Thoughts from the road

When I need to think, I run

Category: Comment (page 1 of 2)

Smoke: Weird Beard Brewing Company

I’m not telling porkies, honest!  Yesterday I discovered Weird Beard’s Smoke, a beer which tastes like bacon.  Bacon is well known for its hangover curing properties but could it double up in order to get you drunk as well?  The cure turned source of the problem!

Smoke (6% Rauchbier)

Smoke, from the aptly named Weird Beard Brewing Company isn’t actually made of bacon.  In fact, it’s vegan friendly.  However, the aroma is dominated by the smell of smoked bacon, the sort of smell normally associated with luring the most hungover of humans down the stairs for breakfast after a long night in the pub.  A smell so well associated with the morning after the night before that I found it difficult to imagine that this smell could accompany something alcoholic.  The taste is slightly more subtle but the bacon theme continues.  At 6% the beer is strong and smoky with meaty flavours running across your palate.  The cause for the strange flavour profile of this insane beer is the style, the Rauchbier as Beer Advocate explains:

The Rauchbier style is an old German beer style, its origins go back to the 1500’s and to the district of Franconia and the town of Bamberg. It’s typically of dark colour and has similarities of the Oktoberfestbier. Green malts are literally dried over an open fire of beech wood, imparting a unique smokiness (“rauch” is German for smoke), the usage of which produces beers of an acquired taste. Imagine a smokiness so robust, so assertive, that it tastes of spiced, smoked meat.

It is perhaps of little surprise that this style of beer hails from Germany; a country renowned for Bratwurst and other smoked meat delicacies.  Smoke packs a punch at an impressive, if slightly woozy-headed 6% it comes in 330ml bottles and would be the perfect accompaniment for cheese and crackers after an evening meal.

A bit more about Weird Beard

Weird Beard were founded in 2013 and have produced a number of beers based on the experimental styles and techniques.  A quick scroll through Weird Beard’s beer selection reveals, amongst an array of interesting offerings:  A mint chocolate stout, an IPA registering at 8.1% with tasting notes of bubblegum and another Rauchbeir this time with chillies for extra heat!  There is nothing middle-of-the-road about a bottle of Weird Beard’s finest but that is what makes them such an interesting brewery.  Until yesterday I had no idea that Weird Beard existed yet after tasting Smoke I am keen to find out more about this most experimental of brewers!

Why society needs to take note of the Nationwide advert…

The Nationwide Advert

 

The popularity and availability of social media makes it easy to reach out to people.  Now, more than ever, it is easy to keep in touch with friends and family even if you are miles apart.  A quick text message, WhatsApp or Snapchat takes seconds.  The idea that you don’t have to be in the same place as somebody to ‘talk’ to them is welcome in today’s global society.  I keep in touch with friends I have met from foreign countries despite seeing them once a year or less.  In these scenarios where face-to-face interaction is not an option, social media provides the perfect platform to share content and keep in touch.

Whilst the Nationwide advert may emphasise the importance of face-to-face interaction in a business environment, the advert makes a very valid point.  Just because we have an abundance of software at our fingertips with the capability to connect us with anyone, anywhere.  It doesn’t mean that we do.

The Problem with Social Media

There is one undeniable negative about the increase in use of social media as a main form of communication.  Social media is no longer used to compliment face to face interaction; for many, it has slowly become a replacement.  This means that, instead of truly connecting with those on our friends lists, we send a short and edited periodic snapshot of our lives.  Instead of picking up the phone and hearing another person’s voice, enjoying a moment of laughter, or consoling somebody when you hear them cry, we fail to pick up on how others are feeling.  Through social media, you can share more than ever.  But you can hide even more.

At 0:49 in the advert, Sugar J Poet imagines a different world; ‘Imagine there were no phones, no Facebook, no such thing as online, you’d probably find the time to meet up for a cuppa and a schmooze‘.  But shouldn’t the opposite be true?  If we are so connected to each other why is it that so many people in society feel lonely?  Is it true that many people are suffering because, as a society, we do not make the effort or the time to engage in valuable face-to-face interaction?

