Ashes Cricket (PS4): You, Me and Virtuality!

IMG_3479

Been missing my Don Bradman write-ups? Cricket Captain and its graphs and charts just not the same? Well fear not Silly Pointers because with the release of Ashes Cricket soon upon us, my PS4 based cricket adventures are about to begin again!

Come the release of Big Ant’s third (DBC14/DBC17/Ashes Cricket) venture to the crease, you can look forward to the following:

  • Yours truly setting out on a career and this time getting a county gig before the age of 26, a batting average at least in the twenties and international recognition… hopefully!
  • England participating in newly formed Test, ODI and T20I leagues. As per my previously detailed plans to restructure world cricket, I would ideally amalgamate all formats and create the Global Cricket League (GCL) but that is beyond even Big Ant’s customisation boundaries.
  • The Stateside Smash (Something that I’m confident is within Big Ant’s customisation boundaries). Los Angeles Ashes, New York Nightwatchmen and Houston Apollo are just some of the franchises rumoured to be signing up.
  • Original jazzy kits and funky bats designed by yours truly.

IMG_3439

Silly Point himself registering a First Class century, England becoming Test champions of the World, a razzmatazz USA based T20 league, Mark Footitt winning an England cap and Ross Whiteley turning out for Phoenix Free Hitters. These are all things that could happen… if not in reality then in virtuality, in Big Ant’s Ashes Cricket!

 

Advertisements

Six to Watch: 2017 Season Review

img_1408

Jofra Archer, 22, Sussex, All-Rounder

The standout star of the six identified players, Archer could well have been on the plane to Australia this winter if it were not for the fact that, technically at least, his allegiance remains with West Indies. Archer scored 638 County Championship runs at 45.57 with a phenomenal strike rate of 88. His 61 wickets were claimed at 25.30. Still some years away from qualifying for England, could Archer go to Oz with England Lions this winter or does he need to spend as much time as possible in England to become eligible for his mother’s nation?

Daniel Bell-Drummond, 24, Kent, Right-Handed Opening Batsman

img_2513

DBD failed to register a First Class century and averaged a disappointing 25.50 in the longer form of the game. In the One-Day Cup however he clocked up two tons and finished the competition with an average of 63.29. Regarding his case for England honours, he isn’t scoring the runs to demand Test selection and despite a strong domestic campaign this year, probably isn’t perceived to be as destructive as others in limited overs cricket. Dependent on how England’s batsmen perform in Australia this winter, a strong start to the 2018 campaign could put him on England’s Test radar but the selectors’ penchant for another right-handed opener, Lancashire’s Haseeb Hameed, might not help DBD’s case. Like the first man on this list, he could in theory opt to represent West Indies.

Dom Bess, 20, Somerset, Off-Spin Bowler

Despite a strong finish last season, Bess was omitted from the Somerset side early in this year’s campaign. Once he got his feet under the table however, he made the most of it. Bess claimed 36 County Championship first division wickets at just 23.42. English cricket is often portrayed as having a dearth of spin talent but Bess, alongside the likes of Mason Crane, Matthew Parkinson, Sukhjit Singh and Hamidullah Qadri amongst others could provide great competition for England for the next two decades.

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

Burnham missed a fair chunk of the season in the early stages and went on to register 223 runs at 24.78 with a top score of 93 not out in the County Championship. He has totalled less than 100 runs in all cricket since 28th July. Much was expected of him following the departures of Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick to Surrey and with Keaton Jennings heading to Lancashire, Durham desperately need Burnham to blossom come 2018.

Nick Compton, 34, Middlesex, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

Former England batsman Compton was one of many willowmen on the county circuit this season to endure a frustrating  campaign. The Middlesex player totalled a moderate return of 446 runs at 26.24. His season best of 120 was his only half-century let alone his only ton.

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

Footitt’s early season form for Surrey was so destructive that his performances went viral and there were calls from many quarters that England recognition was merited. By the end of the campaign however, he had returned to Nottinghamshire but made only a single first team appearance before the season was out. Footitt hasn’t played white ball cricket in over a year but this term totalled 23 division one wickets for Surrey and four division two wickets for Nottinghamshire in the County Championship. His averages (29.83/23.75) were sub 30 for both counties.

