like deciding a chess match by flipping a coin.

Needless to say, I'm quite disappointed. Lancashire are running out of competitions this season.

Rain stopped play

On Tuesday evening there were some very wet people waiting for cricket at Old Trafford; I was one of them. We thought we might see some play in the quarter final between Lancashire and Somerset, but after an evening of prolonged and sometimes heavy rain, the decision was taken to abandon play. The reserve day was yesterday, and it rained harder:

The good news for me is that because the reserve day was washed out, I get a full refund. The bad news is that if they don't manage to play 10 overs a side at some point today, the game will come down to a bowl out, which will be indoors if necessary. Call me old fashioned, but that's just not cricket!

Hopefully the weather at Edgbaston will clear up a bit this morning. At least with test cricket we should get some play over 5 days!

27 July 2009

Blackburn in the news again

When I saw the headline on Thinking Anglicans, I assumed it was some kind of swine-flu reference. Having read the article, it's clear that it isn't! Blackburn Cathedral has made the news for offering 'untainted' hosts at eucharists where a woman presides. The 'untainted' host is one which has been previously consecrated by a male priest.

I'm not shocked by the technicalities of the practice; it's similar to the way we operate in our united (ecumenical) services at the Lancaster University Chaplaincy. The service is conducted in one tradition (CofE, RC or Methodist), and reserved sacrament is provided for those outside that tradition; though the CofE and Methodists share the same elements.

What does shock me is the reason for the special arrangements. If there are people who object to women priests, maybe they should either a) not appoint a woman priest in that place, or b) go to another church where women clergy aren't allowed!

I don't agree with the position that women shouldn't be ordained, but there are plenty of options for those who do think in that way - especially in this Diocese.

The final objection I have is with the use of the word 'tainted'. I'm not sure if that's a word used at the Cathedral, or whether it's something added by the journalists to make it sound more impressive. I do think it's an unfortunate and loaded choice though! If I were a female priest, I would be very offended!


Church Mouse and Maggi Dawn have picked this one up too.

23 July 2009

Two Lancastrians to watch

I watched bits of Lancashire's unlikely win over Surrey last night in the Pro40 competition, and was impressed by a couple of Lancashire players.

Stephen Parry impressed with the ball. He's a slow left arm orthodox bowler who has mainly been deployed in limited overs cricket for Lancashire. From what I've seen he seems to have the knack of taking wickets at the right time.

Gareth Cross is one of Lancashire's wicket keepers along with Luke Sutton. He executed a brilliant run-out last night which made me wonder how long Lancashire can sustain two high quality keepers without one of them leaving. With Cross being the younger at 25 years old, my money's on him sticking around.

In my opinion, both players could well have international futures, though I concede that at 23 and 25 they have probably already been passed-over by the England selectors.

Speaking of Lancastrian England players, Sajid Mahmood was on decent form last night. I do think he should stop obsessing on his slower ball. I don't mind a fast bowler who has a slower ball for an occasional variation, but Mahmood seems to bowl at least a couple per over. Having said that, his figures this season are quite good.

21 July 2009

A fine win for England

England's victory over Australia was a great one! The top order scored runs, the tail-enders stuck around and the bowling attack was accurate and vicious. My hero Jimmy Anderson stuck at his task, in the considerable shadow of his Lancastrian colleague.

A note of caution ought to be sounded, though. The Aussies were under par! Their bowling attack was lacking in accuracy and consistency. Their batsmen collapsed (uncharacteristically) in the first innings. We shouldn't be counting on the same thing happening at Edgbaston, Headingly and the Oval.

Also, Freddie may not limp all the way to the Oval, Pietersen is going to see a specialist, Broad isn't there yet (with the ball) and we don't have a performing number 3 batsman. So we're not in a secure position!

I don't want to rain on parades though, and I enjoyed this post that I came across courtesy of David Keen; here's an extract from a liturgy for the defeat of the Aussies:

Archdruid: Haddin may last for the night

All: But Freddie striketh in the morning.

Archdruid: We have waited for many generations. Our parents told us of the day when the English beat the Aussies at Lords. Who could believe what has been revealed before our very eyes, courtesy of Sky Sports and the BBC Website?

All: Truly wonders are seen. Flowers have appeared in the earth. The time of singing hath come. And the voice of Henry Blofeld is heard in the land.

Archdruid: A reading from the Book of Aggers.

Hnaef: And Blofeld said unto him "My dear old thing - verily a pigeon flieth across the ground, and the number of red buses is nigh unto four score that we have seen since last Thursday. And lo - a plane passeth on its way from Heathrow. Maybe it carrieth holidaymakers unto the city of Rome, or even unto Athens or Jerusalem. Don't the trees look nice in the sunlight?" And indeed, as Blofeld rambled on, the English team smote the Aussies one last time and walked from the field rejoicing. But Blowers noticed not. And great was the wailing and gnashing of teeth, in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and even unto Earls Court.

