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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Cricket Captain 2017: 2023-24 – Namibian Desert and Canada Dry!

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The 2023-24 campaign culminated with back-to-back ODI World Cup defeats against associate nations Namibia and Canada. Against Namibia, England’s skill set simply deserted them, whilst against Canada, their quality ran dry.

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James Weighell’s figures of 10-0-102-0 against Canada, summed up a selection policy that has been found out and confirmed that competitiveness is a trait long since departed from England’s cricket team.

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Following the World Cup exit in India, Middlesex legend Toby Roland-Jones retired at the end of an injury hit campaign. TR-J had his moments in an England shirt, most notably his 49-ball 75 against South Africa in a Test match and strong Test and ODI series against Zimbabwe at home at the start of last year.

England finished the season placed 9th out of ten in Test, ODI and T20I rankings, superior only to Zimbabwe, another team that defeated them in the World Cup.

Among few positives, young batsman Sam Evans scored centuries in the first innings of his first three Test matches. Those matches were in South Africa and it is the same opposition that England will entertain in the summer of 2024. Such is England’s fall from grace that in the 2024 T20I World Cup they will face the might of Nepal, USA and once again, Canada. The days of such encounters being ‘walk in the parks’ for England’s cricketers are long, long gone!

Cricket Captain 2017: Complacent Against the ‘Chevrons’ (No really, the ‘Chevrons’!)

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After the 2-0 Test series success, England comfortably claimed the ODI series against Zimbabwe as well. After three matches England had assumed an unassailable 3-0 lead and went onto win the fourth courtesy of a record breaking partnership (More about that later). Up to that point England were only truly tested in the third match however Zimbabwe deservedly won a tight final encounter of the series.

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England’s 4-1 win made their ODI ranking a bit more respectable.

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Durham’s Paul Coughlin averaged just 7.71 with the ball in the series and is currently the tenth best ODI bowler in the world according to the rankings. Jamie Overton, Toby Roland-Jones and Sam Curran are also currently placed amongst the top twenty. Newcomer Matthew Taylor endured a tough time however, claiming just two wickets at 79.00 apiece.

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In the fourth ODI, Lewis McManus (167) and Sam Northeast (142 not out) recorded England’s highest ever ODI partnership. McManus fell just four runs short of equalling England’s highest ever individual ODI score but does now hold the record for the highest ODI and T20I innings during the current management reign.

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Will Beer, an average Don Bradman would’ve been proud of!

In the sole T20I, an at best England second team suffered a final over defeat as Zimbabwe finished the tour with back-to-back victories.

Cricket Captain 2017: Victory at Last!

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9th June 2023. Remember the date people!

Following ten consecutive Test match defeats, England’s cricketers have won a series for the first time in nearly five years. A thumping win in the first Test against Zimbabwe was followed by a nail-biting three-wicket series clincher for Nick Gubbins and his men in the second.

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Ex-skipper Liam Livingstone and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes’ record-breaking partnership of 315 laid the foundation for England’s hoodoo-terminating victory in the first Test at Lords.

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Despite huge pressure from the media as well as the public to drop Toby Roland-Jones from the side, England persisted with the Middlesex veteran and were rewarded as the 35-year-old seamer returned career-best figures of 4-25 to decimate Zimbabwe in the visitor’s first innings of the second Test.

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After Liam Livingstone (104) had recorded his 12th Test century, gloveman Ben Foakes slowly carried England to back-to-back Test wins and a morale boosting series victory. Under such pressure, a successful run-chase on a deteriorating fourth and fifth day pitch is no mean feat.

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After an encouraging if unrewarding Ashes campaign, Jamie Overton well and truly arrived as a Test match bowler. The express paceman snared 9 victims at just 15.56 apiece and also had the honour of scoring the series clinching run.

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During the series, opening batsman Mark Stoneman passed 4000 Test runs and Liam Livingstone ascended to the peak of the Test match batting rankings.

England’s schedule now sees them entertain their Test scalps in five ODIs and one T20I. With both limited overs captains Ryan Higgins and Benny Howell without a county this year, England have some huge decisions to make when selecting their squads. After the pyjama affairs, England host the might of Pakistan for five Tests, as many ODIs and a T20I.

Cricket Captain 2017: 20??-20something Season Review – Australian Pie/The Day the Cricket Died!