Real Communication

The harsh reality is that no matter how many Facebook friends you have, or Twitter followers, there is no replacement for real face-to-face conversation.  It has become too easy to be ‘friends’ without actually engaging in friendship.  Technology has advanced to such a level that you can share in experiences without actually being present in the moment.  It is hard to feel involved in something you are receiving on a computer screen.  In this modern era of technology, it is even easier to be alone.

The replacement of letters and phone call conversations with modern apps may be convenient.  It may be quicker and easier than ever to get in touch with somebody.  However, if those apps are used as a replacement and not a supplement for face-to-face interaction, people end up feeling less connected.  The message in Nationwide’s advert is clear:  there really is no substitute for real face-to-face communication.

 

Claudio Ranieri: Leicester’s Departing Hero

On Thursday night, Claudio Ranieri’s dream as manager of Leicester City ended.  Ranieri was sacked after Leicester’s poor run of form in the premier league which sees them languishing near the relegation zone.  They are in 17th place with just thirteen games to go.  Ranieri’s class and respect for the club was evident on Friday afternoon when he issued a statement about his departure from the club.  Claudio Ranieri finds himself without a job just nine months after Leicester City were crowned Premier League champions.

Champions 2016

There is no doubt that Claudio Ranieri will be held in high regard amongst fans and players of Leicester City for years to come.  The season before they became Premier League Champions, Leicester achieved a 14th place finish under the leadership of Nigel Pearson.  Their remarkable turnaround in the season of 2015/2016 saw Ranieri cast as a legend of the club as they won the title for the first time in their history.  However their return to the wrong end of the Premier League table this season has prompted criticism and had cast doubt on Ranieri’s future.

That Leicester City’s owners did not afford Ranieri the dignity to leave the club at the end of the season when their fate had been decided is controversial.  Playing in the last 16 of the Champions League, Leicester showed glimpses of last season’s excellence against a strong Sevilla lineup, losing 2-1 in the first leg on Wednesday.  Their first season in the Champions League has seen Leicester impress against strong opposition, in contrast to their poor league form.  Despite the promise shown by Ranieri’s men in their last game, Ranieri was sacked on Thursdsay.

Claudio Ranieri’s Popularity

Shortly after his departure, fellow managers demonstrated their respect for Ranieri in their respective pre-match interviews given on Friday.  Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp appeared bemused by the decision when he took questions from journalists, the same could be said of Mourinho who stood in solidarity with Claudio Ranieri by wearing a shirt with the initials ‘CR’ printed below Adidas’ logo.  Jose Mourinho experienced a similar fete last season when he was sacked just one season after lifting the Premier League trophy as Chelsea manager.  However, the specifics of that particular case were well known before his departure from Chelsea as his season never recovered after the public spat with club doctor Eva Carneiro.

Ranieri’s success was underpinned by his quiet determination and focus on the next game rather than being carried away with what might happen in the future.  He did not antagonise the press nor try to find anyone to blame for this season’s slump.  His press conferences demonstrated his humble and honest nature, especially in recent weeks as Leicester’s struggle deepened.  During the post match interview given in Ranieri’s last game in charge he imbued optimism as a result of Leicester’s performance.  He also gave no indication of his impending departure from the club.

Leicester City’s Relegation Battle

Unpicking Leicester City’s fall from grace is difficult.  There appears to be no one simple answer to why their form this season has been so poor.  N’Golo Kante’s transfer to Chelsea was certainly a contributing factor to their poor form however the issues at the club are much more complex.  Throughout the season, the hunger of Leicester’s players has been repeatedly called into question.  After achieving such great heights by winning the Premier League, many of Leicester’s players had achieved more than they could ever have dreamed of.  What did they have left to play for?  The club offered players new contracts after the title success; with that money player indulged in new cars, houses and other luxuries.  Earning more money than ever before in their careers and with little else to aim for, it seems some of Leicester’s players have simply given up.

