Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – 555 @ 61.67!

IMG_3941

Like a letter arriving through your mailbox, the 2022 cricket season soon arrived at my door. Following my limp efforts during the run drought of 2021, I was steadfastly determined to deliver the runs and post some big scores whatever the weather.

IMG_3937

At Bradford Recreation Park, one of my favourite grounds, where the palm trees decorate the full playing sphere, I started the season as I meant to go on and even if I didn’t go on as I’d started it was still a good start! My run-a-ball 169 represented more than double last year’s maximum effort of just 79. My teammates as well as some in the media were quick to point out the irony of me, the husband of a French lady, being dismissed by A.French. Oh how we all chuckled at that one! I was controversially adjudged caught behind when on 26 second time around before the match petered out into a draw. Thrilling run chases wouldn’t rise to prominence until the second half of the campaign.

My mid-season form then followed a similar trend of campaigns gone by, with dismissals in the twenties and thirties occurring with alarming regularity. I made 36 and 29 in defeat at Sheffield before falling for 7 and 31 at home to Scarborough. The fall on 31 was at least in part down to an attempt at an admittedly unlikely achievable run chase.

The penultimate match of the season was somewhat of a juxtaposition for me. I contributed scores of 90 (61 balls) and 82 (44 balls), the latter in a partnership of 98 that I clearly dominated. With reckless disregard for the risk to my batting average should I come unstuck, I took the attack to the York bowling… attack! My innings end came about only because of my selfless attempt to win the match for my team and my batting partner’s selfish concern for his own statistics. With five wickets still in hand, I was appalled, disgusted, dismayed, insert appropriate adjective, with the defence minded approach our late middle-order batsmen applied in the final overs. Our number six finished a shameful 8 not out from 33 deliveries when the game finished a draw. Victory was just 38 runs in sight!

IMG_3940

My facial expression in the above photograph aptly sums up my thoughts regarding my teammates’ efforts in our draw at home to arch rivals York. I was not a happy chappy!

In the final round of matches, hosting Hull at home would bring about another thrilling run chase, this time one that had a much happier ending. That wasn’t before I suffered the frustration of being run out when well set and playing beautifully in our first innings. I had reached 39 (Those frustrating thirties again!) when I was caught short attempting a third. Such was my angst at my dismissal that I honestly don’t remember whether I was still attempting the third or had turned back. I must also offer further apologies for the smashed window in the changing room. It wasn’t a moment to be proud of and of course I will cover the repair costs and accept my fine without appeal.

From one end of the emotional spectrum to another, it was with rapture unbound that I should be at the crease when we completed a cheeky run chase on the final day of the three-day season and righted the wrongs of York. When I entered the theatre, we needed 64 runs from 18 overs however when it came to the crunch, despite there being four overs left, the clock had already ticked past the close of play. So it was that with just three deliveries remaining and with myself undefeated on 46 from 36 deliveries, my teammate drove the ball to the ropes to seal a stunningly deserved victory on a rocky horror picture show of an end of season pitch. We embraced, the bevvies flowed and another cricket campaign, in this format at least, reached its conclusion.

We (Leeds) finished a respectable second in the Northern Division (err… really, we only won one game?!) and on a personal note, I too finished second in the run charts. 555 runs at 61.67 was a far better effort than recent years. I was only just pipped to the premier post by my teammate and opening batsman who too played his hand in the run chase against Hull with a classy 74 from 75 deliveries. No looking after his batting average, just playing for the team!

Advertisements

Six to Watch: 2018

img_1408

It’s that time again. With the 2018 English county cricket season rapidly approaching (No it is, honestly!), Silly Point profiles six players to, as the name of the article suggests, watch this term.

Tom Fell, Worcestershire

The one man on this list who was actually included in the 2017 edition of ‘Six to Watch’. Having battled back from cancer, Tom Fell sadly had a batting horror show in 2017. I guess you could say that his form rather ‘fell’ away! This year will surely be different for the Worcestershire right-hander. Still only twentyfour-years-old and with over 3000 First Class runs to his name, Fell’s most productive years should lie ahead.

