Ducking on Day One!

img_1813

I’m not going to commit to a season diary just yet, particularly if things continue as they’ve started but having informed followers of my coming out of retirement and quest for an ever elusive half-century, I feel that it’s only apt to advise of my quack spectacular on the opening day of the village campaign!

I played one match last year and was dismissed second ball. It was the first time that I’d played cricket wearing glasses. Yesterday I played my second match with glasses and fell second ball again. That’s 0 runs in two innings across 2017-18. The only way is up!

I haven’t netted because I’d retired. The match was actually called off due to a damp pitch however the opposition’s first team’s opponents conceded because they couldn’t raise an XI. Therefore a ground that somehow wasn’t soaking became available. I batted at seven and arrived at the crease during the penultimate over. The points system has changed so there’s nothing to be gained for not being bowled out. We had wickets in hand so I just tried to hit as far as I could. Unfortunately that wasn’t very far. After failing to swat the first chest high ball I connected with the second and looking back, am not sure why they weren’t called no balls! The ball simply went up and with their team having dropped everything else, the young lad who nonchalantly dropped a pathetically casual one-handed attempt earlier in the match, made sure he safely wrapped two hands around the red spherical orb and terminated my brief affair at the wicket!

Oh look, we’ve now got yet another new scoring system that records all your stats in great detail…

http://birstwith.play-cricket.com/website/player_stats_widget/batting_stats/4049115?rule_type_id=179

Chasing Fifty!

img_1375

I thought that I’d retired from playing cricket. I haven’t attended pre-season nets, not that doing so has ever helped me in the past! I thought that my second ball duck early last season, clean bowled by a man who must’ve been at least 80, would forever remain my ungracious exit from the village game. I genuinely haven’t scored a run in nearly two years and was ready to flog my attic residing kit at the first car boot sale of the year on sunday… but, with the start of the club cricket campaign just a few days away, I received a text: “Fancy a game of cricket Saturday?… only play 40 overs now so should be done by 6pm at latest”. I ummed and ahhed for a while but the temptation was too strong. If the past few hundred innings are anything to go by then a duck is highly likely, a single figure score is quite likely, a score in the teens is a possibility and anything from twenty to forty-odd is optimistic but has been known to happen. Despite the severe duck risk, it’s that elusive half-century that tempts me back out onto the field. That and the remote (And I mean remote!) possibility that I might get a bowl. The closest I came to a half-ton was 47, when I opened the batting and was last man out to the first ball of the 44th over. That was way back in 2009! I did finish 40 not out in a T20 match in 2016, a match-winning innings but not a fifty.

So here it goes. The forecast isn’t great. There’s plenty of rain about so if we do take to the field then it’ll likely be the bowlers who are provided with some assistance. I’m making excuses already!

A Shaw Thing?

img_2642-adj

Whilst Cameron Bancroft does okay opening the batting for Australia’s Test outfit, his predecessor Matt Renshaw is sniffing for a recall at the earliest opportunity. Since the turn of the year the nearly twentytwo-year-old has reeled off First Class scores of 56, 32, 170, 0, 112, 12, 3, 143* & 8. If the opposition get him early then fair enough but if they don’t then the Middlesbrough lad cashes in. Remember that he’s got a Test high of 184 and averages just shy of 37.

Back to Bancroft. He produced one good knock during the 2017-18 Ashes and under huge pressure for his place, has made starts and got one fifty in South Africa. It’s a good little battle for the Australian selectors to have being played out. Western Australia’s Bancroft has three or four years on Renshaw and experience of opening at county level in England for Gloucestershire that will serve him well. Queensland’s Renshaw is clearly made of tough stuff though, even if he recently rather naively conceded five penalty runs!

Don’t forget Renshaw’s domestic partner Joe Burns either. He had a bit of a stinker in his last Test but he’s still only 28 and has three Test tons to his name. South Australia’s Jake Weatherald is another one to keep an eye on, though he’s failed to convert starts this term. Travis Dean is another who despite not backing up the absurdly good start to his First Class career, has recently notched up a couple of hundreds. His average is a disappointing 34 exactly but six tons seven fifties is a good conversion rate. Remember that opening the batting isn’t easy. I should know because I’ve done it in Division Seven of the Nidderdale League and Division Five of the Harrogate and District Evening League!!!

Like Renshaw, another player from the north of England worth keeping tabs on is Charlie Hemphrey. Despite a duck on First Class debut, the Doncaster native registered a century early in his Australian domestic career and following a difficult time thereafter, has made hundreds in each of his last two outings. Twentyeight-year-old Hemphrey has produced these performances batting at four for Queensland. Burns, Renshaw and Hemphrey helping contribute to a strong batting order.

Current Test incumbent David Warner is only thirty-one so there’s life in the old dog yet and unlike some, he seems committed to the Test cause and not yet seeking a purely T20 franchise existence.

Competition for the opening slots for Australia’s Test side is scorching hot and the selectors will be chuffed at the tough decisions to be made.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – New Zealand Run Out… of Ideas!

IMG_3901

When your bowlers need claim only fourteen wickets, you can’t help but think that Test match victories shouldn’t come quite so easily!

Post victory in the Shamrock state, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes was recalled to the side for the hosting of New Zealand at Edgbaston. Woakes soon snaffled a wicket on his home ground, that of Kiwi opener Jeet Raval, caught behind for seven by debutant wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. That’d be bowled Woakes caught Foakes then! Brought into the side at the expense of Jonny Bairstow following the Yorkshireman’s shabby showing against Ireland in Malahide, Foakes duly put in an exemplary performance behind the timbers. Surrey head honcho Alec Stewart will be proud.

