Don Bradman Cricket 17: How Not to Take a Catch!

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How not to take a catch, courtesy of James Anderson and Mason Crane. At least the new kit looks snazzy!

England have put themselves in a commanding position at the end of the premier day’s play in the inaugural Test match to be played at London’s Olympic Stadium.

England made a cheeky declaration having reached 330-9 (Hameed 141, Bairstow 85), providing themselves with the opportunity to claim some Thai wickets with the pink ball under lights. The hosts soon had the tourists in trouble and by the close of play Thailand had subsided to 81-5 (Anderson 3-17). Stumper Ben Foakes snaffled the first four victims and after the shoots of recovery having been 29-4, Thailand lost a wicket to the final delivery of the day. It could have been even better for England had they not dropped three catches, the most spectacular being the Anderson/Crane slip combo pictured above.

Look out for a full match report in the coming days as England desperately bid to return to winning ways. Of course we have a habit of blowing good starts so we won’t count our chickens just yet!

Will England Take the Plungekett?

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England head to the Land of Oz for the Ashes later this year and if past expeditions are anything to go by then the selectors are sure to stock the plane with plenty of pace bowling options. James Anderson and Stuart Broad will go, as of course will Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes.

But who else?

Jake Ball, Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones are contenders as are the Curran brothers, Tom and Sam. Mark Wood is surely one that the England selectors will be keen on and Mark Footitt is an outside bet. He’s erratic but he does take wickets (As I’ve banged on about (Campaigned) in previous articles!). A name that doesn’t seem to come up often when it comes to Test squad discussions is Liam Plunkett. Remember that the England selectors won’t be looking or needing players that have to stay fit for five Tests. The back up pacers will slot in for a Test or two at a time in order to rest senior members of the attack and to catch the hosts by surprise. But for Afghanistan’s teenage spin sensation Rashid Khan’s seven-fer against West Indies yesterday, Yorkshire’s Plunkett was the leading ODI wicket taker in the last year. He actually did well when he returned to the Test side in 2014 before incurring injury. England have the opportunity and possibly the necessity to view alternative options in this summer’s home Test series’ against both South Africa and West Indies. With injury concerns present regarding both Anderson and Woakes then surely it’s worth England having a look at the likes of Plunkett and Footitt in the red (Or pink) ball arena.

Here’s my squad come England’s first Test of the summer with Plunkett and Footitt providing cover if Woakes and Anderson aren’t fit:

Alastair Cook

Keaton Jennings

Joe Root (Captain)

Gary Ballance

Moeen Ali

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Adil Rashid

Chris Woakes / Liam Plunkett

Stuart Broad

James Anderson / Mark Footitt

Here are the players to add to the squad come the Ashes:

Haseeb Hameed

Jos Buttler (Reserve Wicketkeeper)

Liam Dawson

Mark Wood

Hameed’s domestic form, an equation of three into two for the opening slots, Ballance’s demanding of a recall, Moeen’s desire and merit to bat at five and Rashid’s time to lead the spin bowling attack equates to Hameed missing out at the start of the summer but making the tour. I’m happy with Root captaining the side from three ala Australia’s Steven Smith as Ballance has been so productive at four this year at Headingley. Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone could also come into the equation but that would balloon the party to eighteen. LL was England Lions standout performer last winter and presumably the back-up brigade will be waiting in the wings if England need to call for reinforcements. Of course Dawson and Buttler will already provide genuine batting cover. Dawson bats at five for Hampshire and Buttler will be in the squad as second choice gloveman.

Regarding spin, Mason Crane could return to Oz after playing First Class cricket there last winter but needs to really set the word alight in the County Championship from this point on. Alternatively England could turn to Somerset’s Jack Leach but you get the impression that the selectors aren’t convinced and that Dawson will do seen as it’s Australia not Asia.

Of course if Jennings averages 15.00 against SA, Broad breaks down injured playing for Nottinghamshire and Rashid goes at 6.00 an over against WI then the Ashes squad could have a completely different complexion to the one presented above.

You’ll have to excuse me. The article headline suggested that it would be all about Liam Plunkett but has descended into a general England squad predictor/requestor. I definitely think that Plunkett and Footitt would be great weapons in England’s attack for three to five Tests each in our next three series.

We’ll see what happens…

Don Bradman Cricket 17: A Ton in the Sun!

