Saturday, March 08, 2003

I am now Ranting in Multiple Places

I am now a contributor to Transport Blog. I will be posting there on transport related matters when I feel like it. I am not yet quite sure how frequently I shall be doing this, but in future when I write on transport related issues I shall be mostly doing it there instead of here. My first post is on trains in Sydney.

Update: My second is on domestic services using the Channel Tunnel Rail link.
This is My Home Town

Just for the sake of fairness, let me add that as well as steel and pedophiles, the Australian city of Wollongong is responsible for former world motorcycle champion Wayne Gardner, fast bowler Brett Lee, Highlander director Russell Mulcahy, and blogger Michael Jennings. And what is scary is that even despite wanting to surrender to the French, Alex Darling remains the least embarrassing of the city's last three mayors. The northern suburbs of the city (from which I come) were only annexed by the city in 1947, and there have been moves to secede in recent years. Frankly, I wish they would just get on with it.
Fairly Uninteresting World Cup Cricket Update

New Zealand versus Zimbabwe today. Not so much to say about it. Batting first, Zimbabwe acquitted themselves quite decently, fighting back from 6/106 to score 7/252 off their 50 overs, thanks largely to a fine 72 not out from fast bowler Heath Streak. Still, New Zealand had little difficulty passing the score, making 4/253 off 47.2 overs thanks to a fine 102 not out from Nathan Astle.

Because of the way points have been carried over into the Super Six, New Zealand are still in difficulty. They need to beat at least one of India and Australia in their two remaining games. Even if they do this, it is possible that they could still miss out if Kenya beat Zimbabwe.

For all these reasons, and the fact that New Zealand are the only side to have won more one days games than they have lost against Australia in the last couple of years, Tuesday's game between the two sides could be the match of the tournament so far.
World Cup Update, and Some Thoughts on Bangladesh's (and Potentially Kenya's) Test Status.

The Super Six stage of the World Cup got going yesterday, with two matches: Australia versus Sri Lanka and India versus Kenya. On form, you would expect victories to Australia and India, and that is what we got. However, the quality of the cricket was excellent.

In 1984, Vivian Richards, the great West Indian batsman, scored 189 not out in a one day International against England. In those days, scores in one day games were lower than they are today, because cricketers hadn't yet mastered one day cricket. Centuries were rare, and many people would have said that a score that high was not possible in a one day international. However, Richards did it. After that cricket fans became aware that a very good batsman could conceivably score a double century, 200 runs, in one day international cricket if he batted for the entire innings (or almost the entire innings) and absolutely everything went right. Since then, we have been waiting for this to happen. In test cricket, where there are no limits on how long a player may bat, double centuries are considered a major achievement, but they are not all that uncommon. A few are scored every year. Most top notch batsmen score at least one in their careers. However, in one day cricket, we are still waiting.

In the 19 years since Richards achieved his feat, a number of players (including Richards himself again) have managed similar scores to Richards. The highest individual score in a one day international is now 194, by Saeed Anwar of Pakistan, against India in 1997. Nobody has got to 200. However, there have been plenty of occasions where a player has started batting and has been going so well that what goes through a spectator's mind is "If this player keeps going the way he is, he will get to 200".

This happened today, although it was always a very optimistic thought. Australian wicketkeeper and opening batsman Adam Gilchrist is one of the finest batsmen in world cricket, test or one day. And he scores his runs fast. Today he opened the batting for Australia, and scored 99 off 88 balls in 29.5 overs. Given that scoring is usually faster in the last 20 overs than the first 30, and that he had had less than half the strike in the first 30 overs but would probably have had more of it in the last 20, my mind wandered to the thought of what Gilchrist might be able to get in 50 overs, and the result rested somewhere around the 200 mark. Gilchrist has always struck me as someone who could do it if he had a really good day. (This is obviously also true of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, and also Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka).

These hopes were of course dashed when Gilchrist was run out for 99. He had got less than half way there. Still, though, he had given Australia a great start, and captain Ricky Ponting was able to go on to score 114 and Damien Martyn scored a useful 52. Australia were 2/290 after 45 overs. At that point, I thought that they could get as many as 350 by really going for it off the last 5 overs. However, for some reason (perhaps good bowling) they couldn't. Ponting and Martyn got out, and the batsmen were only able to add 29 off the last five overs. When you have wickets in hand then the last five overs should be the highest scoring of the innings, but in this case they were below average. Possibly the absence of Andrew Symonds due to injury did harm the situation here. He is a perfect player to hit sixes at the end.

In any event, 5/319 was likely enough. Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya is one of the few players capable of chasing that sort of total (his highest score on one day internationals is a hugely impressive 189). Unfortunately, his thumb was broken by a fast delivery from Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, and he had to retire hurt after scoring just one run. After that Sri Lanka seemed to give up, and didn't seriously chase the target. Veteran batsman Aravinda de Silva played curiously. De Silva and Jayasuriya are clearly the two best batsmen to play for Sri Lanka since Sri Lanka achieved test status in 1982, and it was brilliant batting from the two of them together that won the World Cup for Sri Lanka in 1996. De Silva has been playing for Sri Lanka since 1982, and is playing in his last tournament. He is still very good, although not as good as he was a few years back. Yesterday, though, he came in at 3/47 in the 13th over, and started batting quite slowly. He was clearly the only player in the side at that point who had any chance of being able to win the game. However, he didn't. He batted carefully at first, and then only really got going when the required run rate was so high as to be impossible. If Sri Lanka was not chasing such an imposing target, then his 92 would have been a really fine effort (and it was certainly a great innings to watch towards the end). As it was though, it seemed that he had given up on winning before he started, and he therefore simply decided to try to score one last World Cup century against the Australians. I would have liked to have seen him come out blazing, determined to go out trying to win the match. It wasn't very likely that he could have done this, but it sure would have been something had he succeeded.

From the Australian point of view, the fact that De Silva did eventually get going and got their score to 223 in the end was perhaps something of a disappointment. Their bowlers got on top early, reducing Sri Lanka to 4/48 and then 7/149, but they couldn't finish them off until McGrath was brought back at the end. Either they lost concentration after the game was clearly already won, or they are missing Shane Warne in the middle of the innings. Still, a very easy win by 96 runs. Australia remain impressive, but they are still just slightly below their best.

