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

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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.

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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!

 

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Don Bradman Cricket 17: New York City Pioneers – Franchise Disbanded!

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There is nothing new about cricket in USA not working out as planned and so it is that the New York City Pioneers franchise has disbanded after just one match, a defeat at that. You can read about the team’s sole venture to the crease and how it all began by clicking on the link below…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/category/new-york-city-pioneers-dbc17ps4/

On a positive note however, rumours are circulating regarding the possibility of a city based T20 franchise appearing on the North American horizon within the next few months. Could it be that the Stateside Smash is about to become a reality?

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/stateside-smash/

With the release of Ashes Cricket on the PS4 and Xbox One looming, it could be a convenient time to launch a razzmatazz league from New York to Los Angeles!

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…

International Cricket this is Not!

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It’s great that ‘International’ cricket (I’ve contradicted myself already!) has returned to Pakistan. Let’s put it another way, it’s great that crowd drawing cricket complete with international stars has returned to Pakistan. It’s fantastic that the national team are hosting matches and playing in their own country but… international cricket should be reserved for nation versus nation and that’s why the matches currently taking place between Pakistan and World XI should not have been granted international status.

Meaning no disrespect to say, Ben Cutting for example. A professional cricketer who has merited and had the honour of representing his country, he is not currently close to a recall to the Australian team. Now however, his official statistics have included in them some more international caps. When you visit his Cricinfo profile page, his last T20I outing no longer shows as him donning the gold and green for Oz a few years ago but Pakistan vs. World XI this week. It’s a joke and disrespectful to all who have represented their nations. If anything, this ensemble of international stars serves only to promote the IPL, Big Bash and PSL more than it does to promote genuine international cricket… and as for Paul Collingwood having his career international stats tampered with!

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I remember Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff playing Tests (Tests? Do me a favour!) for World XI against Australia.

I’ll repeat that it’s great that cricket being played by the top players is happening again in Pakistan and I have huge respect for Ben Cutting and all the other players who have carved out professional careers and earned the right to represent their national sides but these particular matches should be limited to domestic T20 status and not international T20 status.

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.

A Complete Restructure of International Cricket: Revisited

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Following my previous proposals for, in the words of David Bowie…

I have decided to make, in the words of you know who, ch, ch, chan…

You get the idea!

Here’s the link to my original article…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/a-complete-restructure-of-international-cricket/

I have now decided to expand the International Championship to 13 teams. This is to provide anxious current Test nations with the security required in order to vote for ch, ch, chang….

I have trimmed the First Class, List A and T20 divisions from two to one and have limited the second and third tiers to nine teams. This is due to the financial restraints that are present on lesser nations. The notion of these sides jetting around the world as many times as the top tier teams is for the time being at least, in-practitcal. I’m ditching any suggestion of a play-off and am proposing that one team alone is relegated from the International Championship and therefore one team alone is promoted from International Division One. Again, this provides security to current full member nations including the minnows, they simply have to avoid finishing last to avoid being relegated! That may seem a long slog, a four year worldwide cycle for just one spot but the prize is Test match cricket as well as full ODI and T20I status. It should not be given away easily.

Tours remain three matches of each format (Yes that’s right, the Ashes as we know it is dead!) scaled back to one match per format in International Division Two and beyond. Again, this is for financial and practical purposes for less equipped nations.

Here’s an update and a recap of the league breakdown:

International Championship

Test, ODI and T20I status

13 teams

4 year cycle

6 home series / 6 away series

All series consist of three Test matches, three ODI matches and three T20I matches

1 team relegated (But guaranteed four years of consistent and structured FC, LA and T20 cricket)

International Division One

First Class, List A and T20 status

9 teams

4 year cycle

4 home series / 4 away series

All series consist of three First Class matches, three List A matches and three T20 matches

1 team promoted

1 team relegated

International Division Two

Other status

9 teams

4 year cycle

4 home series / 4 away series

All series consist of one four-day match, one one-day match and one T20 match

1 team promoted

1 team relegated

The points system would of course be crucial and in truth I need to do a few more calculations. I think that the points system put forward in my original article seemed fair in terms of getting the balance right for each format however some freak results could possibly lead to, for example: A team winning all their T20I matches but losing all Tests and ODIs and finishing bottom of the overall table. As a result said team would not only concede their Test and ODI status but their T20I status as well. I guess I’ll clarify the points system in the article ‘A Completer Restructure of International Cricket Re-revisited’!

I know what you’re thinking: What about hemispherical control?

It’s a very good question but I don’t think it matters. If maybe twenty years down the line the entire top tier consisted of southern hemisphere sides then there’s enough time to schedule all series. There would be lengthy periods of no top flight cricket but would it really matter? Committed and passionate fans will be following their nation in the division that they are in. It would be ideal though possibly not practical if the final round of T20I matches could be played simultaneously.

Imagine winning International Division One. The players would be…

Patience Pays… Hopefully!

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This isn’t the first article I’ve written about Shai Hope and it probably won’t be the last. Here’s just one previous script about the Barbados born batsman.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/hope-for-west-indies/

Before this Test, Hope had 391 runs in 11 Tests at an average of just 18.61. In the first Test against England he registered scores of 15 and 4 yet here he is unbeaten on 147 against England’s two leading wicket takers of all time (James Anderson & Stuart Broad) who have nearly 1000 Test wickets between them. Some may argue that opportunity has only presented itself because of lack of interest on the part of the T20 franchise globe trotters but West Indies’ selectors deserve credit for persevering with Hope. I thought that he was picked too early but it may be that those experiences gained are what have helped him reap the rewards at Headingley. England’s selectors should take note. Maybe had they stuck with any of Sam Robson, James Vince, Ben Duckett or pick from many others then those players would be scoring Test centuries right now. Something about Steve Waugh and 27 Tests, Marvan Atapattu starting with five ducks and a single, I know I know, I sound like a broken record. There is no better way to learn than failure. Tom Westley might be struggling now but international cricket is a step up and you have to adapt. Let’s provide our batsmen with the opportunity to do so otherwise we will continue on this merry go round of English willow men. One positive for England that stems from Hope’s Headingley run-fest is that it means Stoneman, Westley and Dawid Malan will have another opportunity to show that they belong on the Test scene and really step up when it matters.

Hopefully (Sorry!) England’s selectors will realise that there comes a time when a horse needs backing. I’ve moaned before about people wanting the unblemished. That’s why we keep moving onto another uncapped batsman. All these people campaigning for Stoneman, already he’s damaged goods and they want to move onto the next guy. That’ll be say Joe Clarke but the notion of recalling Vince or Duckett etc and the thought that they might be better for their tough experiences is beyond the comprehension of many. Imagine if Australia had not recalled Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn or Justin Langer or Sri Lanka had not recalled Atapattu, a man with over 5000 Test runs including five double tons and a ridiculously good conversion rate.

It may not get any better than this for Hope and he’ll continue to average around 20 but I believe that he’ll go onto average 30 plus and score a few Test hundreds. The West Indies now need to show the same sort of commitment to his brother Kyle and one or two others whilst England need do the same with their contingent… hopefully!