Ashes Cricket (PS4): Double no Trouble!

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In my first season with my club side Leeds, I was dismissed in the nineties on two occasions in the three-day format before under performing somewhat in my one-day and T20 outings. During the 2019 season, I hoped to write the wrongs of those ‘close but no cigar’ moments but at first struggled to do so. I was gutted to make only 9 in my first visit to the crease of the new campaign but followed up with a composed 81 in the second innings. There then followed a frustrating runs of scores: 11, 32, 11, 20, 19 & DNB, so the pressure was on come the final match of the season at home to Hull.

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I’m delighted to say that I removed the cheeky monkey from my back and recorded my maiden century in club cricket. Oh and I achieved it in style too and with added panache! When on 94 and following a couple of dot balls, I cleared the ropes with an almighty six to send the small but passionate home crowd into delirium.

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… and I didn’t stop there! I determined not to be content with merely one hundred and go onto make a daddy hundred. I combined finding the boundary with working the gaps and went onto turn my maiden century into a double. Once again the loyal home faithful went berserk!

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Just look how happy I was upon completing my double-hundred. Though it would’ve been easy to have become overcome with emotion, I remained focused and continued to churn out the runs.

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My career best knock eventually came to an end late on day one, courtesy of a fine reaction catch by Hull’s short leg fielder off the right-arm pace bowler.

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Having accumulated only 183 runs in seven innings prior to my epic knock, I had clocked up 240 come my downfall against Hull. That meant I finished the 2019 three-day season with 423 runs at an average of 52.88 which placed me fifth in the run-scoring charts. My 218-ball vigil meant that I recorded the highest individual score in the league by just one run!

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Last season I had batted exclusively at four in the longest format before dropping to five for the limited overs affairs. In the first four matches of the 2019 season, I disappointingly found myself down at five in the order. Seeing that I needed time in which to construct the sort of innings that I’m capable of, Leeds boldly pushed me up to first-drop for the final match of the season. How I rewarded them! Hopefully I’ve cemented my place at number three in the order come the 2020 three-day season. It’ll be interesting to see where I find myself positioned in the batting line-up for this season’s one-day and T20 tournaments.

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Back to my 240, you’ll see that I scored runs all around the wicket. Off-side, leg-side, square, leg, you name it, I scored there. Now it’s about adapting my game to the shorter formats and having more productive 2019 campaigns than I did in 2018. I’ll be looking to pass 1000 career runs across all formats early in the one-day season. Hopefully we can avoid the mid-table obscurity we finished with in the three-day season and reach a couple of finals-days. It’d be the least we can do for our supporters!

Disclaimer: Please don’t think that Pro level is too easy. I’d been struggling but batted well to get to a maiden hundred. Having got there, as a player will do in real life, I determined to knuckle down, not throw my wicket away and go big!

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Ashes Cricket (PS4): Limited Overs, Limited Success!

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Following the decent start made to my career in the three-day game, I was looking forward to backing it up in the limited overs campaigns.

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However I endured a difficult time in the one-day matches. This was despite scoring my runs at a modern-day strike-rate of 164.28.

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No they’re not this week’s lottery numbers! They’re my 2018 fifty-over batting performances. In truth I just didn’t apply myself properly and only had myself to blame for finishing the season with a paltry average of 13.80.

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I did at least finish the campaign with an enterprising innings of 31 from just twelve deliveries against York, only succumbing in the final over when playing for the team and not my average!

My team Leeds finished a disappointing 5th place in the league.

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Having underwhelmed in the one-dayers, I found myself quite understandably demoted from position four to five in the batting order for the T20 matches. Though I again failed to record a half-century, I was pleased with my performances. Often coming in with only a few overs remaining, I registered scores of 32, 6, 31*, 24 & 4 at a whopping strike rate of 255.26!

In a repeat of the one-day affairs we finished in a disappointing fifth place in the league and so failed to qualify for the finals-day.

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Come the 2019 campaign, I’ll look to get back on the horse in the three-day season. I’ll need to readjust my mindset to batting for long periods of time and turning some of those 90s into big hundreds in order to gain selection for a professional outfit. Hopefully I can improve on my moderate start to limited overs cricket too.