Ollie Pope, Surrey

Having dropped an extremely costly dolly off Alex Hales in the One-Day cup final last year, nineteen-year-old Pope bounced back to record a maiden First Class hundred at Hampshire before the season’s close. Highly regarded by those at Surrey, he should now expect more regular first team opportunities. Whether or not he’ll be required to do much wicketkeeping remains to be seen. That vocation may lie in whether or not Ben Foakes can squeeze into the England XI.

Hamidullah Qadri, Derbyshire

Afghanistan born off-spinner Qadri arrived with an economical bang in 2017. His first 15 overs in First Class cricket cost a miserly 16 runs and he followed up that introduction with a five-wicket haul in the second innings of his debut match. Derbyshire may do well to retain his services but if they can and he can back up his early performances then the barely seventeen-year-old could help haul the unfashionable county out of the doldrums. Hopefully with him on board, they can avoid going another two years without a County Championship victory. No pressure Hamidullah!

Delray Rawlins, Sussex

Having represented Bermuda, precocious talent Rawlins is now very much on England’s radar and having flirted with Sussex’s first team last season, will hope to cement a regular spot this term. He’ll want to be recognised as a specialist top-order batsman as well as offering plenty with his slow-left-arm bowling.

Will Rhodes, Warwickshire

A former England junior captain, it never really worked out for Rhodes at Yorkshire. There was a brief stint as a stoic opening batsman but maybe a lack of clarity over what exactly his role was. A capable all-rounder, Rhodes will hope to rekindle his career, like a few others, with Ashley Giles and co. at Warwickshire.

Olly Stone, Warwickshire

Hopefully fully recovered from injury, Stone, another Warwickshire recruit and one of those players mentioned in dispatches as being a genuine pace bowler and even future Ashes tour candidate, will be desperate to get playing regularly and be amongst the timbers. Having returned from injury last year, the former Northamptonshire man conceded a half-century of runs in the T20 cup final and will be eager to put that performance and his injury hell firmly in the past.

Silly Point will revisit ‘Six to Watch’ both during and come the conclusion of the 2018 county cricket campaign to see how the sextet have performed.

A Complete Restructure of International Cricket… Again!

img_1987

Following Australia’s annihilation of England in the 2017-18 Ashes, there’s surely no better time to once again campaign for my proposed changes to the structure of international cricket, namely the fact that all Test series should consist of three matches.

Here’s the link to my last foray into global alterations…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/a-complete-restructure-of-international-cricket-revisited/

Admittedly I keep struggling to remember why I ever thought an odd number of teams was appropriate but even with tweaks, this is the crux of it:

All tours consist of three matches of each format, that’s Tests, ODIs and T20Is. There is an amalgamated points table covering all three formats. There has to be, you can’t have different teams getting relegated and promoted in different formats. It just wouldn’t be logistically possible in future cycles of the competition. The top division would have Test, ODI and T20I status but the division below would only have First Class, List A and T20 status. Nobody should have a divine right to have top status and every country the world over should have the opportunity to work their way to the highest echelons of international cricket. Players, media and fans would have the chance to travel to ‘unvisited’ parts of the world. The league would also provide the very clear qualification process for both ODI and T20I World Cups. That’s that the top positioned teams in each format at the end of each cycle qualify for the respective tournament.

On a side note, it’d be fascinating to see the career statistics of players only in matches that matter. Should Tom Curran and Mason Crane be recorded as actually having played Test cricket? Does Don Bradman average 99.94 if you strip away ‘Dead rubbers’?

Returning to the restructure of the global game, the scaremongers will point to the possibility of Armenia touring Australia, or India (Or whoever?) and all the telly money being relegated but if Armenia did play Australia then the gap will have been closed over many years. Armenia will have played competitive cricket for sometime and earned the right to challenge the historical might. If India or whoever fell from the top table then maybe China, USA of Timbuckzimbaboutermongolialand will pump tons of money into the game.

There are some half-hearted nonsensical league formats coming into place in international cricket shortly but quite frankly they’re a joke. Cricket continues to embarrass itself with an inability to identify a fair structure. Well if you’re reading ICC…

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – South Career!

IMG_3915

Ahhh the 2021 campaign. A season of one fifty across the three formats and not surprisingly, still no pro contract offer!

IMG_3916

The three-day campaign read like a James Vincesque series of starts but a failure to convert:

31 & 0, 14 & 31, 37 & 24, 38 & 79, 8 & 38

That’ll be a dismissal in the thirties in every match and a top score only as high as the previous season’s. 300 runs at an average of 30.00 exactly summed up a frustrating year. We, Leeds, finished bottom of the Northern Division.

