The last flight of Ross Gregory

Ross Gregory’s name may not be familiar to today’s cricket fans. But in 1937 he was thought to be the next big thing in Australia’s batting, scoring 23, 50 and 80 in his first (and only) three Test innings soon after he turned 21.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/5436.html

While he did not play on the 1938 tour of England, he would have been expected to play when international cricket resumed after the war. Unfortunately, he died in a wartime flying accident on June 10, 1942.

The official details of this incident are taken from an Australian military website:

Ross Gregory 001

We see that he was the observer on a RAF Wellington bomber of 215 squadron, which exploded in the air near Gafargaon. This was then in Mymensingh district of Bengal, not Assam as mentioned in some references. It was about 50 km from the Assam border at that time.

The crew of 6 included 4 Australians including the two pilots, plus 2 from the RAF. Pilot Officer Ross Gregory was the only officer aboard.

215 squadron was then known to be based in Pandaveswar (near Asansol) and engaged in bombing and supply dropping missions in Burma. Later this airfield was used by the US forces for bombing and transport missions.

A file picture of this model of aircraft:

1920px-WellingtonBomber

This appears to have been an accident, as there is no mention of enemy action. This was well within India’s territory where Japanese fighters rarely came. Probably a load of bombs or other ordnance exploded in the air.

The location map of this region is given below:

Gafargaon

The town of Gafargaon is slightly to the west of the centre. It is now the headquarters of Gafargaon upazila (sub-district) in Mymensingh district of Mymensingh division of Bangladesh.

While several Test players died in military action during World War 2, this appears to be the only such case in Asia.

As mentioned in the above military record, the location of the graves could not be found after the war and thus they are listed as “Missing with no known grave”.

Note: David Frith wrote a biography:

The Ross Gregory Story. Melbourne: Lothian Books. 2003. ISBN 0734405987.

It is currently available on Amazon co uk and other sites.

 

 

Review of World Cup performances up to 2015: All-round performance

Here we look at overall all-round performances (note the criteria):

World Cup AR overall

Numbers 1, 2 and 5 are not surprising, while other obvious choices such as Botham and Hadlee did not do that well in the World Cup. CZ Harris represents the value of the bits-and-pieces all-rounder, while TM Odoyo contributed a lot to Kenya’s limited successes.

Finally we come to

Match performances (40 runs and 4 wickets):

World Cup AR match

Which would be the best performance here? Nominally it would be the century + 4wis of Kloppenburg and Dilshan, but they were against weak teams. The same might be said of Yuvraj’s 50 + 5wi (the only such instance in the World Cup).

If you consider performance against moderately strong teams, then we would consider those of Fletcher, Kapil and Russell.

Review of World Cup performances up to 2015: Fielding

We have looked at the World Cup records for batting and bowling. We now look at fielding.

Most dismissals (15 and above):

World Cup-total dismissals

Sangakkara and Gilchrist lead by a large margin. Sangakkara also has the most stumpings, and Gilchrist the most catches by a keeper.

Similarly Ponting leads non-keepers by a large margin.

Umar Akmal has the same number of catches as a keeper and non-keeper.

Most innings dismissals (4 and above):

World Cup-innings dismissals

Gilchrist and Sarfaraz Ahmed have the record with 6 catches in an innings.

No one has more than 2 stumpings.

Among non-keepers, the record is 4 by M Kaif, S Sarkar and Umar Akmal.

Kaif had the record to himself from 2003 until the other 2 joined him in 2015.

Finally, the dismissal rates.

Highest dismissal rates (Minimum 20 innings, 0.600 and above):

World Cup-Dismissal rate

Gilchrist leads the keepers and GC Smith the non-keepers.

 

ODI rankings before the 2019 World Cup

Note these rankings published on May 22, 2019.

The Tests had got over by May 2, the ODIs by May 21 and some T20Is are in progress among minor teams such as Namibia and Kenya.

We concentrate on the ODI rankings:

ICC ratings May 22 2019

We see that the top 10 teams are indeed the same teams playing in the World Cup.

This ranking seems to show that England and India are close together, followed by the pair of South Africa and New Zealand. Next is Australia and there is a steep fall to Pakistan and the others. This seems to conform to general opinion. As Australia had been without two of their key players for a year, they now have the capacity to get a semi-final place at the expense of South Africa or New Zealand.

You can also see the T20I rankings of the major teams.

 

 

A mockery of cricket (2)

As earlier mentioned, all T20 matches between ICC members now have T20I status. This has led to highly one-sided results, though there have also been surprises such as the Thai women’s team winning against Sri Lanka.

We now come to the case of non-local players in a national team. Some teams such as the UAE have been doing this for years, But one should remember that more than 50% of UAE’s population are expatriates, many of whom are from cricket majors such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Oman and Hong Kong have followed a similar policy, as have other potential “major market” teams such as the USA and Canada. Some African teams such as Kenya have  Asian players whose families have lived there for generations, similar to the Kallicharans and Chanderpauls of the West Indies.

China, to its credit, has stuck to indigenous players in spite of suffering heavy losses.

Countries of the British Isles have (in recent years) been dependent on “imports” from various sources such as Australia, South Africa, the West Indies and South Asia. Admittedly, many of those from the “white Commonwealth” (such as Trott, Strauss, Pietersen and Caddick) are those whose families had migrated FROM Britain one or two generations ago.

