Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8023/Punk

Posted by Pierre on July 2nd, 2012


Bonjour!  Punk and I cross swords again on a Monday – in a friendly sort of way, of course.  I loved this one, but I’m not sure everyone will be quite so keen …

It was certainly a solver-friendly grid – there were so many white squares that I practically had to get the Ray-Bans out, but the theme might not have suited everyone.  It’s cricket, so I personally am going to be loving it, aren’t I?  Cricket and cryptics are BFF, and this was for me a delight once I’d got the gateway clue at 34ac, which was CRICKETER; but I can imagine that if you haven’t got any interest in the sport, then you might have struggled, since a good number of answers referred to cricketers, and there have been lots of famous ones since the game was invented in … whenever it was.  Anyway, it gives me a chance to chunter on about the featured 34 acrosses; so if you’re bored already, you might just want to skip to the end.

As well as the clued cricketers, there were many surfaces that made reference to the game which has proved so fruitful to setters over the years.

cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed


Timewise, breakfast and brunch are for 34
Our first 34.  Sir Ian, most famous for his heroics in beating the Aussies against all odds at Headingley in 1981, and now an opinionated but entertaining commentator.  Since breakfast and brunch are morning meals, they are BOTH AM.

34, scorer
And our second.  Andrew STRAUSS is currently England’s test captain, an intelligent, modest and articulate leader of the team.  I know less about classical music than I do about cricket, but there are at least a couple of composers called STRAUSS that have ‘scored’ music, although to my knowledge neither of them opened the batting.

10  Back regular characters among several touring Tolkien’s realm to find home of metal birds?
Possibly not Punk’s most elegant clue ever.  ‘Metal birds’ are planes, whose home is an AERODROME, which is a reversal (‘back’) of EEA, the even letters of ‘sEvErAl’ with an insertion of MORDOR, one of the kingdoms in J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

11  34’s elegance
Referring to William Gilbert GRACE, the famous (or infamous, depending on your opinion) cricketer from the late 19th and early 20th century.  ‘They came to see me bat, not you bowl’, he is alleged to have said after being bowled for a golden duck, replacing the bails, and taking guard again.

12  Runner almost getting 0
NIL[E]  ‘Runner’ as in ‘river’, rather than the batsman who comes in to do the running for a team-mate who has sustained an injury during his innings.

13  Large sum of money, perfect
A dd.  ‘She’s earning a mint at the moment.’  ‘That is mint.’

14  Sex god beginning to tan in the south of France
An insertion of T for the first letter of ‘tan’ in SUD for the French word for ‘south’.  A STUD would be a ‘sex god’ only in his opinion, I guess.

15  Score not made by 34 as lesser player
Another dd.  If a run is scored and not credited to the batsman (34), then it’s an EXTRA, but counts towards the overall total.  The other definition is for a spear-carrier in a film.

17  Spinner spinning nine out, having restricted runs
Another cricketing surface, although Jim Laker was one of the few to achieve that, at Old Trafford in 1956 (he also got ten in the other innings).  (NINE OUT R)* with ‘spinner’ as the definition and ‘spinning’ as the anagrind.  A NEUTRINO is a sub-atomic particle and has been much in the news recently because of the experiments at CERN.  Does it really spin?  Where’s a physicist when you need one?

18/36/22  Divine wedding of Lucifer the fallen angel?
A dd cum cd.  Lucifer is indeed the ‘fallen angel’, having started off in a high place and then fallen to a lower one.  And ‘Lucifer’ is also a word for a MATCH that you use to light the fire, for example.

23  Dresser cuts expletive, seeing 34
This would be difficult to get if you didn’t know much about cricket, I fancy.  It’s LINT for ‘dresser’ in the surgical sense inside F OFF, which is certainly an expletive.  Andrew ‘Freddie’ FLINTOFF made his England debut in 1998 but will be most remembered for two things: his awesome performances in England’s successful 2005 Ashes series, and for trying to steer a pedalo when completely off his head.

26  Floor blanket
A dd, with the word being used in its verbal and nounal senses.

29  34’s domain, three balls perhaps before a half century
The OVAL is one of London’s two Test venues, so that’s the definition; I’m going to have a crack at parsing it as OV for half of an OVER, which is six balls and A L for A and the Roman numeral for ‘fifty’, which is a half century.

30  Christian medico orbiting the moon
An insertion of IO for one of Jupiter’s moons (as well as a crossword setter) in DR for ‘medico’.  Why ‘medico’ and not just ‘medic’, I don’t know.  Christian DIOR.

31  Some characters achieving turn
Hidden in charACTers.

33 Bid from umpire overturned
A charade of OF and a reversal of REF.

34  Point one may be at, where 5’4″ ruler applied to six footer
If I’m going to be critical, this gateway clue is pretty much essential to solving the puzzle, and it’s not exactly a gimme, since you have to have a knowledge of the game to have a chance to solve it.  Fair enough, ‘six footer’ is going to point you in the direction of an insect, but still …  A CRICKETER may indeed be ‘at point’, since that’s a fielding position square of the wicket on the off side.  CRICKET is of course one of a squillion insects.  And Brenda (sorry, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, or ER) could loosely be described as a ‘ruler’, depending on your point of view, but most certainly is 5’4″ tall.  Which is why Nicolas Sarkozy enjoyed his state visit so much a while ago.