In the India versus Kenya game, Kenya batted first, and scored solid 6/225 off their 50 overs. Kenya were never going to get a huge score, but were clearly determined not to be embarassed by India. This was set up by a good, solid 79 by Kennedy Otieno, and some good hitting at the end from Maurice Odumbe got them to this respectable total. In return, India got off to a bad start, losing Tendulkar early and falling to 3/24 off 9.2 overs. At this point, it appeared that an upset was possible. Kenya were very enthusiastic in the field, and looked a chance to cause another big upset and wrap up a place in the semi finals. (This one would have been even bigger than the one against Sri Lanka). For the next 20 overs, India were sluggish, apparently finding it difficult to score at a decent rate. Eventually, though, the inevitable happened, and the class of the Indian batsmen did show. Indian captain Sourav Ganguly scored a fine captain's knock of 107 and an excellend 58 in support from Yuvraj Singh meant that in the end India scored a pretty easy six wicket win.

Still, Kenya played well. One has to think they are a chance to beat Zimbabwe and so make the semi-finals. That Kenya v Zimbabwe game next week should be a very interesting one. Although Kenya have been aided by a default, one thing has become very clear in this tournament. Kenya (who do not have test status) are a significantly better team than Bangladesh (who do) and something has to be done about this.

Bangladesh being given test status coincided with the ICC introducing a World Test Championship, requiring every test side to play a series against every other side over a five year period. This requires that (including Zimbabwe) each test side play a minimum of 45 matches over five years. This has meant that Bangladesh are playing far more matches against much better opposition than most previous sides have played immediately after getting test status. This has allowed players from certain other sides to boost their averages against Bangladesh's sub-standard opposition, and it has also not been good for Bangladesh. Playing good opposition once in a while is good, but getting thrashed ten times a year in tests and more times in one day matches is not good.

When Bangladesh were granted test status, a new half way "One day international" status was created for Kenya, which meant that their one day matches counted as full internationals and they therefore got one day games pretty regularly. Kenya have improved since then, and in retrospect it seems that it would have been a good idea to promote Bangladesh to this status too rather than give them test status. Alternately, they could have been given test status so their matches counted as full internationals, but not given entry into the ICC test championship until they improved. That way, other sides could have played one off matches against them from time to time without giving them the full grind of year round cricket.

In any event, I don't think the status quo is sustainable. For one thing, Kenya deserve equal status to Bangladesh. I suspect it is politically impossible to take away Bangladesh's test status, but I think they should no longer play towards the ICC's Test Championship. It would probably better if they and Kenya only had the one day international status that Kenya have now, but it is probably too late for this. Bangladesh should go back to a state of affairs where they play the odd one off test against better opposition and play in one day international tournaments from time to time. Kenya should be given similar status. It should be made very clear what either of these sides need to do in order to be allowed to play in the ICC test championship in future. This should simply be based on performance. If they can win test matches against two separate opponents from the "better" test teams within a certain period (two or three years) then they should receive promotion. Otherwise they stay where they are.

I don't think this solution is idea, but it both gives us a more satisfactory status for Bangladesh, and rewards Kenya for their performances in this tournament.
I Probably Shouldn't Blame Something on a Conspiracy if it Could be a Simple Screwup

As is no doubt obvious to my readers, the space devoted to advertising at the top of this page has just doubled. This is presumably a consequence of Google's acquisition of Blogger. It is not a positive one, however. Given the state of the advertising market, I can't imagine that Google are able to raise much (if any every money) by doing things this way. A more cynical possibility is that they are trying to make the free option less attractive than the paid option, which dispenses with advertising. That is, it is a deliberate strategy to annoy their users in the hope that the users will pay them money to stop annoying them. To me, this seems close to a violation of Google's mission statement of Don't be evil.

From my point of view, the trouble is that there are lots of other people I can get hosting from. I have been tempted to move to Moveable Type for a while, and if Google is going to put me through the hassle of charging me, then I might as well pay my money to someone else and make the move. I can't imagine I am the only person who feels this way, and I suspect that those particular people who do this will likely be the sorts of people who have reasonable technical skills and who blog a lot. That is, the most valuable of Blogger's (free) users.

This may just be a small experiment on Google's part that is gone by Monday. Hopefully it is.

Update: What was happening this morning was that I was seeing two banner ads instead of one at the top of the page. One of these was a conventional banner ad, like we saw on Blogspot prior to the acquisition, and the other was a banner containing links to advertisers related to words found on my page, the advertising method that Google specialises in. This now seems to be no longer happening, and I am back to getting a single banner. I am curious as to why this happened. Has it been set up so that the double banners only occur in some instances and not others? What is a brief experiment that is now at an end? Of was is simply that a programmer at Google/Blogger made a mistake. I am actually inclined to believe the last of these suggestions is the most likely. In any event, I shall be interested to see if it comes back.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Artificial Hearts, and Some Thoughts About Organ Transplants

Brian Micklethwait provided a link to this (pretty cool) animation of a beating heart. Brian's comment

When you consider all the metaphorical baggage that has been loaded onto the human heart over the centuries, it turns out to be very small and yucky, and you can swap yours for another with "you" carrying on pretty much as usual. It's just a pump.

Of course, as a consequence of that, it is also the easiest human organ to replace. As was very widely reported in the media at the time, in July 2001, the first self-contained artificial heart was transplanted into a human patient, a man by the name of Robert Tools. Previous artificial hearts were connected to wired or tubes that extended outside the body, but this one contained a battery that could be recharged by holding a recharging device close to the skin in front of the chest. For ethical reasons, at this stage in the development of these artificial hearts, such experimental transplants can only be made to people who are about to die. If there is any chance that a patient may be able to receive a transplant of a living heart, then the experiment may not proceed with that patient. Essentially this means that the patients that have received such hearts are patients that have deteriorated so far before receiving the transplant that they would not be considered viable candidates for a conventional transplant even if a suitable heart could be found. (Amongst other things, the relevant US medical codes require that patients must have less than a month to live).

For this reason, when Mr Tools received the first such heart, the experiment was likely to be regarded as a success if he survived for a few days. However, as it happened, he was still alive two months later. During this two months I remember seeing regular reports of his progress in the media.

Of course, two months later than this was September 2001, and after this we were all preoccupied with other things, and we didn't see how this experiment turned out. Well, as it happened, Mr Tools lived for five months after the transplant, and the artificial heart has to be considered a resounding success. Since then, eight other people in the US have received artificial hearts, with varying levels of success. Some have died immediately after the surgery. The most successful transplant led to Tom Christerson of Kentucky living for 17 months after the transplant. Interestingly enough, he died not because his body rejected the heart or anything like that, but simply because the artificial heart wore out. Clearly, more reliable hearts will be developed before long, and I tend to think that it will not be very long before it will no longer be necessary to transplant hearts from dead people.