The club’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha had an unquestionably difficult decision to make.  Leicester’s form in the premier league has been poor throughout this season and there has been little in the way of a revival at any point.  Although last season’s success was almost certainly impossible to emulate, many expected Leicester to survive the relegation battle comfortably.  However, the club now hover just one point above the relegation zone and a resurgent Hull City side who appear to have found a new lease of life under new manager Marco Silva.  Claudio Ranieri is not solely responsible for Leicester’s demise, however as manager he must carry some responsibility.

Football is a funny old game and managers are seldom afforded dignity.  It would be unfortunate and unexpected for Leicester City to line-up in the Championship next season but it would not be unthinkable.  Leicester City are renowned for yo-yoing between the Premier League and Championship with alarming regularity.  They appear to be heading the same way again.

Moving Forward

There is no obvious candidate to replace Ranieri.  That is, perhaps, the most surprising element of this bizarre footballing episode.  Under Ranieri’s leadership, Leicester could have rallied and clung to their Premier League status before a more controlled departure in the summer.  Although this may have been difficult in light of the reported discontent in the Leicester dressing room it would perhaps be easier than bringing a new manager into the team so close to the end of the season.  Instead, they are left managerless and in crisis.  Long-serving assistant manager Craig Shakespeare has been placed in temporary charge of a side poised to face the difficult visit of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Monday night.

If Leicester fail to avoid relegation this season, the decision made by Leicester’s chairman to strip Ranieri of the managers position will leave a bitter taste in many a football-supporter’s mouth.  He did, after all, achieve the impossible just last season.

Southern Rail: The Safe Approach

Southern Rail Strikes

This week, travel chaos is set to hit London as strikes take place on the London Underground and Southern Railway networks.  The reason for the London Underground strike is clear:  Sadiq Khan has failed to reverse the decision to close ticket offices on the underground network despite launching a review into the closures.  The nature of the Southern Railway strikes are of a more safety critical and concerning nature.  Proposals are in place to remove the guard from passenger trains.  This proposal places the responsibilities of the guard onto an already busy driver.  It is the second of these issues that I will tackle in the following post.

The Role of the Guard

Since the days of steam, guards have been an integral part of the railway network.  Guards perform a variety of safety critical duties which reduce the risk of incidents taking place or escalating.  Although driver only operation has been used since 1982, a lot has changed in the last 25 years.  The nations trains are getting busier and overcrowding on Britain’s trains and platforms is an ever increasing issue.  The growth in passenger numbers places pressure on ageing railway infrastructure, removing the train’s eyes and ears will only worsen the situation.  Place enough people in an overcrowded area leaving them nowhere to escape and it will be a matter of time before an accident happens, only now there will be nobody there to help.

A driver’s responsibilities are already extensive; they are pressured to ensure the correct operation of the train from their cab; they have to maintain a timetable, take note of any problems on the network they may encounter en route and check the signals ahead are clear for the train to enter the section.  I have no doubt that I will have missed something from this list.  The guard can liaise with the driver about any concerns they have on board the train.  At this point, the driver can rest assured that any issues in the passenger carriages behind him will be taken care of.  Onboard the train the guard is a reassuring presence for those travelling.  They are a deterrent against criminal behaviour whether physical, sexual or verbal and can quickly phone for help if they see somebody acting inappropriately.

The Danger of Door Only Operation

Consider also the number of times you see people running for a train.  The guard keeps watch over the platform to ensure that no passenger boards the train unless it is safe to do so.  It is now commonplace to see very few platform staff at railway stations, especially in non-central locations.  Guards are the last bastions of an era where safety was deemed the most important aspect of the railway.  Guards can also keep watch over passengers who are less capable of boarding the train and those intoxicated with alcohol who might otherwise stagger towards the train unnoticed.  It is not uncommon to see guards offering their help to those who need it most; an outreached hand to an elderly passenger or providing a ramp for a disabled individual.  This makes a difference, not only to the safety of the passengers but to their journey as a whole.

