Saturday, June 28, 2003

This is one confusing cricket team

After playing very well to win a series against Pakistan last week, and playing pitifully to lose to Zimbabwe on Thursday, England today took on South Africa at the Oval in south London in the second game of the triangular one day series. South Africa played badly in the World Cup, and we are still trying to figure out how good their side is under new captain Graeme Smith. Smith won the toss and elected to bat, and the England side couldn't really contain the South African batsmen. Jacques Kallis in particular had a good day, scoring a fine 107. Boucher provided good support, scoring 55, and Pollock and Hall scored some quick runs at the end to give South Africa a very good 6/264 off their 50 overs.

This should have been hard for England to chase, but it wasn't. Trescothick (deputising as captain as Vaughan was out injured today) and Vikram Solanski scored exactly 200 for the first wicket (off only 31.6 overs) before Solanski was out for 106, his first century for England. England then lost a couple of quick wickets, but there was never any real danger. Trescothick was then sensibly cautious, and also scored a century, being 114 not out when England scored the winning runs for the loss of four wickets with one ball short of five overs to spare.

What can be said? Obviously it was a good win for England. At this point I have no idea how good England are. Actually, I think they are quite good, but they clearly don't have the mental strength of Australia. They can play well, but can lose focus as they did on Thursday and in the field today, although their batsmen saved them today. They don't have the ability to consciously turn the focus on when it is really needed. Australia can do this, and this is what makes Australia so impressive.

Of course, the other way of looking at it is that England have played five one day games so far this season, and when Trescothick has batted well they have won and when he hasn't they have lost. A cynic might say that in the one day game, they are simply way too dependent on one player.

I don't think this is true, but England need someone else to chip in, particulary on occasions when Trescothick has failed. Solanski was terrific today, but Trescothick was also, and that must have helped. (Still, it is very encouraging to see more players of Indian background coming into the England side. If England are to put good sides on the field in the future, that is where many of the players are going to have to come from). Dare I say it, the full time England one day captain needs to lead by example. When he is back, Vaughan needs runs. In one day cricket, he has not yet done so.

In other cricket, the second test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka continues. (I commented on day one elsewhere. The gist of it was that Fidel Edwards, playing in his first test and only his second first class game, took five wickets and Sri Lanka were bowled out for 208). This morning it looked like the West Indies would make a big score and take control, particularly when they were 0/38. However another inexperienced fast bowler, Ratnayake Nissanka, playing in only his fourth test, took five wickets for Sri Lanka. Aided ably by Muttiah Muralitharan (who took the vital wicket of Lara), the West Indies were bowled out for 191, and the match was back in the balance.

Sri Lanka then needed to bat well in order to set the West Indies a big target. Despite the fall of wicekts, the pitch looked okay to me. Given Lara, Sarwan etc are in the West Indian side, and given that Lara has scored five centuries in his last five matches against Sri Lanka, the larger the total the better.

As it happened though, the wickets continued to fall, this time shared between Collywood, Taylor, and Edwards. At stumps, Sri Lanka were 5/129. Given that Tillakaratne is still there Sri Lanka could make a decent score, but the chances are they won't. My money is on a target of around 200 being set, and the West Indies making it easily, mainly because I don't think Lara is going to fail for the second time in the match. Although, given how wickets have been falling, who really knows? It's a good tight match between two quality sides, and these are good to see.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Thoughts on privacy

In commemoration of Orwell's 100th birthday, Neuromancer author William Gibson had an op-ed piece in Wednesday's New York Times, in which he discussed Orwell's vision, and how it was influenced by its time. In particular, Gibson believes that Orwell's vision was influenced by the broadcast nature of the media at the time: radio and the nascent invention of television were highly centralised. The surveillance scheme (and the totalitarian states) envisioned in 1984 were centralised in the same way, from some giant central security apparatus. Gibson believes that today's world, and the world of the future, is different. Greater surveillance will be mixed with much greater freedom of information. People with access to all this new information will consist of many non-state as well as state actors. We will live in a world with much less privacy, but not necessarily much less freedom. Surveillance states without this fancy new technology were pretty effective, and still are pretty effective in places (from North Korea to Burma to Cuba) where old technological paradigms still apply. Would these states have been more oppressive if the people runing them had PCs? It's hard to say. Would the presence of PCs in the security apparatus in East Germany rather than mountains of paper records have prevented the end of European communism? It's doubtful. Changing surveillance technology is taking us somewhere new, it may be that the vision of Orwell provides a good guide as to what it is.