Which is good, because the ethical complications of organ transplants are not simple. This is reflected in all the various urban myths that exist about people being kidnapped, drugged, and waiting up with their kidneys (or sometimes corneas) missing. And, closer to reality, there are one or two deeply troubling practices that exist in the world concerning organ transplants. The most disturbing of all is the fact that the Chinese sell the organs of executed prisoners to rich foreigners for hard currency. Only slightly less disturbing is that poor people in places like India sometimes sell their kidneys to richer people. If we can develop artificial organs, then we can avoid all these ethical complications, and this would be a good thing. (Sadly, though, developing artificial kidneys, and artificial livers, and artificial lungs, and the like is going to be much harder than artificial hearts).

(Australian media mogul Kerry Packer a year or two back had a kidney transplant in which he received the kidney of his helicopter pilot. I don't think that he explicitely "bought the kidney" so much as "gave him a lot of money later", or that supposedly is the story. That's what is called a demanding employer. He makes his people work long hours, doesn't pay them very well, and once in a while he asks one of them to give up their bodily organs. But I digress).

There is of course one further possible source for organs for transplants, and that is so called xenotransplants: organs from animals. As our technology gets better it becomes theoretically possible to transplant organs from other species into humans without the organs instantly being rejected. This possibility, however, scares me beyond words. Why is this? Because on at least two occasions, one of them before 1959, a retrovirus that had been present in chimpanzee populations for probably thousands of years, and which is benign to chimpanzees, crossed over into the human population in Africa. Around the same time, another similar virus that had been present in a species of money called the sooty mangabey did the same. Nobody knows quite how this happened, but given that these viruses had spent thousands of previous years failing to cross over and then did so three times in just a few years, it must have had something to do with modern human activity. And however this happened, this managed to start the AIDS crisis, which may kill a billion people by the time it is through. And if we transplant animal organs into human beings, we run the risk of causing another such crisis. At the very least, we can say that we do not know enough about how diseases cross the species barrier to say that this type of experimentation isn't worth the risk.

At least, that is how I feel. Onward with the development of artificial organs, however.
Anti-Mugabe protest update

As was widely reported a couple of weeks ago, two Zimbabwean players, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga very bravely took the field in a World Cup cricket match wearing black arm bands, as a statement mourning the death of democracy in their country. In the next game, the Zimbabwean Cricket Board attempted to prevent the players from playing. Andy Flower, who is one of the best batsmen in the world, eventually did play in the match (and subsequent matches) because his teammates en masse refused to play unless he was selected. Flower has played in all subsequent matches. Olonga has been less lucky. Olonga is a decent player, but not in the class of Flower, and the Zimbabwean selectors were able to get away with implying that his later non-selection had to do with form rather than the political statement he had made.

Since then, Andy Flower has stated that he knows he is not going to play for Zimbabwe again after this tournament. (He could have added "as long as Mugabe is in power" but he left that unstated). This is a shame, as it means that a great player will be lost to international cricket. Personally, though, he will be fine, due to the fact that he also plays cricket as an "overseas player" for English county Essex. English counties are permitted two non-English players. These players are normally international stars of the game, and are normally very well paid. Flower is easily good enough to qualify for one of these spots, and although he may not play international cricket again, he can make a comfortable living playing county cricket in England. He may have to live in exile from his own country, and while this is unfortunate, there are worse fates.

Henry Olonga, on the other hand, is not quite good enough to earn a regular "overseas player" spot in county cricket. He is certainly as good as many of the English players playing county cricket, however, so in order for him to play here, someone would have to make a special effort. Which is why it was heartening to read this in the Times this morning. (The Times' website is link-unfriendly, unfortunately).

THE very real fears that Henry Olonga’s ostracism by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) will culminate in the end of his international career have led to an extraordinary offer from a Suffolk businessman to sponsor him through county cricket this season.
Zimbabwe are scheduled to tour England from May to July but, if Olonga is omitted from the party as a punishment for his courageous political stand with Andy Flower, the fast bowler could yet benefit from the huge worldwide sympathy for his plight.

After reading in The Times last Friday that Olonga suspects his international future is over, Lawrence Mallinson contacted the newspaper to reveal that he had spoken to Essex to see if they could take him on as a “sponsored” overseas player.

“I think it is important that Henry should not be abandoned after the World Cup is over,” Mallinson said, “and feel that my business can at least afford to give him a well-deserved foot up. Getting him over here might also help him make contacts that could lead on to something else.”


A member of the Zimbabwe coaching staff declared what has been widely known since Olonga was dropped after making his joint statement — that on cricketing grounds, he should still be in the side.


Mallinson is prepared to pay up to £30,000 to sponsor Olonga. “I’m not a huge philanthropist, but I was moved by what I read in The Times,” he said. “I know Henry isn’t your world-class overseas player, but what he did was very brave and I want to ensure he isn’t forgotten about.”

This is quite pleasing, and hopefully something can be sorted out to allow Olonga to play in England (although no doubt the British immigration service can find some way to screw things up). It would be a real shame for Olonga to have to suffer too much for his bravery and decency.

Of course, the best thing of all that could happen would be for someone less vile than Mr Mugabe to take power in Zimbabwe. That way, Zimbabwe could once again put its best possible cricket team on the field. And, vastly more importantly, the repression of the people of that beautiful country by Mugabe's thugs could cease.
Eight new moons have been discovered in the Jovian system using telescopes in Hawaii, bringing Jupiter's total to 48. I want to go there. (Jupiter that is, not Hawaii). (Although to tell the truth, I wouldn't mind going to Hawaii, either).

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Going Underground - which London Underground tube line are you?

I'm the JUBILEE line!

Slashdot, where Glenn Reynolds has not yet got everyone to bow down before him and submit to his will (like some places).

That's right, he is just referred to as the author of This MSNBC article.
Toshiba claims to have invented a small sized fuel cell capable of powering a laptop for five hours. (via slashdot). This is great, and I have written about it before.

Basically, though, a fuel cell is a battery that runs on liquid fuel. It contains a fuel tank, and a chemical process occurs in the cell that generates electricity by using up the fuel, which is normally methanol. When the battery runs out of fuel, you simply open the battery's fuel cap, pour in some more fuel, and bingo, another five hours. The advantages of this are that it will be possible to design fuel cell powered laptops that can run for many more hours than is presently the case, and (perhaps even more important) recharging the battery is quick and inexpensive. To refuel such a battery, you either carry a bottle of fuel with you, or when you run out you go into the nearest supermarket, newsagent, or office supplies store, and you buy a refill. This makes it possible for people to use their laptops for prolongued periods of time without lengthy sessions in which they have to plug them into mains electricity. This is so much better than the status quo that once these things are readily available, all laptops will have them within a very short period of time. (It may be that they become standard for mobile phones as well).