In 2018 we’ll start again with six fresh faces and see how they fare as the season pans out.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC – 2017 Season Review

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 08.27.53

9,748th place, a comfortable finish in the top 10,000! The team I picked for my daughter finished in 11,213th place, so at worst I was in the bottom 1,500. Who knows? Maybe there were over a million players!

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 20.12.39

Starting with my captain, Gloucestershire gloveman Gareth Roderick.

IMG_3070

I simply got his selection completely wrong. Had he been fit or whatever he needed to be to play then he would have made serious contributions but he missed the early part of the season for ‘unknown reasons’ and later broke a finger. To be fair, he dug deep to score 78 not out with the damaged digit. Before you consider the double points element, if you’re captain isn’t your top scorer then you’ve messed up. South African born Roderick registered 400 runs at a respectable average of 36.36 as well as claiming 24 dismissals but just didn’t play enough.

Steven Croft basically doesn’t bowl anymore. Lancashire seem to have an array of spin bowlers, whether they be part- or full-time (Parkinson, Parry, Livingstone, Kerrigan – who himself went out on loan) and like Roderick, Croft missed significant chunks of the season. Aside from a blast of a knock early in the campaign and a score in the final round of matches, Croft just didn’t contribute anywhere near significantly enough. The White Rose’s skipper’s figures: 409 runs at an underwhelming 29.21.

Huge kudos to Worcestershire’s Tom Fell for battling back from cancer and hopefully, with a new contract under his belt, he can score big next year.

IMG_2915

This year was a horror show however. He failed to reach fifty nor did he ever don the gloves. Fell totalled 323 runs at a paltry 14.68 in the County Championship. Contrary to the above image, his form (Or lack of!) didn’t earn him and England call up!

Welsh willow wielding wizard Aneurin Donald didn’t hit the heights hoped for this campaign but did manage four First Class fifties either side of being mucked around by Glamorgan, batting as low as seven in One-Day Cup matches.

Aneurin Donald 1.JPG

For the record ‘Ducky’ totalled 487 County Championship runs at 25.63. In One-Day cricket he scored 20 runs at an average of just 4.00!

It’s a funny old game. My most successful batsman was the one I expected the least from. I had anticipated Riki Wessels might deliver for me in limited overs matches but didn’t really expect him to play regularly in the First Class game. In a pre-season university fixture, he followed a duck with a hundred and went on to score three centuries with a top score of 202 not out in the County Championship. He had a mare though in the One-Day Cup final where he dropped a catch off the first ball of the match and made only six runs but away from the cameras he delivered. He also claimed a couple of catches when standing in as wicketkeeper. Across the County Championship (832) and One-Day Cup (302) the Nottinghamshire batsman totalled 1,134 runs.

Worcestershire’s Brett D’Oliveira doesn’t have a great average for an opening batsman but I think that there’s an element of the old Trescothick/Vaughan vibe about him. He could be better suited to the higher level. This year he made three First Class hundreds but lacked consistency. He didn’t claim a single wicket in the County Championship but snared seven in the One-Day Cup. His best years could yet be ahead of him. In 2017 BDO notched up 891 County Championship runs alongside 222 in the 50-over game.

Ravi Bopara will have been in many people’s teams but will probably suffer from that very thing I’ve moaned about previously when it comes to Bopara. He’s done okay but you can’t help but want more from him. 576 County Championship runs at 32.00 puts him way down title-winning Essex’s run charts. He claimed a disappointing twelve wickets in fourteen matches in the same competition. He did however rack up 329 One-Day Cup runs at 54.83 and claimed nine wickets but didn’t win a recall to England’s ODI side!

Keith Barker is another one who did well without sparkling. Six fifties at 29.78 is a really useful contribution with the willow but just 26 County Championship wickets this term is a bit disappointing for a left-armer many thought should’ve been on England’s radar. Of course Warwickshire’s season as a whole was a torrid one.

Off-spinner Ollie Rayner did well for England Lions last winter but never really got going this year.

img_2680

His twenty First Class wickets in eleven matches cost nearly 40 apiece. For reference, Middlesex teammate Ravi Patel totalled fourteen victims in two outings.