Although the Rail Safety and Standards Board have stated that Driver Only Operated trains are safe, doubt must be cast on this claim when it is considered that eight out of ten incidents when passengers are boarding and disembarking from trains have taken place when a guard has not been present (statistic was taken from a dossier linked from the Full Fact article).  In a number of these incidents where a guard or platform staff have not been present, the actions of the other passengers have salvaged the situation.

Combined with the reduction in number of platform staff, the removal of guards from trains would place responsibility for all boarding and disembarking passengers on an overburdened driver.  The driver’s position at the front of a train which could be several carriages in length is a major cause for concern.  It is easy to imagine a scenario where a passenger who has stumbled or fallen against or down the side of a train may go unnoticed in bad weather or on overcrowded platforms.  In fog or falling snow, when visibility is already at a minimum, surely it is better to have two pairs of eyes rather than one, watching out for you and your loved ones?

Strikes:  A Necessary Evil

Although the strikes are undeniably the cause of much inconvenience, they are a necessary act.  Without the strikes, driver only operation would become reality endangering passengers travelling on Britain’s railways.  The railway strikes are being used for political gain by both sides of the argument.  However, the central and most critical part of this debate revolves around safety, not politcs nor ego.  It would bode well for passengers if both sides of this debate could remember its most critical purpose.

Sam Allardyce and the Crystal Palace job

Just over two months after leaving the role of England manager, Sam Allardyce is the favourite to take over as Crystal Palace boss.  He is odds on favourite to get the job after Alan Pardew was sacked earlier today in light of Palace’s poor league position.  But how has the disgraced England boss been forgiven so quickly?

His tenure was the shortest in the history of England managers at a mere 67 days.  Big Sam had only taken charge of one game which England won 1-0 against Slovakia in a World Cup Qualifier.  He was forced to resign as England boss in the wake of allegations that he had advised agents on how to work around transfer regulations set out by the FA.  The sting, ran by the Daily Telegraph, forced both Sam Allardyce and the FA into an impossible situation.  The only resolution was for Allardyce to step down as England boss.

Managing England was Sam Allardyce’s dream job and why wouldn’t it be?  Allardyce was born in England in 1954, he is just old enough to remember England winning the world cup in 1966.  He lived and breathed football all his life first as a player then as a manager.  The best way for him to influence the future of English football was as manager of the national side.  He could have been the driving influence behind England’s rise back to the top of the world, instead his actions have cast the England football team into a dark place.

In discussing ways to evade regulations, in particular those relating to transfer deals, Allardyce has undermined the very body for whom he should have been a role model.  On a salary of £3 million pounds, questions should also be asked as to why Allardyce felt the extra work was necessary for the comparatively small fee of £400,000.

Before his time as England manager and the fiasco therein, Sam Allardyce’s record was impressive when you consider how many times he has rescued teams languishing at the wrong end of the table.  He most recently demonstrated his ability as manager of Sunderland in 2015 when their fortunes were dramatically turned under his influence, preserving their Premier League status.  This, however, should not be enough to warrant Crystal Palace to consider Allardyce as a candidate for the managers role.

Crystal Palace, if they do choose to hire Allardyce will be choosing to ignore the severity of Allardyce’s actions which saw him removed as England manager.  It will act as a signal to all those in world football that such actions are acceptable.  Allardyce received a short and lenient punishment before his return to a position of high authority.  Allardyce is not the only option for the Crystal Palace job; Chris Coleman is the next placed candidate according to Sky Bet who currently rank Coleman’s chances at 6/1, in comparison to Big Sam at 1/6.

In a year of remarkably strange events around the world, the fact that Sam Allardyce is being considered to take the reigns in professional football so soon after being disgraced should come as no surprise.  It seems that morality is just an ideal that very few people adhere to.  Big Sam may be able to rescue Crystal Palace from relegation this season but his actions tarnished English football.  Should he be appointed as Crystal Palace manager in the coming days, questions must be asked of whether the FA’s actions were severe enough.  In a time when sport is trying to rid itself of corruption, should Allardyce be allowed to manage again?