After quickly observing that Gibson sounds rather like Brian Micklethwait, I will observe that Gibson is at least partly right. The greater freedom of information that results from many to many communications networks changes things dramatically. We saw glimpses of this in the 1980s with the invention of the fax machine, which more or less removed the mass media's ability to bury a story that the people were not supposed to know about. (The key story was something tawdry: a transcipt allegedly of the Prince of Wales talking to his mistress). This reached every office in London seemingly in minutes. The media and hence the courts could no longer supress things like that. With the invention of e-mail and SMS text messaging, such communications became more ubiquitous, and no longer tied to the home or office.

We are suddenly in a world where a great deal of information is being collected on us and transmitted to other places, and yet at the same time, we are collecting a lot of information on ourselves, and transmitting it voluntarily, and to some extent this controls the flow. Much of this information is and will continue to be cultural rather than political in content. Like Brian, I am fascinated by this phenomenon, which can also be for the good. Due largely to the use of SMS messaging, the Chinese government this year completely failed to keep information secret about the spread of the SARS virus in China. People throughout the country knew far more about what was going on than the government wanted them to know. The Chinese government now seems to know that it cannot keep things secret like this any more, and as today's Economist discusses, the consequences could be profound.

I agree with Gibson that things are less Orwellian, but that doesn't necessarily mean things are good. More information is being collected. I agree that this can't be avoided. The questions are how is it going to be collected, who is going to be collecting it, how may it be used. Virtually everywhere government continues to grow in size, and in many places government surveillance systems and databases of information become larger, and governments continue to use the threat of terrorism and the simple fact of the existence of the new technology to expand their powers and the scope of such systems. While I think the simultaneous new openness of information increases the potential for these systems to be embarrassed by other parties, the potential for misuse of such information remains enormous. The ability of incorrect information to ruin people's lives and for bureacrats to annoy and harrass the lives of ordinary people is also multiplied dramatically by the new technology.

So what do we do? I think we have to acknowledge that while technology has changed, human nature fundamentally hasn't. Over the last 1000 years, an entire legal system and system of rights has evolved to protect people from intrusive government and other intrusive parties. This is why we have accountability to courts and elected officials. This is why we have presumption of innocence. This is why nobody can search my home without a warrant. It isn't good enough to say that technology has changed, and therefore these rights are no longer relevant and must be removed, because those things about human nature that made these protections necessary in the first place have not changed, and this is something we still need to be protected from. In fact we need to see how they can be extended into the digital world. The alternative is to find out in a few years that great miscarriages of justice have occurred due to the lack of them, and we then have to either resign ourselves to living in a world where great miscarriages of justice occur, or establish a new set of protections from scratch.

And the fact is a great many politicians, policemen and bureacrats want to take these protections away. The danger is in some ways not so much the new technology itself, as the fact that it puts everything in flux. Those people who have always wanted ID cards, the ability to search houses without warrants, the ability to listen to private conversations and such have an excuse to start talking about these issues again and to argue that the issues are not settled. And the new technology provides a tremendous amount of jargon with which these same old proposals can be worded to make them sound like they are not the same after all. Which is why it is important for us to make it clear when they are.

Crossposted to The White Rose
More on The Passion

Long term readers will remember that a few months ago I wrote about Mel Gibson's upcoming film The Passion, which tells the story of Christ and is entirely in Latin and Aramaic. In particular, I wondered to what extent the content of the film would be influenced by the somewhat extreme Catholic sect to which Gibson belongs, and, given the extremely unpleasant views (holocaust denial, etc) of certain members of Gibson's family, whether the film would be anti-Semitic.

