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.

5, 6, 11, 16 & 31

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.

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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): 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!!!

Can Tim Take the Paine Away?

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He’s 32-years old, has only one First Class century to his name (More than a decade ago!) and has not been keeping wicket regularly at domestic level in recent times. Meet Australia’s Ashes wicketkeeper ladies and gentlemen!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/7252.html

I like Tim Paine. He still looks eleven-years-old and didn’t fair that badly during his previous existence as an international career. A horror show of injury misfortune has cost him more caps but he performed effectively behind the stumps when recalled for a T20I series against Sri Lanka earlier this year.

His selection though is truly fascinating. To earn a recall for a series of such magnitude when in possession of a rather underwhelming domestic record, in an era of glovemen must be first and foremost batsmen once again raises questions regarding the depth of Australia’s six-team domestic league. Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill have more handsome domestic batting records but neither have translated that to international level. If the Ozzie selectors think that Paine is the best gloveman then they’re right to pick him, especially if as seems they’re going to select six specialist batsmen. What that means regarding the workload of the home side’s bowling line-up remains to be seen. Like England, Australia’s back-up brigade, the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins and Darren Pattinson’s brother James are pretty fragile!

Paine will turn 33 during the Ashes. We’ve seen many players before him ripen well into their thirties. Though he only has the one First Class hundred (Actually a score of 215) that is in part a consequence of batting down the order, as is having a few not outs combined with a few dismissals when batting with the tail. In List A cricket, where Paine has tended to bat much higher including as an opener, the Tasmanian born stumper has as many as eight hundreds (Including one against England at ODI level) and twice as many fifties. That’s a pretty decent conversion rate.

Come the 2017-18 Ashes series, will Tim wear a pained expression? Will he cause pain for the England bowlers? Will he hit a six through a window pane at the Gabba?

We’ll find out soon…

Something About Burned Wood!

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So ‘The Ashes’ are nearly upon us. (I mean the real one not just a computer game!) At the risk of sounding detached and lacking enthusiasm, I guess that I should write something about the impending contest.

Despite being an England fan I’m actually quite confident. Not all that long ago the Australian side were accused of using the national team as a development squad. That accusation was levied at them by one of their own, Cameron White none the less. When it comes to fast bowling at least (In fact spin bowling too!), England appear to be following a similar trajectory. Ignore any notion of getting proven county vets like Steve Patterson, Keith Barker or Liam Norwell (Not that old!) into the side or even recalling Tim Bresnan but call up the ‘potential’ instead, the likes of Tom Helm and George Garton. Things are eerily parallel to the current makeup of the national football team.

I have huge respect for the likes of Helm and Garton and back them to have successful international careers but it must be frustrating for proven players such as Chris Rushworth and Joe Leach to see ‘raw talent’ selected ahead of them. That’s not to say that I think England or anybody should hold back someone that’s good enough, just like they did with Haseeb Hameed and should’ve done with Sam Curran.

This post isn’t really going where I’d intended. I wanted to buck the general consensus and say how I believe England can do well this winter but I’ve just ended up having a whinge. It’s so unlike me!

Attempting to return to the point, I’m backing Stoneman, Vince and Malan to pile on the runs. I’m expecting Alastair Cook to find form. I’m backing whoever the bowling line up consists of, whether it be Ball, Overton or Crane to come good, or at least be better for the experience. Australia have some good players. They also have some lesser players who may step up to the plate and they may introduce some new players who commence their international careers with a Peter Handscombesque start. England however can go head to head (Or toe to toe) with them. I envisage a competitive series with a 2-1 or maybe even 2-2 result.

Will England cook the Ozzies? Will Stoneman rock? Will Vince be invincible? Will Ball be on the ball? Will Crane reign? Will England find the root (Route) to victory?

We’ll find out soon…

Cricket Culture

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Cricket terminology can be found in the titles of works of literature, song and film as well as band names. Here are just a few examples…

Books

Angela’s Ashes

Catcher in the Rye

Films

Australia

Batman

Delivery Man

Dukes of Hazzard

Edge of Seventeen

This is England

Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest

Legends of the Fall

Match Point

The Mighty Ducks

The Net

Paddington Bear (Get awayable with?)

Point Break

Run Fatboy Run

A Single Man

Six Degrees of Separation

300: Rise of an Empire (Admittedly any film with a number in the title could make the list!)

Songs

Bat out of Hell

Edge of Glory

Bands

Iron Maiden

Slipknot

Spin Doctors

Of course it’s unlikely that any of the above were actually named with cricket in mind. For the record, I’ve ignored the works of The Duckworth Lewis Method and any genuinely cricket themed works.

Can you think of any good ones that I’ve missed?