Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – 2024 Season

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Here’s a quick round up of the 2024 campaign.

In the One-Day Cup, I commenced the season with scores of 79 and a List A best of 174 from 86 deliveries at the top of the order. I then scored 27 and was promptly dropped to number four! I was pretty peeved at the demotion and some low scores then ensued. After only 21 runs in four outings, I then walloped 90 off 28 having reached 50 from 14 whilst passing 1000 career List A runs in the process.

I made a quick fire 46 in the quarter-final against Durham but that was as far as we got. I totalled 433 runs at 54.13 in the competition.

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I finally got the call to the Yorkshire T20 side and after a slow start, made 76 from 43 against Sussex.

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I dominated a rather one-sided partnership against Middlesex having equalled the world record for fastest fifty alongside Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh, just the twelve deliveries required. Later in the season, I went onto register a maiden ton from just 32 balls, two deliveries short of equalling Gayle’s record. I had a fantastic opportunity to smash the fifty record against Northamptonshire but having raced to 46 from nine, missed a free hit then failed to connect with the following two deliveries.

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I would go onto record another hundred, a career best 115 from just forty balls against Somerset. I was dismissed in the forties in both the quarter-final against Essex and semi-final against Derbyshire. Despite being favourites, we failed to get past Derbyshire in the semi and so yet again, there was to be no big day out for us.

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There were hundreds galore in the First Class arena. After a slightly slow start, I made 175 in a partnership of 209 against a Northamptonshire attack that included Australia’s Josh Hazlewood and my South African nemesis Tabraiz Shamsi.

Against Nathan Lyon and company at Worcestershire, I scored 175… again!

I made 99 against Surrey before being bowled around my legs. Having made 27 in the second innings I got dropped to four again. There must be something about the score of 27 and getting demoted from opener to four!

After a few low scores I was back to run-getting with 153 against Kagiso Rabada’s Derbyshire, then made 189 versus Leicestershire and 102 against Surrey. I reached fifty from twelve balls against Nottinghamshire and was then promoted back to opener. Against Glamorgan, I contributed my season high 216 having reached a century from just thirty deliveries. I fell for 95 in the second innings before scoring 92 in the final match of the season against Durham. I actually reached my half-century in a record breaking ten deliveries!

I was really satisfied with my ability to convert centuries into at least 150s more often than not. Unfortunately, as soon as the season finished, I was off to Australia and so couldn’t see the final County Championship standings or run charts! (Sort that out please Big Ant!)

I’ve signed as captain with Tasmania for the Sheffield Shield but then joined Auckland in the New Zealand T20 competition. This means that I’ll miss a load of Sheffield Shield matches. I’ve decided to sign up to as many T20 franchises as possible this winter to see how it works then review it and maybe be more selective next winter. I’ve signed for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash and Khulna in the Bangladesh Premier League but it looks like I’ll only play snippets of each competition. I’m guessing that if I sign up for the Ireland T20 that I’ll miss some of the English county season. Like I said, I’ll sign up to every league possible this term then try and manage things better the following season.

For the record, my career record is as follows:

First Class: 3963 @ 66.05 incl. 14×50 & 12×100, TS: 325

List A: 1134 @ 59.68 incl. 4×50 & 5×100, TS: 174

T20: 757 @ 42.06 incl. 3×50 & 2×100, TS: 115

World Cup Judgement Day for Khan

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Afghanistan’s teenage spin sensation Rashid Khan is just one wicket and one match away from becoming the fastest player to chalk up 100 ODI scalps. If he achieves it in his next match then he’ll have shaved a whopping nine games off Australian quick Mitchell Starc’s current record of 52 outings required to reach the ton but…

