The Canberra Conundrum

The Big Bash could be set to expand come the 2020-21 campaign but which cities could adopt new franchises and assume a place in the league?

How about Canberra and Darwin?

Canberra is the capital city of Australia but the state of New South Wales already has two Sydney based franchises. Canberra technically lies within the Australian Capital Territory which is entirely encompassed within New South Wales. To complicate matters, current BBL participants Sydney Thunder, actually play at Manuka Oval which is located in Canberra. For a team moniker, how about Canberra Centurions, Canberra Cricket Cosmos or just Canberra Cosmos, Canberra Conventional Swingers, Canberra Cover-Drivers or Canberra Cyclones.

The Northern Territory isn’t currently represented in the Big Bash so state capital Darwin could fill the void. Marrara Oval has hosted international cricket matches before. There’s a whole host of team names the city could choose from: Darwin Ducks, Darwin Dot-Ballers, Darwin Drifters, Darwin Diamonds, Darwin Drivers or Darwin Drinks-Breakers. Darwin needs a Big Bash of its own!

Cairns, Launceston and Alice Springs are other possible locations for new franchises. Oh and how about the Norfolk Island Knights?

Disclaimer: Whilst writing my article, I became heavily distracted by this one…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/may/21/were-not-australian-norfolk-islanders-adjust-to-shock-of-takeover-by-mainland

Cricket 19: What’s in a Name?

Something worth noting is that Big Ant’s fourth cricket game, due for release as soon as May, will be called Cricket 19.

This makes a lot of sense. Just like FIFA World Cup games are extremely limited, Ashes Cricket could easily be dismissed by potential buyers as a game without much depth. With Career Mode and all the customisation available, whether it be players, tournaments, kits or whatever, the game will certainly possess depth.

Fingers crossed that Big Ant have ironed out previous flaws and will deliver a groundbreaking game!

Failing to Find Fifty!

When I started writing this blog, I anticipated that I’d share my playing experiences with you but in truth my career has somewhat petered out.

I didn’t take up the game until quite late, about seventeen or eighteen. I had early success with the ball complimented by some steady progress with the bat. Figures of 6-25 would remain a career best but there would be back-to-back four-wicket hauls for the second XI, even if they did straddle two different seasons. Unfortunately, playing for the second XI usually meant that if I bowled one bad over then I didn’t get to turn my arm over again for a whole fortnight. Couple that with batting at ten or eleven, ie: basically not batting for two years or with little to gain when I did and the sum total is that I was ruined as a cricketer. I should stress that I’m talking about the lowest regions of an amateur league in Yorkshire with many many divisions.

When sent back to the third XI, I reinvented myself as a stoic opening batsman and managed to occupy the crease for all of forty overs or more on more than one occasion. Despite being able to find the boundary, there’d be more dots beside my name in the scorebook than your average dot-to-dot. I’d struggle to score at, on average, more than one run per over. An innings of 47 from all of 43.1 overs, last man out having opened and top scored by far was as good as it ever got. Had I actually managed to execute the shot that brought about my dismissal as intended, the ball would have rolled down the hill for four and with it a maiden fifty. A few weeks later in a run-chase, I scored an unusually quickfire 26 in an opening fifty stand before being absurdly caught and bowled, only to get demoted in the order the following week. Soon I’d find myself scheduled to bat at eleven and not bowling, so traipsed off to find another hobby… and some lovely holidays in Scotland and Ireland.

After a couple of years in the wilderness (The actual New Zealand and Australian wilderness), I returned to find that the 2005 Ashes effect had turned division seven into Test match cricket. Kids who had been inspired by England before the death of cricket on terrestrial television and now with a few years honing their skills under their belts were bending it like Beckham (Or Waqar) and nearly taking my ears off!

A few games into my return, I made a defiant 27, taking nearly thirty overs to do so but hinting at being able to contribute like before. I can remember the moment it all went wrong though. A duck curtesy of a gift to slip in the next game and I never recovered. There then followed a few years of being uncomfortable playing only as a batsman. Not bowling meant that I didn’t feel involved and put pressure on myself to perform solely as a batsman. When I should’ve been relaxing I tensed up instead. I’d be dismissed by old men, kids and everything in-between. My defence fell apart and the odd flirty twenty or thirty was the best that I had to offer, usually either side of a month or two of single figure scores and more ducks than at a frois gras farm!