IMG_3902

Woakes made the most of his familiarity with the surroundings. With the new ball in hand whilst Stuart Broad sat this match out, Woakes claimed impressive figures of 3-28 as New Zealand capitulated to 143-9 in their first innings. Only a last wicket stand of forty between Neil Wagner and Trent Boult helped lift the visitors to a slightly more respectable 183 all out. New Zealand’s ineptitude with the bat on such a run-welcoming surface was soon highlighted by England’s willow wielders, not to mention the Kiwis’ own efforts come their second innings.

IMG_3903

Mark Stoneman compiled a career best 82 in an opening partnership of 186 with former Durham colleague Keaton Jennings but was rightly gutted on missing out on a maiden Test century. The Surrey lefty played an unnecessary and inexplicably expansive shot when three figures were peeping above the horizon whilst crying out “Come and get me Mark, please!”.

IMG_3904

Perennially in-form Jennings made no such mistake. His monumental 222 was a dominational knock that left him sitting pretty at the top of the Global Test League run charts whilst averaging an epic 83.29! #Bradmanesque was soon trending on social media. In the interest of fairness, Roston Chase, Dean Elgar and Ross Taylor have all clocked up higher GTL scores in the first four rounds of games.

IMG_3906

Dawid Malan registered his third hundred of the GTL, the most by any individual thus far in the inaugural edition of the competition. The Middlesex man fell for a Test best 155, his partnership of 194 with Adil Rashid was England’s competition high so far as was the team cumulative of 765-9. Regarding the bowling, Neil Wagner claimed absurd figures of 3-256!

IMG_3907

Following his reintegration to the Test side against Ireland, Adil Rashid continued his authoritative all-round performance and seemed destined for a maiden Test century. The Yorkshireman was controversially adjudged run out when on 79 however, though in truth it was an almightily risky run, even if the cameras suggested he’d made his ground.

IMG_3911

As was the case against Ireland, England saw their opposition produce a strong second innings batting display. It was only day three and the pitch was still a good one. How much more the Kiwis 410 could have been if it were not for five run outs in the innings, added to one in their first, will forever remain unknown. Had the tourists not conceded such village dismissals (No disrespect to village cricketers across the land!) and had they applied themselves better in their first innings then this could have been a far more evenly contested high scoring affair. Tim Southee’s run out for a career best 87, a dismissal that sealed the home side’s victory was disappointing, embarrassing, amateur, heart-breaking and inevitable all at the same time. Even the England fans wanted to see him reach a ton.

Moving on from my journalistic report and bringing to the fore my role as Team Manager and Chairman of Selectors of the England national side, we’d prefer to have to work harder for our wickets, even if we can claim to have applied pressure to bring them about. Our performance against spin, Jeetan Patel finished with figures of 0-98 on his home ground, was extremely encouraging. Pakistan in Lahore however will be a different kettle of the proverbial fish. We look forward to the challenge though. We currently sit joint top of the GTL table alongside South Africa and India. They too have won three matches and lost one. Entertaining ‘The Proteas’ at home will follow the trip to Pakistan.

The squad to travel to Pakistan will be named after careful consideration has been provided. Rotation of our pace bowlers continues to be of paramount importance as we look to sustain our intensity throughout the duration of the competition. Thoughts of adding additional spin options to the XI will be weighed up as will selecting spin-skilled batsmen. The players continue to be humbled by the support of the fans.

Retirement Announcement

IMG_8247adj

Don’t worry, I’m not retiring from blogging but I am retiring from playing… I think. We may have been here before and who knows what the future holds but in what will surely be a huge disappointment to bowlers throughout Nidderdale, I’ll no longer be assisting them in lowering their bowling average. My dibby dobblies, effective in the pre 2005 Ashes surge of cricketing talent that would appear a few years down the line, will no longer be used by batsmen as average enhancers either.

Scribbling about my on-field efforts was one aspect of the game that I’d expected to take up some space here at Silly Point but in truth there are far too many ducks and drops to justify the odd twenty-something with the bat and maybe an annual over with the ball.

Save your tears. I’ll continue to score runs by the bucket load on Don Bradman Cricket 17 and Cricket Captain 2017, take L.B. Wilson on hikes, review cricket themed literature, moan about the England team and pitch a restructuring of world cricket on an all too frequent basis!

The subtitle of this website describes me as an “… extremely average village cricketer’. I guess that I was.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: A Ton in the Sun!

IMG_3311

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’t Just Catch the Ball, Hold it!

IMG_1375adj2

Can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t catch. Well, in the words of Meat Loaf…

Hold on, that makes absolutely no sense! Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that despite my ineptitude with the bat and as a bowler, I have been known to take more than my fair share of catches. The notion of me providing cricket tuition to anybody is almost laughable. It’s kind of like me telling Bear Grylls to “Lean horizontal and just abseil down that 500ft precipice”. However, here are my thoughts on fielding:

When fortunate enough to play on a saturday, we play 45 overs per side. That’s 270 deliveries plus a few extras in the field. For every single one of those 270 balls that are bowled, I’m anticipating that the ball is coming my way… in the air. I don’t think that most people do that. They’re just fielding and will react on the occasional occasions that the ball comes their way. My method may seem taxing but doesn’t a batsman focus on every delivery possibly for hour upon hour? When the ball does come my way and I’ve caught it, it is in that moment the really important bit happens. You do not relax! The job is not done. Catching the ball is only part of the process. You must HOLD onto the ball, you must prepare your body for landing without losing grip of the ball despite elbows thudding the ground or a foot straying over a boundary rope. You’ll see so many amateur, even professional cricketers catch the ball. Anybody can catch but can they hold onto the ball? Can they hold onto that spherical cork and leather combo like it’s the love of their life?!!!

I am of course destined to now spend the summer months spilling chances left, right and center!

Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, John Nash. These men all had theories. Well I too have a theory… Don’t just catch the ball, hold it!