Continuing a fascination with integers, I averaged an appalling 10.00 in the one-day campaign. A score of 18 was as good as it got. It simply wasn’t enough to merit recognition from county sides or global franchises. Whether or not this is a game bug or just merited… make up your won mind!

IMG_3917

Come the Twenty20 frolicking, I was run out for five in the opening round of matches. A ricochet off the non-striker contributing to the fielding side and playing its part in my innings termination! Having missed out with a score of just two in the next match, I’d reached 42 not out in a fascinating run chase third time out. Having smacked an almighty six off the first ball of the final over, it appeared as though I was leading the team to an epic victory. Two dot balls followed however, the declination of risky singles possibly proving costly. I let the bowler get into my head and was caught on the boundary off the fourth delivery of the over. My teammate then promptly played two forward defensive shots and we fell seven runs short! There were to be no trips to any finals-days this term.

I finished the season with a swashbuckling 32 not out from 15 deliveries to conclude the campaign with an average of 29.00 having not been required to bat in the fourth match. Over the course of the season I’d managed to be demoted from three in the batting order down to five! Frustratingly I signed off for the season with a wonderful straight six. A sign of what could’ve been. I only have myself to blame for a failure to apply myself properly with the bat and convert promising foundations. Come 2022, I intend to return to compiling the mammoth double hundreds of years gone by. Well, there was that one double hundred!

Stepping away from trying to pretend that this all real for a moment. The issue of all highest scores showing as not outs seems to have been addressed. That’s only for new scores though, so in career and other game modes you need to register a new high score. I really enjoy the context of playing Test matches as England but intend to play ODIs and T20Is as well. When playing career, and I appreciate that this is a computer game, you really need to apply yourself in order to rack up big scores and achieve run chases. Having a baby rolling around your legs and a wife who likewise doesn’t want to be ignored means that batting can’t always be provided the application it merits. Well that’s my excuse for a career average of around 30.00 anyway!

I’ll be back in the future with a review of my 2022 season in career mode, a write-up of England’s Global Test League trip to Pakistan, the opening round of Global ODI and T20I Leagues and an extensive Ashes Cricket (PS4) stats and facts update. There might be one or two ‘real’ cricket articles as well!

Many thanks to all the world over who are taking the time to follow my blog and read my articles.

Silly Point

Extras: An Ashes Tour Themed Question Filled Extras!

img_2143

Bye: Is Mason Crane the first player to make his Test debut in a city with which he shares his middle name?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/660889.html

Leg Bye: Have the following players misunderstood an instruction to have Don Bradman like averages?

Tom Curran: 100.00

Jake Ball: 114.33

Mason Crane: 193.00

Yet Craig Overton (37.66) doesn’t average over a ton. Go figure!

No Ball: Will Chris Lynn ever be fit?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/21998811/chris-lynn-injury-raises-glenn-maxwell-question

Wide: After returning figures of 0-108 in Melbourne, has Jackson Bird played his last Test?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/215152.html

Crane Soars… but will Crane Reign?

IMG_3914.JPG

Could this week get any better for Mason Crane?

Not only is he likely to be called up to the England side for the Global Test League match against Pakistan in Lahore, a virtual Test debut but a Test debut in reality awaits too! Crane will step out for England against Australia in the fifth Test in Sydney. We don’t want another Scott Borthwick episode though. I would like to have seen Crane play earlier rather than a “Why the hell not?” selection in the final match. That is no slight on Borthwick, a more than decent cricketer who claimed wickets in his sole Test outing, only to raise the example that he’s never played again and certainly not come close to doing so in that role. Crane would definitely welcome four wickets on Test debut ala Borthwick.

Meanwhile AJ Tye and Jhye Richardson make the cut for Australia’s ODI squad. Both have played T20Is and I’ve enjoyed watching them in the Big Bash. Tye doesn’t look special but is a clever bowler. Richardson is an exciting young cricketer and is well worth the investment.

Jhye Richardson

In other news, West Indies Chadwick Walton got another international duck. Walton, a player I like, clocked up a century against England in a tour match but his international stats make for extremely grim reading…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/315586.html

At 32, there are unlikely to be any more chances for the Jamaica native.