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Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate my First Class career best innings of 137 for Yorkshire against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in the County Championship but also to provide a little insight into where Don Bradman Cricket 17 on the PS4 (Also available on Xbox One and Steam) currently stands. Regarding the Hampshire match, I was actually captain and when I came to the crease in the second innings we were three wickets down and still behind the host’s first innings total. I then ran Joe Root (27) out but first Jonny Bairstow and then David Willey (Career team selection now more dynamic) hung around as I batted aggressively but not recklessly, selecting the right ball and field placings when going aerial. I had one stroke of luck when I was dropped on about 70. Hamps’ were left requiring 238 to win and a last wicket stand of 29 got them within 12 runs before their number eleven was out in exactly the way you’d expect someone to be so in that situation… stumped!

Onto the game in general:

Firstly: When you login to career, you’re now promptly dropped for the first match after each login. I think that if you save the game at a certain point then it’s avoidable but it’s one of many little nuisances in the game that add up.

Secondly: Batting average seems to be calculating ‘more correctly’ but it’s still unclear if not outs are being counted as they should be. In a new career that I’ve started, I’ve batted once and scored 31 not out but on the statistics panel on the player page it says no not outs. On my older careers the statistics panel and the information on screen when I walk out to bat don’t match. I need to have another bat or two in my new career to confirm things but ultimately statistics still aren’t accurate across the board.

Thirdly: Outisde of career mode, so in casual or tour matches, no statistics are saved. For example: Mark Footitt has played a few Tests for me but his performances don’t record anywhere. On DBC14 I created my village team and played match after match analysing player’s averages and how they went up or down. It’s a strange omission from the game and has been keenly discussed on the forum…

https://www.planetcricket.org/forums/forums/don-bradman-cricket-17-forum.306/

Fourthly: Back to career. When you start at Club T20 level, at the beginning you select your team then five opposition from the local area to be in your league. In my new career I’m playing for Redcar under the Durham umbrella. I selected local teams such as Berwick and South Shields but have Lancashire’s Burnley and Yorkshire’s Keighley to travel to!

Fifthly: This probably played a part in my what I seem to recall were back to back centuries. After the last patch my player rating went from about 70 to 87! You gain skill points for performance and apply them to various skills and techniques within the three disciplines but obviously now being 87 means I should be competing with the best of ’em.

I find gameplay in general really good and the concept of career mode is great. That’s what makes it really frustrating that the… frustrations are such simple things as statistics that were correct on the original instalment of the game.

As has probably been the case for many loyal fans of Don Bradman Cricket for sometime now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll be just one more patch, just one more patch, please!

I hope that loyal Silly Pointers will look forward to my future England match reports. I’ve designed four new kits (Test, ODI, T20I and Exhibition) and look forward to sharing my designs with you as the team go in search of global success. I’ve also designed a new bat that at least some of the players will be using.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Jersey Creamed!

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Gary Ballance (123, foreground) compiled a 146-run stand with debutant Ben Foakes (62, background) to propel England to an encouraging first innings total of 367.

Following our Greek tragedy in Corfu, we headed to yet more exotic isles, this time Jersey shores. Unfortunately the home side milked our bowling ’til the cows came home and we went down by nine wickets. It was the familiar fable of building up our hopes only to have them knocked back down again. We posted a very respectable 367 in our first innings, courtesy in the main to an epic 146-run partnership between Gary Ballance (123) and debutant Ben Foakes (62). The recalled Toby Roland-Jones came next in the scoring charts with 43. Eight of our wickets fell to spin.

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Debutant stumper Ben Foakes made scores of 62 and 44, claimed three catches and effected a run out.

We then had the home side in peril at 155-6 but somehow they went on to total 445. Sam Curran (3-99) bowled exceptionally well whilst Liam Plunkett (3-108) and Roland-Jones (2-75) plugged away. Despite Moeen Ali taking a wicket in his first over, the last ball before lunch, our spinners again disappointed. Foakes dropped a regulation chance early on but responded by claiming two catches, one each off pace and spin, as well as performing a clever run out. Captain Joe Root held four catches.

In our second innings we simply fell apart. Once again batsmen got starts but only the impressive debutant Foakes really looked comfortable. He made 44, Root 33 and Haseeb Hameed 22… for the second time in the match. Sadly the next highest score wasn’t 11!