Durham’s James ‘Killer’ Weighell surprised many this season but injuries dogged him. He wasn’t in the County Championship side at the start of term but took wickets aplenty (18 @ 23.11) in the One-Day Cup. Unfortunately he got injured and so didn’t play as many First Class games as he would have liked but when he did he made some decent contributions with the bat (162 @ 40.50) to go with his eleven wickets. If he can stay fit, he could be essential to Durham’s hopes of a renaissance in the upcoming years.

Finally, onto Sussex’s Jofra Archer. My team should’ve been Archer’s Army not Roderick Brotherhood. Archer was by far and away my top points scorer with nearly double the next man’s total. His 638 County Championship runs came at 45.57 including five fifties at a whopping strike rate of 88.00! His 61 wickets came at 25.30 and if it weren’t for lack of eligibility (Damn ineligibility!) he could well have being headed to Australia for the Ashes. No seriously, he’s that good but a few years away from qualifying having migrated from the West Indies. Whether or not he could join up with England Lions as early as this winter is an interesting consideration. Actually, I should save this for my ‘Six to Watch – Season Review’ article as Archer is one of the six!

I’ll repeat what I’ve said previously about how I think The Telegraph should alter their game. Currently there’s one competition for the County Championship and One-Day Cup combined and a separate one for the T20 Blast. I propose amending it to three individual competitions so that you can select three different teams. Some players specialise in only First Class or List A cricket so grouping the two together does require skill in one way but is limiting in another. There could be three first place finish prizes and an overall winner prize.

For me, any prize remains allusive. There’s always next year…

Chocolate Declares!

img_2684

Zimbabwe 200 all out & 440 all out

England 600-7 declared and 41-2

England win by 8 wickets

Really? Don’t they actually win by 11 wickets?

I propose a subtle change to the cricket scorecard for First Class and Test matches… and a busy afternoon for someone changing the history books!

Disclaimer: Sorry but this article has nothing to do with chocolate!

Does England’s Ashes Squad Really Matter?

IMG_3295

Hameed or Stoneman?

Jennings or Westley?

Hameed and Stoneman?

Malan or/and Ballance?

Does it really matter?

England Lions (Or A Team if you’d rather be old-fashioned about it) will, like England’s senior side, be in Australia this winter. The last thing England want is another Boyd Rankin episode, i.e. get to the fifth Test and pick a player who isn’t prepped to play. I appreciate that Australia’s a big country and England need cover for any last minute dramas (Glenn McGrath step on the ball style) and fielding substitutes but once a Test is under way then it would seem logical to rotate the non-playing squad members with Lions players. This way the first team reserves can keep their eye in and/or clock up some overs incase they’re required for a Test outing. If by any chance the Lions players supersede first Team squad members then so be it. England need to make the most of what resources they have and be ruthless when it comes to selection. This philosophy may seem rather un-me like provided my penchant for a ‘pick and stick’ approach but this is a tough long tour and England need to select the players that are primed and ready to perform. Australia are renowned for providing pretty limp opposition for a touring England side but Test playing nations are obliged to present touring A (Or Lions) teams with reasonable opposition, otherwise there’d be little point. Come the later Tests in the series, England can’t expect players that have been ferrying the drinks and netting for a month to just rock up and produce the goods in the hostile auditoriums of Australia.

So whether Hameed or Westley make the full team or Malan or Jennings make the Lions, any of them could turn out for England come the Ashes. A broken finger in the nets or calf strain when scampering a single in a warm-up game could force England into a change of plans. Don’t forget what happened the last time England went to Australia when opening batsman Michael Carberry was selected as back-up. He scored 150 in a tour game and went onto play five Ashes Tests.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast – 2017 Season Review

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 08.27.53

The T20 Blast has reached its conclusion but I’m no richer. In my original article regarding my selection for the competition, I spoke about the importance of making transfers come the knock-out stages…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/telegraph-fantasy-cricket-t20-blast/

Unfortunately, what with a certain hospital visit and whatnot, I didn’t stay on top of things and so my team rather went through the motions. Anyway, it’s only fair to provide the promised round-up.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 07.46.15

Riki Wessels, Gareth Roderick and Brett D’Oliveira were the players who made both my County Championship/One-Day Cup team and my T20 Blast XI. Clearly the selection of Roderick as stumper was a misguided one. Having recently returned from absence for ‘unspecified reasons’ the Gloucestershire gloveman didn’t feature in the quick fire format at all. Wessels maintained his good form in all competitions however and D’Oliveira contributed some useful performances.

