Taylor and Ackermann’s finests give Leicestershire the opening round advantage

Hove, April 5-8: Leicestershire 252 & 232 for 3 beat Sussex 173 & 308 by 7 wickets

Until Colin Ackermann’s scathing cut towards Hove’s third man rope sealed a rather straightforward seven wicket victory at 2:30pm on April 8th, one would have needed to hark back close to two decades for Leicestershire’s last spoils in a County Championship jaunt to Sussex. Following up a maiden first-class ton from 23-year-old sprog Darren Stevens, the limelight of that 1999 Arundel fixture fell firmly upon one Matthew Brimson, whose 9 for 120 dwarfed the two other five-wicket hauls his orthodox spin had delivered a month apart against Kent and Sussex three summers prior. Should that name ring any bells, it will most likely be thanks to the surreptitious appearance of his penis on page 657 of the next year’s Wisden – probably not the only reason his county days lasted just six further outings, but nevertheless a perplexing act of self-sabotage that Paul Nixon’s squad would do wisely not to replicate.

Ackermann’s spot at the crease to secure victory was fitting, having earlier used his part-time off-spin for a career-best 5 for 69 – his first five-for in 190 attempts at the professional level. Having gone unbowled first time round, his token over to accelerate forward the second day’s tea interval achieved what 20 from four pace colleagues hadn’t, ending the opening stand of 105 between Tom Haines (39) and an ever belligerent Phil Salt, who slashed 11 boundaries in his 67-ball 80. His dismissal was the perhaps the finest of Ackermann’s crop, with the ball jutting in sharply off a length to force him either to stand still and take his own shot in the gonads or back away and prod it meekly into the bowler’s own mitts, though Hasan Azad’s gymnastics at short leg to catch Chris Jordan and Ollie Robinson within three deliveries on the eve of the new ball the next morning would likely beg to differ.

The hosts had earlier found themselves five down for 36 under an hour into the season, with Salt’s charge a welcome reparation for the indignity that was feathering Chris Wright behind to nab a duck right on the stroke of 11am. Tom Taylor had then run rampant, quelling any lingering doubt around Paul Horton’s decision not to contest the toss under uncharacteristically fine April skies. Upon bowling skipper Ben Brown first ball, the one-time Derbyshire man was on a hat-trick with figures reading 6.1-2-12-4, and by mid-afternoon that too became a career best with the additions of David Wiese and Ollie Robinson’s off and middle stumps respectively.

Wiese had reached 51 by that stage, following up his counter-attacking 139 against Cardiff MCCU five days prior with more of the same before driving past another fine Taylor ball that nipped in. Driving expansively through the offside had worked relative wonders as the score almost tripled in just 10 overs of Wiese joining Stiaan van Zyl, who was marking his first Championship innings after 10 months sidelined with a bruised kneecap, but momentum slipped once again after van Zyl pulled Leicestershire’s winter signing Wright down onto his wicket shortly before lunch.

For the third successive summer, IPL calls from their seam stocks have lured Sussex into short-term overseas reinforcement. This time, that comes in the shape of one-test Pakistan left-armer Mir Hamza, who makes up for his lack of name recognition with mighty swing and a stellar record of 282 wickets at 18.37. Catching the Ateeq Javid nudge back to his right-hand side made that 283 before six overs were out, and by the time he’d called an early tea with one that outfoxed a visibly irked Mark Cosgrove by swaying deceptively in from leg, Leicestershire were well on their way to a Sussex-like 59 for 5.

After surviving an early Hamza appeal, Lewis Hill ably stabilised proceedings with consecutive partnerships of 92 and 52 with Harry Dearden and Taylor respectively, facing one more ball than his top five combined as he built a gentle 67 across either side of the light-enforced close of play. Danny Briggs earned his reward after warming up for what seemed like the first 55 overs as Hill swept hard over a full ball that skittled his off stump, but not before Hill had played the same shot somewhat more successfully to bring up a coveted April batting point. That was joined by a second in the final over before a belated lunch as Wright and a twitchy Will Davis put on 31 for the final stand, eventually broken six balls (and no runs) later as Ollie Robinson topped off a typically understated collection of 4 for 46.

