3D Crossword Solution – January 2021

Jan 2021 puzzle page

Clues by Nutmeg and Grid by Jolt

Theme: First One Day International (ODI) test cricket match (5 Jan 1971)

The winner of the January puzzle was Robert Campbell of West Yorkshire.

Review of the January 2021 3D crossword

Not much by way of instruction. We are simply told that we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of an impromptu first instance of an innovative new format.

For the 2021 calendar Puck, our crossword editor, extended the use of ‘Easter Eggs’ as a general requirement for most, if not all, of this year’s 3D crosswords. They are called Easter Eggs because they’re hidden surprises to be discovered or worked out during the solve. In this instance, for January, they are very straightforward. Solvers are to submit with their entry two thematic items: one is highlighted in yellow in the middle tier, while an anagram of the other can be found in the blue cells.

For a cruciverbalist cricket fan, what can make a better start to the year than the national test side winning two tests abroad in January, coupled with a cricket themed January 3D crossword? We try to give a gentle introduction in our January crossword and this puzzle was no exception.  With lots of cricket themed entries emerging very early in the solve, together with the photograph of an elegant cover drive, the theme was immediately evident. All of this year’s background photographs have a thematic link, all trickier than this one, so it’s worth a little effort to identify the link.

The picture clue also frequently features at least one reference to the theme, often quite tricky to deduce. Not so on this occasion. It is clearly a CRUMPET with its RUMP missing, to be replaced by a name. A quick glance at the clue and, equally clearly, the picture was of someone named RICK (Rick Astley it transpired) to give us CRICKET. Frank Paul has eased off on the difficulty level of the picture clues for 2021, so do give them a try this year.

The yellow shaded cells gave ODI and the anagram of the blue cells gave MELBOURNE. So we’re celebrating the birth of one day international cricket. In January 1971 three days of solid rain had washed out the traditional Boxing Day test between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. An impromptu 40 overs a side match between the two sides was hastily arranged.  And so international One Day cricket was born. 

Fittingly Jolt, our Australian IT team member, designed the grid. Thanks to her and the always thoughtful and clever Nutmeg. Like some of you, my favourite clue was Day 13 “Number three bats” (5) for ETHER, with the equally succinct Day 9 “Six-footer’s game” (7) for CRICKET a close second. Both, with thanks to MS in the comments, elegantly minimalist and thematically a perfect fit.

Finally, I and the team would like to give a warm welcome to all the new contributors to the solvers’ comments below.

Grid solution

January 2021 grid solution

Visual clue

Take a crumpet and replace rump with Rick (Astley), giving:


Visual clue for CRICKET
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1AMBIENT4ac Doctor that is injecting social worker in the background (7)(MB ie) in ant
2ANIMA15to Female personality I found in a confused man (5)I in (a man*) Jungian definition (Chambers)
3*ASHES4d All there’s left to play for? (5)2 definitions (second hinted at)
4ASSAY20to Evaluate purity of arsenic, for instance (5)As (arsenic) + say
5*AUSSIES20ac Foreign nationals also in French estaminets, on vacation (7)aussi + e(staminet)s
6*BALLS5d Deliveries not returned in 2015 election? (5)2 defs, ref Ed Balls
7CHAFF6to Kid starts to find fault after tea (5)f f after cha; def=guy=tease
8CREMA6d Italian city reached by a posh car, in reverse (5)(a Merc) reversed
9*CRICKET6ac Six-footer’s game? (7)2 definitions
10*EDGED11aw Played poor shot, already having a boundary (5)2 defs, put a border on & messed up stroke
11*EIGHT19up On fall of wicket, clout two boundaries perhaps (5)weight=clout minus w; two fours
12*ENGLAND13ac Rivals of 5 in French territory, drinking gallons (7)g in (en=in, French + land)
13ETHER13to Number three bats (5)three*
14EXPOSES19ba Submits after old flame shows up (7)poses=submits, as with a question, after ex
15FEAST2d Vaccine finally stops rapid spread (5)e in fast
16FLECK2aw Spot mischievous type overturning empty cask (5)elf reversed + c(as)k
17*FORTY1d Keep Cowdrey’s last two scores (5)Fort + [Cowdre]y; literal definition, 20×2
18FRETFUL1ac Nervous Tuffers ill at ease, missing second fifty (7)Tuffers* minus s + L (ref Phil Tufnell)
19GALEN14to Ancient physician treated 12, barring two tail-enders (5)Engla(nd)* 
20HOLDING12ac 70s bowler sound as a bell following short break (7)ding after hol
21IMBUE7to I’m depressed when Liberal’s lost charge (5)I’m blue minus L; charge as in fill
22INPUT22to Contribution from cast after batting (5)put=cast=throw after in=batting
23KHAKI8d Dull colour of HAL, briefly seen in 2001? (5)HA(L) in K K I
24LANCE16up Look to fire first weapon (5)(g)lance
25LIE TO3d Be still at sea, and audibly deny it as well? (3,2)“lie too” homophone
26*LOSES16aw Is deprived of Yorkshire insignia, having changed sides (5)roses with L for R
27*OUTPLAY17ba Perform better than Prince, cutting expenses (7)P in outlay
28*OVERS17aw Fans missing Lawry’s initial 6 in series (5)lovers minus L
29POISE18up Grace’s stance Illingworth primarily adopted (5)I in pose
30*RUN RATE10ac 33/28 that could determine result in last resort (3,4)total/overs, / as in division
31SEGNI21up Marks for musician backing Estefan’s comeback shows (5)rev hidden in (backing Estefan)
32TIDES9d Ebbs and flows one day during truncated international (5)(I d) in tes(t)
33TOTAL9to Utter “that’s all you’re getting!” (5)2 definitions
ODIThematic item highlighted in yellow in the middle tier (3)
MELBOURNEThematic item found in an anagram of the blue cells (9)

