Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2018 – Season Review

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This year’s competition has reached its conclusion, Ben Cox, Jofra Archer and all but I’m no richer!

That’s right, I didn’t win. Admittedly not bothering to keep on top of transfers and having only one player in the final having had just as many in the semi-final didn’t help my cause!

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Overall, I finished in 3178th position with a total of 5728 points.

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Kent’s Joe Denly led the way for my outfit with 1159 points and therefore should’ve been my captain. That honour fell to Samit Patel who totalled only 471 points before being doubled. Denly’s reward for being the star in my team… an as predicted call-up to England’s Test team for the tour of Sri Lanka.

There were contributions from throughout my side with Patel’s Nottinghamshire teammate Tom Moores (710) my next highest scorer. Liam Dawson, Ryan Higgins and Ross Whiteley all contributed in excess of 500 points.

I’ve already decided on a change of tack for next year that will involve a more active approach to transfers. Roll on 2019…

Transfer Madness!

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Not a day seems to pass without news of yet another transfer or rumoured transfer at least, on the English county cricket circuit. The county game really has become like football’s Premier League.

Meaning no disrespect to Josh Poysden, his one-match loan deal from Derbyshire to Yorkshire really shouldn’t have been allowed, certainly not when Yorkshire have spinners of their own. Poysden has now joined Yorkshire permanently from next season but is available for them in the County Championship this season however he remains a Derbyshire T20 player for the rest of this term. With players signing white-ball only contracts and some jumping from franchise to franchise, it’ll be interesting to see if we end up with English players signing a red-ball contract for one county and a white-ball contract for another. Quite how they’d work out which training facilities they could use and when, who knows!

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Some of the global franchise brigade have already jumped ship from the T20 Blast to head to the Caribbean Premier League… and this even during our scorching summer! What do you mean that the beaches of Brighton, St. Ives and… Scarborough don’t compare to Barbados, Jamaica or St. Kitts?

West Indies opening bat Kraigg Brathwaite, who turned out in a couple of games for Yorkshire a year or two ago, will now spend a few weeks with Nottinghamshire. Liam Plunkett will join his third county when he migrates south to Surrey from Yorkshire whilst Northamptonshire duo Ben Duckett and Richard Gleeson seem likely to follow David Willey’s path to Yorkshire. Loyalty, a quality already nearly all but lost in football, is rapidly vanishing from cricket. Provided the transfer free for all that’s already ongoing, could a draft system be implimented to keep English domestic cricket competitive? Could it be that counties retain a proportion of players born within their borders but compliment them with draft selections? As it stands, the potential move to Yorkshire seems a smart one for Duckett and Gleeson. With Yorkshire losing Alex Lees to Durham, Duckett could do as Lees hopefully will further north and reignite his career and international ambitions. Late bloomer Gleeson, if he can remain injury free, could be a really viable option for Yorkshire with the ball not least because former Northamptonshire player Jack Brooks could be heading to Somerset… are you keeping up?

Jordan Clark from Lancashire to Surrey, Matthew Pillans from Surrey to Yorkshire, Ben Slater from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire and Liam Norwell from Gloucestershire to recruitment reliant Warwickshire, are all likely transfers during the off-season, if they haven’t already been finalised. Oh and guess who Alex Lees’ opening partner up at Durham could be… Australian master tactician Cameron Bancroft!

You can keep up to date with all the migrations by clicking below…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/41154332

Reserved Rashid and Wessels’ Special!

Post all the hullabaloo of Adil Rashid’s recall to England’s Test side, the Yorkshire leg-spinner wasn’t even required to bat or bowl as England annihilated India in the second Test at Lords.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18018/scorecard/1119550/england-vs-india-2nd-test-ind-in-eng-2018

It’s all well and good England’s pace bowlers exploiting home conditions but we’ll be left with the same question as always next time we tour Australia…

Do we retain our swing bowlers or substitute them for out and out pace bowlers who have little experience?

In the meantime, should we risk weakening the team at home by dropping a swinger for Jamie Overton, Saqib Mahmood or Olly Stone etc. so as to provide said pacemen with Test experience prior to our next trip to Oz?

Meanwhile, onto Riki Wessels exploits in the T20 Blast. Last night, the Nottinghamshire opener struck 55 runs from just 18 deliveries against Worcestershire. He didn’t hit any fours but struck nine sixes. That equates to 54 from nine deliveries plus one single, so eight dot balls. Ridonculous!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8053/game/1127556/worcestershire-vs-nottinghamshire-north-group-vitality-blast-2018

If Wessels were from a number of other nations, he would surely have won white-ball international (ODI/T20I) recognition. He’s been a consistent performer on the English county (First Class, List A and T20) circuit for a number of years. Some ambiguity regarding his international allegiance early in his career and younger more fashionable options at present, mean that Wessels will likely remain forever uncapped.

Immortal Batsmen: Revisited

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Following on from a quick little article that I posted the other day, here are some more English batsmen with healthy batting averages.

