Heres Another Story About How Great LeBron James Is

LeBron James201214.313.021.914.8✔✔ PLAYERSEASONPTS.REBS.ASST.ALLWONMVP Wilt Chamberlain197010.423.67.413.5 LeBron James201313.013.317.713.7✔✔ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar197113.518.66.614.1✔✔ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar197417.314.111.315.5 Michael Jordan199319.29.812.816.0✔✔ Kobe Bryant201016.110.011.313.8✔✔ Shaquille O’Neal200217.914.88.415.8✔✔ Michael Jordan199217.96.113.614.4✔✔ Shaquille O’Neal200117.018.011.616.6✔✔ Dwyane Wade200618.89.111.815.3✔✔ LeBron James201519.0%13.6%23.0%18.0%–– Hakeem Olajuwon199514.812.910.213.7✔✔ Jerry West196917.84.118.213.5✔ Tim Duncan200314.219.215.315.9✔✔ Tim Duncan199916.617.87.015.8✔✔ Does it get any better than this? The best player in the world, under pressure that would break lesser men, appears to be using it somehow to make himself even better. LeBron James’s NBA Finals performance so far is the kind of thing we like to dream great athletes can do.Unfortunately, he’s probably going to lose.Monday on FiveThirtyEight, my colleague Neil Paine discussed how both James’s basic and advanced stats point to his being one of the all-time great finals series. On the mothersite, Kevin Pelton argues that James should win the MVP based on WARP (wins above replacement player), and it seems that the idea that James should win the MVP even if the Cavs lose is getting popular.So I’d like to look at James’s production from a slightly different angle. Rather than just look at how James’s production stands on its own right, let’s see how much impact James has had on the series relative to everyone else — combined.Through the first five games, James has gathered an incredible 18 percent of all the points scored, assists dished and rebounds collected by anyone in this series. If that stands, it will be 1.1 percentage points higher than the next highest over the past 46 years (since they started having a finals MVP in 1969). Here are the top 20, plus James: Michael Jordan199116.28.824.315.6✔✔ Shaquille O’Neal200018.020.25.416.9✔✔ Michael Jordan199718.58.615.115.3✔✔ Michael Jordan199819.95.35.914.1✔✔ Kobe Bryant200916.97.121.314.9✔✔ The player closest to James who didn’t win the MVP was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had a 15.5 percent share in the 1974 finals. Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks lost the finals that year to the Boston Celtics, and the MVP went to John Havlicek. The only person to win the finals MVP in a losing effort was Jerry West in 1969, and he happens to be right around the fringe where players any more dominant almost always get the MVP trophy.Meanwhile, regular-season MVP Stephen Curry — the most likely candidate to deny James (again) — presently has the second-highest share in the finals with 11.5 percent of all points, rebounds and assists. If it holds, this 6.5 percentage point gap between first and second would be the second-largest ever (since 1969):The only player with a greater than 4 percentage point gap who didn’t win the MVP was James last year, when the winner was Spurs breakout star and current Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard.In other words, not only has James been the most dominant player in these finals, he has also been one of the most dominant “most dominant” players in finals history.Of course dominating production isn’t necessarily the same as “value,” and I’ve dabbled in esoteric theories of value myself (like, say, how Dennis Rodman might have been more valuable than Michael Jordan).Still, this gap between James and most other finals MVPs — barring any substantial changes — is so wide that unless you rule out the defeated on principle, it will be hard to argue that he doesn’t belong in their company. read more

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2019-09-30

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The Yankees Shouldnt Be This Good Yet Yet

Multiple people sent me this question as Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon is once again hitting his pitcher eighth in the batting order. Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell is reportedly considering doing the same, and many other managers have dabbled with the strategy over the years. Maddon picked it up from fabled lineup-tinkerer Tony La Russa, but does it work? Does it even matter?A lot of interesting research has been conducted on the subject. Most notably, co-authors Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin examined the question in their great sabermetric manual “The Book,” where they used a markov chain-based lineup simulator to measure the effect of slotting a pitcher-caliber (i.e., terrible) hitter into various lineup spots. Although it hurts the offense to give more plate appearances to such a poor hitter, Tango and co. found that the damage was offset by the benefit of giving the nine hole to a “second leadoff hitter”: a reasonably competent hitter (often with similar skills to a traditional leadoff man) who would often come up before the top of the order, setting the table for those hitters far more frequently than the pitcher would.One of my longtime favorites, Baseball Prospectus’s Russell Carleton, performed some follow-up research several years later. Carleton used a markov simulator similar to the one used in “The Book,” but he also tried to account for the way hitting the pitcher eighth increases the likelihood that a manager will have to make a tough pinch-hitting decision when the starter’s spot comes up in the mid-to-late innings of a close game. And in Carleton’s final analysis, the problems that decision causes cancel out the benefit of the second leadoff man, making it basically a wash. Hitting the pitcher eighth is different, and maybe even a little cool, Carleton wrote, but the research shows it doesn’t add (or subtract) much in the grand scheme of things. POSPLAYERAGE2017 WARPREV. CAREER WAR CFJacoby Ellsbury330.729.7 SPLuis Severino230.61.5 RFAaron Judge252.4-0.4 RPAdam Warren290.53.8 LFAaron Hicks270.81.4 WAR here is an average of the wins above replacement systems found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com. 2017 data current through May 3.Sources: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Seamheads.com DHMatt Holliday370.747.3 2BStarlin Castro271.012.1 SPMichael Pineda280.610.1 RPAroldis Chapman290.513.9 Weighted by each player’s contributions to New York’s bottom line,4For this, I used WAR but also added in wins generated below the replacement level — yielding a total “wins added” for each player. (This was necessary because some teams — such as the 1979 A’s and 2003 Tigers — nearly finished an entire season with subzero WAR totals, which would have thrown off their averages.) the typical member of the 2017 Yankees went into the season with 13.2 lifetime WAR — a pretty ordinary total, considering the age of their roster. (Since the dawn of the expansion era in 1961, the average WAR for a team with the same age as the Yankees is 12.9.) That makes this group especially abnormal for New York, where there’s always an enormous budget for importing accomplished talent. By this measure, this is the least-pedigreed Yankee team in 25 years: This is also the youngest Yankee squad since the 1992 edition. That team only won 76 games, however, while this year’s version is conservatively on track for 88 wins with a solid chance at the postseason.The Yankees tend to exceed expectations a little anyway, winning about five more games per season on average over the past decade than would be predicted from the ages and credentials of their players alone. (Such are the benefits of a stingy bullpen and good pitching-staff management, along with having the payroll to fill gaps midseason.) But if this year’s team keeps playing to its early-season form, it would find itself punching above its weight class more than any Yankees team since the 1998 version that exploded for 114 wins and kicked off a dynasty.With 18 former or future All-Stars, though, those Yankees weren’t exactly lacking in star power. They’d already won the World Series two seasons before, and 1998 was the third straight year that the team posted 90 or more wins. By contrast, it’s been five years since the current Yankees cracked that threshold. There’s still plenty we don’t know about this year’s team, but it’s safe to say they’re not the reincarnation of the ’98 Yankees.And history tells us that while any team has the potential to catch lightning in a bottle, those that lack the underlying talent to back it up will almost certainly enjoy only fleeting success. Since 1961, the average team who outplayed their track records as much as the Yankees have thus far crashed back to earth the following season.5If the Yankees maintain their current winning percentage for the rest of the season, they’d finish with 106 wins, but we’d expect them to play like a 92-win team next year. And that’s looking at teams who elevated their play over an entire season, whereas the Yanks have only run hot for a month. That’s why projection systems still see New York as playing only a little better than .500 ball the rest of the season, despite the scorching start.All of which is to say, the Yankees still probably haven’t arrived quite yet, but it’s only a matter of time before they do. Even if New York’s less-pedigreed contingent cools off over the rest of the 2017 season, they should get a boost from hard-hitting catcher Gary Sanchez, who is scheduled to return from injury soon. And the team’s combination of the No. 2-ranked farm system and the No. 2-ranked payroll in baseball could easily have the Yankees cracking 90 or even 95 wins within a couple seasons. According to Matt Swartz’s research on the relationship between farm rankings, payroll and wins, the second-ranked farm system is worth four wins above average two years into the future and the second-ranked payroll is worth 11 wins, which would add up to a 96-win season.That Yankee squad will probably be headlined by current pinstripers like Judge and Sanchez, but also prospects like Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier and James Kaprielian, none of whom have made the majors yet. By banking that gaudy April record, though, the Yankees have placed themselves squarely in the early-season playoff discussion, which is a conversation they should be a big part of for the foreseeable future.Too many eggs in the pitching basket?The New York Mets’ ongoing spate of pitching injuries this season — culminating Sunday with Noah Syndergaard’s torn right latissimus muscle, which will keep the flamethrower out indefinitely — had me wondering whether it was possible for a team to lean too heavily on the fragile arms of major league hurlers. (After all, how does a team go from being lauded for its pitching depth to relying on a catcher to chew innings in a month?)In other words: Is building a team around pitching value inherently riskier than banking on hitters? I looked at this a couple of ways. First, I measured the year-to-year correlation in a team’s batting/fielding WAR and its pitching WAR6Per 162 games. going back to 1961. The verdict: Pitching WAR (with a correlation of 0.48) was slightly less reliable than position-player WAR (0.53) — though it’s a small difference at best.The other thing I did was check to see if pitching-heavy teams were more prone to collapse — which I defined using several thresholds for declining records — in the following season. (Specifically, I ran a series of logit regressions testing whether the percentage of a team’s WAR that came from pitching was associated with an increased risk of declining by at least five, seven or 10 wins the next year.) It turns out there was no significant relationship between how much a team relied on its pitching staff and how likely it was to go down in flames in the future.There are certainly other ways to look at this, but my quick-and-dirty research suggests that the Mets’ policy of relying on pitching wasn’t necessarily a flawed one. They just appear to have picked the wrong group of pitchers to count on.Juiced-ball watchLast year, our own Rob Arthur and Ben Lindbergh noticed that balls had been flying out of ballparks at a ridiculous clip since late in the 2015 season, and they found evidence that changes to the baseball itself could be responsible. Here, Ben notes that we could be in for even more dingers this season: CAustin Romine280.5-0.9 SPMasahiro Tanaka280.410.8 RPDellin Betances290.48.5 SSRonald Torreyes240.40.6 3BChase Headley331.125.9 These aren’t your typical star-studded Yankees Give pitchers a chance (to hit eighth) LFBrett Gardner331.028.4 Welcome to Full Count, our new(!) weekly baseball column. Have anything you want me to write about? Email or tweet me at neil.paine@fivethirtyeight.com or @Neil_Paine.The summer of 2017 was supposed to be one of the last opportunities for New York Yankees haters to bask in pinstriped mediocrity. Although the Bronx Bombers went into the season with baseball’s second-best farm system and an intriguing mix of veterans and kids at the big-league level, they were also sellers at last year’s trade deadline — for the first time in ages. General manager Brian Cashman had even sold management on the idea of a long-term rebuilding plan (at least, long-term by Yankees standards). New York was going to be dominant again in the near future, the thinking went, but probably not this year.Fast-forward to a month into the season, however, and the next great Yankees team appears to have arrived ahead of schedule. At 17-9, New York has the third-best record in the majors, and its underlying metrics are even more striking — according to wins above replacement,1Using an average of Baseball-Reference.com’s and FanGraphs.com’s WAR metrics. the Yankees have played at a 117-win pace (!) in the early going.2A team WAR of 11.2 in 26 games works out to about 70 over a full season; since the replacement level is set at 47 wins per 162 games (a .294 winning percentage), that adds up to 117 wins.But the fact that the Yankees are winning baseball games is not as fascinating as who they’ve been winning with. The players driving New York’s early run are either middling veterans (Aaron Hicks) or unproven youngsters (Aaron Judge). When you sort the roster by how much each player has contributed so far this season,3According to WAR. only two of their top five players (third baseman Chase Headley and left fielder Brett Gardner) had even a baker’s dozen of career WAR to their names before this year. The Yankees’ lack of pedigree is highly unusual for a franchise that famously seeks out (and overpays for) pedigree. It also suggests that the team probably won’t be able to sustain this breakneck pace. But whether their early 2017 results are real or not, they’re providing a preview of things to come for the franchise — even if that future might eventually involve a different supporting cast.For most teams, you can make a pretty good guess about how they’ll do simply by looking at the track records of the talent on hand. The Detroit Tigers, for instance, are a moderately old team whose WAR have come from moderately accomplished players, so it’s no surprise that they’re hovering around .500. But the Yankees are bucking that trend so far. For every Headley (25.9 career WAR before 2017) and Gardner (28.4 WAR), the Yanks are powered by many more players like Judge, the breakout second-year slugger who had -0.4 WAR while hitting .179 last year. In fairness, Judge was a well-regarded prospect despite his slow career start — he cracked the Baseball America Top 100 list in preseason — but that wasn’t true of other team leaders such as Hicks, Luis Severino, Starlin Castro, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine and Ronald Torreyes. Not old, but not exactly babies either, none had done much to suggest that greatness was around the corner. read more