35  Most points bagged by 34 back for the team
If you don’t like sport, you won’t have liked this.  Arsene Wenger’s lot are an insertion of SEN for three points of the compass (‘most points’) in a reversal (‘back’) of LARA, for Brian Charles LARA, the legendary West Indian cricketer who still holds the record for the most runs scored in first-class cricket, 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994.


34, villain about right
Another cricketer: Punk’s asking you to put R for ‘right’ in BAD MAN to give you Don BRADMAN, who famously fell agonisingly short of averaging 100 in Tests when he was bowled for a duck in his last appearance in that form of the game, needing just four runs to make the landmark.  And of course another setter.  This is turning into a setters’ love-in, I think.

Not entirely brown design natural for large arachnid
An easy clue to get you going if you didn’t twig the cricket theme.  TA[N] for ‘not entirely brown’ followed by (NATURAL)* with ‘design’ as the anagrind.

Bowling success taking out opener and tail, someone in assistance
Definitely a setters’ love-in, since Punk and Tyrus have clearly been sitting at the back of class and copying.  In my blog of Tyrus’ Sunday Indy puzzle yesterday, he had ‘Somebody helping young woman to come out of her shell’.  Punk’s take on it is along the same lines: [M]AIDE[N], but with the cricketing reference, since a MAIDEN would be a ‘bowling success’ because it’s an over a bowler delivers without conceding any runs.

In conclusion, score’s retained
The definition is ‘in’. It’s an insertion (‘retained’) of END for ‘conclusion’ in TRY for a ‘score’ in rugby.

View fish
A dd.

Rod’s fleece
I spent some time mentally searching for a synonym of ‘fleece’ before reminding myself that this was a Punk puzzle.  A dd.

Point out no good 34
Again, obvious to me once I’d got the gateway clue, but since it’s a proper noun, maybe tough for those who aren’t into cricket.  But that’s what crossing letters are for.  (POINT)* plus NG for ‘no good’ with ‘out’ as the anagrind.  Ricky PONTING: even as an England fan, I’ll acknowledge that the Australian captain is one of the greatest cricketers of his generation.  However, I do fondly remember the time when he got a bag on at Trent Bridge when he was run out by a substitute fielder.

Angel cuts up pitch in the end
A synonym for ‘angel’ is a reversal of PARES for ‘cuts up’ and H for the last letter of ‘pitch’.

16  Plane perhaps, every engine running true, starts up
A reversal of EERT for the first letters of Every Engine Running True.

19  A state, but not a pit
M[A]INE, referring to the American North-East Coast state.

20  John up in gossip, not half – that’s insufficient
Because it’s a down clue, it’s an insertion of LOO for ‘john’ reversed in TITTLE, which is half of TITTLE-TATTLE for ‘gossip’.

21  Jump into well – or dive?
An insertion of LEAP for ‘jump’ into FIT for ‘well’.

22  Small building century as 34
Referring to Sir Len HUTTON, the Yorkshire and England cricketer.  A charade of HUT for ‘small building’ and TON for ‘century’, and in my imagination at least referencing Gladstone Small, who played for England but never scored a century.

24  Computer language where army post processed
A flashback.  The computer language of the 1970s is a charade of FORT for ‘where army post’ and RAN for ‘processed’.

25  Opener skies pull before tea
Another nice cricketing surface.  Punk is nothing if not contemporary: WOTCHA is slang for ‘how are you doing?’ or in other words an opening gambit in conversation.  It’s a reversal (‘skies’, since it’s a down clue) of TOW for ‘pull’ and CHA for ‘tea’, which is the afternoon interval during a cricket match.  An abbreviation of ‘what cheer': in the North-East, you’ll hear ‘What cheor, bonny lad?’

27  Direct from the north or south
‘Direct’ is the definition, and the clue works both ways (‘north or south’), since it’s a palindrome.

28  34, spinner ultimately in decline
Well, I’m not going to call this &lit, because Warney will be on my case, but it’s an insertion of R for the last letter of spinneR in WANE for ‘decline’.  The Australian Shane WARNE was without doubt the best spinner of his era, and announced his arrival on the Ashes scene by pitching one a foot outside leg stump and clipping the top of off to bowl Mike Gatting, one of the best players of spin at the time, whose startled expression was pictured in the papers the next day.

32  Bird fastening pin to one’s ear?
A homophone (‘to one’s ear’) of SKEWER for a ‘fastening pin’ for your kebab.  Since a SKUA is a bird, you’re going to get a rare link.

Thanks to Punk for the Monday puzzle, which I much enjoyed.  I’m interested, though, to know what others made of it.

