Scotland Set For Namibia Clashes In ICC Continental Cup & World Cricket League

Scotland’s ICC Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League Championship campaigns resume in June against Namibia with one of the big talking points the return of Preston Mommsen to the ODI squad.

Mommsen, who was the captain of the first Scotland side to win a game at a global ICC tournament, announced that he was stepping down from his central contract and role as captain back in November due to taking up full-time employment. What his inclusion in the squad states that this decision does not stop his chances of playing for Scotland.

This is fantastic news for Scotland that Mommsen remains under consideration, becoming one of only five Scottish players to reach 1,000 runs in ODI cricket. Mommsen has been in fine early season form for his club side Grange and has been training regularly with the national coaches.

Kyle Coetzer will lead the side with Con de Lange again named as vice-captain. Stuart Whittingham will be looking to build upon his career since making his Scotland debut last month.

Battling Against The Conditions

First, up for Scotland is the International Continental Cup game against Namibia in Ayr, and Scotland’s Head Coach Grant Bradburn spoke about his excitement of playing the four-day game. “The team are looking forward to this block of international cricket at home throughout June. Preparation over the winter and early part of the summer has been excellent and the players are now itching to play. The I-Cup is a format we value highly, however, we have had limited actual game time, as 11 of our 16 days of I-Cup cricket during this 3-year cycle, have been washed out. We look forward to our opening contest vs Namibia in Ayr, where the conditions normally offer something for every skill set.”

The weather has been a real issue for Scotland. Their opening game against Afghanistan was rain-affected every day, and although Scotland had a significant first innings lead, the game ended in a draw. They lost their second game away to the Netherlands, but even there, the first day was a washout. Things got worse with their next match, away to Hong Kong where there was not a single ball bowled due to the conditions. And then, in their previous I-C game, only Day 1 saw any action against the UAE. Therefore, it is no surprise that they are nearer to the bottom of the table than the top.

Superb Win Over Sri Lanka

Scotland have just played Sri Lanka in two ‘practice matches’ in Kent (ODI games without official status) and the series ended with one win a piece – Scotland’s first ‘unofficial’ win over a full-test member. A good bowling performance, including three wickets for debutant Stuart Whittingham, restricted Sri Lanka to 287 runs – a score below par in the modern game. But Scotland responded with a superb batting performance, with both openers Matthew Cross and Kyle Coetzer scoring centuries, including a 201-run opening partnership. Reaching 291 after just 42.5 overs, if they had continued their rate of 6.79 runs per over, they would have reached around 340 runs.

The second ODI ended with a one-sided victory for Sri Lanka with Scotland being bowled out for 166 runs, with Craig Wallace top-scoring with 46 runs. In reply, Sri Lanka made 170 runs in 22.5 overs for the loss of just one wicket – at a rate of 7.44 runs an over.

The I-Cup match will commence at 11am each day with the World Cricket League matches commencing at 10:45am.

Ayr Cricket Club will host the Intercontinental Cup match, starting Tuesday (6 -9 June) while the two World Cricket League Championship matches will be taking place at Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh (11 and 13 June).

Intercontinental Cup Squad against Namibia – June 6-9

Kyle Coetzer (Captain), Con de Lange (vice-captain), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Alasdair Evans, Safyaan Sharif, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, Mark Watt, George Munsey, Craig Wallace, Chris Sole, Stuart Whittingham.

World Cricket League Squad against Namibia – June 11 and 13

Kyle Coetzer (Captain), Con de Lange (vice-captain), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Alasdair Evans, Safyaan Sharif, Michael Leask, Preston Mommsen, Calum MacLeod, Mark Watt, George Munsey, Craig Wallace, Chris Sole, Stuart Whittingham.

Perfect Peppermint – Iced Tea and Cold Brew

The packaging for 50g of Perfect Peppermint

I had made the decision to make Iced Tea the night before the weather turned cold, however, I live in Scotland. So, Iced Tea is still perfect. And then, having tried eteaket’s cold brew ‘Life’s A Peach’, I decided to make a Cold Brew version. I used eteaket’s Perfect Peppermint Tea, and you can read my review here.

Method 1: Iced Tea

There is a difference between iced tea and cold brew – iced tea is made with boiling water and then cooled down. So I began by making a pot of peppermint tea: three teaspoons of tea leaves, boiling water and then allowed it to brew for seven minutes.

After removing the infuser, I left the pot of tea on the work surface to cool down to room temperature for about two hours. Then, I poured the pot into a jug and placed it into the fridge ad left it there overnight – and I also placed some water in ice-cube moulds for the freezer.

The next morning, I found the fridge smelling of peppermint and I excitedly began to make the iced tea. Adding ice cubes to the glass first, I poured in the tea.

The iced tea was immediately refreshing and the peppermint is still delicate, and makes a lovely drink – if only it was sunny! I also tried it with a slice of lemon but found that the lemon overpowered the peppermint. It’s possible that this could be changed by adding extra teaspoons of tea leaves.

The same issue that I had with the ‘hot brew’ was that the peppermint was not as distinctive as it could be, so it is not a surprise that this is an issue with the iced tea.