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2019-09-29

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The WNBA Wont Be The Same This Year Without Breanna Stewart

The worst fears of the WNBA and its fans were officially confirmed Wednesday: Reigning league and finals MVP Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm tore her right Achilles tendon — an injury that will sideline her for the season and at least temporarily shift the WNBA’s balance of power.She sustained the rupture over the weekend when she rose for a jump shot and landed on the foot of fellow WNBA star Brittney Griner during the EuroLeague championship game. Stewart and scores of other American players use their offseasons to play in leagues overseas while the WNBA is off, as those opportunities often pay far more than their salaries here in the states. This injury is likely to intensify the debate over WNBA pay.But for the Storm, the loss of the 24-year-old is devastating, and it figures to totally alter the WNBA’s landscape for the time being.1It’s also worth noting that fellow WNBA star Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx has said she plans to sit out this upcoming season to focus on ministry work. At 26-8 last season, the Storm finished with the league’s best record and went on to sweep the Washington Mystics in three games for the championship — with Stewart a catalyst of both efforts.The former UConn star made her presence felt on offense (she led the league in total points and offensive win shares and ranked as the most-efficient offensive player in the league on a per-possession basis, per Synergy Sports) and on defense (second in defensive win shares). Her game had expanded considerably in her third year, in which she streamlined her shot profile and became a more prolific 3-point shooter while also developing into one of the WNBA’s three most-efficient offensive players in the post. (Star scorer Liz Cambage and Griner are the others, according to data from Synergy Sports.)2Among players who get at least two post-ups per game There’s almost certainly no way the Storm can replace Stewart’s all-around impact — something that few players in the world, if any, can make on a night-to-night basis. She was averaging almost 22 points (shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc) and eight rebounds while collecting more than two assists, one block and one steal per game. But the Storm does still have a talented roster without Stewart.Even at 38, as the WNBA’s oldest player, point guard Sue Bird has shown that she may have plenty left in the tank. In 2018, she logged career-best marks in virtually all her shooting metrics, while also assisting at the best rate she ever has. Fellow guard Jewell Loyd, a former No. 1 overall pick, is more aggressive and finished second on the team in scoring, with almost 16 points per game. She attacks the basket regularly and gets frequent trips to the line as a result. Natasha Howard was far and away the team’s best offensive rebounder — a skill that, without Stewart’s stellar shooting, will become even more important.Yet the team’s best bet offensively without Stewart may be to use more of an up-tempo style. The Storm were the WNBA’s most efficient team in transition last season, with players like Loyd and Jordin Canada in particular excelling when they played with improved pace. Playing faster might be a bit tough at times on the aging Bird. But the alternative — playing more slowly and being more deliberate about finding shot attempts — may not work all that well. Seattle was solid when the shot clock ticked under the four-second mark last year (ranking second in efficiency when that was the case, per Synergy). But Stewart was a primary reason for that, scoring on 43 percent of her plays that went late into the clock.3Stewart had 47 such plays, or about 1.4 per game.Assuming that the Storm take a considerable step back, the door figures to open for the semifinalist Phoenix Mercury — led by Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner and Griner — to win their first title since 2014, when they set a record for wins in a season.Last season, Phoenix pushed Seattle to a fifth and deciding game for the right to play in the WNBA Finals, even entering the fourth quarter with the lead, despite being on the road in front of a raucous Storm crowd. It took arguably the best showing of Bird’s life in that last period to eliminate the Mercury.But now, without a superstar like Stewart, several Herculean efforts from a number of her teammates may be necessary to get Seattle anywhere close to the promised land again this year. read more

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2019-09-29

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Ezekiel Elliott Is Not Worth The Money He Wants