17 Responses to “Independent 8023/Punk”

  1. crypticsue says:

    I started off quite grumpy – I enjoy a Punk puzzle but cricket??!! I persevered and was glad I did as the cricketers weren’t too obscure and there was lots of fun in the other clues too. Thanks to Punk and Pierre too

  2. MikeC says:

    Thanks P and P. I too enjoyed this one, though I found the syntax in 5 quite tricky. It took me a while to see that the clue had to be read as “conclusion, score (ha)s retained” – unusual word order, for a perfectly straightforward idea. And I didn’t parse 10 properly, not being a Tolkien fan – once all the crossing letters were in, the answer (doh!) had to be AERODROME. A fun start to the week.

  3. NealH says:

    I’m glad this was on cricket rather than football, since that’s at least a sport I follow slightly. I’d never heard of cricketer as a fielding position, however, so couldn’t make much sense of the first part of the gateway clue. Also didn’t know the queen was 5’4, although I do try to take as little interest in her as possible, so that’s not surprising.

  4. Paul B says:

    ‘Cricketer’ isn’t a fielding position, but ‘point’ is: that was the direction I took, at least! Very enjoyable puzzle, and blog.

  5. NealH says:

    Yes, I see that now. I misunderstood the explanation in the blog.

  6. Dormouse says:

    Found this really difficult, not because of any dislike of cricket, but because there are so many cricketers I had trouble of thinking of any. (Probably the fact that I was watching a baseball game on TV at the same time didn’t help.) In the end, I couldn’t get 4ac, 5 & 7dn, and I’m annoyed about the first of those. I’d guessed it was probably a cricketer with the same name as a composer and I couldn’t think of any, and Richard Strauss has been a favourite of mine since seeing 2001 when it first came out.

    I have a degree in physics. Do neutrinos spin? Yes and no. It’s all quantum, you see.

    And I was still writing FORTRAN professionally ten years ago.

  7. Rorschach says:

    Fun crossword – thanks both!

    Had 26 across as “TOTAL” (to ‘total’ someone is to knock them to the floor and ‘total’ does mean blanket too I suppose (blanket statement)- the curse of the terse clue I suppose – which held me up for a while – cricketers with L_R_E? Such a thing as a LARAE?

    Good crossword though even considering the theme was slow coming to me.

  8. Pierre says:

    Others seem to have enjoyed it too, so well done to Punk.

    Yes and no, Dormouse? Are you currently looking after Schrödinger’s cat? But thank you, I’ve got you marked down for future reference as our resident physicist.

  9. Conrad Cork says:

    Well Pierre, I admit to thinking ‘oh no’ when I twigged the theme. The nearest I ever got to cricket was having tea with Eric Hollies. But all was well. Hugely enjoyable, and mon brave, a veritable tour de force of a blog.

  10. Dormouse says:

    My degree was 40 years ago. I get all my understanding of physics these days from Dr Who. :-)

  11. Bertandjoyce says:

    An enjoyable solve – despite the theme! We were completing this on Crossword Solver and had a guess at the setter when we completed 23ac! We were correct!! Despite limited knowledge of the theme, between us we managed to get all of the cricketers – they were all reasonably well known. Loved the Flintoff clue a definite LOL moment.

    Pierre – we are not sure about cricket and cryptics being BFF unless you mean ‘baffling for foreigners’!!

    Thanks Punk and Pierre for the amusing puzzle and blog!

  12. hounddog says:

    If you’re looking for references to cricketers in the clues as well as Gladstone Small you can have Jo Angel (Australia), Dan Christian (Australia), Freddie Brown (England), Vinothen John (Sri Lanka), Marcus North (Australia) and of course umpire Dickie Bird, formerly of Yorkshire.

  13. Pierre says:

    I’m sure you’re right, hounddog, but not entirely sure Punk had all those in mind! And Bert and Joyce, Baffling for Foreigners is certainly apposite – not sure our overseas solvers would have appreciated this one. But of course I meant Best Friends Forever … where would setters be without c for caught, r for runs, st for stumped, and so on?

  14. Paul B says:

    … ‘and so ON': yes indeed, and OFF, of course.

  15. Wil Ransome says:

    I suspect Punk was thinking of few of those mentioned by hounddog@12, because all those which are 34s are well-known. Probably the least well-known one is Strauss, and he’s pretty well-known at the moment; and when he is looked back on he’ll probably be regarded in an especially glowing light because of his Ashes exploits. Mind you, he got to 17 test centuries many tests before Denis Compton, and if you asked people which Middlesex cricketer was first to 17 test centuries they’d probably say Compton. But there I go, talking about cricket when I should be concentrating on football.

    There is one well-known setter whose crosswords always contain exactly 28 clues. Since he’s being paid for writing them he clearly doesn’t want to waste effort. Punk had 38 clues in this crossword, the most I’ve ever noticed in a daily cryptic.

    I had LEVEL for 27dn until the checkers showed this was wrong. Don’t like this sort of thing; you should know you’re right.

  16. flashling says:

    Nice stuff from Punk I’m sure the cricket theme could be extended quite a lot further leg-itimately.

    Bit surprised to be told by NMS that the Indy is no longer available at all in Ireland north or south. I’m sure we had/have a few commenters/setters from Ireland.

    Cheers Paul/Pierre, quite agree about 27 Wil

  17. Lancastrian Bluenose says:

    I love cricket and I got nowhere near solving this !

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