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After a quinquennium in charge of the England cricket team, it’s fair to say that things haven’t gone as well as had been hoped…

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2022 I think it was. The year of back-to-back 5-0 Test whitewashes at home to West Indies (Having batted first every time!) and away to Australia. This included scoring 447 in the fourth innings of the first Ashes Test and still losing by 35 runs! At least there was a four-fingered handful of ODI victories and two unbeaten T20I series.

Other positives?

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There was that time only two of two kinfolk captured any wickets!

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Adam Glichrist prototype Lewis McManus reigned supreme in ODI and T20I cricket. The Hampshire opener recorded a 64-ball hundred against Australia.

Does that scorecard say 186-0? We probably lost that game!

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A rejuvenated Sam Curran (I know I call him that a lot!) reached 100 ODI wickets and rediscovered his Test form. Still aged only 24, he’ll look to double if not triple both his runs and wickets tally in both Tests and ODIs but we’ll continue to keep him out of the T20Is. Only proper cricket for Sam!

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Oh and another Sam, Sam Northeast, rather appropriately joined Durham. Fellow Durham man Paul Coughlin claimed an ODI hat-trick against Australia and Billy Root stepped out of his brother Joe’s rather large and imposing shadow by scoring an ODI century against West Indies.

Next it’s home series against Zimbabwe. It’s a great opportunity for England to achieve almost guaranteed series victories against the minnows of world cricket/move ever closer to the basement of the world rankings in each form of the game. (Delete as appropriate)

Cricket Captain 2017: 2022 T20I World Cup Review – McManus Magic Not Enough!

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Lewis McManus’ 225 runs @ 56.25 including 104 not out in England’s opening game set the tone for an encouraging tournament for the hosts.

Following McManus’ feat, county teammate Mason Crane claimed the almost absurdly good figures of 4-12 as Pakistan, not surprisingly, struggled to get to grips with the required run-rate.

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Further victories over both Australia and Zimbabwe then followed and despite defeat against South Africa in the final group game, England joined ‘The Proteas‘ in the semi-finals.

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Though England had India in peril at 44-3, having themselves posted 172, the home side contrived to lose a semi-final they had looked almost certain to win.

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The loss came despite Sussex’s Ben Brown backing up his debut fifty with another.

On the back of such a run-filled tournament, Hampshire’s McManus soared to a career high sixth place in the T20I batting rankings.

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T20I veteran Benny Howell has now accumulated 35 caps in the shortest format of the game and has been a vital cog in England’s recent development.

It’s now time to readjust to the grind of Test cricket however as England host West Indies for a five-match series.

Cricket Captain 2017: 2021-22 Season Review – The Year of Cricket, Cricket and Much More Cricket!

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16 Tests, 26 ODIs and 7 T20Is including an Ashes series and Champions Cup provided the England squad with a non-stop cricket packed campaign during the 2021-22 season. Here’s how things played out…

Home vs. Bangladesh

Tests: Drew 1-1 (Jack Leach captained the side in place of the injured Liam Livingstone)

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A comprehensive victory in the first Test, courtesy of Nick Gubbins and Gareth Roderick’s maiden Test hundreds as part of an all eleven double figures contribution was followed by a comprehensive defeat in the second!

ODIs: Lost 4-1

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Middlesex’s Harry Podmore claimed figures of 3-52 on his maiden ODI outing and adapted well to international cricket.

Captain Liam Livingstone as well as number three Sam Northeast each totalled well in excess of 200 runs in the series despite both being rested for the final match. England’s bowling lacked penetration however and Bangladesh ran out thoroughly deserving series winners.

T20I: Won 1-0 (Benny Howell captained the side in place of the rested Liam Livingstone)

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Maiden international fifties from Lewis McManus and Brad Taylor as well as a second T20I four-wicket haul for Mason Crane (4-33) helped England to a thrilling five-run victory.

Home vs. Australia

Tests: Lost 2-1 (Jack Leach captained the side in the final three Tests (LWL) in place of the injured Liam Livingstone)

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After two rain-effected draws, England just avoided the ignominy of being dismissed for double figures in the third Test courtesy of Ben Coad’s heroics but couldn’t avoid going 1-0 down in the series.

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Despite a poor career record against Australia, 34-year-old opening batsman Mark Stoneman was recalled for the fourth Test and went about emphatically setting that record straight. His 98 in his comeback innings was somewhat overshadowed though by Will Rhodes’ magnificent 191 as England squared the series.