Mark Cosgrove, Ryan Higgins, Dominic Sibley (Who transferred from Surrey to Warwickshire during the competition), a belatedly arrived Moises Henriques as well as D’Oliveira all totalled 500odd points.

Durham’s Cameron Steel, Lancashire’s Stephen Parry, Gloucestershire’s Chris Liddle and due to injury, Surrey’s Jade Dernbach, were provided little opportunity to impress.

The sum of all parts meant that at least I registered more points than my wife’s and daughter’s teams but finished way down the overall league. Come the end of the 2017 CC/ODC competition, I’ll let you know how I finished in that too.

Transfer Saga

IMG_2978

This guy only ever played for one club, in reality and virtuality. The same can not be said of others.

More than ever, domestic cricket in England seems to be following its football counterpart, particularly in regards to the transfer market. I believe that there was a time, long before I discovered an interest in cricket, in fact long before I was even born, that players remained loyal to one county for the entirety of their career. Of course some still do but it is no longer necessarily the norm. That’s not to say that transfers didn’t happen in the past, of course they did but they’ve become far more frequent in modern times. More than a decade ago now, Jimmy Ormond, whilst on tour with England, famously posed with his new Surrey shirt following his move from Leicestershire. I recall there being suggestions back then that the cricket transfer market was becoming like football’s and it’s certainly the case today.

Last winter we saw the likes of Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman depart Durham for Surrey. This season Angus Robson went on trial with Sussex whilst some mid-season transfers have tasted a little bitter. Tom Kohler-Cadmore agreed to depart Worcestershire for Yorkshire and though it wasn’t supposed to happen until next season, it was clear that Worcestershire had no interest in fielding TK-C when his future lay elsewhere and so the deal was brought forward.

Meanwhile one-time England squad member Mark Footitt has returned to Nottinghamshire from Surrey. He has also previously represented Derbyshire.

Former England cap Ajmal Shahzad must be one of the most serial county swappers. He can now list Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Leicestershire as county teams for whom he has represented their first XIs.

Dominic Sibley, Will Rhodes and Adam Hose have all headed to Warwickshire while Rikki Clarke swapped with Sibley to go back to Surrey. Sibley wanted guarantees about batting in the top three in all forms of the game. Surrey’s Alec Stewart wouldn’t provide but Ashley Giles would and so Sibley arrived amid bitter frustration on Surrey’s part.

Jos Buttler of course moved from Somerset to Lancashire whilst my home county, Yorkshire, have acquired many players from other counties in recent years:

Gary Ballance (Derbyshire)

Jack Brooks (Northamptonshire)

Andrew Hodd (Sussex)

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Worcestershire)

Liam Plunkett (Durham)

Ryan Sidebottom (Returned from Nottinghamshire)

David Willey (Northamptonshire)

Players such as six-hitter Ross Whiteley and England Lions spinner Ollie Rayner are among others to have migrated at one time or another during their playing days.

The midseason activity this term, complete with more than subtle hints of acrimony and contract squabbles seem to be taking the game of bat and ball firmly into football territory.

Should mid-season transfers be allowed at all?

Should loans be allowed?

Should squads have a maximum number of players like the Premier League?

Returning to Angus Robson, he was released by Leicestershire because they wanted play youngster Harry Dearden. After Dearden failed to set the County Championship alight he was firstly replaced by Arun Harinath who had arrived on loan from Surrey before another loanee, Michael Carberry arrived at Grace Road too. In a funny way, the domestic circuit is becoming like the England team with counties failing to invest in players and deciding it’s necessary to pinch from the competition… and don’t get me started on Hampshire! I’ve touched upon their South African acquisitions before and the effect it will have on local talent.

This is the point in the article where I’m supposed to provide some sort of summary but I’ll leave it to the cricket followers of the world to make of it what you will…?

… and who could forget Monty Panesar’s transfer sagas? (Errrr… Me!)