A star named Frances

Some weeks ago I sent one of my favourite musicians a message.  I didn’t expect a reply, nor did I expect it to come so quickly.  I was thrilled to receive that reply just two days later.  Frances is my favourite solo artist, not just for her voice but also the lyrics that she writes and it is a privilege to have her blessing for this article.  

Frances is an emerging artist, rising quickly to the top of the music world with her songs Don’t Worry About Me and Grow.  She has been compared by some to Adele such is her talent at the tender age of just 23.  The most endearing aspect of Frances’ music is that each lyric means something to her, each song is personal.

Many modern day artists use fillers to add to their songs through endless ahh‘s and ooh’s, not Frances.  There are no nonsense lyrics or coinages here.  Perhaps as a result of writing each of her songs, she has taken great care to ensure that the lyrics of each song encapsulate a particular emotion or situation perfectly.  The situations each of the songs stem from are eminently relateable.  Don’t Worry About Me, a song addressed to her friend, is a particularly beautiful reminder of what friendship really is.

In reply to a question from WWD, Frances stated that she didn’t try to have a sound.  Yet, when listening to her music, there is a unique quality to her voice that could only be Frances.  Each of her growing number of songs has its own story and with it, another glimpse of life through the eyes of Frances.

Although the response to Frances’ emergence has been overwhelmingly positive, her attitude towards those who are critical or even negative, is admirable.  During her live stream, posted on her Facebook page, a small handful of individuals posted some unduly negative comments, some of which were unrelated to her music.  Frances embraced the critics joking that she couldn’t sing properly because she had a bad cold and even thanked one person who criticised her figure – the comment was irrelevant, this was a livestream about music!  In her calm manner, these reactions made her critics look petty.  She then returned to the business of replying to the more genuine comments and questions in her typically personal and endearing way.

In this respect, Frances is a rolemodel for a younger generation tormented by the presence of online ‘critics’.  This comes in the form of so-called ‘friends’ or the mass media portraying images of the ‘perfect body’ and forcing everyone to believe they have to be a particular way.  Perhaps embracing others’ criticisms and negativity doesn’t make it go away but it does provide a more positive perspective – the bullies and critics have no control if they are without credibility and control.

I find it difficult to choose my favourite song from Frances, three songs in particular have lyrics that fit into my life story in a particular way.  But maybe my difficulty in choosing my favourite encapsulates my whole point.  These aren’t meaningless lyrics set to a catchy tune, they are stories of a life that each have their own individual tale.

As 2017 draws ever closer and everybody resolves to become a better version of themselves in the coming year, the lyrics of Grow seem most apt to end this article:  Grow, grow, if you never try you’ll never know.

 

England in India: Haseeb Hameed

Haseeb Hameed eased his way towards 50 in the final session of the fourth day against India.  His defensive yet uncomplicated style allowed him to negotiate the spinning ball against Ravichandran Ashwin, the world’s number one bowler.  He also saw off the threat of Ravindra Jadeja and the leg spin of Amit Mishra.  Although the quality of bowling was high as the Indian bowlers looked to take advantage of home conditions, Hameed rarely looked troubled.

Aged only 19, Hameed became only the third youngest batsman to score a half century on his debut.  When India appealed optimistically for an LBW in the 28th over when Hameed was on 48, he remained calm.  India chose to review the decision even though it was clear that the on-field umpire’s call of Not Out was the right one.  The ball turned shaply off the surface but was shown to be missing off stump by a comfortable margin.  If the review was intended to be a tactical one to unnerve the young England opener, it did not work.  It took just one more over before Hameed found the off-side boundary behind square to bring up his maiden test fifty off the bowling of Amit Mishra.

When his moment of celebration came after he scored fifty he would have been forgiven for leaping around the crease to celebrate.  However, Hameed remained understated, he acknowledged his family in the crowd, among whom sat his father who has been influential in his cricketing upbringing.  Perhaps this is the most encouraging sign yet; from his understated celebration it was palpable that Hameed believed his innings was only just begun.  More poignantly perhaps is that this innings took place at the Rajkot stadium, in the Gujarat district of India where his parents grew up.  His family later moved to Lancashire where Haseeb Hameed would go on to debut for Lancashire County Cricket Club.  In 2015, he made a notable contribution of 91 in his first season playing for Lancashire’s first team against Glamorgan.  In many ways this was a homecoming and it seemed fitting that Hameed should both debut and score his first half century on what is arguably his family’s home ground.