40 of Khan’s wickets have come against Zimbabwe and 33 against Ireland. That’s 73 out of 99 whilst his best of 7-18 came against West Indies in St. Lucia. Contrary to some old fashioned opinions, the Caribbean is as much a spin bowler’s paradise as is India or Pakistan. That’s 80 wickets right there. In total, he’s claimed eleven victims against West Indies, a side perceived by many to be the weakest Test nation as backed up by the fact that they’ve been playing in the ICC World Cup Qualifier. For the record, the rest of Khan’s wickets have come against Bangladesh (7), United Arab Emirates (5) and Scotland (3). He averages 14.12 and has an ODI economy rate of 3.94. These are absurdly good figures. His First Class average is 15.05 and his highest figure is actually his domestic T20 figure of 15.14! He averages over 40 with the bat in First Class cricket (Admittedly a very small sample size) and is still only nineteen years of age.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/afghanistan/content/player/793463.html

Khan is clearly head and shoulders above his associate and latest Test nation peers. He’s also performed admirably well in the Big Bash and IPL amongst other global T20 competitions but at full international level and despite his stats, he is ultimately unproven. Given the fact that the ICC have limited the 2019 ODI World Cup to ten teams, it is against the supposed world’s best and in English conditions, not generally favourable to spin, that we’ll really find out how good Khan is.

This article is not meant to be a slight on Khan nor the opposition that he’s faced. As the old adage goes “You can only beat what’s in front of you”. It’s great to see Afghanistan cricket thriving, particularly during a competitive ICC World Cup Qualifier filled with promising associate nations. Khan is at the very heart of that.

Application for Role of National Selector

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https://www.ecb.co.uk/news/642891/ecb-announces-new-approach-for-england-men-s-selection

Dear Andrew Strauss

Please find enclosed my application for the role of National Selector as advertised on http://www.ecb.co.uk

On the MAC version of Cricket Captain 2017 (Admittedly on Easy Mode!), I was responsible for the selection of the England side that won the 2017 Champions Trophy on home turf. Who can forget David Willey’s 8-58 against Australia?! That summer, I had already made the brave decision to recall batsman Ben Duckett to the Test side despite his tough baptism the previous winter.

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Duckett repaid the faith by averaging 82.89 in the respectable 2017-18 2-2 away Ashes series draw.

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In 2018 I introduced Yorkshire seamer Ben Coad to Test cricket and he duly struck with his first delivery against Pakistan. Coad went on to claim just shy of 200 wickets as well as surpassing 1000 runs during my time as selector. As was the case with the recall of Duckett, there was resistance from some quarters towards the selection of Coad. Some in the media believed that I was applying Yorkshire bias and only selecting Coad because we were born in the same town. Proving the doubters wrong, his performances with bat and ball throughout his career confirmed that I possess nous when it comes to identifying under the radar talent.

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Mason Crane’s dismissals of three Indian batsmen, all first ball on T20I debut was another highlight of that summer.

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Another spinner, Adil Rashid, excelled in Sri Lanka where he famously followed up figures of 7-66 with a monumental knock of 161. Again, there were those that campaigned against the selections of said spinners, at least in the respective formats in which they would go onto succeed. Again, those doubters were silenced.

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Following our Champions Trophy success in 2017, we promptly won the 2019 ODI World Cup. Once again the nation were euphoric in their celebrations of home soil success.

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My insistence that Moeen Ali replace Jason Roy at the top of the order was both ruthless and crucial to our success. Moeen’s blazing knock of 112 from 80 deliveries in the final against India will live long in the memory of many.

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Alongside Moeen, Ben Duckett totalled 562 runs at 80.29, again this demonstrates my ability to get the best out of mischievous players. Many would’ve left the Northamptonshire batsman on the international scrapheap but his performances in both the Ashes and ODI World Cup were immense.

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Chris Woakes claimed twenty tournament wickets at just 12.55 apiece and please don’t ignore the contribution made by left field selection Luke Fletcher. This included a vital wicket in the final at Lords.