This is going to cause one more problem, however, which is that it is going to encourage people to carry around botles of methanol, which is highly inflammable. One of the chief places people are going to want to use laptops for prolongued periods of time is on aircraft. For obvious safety reasons, it is not normally permitted for passengers to carry bottles of methanol on aircraft with them. The 10% solution requiered by this fuel cell is probably not a great safety risk, but airlines are still not going to like it much, particularly if it becomes common practice for people to carry around pure methanol and dilute it as need be (which seems likely, given that this makes things much more compact, and water is available everywhere). Airlines might demand that passengers only carry dilute methanol, but this will be hard to enforce.

Of course, if it is possible to design a fuel cell that can run a laptop for 15 hours or more, then refueling isn't going to be an issue. Passengers simply need to be instructed that refueling on the plane is not permitted, and that they are not permitted to carry fuel with them. People who refuel their batteries before the plane takes off are not going to run out of fuel. The other option is to continue with the route that many airlines have been taking, which is simply to provide electrical outlets in airline seat armrests. In that case, this new technology will be tremendously useful in many situations, but largely irrelevant on aircraft.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

A lot of people have no doubt seen this photo already. I duplicate it because it is beautiful. (The photo was taken by Columbia last month, prior to the shuttle's ill fated re-entry into the atmosphere).

I can't quite see myself, but I am presumably in the photo somewhere.

(via Andrew Sullivan).

Update: Yes, yes, it's a composite. It's also shot in summer, as discussed in my comments section. It's still beautiful. What is the clump of light on the coast of Africa at the bottom of the picture three quarters of the way along? Lagos is presumably the feinter clump of lights above and to the left of the mail clumb. Port Harcourt is to the left of the bright section, so what is it? Any ideas?

Further Update: Just to make a reference to my previous posts, the Ruhr is clearly visible as the crescent to the right of Belgium/The Netherlands. (There is a larger and more detailed version of the photograph here). It is striking of course just how densely populated the Low Countries are in their entirety, although given how much time the Dutch have spent reclaiming the sea, it is perhaps not terribly surprising. It would be interesting to have a photo of Britain at night, so we can see how contiguous Manchester and Liverpool actually are.
I have written before about digital filming and projection of movies in cinemas. This has a substantial number of advantages over traditional film, some in production (no need for the crew to wait for film processing to see if they got the shot right, and thus the need for fewer takes and consequently lower costs), and quite a few in distribution and projection (instant distribution to cinemas around the world and consequently simultaneous release dates, a much larger choice of films in repertory cinema, no scratching and deterioration of film prints). However, I have not been impressed by the quality of digital projection as we have seen it so far.

The main reason for this has to do with resolution. Firstly, the resolution of the Digital Light Processor projectors that we saw for Star Wars Episode 2 last year was 1280x1024. This had two problems. Firstly, it is much lower than the best resolution of 35mm film, which has the equivalent of maybe 2000 lines, rather than 1024, so the image appears grainier than a conventional film. Secondly, 1280x1024 is a PC resolution, and not a film and television resolution. For one thing, the aspect ratio is wrong. To appear on a movie screen, the image produced by a 1280x1024 projector has to be stretched in the horizontal direction so that the pixels are around three times as long as they are wide. This again is not ideal. The best resolution for high definition television, which is also used by the best professional digital video cameras, is 1920x1080. This produces pixels approximately the correct shape (although they are still stretched a little for Cinemascope 2.35:1 aspect ratios). Plus, as was done with Star Wars, if you film a movie using one of these cameras and convert to 1280x1024, there are certain issues in converting from 1080 pixels vertically to 1024 that can cause more distortion.

It seems that when Texas Instruments developed the digital projector, they simply took the chip for one of their PC projectors off the shelf, and used it to build a cinema projector. This, obviously, was not ideal. This is why it is heartening for me to read in Variety (no free access, unfortunately), that TI have just demonstrated a new digital projection chip. This one was clearly designed specifically for digital projection of motion pictures.

TI was to demonstrate the new chips in two prototype projectors at the ShoWest conference. Their highest-profile appearance was to come Tuesday night with a screening of the new Disney/Pixar animated feature "Finding Nemo" at theaters in the Bally's and Paris hotels.

TI's original Digital Light Processing chips had a resolution of 1280 by 1024, more than double the resolution of standard U.S. analog TV and most flavors of digital television but well below the high-def television resolution of 1920 by 1080.

The new chips will have a resolution of 2048 by 1080, exceeding the so-called 2K level of picture definition. It's a relatively small improvement over HDTV, but crucial for TI's marketing efforts to get its chips accepted by exhibs and studios pondering the multibillion-dollar changeover from film projectors to digital ones.

This will fix the problems of converting from 1080 to 1024 lines, and will largely eliminate the problems with stretched pixels. If the image generated from a digital camera is 1920x1080, the simplest was to convert is to simply leave 64 pixels blank at each side of the image, so that camera pixels and projection pixels exactly correspond. However, in the case where you have a movie with the 2.35:1 aspect ratio then conceivably it is possible to project the movie with squarer pixels than if you had a 1920x1080 projector. This will work fine from an analogue source, but we are going to need a 2048x1080 camera if this is going to be any help for a digitally filmed project. (I wonder if Sony are working on such a camera).

Unsurprisingly, the article says that people viewing films projected using the new system find that films look a lot better than when projected using the older system

TI used the new prototype projectors two weeks ago in Hollywood to show side-by-side comparisons of its chips' output to film for about 400 cinematographers, directors, journos and others. Reactions were much warmer than for the original TI chips, which were
criticized in particular for their inability to handle subtle dark shades.

This time even cinematographers, who have been TI's most exacting critics in the past, were complimentary of side-by-side comparisons of clips from such films as "Road to Perdition" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

"For the first time, they saw a 47-foot image at 12-foot-lamberts of brightness with more than 2K resolution," said one participant in the gatherings. "It's a real breakthrough. And the buzz was extraordinarily good. I was a little taken aback by the reaction, and I think TI was, too."

I think we are slowly getting there. This is an improvement. Digital and analogue projection are likely close to indistinguishable in a relatively small cinema, or if you are sitting a reasonable way back. On a big screen, though, you are still going to be able to see the difference.

