March 2020 – March 2021 – various

Preliminary note: as there was no schools cricket season in 2020 (except for a very few brave pioneering schools who did indeed play a remarkable number of fixtures against clubs etc whether during the “term” or even during the “summer holidays”) this page shows some comments I wrote during the season until September when schools began to play some cricket.


March 31st

Obviously, there will be no schools cricket in the near future and therefore this column and results will resume only when the cricket season (if any in 2020) begins.

However, as nobody writes or broadcasts anything nowadays unless it is a doomsday scenario, I shall put in my six pen’orth.

Those of us who are over 70 have been here before, suffering a previous epidemic which has been almost completely ignored. In the Asian ‘flu epidemic of 1957/8 a vast number of people were infected and worldwide a huge number died (see below). In my own (mainly boarding) school, all but six of us 400+ pupils were in bed at the final stage. We were then sent home and told to return only when we were well. School resumed as normal 10 days later and we thought no more about it.

It was very similar in all sorts of ways, but there is a key difference between then and now. In 1957 it seemed the epidemic was allowed to take its course and the whole thing lasted about 6- 8 weeks in any particular area. This time there has been mass hysteria worldwide and so governments everywhere (except Sweden)  have been forced to go for lockdowns even if on a small island (eg where my son lives) there are only three cases .

However, I make a prediction: schools will re-open sometime in June and a special new term will continue to late August, thus creating havoc with planned holidays. There are no imminent exams so we shall have a glorious real teaching term for all year-groups as we used to have until really quite recently – say, 30 years ago – and cricket aplenty. In the longer term, the main exams will finally move to a new more sensible time like December (maybe after a 7th term for A level candidates) and University entrance will be done after results are known.

We shall see!

May 2nd

It seems to me that nobody in the media (except the excellent Radio 4 programme “More or Less”) ever puts the published figures into perspective. Clearly the disease is very nasty for many people and fatal for a large number and I am not denying that. However, here are some figures which bear reflection before we conclude with the BBC and all the media that we are all doomed – the general thrust of every hysterical news bulletin.

Figures in perspective

Total population of UK:  66,650,000
Total deaths so far (official figures) 27,5100.04%
Total positive cases tested (official figures)(cumulative – not removing those recovered, I think) 177,454 = 0.27%
Total numbers reporting daily with Covidsymptom tracker app May 2nd, whether with symptoms or not 2,266,235 = 3.40%
*Total symptomatic cases in whole UK & peak (April 1st) estimated by Covidsymptom tracker 2,127,000 = 3.19%
*Total symptomatic cases in whole UK & N.I. now (May 2nd) estimated by Covidsymptom tracker 305,773 -= 0.46%
*aged 20-69 only so a considerable underestimate of total cases

February 2021 update:

Total deaths so far (official figures) 100,000 (or thereabouts)0.15%

Asian ‘flu pandemic 1957/8
Total population of UK 1957/8: 52,200,000
Number of those in U.K. & N.I. who contracted Asian ‘flu 1957/8 9,000,000 = 17.24%
Number of those in UK & N.I. who died of Asian ‘flu 1957/8 14,000 = 0.03%
* a vaccine was produced within a couple of months of the peak in the UK

World population 20207,800,000,000
Total infected as at May 2nd 2020: 3,400,0000.044%
Total deaths as at May 2nd 2020: 239,029 = 0.003%

World population 1960: 3,032,000,000 100%
Total infected worldwide 1957 (figure calculated back from the known %) 20,300,000 = 0.67%
Number of those worldwide who died of Asian ‘flu 1957/8 (most reliable estimate; some go to 4 million) 1,100,000  = 0.036%

August 12th

Frankly, we seem to be in a bizarre situation. Apparently, in the UK five times more people are dying from summer ‘flu at the moment than Covid; it is now the seventh week that the average number of deaths from all causes is lower than the five-year average, and an opinion poll found that a large proportion of the country seems to think the death toll from Covid is 7% rather than the actual 0.07%, a very large number of whom were likely to die within a few months anyway either from old age or various medical conditions. I am grateful to The Spectator magazine for this info.

I see that the official current rate of Covid infections in the whole of the South West (where I live) is 2 per 100,000.

