Archive for category Sport

‘More’ ‘quotes’

‘Meteorite’ lands on cricket pitch during county match says The Telegraph. Why is meteorite in quotes? Is The Telegraph so anti-science that it now refutes the very idea that there are bits of rock whizzing around over our heads?

Well, no. It’s not that bad.

When two spectators standing on the boundary at a cricket match saw an object hurtling down from the sky, their first instinct might have been to applaud.

However Jan Marszel, 51, and Richard Haynes, 52, were not witnessing a six, but an extremely rare meteor strike.

The rock, a few inches long and believed to be up to 4.5 billion years old, broke in two when it hit the ground in front of them close to the pitch.

That sounds pretty definitive, right? A meteorite*, 4.5 billion years old, landed on a cricket pitch.


The pair have kept the seemingly extraterrestrial pieces of rock for posterity and said they would be happy for experts to examine them.

Oh, no expert has looked at this rock yet, it might not be 4.5 billion years old,** it might not be rare, and there’s no guarantee that it’s extra terrestrial. Okay.

Dr Matthew Genge, a meteorite expert at Imperial College, London, said: “If this turns out to be a meteorite it’s very exciting and would be the first fall in the UK since 1992.

“Potentially it contains secrets as to the formation of our solar system.”

So how about this, Telegraph. Put the couple in touch with Dr. Genge, find out whether it is a meteorite or not, then publish.

Incidentally, they don’t say which match it was, but given that it was apparently a Sussex match with Panesar and Wright playing, it could well have been the recent Sussex v. Middlesex game which means a) this story’s been rushed into the papers and b) the match might have been carried on Sky (I can’t find their past listings, but it looks like they’re carrying a lot of county cricket at the moment) in which case this might be the first meteorite landing recorded on camera. Now that would be an interesting story.

* FYI, a meteor isn’t the rock, it’s the flash of light. Come on Telegraph, next you’ll be mixing up stalagmites and stalactites!

** If no expert has looked at the rock, where did they get the curious number 4.5 billion from? Surely they didn’t just go to the Wikipedia article on meteorites and spot the line “Chondrites are typically about 4.55 billion years old“, right?

Edit: The article – including the interview with Dr. Genge – originally came from the Brighton Argus, which includes a picture of the two discoverers holding the ‘meteorite’; which is very clearly not the meteorite in the picture in The Telegraph‘s article. Despite that, The Telegraph has captioned the photo “Meteorite: The rock, a few inches long and believed to be up to 4.5 billion years old, broke in two when it landed“. Misleading?


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England stats part 2

Because there were just too many graphs for one post. This time, World Cups and managers.

Today’s papers are full to the brim with questions. Why didn’t England win the World Cup? Was it psychological? Were there too few youngsters on the team? Are young England players improperly trained? Did England play as a team? Is 4-4-2 dead? Should Fabio go?

Unsurprisingly, Capello is not popular in the papers. The Mirror demands “FabiGO” and The Sun‘s headline is simply “It’s time you went, Capello“. The Daily Mail goes further, and somehow suggests that the wealth of Fabio and the team is precisely why England did badly:*

In contrast to England’s only successful manager, Sir Alf Ramsey, who lived in a modest semi in Ipswich and, at the end of his time in charge, was earning just £7,000 a year, Capello has always enjoyed the trappings of the high life, including a vast art collection said to be worth £17million.

Indeed, his convoluted financial affairs brought him to the attention of the Italian tax authorities, though he was never charged with any offence.**

In case you hadn’t guessed, Alf Ramsey was England manager in 1966. Of course, he was also England manager for the 1970 World Cup (in which we fell in the quarter finals) and 1974 World Cup (which we failed to qualify for entirely). And “only successful manager”? Bobby Robson and Terry Venables both took England to the semifinals of a major tournament (1990 World Cup and Euro 1996) and both could have got to the finals if it hadn’t been for bad luck on penalty shootouts. Because that’s what it is. Luck.

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How bad were England?

The most even-handed headline I could find today on England’s 4-1 loss to Germany is BBC News’s “Germany knock out dismal England“, though I like the alliteration in the The Sun‘s headline “Fabio’s flops“. “Dismal” – that’s a strong word. Was the match really dismal? All the papers agree England’s performance was weak, and certainly you can’t say there was much in the way of decent defending from England but, from a historical perspective, was it all that bad?

The statistics I’m using come from for England data, and for German data (using West German data for pre-1990 results – the data does not include the World Cup, so that’s been taken from the FIFA site). All data runs the range 1950-2010 – both England and Germany appear to have remained roughly constant over the period, so I’m basically using as much of the data as is meaningful (pre-1950, England did not often play internationally, and Germany was an extremely different country).

First of all, how has England done this World Cup?

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