But, if we have hot weather in Scotland (surely it must happen), I know I will be making iced tea!

Iced Peppermint Tea

Method 2: Cold Brew

Cold Brew is different to Iced Tea. As the name suggests, the brewing is done with cold water. I have to say, making it, I felt sceptical. I put five teaspoons of tea leaves into a jug, and added 750ml of water, covered it and put it in the fridge.

At first, it looked like what I had done was dropped leaves in water – how was this going to turn into a drink? I was optimistic though, after all, I was making tea.

About 16 hours later, I took the jug out of the fridge, and the peppermint had diffused through the jug, turning the water into a dark yellow liquid. I filtered the tea twice with an infuser – just pouring the tea through the infuser into another jug. And then, it was ready to drink.

It was beautiful. The aftertaste was dominated by the peppermint, a refreshing flavour that made me smile. The tea was characterful, a stronger taste than the iced tea version. In fact, I think the cold brew is so characterful that I would say that the cold brew is the perfect method to make the ‘Perfect Peppermint Tea’. Cold brews, iced tea…looks like I’ve got a lot of experimenting fun ahead.

I also tried squeezing lemon into the drink, but once again, found the citrus of the lemon too overpowering. I’m saying this as someone who loves lemons, even eating the lemon slices, but I just felt that it ruined the characteristics of the peppermint.

Chilli Rooibos Tea Is A Surprising Twist

Eteaket’s Chilli Rooibos Tea
£5.50 for 15 teabags

Rooibos tea takes its name from the Afrikaans for ‘red bush’ and comes from South Africa and has the scientific name Aspalathus linearis. It is an uncaffeinated herb that comes from out of the ‘real’ tea family but is worth the taste.

Although I normally buy tea leaves from Eteaket, these are the teabags of the Chilli Rooibos Tea. The brewing procedure is identical to herbal tea: 100°C boiling water and seven minutes of brewing – and then a delightful treat is ready to be consumed.

Opening up the packaging, as always you give the tea a smell, but this is where it gets difficult. I’m not sure what it reminds me, or what to compare it to – but I’ve asked a few people to give their opinions, and they all say something similar. It reminds them of their childhood, like it is awakening a happy memory from a time when life was so much simpler. And this is from people who come from different countries and are different ages. For a tea that is meant to be relaxing, that is an amazing compliment.

As someone who doesn’t like spicy food, there was with some apprehension that I took my first sip, but there was no reason to be uneasy. Because the chilli is not spicy, but warming and compliments the taste of cherry. It smells delightful as you take a sip each time and is so refreshing.

As with good herbal teas, the rooibos retains the flavours when the tea cools. The question is, is the tea relaxing? I think it is a relaxing treat that calms you with a lovely palette.

The only issue is that maybe that the tea could have a greater intensity of chilli. In one of the teas that my girlfriend made, the bag burst allowing a more intense flavour of the chilli which she preferred. So, it could possibly benefit from additional chilli.

However, it is a wonderful Rooibos tea that is worth a try.

Starbucks’ Earl Grey Is The Takeaway Best

Starbucks Earl Grey – Teavana
Teabag: £2.25 – Grande

Let’s face it. We’ve all needed a cup of tea when we’re out and about, and with the nation’s seemingly constant desire for fifteen thousand variations of coffee, tea sadly can feel like the forgotten friend.

A lot of the big coffee shops will only sell Twinnings or Tetley tea, and whilst Twinnings is perfectly fine, I often feel a bit disappointed by this. Especially when you are being charged for a cup what a box of the tea will cost you.

Whilst many people will have grievances about Starbucks, they do seem to care about their tea selection. This article is just about the Earl Grey tea, and not the company, but they do have a wide selection of herbal, black and green teas.

Teavana is an American company that Starbucks bought out in 2012, and last year, their teas hit the UK stores, and offer a wider selection of teas than you will get in Starbucks.

Earl Grey tea is a very important tea for me, simply because this is how I start my day. It is my everyday tea, and I don’t feel fully awake until I have an Earl Grey.

Before I continue, I should point out that I take all my tea without milk or sugar – something I picked up at university where milk disappeared, and I learnt to like tea ‘black’.

The tea has a pleasant smell, with the lavender tempting your senses when made, and I find that it takes about five minutes for the tea-bag to reach the optimised brewing taste. Whilst tea is a personal drink, and I would recommend people experiment with brewing times, there are a couple of points that need to be made. It should be brewed for at least three minutes, and you shouldn’t leave the tea bag in for too long, otherwise, it becomes bitter. However, with this Earl Grey, it doesn’t develop a bitter taste if left in for say ten minutes.

The taste of the tea is pleasant, maybe not has strong as I would like, but it is enjoyable. The citrus from the bergamot oil is noticeable in the aftertaste, with is complemented by the faint lavender.

It is an enjoyable Earl Grey tea. It’s not perfect, and certainly could be more characterful with the flavours still too subtle, but it is a good tea to have when you’re on a train or want to sit down for a while. It’s a comforting drink and one that I enjoy when I order it.

When I say that the flavours are too subtle, what I mean is that you don’t noticeably get the citrus tastes.