The article talks about the films "exceeding 2K resolution". In filmmaking, when digital effects shots are made, the live action film is scanned into a computer, the image is modified digitally, and the digital image is converted back to film. There are two common resolutions at which scanning is done: so called "2K", in which 2048 horizontal pixels are scanned, and "4K", in which 4096 horizontal pixels are scanned. Most work is done using "2K", which is considered good enough for most purposes. However, images scanned at 2K and then converted back to film are not as good as the images that we started with. This is why for the very best quality work, 4K is used.

Personally, I do not want to see a format that is merely considered "good enough" become the standard for digital projection. A digital projection needs, as a minimum, to be as good as what can be done with 35mm film. For this reason, I do not want to see widespread digital cinemas until we have capabilities for 4K resolution in cinemas. At the moment, digital cameras cannot do 4K, and special effects houses can only generate very small amounts of effects to a 4K standard, but this is simply because these are the limits of technology at the moment. Moore's Law tells us that these will not be the limits of technology in a couple of years. And I think it is going to be worth the wait.

And if someone could sneak me in to one of those screenings of Finding Nemo, that would be great.

Update: We have a very bare bones report on the Finding Nemo screening here.
This Explains Everything

The South African camp refused to point out the man who's inability to read a piece of paper might have cost the team a place in the Super Six phase of the world's most prestigious competition.

Simons defended his team's actions: ''We did not want to chase the Duckworth Lewis-method, but rather the target of 269.

To quote Buffy: "I think I speak for everyone here when I say, 'Huh?'"
Just to emphasise the point: the Saudis are not our friends.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

This pretty much sums it up for me too. South Africa were eliminated from the World Cup because they deserved to be. It is worth observing that the final match was a match with a result. The Duckworth/Lewis rule declared it a tie, because the two teams were about even. If South Africa had been ahead in the match, they would have gone through. Meanwhile

Australia Test captain Steve Waugh says Shaun Pollock has no excuses for South Africa's shock first-round exit from the World Cup.

"It was obviously a breakdown of communication but in these days of professional sport where you're being paid good money, you shouldn't really make that mistake," Waugh told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

I suppose he simply couldn't resist that. I can envisage the following future news story

Chenai, July 2327---

In a bizarre result today, the cricket team of the Empire of Greater South Africa were eliminated from 89th cricket World Cup today, after their semi-final against Russia was disrupted by the unexpected opening of a geothermal vent in the middle of the pitch. When asked about this, South African captain Hansie Pollock XIV expressed disappointment about South Africa's failure to reach the final of the tournament for the first time. Pollock attempted bravely to blame the loss under the Duckworth-Platypus rule on the arrival of the new volcano, but most commentators were not sympathetic, believing that the thirteen previous dropped catches on the part of the South African team might have had something to do with it also. They were particularly critical of the attempts of south African fieldsman Fannie Botha to attempt to juggle the ball and two others he had kept in his pocket for such an occasion behind his back before gaining control of "the further disposal of the ball", as specified by the laws of cricket. While this would have been extraordinary to watch if it had come off, sadly it didn't. Long time South Africa watchers stated that compared to previous World Cup semi-finals, South Africa's performance had been pretty good this time. While the volcano on the pitch was an interesting development, it did not quite live up to the plague of locusts that had affected South Africas chances of advancing to the Super Nine in 2307.

Journalists were also critical of the South African team for their earlier loss to the enthusiastic team of amateurs representing the Grand Duchy of Wagga Wagga.

South African fans immediately started complaining about the rain rule that had knocked South Africa out of the 1992 tournament in Australia.

"It wasn't fair then, and it still isn't fair", announced one tearful man in a bar in Cape Town.

The brain of former Australian captain Steve Waugh, which has been kept in cryogenic storage in the cricket museum in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown for the last 250 years specifically for events like this, was briefly thawed in order that its opinion on the matter could be determined. It's statement was brief, and straight to the point.

"You've just dropped the World Cup", it said.

Long time Steve Waugh followers were a little disappointed by this, having hoped for something a little more creative. While Mr Waugh's comments were clearly to the point, and completely accurate, he had used the exact same set of words thirteen times, and his brain's sledging ability was apparently in decline. Curators of the museum announced that attempts were being made to merge the consciousness of Mr Waugh with that of former Australian Prime Minister and fellow Bankstown native Paul Keating, whose sledging ability was known to be second to none. The curators announced that progress was being made, although the best that had been managed so far was

"You've just dropped the World Cup, you bunch of fetid lamb's kidneys".

It was hoped that the merging of consciousnesses would be successfully completed in time for the next World Cup, to be hosted by the United States in 2331. Meanwhile, Pollock announced his team's greater detemination then ever to reach the final of that tournament, to be played in Baghdad.
I am certain that there is lots of weird stuff under Tokyo, some of it built for military reasons, and some of it secret. However, is there some giant conspiracy responsible for building ten times as many tunnels as are publically known. Really I doubt it. And, there is this

Shun claims to have uncovered a secret code that links a complex network of tunnels unknown to the general public. "Every city with a historic subterranean transport system has secrets," he says. "In London, for example, some lines are near the surface and others very deep, for no obvious reason."

Well, the obvious first reason is that the ones close to the surface were built using cut and cover and the deeper ones using deep burrowing methods. And yes, there is an immense amount of underground crap in London, too. (For instance, there is an entirely different set of tunnels used by the post office for transporting mail, although this was largely a Victorian thing and isn't needed much any more). A lot of locations of tunnels can be explained by simple things, like the locations of sewers, however.

(via William Gibson)
I have always thought it was Pepsi rather than Dr Pepper that suffered from terminal unhipness. They have always seemed about two years behind the curve. The managed to set Michael Jackson's hair on fire, but not until 1984. (1982 would have been impressive). The managed to sign up Madonna for ads during the Like a Prayer stage of her career - just as she was offending Catholics and was about to move onto the Sex/Erotica stage of her career, which is the one time in her life when she has seriously misjudged her audience. Plus there was the hilarious rebranding of the Pepsi can from red to blue in the mid-1990s, in which they sent out a whole series of press releases which (hilariously) attempted to hype a change in can colour like it was the second coming. (There was a hilarious article about it in the Economist at the time, which I wish was available online).