22Ezekiel ElliottDallas450.003 5Alvin KamaraNew Orleans330.007 4James ConnerPittsburgh170.45 1Royce FreemanDenver120.012 14Phillip LindsayDenver110.43 12Kapri BibbsWashington50.45 Expanding the sample to Elliott’s entire career doesn’t help his case either. Over his three years as a starter, Zeke led the league in rushing attempts in closeout situations with 158. But among running backs with 20 such attempts, he ranks just 26th in win probability added per play. For perspective, former teammate Alfred Morris ranks 13th in win probability added per play for the period — and he was running behind the same offensive line in Dallas for two of those three seasons.Closing out games is important, but it appears that draft pedigree really isn’t necessary to be effective in that role. Those critical runs can be performed by a reasonably priced specialist taken later in the draft or acquired in free agency. And if you need further proof, just feast your eyes on the 2018 win probability added of undrafted free agent Gus Edwards and quietly contemplate the abyss.Short-yardage running in the red zoneEffective running in the red zone, and especially at the goal line, is particularly valuable because this is the part of the field where passing is most difficult. As teams move downfield and get closer to the end zone, the field compresses and completion percentage drops. While the effect begins a little before the 30-yard line, leaguewide completion percentage drops from 57 percent to 48 percent2Based on data from 2009-2016. as teams move from their opponent’s 20 to the 3-yard line. This decrease in passing effectiveness puts a premium on being able to run successfully. Teams that can consistently move the ball on short-yardage runs in the red zone — or runs on which a first down or touchdown is no more than 3 yards away3Again excluding kneel-downs. — give themselves the opportunity to score touchdowns more often, and they tend to win more games.Last season, the Dallas Cowboys ranked 10th in red zone expected points added (EPA) per play on short-yardage runs in the red zone and 22nd in short-yardage success rate.4The rate of plays with a positive EPA. For a team that boasts one of the league’s better rushing attacks, these are far from elite numbers. For his part, Elliott ranked 16th in EPA per play and 28th in success rate among running backs with at least five short red zone rushes. Need to close out a game? Any running back will do.Win probability added (WPA) per rush for running backs with a minimum of five rushes to close out a game* in the 2018 regular season 5Aaron JonesGreen Bay60.70 2Isaiah CrowellNew York Jets70.010 12Devontae BookerDenver80.14 15Elijah McGuireN.Y. Jets110.09 RankplayerTeamrusheswpa 24Marlon MackIndianapolis130.08 3Nick ChubbCleveland250.010 21James ConnerPittsburgh170.25 25Doug MartinOakland120.04 13Derrick HenryTennessee150.44 16Derrick HenryTennessee230.005 25Jordan WilkinsIndianapolis120.002 19Jordan HowardChicago320.03 7C.J. AndersonLos Angeles Rams60.36 18David JohnsonArizona240.05 11Wendell SmallwoodPhiladelphia50.49 10Ty MontgomeryBaltimore70.006 Like we saw with runs to close out the game, Elliott again failed to distinguish himself from his lesser-drafted peers. Despite having nearly 40 pounds on Phillip Lindsay, Elliott was outpaced by the undrafted and diminutive Broncos back in both success rate and EPA per play on short red zone carries in 2018. And while the sample sizes here are small, Zeke’s career numbers aren’t much better. From 2016 to 2018, Zeke ranks 10th among qualifying5Ten or more carries to qualify. backs in success rate and 11th in EPA per play.Short-yardage runs in the open fieldFinally, we’ll look at plays that extend drives and help to break the opposing team’s spirit: short yardage runs in the open field, or outside the red zone. These plays represent situations in which the offense needs no more than 3 yards to convert a new set of downs. Based on historical averages, these are running battles that you would expect the offense to win — after all, 29 of 32 teams averaged more than 4 yards per attempt last year. And in fact that’s what we find: In 2018, NFL teams were successful on short runs in the open field 53 percent of the time. Last season the Cowboys were particularly adept at short yardage plays, ranking fourth in the league with a 62 percent success rate on 53 attempts. Zeke was responsible for 43 of those attempts — most in the NFL — and was successful 67 percent of the time, but that success rate was good for just 11th in the league. 24Kerryon JohnsonDetroit100.002 1Jordan WilkinsIndianapolis80.67 rankplayerteamrushesepa per play 3Alfred MorrisSan Francisco100.47 6Kenyan DrakeMiami110.007 RankPlayerTeamRushesepa per play 21Zach ZennerDetroit Lions180.004 23Tarik CohenChicago15-0.05 7James WhiteNew England250.007 1Melvin GordonLos Angeles Chargers51.35 4Adrian PetersonWashington70.71 17Adrian PetersonWashington470.005 In what is becoming an annual event, a high-profile running back is threatening a preseason holdout. On Monday, reports surfaced that Ezekiel Elliott will sit out training camp unless he gets a new contract from the Dallas Cowboys. Two days earlier, Melvin Gordon had announced a holdout from the Los Angeles Chargers and cited Elliott as an example of why running backs should command higher pay. Perhaps Zeke and his agent read Gordon’s comments and decided to strike while the iron is hot. Perhaps a holdout was always planned. Whatever the case, Elliott has made clear that he believes he’s underpaid and wants a new contract sooner rather than later.The holdout threat may have taken Dallas a bit by surprise. It’s not as if Zeke isn’t in line for competitive compensation. Dallas picked up Elliott’s fifth-year option in April, guaranteeing him nearly $9.1 million in 2020 — money that will make Elliott the fourth-highest-paid running back in the league that year. But Zeke’s focus is on 2019, not 2020. According to reports, Elliott believes that the Cowboys plan to use him heavily this season, and he wants a long-term deal in place as an insurance policy against injury.For their part, Dallas appears to want to keep Elliott around. Stephen Jones, Dallas director of player personnel, has indicated that signing Eliott to an extension is a team priority. In an odd bit of negotiating, Jones even set the floor for a deal at Todd Gurley’s recent contract — a contract that is currently the highest in the league at the position. Still, Elliott’s camp is betting they can leverage Zeke’s absence into an early deal, and based on their previous maneuvering, I’m betting that the Cowboys will cave.The question is: Why?In a league that is steadily paying less for running back production, capitulating to an Elliott holdout and making him the highest-paid ball carrier in the league would be a deeply contrarian move. According to data from Overthecap, the share of average team salary allocated to all rostered running backs has fallen from 6.8 percent of spending in 2013 to 4.5 percent in 2019.Even elite backs aren’t immune from feeling the pinch. Le’Veon Bell sat out all of last season expecting to make up his lost wages on the free-agent market. Instead he ended up settling for a contract with less average compensation per year than what he was initially offered by Pittsburgh. It’s been a slow, incremental change, but teams across the league have moved toward an asset allocation model that favors many low-priced specialists over an expensive three-down bell cow.Dallas already bucked the trend of devaluing running backs when they took Elliott with the fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft and then proceeded to give him 868 carries over his first three seasons. That, apparently, is just how the Cowboys are built. Jason Garrett is absolutely determined to “run the fucking ball.” But even if the Cowboys have fallen out of step with a league that believes paying “high first-round draft pick” money to a running back is gauche, it still pales in comparison to what will come next. Assuming the cap rises to $200 million in 2020,1The cap has gone up by roughly $10 million a season for the past six seasons. Zeke’s salary alone in his optioned fifth year will represent 4.5 percent of the Cowboy’s salary cap. If Zeke signs an extension before the 2020 season, his cap hit combined with the rest of Dallas’s spend at the running back position will likely be double the league average.Profligate spending and contrarianism aren’t proof of incompetence, of course. Elliott on paper seems to be quite good at his job — and his appeal to Dallas might seem warranted. In 2018, Zeke led the league with 1,434 rushing yards on a league-best 304 carries, over 16 percent more than second-place finisher Saquon Barkley (261). If Elliott is worth twice as many wins to a team as a replacement-level running back would be, he’s probably worth twice the money. The problem is that having Zeke on the field isn’t worth even half a win to the Cowboys. Eric Eager at Pro Football Focus estimates that Zeke’s production in 2018 was worth just 0.2 of a win above a replacement player.We know — and the Cowboys should, too — that rushing is not nearly as important to winning in the NFL as passing. But rushing is still a part of the game, and situational running is still critical. A back who excels in high-leverage spots can be quite valuable. It could be the case that Dallas believes it has an advantage in crucial moments with Zeke on the field that helps justify re-signing him.Examples of situational football are legion, but three in particular stand out as being important in the run game. If the Cowboys are valuing Zeke for the skills that most help the team — and not just for his number of carries over a season — we would expect him to be at or near the top in each of these categories, dominating the plebes drafted rounds after him or those plucked from the NFL scrapyard.Running to close out a gameFirst is the ability to run out the clock when you’re ahead and need to close out a game. Keeping the opposing offense off the field has obvious value when you’re protecting a lead late. In nerd parlance, successful running plays late have a relatively large positive effect on a team’s win probability.With this in mind, to measure a team’s ability to close out a game, we’ll use win probability added. WPA is a good metric for teasing out rushing value late in the game because it takes our best estimate for what a team’s chance of winning the game is on a particular play (based on the down, distance, yard line, score and time remaining) and then quantifies how much the actual outcome of a play either added or subtracted from that expectation. Teams that are good at rushing to close out games will have positive WPA.According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, the Cowboys were seventh in win probability added in 2018 on rushing attempts in the fourth quarter while they were ahead, excluding quarterback kneel-downs. Elliott carried the ball on the majority of those plays and had positive win probability added per play, which is good. But he was still just second on the team in average WPA behind quarterback Dak Prescott — and it wasn’t particularly close. Dak’s win probability added per play on 10 attempts was almost five times that of Zeke’s average WPA on 45 carries.When we zoom out and compared Zeke with all running backs across the league, the situation gets bleak. Elliott was 22nd among qualifying backs when running to close out a game, behind the likes of Royce Freeman, Isaiah Crowell and the 35-year-old remnants of Frank Gore. 15Joe MixonCincinnati130.42 17Justin JacksonLos Angeles Chargers80.06 18Kareem HuntKansas City110.27 19Wayne GallmanNew York Giants120.004 10Todd GurleyLos Angeles Rams270.49 4Frank GoreMiami130.007 14Alex CollinsBaltimore100.11 Even outside the red zone, Zeke isn’t elite in short situationsExpected points added (EPA) per play for running backs with a minimum of five open-field short-yardage attempts* during the 2018 season 9Lamar MillerHouston60.49 17Carlos HydeCleveland100.27 8Melvin GordonLos Angeles Chargers250.007 19Royce FreemanDenver110.27 12Spencer WareKansas City140.006 6Damien WilliamsKansas City70.38 9Todd GurleyLos Angeles Rams480.006 Red zone efficiency doesn’t require a big nameExpected points added (EPA) per play for running backs with a minimum of five short-yardage attempts* in the red zone during the 2018 season 11Jaylen SamuelsPittsburgh190.006 2Giovani BernardCincinnati51.28 * Rushes of 3 yards or less to go. Kneel-downs not included.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 10Ezekiel ElliottDallas430.16 * Rushes on plays outside the red zone with no more 3 yards to go for a first down. Kneel-downs not included.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 21Leonard FournetteJacksonville110.02 25Phillip LindsayDenver19-0.14 23Tarik CohenChicago90.003 3Marshawn LynchOakland51.06 7Chris CarsonSeattle180.59 5Corey ClementPhiladelphia70.44 6Alvin KamaraNew Orleans240.69 16Gus EdwardsBaltimore210.08 8Bilal PowellNew York Jets50.35 20Javorius AllenBaltimore50.26 15Mike DavisSeattle130.005 23Austin EkelerLos Angeles Chargers60.16 16Ezekiel ElliottDallas150.30 13Chris IvoryBuffalo150.13 11Melvin GordonLos Angeles Chargers190.15 24Jaylen SamuelsPittsburgh8-0.06 2Mike DavisSeattle140.48 14Justin JacksonLos Angeles Chargers150.005 20Jamaal WilliamsGreen Bay160.004 If you’re a person who believes running backs matter, this is a leaderboard that makes about as much sense as snake mittens. It’s true that of the three high-leverage rushing situations examined, this is clearly where Zeke shines brightest. But even here he’s outclassed by backs no one would mistake as Elliott’s equals. Former teammate Morris haunted Elliott yet again by leading the league last season with a 90 percent success rate on short-yardage open-field runs. Alf was trailed closely by Niner castoff and backup Seattle running back Mike Davis. Todd Gurley injury fill-in C.J. Anderson, displaced Jets starter Bilal Powell and Le’Veon Bell usurper James Conner round out the top five.What about the rest?Situationally, Zeke is profoundly average, but some perspective here is probably needed. Situational running, while important, is relatively rare. Around 5 percent of Elliott’s carries came in the red zone in 2018. Fifteen percent came in situations when the Cowboys were trying to close out the game, and 14 percent came on short-yardage runs in the open field. The majority of Zeke’s carries — about 65 percent — occurred in other situations. The problem is that those other situations turn out to be awful times to run the football.Zeke ran 182 times in the first three quarters of games in 2018 on first and second down with at least 4 yards to go — situations when teams shouldn’t be running very often to begin with. Probably the clearest illustration of this folly is shown using an analysis I stole from Timo Riske of Pro Football Focus. On early downs when the outcome of the game is still in doubt, winning teams pass more often than the eventual losers. 20Derrick HenryTennessee140.03 * In the fourth quarter while ahead. Kneel-downs not included.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 22Chris CarsonSeattle27-0.01 8Corey ClementPhiladelphia50.53 9Kerryon JohnsonDetroit110.22 13Gus EdwardsBaltimore320.005 22Matt BreidaSan Francisco 49ers80.19 18Jacquizz RodgersTampa Bay50.005 It sounds strange, but commanding bad rushing volume is really the only aspect of Elliott’s game that is truly elite. The Cowboys could believe that they have a generational talent at the running back position, and because of this faith, they overuse him.It’s that overuse that’s the problem. Extending Elliott is the manifestation of an objectively poor offensive strategy. It isn’t just a terrible idea because the valuable portion of Elliott’s production — the situational part — is easily replaced by nearly any back talented enough to make a Week 1 NFL roster. And an early extension isn’t just poor risk management because between 20 to 33 percent of high-volume running backs will incur a serious injury in a given year, though that is also certainly true.6Elliott was also suspended in 2017 for six games for domestic violence, and he would receive a mandatory ban if he violated the league policy again.The primary reason an investment in an overpriced, risky asset is truly awful is because it can impact play calling in the worst possible way. In an attempt to justify the overspend at the position, a team may be encouraged to run more and pass less. It’s the worst kind of curse, and the Cowboys seem eager to cast the hex on themselves. read more