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After dismissing Australia for just 120 in their second innings of the fifth Test, England lost four wickets late on the fourth day to severely dent their pursuit of 253 for Ashes glory. As a nation stood still, those with no previous interest in cricket, hell some even had a distain, stopped their work, their studies and their conversations but in the end the early clatter of wickets cost the home side and Australia clinched the urn by the minimal margin of just 52 runs!

ODIs: Lost 3-2

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Having come from 2-0 down to level the five-match contest at 2-2, continuing to capture the hearts of the nation along the way following their Ashes efforts, England produced an underwhelming batting performance (228-8) in what was effectively a final. Despite Mason Crane’s outstanding figures of 10-2-14-3, England lost a wonderfully competitive series 3-2. The home side continued their trend of competing but falling at the last. There were positives however, including an almighty opening stand of 237 between Daniel Bell-Drummond and Mark Stoneman in the fourth ODI.

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Despite the defeat, England finished the series with two batsmen, captain Liam Livingstone and Sam Northeast ranked in the top ten ODI world willow wielders.

T20I: Lost 1-0 (Benny Howell captained the side in place of the rested Liam Livingstone)

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An inept outing with bat and ball. Azeem Rafiq’s figures of 3-0-47-0 actually constituted one of his better performances!

Champions Cup

Test: N/A

ODIs: WLL- Knocked out in the group stages.

T20Is: N/A

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The Champions Cup in India started with a ‘Build your hopes up’ five-wicket victory against South Africa. Skipper Liam Livingstone compiled his fifth ODI century whilst Ryan Higgins, rewarded for his impressive T20I performances with an ODI cap, made a composed 70 on debut.

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Unfortunately there then followed an abysmal showing against Bangladesh (146 all out) and a tournament terminating 101-run defeat in the crucial match against Pakistan, having restricted the opposition to just 263. Ryan Higgins underwhelmingly followed up his debut 70 by being run out for two and a third ball duck whilst other key batsmen failed to perform. After just three matches, England headed home.

Away vs. Sri Lanka

Tests: Lost 2-1

Despite witnessing Sri Lanka race to 201-0 in the first Test, England fought back magnificently to take a 1-0 series lead. Frustratingly for England fans however, their side could not alter a pattern of winning matches but not series. England lost the second Test having made what seemed like a sensible declaration. In the deciding match England’s spinners, Jack Leach and Mason Crane were once again inaffective. The loss of wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick through injury to the first delivery he received didn’t help England’s cause. This was highlighted when deputy gloveman Stevie Eskinazi dropped a routine chance off the bowling of Mason Crane. Having won the first Test, been in such a strong position in the second and even fought back well at times in the third, this was yet another ‘What could have been?’ series for England.

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One player who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side was Ben Coad. As well as claiming his third Test fifer and passing 100 Test scalps, he added another half-century to his tally. If only England’s spinners could have backed him up.

ODIs: Lost 3-0

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Centuries from Daniel Bell-Drummond (122) in the first match and Liam Livingstone (100) in the second couldn’t prevent England going 2-0 down in the three-match ODI series. In the third match Sri Lanka completed a whitewash but there was at least a welcome return to the visiting side for Sam Curran. Curran’s star has wained somewhat and he’d recently been left out of the side for the most part but 4-60 was a good showing out of the blue.

T20I: Lost 1-0

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England lost the T20I series (Or match) 1-0 but at least opening batsman and wicketkeeper Lewis McManus recorded the highest individual T20I score of the current England management reign.

The result meant England were placed a disappointing seventh in Test, ODI and T20I rankings.

Away vs. Bangladesh

Tests: Drew 1-1

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Having lost the first Test in Bangladesh, England dug deep in the second to secure a heartwarming Test victory and subcontinental series draw. Gareth Roderick (156 not out) shared record breaking stands with Ben Coad (82) and Mason Crane (68) before England bundled out the hosts for the second time in the match. Spin bowlers Jack Leach (9 wickets @ 21.44) and Mason Crane (11 wickets @ 25.36) both repaid the faith shown in them by the selectors by producing excellent series performances. Mark Stoneman’s 90 not out led England to victory and some revenge for last winter’s narrow series defeat.