Jersey were left requiring 91 to win and we presented our spinners with the opportunity to save their Test careers as the match headed into a fourth day. Adil Rashid did at least snap up a wicket (Another catch for Foakes) and Liam Dawson was economical but the Test careers of both of them as well as Moeen and batsman Ben Duckett (20 & 15) now hang by a thread.

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It is with great shame that I find myself once again defending the efforts of our players when the performance as a whole simply wasn’t good enough for this level. In truth, we should have selected an extra pace bowling option at the expense of either a spinner or the extra batsman we had at number six. Wholesale changes will be made come our next outing. We can’t go on like this!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Greece Frightening!

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Haseeb Hameed stroked 131 but we collapsed from 131-1. Coincidence?

We were 130-1 at lunch on day one. Guess how this story ends?!

Having made 27, James Vince (Bowled off a no ball on 15) went for a wander the first delivery he faced after his salad and promptly got run out. Cue a collapse of epic proportions as 131-1 became 258 all out. It would be an understatement to say that it’s a good job Haseeb Hameed turned up. He constructed a chanceless and quite simply, in the face of all the carnage around him, magnificent 131.

We then chipped away at the opposition batting order and following a quick double strike from Liam Plunkett we had the Grecians in peril at 196-7 but they would go onto claim a vital 68-run first innings lead by totalling 306. Plunkett was the pick of the bowlers with figures 4-44. Fellow pacers Mark Footitt (2-63), Mark Wood (2-65) and Sam Curran (2-55) also performed well but spin trio Adil Rashid, Liam Dawson and Moeen Ali failed to claim a wicket between them. More plates were spun at lunch than the ball turned for the twirless threesome!

We then stumbled to 258 in our second innings at Corfu Stadium. First innings hero Hameed (12) left a straight one, Vince (5) vanished and Gary Ballance (18) hit two of the most majestic fours you’ll ever see then offered slip catching practice. Moeen Ali (42) again looked good but got out and Sam Curran (16) briefly flirted with doing well. Captain for this match Jonny Bairstow (31) put on 60 with Liam Dawson before the former fell in spectacular fashion when attempting an audacious ramp and becoming the premier spin victim in the Test. Dawson battled away and reached fifty but fell soon afterwards for 52. Liam Plunkett made 8 having quacked in the first innings before Mark Wood (18) put on 45 with Adil Rashid. Rashid was dropped behind on 34 but when Wood was out Rashid couldn’t get back on strike before Mark Footitt was bowled without troubling the scorers. Rashid was left stranded on 35 not out from 80 deliveries.

That left the Greeks requiring 191 for a famous victory. Footitt struck early but though wickets fell every now and again there wasn’t the clatter required for us to pull of a heist. Footitt (2), Wood and Plunkett each claimed a wicket and there was one solitary wicket via spin courtesy of Liam Dawson.

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Well played Greece. They thoroughly deserved their five-wicket win. We were 131-1 in the first innings of the match, were gifted 36 extras, had Vince bowled off a no ball and had Rashid dropped yet we still lost! The team as a whole offer their sincerest apologies to our fans, particularly those that made the trip to Corfu in the hope of a good time.

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The selection committee will review the events of the past four days prior to announcing the squad for our next Test match.

Toby Rolls In!

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I’ll admit that TRJ’s latest call-up to the England squad on the eve of the third ODI against South Africa had passed me by, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a thoroughly deserving county stalwart’s name on the scorecard when I got home from work yesterday. It eased the pain of the scorecard as a whole.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1031429.html

Toby Roland-Jones made England’s Test squad last summer but not the XI. He performed admirably with bat and ball for the Lions in the winter and has been a consistent performer on the domestic circuit for a number of years. He played a huge part in Middlesex’s final day County Championship title clinch last season and possibly the fact that Middlesex haven’t played a match this week and that the third ODI was at his domestic home ground of Lords probably helped he and Steven Finn make the squad. England had niggles to the likes of Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali and clearly decided not to take any risks with their other fit but injury prone first choice pacers. Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood were rested. Liam Dawson, perennial 12th man was also added to the squad but not surprisingly provided the greenness of the pitch, he again failed to take the XI. Jake Ball responded to his figures of 0-81 in the second ODI by claiming two wickets at Lords and back to Roland-Jones, he came out swinging (Not slogging!) to hit a run-a-ball 37 not out on debut after England had been 22-6 inside five overs! TRJ also took his and England’s first wicket. Hashim Amla is not a bad maiden international victim. It says bowled in the scorebook and mentions nothing about playing on!

