Clues by Nutmeg and Grid by Jolt
The background for this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph showing Ravi Bopara playing a summer sport for England against New Zealand. The coloured clothing indicates that this is not a Test Match.
Jolt has constructed a grid celebrating the 50th anniversary of an impromptu first instance of an innovative new format. Solvers are requested to submit two additional thematic items: the yellow cells in the middle layer; and the anagram of the blue cells.
Nutmeg has kindly served up a gentle loosener to get the new season started. The theme is wittily spun into the clues and we hope that solvers will not find themselves stumped.
Foreign nationals also in French estaminets, on vacation (7)
Also in French needs us to dust off our foreign language knowledge. On vacation suggests we only need the first and last letters of estaminets. Combine these to get foreign nationals associated with the theme. [N&SI]
On fall of wicket, clout two boundaries perhaps (5)
Fall of wicket tells us to remove an abbreviation for wicket from another word for clout to give what two boundaries make. [JP]
Number three bats (5)
A concise little clue that has nothing to do with 6 across aka Fox’s photo! Two old favourites of setters are: a flower meaning a river (as in a flow-er) and number meaning a numb-er (with a silent b). If bats means crazy then this is an invitation to find an anagram of the second word. A piece of cake. [GS]
Vaccine finally stops rapid spread (5)
Vaccine finally points us to the e. Stops tells us that it should go in another word for rapid to give a spread. [JP]
Nervous Tuffers ill at ease, missing second fifty (7)
Ill at ease leads us to an anagram of Tuffers but missing second fifty means take away an abbreviation for second and add the roman numeral for fifty to give another word for nervous. [JP]
Ancient physician treated 12, barring two tail-enders (5)
Treated indicates that this is an anagram, and we need the solution to Day 12, from which we remove two tail-enders. The answer is the name of a physician from a long time ago. [N&SI]
70s bowler sound as a bell following short break (7)
Not a bowler hat but a real person and from the 1970s. Phew! But hang on. The exact theme of the puzzle is three words which are commonly referred to by the initials. And doesn’t 12 across contain 3 yellow squares? This is well worth pursuing. First syllable, middle letter O. Second syllable, four letters starting DI. Another piece of cake. [GS]
Fans missing Lawry’s initial 6 in series (5)
We need a six-letter word for fans from which we will remove Lawry’s initial. For the definition we really need to know the solution to Day 6, though 6 in series could define the singular of this thematic answer. [N&SI]
Marks for musician backing Estefan’s comeback shows (5)
Word for musical signs nicely hidden backwards in the clue. [JP]
We are grateful to other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate), and Alison Ramage & Andre Sonnet (Aramis).
Nick & Sarah Inglis (etc)