The second day proved to be the peak for Sussex, as their overnight 211 for 2 was followed up by another six wicket session, with van Zyl at least waiting one ball longer than Salt had before giving Hill and umpire Jeff Evans their first actions of the morning. Taylor soon sent a middle pole cartwheeling from behind Luke Wells and had a quacking Wiese trapped in front in overs either side of Ackermann’s continuing plunder running into Brown, who claimed the first pair of noughts in his decade-plus at the first-class level when a turner came into his back pad. Once Taylor had picked off Briggs to claim his tenth of the game with the last ball of his second-priciest over, Wright took all of one ball to seal the hosts’ fate and set his side an eminently chaseable 230 in a day and a half.

That equation morphed into 131 on the final day after an evening washout with Leicestershire only a Javid down, and with it kept looking firmly in the visitors’ favour as none of Horton, Azad, Cosgrove, or Ackermann appeared keen to rush things along amidst the most pleasant conditions of the game. After two rejected appeals, two more wickets came for the economic Robinson through edges to Salt in the slips, though Horton’s ended up deflecting off his hands to be taken by Jordan instead. Eight overs apiece from Briggs and Wells were nowhere near as fruitful for spin as the pitch had suggested via Ackermann the night before. Likewise, 24 split between sub-par displays of Hamza and Jordan conceded 110 runs, as steadier heads ultimately prevailed in an enthralling display that left Leicestershire sitting atop the Division 2 table.

Miserable Hampshire chase allows Glamorgan a record win in Vitality Blast opener

The Ageas Bowl: Glamorgan 168/6 (David Lloyd 38*, Colin Ingram 35, Liam Dawson 2/25) beat Hampshire 105 (Andrew Salter 3/34, Ingram 2/15, Graham Wagg 2/17) by 63 runs

One could forgive a Hampshire supporter for hauling a cool bag of above-moderate expectations out to The Ageas Bowl for Friday night’s sun-kissed Vitality Blast opener. Craig White’s side comes with a strong pedigree in the short format, after all – being attendees at Finals Day for seven of the the past eight summers and twice champions, anchored by an incessant core of strong internationals, and fresh off sealing a dominant victory in the game’s other limited overs format at Lord’s just six days prior, it’d be rude not to have faith for their homecoming.

Freshly imported to bolster a top order that already ranks amongst the circuit’s strongest, 86-cap New Zealander Colin Munro made inroads towards an under-par Glamorgan target of 168 by dispatching Andrew Salter for a deep boundary with the first ball of the innings. Such audacity was immediately stemmed, however, as Chris Cooke took a sharp catch behind before Lord’s hero Rilee Rossouw misjudged a sweep to leave the score at 9/2 six balls in. That became 15/4 three overs later as Timm van der Gugten caught both a stunning return grab off England misfit James Vince (2) and a flimsy prod from former Kent talisman Sam Northeast (3) off the miserly Michael Hogan, hopes of anything respectable lay firmly on the shoulders of Tom Alsop, who struck a bold 64 in similar circumstances last summer against Sussex.

Instead, all he could muster was a lethargic pull on 12 to become Salter’s third victim, and Graham Wagg’s brace of Lewis McManus (0) and Liam Dawson (2) to similar shots into Salter’s hands the next over sparked hunts for the record books. From a platform of 32/7, only superfluous counterattack from tail-end duo Gareth Berg (26) and Kyle Abbott (a career-best 29) kept Hampshire from limboing beneath their decade-old previous lowest of 85, and by the time they closed their tallies the formidable ground appeared yet more cavernous. Around 7,500 spectators appeared, and all many had to sing about was how football may well be coming home. Continue reading “Miserable Hampshire chase allows Glamorgan a record win in Vitality Blast opener”

UOSM2008: Topic 2 reflection

This post is part of a series published as part of the University of Southampton’s Living and Working on the Web module. To find out more, including links to all of this year’s student blogs, check out the UOSM2008 website.