Credit the ECB that have some good pieces on their website. It won’t let me post links to the specific video pages but only the main page. Have a look at the post match interview with TRJ and the match highlights that are a decent nearly six minutes long and available soon after the match conclusion, providing the frustrated fan with some action in an era of no bat ‘n’ ball on free to air television. Hopefully that’s about to change!

https://www.ecb.co.uk

Ahead of the Ashes this winter, England seem likely to experiment with their squad come the ODIs against West Indies later this summer and will probably rotate their seamers before taking plenty of them Down Under. Roland-Jones could yet don the full England kit again soon.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/370535.html

Six to Watch: Revisited

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Please find my original article entitled ‘Six to Watch’ by clicking the link below…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/six-to-watch/

Here’s an early season follow-up on the players that were identified in that piece.

Jofra Archer, 22, Sussex, All-Rounder

If Archer is eligible to represent England now, then he could be an outside bet for an Ashes trip though he hasn’t graced the Lions squad yet and provided England’s penchant to have a look first, it might be that he has to settle for England’s bench squad for the time being.

Archer has 18 CC wickets at 24.56 including two five-wicket hauls. Couple that with two half-centuries to help him total 223 runs at 55.75 and you’ve got a very destructive all-rounder. After a slightly expensive start there were wickets and runs in the List A competition too and Archer  is surely a player that spectators and selectors will be following closely.

Daniel Bell-Drummond, 23, Kent, Right-Handed Opening Batsman

DBD started the First Class campaign with… starts but went on to make back to back hundreds in the Royal London One Day Cup. He then followed up a duck blip with 90 and totalled 443 runs at an average of 63.29 in the competition. His strike rate was a healthy 87.38. That’s good but the very top batsman are striking at 100% as a bare minimum. He’ll look to the England Lions games to press his case and could make the ODI squad this season if England choose to experiment and rotate ahead of an Ashes tour.

Dom Bess, 19, Somerset, Off-Spin Bowler

Bess was nowhere to be seen in the early stages of the county season and had a quiet introduction to the County Championship. He didn’t make the one-day games either but has this afternoon just snapped up a maiden 2017 County Championship victim. Hopefully he can now kick on.*

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

With Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick gone to Surrey, it looked as though Durham would be looking to Burnham to pile on the runs. He scored 150 against Durham MCCU in April but followed it up with only 15 and 4 in the opening round of County Championship matches against a strong Nottinghamshire line-up. He doesn’t appear to have played any second XI games so may well be injured. In the meantime the likes of Graham Clark and Cameron Steel have had their chance in the first team and progressed steadily.

Nick Compton, 33, Middlesex, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

Injuries and poor form have combined to mean that Compton just hasn’t got going this term. He’s got runs in the second XI including a century and against MCC in Abu Dhabi but hasn’t reached 40 in competitive cricket this season. In truth he’s probably struggling to hold down a spot in the Middlesex first XI at the moment.

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

Footitt went viral when he kicked off the campaign with 6-14 against Warwickshire. Since then he’s continued to claim victims but has gone at around four an over on occasions. With Test series against South Africa, West Indies and in Australia on the horizon, alongside the quality of Anderson, Broad, Woakes and Stokes, Footitt could be a great weapon to slot into the side for the odd Test from time to time. He’s not in the Surrey line-up for their current match though and constant injury niggles may cost him an international career, as might the ability of fellow left-armers, county teammate Sam Curran and Sussex’s George Garton, both of whom have made the Lions squad though admittedly that squad is specifically for limited overs matches.

For the record, Footitt has 20 County Championship Division One victims in four matches this term at 23.65 apiece but at a leaky 3.77 runs per over.

Here’s Footitt on his way to his 21st First Class five-wicket haul earlier this season, Lancashire the victims.

We’ll catch up with the six later in the campaign to see which players seasons have flourished, which have faltered and which had pressed their case or even reached international honours.

*Bess would actually go on to claim match figures of 10-162 including second innings career best figures of 7-117!