Big Ant Studios have added¬†added depth to their career mode in this, their latest cricket game. In Don Bradman Cricket 17 you only played T20 matches at club level. On Ashes Cricket once again you find yourself playing in a regionalised league, in my case Northern England but the structure is no longer three rounds or so of exclusive Twenty20 cricket. With six teams in our league we played each team once in the three-day stuff, then again in both one-dayers and T20s with finals-days in place for both the one-day and T20 tournaments. It’s a much better way of structuring things. The three-day encounters allow you to potentially construct big scores and can have exciting climaxes as teams do seem to play to win and not just settle for what might seem easy draws. Not just slogging away in T20 matches is both far more enjoyable and provides extra layers of immersion to the game.

Regarding statistics, the club level stuff is all lumped together so that when you walk out to bat for your maiden one-day appearance the stats on screen show your three-day figures then combine from that moment forward. It’d be great if the three formats were separated but that is the case once you make it to professional level with individual statistics for First Class, List A and T20 as well as Test, ODI and T20I so it’s not the end of the world whilst plugging away on the amateur circuit.

I’ve found the Northern Cup a little spin dominated but I guess that’s fair enough, particularly in the shorter formats of the game. There’s added delicacy and realism to hitting some of the shots. A dabbed guide through gully or a straight six feels so rewarding as does occasionally playing through the shot too soon, getting underneath the ball and being caught. I’ve been bowled and edged behind to spin when I probably changed my mind during the delivery’s flight and whilst it’s frustrating to get out it feels genuine! I’ve performed better against pace bowling but the movement of some of the deliveries is awesome. The opposition have held every catch I’ve offered.

Yes I experienced a dodgy stumping, fell victim to a back-to-the-ball catch and the statistics could do with a little cosmetics but my experience of Ashes Cricket so far is an encouraging one. I do hope that it takes me only two or three years to get a professional gig though and not five or six! Offering a reminder, I’m playing on pro level, medium difficulty and medium selection difficulty. Oh and not forgetting the new buttons, yes they’re are simpler but do still provide enough variety to retain depth and skill to batting in the game. I haven’t yet bowled outside of nets/training.

Disclaimer: I’m currently working on creating Test, ODI and T20I leagues in which to play as England and provide reports on but am waiting for some of the on-disc international teams to be complimented with real players.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Stumped but Still Pumped!

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Following my agonising dismissal for 95 against arch-rivals Bradford there came another strong knock of 76 at home to Scarborough. The three-day league campaign then concluded with a pair of stumped twenty-somethings (24 & 26) against York at the LSC.

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As the photographic evidence confirms my final dismissal of the competition was a controversial one!

I ended my first three-day league season for Leeds with a respectable 380 runs in nine innings at an average of 42.22. That placed me as the sixth highest run scorer in the Northern Cup. As well as striking 14 sixes my tally of 37 fours was the most in the league whilst my strike-rate of 102.98 meant that I was the only batsman to score at more than a run-a-ball!

Leeds finished a disappointing 3rd place out of six with Bradford claiming the title.

Next it’s onto the 50-over stuff followed by the T20 campaign.

Goodness Gracious Jake Ball’s on Fire!

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Well he might be if he plays in the first Test of the 2017-18 Ashes series but one can’t sit on a headline that good!

It seemed as though Craig Overton had displaced the injury stricken Ball for the first Test but JB3 is now fit for selection and primed to return. Overton’s wicketless display in England’s final warm-up game combined with his three ducks in a row when he could have pushed his case mean that Ball may be presented with the opportunity to shave his Test bowling average of 114.00!

Back to Overton, there have been recently written articles about the Somerset man in relation to an incident that happened two years ago. There are some that believe Overton to be racist. Does ‘that’ one comment make him a racist? Has he made any other similar comments in any walk of his life? Was he actually raising an astute point regarding a non-English/non-international cricketer not classed as an overseas player taking up the place of local talent? Of course if I approached a Pakistan-born man on the street and advised him to “F^*k off back to your own f^*king country” then I’d be charged with racism, no doubt about it!