Understanding news and contemporary media is a particular interest of mine – my ongoing dissertation work is on how journalists and publishers use digital tools and their perceptions and reactions to the “post-truth” epidemic – so it’s fair to say this has been my favourite topic so far. With this issue of authenticity so prevalent, in my post I looked to summarise the assorted facets of fake news, to what extent social media has played a role in it, and, using a MOOC exercise, how to critically assess what we see to determine trustworthiness.

In response, Nikhita Sharma raised a challenging question: why now? After brief deliberation, the conclusion that made most sense to me was to look primarily at how the wider cultural context is being reflected online, rather than any explicit technological factors. On his blog, Tom Pethick noted the associated concept of the Overton window, as explained by Vox‘s Carlos Maza.

In my comment on Tom’s blog, I also cited Tom Rowledge‘s alarming statistic (from Gabielkov et. al., 2016) that 59% of links shared online haven’t even been opened, which itself was cleverly buried beneath a bogus headline bold enough to entice me to read further. The interactive activity he embedded also proved a fun, accessible insight into how easily online influence can be built when integrity is set aside.

Throughout the module I have been enjoying Jeremy Luzinda‘s witty takes on each topic, and his infographic for this topic is too memorable not to share here.

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Five steps to assessing online content. Source: Jeremy Luzinda, 2018

My comment ventured beyond increasing users’ media literacy into how the service providers themselves might be compelled to act. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t discuss this further – I find Facebook’s survey example perfectly straightforward, but is handing users the power to shape authenticity an irresponsible and flawed approach? Only time can tell…

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Live review: Khalid at Eventim Apollo, London

R&B’s newest superstar remains unfinished both on stage and on record, but a Valentine’s crowd is certainly not bothered.

Originally published in The Edge

374 days ago, the idea of Khalid filling out Hammersmith’s prestigious Eventim Apollo – let alone doing so twice with ease at rather lofty prices – would have seemed more than a little far fetched. He was making his London debut seven physical miles and a million conceptual ones away at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, a venue typically reserved for the newest of newcomers and perhaps best known at the time for over-the-bar barbecue courtesy of Michigan techno oddball Seth Troxler. Courtesy of still being a week away, debut album American Teen hadn’t yet accrued any of its multiple billion streams. In fact, when The Edge took a punt on him to feature as one of our picks for 2017 the month before, it was only after a haphazard combination of play counts that we arrived at a figure of 30 million streams for ‘Location’ to make our selection seem that little bit more statistically sound. Here, it would be remiss of us not to attempt something similar: per Wikipedia, the Khalid of today has 46 platinum certifications around the globe. Continue reading “Live review: Khalid at Eventim Apollo, London”

UOSM2008: The “fake news” bubble and how to (potentially) handle it

This post is part of a series published as part of the University of Southampton’s Living and Working on the Web module. To find out more, including links to all of this year’s student blogs, check out the UOSM2008 website.

Task: Evaluate how to assess the reliability and authenticity of online information

The “fake news” bubble

“Fake news” is an inescapable term of the zeitgeist, in part thanks to politicians using it to discredit journalists (Juliane Lischka, 2017), Macedonian teenagers creating hoaxes to share widely across Facebook for easy ad revenue (Samanth Subramanian, 2017; Craig Silverman, 2016), discussions around journalistic standards (James Ball, 2017Mark Di Stefano, 2018), and social networks endlessly vacillating on how best to handle it all (Mark Zuckerberg, 2017; Adam Mosseri, 2018, Alex Kantrowitz, 2018). Google Trends data shows an explosion in related search activity around 2016’s US elections and close associations with Donald Trump, broadcasters like CNN and Fox, and verification services like Snopes.

Web search interest in the term "fake news" between January 2004 and March 2018. Source: Google Trends.
Web search interest in the term “fake news” between January 2004 and March 2018. Source: Google Trends.

However, its history is deeper. In this video I recorded with Adam Rann and Ryan Dodd for the UOSM2012 module last year, we investigate how the phenomenon came to be.

How to (potentially) handle it

In a New Statesman extract from his book on the subject, James Ball (2017) points to five actions readers can take to dispel these post-truth trends.