Out of the big coffee giants out there, I think Starbucks’ Earl Grey is the best out there.

Perfect Peppermint Tea Lives Up To Its Name

Price: £5.95 for 50g – Eteaket

If you ever need relaxed, or if your stomach is upset, herbal teas are wonderful at solving your problems. Having dealt with a gallstone issue over the winter, I discovered the joys of mint tea so it was with high excitement that I bought Eteaket’s Peppermint tea.

The packaging for 50g of Perfect Peppermint

Opening the tube, you straight away smell the peppermint and the first experience of the freshness that dictates the tea. As I was making a pot of tea for tea for two, I added three teaspoons of leaves (I tend to find with a teapot, the rule is one teaspoon per person and one for the pot), added boiling water and waited for seven minutes for the tea to brew.

The tea leaves

Once the infuser was taken out, the smell of peppermint was delightful, similar to fresh mint leaves.

Tasting the tea, the peppermint has the right balance. You don’t want the peppermint to be so timid that the mint is impossible to detect, whilst you don’t want it to be too intense that it becomes overpowering. The freshness of the peppermint is a refreshing aftertaste in a pleasant tea.

The experience of the tea is that feeling of relaxed soaring throughout your body, making everything feel better. Perfect. And even better, as the tea cools down (because you make yourself a huge pot for one!) the tea retains the distinctive flavour – something that other mints teas don’t necessarily do. Most importantly, the tea cleanses your palette, like all good mint teas do. Some tea drinkers may want a mint tea that has more character, or even a stronger taste of peppermint. However, I feel that the tea does what it advertises to do – and that there are other refreshing teas out there, like white teas.

The tea is worth the value and is one of the favourite teas that I’ve tried in recent months.

The Pilot – Review

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Super-intelligent space oil. You know you are watching Doctor Who.

If ‘The Pilot’ was meant to act as a reboot for Doctor Who, then it works perfectly. This has to be the lowest key of Moffat’s series premieres, but that is not a criticism. In fact, it works perfectly and is up there with the best companion entries – if not the best.

The threat of the episode almost takes second place, what matters is the relationship between Bill and the Doctor and Bill’s character development. More than that, the Doctor seems to be the secondary character.

The Doctor giving one of the greatest lectures of all time

One of the criticisms of Moffat during his Doctor Who run as head-writer has been that his companions have been a mystery to solve, rather than someone that the Doctor took an interest in. At least from the opening episode, there is no mystery to Bill whatsoever.

The pre-title sequence is the meeting of Bill, Nardole and the Doctor with the latter being introduced to the series by playing Beethoven’s Fifth on the electric guitar. Straight away, Bill is shown to be witty – describing a crush as “like a model, but with talking and thinking”. Later in the episode, she describes the Doctor’s running as “Like a penguin with his arse on fire”. Once again, Murray Gold provides the series’ incidental music (where is the Series 9 Soundtrack?) and Bill’s theme is quite similar to Donna. I’m looking forward to seeing her character theme develop over the next eleven episodes.

Self-Initiated Exile

The Doctor seems to be on a self-initiated exile at St Luke’s University, having made a promise to someone not to interfere. Pretty soon, we find out that he is protecting – or guarding – something hidden inside a vault. As Bill points out, a university is an unusual place to hide something. It’s possible that Nardole’s specific role in the series that Matt Lucas has spoken about, is protecting this vault.

 

Bill And Heather

Before the series was broadcast, Bill was announced as being gay and this was key in the opening episode, and it is her love interest that the episode revolves around. The main threat of the episode came through ‘The Pilot’, a mysterious puddle that Bill’s love interest Heather notices something unusual. Like in The Lodger, this puddle is a spaceship, hiding as an everyday object that is looking for a pilot to escape.

Originally, it was believed that the episode would be called ‘A Star In Her Eye’ and this would have referred to Heather whose iris defect looks like a star in her eye. She’s a mysterious character, lost somehow and scared. She’s a character who wants to leave and notices a mysterious puddle through which shows your reflection the correct way round, or the wrong way.

The TARDIS

The most important and iconic scene of a companion is when they enter the TARDIS for the first time. Bill’s scene is similar to Rose’s. Both times, the Doctor and the companion are running from a monster, and both times, the companion get confused why the Doctor feels so safe.

It doesn’t stand up to Moffat’s previous – I think Victorian Clara’s or Amy Pond’s entrance into the TARDIS are magnificently written, but it is enjoyable.

Highlight Of The Episode

There are two moments that I remember from the episode distinctive. One is the Doctor’s Christmas present. One of the themes of the episode is getting over loss. The Doctor’s loss being related to Clara, River and longer back, his grand-daughter Susan. Bill’s loss, her mother who had died when she was a baby, The one thing Bill didn’t have were photographs of her mother, but obviously, the Doctor with all of time and space to travel through is able to travel back to give Bill her greatest Christmas present.

The other moment is found at the end of the episode and comes when Bill asks the Doctor how he would feel about having his mind wiped. This relates to the events in Hell Bent and bearing in mind the episode was meant to be a relaunch, could have been a false step. However, in dialogue, it is left open-handed whereas the only reference to Clara was her theme.