20 July 2009

Swine-flu fever

Despite there being no new guidance on the precautions pregnant women should be taking in relation to swine-flu, the Daily Mail (uncharacteristically) stirred up a dose of uninformed hysteria this weekend. I'm told that this story has been amended since the weekend. The original version advised pregnant women to stay indoors!

There was good coverage on the Today Programme this morning, which managed to persuade the pregnant Mrs Lanky that she would be ok to continue going out of the house.

I really wish that newspaper editors would think about the effects that their headlines might have before they sign them off for publication. I'm guessing that pregnant women across the nation will have spent the weekend in a paranoid state of anxiety; especially those who work in the big cities, and whose jobs put them in contact with large numbers of people. I'm glad to see that the advice has now been tempered; even by the Daily Mail. It should be noted, however, that it is difficult to unscramble an egg!

(please pardon the mixed culinary metaphors)

17 July 2009

Communion compromise

Mike Peatman has posted about this news from the Blackburn Diocese. Given the flu pandemic, clergy in the diocese have been asked to offer communion in one kind - just bread - to try to halt the spread of the virus.

I'm sure it will cause shock to many people, but as an Anglican who regularly worships with Roman Catholics (in a eucharistic setting), I am well used to the idea of receiving only the bread.

Perhaps this could even be a positive thing for the church! Maybe, in being forced to ask questions about the nature of communion, people will come to a deeper understanding of what is going on.

15 July 2009

Flintoff to retire from Test cricket

It's been on the cards for a while now, and the time has finally come for Andrew Flintoff to retire from Test cricket. It's a great shame, but given his injury rollercoaster of the last 4 years, one can hardly blame him.

14 July 2009

As I thought

Thanks to Ministry for this from the BBC. It seems that I was correct in my assumption that 118800 cannot handle the number of unsubscribe requests.

13 July 2009

New look for the Blackburn Diocese website

Occasionally I call in on our Diocesan website to keep abreast of news and developments. Imagine my surprise when I found that after years of the same gaudy template, we have a swanky new look!

I haven't had the chance to check out the navigation or the content yet, but it does look much better than it did!

All to play for

I wonder how many people across the land were, as I was, pacing around their living rooms as James Anderson and Monty Panesar defied the Australian bowlers for what seemed like hours!

When Pietersen's wicket fell at the start of the final day, I was predicting the collapse of England's middle order, and a victory lap for Ponting's men. Thanks to Paul Collingwood, this wasn't to be! His amazing innings (74 runs from 245 balls) gave the lower order some hope that they could resist the Aussies, and James Anderson proved again that he is no mug with the bat (21 not out from 53 balls)!

All in all, it was a shocking performance by England. They came out to bowl thinking that 435 was a good score, but not one of the top-order batsmen exerted any authority on what seems to have been a good batting wicket (look at the Australian batting stats).

Having said that, I feel we deserved the draw, which has set up the rest of the series beautifully.

I'll make no comment on the 'timewasting' tactics, apart from that it reminds me of the use (by England) of substitute fielders in the 2005 Ashes.

10 July 2009

A very popular website

Those of you who read my earlier post and thought you would go and tell 118800 that you don't want your number to be included in their venture will have found the same thing I have:

I'm guessing that the company's servers are struggling to keep up with the demand for people opting out rather than people wanting to use their services. Either way, 118800 seems to be unavailable at the moment. Please try again later.

Privacy alert for all mobile phone users

I found out about this yesterday from a colleague, and then looked it up on the web. Apparently there are plans to put mobile phone numbers into a national directory (without asking permission), and these plans are advanced! If you want to opt out of this, you can:
To unsubscribe, you can either click on the ex directory button on the their web homepage, or you can text the letter 'E' to 118800 from the mobile phone you want to be made ex-directory. 118800 will send you an SMS message confirming you've been taken off.
Go to this website if you want to opt out. Though the website is down at this particular time!

9 July 2009


My current personal mobile phone, an HTC touch, has been OK for the past 11 months; only OK though. It's a Windows Mobile machine and, on the surface, it seems to do an awful lot. The problem comes when you've been using it for a while; your email piles up, you fail to delete text messages, you have a few unwanted applications, and before you know it the phone freezes and needs to be reset. I've done this at least half a dozen times in the year, and unfortunately this involves putting the phone back to its factory settings and losing all your personal data. Grrr. Irritatingly, I have also managed to destroy the 2 styli that came with the phone, and am now improvising with miscellaneous pointy objects to avoid buying a ridiculously priced replacement. 