Aint it Cool News has pointed me to the first review of the film from someone who has actually seen it. (Follow up posting from the same person here). It's a good review, saying that the film is not anti-Semitic, that it is a fairly faithful telling of the Gospel of St John. Previous reports that the film would not have subtitles turn out to not be true. We are still not quite sure when we are going to see it, as distributors had previously shied away from it due to the controversy and perceived eccentricity of the project.

The film now sonds less eccentric, which in a way is a shame. I am now quite interested in seeing it.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

A fine innings from Grant Flower

Okay, England have just played a test series against Zimbabwe, in which Zimbabwe were absolutely thrashed. Then, England played a one day series against Pakistan, a much better rated side, and played well to win the series. Today, England played Zimbabwe in the first match of a triangular one day series that also includes South Africa. It should be a doddle for England, right.

Well, no. Before we start, it is worth looking at the Zimbabwe's history of playing one day internationals.

Zimbabwe played their first one day international in the World Cup in 1983, when they played Australia in the opening match. Amazingly, they won the match, a result that cost Australia a place in the semi-finals of that tournament. (Australia found this deeply embarassing, and have not taken Zimbabwe lightly again. As a consequence, Australia have won all of the 19 games they have played against Zimbabwe since). After that game, Zimbabwe lost their next 18 one day internationals. They did not play England until the 1992 World Cup, and their first game against England was their next win. This victory was a major factor in Zimbabwe being granted test status later that year.

Rather than spurring England on to a lot of victories, as had happened with Australia's 1983 loss to Zimbabwe, this loss appeared to have really spooked England, and they managed to lose five of their next seven matches against Zimbabwe. After that, England got their act together, and going into today's game, England's overall record against Zimbabwe was 15 wins and 7 losses. However, there has always been a feeling that England have a certain dodginess against Zimbabwe.

And so it turned out today. Zimbabwe sent England in. England got off to a reasonable start, but some good bowling by Heath Streak in particular reduced England to 6/144. Clarke and Read managed to score a few more runs, but England were bowled out for 191. Flintoff's 53 was the top score. Not a very good effort.

Zimbabwe only needed to bat decently to win, but on this tour so far they have not managed to bat decently. And at the start they didn't appear to be batting decently, slumping to a dreadful 4/15. But the very experienced Grant Flower was then batting. While not the world class player his brother is, Flower is a quality international class player, and he played very sensibly today, scoring at the right run rate without attempting to do anything silly. Stuart Matsikenyeri did a good job of staying with him, before being out for 44 to a rash shot with the score on 111. Heath Streak was out shortly afterwards, and England again looked like winning. However, Sean Ervine did a very good job of sticking with Streak, and the two players got Zimbabwe home, with four wickets and two overs to spare. Grant Flower ended up with 96 not out.

I have very mixed feelings about the Zimbabwe cricket team being in England. I think the tour should have been cancelled due to the clear political interference in the selection of the team. However, the tour so far must have been pretty demoralising for the Zimbabwean cricketers. Today was a good win, and I am sure it makes them feel a little better.
Life is curious, sometimes

Yesterday evening, I had been doing some shopping, and I was tired and hot. I walked into an (unfamiliar) pub, in the thought that I would buy a pint of beer and sit down and rest for a few minutes.

There was a woman sitting at the bar, and she had two medium sized dogs with her. (This is England. Everyone seems to have dogs, and they do things like bring them when they go to the pub). As I walked past, the dogs barked at me, and one lunged at me and bit me on the leg. I was slightly shocked by this, and I shouted at the dog. After a few moments, I looked at the woman, and she said something fairly stern that was aimed at my direction. Presumably she was angry at me for shouting at her dog. (I don't think she realised that it had actually bitten me). I didn't quite catch what she said, but it included one well known four letter world of Anglo-Saxon extraction. At this point, I completely lost my temper, and yelled some extremely rude things at the woman before turning around and leaving the pub.