Tomorrow is the fifth day of this test match and if England are to have any chance of winning the match they will have to extend their lead of 163 quickly in the morning session.  If he scores a century in the process it would be richly deserved after his excellence with the bat today.  Hameed, like Cook, is used to playing in a patient manner waiting for the bad ball to tuck away for runs in contrast to some of the more aggressive, boundary seeking approaches of England’s middle order.  First though, he must help England accrue runs quickly tomorrow morning if England are to have any chance of winning this test match.  England supporters will be hoping that the England openers find a way to pick off India’s spin options throughout the morning session tomorrow.

It will be of great interest to see how this opening partnership materialises, not just tomorrow but for years to come.  From his very first test match, the signs for England are positive.  Aged just nineteen, Hameed has the potential to be an England player for many years to come.  I, for one, hope this is the first chapter in a long and prosperous international career.

 

End of the test:  Hameed fell for 82 after he tried to up the tempo of his innings but looked disappointed to have lost his wicket short of a century.  If one thing is not in doubt it is that England should look forward to the next test with optimism having solved the mystery of who Cook should partner at the top of the order.  If, and it is a big if, England can get the balance right between their batting and bowling attacks, the next test at the ACA-VDCA stadium could provide them with a good opportunity to take a lead in the series.

England vs Sri Lanka Third Test Verdict

The third and final test in this one sided test series between England and Sri Lanka was a rather dull affair.  It was a test which never seemed to spark into life; the weather affected ending an apt finish to the game.  

After Alastair Cook reached the 10,000 run milestone in the last test, his performance was more fluid than previously in this series.  It would have been fitting for the captain to amass a century after all the hype surrounding him this series but Cook will have to remain content with a first innings score of 85 before he unselfishly declared whilst on 49* in the second innings.  Batting at number 7 was uncharted territory for Cook however England’s main opener adapted well to the role and pressed on well towards the end of the England innings.  Cook played some flamboyant strokes in his innings as England looked to press home their advantage and score quickly with strokes more commonly associated with the likes of Hales and Buttler.  Even so, the pace of the innings was sluggish considering the match situation on day 4 as England ambled towards a total of 233-7 off 71 overs.  England’s innings wasn’t helped by the sluggish start from Compton who unfortunately fell for another insignificant score of 19 before Root (4) and Vince (0) didn’t give the scorers much to do.

This is a match which will perhaps be remembered more for personal milestones rather than the team performance.  Bairstow continued in his rich vein of form, amassing an impressive 167* off 406 deliveries at a strike rate of 66, his best score in tests.  In doing so, he narrowly missed out on the all time record for an English wicket keeper batsman set by Alec Stewart.  However it is surely a matter of time if he continues in the form which he has shown recently and the England selectors hold faith with him as their number one wicketkeeper ahead of Jos Buttler.

Chris Woakes seized the chance he was given through the absence of Ben Stokes as he scored a useful 66 before gifting his wicket to Herath with the simplest of return catches with a purposeless chip.  Woakes also made a good impression with the ball taking 3-31 at a very economical rate of 1.81 in the first innings.  Woakes will have to fight for his position in the side when Ben Stokes returns for Pakistan’s tour of England starting in the middle of July.  Mahela Jayawardene suggested that in order to solve England’s problems at number 3 they should experiment with moving Stokes up the order.  A suggestion which would add impetus to England’s innings at a position normally associated with a more cautious approach.  If the selectors do decide to experiment with Jayawardene’s suggestion this would allow both Stokes and Woakes to have a place in the side.  Whichever solution is chosen, the next few months could prove to be an exciting time for English cricket.