Ben Slater (Derbyshire) List A batting average: 51.84 (29 innings)

Derbyshire’s Slater has been in such good form this term that he’s courted the attention of Nottinghamshire, a club not shy of a signing and he looks likely to be at Trent Bridge next year. If Slater does have England ambitions then he’d be a fool not to recognise that moving from an unfashionable county to a fashionable one and a County Championship First Division side at that, will enhance his chances of representing the full England team.

Ed Pollock (Warwickshire) T20 batting average: 31.44 (9 innings)

Clearly it’s a very small sample size but Pollock has demonstrated a consistent ability to get his team off the a flying start. A strike rate of 174.69 confirms such. Pollock is averaging eighteen deliveries per innings which combined with his strike-rate equates to his average of 31.44 but just imagine if he could stay at the crease even longer without compromising his attacking nature. If he could bat for twice as long, which if he faced half the strike would take him into the twelfth over then he’d be up towards 70. Bat out the entire innings and he’d pass 100. The T20 Blast commences today and Pollock could be one of the stars!

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Michael Burgess (Sussex) First Class batting average: 47.56 (28 innings)

Leicestershire didn’t want him but Sussex have made the most of him… or have they? A wicketkeeper by trade, Burgess is having to settle for a Jos Buttler style specialist number seven batting role. He’s helping a strong Sussex tail eke out big totals and it’ll be interesting to see where Burgess ends up in the order and how his career progresses.

Varun Chopra (Essex) List A batting average: 44.12 (106 innings)

Chopra’s average is impressive as it straddles over a hundred innings however a career strike-rate of 76.08 highlights how the game has evolved in recent times and what levels of tempo are necessary at domestic level compared to the current international environment. Chopra is also closing in on 10,000 First Class runs complete with ten tons. A former England Under-19 captain, he’s never quite been able to put himself towards the front of the queue in regards to staking an international claim.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2018

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Here’s my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team for the T20 competition.

Sticking to my tried and tested formula, I’ve selected batsmen that can bowl. Kent’s Joe Denly will surely contribute with the white ball and Ryan Higgins is definatley an all-rounder. He’s been opening the bowling for Gloucestershire in First Class cricket this year following his move from Middlesex. Ross Whiteley is a destructive T20 hitter who as broken into Worcestershire’s County Championship of late. He produced some strong innings in the One-Day Cup and has been collecting the odd wicket too. Sussex’s Harry Finch complete’s my batting line-up.

Tom Moores has seamlessly assumed Chris Read’s position behind the stumps at Nottinghamshire and he’s my gloveman this year.

Hampshire’s Liam Dawson has broke the record for England Lions One-Day bowling figures three times this year and fellow slow-left-armer Samit Patel performed superbly when opening the bowling in the Pakistan Super League last time out. With dry pitches all around the country these two should prosper and might be competing for a place on England’s tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies. Patel, with his all-round capabilities dons my captain’s armband.

AJ Tye didn’t have in easy against England in the ODI series or T20I but will come good for Gloucestershire at domestic level. Many county batsmen just can’t read what’s about to come out of his hand. Matt Coles has broke into the Essex XI and could actually be a useful option for England. He’ll take wickets and biff it with the bat too. Adam Zampa should enjoy the current Australian like English terrain Harry Brookes has broke into the Warwickshire side this year. He’s a capable willow wielder despite his listing s a bowler.

They’ll be an update at the end of the T20 Blast to see how my team performed.

Denly’s Destiny?

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England Test captain Joe Root has opted to take a break from international cricket during the upcoming T20I Tri-Series against Australia and New Zealand. With all-rounder Ben Stokes also likely to be unavailable, there could be a vacancy for a batsman who bowls a bit, someone who has been in form whilst playing in the Bangladesh Premier League and Big Bash recently, somebody who has improved dramatically since last floundering in international T20 cricket against Australia. Look no further than another Joe, Kent’s Joe Denly.

In last season’s T20 Blast, the former Middlesex man totalled a whopping 567 runs at an average of 43.62 complete with strike-rate of 150.80. Nobody aggregated more runs than the thirty-one-year-old. The Canterbury native averaged a decent 31.16 at 105.64 for Dhaka Dynamites in Bangladesh before Christmas and has just smashed 73 not out from 45 deliveries for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash, leaving him with a tournament average of 72.00 from four games. He was only dismissed twice during his short Sydney stint. It’s not just the shortest format that Denly has improved at either, last season he averaged 55.48 in the County Championship. The right-hander contributed 1168 runs including four centuries and five half-tons. His domestic career stats aren’t great, generally averaging mid-thrities and neither are his international figures all too impressive: 20 runs in five T20I innings and an average below 30.00 in ODIs.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/12454.html

That was nine years ago however and Denly wouldn’t be the first player to reinvent himself and improve. He’s a useful spin bowling option too and if the England selectors fancied trying the same selection policy as Australia, i.e. picking players on BBL form, then Denly is well worth a shout. If Gary Ballance and James Vince etc can have recall after recall then surely Denly merits another opportunity. Having been included in the Test squad for New Zealand, it could be that Liam Livingstone earns a return to the T20I side and I’d have no qualms about that. Off the back of such form for Denly in Oz though, a recall for the Kent man seems like a no-brainer!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018 – Because it’s Never too Early!