Of course, I immediately regretted having lost my temper, and I regretted having said such rude things. Lose your temper and you lose the moral high ground. (Dogs often have this effect on me. I was bitten by one when I was a fairly small child, and I have been very nervous around them ever since). However, I don't feel too bad about this. One does generally have the right to go into a pub without being bitten by a dog. And I wasn't the one who used the first four letter word. Looking back now, I am just struck be what a distinctly odd thing this was to happen to me.

(And just to reassure my mother if she is reading this, I was not injured by the dog in any significant way. The dog managed to cause a large tear in my trousers with its teeth, and I could feel the bite for a few minutes, but my skin was not broken and there was no bleeding. It was the shock of it that upset me more than anything).

Still, in future I will try to use the Jake Ryan test for determining when to lose my temper. I think it is best to only do so on special occasions, like when I encounter evil terrorist fanatics.

Update: There are of course even more peculiar (and much worse) things that can happen to you in British pubs that fit into the realm of bizarre but somehow peculiarly English experiences.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

These people are quite correct. There is definitely something wrong with people of Korean (and other ancestry) who have been living in Japan for three generations having fewer rights than a seal. (There is something deeply Japanese about this, however).
A worthy cause

In the trial of the accused Bali bombers, going on in Indonesia, the defendents have spent most of their time staring blankly in court, and occasionally chanting "Allahu akbar". Jake Ryan, a footballer from the Gold Coast in Queensland who lost a good friend (and was himself wounded in the blast) finally lost his temper last week, and in a breach of Indonesian court etiquette walked close to alleged bombing field commander Imam Samudra as he was being led out of court and told him that "You're a fucking dog, mate, you are going to die, you fuck."

Tim Blair has been leading efforts on the internet to raise money from people who share Mr Ryan's sentiments to buy beer for him and his football team. At the moment, the fund is up to $A825, including a (small) contribution from me, which should get them a goodly amount of beer. This is a worthy cause that I strongly endorse.

Update: In the Bali terrorist attack, Jake Ryan lost his right heel, had other people's bones embedded in his legs and shrapnel pierced his abdomen, and was on crutches for four months. Expressions like "evil scum" don't begin to describe the people who did this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

A new blog

I have a piece on identity cards in Spain over at The White Rose. This is a new blog that has been set up (largely by Gabriel Syme of Samizdata) to oppose the gradual erosion of civil liberties that is occurring in Great Britain (and elsewhere). The blog is British focused, but is not intended to be exclusively British. We would love input from Australia or elsewhere. Plus, the blog is intended to be flexible in how it can be used. If people want to link from the White Rose to related stuff in their own blogs, this is fine - in fact it is encouraged. (This might not be a bad way for Australian bloggers to increase their British readership). If people want to write original stuff (perhaps with an Australian focus) for The White Rose, this is fine. If people want to republish stuff from their own blogs, this too is fine.

Therefore, if anyone is interested in becoming a contributor, please either let me know, or contact Gabriel (gabriel at samizdata dot net) directly. Note also that although Samizdata is aimed at "people of a libertarian mindset", The White Rose is not, necessarily. It is aimed at people who are protective of their civil liberties, be they conservative, liberal, socialist, communist, anarchist, or whatever.
Harry Potter - Eyewitness News

Okay, I finished reading the new Harry Potter Book. First observation: the 766 page British edition, like most British editions of hardcover books, isn't very well bound. As I read the book, it from time to time made cracking noises when I turned the pages. The book is glued rather than sewn. American books are usually sewn. (This interesting Slate article discusses the issue). I suspect that if the books is read three or four times it will fall apart, and this is made much more likely by the book's length. The publisher seems to realise this, which is why there are no pages of advertisements for other books or anything at the back. The text stops, and that is the last page of the physical book. People who have a choice between the US and British editions will likely find that the US edition (which also has larger print and is 870 pages long) is the better choice to purchase.