And there are weird cases such as Andrew Symonds (born in Britain to West Indian parents, grew up in Britain, played for Australia). Another is Dimitri Mascarenhas (born in Britain to Sri Lankan parents, grew up in Australia and finally played for England).

And there are those of Asian origin such as current players Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid and others from the recent past such as Ravi Bopara and Monty Panesar who have lived in Britain all their lives.

Dependence on foreign players (even if they are from former colonies) seems to be important in some major soccer teams, a good example being France. But there have been critics of this from within France, particularly when they won the World Cup in 1998 (when Zidane scored the first two goals in the final). Politicians such as Le Pen had nasty things to say then.

Now we come to the western European countries. Apart from the Netherlands, there is little tradition of cricket and most teams have to depend on imports (especially from South Asia, predominantly from Pakistan and now Afghanistan).

To prove this point, we look at the recent 3-match T20I series between Belgium and Germany. Belgium met its Waterloo, losing 3-0 in the matches played at (where else?) Waterloo.

You can see details of this series here:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/scores/series/19254/germany-in-belgium-t20is-2019

Let us take the scorecard of any of the matches, say the second one:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19254/scorecard/1183921/belgium-vs-germany-2nd-t20i-germany-tour-of-belgium-2019

We can see that the German team has 10 of the 11 members clearly from South Asia, certainly from India and Pakistan and perhaps Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. There is one with an Anglo-Saxon name called Daniel Weston who was born and brought up in Australia (Perth) but NOT Germany. Presumably all are citizens or permanent residents of Germany, but what is it doing to popularize cricket among the average sports followers in Germany? Not much.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Weston

Now look at the Belgian team.

All 11 in the team appear to be of Pakistani or Afghan origin. (Possibly some are from India, but I doubt it). And both Germany and Belgium do NOT have a tradition of immigration from South Asia as Britain has.

What good is this doing to develop European cricket if the match between Germany and Belgium includes 21 South Asians and one Aussie? Particularly when practically all of these players would be unlikely to make any decent team in their own country?

And the German and Belgian sports fans would stick to watching their soccer, hockey or tennis players rather than cricket.

Tail piece: In the 3rd T20I Weston did not play so  the match could well be described as German South Asians vs Belgian South Asians.

 

Multilingual railway coaches

You have heard of multilingual signs on railway stations in India. They will have at least 2 languages, English and Hindi and whatever else is widely used in that area-the regional language such as Tamil or Bengali, Urdu in some states and sub-states, the neighboring state’s language and so on.

There are numerous stations with 4 languages, and at least two with 5: Raichur in Karnataka and Krishna in Telangana, which have English, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Urdu.

Sometimes it seems illogical to find some languages on a signboard, such as in Cachar and two other districts of Assam where the signs have Bengali and not Assamese. (Nothing unusual since Bengali is the official language here).

Sri Lanka seems to have a strict 3-language formula of Sinhala/English/Tamil which is followed regardless of the Sinhala or Tamil population in a particular place.

Bangladesh has a simpler policy: Only Bengali, except for larger stations where English is added.

Pakistan seems to generally follow the Indian pattern with English and Urdu everywhere and regional languages as well, in Sind and parts of KP province but not in Baluchistan.

A few posts on station signs and language policies are elsewhere on this blog.

Anyway, today we look at an unusual coach in Chennai:

MSM wagon 1

MSM wagon 2

Copyright of these pictures is with the original photographer.

These pictures were taken some years ago at the Perambur workshops (NOT the ICF). Not sure where it is now.

As you can see, this broad gauge troop wagon belonged to the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway, and probably dates back to the 1930s or earlier.

In its time, the M & SM (“Mails Slowly Moving”) covered parts of the present Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana.

Thus the sign has English, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Urdu and Tamil which should cover all eventualities where the wagon would carry troops (Not Malayalam, though the Shoranur-Mangalore section appears to have been under the M & SM for some time).

Also note that a British soldier’s bottom is understood to be larger than his native counterpart’s bottom.

 

A mockery of cricket (1)

Over the last year, the ICC has decided to give T20I status to ANY match between men’s sides (as well as women’s sides) from countries whose cricket boards are part of ICC. This is regardless of cricketing ability.

This also means that all T20Is starting from 2018-2019 (for women’s matches) and 2019 for men’ s matches are included in official statistics as well as official rankings.

You can see statistics on http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html or similar sites.

And ICC rankings can be seen here: http://www.relianceiccrankings.com/test/date-specific.php  for player rankings

and http://www.espncricinfo.com/rankings/content/page/211271.html  for team rankings.

One expected outcome was very one-sided matches, such as this:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/25749943/all-14-china-slump-lowest-women-t20i-total

in which China was all out for 14 in 10 overs, in reply to UAE’s 203/3 in 20 overs. China’s efforts included 6 ducks and an unbeaten 0.

From the scorecard http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19111/scorecard/1171353/china-women-vs-united-arab-emirates-women-group-a-thailand-womens-t20-smash-2018-19

we see that China at least has all or most of the players from their own country, while UAE’s team seems to include players from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with a token local player (much like the UAE’s men’s teams of the past).

Knowing the Chinese, they will gradually get better and will probably be challenging established teams after a few years. At the time of writing in May 2019, you can see that UAE is ranked 16th and China 75th (out of 79). China is one of the 6 teams with zero points.

If this is a mockery of international cricket, there is a still bigger mockery when the national team of a Western European country entirely consists of South Asians. And that is true of men’s cricket as well. This will be covered next.