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2019-09-29

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How The Thunder Can Become A Dream Team

Embed Code By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Nov. 22, 2017), Neil, Chris and Kyle take a look at how the recent injury to Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap will affect the team. Millsap will reportedly have surgery on his wrist and could miss three months. Next, the crew discusses why the Thunder haven’t clicked yet. After bringing Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City last summer, the Thunder were anticipated to be a contender in the West. But it hasn’t all come together so far. We investigate what’s going right, what’s going wrong and how they might turn the season around. Plus, a small-sample-size segment on Lonzo Ball.Here are links to what we discussed this week:Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.Chris Herring wrote that the Thunder aren’t far from being good.ESPN’s Royce Young took a look at the still-developing chemistry between Russell Westbrook and Paul George. read more

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2019-09-28

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Partners in crime Diebler Lighty ease Turners burden

At times last year, the Ohio State men’s basketball team seemed to have one plan: get the ball to Evan Turner and get out of the way. This season, however, the Buckeyes appear to have discovered an alternative. The early emergence of David Lighty and Jon Diebler as viable scoring options has given OSU some much-needed versatility. “I’ve been saying all along we have the greatest wings in the country,” center Dallas Lauderdale said.While Lauderdale’s claim might be slightly hyperbolic, there is no denying the Buckeyes have ability on the perimeter.Lighty, who in his first two years at OSU was known more for his defensive prowess rather than his ability to score, is averaging 12.3 points per game this season and scored a career-high 22 in last week’s win over Lipscomb.Diebler is scoring nearly 16 points a game and leads the Big Ten in three-pointers made per game. If they continue to score at their current pace, it will remove a lot of pressure from Turner, who has been double, triple and even quadruple-teamed by opponents at times this season. With the Buckeyes’ hot shooting, Turner said the defense will have more to worry about.“Once I get past the three-point line, there was a second man coming and once I get in the paint there were three men coming,” Turner said. “If they’re going to do that, they’ll pick their poison.”Turner said he will simply take whatever the defense will give him.“If I’m open I’m going to take the shot; if I’m not I’m going to dish it off,” Turner said. “I just want to play and make sure my team wins.”However, the Buckeyes have already seen what can happen on a night when their shooters are struggling. In the first half of OSU’s loss to North Carolina on Nov. 19, the Buckeyes shot only 29 percent from the field, leaving them in an insurmountable 14-point hole at halftime. Diebler and sophomore William Buford headlined the shooting woes, going a combined 7-29 from the field. Though Diebler seems to have successfully escaped any potential slump, Buford is still struggling to find his shot. Buford is shooting 38 percent from the field, something that coach Thad Matta said needs to change in order for his team to be successful. “Will is a guy that, he obviously wants to play well,” Matta said. “But by the same token, Will likes to win and we need Will to play well in order for us to win.”Regardless of how much Buford or any of the other Buckeyes are contributing, the onus will fall on Turner to lead the way on the offensive end. Fortunately for OSU, Turner has had no trouble carrying the load. The Buckeye point guard is third in the Big Ten in scoring, and leads the conference in rebounds and assists — gaudy numbers that have earned him conference Player of the Week honors in each of the last three weeks.Turner knows that as he goes, so go the Buckeyes.“When the coach calls my number I try to do my best with it,” Turner said. “If my team needs a boost, I’m confident enough to give them a boost. If the game is close and we need scores, I’ve been doing that in the past and I plan on doing that in the future.” read more