In any event, the content. The people who have argued that the book is in some ways strongly libertarian in outlook are right, but that is not the aspect of it I wish to discuss. There are one or two mild spoilers to follow. They are spoilers of characterisation mainly, and I won't give away the plot. As I said previously, the book is a couple of hundred pages too long. When you read this kind of fairly easy reading book, you want the book to make you want to keep turning the pages, and you want a certain compulsion to keep reading. And while this book has that compulsive quality in places, it doesn't have it consistently. What happens is that after reading a hundred pages or two, you come to the conclusion that nothing much has happened for a while, and you either want to flick forward a few pages and find out when something does happen, or you want to put the book down for a bit and go to the pub. (The book is good enough that it is generally enjoyable again when you return from the pub).

The Harry Potter Books are highly structured. They have quite a strict template plotwise, and the books all seem to follow this template strictly. The book starts at home with Harry and his obnoxious aunt and uncle, then there is a period of meeting up with his friends and shopping for school things before catching the train to Hogwarts, and then we meet the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and then we go and see Hagrid, who has some new magical creature. Then we play Quiddich. And so on, until Harry confonts Voldemort (or a proxy for Voldemort), Harry talks about it with Dumbledore. Harry catches the train to Kings Cross, says goodbye to Ron and Hermione, and goes back to the Dursleys. Where J.K. Rowling is highly skilled is in her ability to conform to this strict formula, and at the same time have the overall plot advance from book to book, and to have characters that we only see in passing suddenly jump into the foreground in the next book, and to show us the characters growing up at the same point.

The fourth book departed from this formula rather more than any of the first three. When we read it, some of us might have thought that this was going to be the pattern of the subsequent books, but with the fifth book, it seems not. It seems more a case that J.K. Rowling was rushing for a deadline for the fourth book, and it lost shape a little as a consequence. (She has decided not to work to deadlines in future, so we will get the books when she chooses to give them to us). We are back, pretty strictly to the original formula. Yet, as the characters have grown up, the books have got longer, the characterisation has got better and the characterisations have developed more shades of grey than they had in earlier books. This is fitting, as the characters are growing up, and people's perception of life develops complexity and shades of grey at that point. The characters are becoming less black and white. It is clear that Rowling knows what it is to be an outsider. Not just an outsider in the sense of not being the centre of attention, but an outsider in the sense of being the person that everyone despises and torments not because they do anything to deserve it but simply because they can. (This good review in Salon looks at the book from this perspective). This is shown in the way Harry's circle of allies is growing broader, too, as in this book he fights his final battle with Voldemort in the company of five friends (one of who is a new and quite interesting character, although I will probably find she was there in the background and I didn't notice in the earlier books). Harry's horrible aunt Petunia has developed slightly more complexity than we were previously aware of. And most interestingly with Professor Snape, who has always been a complex character, nasty and unpleasant, and with a real grudge against Harry, but none the less is on the side of good and not evil. In this book we get to see precisely why Snape is this way, and we discover that a lot of it has to do with Harry's father having not actually been the paragon of virtue that Harry had previously thought.

Snape has become perhaps the most interesting character in the books. I am not sure where he is going. (Plus, there is still a whole lot of his back story missing. How and why did he become a Death Eater, and how did he cease to be one). Natalie Solent thinks that he will sacrifice himself to ensure the final victory over Voldemort in book seven. I'm not so sure. This is kind of predictable. The mean, spiteful character who is none the less on the side of good normally is the one who sacrifices himself to kind of redeem the mean and spitefulness, but I think this may be a little too obvious. It may be that someone else takes that role here. (I have a theory as to who it will be, but I won't mention it right now). Whether or not he makes a noble sacrifice, it is clear that the one lesson Snape is going to learn at some point is that Harry is not his father. Harry has gone through four books with everyone telling him that he is just like his father, and that this is a good thing, but he has just learned that this is perhaps not entirely such a good thing after all. His mother on the other hand was apparently just as kind and brave a person as everyone has always said. (This is presumably why Harry has always been described as looking just like his father "but with his mother's eyes").

And Harry's friend Hermione is getting through her childhood bossiness and becoming the most moral and decent character in the books, as well as being smart and powerful. Almost the younger form of Harry's mother, I think. It's always nice to meet characters like this, in life as well as fiction.