Back to Crane, there are no guarantees that things will go swimmingly for the Hampshire spinner but hopefully even if he suffers a Simon Kerriganesque debut, England will be brave enough to go back to him.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – New Zealand Run Out… of Ideas!

IMG_3901

When your bowlers need claim only fourteen wickets, you can’t help but think that Test match victories shouldn’t come quite so easily!

Post victory in the Shamrock state, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes was recalled to the side for the hosting of New Zealand at Edgbaston. Woakes soon snaffled a wicket on his home ground, that of Kiwi opener Jeet Raval, caught behind for seven by debutant wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. That’d be bowled Woakes caught Foakes then! Brought into the side at the expense of Jonny Bairstow following the Yorkshireman’s shabby showing against Ireland in Malahide, Foakes duly put in an exemplary performance behind the timbers. Surrey head honcho Alec Stewart will be proud.

IMG_3902

Woakes made the most of his familiarity with the surroundings. With the new ball in hand whilst Stuart Broad sat this match out, Woakes claimed impressive figures of 3-28 as New Zealand capitulated to 143-9 in their first innings. Only a last wicket stand of forty between Neil Wagner and Trent Boult helped lift the visitors to a slightly more respectable 183 all out. New Zealand’s ineptitude with the bat on such a run-welcoming surface was soon highlighted by England’s willow wielders, not to mention the Kiwis’ own efforts come their second innings.

IMG_3903

Mark Stoneman compiled a career best 82 in an opening partnership of 186 with former Durham colleague Keaton Jennings but was rightly gutted on missing out on a maiden Test century. The Surrey lefty played an unnecessary and inexplicably expansive shot when three figures were peeping above the horizon whilst crying out “Come and get me Mark, please!”.

IMG_3904

Perennially in-form Jennings made no such mistake. His monumental 222 was a dominational knock that left him sitting pretty at the top of the Global Test League run charts whilst averaging an epic 83.29! #Bradmanesque was soon trending on social media. In the interest of fairness, Roston Chase, Dean Elgar and Ross Taylor have all clocked up higher GTL scores in the first four rounds of games.

IMG_3906

Dawid Malan registered his third hundred of the GTL, the most by any individual thus far in the inaugural edition of the competition. The Middlesex man fell for a Test best 155, his partnership of 194 with Adil Rashid was England’s competition high so far as was the team cumulative of 765-9. Regarding the bowling, Neil Wagner claimed absurd figures of 3-256!

IMG_3907

Following his reintegration to the Test side against Ireland, Adil Rashid continued his authoritative all-round performance and seemed destined for a maiden Test century. The Yorkshireman was controversially adjudged run out when on 79 however, though in truth it was an almightily risky run, even if the cameras suggested he’d made his ground.

IMG_3911

As was the case against Ireland, England saw their opposition produce a strong second innings batting display. It was only day three and the pitch was still a good one. How much more the Kiwis 410 could have been if it were not for five run outs in the innings, added to one in their first, will forever remain unknown. Had the tourists not conceded such village dismissals (No disrespect to village cricketers across the land!) and had they applied themselves better in their first innings then this could have been a far more evenly contested high scoring affair. Tim Southee’s run out for a career best 87, a dismissal that sealed the home side’s victory was disappointing, embarrassing, amateur, heart-breaking and inevitable all at the same time. Even the England fans wanted to see him reach a ton.

Moving on from my journalistic report and bringing to the fore my role as Team Manager and Chairman of Selectors of the England national side, we’d prefer to have to work harder for our wickets, even if we can claim to have applied pressure to bring them about. Our performance against spin, Jeetan Patel finished with figures of 0-98 on his home ground, was extremely encouraging. Pakistan in Lahore however will be a different kettle of the proverbial fish. We look forward to the challenge though. We currently sit joint top of the GTL table alongside South Africa and India. They too have won three matches and lost one. Entertaining ‘The Proteas’ at home will follow the trip to Pakistan.

The squad to travel to Pakistan will be named after careful consideration has been provided. Rotation of our pace bowlers continues to be of paramount importance as we look to sustain our intensity throughout the duration of the competition. Thoughts of adding additional spin options to the XI will be weighed up as will selecting spin-skilled batsmen. The players continue to be humbled by the support of the fans.