Solvers’ comments

I am not a close follower of cricket but I still enjoyed this puzzle from Nutmeg and Jolt. Thrilled that AUSSIES and MELBOURNE received a mention. Thanks to setters and to the Team for the ongoing enjoyment the 3D Calendar provides. So thrilled that 2021 has seen such a good take-up in terms of sales. Warm regards from summer in Australia. [JA]

An entertaining trip through one of those rare sports where England are world champions. MELBOURNE was a bit of an odd choice in the circumstances, I thought. But a nice start to the year. [PA]

Great fun, especially if you’re a cricket fan. Not difficult. [BB]

A pleasant start to the year [BB]

A nice start to the year! [GB]

A joy for cricket lovers! A gentle start to the year with some nice clueing. I was interested to learn more about the history of the ODI when I looked it up on Wikipedia. [SB]

Everything I know about cricket is from doing (UK) cryptic puzzles! [AB]

A fairly easy one – is this a warm-up for new subscribers? [HB]

A really enjoyable first solve in the 2021 calendar. A combination of the picture and the answer to Day 3 set me off on the right track and soon many more cricket related clues and answers followed. I particularly liked Days 17 and 18. The answer to Day 20 reminded me of the classic commentary by Brian Johnston and made me giggle yet again! [JB]

My first attempt at a 3D puzzle. Once I had worked out a strategy, it fell into place nicely. [RC]

Nice gentle start to 2021. Always get some very good clues from Nutmeg. Particularly liked Ether and Feast. Many thanks. ODI one-day international! [PC]

Great fun. Great theme. Really good start to the year. Thank you! [TC]

“The crumpet shall sound,” indeed, but who would have guessed that the sound would be “Never Gonna Give You Up”? [JC]

No idea of picture – good job my friend is a cricket fan, because that got us started , but then the clues went in steadily overall enjoyment 6/7 10 [RC]

Not a fan of cricket so had to check Google for confirmation of a couple of answers but the wordplay was fair so no worries mate! [SC]

Never been a fan of cricket but recognised the theme words. Never been a fan of crumpets either! [PD]

A really great start to 2021. Happy New Year everyone. [RE]

This celebration of the 50th anniversary of the ODI format was fun to decipher and educational to solve. Even the ex-cricketer husband showed interest in the theme this time! Thank you for the entertainment. [SF]

December fed my musical knowledge, January plays to my cricketing insights, I am spoiled. Deliciously integrated. I did waste a certain amount of time trying to establish whether Cowdrey’s last two scores had actually been (or totalled) 40 before that penny dropped. Are there two plausible answers to day 2? February looks very hard so must get this in and on with it. [EF]