I also have a few thoughts on the filmability of the last couple of Harry Potter books. But, as David Attenborough might say, this is where we will go next week.
Too much cricket

Well, we do have a resumption in the headed for a draw match between the West Indies and Sri Lanka. The West Indies are 6/348, and Brian Lara has moved along to 143 not out. It will be interesting to see whether he tries to score something really big here. He has been known to in situations like this one in the past - most notably when he scored his world record 501 not out in county cricket in England in an almost identical situation match wise. One question is whether he runs out of partners here. Another question is whether he can score 100 before lunch today. He is on target for that.

Update: Actually I got the time for lunch wrong, and he wasn't quite on target for that. He is 177 not out at lunch, having scored a still very impressive 84 in the session. At lunch the score is 6/384. Lara and Banks have put on a partnership of 79, and Banks has scored only six of that. It is still possible that Lara could be challenging batting records by the end of the day if he really goes for it.

Futher Update: Lara scored a fine double century, but was out for 209, so he didn't go after any records. After that the match just petered out. Muralitharan ended up with 5/138, and the West Indies declared on 9/477. Sri Lanka were 0/126 with half centuries to Attapattu and captain Jayasuriya when the game was finally declared a draw. Hopefully we will get better weather for the second test next weekend.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Teensy weensy cricket update

In England this year, there is a new competition at county level. This is a limited overs tournament in which the sides get to bat for 20 overs each. The game goes for about three hours, and the whole game is played in the evening. (At the end of the tournament, the two semi-finals and the final will all be played on one day, and the crowd gets to watch the final stages of the tournament rather than one match, sort of like what happens in a sevens rugby tournament). It is unusual for cricket matches to be this short at county level, but many games at lower levels are actually quite similar to this.

In any event, the tournament has been going on for a couple of weeks. There has been a lot of fast scoring, and 150-160 seems to be a good score off 20 overs. One thing that we have been waiting for over the last couple of weeks is for someone to score the first century in the tournament. This requires rapid batting, but it has been clearly possible, and we have been waiting for someone to manage it. Last week Brad Hodge scored 97 for Leicestershire before being out off the last ball of the innings. If he had hit the ball for four instead of being out, he would have done it. On the same day, Andrew Symonds scored 96 not out off only 37 balls for Kent, winning a match against Hampshire with eight overs to spare. Today, though, Ian Harvey did it, scoring 100 not out for Gloucestershire against Warwickshire, as Gloucestershire won with 6.5 overs to spare. Given that his side were only set 135 to win, it is quite impressive that Harvey could manage a century.

It is left as an exercise to the reader to figure out what these three batsmen have in common.

Linking to comments sections now

I have also beer ranting about modern art and modern architecture here, which was a response to this.

Update: Actually I have been ranting about modern art. Beer was only tangentially involved.
One upmanship

Eldan is showing off by listing all the countries he has been to. In retaliation, here is my list (which I started in his comments section).

Let's see what I can do. If I put a * after the name of a country, it means I changed my country of regular residence to that country, and I don't list entering that country until it ceases to be my principal residence. After being born in Australia

1978 New Zealand
1987 Hong Kong, China
1991 New Zealand, United States (2 entries, CA, WA, NJ, NY), Canada, United Kingdom*
1992 France, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria
1993 Netherlands, Kenya, Tanzania, Portugal, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia
1994 Japan, France, Thailand, Australia
1997 Ireland, Australia*, Thailand, Nepal, Hong Kong SAR (2 entries), Macau
1999 United States (2 entries, CA, OH, LA, NY, CT, MA, NV, AZ, UT, WY), United Kingdom, New Zealand
2000 Japan, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Italy, United States (NY, NJ, CT, RI, CA)
2001 South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia
2002 Singapore (2 entries), Malaysia, United Kingdom*, Turkey, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France
2003 France (2 entries), Spain (2 entries)

Eldan seems to have a little more Asia and Europe than I do, but I win points for having made two trips to Africa, while he has made none. I have excluded any country in which I have never left the transport infrastructure, so countries where I have never left the train, or never left the airport terminal are not listed, whether or not I have gone through immigration into that country. (My life seems to endlessly involve landing in Frankfurt, for instance, but I have never been out of the airport and into that city).