In the euphoria of England’s victory, the touring side’s media went wild. Some of the best headlines included ‘Tigers Can’t Crack Coad’, ‘Crane Lifts England’ and ‘Stoneman Rocks!’.

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Ben Coad’s batting has been a revelation this winter. His career best 82 in England’s Test victory in Bangladesh was his third of the winter tours and fourth this season.

ODIs: Won 3-0

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England carried forward their momentum from the victory in the second Test into the ODI series and went 2-0 up courtesy of two successful run chases. England rotated the squad in the third match where Aneurin Donald (126) and Tom Westley (111 not out) both hit career bests to highlight England’s bench strength. Ryan Higgins wasn’t dismissed in three innings and numbers seven and below didn’t get a chance to bat in the entire series!

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Jamie Overton also claimed a career best 4-55 to help the tourists seal a resounding 3-0 series whitewash.

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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A disappointing end to the tour, particularly having been well placed to win the second match after Dawid Malan and Benny Howell had both made half-centuries.

Away vs. West Indies

Tests: Drew 1-1

One of the greatest Test series ever or/and twenty days of cricket that ended in a draw.

In the first Test a woeful England display led to them deservedly falling behind in the series before they improved markedly in the second match. At times England seemed well placed to win but in the end held off West Indies by just 21 runs as the Test went the distance and finished a thrilling draw. For the third Test, an emboldened England made a couple of changes to the line-up and went on to secure a series-levelling victory. Captain Liam Livingstone, having suffered the leanest patch of his Test career, clocked up scores of 110 and 76 having been dropped on 8 in the first innings. Gareth Roderick (135) continued his impressive winter meanwhile Liam Norwell (51 not out) contributed a maiden international fifty.

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In the deciding match, England looked on course for a comfortable draw but following a strong start to their second innings they capitulated from 111-0 to 205 all out. The sum of all parts left West Indies requiring just 160 for victory in a little over two sessions. Via great captaincy from Liam Livingstone, combined with disciplined bowling and committed fielding, England somehow prevented the hosts from reaching their target and held onto a match and series draw by just four runs.

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Will Rhodes’ bowling at the death, backed up by a rejuvenated Sam Curran, cemented his place as a star in the Test arena.

ODIs: Lost 4-3

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In the final ODI of the seven-match series, England secured a thrilling victory with just one delivery remaining. The recalled Ryan Higgins struck a career best 85 not out while Paul Coughlin blasted an undefeated 29 from just 15 deliveries. The Durham native had endured a tough series with the bat up to that point but struck three boundaries in the final over. Aneurin Donald, another recalled player, had earlier contributed 84. The only shame about this dramatic climax to the series is that it was actually somewhat of an anti-climax. The series had already been decided. Despite being in some great positions at times, England had stumbled too often and were already 4-2 down going into the final match. The consolation win was a spirit lifter however ahead of the T20I leg of the tour.

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The underrated and sometimes underused Paul Coughlin has been a surprise hit in England’s ODI side. After ten matches his economy rate is a sensational 4.64 per over and his boundary hitting in the seventh ODI showcased his all-round potential.

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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Spirit lifter, what spirit lifter?

A long and arduous campaign culminated with yet another T20I series defeat. One positive though was Brett D’Oliveira’s unbeaten 35 on debut.

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England captain Liam Livingstone finished the season ranked the fourth best batsman in Tests and 2nd in ODIs. He instilled in the team a competitiveness that has brought some excellent results and a little more consistency from those around him and England might start to ascend the rankings. As it is they finished the year placed 7th in Tests, 5th in ODIs and 8th in T20Is.

Best Batting:

Tests: Will Rhodes 191

ODIs: Daniel Bell-Drummond 137

T20Is: Lewis McManus 80

Best Bowling

Tests: Jofra Archer 5-114

ODIs: Jamie Overton 4-55

T20Is: Mason Crane 4-33

Reign Over!

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Off-spinner Ollie Rayner, capped twice at Test level and 24 times in ODIs has announced his retirement. German born Rayner has been a valued part of England’s squad in recent seasons, notably in One-Day internationals. The Middlesex man claimed 30 ODI wickets at 41.77 per victim but it was his impressive economy rate of 5.61 that the England management so valued.

Moving forward, the 2022-23 season brings with it a T20I World Cup as well as an Ashes tour. A Rayner-less England will look to build on the progress made during the 2021-22 campaign.