When I got the phone, it was Orange's best stab at an iPhone competitor, and whilst I'm sure that they have some better machines on offer now, the O2 monopoly means that when my Orange contract ends in August, I'll be moving to O2 for the latest iPhone.

As I already have a 5th Generation iPod for my music, I think I will be fine with the 16GB 3GS. I now need to wait for the end of my contract in August, and then go through the palaver of 'porting' my number across from Orange to O2. That will be fun.

Solid start?

A busy day of meetings at work yesterday meant that I couldn't stay abreast of the day's cricketing developments, but I managed to watch the highlights on Channel 5.

The thing that pleased me most was that Flintoff wasn't out for a duck, and that he took a positive attitude to the new ball. It was great to see the same kind of brutal play that I saw in Lancashire's recent T20 against Derbyshire.

Clearly, someone should have gone on to get a big score. I guess there are a few English batsmen who would agree! However, the Australian bowling attack seemed a bit tame apart from the odd bouncer directed at Bopara. Flintoff got a couple too, but he just seemed to swat them away.

If the England bowling attack meets its potential, I'm looking forward to an exciting innings when the Aussies come in to bat.

7 July 2009

David Keen's Ashes Predictions

David Keen's Ashes Predictions are interesting.

I also predict that, in the event of a win in Cardiff, England will go on to win the series. Hopefully a decent run of weather will make for results rather than draws.

I also agree about James Anderson. I think he's peaking at exactly the right time for the Ashes. Hopefully he'll stay fit and take a couple of big hauls.

I think Monty Panesar will be disappointing (if he gets the chance). He hasn't performed well at County level this season, so I can't imagine his form is going to return just because it's the Ashes.

With the batting, I hope that KP will have a good one, and I'm also hoping that we'll see a continuation of Andrew Flintoff's craching return to batting form with a few big hits.

6 July 2009

The long and painful death of 50 (and 40) over cricket?

I haven't watched a domestic 50 over cricket match for some time, but with Lancashire making the semi-finals of the Friends Provident, I thought it might be an entertaining watch. Unfortunately not!

Maybe it's sour grapes because Lanky lost, but I really felt that it represented something more significant for the one-day format. Here's my argument:

  • County sides play an awful lot of competitive cricket and they have a number of very different formats to which they must quickly adjust (T20, Pro40, 50 over and 4 day).
  • T20 has enjoyed a massive surge this year, partly thanks to the World T20 Championship. Therefore, T20 is not going away!
  • The cricketing establishment is very fond of the longer and 'purer' form of the game so the 4 day game will probably always be there (more or less).
  • Since the advent of T20, teams can score at over 10 runs per over, but only when their wickets are more disposable due to the length of the game. This has improved the 4 day game, with more innovative shots, better fielding, more creative bowling plans and higher batting scores.
  • Players seem not to know how to play 40 and 50 over cricket, as shown by Lancashire yesterday. They seem to be happy with the long game and the short game, but not so comfortable with the in-between versions!
Why don't we just let the confusing 40 and 50 over games fade away, and concentrate on the exhilarating T20 and the more conservative and traditional 4 day game?

2 July 2009


I watched the documentary on FIVE last night about the Turin (or Da Vinci) Shroud. It was a very strange experience, mostly in a televisual sense. Somehow, the one hour programme contained only 20-40 minutes of footage, and there was a strange editing fault which resulted in large parts of the programme being repeated several times over!

In terms of content, most of it was the same as I had already seen or read elsewhere, though it seemed to be dumbed-down for the FIVE audience. The new content related to the hypothesis that the image on the shroud was created using a camera obscura and photo-sensitive silver substances on a sheet of fabric. I found this to be quite persuasive and I would have liked to have seen more of the demonstration experiment they set up. Instead, they seemed to concentrate on trying to link the whole thing to Leonardo Da Vinci. I found these arguments to be much less than convincing.

Ultimately, it makes no difference to me. I'm convinced that the shround is not the genuine burial shroud of Christ already. I was just interested to see how the image had been formed, as it's claimed that the evidence is not consistent with a painted image or print.

The big news in this story, though, is that this may well be the oldest surviving photographic image! Now that's interesting.

1 July 2009

New Turin Shroud conspiracy theory

I spotted this on the Amateur Photographer blog. There's a documentary on FIVE this evening which claims the image on the Turin Shroud was created by an early photographic process involving silver sulphate. The programme claims that none other than Leonardo Da Vinci made the image using a sculpture of his own face.

I'll have to watch it to check out the validity of their arguments, but the notion of the image as a photographic one fits with some of the other evidence I've seen. For example, the fact that the image is best seen in negative form, as in this picture. We don't really see many naturally formed negative images which haven't been 'created' by a human.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the progamme - I'm a bit of a sucker for Dan Brown style conspiracy!