10. Streaks in coal? Could be such sets, OK, when mined. CLARAIN (composite anagram) ‘Streaks in coal’ is found to be an anagram of ‘CLARAIN, sets, OK’.
13. Edrich batting, a combative fellow of old. CHIDER (anag.) Azed probably had in mind Bill Edrich DFC, the Middlesex and England batsman, rather than his Surrey and England cousin: John, though the description given could fairly describe either. Others of that name who played first class (but not Test) cricket may be traced through the links shown above.
15. Less hard work than a hammer? See chippy align one. NAIL GUN (anag, un) The first of two clues in this puzzle to feature the use of the word: ‘see’. Its function here is to address the solver and to accommodate the cryptic part in a pleasing and apt surface, cf. 33 Across.
17. Commoner section of people believe (giving his word contentiously!) PLEB (hidden) All UK solvers will have heard of the Plebgate Scandal. Watson is not convinced that readiness to believe one side or the other is determined by class, if that is what is suggested here.
21. Not seated? That may be disturbing to one. STANDEE (composite anagram) ‘Not seated’ is found here to be anagram of ‘to STANDEE’.
23. Die, peace replacing speech as part of honouring. DECEASE (‘-ease’ for ‘-oration’ in ‘decoration’) Readily solving clues based on a substitution, even those where the device is explicitly stated, does not always guarantee an immediate explanation, as Watson found here.
25. Investigation methods soon entering tangled gorse mostly. ORGANONS (anon in anag. less e) This is the subject of Azed’s warning of a ‘possibly questionable plural form’. Chambers gives the plural as ‘organa’.
26. Footballer from number kept in reserve. INCE (n in ice) Dr Watson was relieved to find the name of a footballer that he knew, that of Paul Ince.
33. Like some drums? See one beside backing. OTIC (c, I, to, all rev.) The other (with 15 Across) clue to feature the word ‘see’, here used as part of the cryptic indication. It complements the given definition most sweetly.
34. Small ship, obscure in a way before one joins company. MISTICO (mist (as verb) I, co) Dr Watson’s favourite clue in this puzzle, evocative of a dimly sighted vessel in the hazy, not too far distant blue.
3. Wealthy Springbok (not Habana) nearly ruined. LARNEY (anag.) Here, ‘Springbok’ is used to indicate a South African and not specifically a rugby player as suggested by reference to Bryan Habana. Our solution is listed as a South African term for either a white person or else a rich person. Habana is accounted the fastest sprinter in the game, but may not earn quite as much as his top-class soccer counterparts.
6. What gets Hindu trembling with fear − this fiend? RAHU (composite anagram) ‘Hindu, fear’ is found here to be an anagram of ‘RAHU, fiend’.
8. Are they pointless? Not quite, or not at all. NEEDLES (i.e. needles(s) & lit.) Brilliantly witty, ‘not quite’ serving the cryptic indication, and ‘not at all’ the definition. The disjunctive ‘or’ ensures that the whole clue may be read as either.
9. Crowning garlands worn irk eye badly in part of mass. KYRIE ELEISON (anag, leis, on) The order in which the indicated parts are stated is disguised by the use of ‘crowning’. The anagram (irk eye) is thus placed above the ‘garlands’ (leis) and ‘worn’ (on).
14. Endlessly senseless hullabaloo ensuring good breeding? IN-AND-IN (inan(e), din; s.v. in) An out-and-out stinker for solvers who failed to consider a dictionary entry listed under ‘in’.
19. Ballerina? That’s her in English habit. DANSEUSE (i.e. dans E use) The French dancer points her toe at her ‘in’.
20. Crafty poems about ‘do’ (as it was called) VERSUTE (ut1 in verse) The reference here is to the tonic sol-fa.
22. Like a US ferret I catch , brought up on fish. TENIOID (I, net (all rev.), o’ id; s.v. taenia & ferret2) An example of an Azed clue (often encountered - see also 35 Across) where the solver needs to consider an obscure meaning of a familiar word, in this case, ‘ferret’. How appropriate!
Across: 1. SPLATTERPUNK (platter in spunk) 11. GREY (gre(ed)y) 12. RURU (RU, RU; s.v. mopoke) 18. SENDABLE (end in sable) 28. SALIENT (alien in st!) 31. TURTLE (tur(een), anag. less f) 32. GRIS (gris(gris) s.v. gree2) 35. REMAINDERMAN (main, derm, all in rean; s.v. fell4)
Down: 1. SCRIPT DOCTOR (anag less i,e) 2. PLUG (The Competition Word) 4. TALISMAN (hidden) 5. TIPLESS (2 meanings) 7. URDY (urd, y; s.v. urdé) 16. ABREAST (r in ‘a beast’ (q.v.)) 24. UNTRIM (anag, m) 27. GRIM (grim(ace)) 29. ALDI (di/al) 30. MICA ((for)mica)