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2019-09-28

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Wisconsins Russell Wilson poses dual threat to Ohio State defense

Ohio State coach Luke Fickell has been preparing his team for the No. 15 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, but as of last Saturday, he wasn’t losing any sleep over it. Wisconsin lost to Michigan State on a last second, 44-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of regulation to hand the Badgers their first loss of the season, 37-31. But as the excitement unfolded, Fickell was sound asleep. “I was probably about 45 minutes to an hour into sleep by then,” Fickell said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “I did not stay up. I’ve probably seen it five, six, seven times now. Obviously an unbelievable play. Something you work on each and every week.” Fickell may not have been excited about it, but the Badger’s loss reopens the door for OSU to make the Big Ten Championship. To make the championship game, the Buckeyes would have to win the remainder of their games and hope Penn State loses to another opponent besides the Buckeyes. The road to the conference championship begins Saturday against Wisconsin, who, until their loss against MSU, was firmly in the national championship picture. The Badgers feature a high-powered offense that averages 47.3 points per game and is ranked No. 5 in the nation. Fifth-year senior quarterback Russell Wilson leads the Badgers and is widely considered a Heisman Trophy candidate. The transfer from North Carolina State leads the team and is ranked second nationally in passer efficiency (204.9). He has thrown for 1,780 yards and 16 touchdowns with just three interceptions on the season and with three rushing touchdowns, also poses a threat on the ground. Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said Wilson has been impressive from the moment he came to Wisconsin’s program. “He’s a stand-up guy, great character,” Bielema said on July 28 during Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, Ill. “Just a really, really neat kid. Began to evaluate, talk to him. Brought him in on his visit, had him meet with a lot of offensive players, skill and offensive linemen. Everybody after that visit was very encouraging to talk to about the way he handles himself and talks to other players.” Wilson is protected by a physically imposing offensive line that averages 322 lbs. and 6-foot-5-inches tall per player. But Fickell said OSU has to find a way to get past the line and affect Wilson. “You have to find ways to get to him,” Fickell said. “Whether it’s picking a ball off, sacking him, getting hits on him, getting guys in front of his face. There’s all different kind of ways, but most importantly you have to be able to affect the quarterback.” The Badger offense also boasts a ground game led by junior running back Montee Ball that is ranked eighth nationally with 252.1 yards per game. Ball currently leads the nation in scoring at 16.29 points per game and also averages 109.7 rushing yards per game. Fickell said the combination of Wisconsin’s running backs and large offensive line provides a tough challenge. “With them it’s always going to start up front,” Fickell said. “They’re always going to have a couple tailbacks that are very good football players. I think you’ve always noticed them up front, whether they’ve had a first-round draft pick, an Outland Trophy winner. “Obviously, they’re going to be a little bit of a running-focused team. I think you see the consistency over the years of what they’ve been. They haven’t changed a whole lot, which means they believe in what they do. They recruit to it and they do one heck of a job at coaching it.” Fickell and the Buckeyes kick off against the Badgers at 8 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio at Ohio Stadium. read more

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2019-09-28

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Report Conflicting reports indicating Trevor Thompsons NBA draft decision still up in

Ohio State redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson catches the ball on the block against Northwestern’s Dererk Pardon on Jan. 22 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports EditorIndianapolis Star’s prep sports writer Kyle Neddenriep reported Ohio State redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson would be declaring for the NBA Draft, but other reports are now saying the Buckeyes might still have their big man next season. Although Neddenriep first reported Thompson would leave, the Columbus Dispatch’s Adam Jardy refuted the claim, and said Thompson’s father said the center would wait until after the season to make a decision.OSU could still play in the National Invitational Tournament if selected on Sunday.Former Ben Davis standout and Ohio State junior Trevor Thompson will declare for NBA draft, per his family.— Kyle Neddenriep (@KyleNeddenriep) March 11, 2017Despite the disappointing season for the OSU men’s basketball team had in 2016-17, one of the lone standouts was Thompson.He redshirted his first season in Columbus after transferring from Virginia Tech after his freshman season. In his redshirt sophomore year with the Scarlet and Gray in 2015-16, Thompson averaged just 6.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. This season, Thompson improved to 10.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest, becoming one of the premier centers in the Big Ten.Thompson registered 10 double-doubles and grabbed at least 15 rebounds on four occasions.After last season, Thompson took advantage of a new NCAA rule that allowed draft-eligible players to declare for the draft, but withdraw at any point and retain college eligibility, so long as the player didn’t hire an agent.OSU has two other centers on the roster in freshman Micah Potter and redshirt sophomore Dave Bell, but it’s likely that 2017 incoming freshman Kaleb Wesson will immediately replace Thompson should he not return to OSU.The Lantern is working to independently confirm.Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with conflicting reports. It was initially reported that Thompson had declared for the NBA draft. read more

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2019-09-28

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Baseball Home runs propel Ohio State to 94 win against Toledo

Ohio State sophomore catcher Dillon Dingler (10) swings at a ball during the game against Hawaii on March 23. Ohio State won 7-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorOhio State, once again, showed its ability to hit for power as the team recorded its fifth multiple-home run game at home this season to bury Toledo. Ohio State (14-11) defeated Toledo (9-13) 9-4. The Buckeyes were able to claim seven of nine games in its homestand and launched 12 home runs in the process. In the previous eight games, Ohio State had hit .327 and scored an average of seven runs a game. The Buckeyes were able to carry their offensive success into Wednesday’s game. Ohio State produced nine hits and two home runs in its win.With two men on base, freshman shortstop Zach Dezenzo battled at the plate with two outs in the second inning. On the eighth pitch of the at bat, Dezenzo hit an opposite-field home run to put Ohio State up four runs. “With every at bat he’s growing as a player,” head coach Greg Beals said. Dezenzo hit four home runs during the homestand, giving him five this season. The nine-game homestand allowed two other Buckeyes to excel at the plate. The outfielder duo of junior right fielder Dominic Canzone and senior left fielder Brady Cherry has been a staple for the Ohio State offense. “Those are the guys we need to be productive for this offense to really be clicking,” Beals said.Canzone hit .345 through the first eight home games this season. He added three hits in five at bats against Toledo. The co-captain finished with four RBI. Cherry has also enjoyed hitting at Bill Davis Stadium. Cherry had hit .469 and recorded nine RBI heading into Wednesday’s contest. He finished with  one hit in three at bats against Toledo. Ohio State threatened first after a pair of hits put runners in scoring position in the first inning. After an error at first base and a wild pitch, the Buckeyes took a 2-0 lead. This would end the day for freshman pitcher Jamie Myers, who was only able to record two outs in his second start of the season. Myers has struggled this season with nine walks allowed to only seven strikeouts in 10.2 innings pitched. Beals anticipated the Rockets would use a whole-staff approach to the ball game. “I don’t know how long [Myers] would have gone, but we strung together quality at bats and put pressure on him.” Beals said. Before the conclusion of the game, Toledo would rotate through a total of eight pitchers. A pair of hits and a hit batsman loaded the bases with no outs for the Rockets in the second inning. Junior pitcher Jake Vance was able to respond with two consecutive strikeouts, but a hit to center field by redshirt senior center fielder Brad Boss brought in two runs to tie the game. Vance would go on to have his longest outing of the season with six innings pitched. His previous high came on March 12, where he went 5.1 innings against Wofford. “I needed that,” Vance said. “I’ve been trying to work on getting my innings up a little bit.”Vance finished with six strikeouts, tying his season high, and two earned runs in his second win of the season.  Beals emphasized the importance of getting that quality start and how it protected the bullpen moving into this weekend. “The guys that pitched tonight are all guys we wanted to get work in order to be ready for the weekend,” Beals said. “We didn’t tax ourselves at all leading into the weekend.” Canzone’s second hit of the game brought home freshman outfielder Nolan Clegg to give Ohio State the 3-2 lead after two innings. Dezenzo would complete the second-inning scoring with a three-run blast to right field. With the score at 7-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Canzone launched a deep home run over the right field wall to add two more runs. This was Canzone’s team-high seventh home run of the season. Toledo was able to add two more runs, but it never threatened to make the game close. “Right now, I think we are clicking on all cylinders, at least for tonight,” Canzone said. Ohio State will hit the road again to open Big Ten play. The Buckeyes will play a three-game series against Rutgers starting at 2 p.m Friday. read more