Unfortunately for Compton, he failed to impress on what Michael Atherton hinted may be his final chance in an England shirt.  Compton’s form has been poor throughout the series and despite impressive performances for his county last season, it seems he will fail to retain his place in the England line up.  It will be interesting to see who the England selectors favour if indeed they do drop Compton for the test series against Pakistan later this summer.  Taylor’s untimely retirement from the game has left a void in the England team which is proving difficult to fill.

England were convincing in the first two matches in this short three match series but failed to press home their advantage in the final test.  Pakistan should provide a more challenging encounter and it will be interesting to see how the England top order stand up to the task especially as Pakistan’s lineup will most likely feature more than one spinner.

For the next few weeks though, England turn their attention towards the shorter format of the game.  I will watch with excitement when the side take on Sri Lanka in the Royal London ODI series which begins at Trent Bridge on June 21st.

The closure of Little Stoke Parkrun

Just two months ago I commented that the idea to charge people to exercise in their local park was absurd.  Parkrun offer an opportunity for anybody to run a timed 5k course in many different parks across the country.  The Little Stoke Parish Council were intent on charging people for running in the great outdoors and unfortunately, Little Stoke Parkrun has now been closed for good as a result of the council’s decision.

After the announcement was made that Little Stoke Parkrun was under threat, the Parkrun community and the wider public displayed their strong opposition to the plan.  A quick look at the Parkrun Discussion Group on Facebook shows the depth of emotion attached to this issue.  The public did not want to see one of it’s free and popular events being taken away.  But, as ever with political decisions, the public’s opinion mattered not.

The decision to close the run in these circumstances comes as little surprise as Parkrun’s philosophy is that exercise should be free and accessible to all.  The council’s failure to recognise that such an event has a positive and beneficial impact to society comes as a huge disappointment to those who have put the effort into creating such a communal event.

It is a decision which condones a modern trait in life.  To see every activity, every second of every day as an opportunity for profit.  But at what cost?  Oscar Wilde made famous the quote ‘a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’, on this evidence, society is full of cynics.  At the very least, those in power are!

Little Stoke Parkrun has existed since 2012 and, in that time, many runners have completed the course.  For many, Little Stoke provided a regular and local opportunity to meet up with like-minded people doing something healthy.  Unfortunately, that opportunity is now gone forever.

One last hurrah for Compton?

Nick Compton’s test statistics are far from gloomy, he has thus far averaged just over 30 in all the tests he has played.  Consider that he bats at the top of the order when the ball is at it’s hardest and the bowlers are at their freshest and his stats aren’t bad at all.  Compare that to Adam Lyth who occupied an opener’s position for seven matches in 2015 averaging just over 20.  Sam Robson has also played 7 tests averaging just above 30 and is also in line to feature for England this summer following the untimely retirement of James Taylor.

In the BBC published an article titled ‘Nick Compton:  England batsman says that approach does not make him intense‘.  The description of Compton as ‘intense’ made me feel uneasy at the time that the article was published, it didn’t picture him in a favourable light.  Nor did it tell the full story.

And today, on the 9th June, just two months on from the BBC’s analysis, Michael Atherton (The Times) suggested that it was now or never for Compton if he is to survive in the England team.  Compton has struggled to cement his place in the England team and although Taylor’s untimely exit from the game provided Compton with an extended run in, his performances have been sub-par.  In 2016, Compton has failed to register a 50 at a time when Bairstow, Stokes and Cook in particular, have flourished.

Although England did well on the whole today at Lords, finishing on 279-6 with Bairstow unbeaten on 107* after an excellent knock, Compton failed to demonstrate his talents once again.  The pressure is mounting and perhaps, when Compton walks out on day 3 or 4 in England’s second innings, it really will be the final chance.

England have dominated the test series thus far rarely being troubled by Sri Lanka in all disciplines on the cricket field.  However, today Sri Lanka managed a much more convincing performance with Angelo Matthew’s figures of 10-5-19-0, a fine reflection of the pressure that Sri Lanka have placed on England’s batsmen.  Tomorrow morning may well have a crucial impact on the match as a whole but has Compton’s time finally ran out?

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