I have no real wish to be a Key Influence Blogger. I wouldn't mind being an Adorable Little Rodent like Sasha, though.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is ending at the end of this present season. This makes me unhappy, as I adore the program with a passion. The cast and crew are suddenly being franker in interviews than has been in the case in the past. Sarah Michelle Gellar alludes to not being terribly happy with the darker storylines of Season 6, and series creator and mastermind Joss Whedon suggests that he has occasionally "settled" for writing which wasn't quite up to the standard he wanted. My guess is that he too is talking about parts of Season 6. I don't think the darker storylines of Season 6 were a bad idea, as Gellar apparently does, but I am not sure they were always well handled. The storyline in which Alyson Hannigan's character of Willow allows her magic to get completely out of control was at times played as an addiction storyline, whereas in reality what Joss was aiming for was deeper and more complex than that. It was all about Willow having been the shy, tormented and unappreciated (but extremely talented) character at high school, and the insecurities and unhappiness that come from that. You grow up, discover that talent gives you a certain amount (or in some cases a great amount) of power, but then, ultimately, you find that that same background was not ideal in terms of giving you the character and the background to deal with that power, and as a consequence things sometimes go wrong. And I don't think all the writers really understood that.

In any event, the show is now about to end. There has been lots of discussion of the possibility of there being a spinoff to replace the show on the UPN network. This will either start in September or as a mid-season replacement in January next year - we don't yet have a date. For a while, the rumours were that the spinoff would feature renegade slayer Faith as its central character, but this is now clearly out, as actress Eliza Dushku has committed to doing a pilot for another TV show instead. (Given that she made fewer appearances on Buffy over the years than the producers would have liked, and that that was due to her at least claiming she was focusing on her film career rather than television, there is perhaps a piece of the story I don't know). Fans have often thought that Joss Whedon might want to base a series around the character of Buffy's sister Dawn, but the plot of this years' buffy episodes has tended to discourage this idea. (Dawn is definitely not going to be a slayer, for instance).

The latest rumours suggest that the spinoff will be based around the character of Willow, but I really doubt this. Firstly, we have already seen the most important character arcs concerning her. There is perhaps a little bit of redemption to go for her actions in season six, but I am not sure this makes good television, at least not for a central character. The other issue, which is obvious to me, but not obvious to Hollywood, concerns the film careers of the various characters. The first confirmation of the end of Buffy was when it was announced that Sarah Michelle Gellar was "in negotiations" to star in a movie filming in August. She has made the usual comments about she now wants to concentrate on her film career. She is a good actress, but her film career is comparatively mixed. There are no big hits there in which you could say she was responsible for the movie being a hit. (As far as hits are concerned, there are two horror movies from the peak of Kevin Williamson's career in 1997, and there is Scooby-Doo from last year). In movies where she is the clear star (Simply Irresistable,Cruel Intentions,Harvard Man perhaps) she generally puts up a good acting effort, but none have been a hit. Plus, in her recent interviews she seems to have developed typical Hollywood bitchiness about past projects. If the films was not a clear hit, then tell people how bad it was, how it was not your fault, and consequently how it must have been the fault of everyone else who was in it. Out of her career, the film that gets this treatment is Simply Irresistable, which actually isn't as bad as it is sometimes made out to be. The most successful film actors seem to be able to avoid this kind of bitchiness. (As an example in top notch career management, let me mention Tom Cruise, who consistently promotes his films unstintingly, even those which are not perceived as successful, and who wouldn't dream of being bitchy about someone he has worked with in the past. After all, he might need to work with them again). So, I have mixed feelings about the likely success of Sarah Michelle Gellar's film career. It wouldn't surprise me if she is back in television in five years. If this happens, she will never again find herself working on a program as well written as Buffy.

As for the possibility of successful film careers from members of the Buffy cast, I shall instead suggest that the attention is going to the one place. Because the program is called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and because Sarah Michelle Gellar is so photogenic, people who don't regularly watch the show assume it is a star driven show. And really it isn't. It is an ensemble cast driven show. The strongest actor in the case is Alyson Hannigan, who plays Willow. She gets less attention because she is less conventionally pretty than some of the other cast members. (She is actually gorgeous, but not in the really obvious way that Hollywood favours). This has also meant her film roles have tended to be smaller ones - fairly dreadful "person X's girlfriend" type parts. The most prominent film role she has had is the character of Michelle the flute playing band geek in the American Pie movies. These movies have been rather crass on the whole, but with one or two redeeming features. Alyson Hannigan's part has grown from a tiny part in the first movie to a much larger part in the second to the lead in the third (not yet seen). It has done this on the strength of Hannigans's wonderful ability to be both cute and knowing at the same time, and through her flawless comic timing. Half of the up and coming young actresses in Hollywood have appared in this series of movies, and although Hannigan has (thankfully) not appeared in the Entertainment Weekly photospreads in which "the girls of American Pie" appear half dressed, she has managed to completely steal the movies. What has been clear is that the writers and the producers of the movies have been smart enough to realise what they had in our beloved Alyson, and therefore have been making her parts steadily bigger. Other people are steadily realising this. While conventional boring Hollywood good looks are common, Hannigan has talents that are much rarer. And I think before long this will be obvious to everyone.

And that is why, I think, that a "Willow" spinoff is a no go. It is Alyson Hannigan's film career that is going to get in the way, even if not everyone realises this yet.
Yesterday was the second last day of the World Cup pool games, and two of the three matches mattered. In the one that didn't matter, the Netherlands beat Kenya by 64 runs. Not much of interest there, other than some good batting by the Dutch.

In the second game, New Zealand played Canada. Going in to that game New Zealand knew that if South Africa was to beat Sri Lanka later in the day, New Zealand would need a much better net runrate than they had. So, after Canada were all out for 197, New Zealand came out and went about wildly hitting the ball all over the place. It was fun to watch, but they lost wickets in doing it, and at 5/114 off 13 overs, they slowed down, eventually getting the target off 23 overs. This wasn't enough of a runrate boost to help much, but captain Stephen Fleming correctly praised his team anyway. He said that their aim had been to score the runs off 16 overs, but that wouldn't have required one of the batsmen to do something remarkable. Scoring 8.5 runs an over, as they did, was still good. However, New Zealand then had to wait for the result of the later game, and hope that South Africa did not beat Sri Lanka.