Onto the cricket, it’s brewing nicely. England have had a decent pre-series workout with the likes of Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan registering First Class hundreds (That’s First Class not 15-a-side nonsense!) and James Vince recording some very James Vince-like scores! Australia on the other hand have made six changes to their team and upset a few people in doing so but if they win the Ashes then the selectors will be considered ruthless and shrewd geniuses.

We’ll see how it all plays out soon…

Ashes Cricket (PS4): The Curse of Michael Slater!

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Michael Slater fell in the nineties on nine occasions during his Test career. Although I’m not a Test cricketer (Yet!) I’ve now succumbed twice in the space of three innings when within touching distance of a century. This time against Bradford I was just one shot away and in hindsight should have carried on sweeping but an attempted push into the covers on the off-side saw me edge behind and yes, it was spin again. In the first innings I’d actually fallen to pace for the first time in my career when I threw my wicket away having been well set on 45.

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I batted positively but not recklessly however former Australian opener Slater’s constant chat in my ear clearly wore off on me once I entered the nervous nineties. No doubt next time I’ll be a quivering wreck! Still, scores of 0,4,19,91,45 & 95 make for an impressive start to my career.

Catch up next time…

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Slogmaster/From Zero to Ninety in a Matter of Seconds!*

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*By seconds I mean upto two hours.

Start as we mean to go on! Yes that’s right, I ducked on debut but did make a stoic second innings four against the mighty Hull. Only by getting both my mind and fingers crossed between classic and standard buttons did I come unstuck. It’s the usual six local teams league structure but Career Mode now incorporates Three-Day, One-Day and T20 cricket making it impressively more immersive. I’ve signed up with Leeds and as well as Hull will enjoy days out to Bradford, Scarborough, Sheffield and York, flood defences provided!

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Against Sheffield I responded by reaching 19 before both a change in the commentary box (Thanks Mel Jones!) and the introduction of spin, immediately combined to distract me and send shivers down my spine. I’d fallen against spin in both innings on debut and followed suit here too.

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Come the second innings and with the field up, I launched a huge straight six early in the piece. It was my first career maximum and I struck another the following day. The bowling attack encountered was a challenging mix of both pace and spin as well as right and left-arm.

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I reached my maiden fifty, with a little help from my Kookaburra Ghost, at more than a run a ball. The sweep shot was particularly effective for me though in truth it often ended up being executed more like an out and out slog!. We’ll take the runs any way they come though!

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My avatar has ended up not looking particularly like me but my teeth have had a nice shine, although I appear to have an extra head growing out of my right shoulder. This is a concern because it could effect my batting!

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Whether or not either my glove or bat actually made contact with the ball that was caught behind off yet more spin to end my epic second innings inversion of my first innings score remains unclear. Just look at that crack. Off the richter scale in Yorkshire!

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Of course there’s no DRS at this level. I’m not bitter at the decision though, only proud of my innings of 91. Of course a further nine runs would have been welcome but though I could barely open my eyes as I left the crease, deep down I know that my career best knock puts me in good stead to attain my career ambitions.

Big Ant appear to have made huge strides with their follow-up to the Don Bradman Games and I can’t emphasise how much better club (Amateur) level is for having two innings matches. I’ll keep you up to date with my career travails as I begin the quest for Yorkshire and England recognition. For the record: I’m middling every difficulty level, that’s pro level (So 3rd out of 5) and medium specifically on the batting and bowling front as well as selection difficulty and am playing on a PlayStation4 console.

The Eagle has Landed!*

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*By eagle I mean Ashes Cricket.

It’s a sorry state of affairs that when you receive a new game you find yourself pointing people in the direction of the bug forum. For those crazy run outs, dodgy stumpings and incalculable averages then follow the rules and let Big Ant know. Then we might just get a great game!

https://www.planetcricket.org/forums/forums/ashes-cricket.312/

All being well though, I’ll soon be providing you with updates on how my career is faring and how England are getting along too.

See you soon…

Disclaimer: Please¬†excuse my pessimism. Maybe my version of the game won’t contain any bugs!!!