  • Proactively seek content from contrasting sources to prevent filter bubbles, where algorithmic personalisation and our curation limit the viewpoints we’re exposed to online (Eli Pariser, 2011)
  • React with careful consideration, verifying sources and assessing credibility before sharing
  • Improve statistical literacy to better understand poor, misleading, or inaccurate data presentation (John Burn-Murdoch, 2013; Agata Kwapien, 2015)
  • Approach everything – not just what we’re inclined to disbelieve – with skepticism
  • Resist baseless conspiracy, lest help fuel anti-expertise sentiment (Henry Mance, 2016)

How can we apply this framework to an example? Here’s one from the “Learning in the Network Age” MOOC (FutureLearn, 2017):

MOOC Fake News Example
Source: FutureLearn (University of Southampton)

The headline may be eye-catching, the URL plausible (KTLA is a genuine broadcaster), and “sources” reputable (NASA and Caltech researchers). However, there are telltale signs that this is fake, such as the author’s name (Jonah Oaxer = Jon, A Hoaxer), the lack of corroborating external sources, and the extreme language (e.g. “NASA”‘s “our days are numbered”). Additionally, other content on the site is outdated (e.g. a privacy policy updated in 2016) and of a similar clickbait nature designed for viral sharing rather than credible journalism.

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“Willing and excited and enthusiastic, that’s really what we are” – An interview with Sofi Tukker

The New York duo tell all about their unlikely friendship, what makes a perfect party, and percussive on-stage foliage.

Originally recorded for Surge Radio and published in The Edge

Sofi Tukker (aka Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern) might not be a household name just yet, but you’ll certainly recognise their sound. Since the release of their Portuguese-language debut ‘Drinkee’ in 2015, vocalist Sophie Hawley-Weld and basketball player turned instrumentalist Tucker Halpern have been fusing her bossa nova adoration with his house style for a series of infectious releases, including 2016’s debut EP Soft Animals. Last autumn, they were picked out by Apple to soundtrack their iPhone X campaign, launching ‘Best Friend’ – a lively ode to friendship penned alongside New York duo The Knocks, Australian twins NERVO, and Japanese newcomer Alisa Ueno – directly to a global audience. During their recent headline tour across Europe, we caught up with the pair to dig into what makes their unlikely friendship so special and find out what they’ve got brewing for 2018.

Continue reading ““Willing and excited and enthusiastic, that’s really what we are” – An interview with Sofi Tukker”

UOSM2008: Topic 1 reflection

This post is part of a series published as part of the University of Southampton’s Living and Working on the Web module. To find out more, including links to all of this year’s student blogs, check out the UOSM2008 website.

Having previously explored digital inequalities as part of SOCI3073, it was interesting to explore a wide, more specific array of thoughts on digital differences. Personally, I could not find any factors that impede my digital usage or access to opportunity, hence I chose to look deeper at efforts to provide tools and skills to less digitally privileged users.

Here, Carl Leckstein commented (with a 2012 Guardian piece) that internet access should be considered a human right. Ultimately, I agree with what his reflection concludes – access is essential for today’s way of life and this will only increase globally as technological adoption and provision increases. We must, however, neither ignore concerns nor accept divides as inevitable.

Chloe Cripps’ blog raised an interesting question about MOOCs and how they deliver on their promise of education for all, and researching this led me to Coursera data (Zhenghao et. al., 2015) on who actually uses their services and why. Aleph Molinari’s TEDx talk – as highlighted by Chloe and others – is promising, as his work looks to close digital divides with eco-friendly social hubs and rapid digital literacy education rather than mere infrastructure, as in my example of OLPC.

Elsewhere, on Chloe Cheung’s blog, we discussed more international contrasts after she discussed using Chinese services. This led me to The Verge, where Shannon Liao (2018) explores WeChat’s ubiquity and how China’s government has helped it grow into from messaging into a state ID system. However, as Chloe responded, this hostile approach is not ideal.

We cannot force digital usage upon [communities]. We can only educate them to understand the wider benefits of the Web.

Regretfully, other commitments mean I have been unable to work significantly towards increasing multimedia usage on the blog or participating more frequently in comments and MOOCs, but topic 2 looks right up my street…

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