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2019-09-28

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Alton Towers ride Oblivion evacuated at highest point after technical fault

first_img“The ride performed exactly as it is designed to do. In line with our well-rehearsed procedures, guests were assisted from the ride.At no point was guest safety compromised.”The incident happened near the Smiler rollercoaster, which crashed two years ago.  A total of 16 people were injured on the ride when the carriage hit the one that had come to a halt on the track.Two of those seriously injured – Leah Washington, 17, and 20-year-old Vicky Balch – each had legs amputated following the smash.Last month, passengers were trapped on the ride for as long as 45 minutes after it stopped due to a technical fault.  so glad I didn’t go on oblivion, they’re rescuing people off 😩 @altontowers pic.twitter.com/Snr674EQXh— jess (@jssbrry) July 25, 2017 “The passengers were looking around and they were very anxious to step off the ride and onto the stairs because it’s quite a high fall,” he told MailOnline. “The ride was going up the top then it stopped at the top at an angle and then they were sitting there for quite a while.”I could see people in helmets with ropes going up to release them from their seats because the ride was completely stopped. There’s not much space so they were connected to emergency crews by the rope.”An Alton Towers spokesperson said the ride was stopped after a minor technical fault was detected. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. More than a dozen passengers were escorted off the Oblivion rollercoaster at its highest point on Tuesday because of a “technical fault”. The incident at the Staffordshire theme park happened one month after a similar stoppage on the nearby Smiler rollercoaster, on which four people were badly injured in a crash two years ago. Staff climbed to where the ride had stopped and attached harnesses to the passengers before leading them to safety.One witness Alex Heasman-Bailey, 16, said he heard a “clunking noise” as the Oblivion ride suddenly came to a halt shortly after 3pm.  “This afternoon Oblivion stopped after a sensor on the ride detected a minor technical fault. ‘Oblivion’ rollercoaster at #AltonTowers breaks down mid-ride. Emergency recovery crew having to free people from the ride. pic.twitter.com/pz4F86S9w9— Alex Heasman- Bailey (@AlexHeasmann) July 25, 2017last_img read more

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2019-09-25

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Athlete dies swimming the Channel during 300mile megatriathlon from London to Paris

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. DOVER: A man in his 40s, named by friends as Douglas Waymark, died after attempting to swim the Channel last night. He became unwell midway. pic.twitter.com/GCOEMxZWBm— Kent 999s (@Kent_999s) August 8, 2017 A man has died after a boat sank in the English Channel off the Sussex coastCredit:Oliver Button/PA Mr Waymark completed the Seven Summits challenge in 2009, which involves climbing the tallest mountain on every continent, including Mount Everest and Kilimanjaro.Graham Fletcher said: “For all those following the recent updates, Douglas Waymark has not completed his Channel swim.”Last night he felt he could no longer continue his quest and swam to the boat supporting him. A swimmer who died attempting to swim across the English Channel has been named as Douglas Waymark.The endurance athlete, 44, was taking part in a 300-mile mega-triathlon from Marble Arch in Central London to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.He had already had run from London to Dover before attempting the crossing, but struggled during the swim and later collapsed.center_img “He passed out and was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Ashford. At around midnight, he sadly died.”We are all devastated but take comfort in him doing what he loved best to the very end.”I have spoken to Douglas’s sister and sent the condolences of the whole club for the tragic passing of Douglas to his family.”All of us who knew Douglas Waymark will have so many memories of him and shared some great times with him.”I am, as i’m sure you will be devastated by the news this morning.” Mr Waymark has previously completed ten triathlons in as many days, and once cycled 200 miles in the Cotswolds to create GPS artwork of a kite.He once attempted to tackle ‘The World’s Toughest Triathlon’ – a 2.5-mile swim in Llyn Padarn, near Snowdonia, a 116-mile bike ride and a 25-mile run up Mount Snowdon.Sister Jo Ikel also paid tribute to her late partner on Facebook.She said: “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do and throwing everything at it.”I am so proud of everything he achieved.”The Arch to Arc event costs £3000 to enter and is held by Enduroman Ultra Events, with just 25 people having completed it before. A man has died after a boat sank in the English Channel off the Sussex coastlast_img read more

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2019-09-25

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19 of the funniest tweets about the stress of Alevel results day

first_img12. *Shocked face* When you open your envelope, look at it, look up and then accidentally make eye contact with one of your teachers.#AlevelResultsDay pic.twitter.com/Ki14qxfL1T— Lewis McAllister (@LewisMcA9) August 17, 2017 Good luck today! Hush now older people with your results – this isn’t about you 😜 #alevelresultsday #alevelresultsday2017 pic.twitter.com/cSYCcGBkEm— Rupert Myers (@RupertMyers) August 17, 2017 mum: what were your results?me: the important thing is i’m healthy and alive#alevelresultsday— parris (@parrisambxr) August 17, 2017 #alevelresultsday I’ve had no sleep pic.twitter.com/XjhK0DZc93— Mimi (@MissMimilovebug) August 17, 2017 Roses are red, violets are blue. Which Unis will accept me with 2 Es and a U. #alevelresultsday— Millie S (@Millie_I_Sch) August 16, 2017 #alevelresultsday when you are laughig at all the A Level memes but you know u are ducked. pic.twitter.com/LaLuh0Hpxa— Olimas (@offended2016) August 16, 2017 #NationalTellAJokeDay and #alevelresultsday on the same day?? Just wait until I open my results, then I’ll tell you a joke— dais (@daisydixon7) August 17, 2017 Can I get a pass in lit for knowing that this is 100% pathetic fallacy #alevelresultsday— Emily 🐝 (@som3kidcalledEm) August 17, 2017 it feels like christmas day except santa’s brought me an existential crisis #alevelresultsday— beth (@bethanyterris) August 17, 2017 Some student celebrating A-levels the only way he should live on @GMB #GMB #alevelresultsday #swig pic.twitter.com/F3OzeXmwvp— David Filipe (@david_filipe) August 17, 2017 13. One started the celebrations early  14. Others were in a more contemplative mood The funniest tweets about A-level results day1. Bad results? Just blame someone else  9. It was a sleepless night for many  A-level results day is here and teenagers up and down the country have been sharing their feelings of nervous excitement and dread on social media.Despite the sweaty palms, stress and apprehension, many students have been able to share jokes about opening their A-level envelopes. Me all night waiting to hear of my failure in the morning #alevelresultsday pic.twitter.com/lv84MWk05q— anna (@annagc_x) August 16, 2017 4. It’s best to try and stay calm  me refreshing the track page even though it clearly says it’s going to open at 8am #alevelresultsday pic.twitter.com/R11G2UpLnX— 🍇 (@theawkwardgrape) August 17, 2017 When u open ur results and see 3 E’s then have to pretend like ure shocked #alevelresultsday https://t.co/mQ4pJ8FXyH— Super Saiyan Sauce (@Hassanda1st) August 17, 2017 7. And remembering what they learnt   8. It’s also National Tell a Joke Day  Me waiting for track to open #alevelresultsday pic.twitter.com/mwhPyIiWeS— Henry (@HGauder) August 17, 2017 You can’t fail if you don’t open the envelope #alevelresultsday #alevelresults pic.twitter.com/ikoHAUIR6p— Megan Caitlin Lewis (@Meganlewisc) August 16, 2017 5. But have your excuses ready (just in case) 11. They will understand  I remember, back in October, thinking that ABB was a reasonable offer and they were realistic grades. Oh you naive idiot. #alevelresultsday— Melissa (@Melissa_OS) August 17, 2017 3. Kind of like Christmas … a bit Me rn! #alevelresultsday pic.twitter.com/y9sEAVASqQ— KennIE Olateju (@kingkennie_) August 17, 2017 19. But don’t worry, there’s always memes to cheer you up  Student celebrates A-levels swigging from hip flask live on Good Morning Britain 16. Not opening the envelope is always an option  15. The waiting is the worst part  2. It’s a stressful day 17. But university is not for everyone  10. That moment when you have to face your parents  #alevelresultsday*ppl getting results at 9am looking at ppl getting results at 6am* pic.twitter.com/cL2zaWl8jq— K (@doorKnob99n99) August 17, 2017  18. Just remember the good times  6. Some students were up early  My parents when they see my results. #alevelresultsday pic.twitter.com/Ra3BXxIy1f— Brandon (@FootBoIa) August 16, 2017 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

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2019-09-25

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Could Camilla become Queen after all Clarence House quietly removes statement about

first_imgThe decision, announced in 2005 before the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles, has not officially changed since then, even as the public attitude to the marriage has softened. A redesign of the couple’s official website has seen the explicit statement about… The palace has always insisted that the Duchess will be styled Princess Consort when the time comes, indicating that she would eschew the title of Queen normally expected for the wife of a King. Clarence House has inspired speculation that the Duchess of Cornwall could be given the title of Queen when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne, as staff quietly remove a statement about her future name from its website.last_img read more