In the last game, South Africa had to win to make the Super Six stage. Any other result, and New Zealand and Sri Lanka would go through. Sri Lanka got off to a reasonably slow start with the bat, but Marvan Atapattu and Aravinda De Silva batted superbly in the middle stages. At 3/242 off 44.4 overs, it looked like Sri Lanka might end up with something like 310, but both batsmen were out at the 45 over mark, and Sri Lanka struggled to a still good total of 9/268 off 50 overs. In reply, South Africa got off to a flying start, with more than six runs an over and no loss of wickets for the first ten overs. Gibbs scored a fine 73. Then, however, they slumped in the middle order, and at one point were 5/149 off 29.1 overs, and it looked like a Sri Lankan victory was imminent. However, Boucher and Pollock batted well, and South Africa appeared once more to be making a good effort. The weather then closed in. If a match is not complete, a complicated mathematical formula called the Duckworth-Lewis rule applies to decide the winner. (This rule is very fair, but quite complicated). The D/L rule stated in this instance that after 45 overs, if South Africa had lost six wickets they would then need 229 runs to tie the match and 230 to win the match. As the rain was closing in, South African captain Shaun Pollock sent a message out to Boucher saying that the batsmen needed to have at least 229 runs at the 45 over mark. However, things got mixed up, and somehow it was thought that this would be enough runs for the match to be declared a South African win, and not a tie. As it happens. Boucher hit a six, and got what he thought was enough runs. He didn't attempt to score any runs off the last ball of the over. At the end of the over the heavens opened, the players came off, and after an hour of waiting and hoping the match would restart, the match was declared a tie.

On this basis, South Africa were eliminated from the tournament, as the two points for a tie were not enough to get them ahead of New Zealand on the table.

Just out of interest, in the Super Six stage, full points will be carried over from the groups stage of any matches that involve two teams that both made the Super Six stage. For matches between one team that made the Super Six and one that did not, the team that goes through carries one quarter of the points that were earned from the match. (I will explain the reasoning behind this rule in Michael Jennings extra later, if I have time). This means that the starting table will be as follows.

Australia 12
Kenya 10
India 8
Sri Lanka 7.5
New Zealand 4
(Zimbabwe 4)
(England 3)
(Pakistan 3)

The points in brackets are the number of points that the final qualifier will have. Who that will be depends on the result of Pakistan v Zimbabwe today. (If that game is tied or no result, Zimbabwe will have 3.5). Kenya will likely lose all their matches, so basically the exercise of making the semi finals involves getting past Kenya on the table. Australia do not have to do anything, India and Sri Lanka need to win only one game, and the others likely need to win two games. Zimbabwe, England, or Pakistan will have an easy game against Kenya to help them do this. New Zealand will have to beat two stronger teams, and at least one of India or Australia. New Zealand are still being penalised for their defaulting against Kenya. If they had not done this, they would have more points. (Admittedly, if Sri Lanka had beaten Kenya or if West Indies v Banglades had not been knocked out, New Zealand would have more points also).

Today we have the last two pool matches: Zimbabwe versus Pakistan and West Indies versus Kenya. West Indies versus Kenya has no impact on the competition, other than that Kenya would carry over an extra point to the Super Six if they won it. Zimbabwe Pakistan is important though. If Zimbabwe wins it, they go through to join Australia and India from Group A. If Pakistan wins it by a small margin, England goes though. If Pakistan wins it by a large margin, Pakistan goes through. At the moment, it is raining in Buluwayo. If the match is a no result, Zimbabwe goes through. If it is shortened but there is a result, it becomes very hard for Pakistan to boost their net runrate enough to go through. This plays into England's hands. For now though, the weather looks so bad that it might be Zimbabwe going through. This presumably helps New Zealand, as Zimbabwe will presumably be easier to beat than either of the others. Of course, if it leads to Kenya beating Zimbabwe, then Kenya will make the semi-finals, and everything gets more ridiculous.

Update: The Zimbabwe v Pakistan game has been declared no result. That means that Zimbabwe go through, and the starting Super Six table is this.

Australia 12
Kenya 10
India 8
Sri Lanka 7.5
New Zealand 4
Zimbabwe 3.5

Just as an observation, if England had not defaulted against Zimbabwe, and New Zealand had not defaulted against Kenya, and they had instead won the matches, the starting Super Six Table would be this.

Australia 12
India 8
New Zealand 8
Sri Lanka 7.5
West Indies 6.5
England 4

which in my opinion is an excellent reflection of the relative performances of the teams in the competition so far. Also, I think the right teams would have been eliminated.

Another thing. If instead we assume that the defaults had occurred, but that the upset (Sri Lanka losing to Kenya) and the two washed out matches (Pakistan v Zimbabwe and West Indies v Bangladesh) had not occurred, we would have had.

Australia 12
Sri Lanka 11.5
India 8
New Zealand 7
West Indies 4
England/Pakistan 3

(It's a bit hard to tell which of England or Pakistan would have had the better net runrate, although both would likely have done better than Zimbabwe, who would have been level with them on points and thus forced it to runrate rather than head to head). Once again, this is a much better reflection of what happened than what we have ended up with. (In the event that Sri Lanka had beaten Kenya, they would have earned the 11.5 points due to being unbeaten). As it was, we required all of the defaults, the upset, and the no results to force the table into the unstable mess we ended up with.

I think it must be said that one weakness of the Super Six format is that it rather amplifies the effects of defaults, upsets, and even washed out matches. One redeeming feature is that the four sides who have (IMO) played best in the tournament so far - Australia, India, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka, are all still in the tournament, and will quite likely be the four semi-finalists. I think the net effect has likely been that teams that would have been eliminated in the Super Six didn't make it. In the short term, we have a lot of mismatches to watch. The cricket would be much more interesting in the Super Six stage if the West Indies and one of England or Pakistan were still playing.

Further Update: In the other game, Kenya were just dismissed for 104 chasing the West Indies' score of 7/246. Do Kenya really deserve to be in the Super Six stage with ten points, when the West Indies are going home? I blame the entire mess that led to the defaults, more than anything else. And that was mainly the ICC's fault. But still.....
After the Swiss Americas Cup victory, the Times of London this morning attempts to come up with the other most unlikely potential national sporting victories they can think of. The list they have come up with is

Iceland at female beach volleyball
Iraq at snowboarding
United Kingdom at chess
The Netherlands at mountain climbing
The Vatican City at long distance running
England at cricket

Monday, March 03, 2003

This scale model of the solar system is a beautiful demonstration of the types of issues I had so much difficulty explaining to my science teachers when I was at high school. (Via Jay Manifold).
A couple of quite observations on Dave Winer. Firstly, Larry Lessig apparently wrote him a nice letter of recommendation that helped him get the job at Harvard. This was good of him, but given that giving Winer at the fellowship at Harvard was an extremely good idea, it was sensible.

Secondly, this interview with Dave in Newsweek is quite interesting.

Where’s blogging today?

We’re in a middle of an explosion right now. In the last few weeks, things have just gone crazy. It’s unbelievable to see what’s going on now.