I can’t see any sign of a return to anything like normality until sanity begins to prevail, especially in the media. Until nobody ever dies of anything it looks like we are stuck with social distancing, masks etc for ever. Admittedly, my wife and I are being not careful not to catch this horrible disease as we might be very vulnerable, but the chances of actually getting close to anybody who actually has it seem extremely small and we’d have to be very unlucky.

August 31st

I recently read two very well argued pieces of common sense from two islands where I have family: the first is from Bermuda, and second from the British Virgin Islands. Two tiny specks of land far away providing a very healthy dose of reality which we could all benefit from.

Covid-19 (1)

Covid-19 (2)

Finally on this topic, I recently read on the BBC website (amazingly) a rather upbeat piece by their medical correspondent Fergus Walsh under the heading “Is it time to move on and get back to normal life?” He goes on to say (most revealingly) “If we look solely at those who died within 28 days of positive coronavirus tests, this has fallen by 99% from nearly 1000 a day to an average of less than 10. That compares to an average of 30 men who die from prostate cancer and 30 women from breast cancer. Neither of these figures is read out nightly on the TV news, unlike the statistics for cases and coronavirus deaths”

February 2021 – death toll reaches 100,000.

Well, it does seem an alarmingly large number (and is). However, as always: except for programmes like the excellent “More or Less”, nobody ever puts these figures into perspective. I write on the day after Captain Sir Tom Moore died. He had pneumonia (also known as the old man’s friend) but on having treatment for it in hospital, he also contracted Covid-19. (a rather too frequent occurrence – shades of the MRSA problem not long ago). Of course, he is registered on the list of Covid deaths.

Anyway, my main point is that people do die, especially when they are old and especially very old. With Covid around, we are also extremely vulnerable to nasty things like Covid-19. I am not on the lunatic fringe of those who think it doesn’t exist or is a scam or hoax, or that vaccinations are some sinister plot. I am well aware that I am vulnerable to this horrible disease and have done everything I can to avoid it, and thrilled to have had my first dose of the Oxford vaccine;  mid-April is in the diary as nearly freedom day, but I shan’t be out mixing freely, just in case I could contract it (apparently 100% guaranteed not to have it badly) or, worse, catch it mildly but spread it. Recent news suggests that the latter is now unlikely.

And now to figures. I have added these to my figures above but it remains a tiny percentage of the population (0.15%)   So yes, it is now worse than the Asian ‘flu of 1957 in terms of deaths, but nothing like in number of cases. I read in The Times recently (so must be true) that the overwhelming majority of deaths have been those aged 75+ (my category), and of those who died in hospital, 96% had an underlying health condition. It wasn’t specific, but I suspect it may have included obesity.

On the vaccine front, it now seems surprising that the virology folk were almost as good as the brilliant people nowadays, because they did produce a vaccine within two months of the peak of the Asian ‘flu.


March 2021 update:
Total population of UK 2021 =: 67,000,000
Total cases: 4,373,000 = 6.53%
Total deaths: 125,0000.19%

Asian ‘flu pandemic 1957/8
Total population of UK 1957/8: 52,200,000
Total cases:  9,000,000 = 17.24%
Total deaths:14,000 = 0.03%
* a vaccine was produced within a couple of months of the peak in the UK

And finally (April 15th 2021)

Putting things in perspective

From the M. D. Column (written, obviously, by a doctor) in Private Eye yesterday:

“Compared to risk of a clot after vaccination, you are six times more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime, 11 times more likely to die in a car accident each year and 100 times more likely to get a blood clot if you use an oral contraceptive. If you are hospitalised with Covid, your risk of a clot is one in four.”


Here are two important pieces of recent research investigating the link between exam performance and maintaining a sensible balance between revision and other activities, especially sport.

Cambridge University sport and academic performance study summary

At much the same time, the HMC sports committee commissioned Peter Clough, Professor of Psychology at Huddersfield University to investigate the links between exam performance and sporting activiy. You can read here the introduction by the committee’s chairman and then the research paper itself.

Introduction to the HMC commissioned research

Research into links between exam results and sporting activity

I have put together a series of articles with various links on the problems (and maybe solutions) of schools cricket. I called the paper Killing schools cricket

Schools Cricket Online