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2019-09-25

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Suitcase spy poisoning plot nerve agent was planted in luggage of Sergei

first_imgAt a public meeting on Thursday evening Paul Mills, deputy chief Constable of Wiltshire police, revealed 131 people could have potentially come into… The nerve agent that poisoned the Russian spy Sergei Skripal was planted in his daughter’s suitcase before she left Moscow, intelligence agencies now believe. They are working on the theory that the toxin was impregnated in an item of clothing or cosmetics or else in a gift that was opened in his house in Salisbury, meaning Miss Skripal was deliberately targeted to get at her father.center_img Senior sources have told the Telegraph they are convinced the Novichok nerve agent was hidden in the luggage of Yulia Skripal, the double agent’s 33-year-old daughter. last_img read more

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2019-09-25

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A 24 hour hotline ensured superpowers did not clash militarily over Syria

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “History will put everything in its place,” he said in a statement, adding that Russia will call an urgent session of the United Nations security council to “discuss the aggressive actions of the United States and its allies”.The Russian defence ministry, however, did threaten to reconsider giving advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Syria and other allies in light of the strikes. Russia cancelled a shipment of such missiles under Western pressure in 2013.Later, a Pentagon spokesman said that line of communication between Russia and America remained open. Russian President Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are long standing allies Credit:Sputnik Photo Agency/Reuters Russia received a series of crucial warnings from America of the imminent air strikes through a 24 hour hotline intended to limit the possibility of a direct military clash between the two superpowers, it has emerged.In the aftermath of the bombing of Syrian targets, America, Britain and France were all at pains to point out that the so-called “deconfliction channel” – a continuously open line of communication between Washington and Moscow – had been repeatedly used.The strategic hotline was set up after Russia began offering military support to President Bashar Assad in September 2015. It is intended to help avoid any potential misunderstandings as both sides operate over the region, ensure airspace control is respected and so prevent the possibility of clashes between Russian and Western forces.Although the “deconfliction line” has occasionally been closed due to disputes between the two countries, it has proven invaluable while Russia targets those opposed to Assad’s rule, and the West has supported attacks against Islamic State in the region. Moscow appeared to be relieved that the damage from strikes appeared limited and no escalation threatening armed conflict with the United States was imminent. Russian President Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are long standing allies  A Typhoon aircraft prepares for landing at the British Royal Air Force base in Akrotiri, Cyprus, early Saturday, April 14, 2018.Credit:Petros Karadjias/AP In a press conference, Joseph Dunford, American’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US “specifically identified” targets to “mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved”, adding that that in no way amounted to any consultation or planning with Moscow over the military action.He said: “We used the normal deconfliction channel to deconflict airspace, we did not coordinate targets.”Jon Huntsman, the US ambassador to Moscow, said: “Before we took action the United States communicated with the Russian Federation to reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties.“This is not about a conflict between superpowers but about the principle that the use of chemical weapons is simply unacceptable,” he said.center_img Russian president Vladimir Putin condemned the strikes, but his remarks were relatively tempered, and he did not speak of retaliation. Prime Minister Theresa May during a press conference in 10 Downing Street after the air strikes Prime Minister Theresa May during a press conference in 10 Downing Street after the air strikesCredit:Simon Dawson/PA Florence Parly, the French defence minister, also said: “We do not seek confrontation and we refuse any possibility of military escalation and that is the reason why, with our allies, we have ensured that the Russians were warned beforehand.”The Russian defence ministry said that only Syrian forces came into direct conflict with allied forces launching the strikes, and “not a single one of the cruise missiles entered the zone of Russian air defence systems”.Asked by The Sunday Telegraph whether either Moscow or the Russian military had been informed prior to the airstrikes, Theresa May said at a press conference, “full and proper planning was put in place before the airstrikes were undertaken to ensure we could mitigate and minimise the impact on civilians and ensure the strikes were absolutely targeted at their aim”, adding that UK had not been involved in those communications. A Typhoon aircraft prepares for landing at the British Royal Air Force base in Akrotiri, near costal city of Limassol in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. And, that hotline appeared to have played an essential role in ensuring that Russia’s high-tech defence systems and its military might understood to be in the north of Syria was not deployed against the allied forces during the air strikes.last_img read more

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2019-09-25

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Gross negligence manslaughter sentences to be increased under new guidelines for judges

Other types of manslaughter covered by the guideline are unlawful act manslaughter, where someone dies after being assaulted but the attacker had no intention to kill or do them serious harm.There is also manslaughter by reason of loss of control, where the killer would have been guilty of murder but suffered a loss of control, for example from a fear of serious violence.And manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, where someone has a recognised mental condition that prevents them being convicted of murder.Sentences for these three types of manslaughter are not expected to increase.Sentencing Council member Lord Justice Holroyde said: “Manslaughter offences vary hugely – some cases are not far from being an accident, while others may be just short of murder.”While no sentence can make up for the loss of life, this guideline will help ensure sentencing that properly reflects the culpability of the offender and the unique facts of each case.”The guideline will come into force in courts on November 1 2018. Gross negligence manslaughter allegations are being considered as part of the Grenfell investigation Justice minister Rory Stewart has welcomed the new guidelines Justice minister Rory Stewart has welcomed the new guidelines Jail sentences for people convicted of gross negligence manslaughter are to be increased amid concern that offenders have been getting off too lightly.Judges are being advised to consider life in prison for the most serious culprits, with a recommendation they serve at least 18-years before being eligible for parole.It is the first time guidelines have been set out for judges dealing with manslaughter cases, in the hope of ensuring that the punishments reflect the severity of the crimes.Gross negligence manslaughter, which involves the breach of a duty of care towards a victim, is being considered by investigators examining the Grenfell Tower fire which resulted in the deaths of 72 people.Prosecutors have also charged Hillsborough match commander, David Duckenfield, with gross negligence manslaughter in connection with the deaths of 95 Liverpool football supporters who died in the 1989 disaster. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.Under the new guidelines judges are being offered a range of sentencing options for those convicted which vary from one to 18-years.Penalties for gross negligence offences are expected to increase, because the advice is to focus more on the blame that should be placed on the offender, rather than the wider circumstances of the case.It is believed that in the past sentences in these cases have been too low, relative to other offences and the new guidelines are to address that and usher in some consistency.Justice Minister Rory Stewart said: “Manslaughter is an extremely serious offence, causing immeasurable pain to families who lose their loved ones.“So it is vital our courts have clear, consistent guidance in these often complex cases – such as when both individuals and employers are involved.“These guidelines will make sure sentences reflect the severity of the crime, helping protect workers and keep communities safe.”    Gross negligence manslaughter allegations are being considered as part of the Grenfell investigationCredit:AFP read more

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2019-09-25

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Council scheme to collect bins only once a month forcing people to

At least one council in Scotland – Falkirk – already makes four-weekly collections.Under European Union targets the UK must recycle at least half of all household waste by 2020, with the figure currently at around 43 per cent.Conwy council said the move could save £390,000 a year. It said: “We currently recycle 64 per cent of our waste, which is really good, but we need to recycle 70 per cent by 2024/25 to meet the Welsh Government’s targets. If these targets are not achieved the council may be fined.”It said the trial of four-weekly collections led to a 14 percent increase in recycling and a 31 percent decrease in the amount of rubbish discarded in wheelie bins.The council put extra measures in place to help residents recycle, including free collection of large items, free nappy bins for grandparents who look after children and bespoke collections for those who miss bin collections if they are on holiday.Three and four-weekly bin collections were non-existent until 2014/15, when two councils adopted the system, data from waste charity Wrap has shown. In 2009/10, some 245 councils organised weekly bin collections, a figure which has fallen by 34 per cent to 160. This is despite vigorous campaigning by waste activists and this newspaper to preserve a weekly service.Over the same period the number of fortnightly collections has risen by 38 per cent from 219 to 303 councils.  Meanwhile, it emerged last week that cling film, plant pots and takeaway trays are being recycled by less than 10 per cent of councils. Monthly bin collections have been introduced for the first time in England and Wales, causing fury amongst residents who say they are having to burn their rubbish.The controversial scheme was launched in the county of Conwy, North Wales, following a year-long trial for its 11,000 households.But it was met with anger from locals who said the trial had attracted more rats, seagulls and flies as the rotting piles of rubbish created hideous smells.Several said they had been forced to buy incinerators to burn the bulging piles of waste.Others have claimed the policy has led to an increase in fly-tipping and warned that there was a public health risk when the weather was warm.At least 18 councils across England and Wales have moved to three-weekly rubbish collections, with a handful trialling four-weekly collections as they come under increasing pressure to reduce waste and increase recycling rates. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Data from Wrap showed that local authorities have drastically different recycling regimes, under which some households are able to recycle different items to others.It means some households may be wasting their time trying to recycle some items marked as “recyclable” because they are unaware their council cannot recycle it.Three councils – Rotherham, the Isles of Scilly, and Tonbridge and Malling – do not recycle plastic at all.The Government is consulting on an overhaul of the recycling regime in the hope of improving recycling rates. read more

