Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: Early Season Update

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We’ll start by getting the elephant out of the room. My captain hasn’t made a single first team appearance this season. His absence put down to personal reasons. He’s made a hundred for the seconds this month so fingers crossed he’ll be back in the Gloucestershire outfit very soon. The advantage of this is that when he returns nobody else is likely to have him in there team (He’s actually only in 0.21% of teams in the game). It’s all well and good having the best players in your team but it’s no good just having a side composed of the most selected players because you really don’t gain any advantage.

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The contribution of my batting line-up has been frustrating. Steven Croft was injured for a few weeks but did strike a blistering 127 against Warwickshire in the Royal London One Day Cup. I had hoped he’d contribute with the ball but that hasn’t been the case so far. Lancashire are well stocked for spinners.

Glamorgan’s Aneurin Donald has hit a few fifties in the County Championship but had a torrid time in the RLODC reaching double figures just once. Being shunted down the order and batting as low as seven probably didn’t help and seemed a bit odd for such a potentially destructive batsman. Donald has been selected in barely 3% of teams meaning that there’s not many selectors gaining his points when he does deliver.

Tom Fell did well to return from cancer with a century last year but just hasn’t got going this term. He’s made a double hundred for the seconds but is yet to reach a quarter double hundred for the firsts. He’s not keeping wicket either. Those catches could have been a brucy bonus.

Nottinghamshire batsman Riki Wessels has led the way with an undefeated double century in the County Championship followed by a series of starts in the RLODC followed by another century once back to the First Class format. With Chris Read injured last week, RW snapped up some catches behind the stumps as well.

In the all-rounder slots, Ravi Bopara of Essex has been steady if unspectacular. Lots of 30s, 40s and fifties and two or three-wicket hauls. They all add up though and he did make an undefeated 92 in the RLODC.

Worcestershire’s Brett D’Oliveira made a slow start to the season but has found form of late. This included reaching 150 in the last round of County Championship matches. BD isn’t even in 1.5% of teams in the game so when he’s contributing it’s great to know that not many other Telegraph Fantasy Cricket players are benefiting from his performances. It’s a good example of why you should stick with someone that has a poor start. If you changed him and went with a form player then you’re just getting the same points as everybody else but if you stick with a player that’s not in many people’s teams then that players points can be decisive.

Onto the bowling department and Durham’s James Weighell (Rated 2 out of 10, team max is 60) has been a shreud selection. He wasn’t initially in the County Championship side but took wickets for fun in the RLODC (18 @ 23.11) and recorded a maiden half-century in his last First Class outing. Weighell is in less than 10% of teams (That will have gone up since the start). As mentioned before, it’s these sort of under the radar performers that you need in your team… from the start.

I deliberately selected bowlers that can bat. Keith Barker and Jofra Archer should probably be considered all-rounders but maybe the fact that they open the bowling led to them been labelled exclusively as bowlers in the game. Sussex’s Archer’s has racked up two fifers and two fifties in the longer format and Barker, though not quite setting the world on fire, has been steadily chipping away in both the runs and wickets columns and it was a bonus to see him get so much game time in the RLODC.

Ollie Rayner has slightly underwhelmed so far. He didn’t get much action in the RLODC but as pitches around the country seem to be turning spin friendly and teams return to the longer format of the game then hopefully the wickets will come soon. I expect him to contribute with the bat too.

I’m currently in 9605th position! It’s a marathon not a sprint. Hare and the tortoise and all that. We’ll revisit things later in the campaign to see if I’ve ascended the table.

Six to Watch: Revisited

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Please find my original article entitled ‘Six to Watch’ by clicking the link below…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/six-to-watch/

Here’s an early season follow-up on the players that were identified in that piece.

Jofra Archer, 22, Sussex, All-Rounder

If Archer is eligible to represent England now, then he could be an outside bet for an Ashes trip though he hasn’t graced the Lions squad yet and provided England’s penchant to have a look first, it might be that he has to settle for England’s bench squad for the time being.

Archer has 18 CC wickets at 24.56 including two five-wicket hauls. Couple that with two half-centuries to help him total 223 runs at 55.75 and you’ve got a very destructive all-rounder. After a slightly expensive start there were wickets and runs in the List A competition too and Archer  is surely a player that spectators and selectors will be following closely.

Daniel Bell-Drummond, 23, Kent, Right-Handed Opening Batsman

DBD started the First Class campaign with… starts but went on to make back to back hundreds in the Royal London One Day Cup. He then followed up a duck blip with 90 and totalled 443 runs at an average of 63.29 in the competition. His strike rate was a healthy 87.38. That’s good but the very top batsman are striking at 100% as a bare minimum. He’ll look to the England Lions games to press his case and could make the ODI squad this season if England choose to experiment and rotate ahead of an Ashes tour.

Dom Bess, 19, Somerset, Off-Spin Bowler

Bess was nowhere to be seen in the early stages of the county season and had a quiet introduction to the County Championship. He didn’t make the one-day games either but has this afternoon just snapped up a maiden 2017 County Championship victim. Hopefully he can now kick on.*

Jack Burnham, 20, Durham, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

With Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick gone to Surrey, it looked as though Durham would be looking to Burnham to pile on the runs. He scored 150 against Durham MCCU in April but followed it up with only 15 and 4 in the opening round of County Championship matches against a strong Nottinghamshire line-up. He doesn’t appear to have played any second XI games so may well be injured. In the meantime the likes of Graham Clark and Cameron Steel have had their chance in the first team and progressed steadily.

