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.

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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…

Selection, Transfers, Drafts and Other Cricket Ramblings

Gareth Southgate selects the England football team… all by himself.

“Football again. I thought this was a cricket blog!”

England cricket coach Trevor Bayliss doesn’t select the team but definitely has an input from time to time. In cricket it’s the norm, certainly in England, for a selection panel to choose the national squad. There’s normally three or four people that spend their days scouting the domestic circuit before getting together to decide if changes to the first XI (Test/ODI & T20I) are necessary and if so, who’s good enough to step up. There’ll normally be one selector who is in position to have the final say. They’ll possibly be referred to as the ‘chairman of’ or ‘chief’ selector(s).

Would such a set-up be beneficial in football?

The main difference between football and cricket, at least in England, is that our national football coach does actually have the time to watch all the domestic players perform. Gareth Southgate can spend a whole weekend watching all of the Premier League matches (Not live obviously) then watch the English teams in Europe during the week. However for the person at the helm of a side such as Australia, where the national side’s players are playing throughout various leagues across the globe, it actually becomes much harder. It’s in these instances where the notion of a selection panel could be worthwhile. On the cricket front, one person would struggle to watch all four days of each of the eighteen English county cricket teams’ County Championship matches, let alone limited overs encounters. That’s even if they were on the telly! Watching selected highlights packages would definitely not be a very good way to go about selecting a national cricket team. This is why a panel of selectors as opposed to just one lone selector is essential in cricket.

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On the subject of the eighteen counties: Only once in a blue moon will Gareth Southgate select a second tier player for the English football team, so should County Championship (First Class) second division players even be considered for England’s Test side?

If they aren’t, we’ll continue to see the Premier League style transfers that are now common place in cricket. Just like in football the supposed better players will join the first division teams but they won’t always play. The second division will get the cast offs, also-rans and not quite good enoughs. At this point it’s worth contemplating what’s more important: The national side or the quality of the product (Sorry, ICC marketing speak!) at domestic level. Loyalty from player to county will also near non-existence and on that subject…

Could county cricket follow the trend of the global T20 leagues and the history of American sport (Including Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey) by becoming a drafted league?

Returning to the Premier League but staying on the subject of drafts: Can you imagine the owners of Manchester City, United or Chelsea thinking “Let’s try and make the league a level playing field and have a draft system?”

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At the moment, it’s easy to imagine the likes of Durham, Leicestershire and Derbyshire welcoming a draft system. The likes of Nottinghamshire, Essex and Surrey would likely be less keen. The upcoming city based franchise system will have a draft pick. I’ve mentioned before how this will impact counties as players from the weaker teams will enjoy the better coaching and facilities at other grounds before possibly seeking a transfer in county cricket. To implement a draft system in county cricket would be radical and anything but traditional. As with my proposals for a restructure of world cricket (Or what I’m now referring to as the Global Cricket League or GCL for short), sometimes potential changes to what has been for many years are worth exploring. I’m not suggesting that a draft pick is the way to go in county cricket but it’s a thought and not beyond the realms of possibility in the future.

This isn’t one of those articles that’s going to be rounded off with a conclusion or whatever formal ending an article should have but as the title indicates, I hope that you enjoyed rambling with me!

Six to Watch: 2017 Season Review

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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

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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

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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!

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Starting with my captain, Gloucestershire gloveman Gareth Roderick.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2017 – Season Review

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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.

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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.