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It’s never too early to start planning any fantasy team. Preparation is key. The English county cricket season will commence in April, so it’s important to have by then identified some possible composites of your side.

Assuming that the format will remain the same, that’s one amalgamated competition for First Class and List A cricket with a completely separate one for the T20 blast, I’m going to focus on potential selections for the four-day and 50-over formats for the time being.

Here are my key tips to remember when selecting a team:

  1. Don’t select players that will be on international duty.
  2. Select players that will play in both forms of the game.
  3. Select batsman that bowl and bowlers that bat.
  4. Don’t pick the same players as everybody else.
  5. Identify potential gems amongst the ‘hardly picked by anyone’ players.

Let’s start with batting. Re: tip one, there’s absolutely no point selecting Joe Root, Mark Stoneman or Jonny Bairstow. They’ll be representing the national team.

England discard Tom Westley could be a shrewd shout. He’ll be keen to push for a recall to the England side, though I think it’ll likely be a vain push. The Essex man is a decent operator in both formats and occasionally contributes some reasonable off-spin.

Another England reject worth a possible punt could be Keaton Jennings. He’s relocated from Durham to Lancashire, opens the batting in both forms of the game and made regular contributions with the ball when at Durham. Whether or not Alastair Cook remains in the England side could of course determine if KJ is a smart selection. It is worth noting that both players I’ve mentioned so far could find themselves representing England Lions and missing a game or two because of such. That’s why in this game, it’s the county pros who you need to select.

Somerset’s James Hildreth is a decent shout, a little more productive in one-day cricket than some people realise and if he can perform to his potential in the four-day matches then he’ll contribute plenty of runs. Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke is a good call but again he’ll be knocking on the door of the England team. Clarke may be listed as a wicketkeeper. Northamptonshire’s Ben Duckett will likely be listed as a batsman but does keep wicket from time to time. He’s well and truly fallen out of favour with England and could contribute significant scores at a decent strike rate (There’s points for that!).

Following his move to Warwickshire, Dominic Sibley is definitely a player worth considering. He’s keen to prove to Surrey that he should’ve been a regular fixture in their team. He’s a destructive batsman in one-day cricket but has the ability to make big scores in the longer format. Don’t forget that he can provide more than useful part-time spin too!

In the all-rounder stakes, Nottinghamshire’s Samit Patel (Clearly no longer required by England) is possibly an essential selection. Re: tips four and five, it’s important to not just select the same team as everybody else. You need to identify the ‘hardly picked by anyone’ players that will make the difference. You do however need some reliable core players in your team. Having Harry Kane isn’t going to win you fantasy football but not having him will guarantee that you don’t win. Patel bats, bowls and plays both formats. He’ll be as hungry as ever to demonstrate to the England hierarchy that he merits further opportunities so may well deserve a spot in your XI.

Hampshire’s Gareth Berg is no spring chicken and not the most fashionable name on the county scene but with the ball, he’s a consistent wicket-taker as well as being in the habit of contributing useful lower order runs. He’s one of those players that will pass a number of fantasy players by, so sneaking him into your team, he could well prove an asset.

On the bowling front, Sussex’s Jofra Archer isn’t qualified to play for England yet. Last year he was listed as a bowler but could potentially be listed as an all-rounder this year. Either way, he falls into the Patel category of being an almost necessary selection.

Jake Ball? No seriously, I’m serious. He’s surely fallen down the pecking order at international level and the opportunity to play regularly at domestic level could well be what he needs. If he can perform like he did to first earn international recognition then he could be worth a pick. Brett Hutton has departed Ball’s Nottinghamshire side and headed to Northamptonshire. He’s another of these potentially underrated players who could now prosper in a new environment where he’ll hope for extra responsibility. Re: tip three, it’s great to find players that offer something with bat and ball but essentially you do need to select players that will, if they’re a batsman, score runs and if they’re a bowler, take wickets… duhhh!

I could go on and maybe I’ll do a follow-up post consisting of some more names. I’ll probably end up selecting a team that contains none of the above players whatsoever but as a starting point for planting the seeds of fantasy cricket team selection, this is just the beginning.

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.

Yorkshire vs. Worcestershire T20 Blast Match

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Time for something unusual now at Silly Point, an actual first hand account of cricket, I mean real cricket, not a computer game. I may have retired from playing but not even the weather could prevent me from attending Headingley today and witnessing some breathtaking cricket.

There was the small matter of Yorkshire number three David Willey’s 118 from 55 deliveries before Worcestershire’s Yorkshire born Ross Whiteley struck young spinner Karl Carver for six sixes in one over. Wide included the over ultimately cost 37 runs! White Rose coach Andrew Gale has tried to deflect some of the blame that could be aimed at Carver by suggesting that stand-in skipper Tim Bresnan was wrong to bowl the slow-left-armer (His brother-in-law) at such a time in the game. The home side managed to hold on though and secure a 37-run victory.

For a full match report please log onto Cricinfo…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8053/report/1068343/

Here are some photos (Fret not, I own the rights!) from this afternoon’s run fest:

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