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2019-09-25

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Londons murder rate hits grim milestone after spate of bloodshed

The remainder include 68 stabbings, 12 shootings and two deaths involving a knife and a gun.A third of the cases (42) involved victims aged 16 to 24, while 20 were teenagers.Among the victims aged 16 to 24, 30 were stabbed, nine were shot, two died in attacks involving a knife and a gun, and one died in a fall. For the teenagers aged 15 to 19, six were shot and 14 were stabbed.Enhanced stop and search powers to be introducedHow police can tackle the issue has been a subject of fierce debate. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, is expected to announce enhanced stop and search powers for police within the next few weeks.He has said police should feel empowered to use the tactic irrespective of whether they are black, brown or white in efforts to combat the “disease” of knife crime.Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said last week the Home Office had “stepped back a lot” and needed to show “greater leadership”. Police have pointed to links between violence and so-called county lines drug networks, where urban dealers force children and other vulnerable people to courier illegal substances to customers in more rural areas. The only higher peak was in June 2017 when there were 20, a figure that includes eight people killed in the London Bridge terror atrocity.If this is excluded, the previous monthly peak was in April 2010 when there were 16.In total, 111 homicides were recorded in 2016 and 122 in 2015 in the capital, according to Home Office data. In an interview with The Telegraph, she said the failure to introduce laws which allow officers to use facial recognition technology to catch “bad guys” has left her officers “hamstrung”. She added that the battle against violent crime would be easier with funding for more officers.Violent crime levels a ‘concern’ after second highest number of homicides since 2010Levels of violent crime in the capital have remained a concern throughout the year, with monthly highs in February and March, when 18 homicides were recorded each month.These were the second highest monthly totals recorded since April 2010. Before this the number of police-recorded homicides in London had been falling, from 164 in 2007 to 91 in 2014.Looking at official figures for financial years, there was a peak in 2003/4 when there were 212, and then, bar one rise in 2010/11, the total gradually decreased until 2017/18 when it rose by 36% to 146.Middle class cocaine users blamed for crime riseIn response to the bloodshed this year, the Metropolitan Police Violent Crime Task Force was set up, seizing 340 knives, 40 guns and 258 other offensive weapons in its first six months of operation, and making more than 1,350 arrests.Mayor Sadiq Khan also announced plans for a Violence Reduction Unit that would adopt the public health approach to tackle violent crime that was successfully used in Glasgow. The number of murders in London so far this year has now matched the total in the whole of 2017, a grim milestone that will fuel the debate of how to tackle rising crime. After a series of violent deaths in the capital, including the week from October 31 when there were five stab murders, the tally of homicides has reached 118.This is equal to the number in the whole of 2017, according to Home Office figures, excluding the 13 victims of the terrorist attacks at Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.The latest incident involved the death of a 35-year-old woman who suffered an abdominal wound at an address in Ilford, east London, on Monday. A 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.The official Metropolitan Police tally of violent deaths this year is 120, but the figure takes in two cases that are being treated as self-defence. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. They are also known to take over innocent people’s homes to use as a base for crime.Middle class cocaine users have come under fire from a number of public figures, including Ms Dick, who pointed to the misery caused by the drugs trade.Drill music, where rappers taunt rivals with lyrics laced with violence and threats, and the role of social media in escalating disputes have also come under the microscope, as have cuts to youth services and the police.On Monday Home Secretary Sajid Javid admitted that police officer numbers were “an important part” of the fight against violent crime. read more

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2019-09-25

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2000 clergy sign letter saying new Church of England service for trans

Despite the huge outburst of opposition to the changes, many in the C of E want the church’s hierarchy to move faster and further in affirming LGBT people.The Revd Tina Beardsley, a transgender priest who helped draw up the new service, said opponents of the reforms were burying their heads in the sands by trying to delay churches holding services for their trans parishioners.“It does seem a little strange to be saying ‘I’m sorry but you’ve got to wait another two years and possible longer beyond that before we can actually pray with you’. That doesn’t feel right to me.”Another trans priest involved in the process, Canon Rachel Mann, said she could not understand how anyone could object to the House of Bishops’ guidance.“This is a classic example of Anglican thoughtfulness. This is a set of guidance that addresses the deep human desire that we all have, whether trans or non-trans, to reaffirm our baptismal commitment to Jesus Christ,” she said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A new Church of England service for transgender people could “harm” children, an open letter signed by more than 2,000 clergy has claimed. Some 2,155 bishops, priests and lay members of the church have added their names to the letter which condemns new guidance released last month on gender transition.In December, the church announced vicars would now be able to hold a special service so transgender people could celebrate their new identities.But there has been a steadily growing backlash to the proposals, culminating in the open letter which attacks them as “deeply concerning” and “lacking in serious theological analysis”.The signatories caution rapidly-developing theories about gender could cause “more harm than good” to children experiencing gender dysphoria and call on the Church of England’s House of Bishops, which approved the reforms last year, to “revise, postpone or withdraw” them until concerns have been addressed.The letter states that while gender dysphoria was an “emotionally painful experience that requires understanding, support and compassion”, the House of Bishops appears to have ignored the potential for damage caused by “novel and largely untested theories about sex and gender”.It also argues the guidance implicitly undermines the church’s understanding of marriage by endorsing the idea there is no difference between male and female. Among the other groups to have criticised the new liturgy is the Church of England Evangelical Council, which said in a statement the guidance was “highly divisive and theologically and pastorally questionable”.Even the Bishop of Blackburn, a leading evangelical who had piloted the process of drawing up the gender transition service, has now disavowed his own reforms and said he regretted his involvement in the process. Other evangelical leaders have castigated the service as a “false gospel” which “denies the teachings of Jesus Christ”.But a spokesperson for the Church of England insisted the guidance had not changed the church’s doctrine on sexuality or gender. “The guidance is not a restatement or a new statement on matters relating to gender, nor does it change the Church of England’s teaching.”“The bishops will give the letter their serious consideration, especially in the context of the preparation of a major new set of teaching and learning resources on identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality which will be published next year.” Among the senior Anglicans who have added their names to the letter are two archdeacons, two former bishops, and a member of the Archbishops’ Council, one of the C of E’s central governing bodies. read more

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2019-09-25

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Booker Prize longlist 2019 The 1000page novel with only one sentence

Joanna MacGregor, the conductor, pianist and composer who is serving as one of this year’s judges, said readers should not be put off by Ellmann’s experimental style.“The thing to know is that it’s extremely funny. So although it looks very dense and worrying on the page, actually every single page is full of puns and jokes. And there is a plot in there.“You just have to read as much as you can of it and then put it down and come back to it,” she said. If you’re looking for a long read, the Booker Prize has just the thing.Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport, one of 13 novels in the running for the literary award, consists of a single sentence running over 1,000 pages.It is the interior monologue of an Ohio housewife ruminating on everything from dinner party menus to the dark side of Trump’s America, a stream-of-consciousness written without paragraphs or full stops.The 426,100-word sentence is broken only a handful of times, by a parallel story written from the perspective of a mountain lion.Ellmann’s usual publisher, Bloomsbury, turned down the novel but it was picked up by the comparatively tiny Galley Beggar Press.The Booker Prize judges called it “extraordinary” and “like nothing you’ve ever read before”. Atwood’s novel, The Testaments, is a soon-to-be-published sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, with a plot so secret that the judges had to sign a “ferocious” non-disclosure agreement.Eight of the 13 writers are women. There has been grumbling in previous years over the number of American writers on the list – the rules were changed in 2014 to make American novels eligible – but this year only Ellmann is US-born. She moved to the UK as a teenager and now lives in Edinburgh.”There were so many great books this year, of such a high standard, that we simply didn’t have to worry about having enough women writers, or whether writers from other countries were being represented properly. We were inundated with books by very gifted writers,” MacGregor said.The shortlist of six will be announced on September 3 and the winner on October 14.Peter Florence, chair of the judges, said: “These writers offer joy and hope. They celebrate the rich complexity of English as a global language. They are exacting, enlightening and entertaining. Really – read all of them.”  Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann   Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann Credit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Familiar names on the longlist include Margaret Atwood for The Testaments, Jeanette Winterston for Frankissstein and Salman Rushdie for Quichotte. The list includes one debut novelist, Oyinkan Braithwaite, with My Sister, The Serial Killer. read more

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2019-09-25

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