Nick Compton, 33, Middlesex, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

Injuries and poor form have combined to mean that Compton just hasn’t got going this term. He’s got runs in the second XI including a century and against MCC in Abu Dhabi but hasn’t reached 40 in competitive cricket this season. In truth he’s probably struggling to hold down a spot in the Middlesex first XI at the moment.

Mark Footitt, 31, Surrey, Left-Arm Fast Medium Bowler

Footitt went viral when he kicked off the campaign with 6-14 against Warwickshire. Since then he’s continued to claim victims but has gone at around four an over on occasions. With Test series against South Africa, West Indies and in Australia on the horizon, alongside the quality of Anderson, Broad, Woakes and Stokes, Footitt could be a great weapon to slot into the side for the odd Test from time to time. He’s not in the Surrey line-up for their current match though and constant injury niggles may cost him an international career, as might the ability of fellow left-armers, county teammate Sam Curran and Sussex’s George Garton, both of whom have made the Lions squad though admittedly that squad is specifically for limited overs matches.

For the record, Footitt has 20 County Championship Division One victims in four matches this term at 23.65 apiece but at a leaky 3.77 runs per over.

Here’s Footitt on his way to his 21st First Class five-wicket haul earlier this season, Lancashire the victims.

We’ll catch up with the six later in the campaign to see which players seasons have flourished, which have faltered and which had pressed their case or even reached international honours.

*Bess would actually go on to claim match figures of 10-162 including second innings career best figures of 7-117!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Call Me Centurion!

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That’s right folks. I’ve finally achieved three figures in a First Class match and at Headingley too. Hopefully the England selectors have taken note. I did attempt to upload a couple of photos of me celebrating my century but had a bit of a copy and paste / trash disaster, so you’ll have to make do with the scorecard as evidence. Just take a look at this match as a whole too. We (Yorkshire) chased down 417 on a degrading fourth day pitch to claim victory. I only made 10 runs in our second innings but hung around with Joe Root (147 not out) for 42 minutes and my career best 103 in our first innings (More than double the next best score) was crucial in gaining us a first innings lead.

Poor David Miller. He scored 260 for Somerset and still ended up on the losing side!

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More first innings runs than Ballance, Root and Bairstow combined but the Overton combi eventually did for me.

Following the expression of some frustrations with the games developers, Big Ant in an earlier post, it does appear (Hope I’m not jinxing it!) that stats, going forward at least, are correct. It’s just that you need to start a new career from scratch if you want them spot on… and just for good measure current stats have been made worse!

I scored my maiden hundred with my sunglasses on too and even though I must be about a decade into my career, Peter Trego is still playing!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Fifties for Fun!

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Chalking up the First Class fifties. Eight and counting. Still awaiting that elusive maiden century though.

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“Yeah I’ll knock off the winning runs. It’s my pleasure”.

My partner suffered a nerve racking experience when in the nineties and the runs required coming down to single figures, I found myself somewhat inadvertently hogging the strike. Being the selfless professional that I am though, I chaperoned him to his hundred and Yorkshire to victory. Maybe one day somebody can do the same for me.

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A maiden List A half-century, at last!

Who needs boundaries when you can accumulate 51 not out from 40 deliveries without one?

It’s just a shame that Big Ant Studios, the creators of Don Bradman Cricket 17, still, despite four post release patches, can’t get a player’s batting average correct. Every time I’m dismissed, whether it be in the T20, One-Day or First Class format, I’m given out twice, literally halving my batting average!

Come on Big Ant. Sort it out please!

https://www.planetcricket.org/forums/forums/don-bradman-cricket-17-forum.306/

Cricket is a Game

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Cricket is a game of bat and ball

Cricket is a game for all

Cricket is a game for young and old

Cricket is a game with many stories to be told

Cricket is a game for lady and man

Cricket is a game for the player and the fan

Cricket is a game for a summer’s day

Cricket is a game for all to play

Balancing Invincibility

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Two batsman are setting the county circuit alight this season and both of them are last term’s England cast-offs. One of them has assumed the captaincy of his employer and has revelled in the responsibility. The other has, at least in part, relinquished the leadership of his county. Both are making a strong case for a rapid recall to the national side this summer.

I am of course talking about Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and Hampshire’s James Vince. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that many wanted both these batsman out of the England side. Starts but no substance for Vince. Single figure struggles for Ballance. Such glutinous run scoring as that displayed in the past month or so though, both in the County Championship and the Royal London One-Day Cup means that both batsman could don the Three Lions jersey again very soon. It could be that Ballance is more likely a recall to the Test side and Vince in ODIs. These possibilities depend however on how England choose to balance their Test side and whether they actually need a ‘new’ batsman at number five in the order. The all-round capabilities of the likes of Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes provide England with lots of options.

The management seem likely to experiment with the ODI squad post Champions Trophy. Winter Lions and North and South performers such as Liam Dawson, Dawid Malan, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Liam Livingstone, seem likely to be provided full international honours. Let’s not forget Ben Duckett either.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Not everybody hits the ground running when it comes to international cricket. In Ballance’s case he actually did, only to wobble later. Vince just couldn’t get out of second gear. A second or third coming for these two batsman could spell the start of substantial international careers.