Enjoyed the theme as a big cricket fan! [JG]

Our first attempt and thoroughly enjoyed it once we had got the hang of the directions. Thank you. [HH]

A fun start to the year – great to see so many clever thematic words and clues making an appearance. [AH]

A nice bit of cricket history, and lots of thematic references. Let’s hope 2021 brings many more opportunities to play/watch/listen to the game. [TH]

Impressive number of themed and clever clues. [J&JH]

How nice to have some cricket to brighten up the depths of Winter. We loved the image of nervous Tuffers ill at ease! Thanks [N&SI]

The theme came fairly early, but some clues still tricky. I didn’t know it was impromptu before looking it up. [MJ]

Very enjoyable start to the New Year. Took a while to get going but then flowed well. Hope this bodes well for the following months, in more ways than one! (MMJ/DB) [MJ&DB]

At least we’ve got the onslaught of cricket out of the way in January! Loved it though, especially days 13 and 30. Only half-understand the cryptic picture but I’ll keep pondering it… [HJ]

A gentle start to the year [ML]

Liked this – no problems, though not helped by Frank Paul’s drawing – I assume the guy is someone called Rick (I’m no good at recognising famous faces). [PM]

An excellent start to the year. Thank you. MM [AM]

I enjoyed Nutmeg’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of what became known as the first ODI, played at the end of a sodden Melbourne test in 1971. I liked the clues for HOLDING, ASHES and CREMA. Frank Paul’s drawing became infinitely easier to decipher once I realised the first item was not a pizza, but a crumpet! It also confirmed my suspicions that the character depicted looked a lot like Rick Astley! [AM]

Good fun with obvious cricket theme from photo. Interesting how things sometimes come about serendipitously. [DM]

Lovely work out to get 2021 off to a flying start [JM]

A nice start to the year. Day 13 a fun clue, and I enjoyed the topical references to vaccines etc! [JN]

Easy start to the year [MN]

A good start to the year once I had got the theme. [MP]

Nice puzzle. Theme easy to get and fairly gentle clueing. [JP]

Not the easiest subject for a Scot and a German, but fun nonetheless! [AR]

Tough for a Yank but I think I got it. [JS]

My first 3D puzzle ever and abs loved it. Big cricket fan so that helped. The image at the top is brilliant (would only have been better if it had been the climactic moment from Eng – NZ, Lord’s 2019. Some pretty challenging clues, but the short nature of the answers and the alphabetic ordering of solutions meant got through this pretty fast. Fav thematics: CRICKET, HOLDING, LOSES, OVERS, BALS, CRICKET. Fav non-thematics incl : AMBIENT, KHAKI, and more.Looking forward to the next 11. [ES]

A delightful puzzle, as always from Nutmeg. My knowledge of 70s bowlers is limited, but I remembered this one from the old quote “The bowler’s Holding the batsman’s Willey”(!) Great start to the year. [RS]

I’m not a cricket fan, but this was a nice, not too difficult start to 2021. [DS]

Great opener for 2021! The photo was unusually helpful, especially for those of us without much cricket knowledge. I also really like the Easter eggs – something to look forward to once the main answers are solved. Thanks to everyone for keeping us entertained in a very gloomy January. [BS]

I can’t believe I was Rick-rolled by a 3D crossword. [RS]

I enjoyed it – not too hard but then I love cricket. [SS]

Nice and gentle to start the year! [HS]

Lovely little puzzle! The equivalent of a gentle loosener to get one’s eye in and hit for 4. Favourite clue for its elegant minimalism and perfect fit to theme was ‘Number three bats’. I will try to keep up this year after last year just overwhelmed me in so many ways. MS [MS]

Fun but tricky for someone who knows naff all about cricket [RT]

Once again, Nutmeg, although superficially simple, was hard to get into. A bit like a sculpture starting on a slab of granite. Once again it gave up its secrets with grace. [ET]

Well, I learned a lot more about cricket! Great puzzle, really enjoyed it. [SW]

Great! My first 3D crossword! I didn’t understand the Frank Paul drawing though… [EW]

Very much enjoyed the theme and how so many cricketers were worked into the clues. And, learned a new word – always a plus! [CW]

We really approved of the grid with so many relevant terms in it and no really obscure words or going round corners. [SC]

Gentle introduction to 2021! [AG]

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