Dave has mentioned this before. I've noticed a surge in hits in the last few weeks, as have other bloggers I have spoken too. It may be that blogging is becoming mainstream in the way that so many other things that we have been geeking away with over the years have become mainstream (not least the internet itself). I had dinner with Brian Micklethwait of Samizdata on Saturday. One of his thoughts is that we may see the mainstream media start mining the blogosphere fairly soon. All I can say is that if the Telegraph wants a telecommunications and technology correspondent, I am available.
On Saturday, I took one of my female friends out for lunch. At the end of the meal, I realised that there was a good chance that one of my other female friends, who lives and works in the area, would be nearby, so I gave her a call. The two ladies had heard quite a bit about each other, and were quite interested in meeting one another, so we agreed to meet up and have a cup of coffee in a cafe nearby.

This was all well and good. However, I sat down with my cup of coffee and simply watched for an hour as they, well, bonded. My presence became totally irrelevant, and any attempt I made to join in the conversation was immediately shut down. Girltalk ruled.

This remarkable site will find the phrase "Michael Jennings is...." and complete the sentence, wherever it is found on the internet. From which, I discover that

michael jennings is an architect and technology manager specializing in data warehousing
michael jennings is head of global equities and chairman of the monthly theme asset allocation committee
michael jennings is working on important tools for the development of a meningitis vaccine
michael jennings is a technical assistant working in the flow cytometry core facility
michael jennings is the creator of eterm
michael jennings is available by clicking on the banner below
michael jennings is writing a history of the medical missionary enterprise in colonial tanganyika
michael jennings is making a run at an improbable career with the 49ers
michael jennings is continuing to maintain what used to be called red hat
michael jennings is to carry on as somerset county council's chief executive until a permanent replacement is appointed in november
michael jennings is impressed

Indeed he is.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

This story:Demonstrators smash Peugeot to show support for U.S. troops (via Instapundit) bothers me slightly. It reminds me a little of people refusing to listen to Beethoven in 1914. This is trivial and frivolous, as in some ways was that, but in that case the underlying pathology was ultimately fairly unpleasant. If people want to boycott French wines because they don't want to give the French their money, well fine, but this almost seems to be an encouragement towards a mob mentality, and I don't like it.
Polly Bush may well be a former heroin adict, but Shane Warne is still a dill.
Three World Cup games over the weekend, all of them of grave import to the makeup of the Super Six stage. Yesterday's games just briefly. India played Pakistan in the ultimate grudge match, a match that also was vital for Pakistan's chances of making the Super Six - less so for India. Pakistan batted first, and batted extremely well, ending up with an excellent 7/273 off their 50 overs, thanks to 101 from opener Saeed Anwar. For India, star batsman Sachin Tendulkar opened the batting and scored a brilliant 98 off just 27.4 overs to take India to a great position of 4/174, from which they were able to cruise to the victory total. An impressive effort for them, and from their point of view it is also great to see Tendulkar in great form. (I didn't see any of the match, and I am very sorry, because Tendulkar was apparently stupendous. India are looking great in the tournament at the moment. Pakistan on the other hand still have a theoretical possibility of making the Super Six stage, but this is very unlikely.

In the second match, Kenya played Bangladesh. Not much to be said, really. Kenya won, and made certain of their Super Six spot. This does not make me especially happy. Kenya went through at the expense of the West Indies, and although Kenya scored one upset over Sri Lanka, they were also helped by a combination of a match against between the West Indies and Bangladesh being ruined by rain, and scoring a win over New Zealand by default. If may be that in addition to this, South Africa may go through at the expense of New Zealand as a consequence of these events also. Again, this would be an injustice, although in this case, it was New Zealand's own decision to default the match against Kenya. (I also think there are injustices in the way the teams that go through are decided in the case of multiple teams having the same number of points, but I will leave that for another day). In Group B, there is another crucial match tomorrow, between South Africa and Sri Lanka. The winner of that match will definitely go through. If South Africa lose, then they are eliminated. If Sri Lanka lose, then we will face a situation where whichever of New Zealand or Sri Lanka has the worse net runrate is eliminated. At the moment, Sri Lanka have by far the better net runrate, so unless Sri Lanka are absolutely destroyed by South Africa, and New Zealand utterly annihilate Canada in their last game, Sri Lanka will go through. If Sri Lanka are eliminated (unlikely), well, that is their own fault for losing to Kenya. If New Zealand are eliminated, that will disappoint me a lot, because it will mean that the two sides whose play I have most enjoyed in Group B (New Zealand and West Indies) will both have been eliminated with a certain amount of injustice.

In today's game in the much saner Group A, Australia played England. England needed to win this game to be certain of going through to the Super Six stage. Australia wanted to win it in order that they would carry maximum points through to the next stage, and for reasons of pride. If Australia won today, it would have been their 14th successive win against England since 1999, and it would also have been the longest winning streak (12 matches) of any team in one day internationals. England started very well, scoring 0/66 off 9.4 overs, before Andy Bichel struck, reducing them to 5/87. England managed to score a few runs slowly in the middle, eventually scraping together 8/204. Andy Bichel took 7/20 off his 10 overs: the second best figures in one day internationals by an Australian, worse only than Glenn McGrath's figures against Namibia three days earlier. This looked an easy total for Australia to get, and they came out of the blocks fast. However, a good spell from Caddick, and Australia slumped to 4/48. They kept losing wickets after this, eventually slumping to 7/114 and 8/135. However, Michael Bevan was not out. Bevan is a specialist at batting in exactly this sort of situation, and has won many games when Australia have looked out of it. We haven't seen him do this much lately, but that is mainly because Australia haven't needed him to do his stuff. Although Australia had lost a lot of wickets, the run rate required was not excessive, and Bevan (as he does) kept finding gaps in the field, and knocking off ones and twos. He was joined at 8/135 by Bichel, and the two batted very sensibly. Bevan mostly scored in ones and twos, as did Bichel. Bichel hit the odd boundary and the run rate required didn't get out of hand. Eventually, 14 runs were needed off the last two overs. Bichel hit a six and a four off successive balls in the 49th over, and then Bevan hit a four in the final over to finish the match off. A great effort, classic Michael Bevan, and a magnificent all round game from Andy Bichel. 14 wins in a row against England and 12 against all comers.

In a sense I am quite pleased about how the game went. Bevan had only had one bat in the tournament so far, and that was a case of his being elevated up the order against Namibia just to get a bat. Today was a case of his being needed when it counted, and if he was not in form, he really is now. Plus Bichel was a replacement for an injured Jason Gillespie. When Gillespie is fit, the selectors will have difficult work.

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