I also seem to be accumulating new countries at a much slower rate these days, as I am starting to repeat countries a lot.
Metro systems

I have a post at Transport Blog on the new metro line in Singapore.

Sunday, June 22, 2003


Two games to report on. Firstly, the third one day game between England and Pakistan. Pakistan batted first, and some really good bowling from Andrew Flintoff reduced Pakistan to 5/117 off 33.5 overs. Pakistan put up a good rear guard action after that, with 63 from Younis Khan and 64 from Abdul Razzaq getting them to 7/229 off 50 overs. A good recovery but probably not enough runs to win the match. At 2/129 off 26.4 overs, England appeared to be romping home, but they then lost wickets, dropping to 6/154 off 35.5 overs, but with opener Marcus Trescothick still not out. This could have meant trouble for England, but Trescothick batted superbly, pacing the innings perfectly, and bringing up a much deserved century with three or four overs to go. England got the runs when Trescothick hit a six with nine balls to go. Although they had a hassle or two along the way, England managed an excellent win in the end. Trescothick won his second match in the row with the bat, and was awarded man of the match and man of the series. That said, Flintoff's 4/32 off ten overs was perhaps as important.

A very good effort by England in this series. They batted badly in the first match, but after that they really got their act together. Later this week they start a triangular series with South Africa and Zimbabwe. I expect them to win this, too.

Several years ago, the ICC declared that member countries were not allowed to host one day tournaments with more than three teams, and that the ICC's own tournaments (the Champions Trophy and the World Cup) were the only such tournaments allowed. This seems to have been intended to increase that value of the TV rights to the ICC tournaments, but sometimes it seems a little problematic. Having a separate one day series with Pakistan seems a little silly. To be quite honest, a four way tournament between England, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and South Africa would be more fun.

Meanwhile, former South African captain Kepler Wessels has declared that England have no hope in the forthcoming test series with South Africa. I think the precise opposite. South Africa are in complete disarray, and England look pretty good. I am expecting England to defeat South Africa, and by a heavy margin. (3-0 would not surprise me at all). South Africans seem to have a tremendous sense of entitlement with respect to winning at cricket. This has often led to overconfidence and bad misjudgement of the opposition in important matches, and incomprehension at South Africa's repeated inability to win afterwards. Wessels is the only man to have captained South Africa since their return to international cricket that I actually respect, but even he seems to fall for this occasionally. (I shall write a longer post on this point some time).

Finally, we have had three days of the 1st test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka got off to a great start with the bat, getting the score to 4/266 thanks to a century from Atapattu and good support from Sangakkara and Jayawardene. However, good bowling from Collywood saw them slump to 8/288. A good rearguard 38 from Chaminda Vaas got them to an adequate but not exciting 354 not out.

113 from Hinds and 93 not out from Lara saw the West Indies to 4/272 when rain stopped play today. 51 overs were lost to rain, although 30 of those can be made up on the last two days if the weather is fine. A draw not looks the most likely result, particularly if there is more rail. The most likely way an actual result can be achieved is if Lara can bscore a big hundred tomorrow, the West Indies can get a first innings lead of 200 or so, and Sri Lanka can be bowled out relatively cheaply in their second innings. This is not that likely, but possible. Sri Lanka will have more trouble finding a way to win.

Update: This post contained an incorrect link to the article about Kepler Wessels. This is now fixed.

Further Update: It looks like day 4 of the Sri Lanka v West Indies match is going to be completely lost to rain. That makes the game dead as a contest. The only item of interest is whether they will get enough play on day five for Lara to complete his century.

Even Further Update: Yes, day 4 was entirely washed out. I will post another update reporting on any play that happens tomorrow, but it will likely be dull. It's a shame that a match between two well matched sides like this has been ruined. When the rain came yesterday, Muttiah Muralitharan was bowling to Brian Lara. Both were playing well, and fans of high class cricket were really enjoying it. Hopefully we will get an uninterrupted match in Kingston next weekend.

I have a brief piece on English football television rights over at Ubersportingpundit.

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