I did improve my Twenty20 game, managing to turn those dots into singles and produced a match-winning 40 not out in a chips down run-chase but with the target attained a long dreamed of half-century remained out of reach and now seems likely to elude me forever.

Whilst amateur cricket stalwarts up and down the land prepare (Or don’t prepare!) for the 2019 village campaign, I just can’t justify all the ducks and DNBs in the hope of finally finding fifty. A wife and two kids deserve a little more attention on a Saturday afternoon. Never say never but my career best seems set in stone frustratingly three runs short of fifty on 47.

How to Select a Telegraph Fantasy Cricket Team

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Hi all

Please have a listen to my latest audiocast on how to select your Telegraph Fantasy Cricket Team…

Good luck in 2019 folks!

Disclaimer: I forget to mention, I’m not a fan of gambling in sport but believe that a bit of fantasy cricket, football or whatever can be healthy when played in moderation!

Balbirnie Journey

Nothing endears a player to me more than ineptitude and so Irish batsman Andy Balbirnie’s pair on Test debut made him an instant favourite.

With Test outings for the Shamrock side few and far between, I’m desperately hoping that cricket’s not most famous AB gets another chance to shine. In the meantime he needs to dominate domestic and international white-ball cricket. Today, he did just that…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/cricket/andrew-balbirnie-shines-as-ireland-beat-afghanistan-1-8835562/amp

Fingers crossed that the Dublin Dabber gets to at least double his Test cap tally and turn his batting average into an integer… oh, it could be against England, against Jimmy and co. on a seaming green Lords deck!

Disclaimer: It escaped my mind that before they take on England, Ireland play another Test in Afghanistan. It won’t be easy but it will be an opportunity for Balbirnie to get up and running.

What if Archer Doesn’t Hit the Target?

England coach Trevor Bayliss has all but confirmed that Jofra Archer will win his first cap for England in the home ODI series against Pakistan. Presumably Selector Ed Smith is on the same page as Bayliss but what if Archer doesn’t merit selection? What if he’s only taken two One-Day Cup wickets @ 92.50 when the series comes around?

Archer is a good player but whether or not he’s worth all the furore remains to be seen. English cricket has a habit of demanding undamaged goods but should Archer record figures of 10-0-87-0 on international debut and go onto claim only a few wickets at 50 apiece in the series, will it be seen as part of his development or will he be written off as another tried and tested player who didn’t cut it?

http://m.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/669855.html

Mark Wood has cemented his place (Fitness providing) and good for him. As for Liam Plunkett, Tom Curran and even Chris Woakes, their World Cup places suddenly don’t seem so certain. As for David Willey, who couldn’t even get on the pitch in the West Indies ODIs, a strong showing in the shortest format is vital. I was particularly disappointed for Curran. He was a star in the Big Bash but couldn’t impose himself in the ODIs.

When England line-up against West Indies in the World Cup, it’ll be interesting to see which personnel form their pace bowling attack. How has it come to this on the eve of the World Cup? Did England’s attack peak a year or two too early? Will Barbados born Jofra Archer take to the field in English colours against the maroon of West Indies that he wore at youth level?

2019 Cricket World Cup

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The Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup takes place in England this year and begins as soon as May 30th!

I’ll be going to see Afghanistan take on both Pakistan and West Indies at Headingley. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Afghanistan opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai in operation. West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer could excite too as could South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen. I’d also like to see how Australian left-armer Jason Behrendorff performs at international level, that’s if he can get in the team either ahed of or alongside senior left-arm quick Mitchell Starc.

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It’s a great shame that there are only ten teams participating in a World Cup but given that that’s how many are, the league format where everybody plays each other once is fair enough.

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Of course there is one big question that remains unanswered… will this man be there and wearing that shirt?!