Yes we lost the 2019 Ashes 3-0. Thirty-five-year-old Daryl Mitchell failed to back-up his debut knock of 73. He didn’t make another fifty before being dropped for the fifth Test and James Harris (0-102) had an ignominious introduction to Test cricket. The selection of thirty-nine-year-old Jimmy Adams’ (34 runs @ 8.50) in T20I cricket didn’t work either.

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Nor did the selection of Ross Whiteley (99 runs @ 9.90). However, there would be over 200 Test wickets for Jack Leach, a Test century for Max Holden and many Test tons for Will Rhodes as well as numerous ODI tons for Daniel Bell-Drummond during my time as Selector. Sometimes you have to sift through the dirt to find the diamonds.

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I would like to think that the T20I career of sometime captain Benny Howell…

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… and ODI career of Ollie Rayner, the latter also earning two Test caps, will reflect well on my ability to identify talent and think outside the box when selecting the composition of a side. Even if these players didn’t excel statistically, they were under rated efficient contributors to the side.

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Other highlights during my tenure included: In Bangladesh in 2021, having lost the first Test by just one wicket courtesy of Jofra Archer’s no ball, we chased down 431 in the second Test to level the series. Liam Livingstone (122 & 166) and Will Rhodes (111 & 128*) famously made tons in each innings.

Middlesex’s Harry Podmore claimed figures of 3-51 on ODI debut but disappointingly we failed to progress from the round robin stage of the 2022 Champions Trophy. Paul Coughlin (Two six-wicket hauls) though was for a time the number one bowler in the world in ODI cricket.

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In the 2022 T20I World Cup we reached the semi-final before we were cruelly defeated by India. Hampshire’s Lewis McManus, another shrewd selection, contributed 225 runs at 56.25 including a swashbuckling ton against Pakistan.

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Another gloveman, Sussex’s Ben Brown, registered fifties in his first two T20I caps.

Unfortunately by the time 2023 came around we were ranked as low as 8th in ODI cricket and 9th in both Tests and T20Is. We scored 447 in the fourth innings of an Ashes Test but still lost!

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On the plus side, Surrey all-rounder Sam Curran, originally bravely selected whilst still in his teens, passed 100 wickets ODI cricket. Another find was Nottinghamshire batsman Billy Root, who stepped out of his brother’s shadow to register an ODI century against West Indies. I’m extremely proud of his selection because both the media and public were extremely sceptical.

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After a run of ten straight Test defeats, we did at least beat Zimbabwe 2-0 at home. Liam Livingstone and Ben Foakes’ partnership of 351 proving crucial.

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Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed nine wickets at just 15.56 upon his introduction to Test cricket.

Opening batsman Mark Stoneman went onto pass 4000 Test runs though we probably shouldn’t have allowed him so much opportunity to close in on 5000 when clearly past his sell by date!

Lewis McManus and Sam Northeast recorded a record-breaking partnership of 263 in an ODI and Sam Evans scored centuries in each of his first three Tests.

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Defeats against Namibia and Canada in the 2023 ODI World Cup was a disappointing way to bow out. Durham bowler James ‘Killer’ Weighell’s figures 0f 10-0-102-0 against the North American side were confirmation that I’d persisted with him too long.

I don’t think Hamidullah Qadri’s Test bowling average ever got below 60.00 and Mark Footitt (7 wickets in 5 Tests) was another one I probably got wrong. Don’t let those performances against associate nations, world rankings or runs of defeat after defeat deflect from my achievements though. A Champions Trophy and ODI World Cup win are not to be scoffed at, particularly when under the pressure of playing in front of the expectations of a home crowd. The selections and performances of Will Rhodes (Tests), Daniel Bell-Drummond (ODIs) and Lewis McManus (ODIs/T20Is) as well as Jack Leach, Ben Coad, Jofra Archer and Liam Norwell (Tests), Jamie Overton and Paul Coughlin (ODIs) demonstrate my ability to see beyond the obvious and identify players capable of succeeding at international level.

I’m extremely confident that I can transfer my success (Mediocrity, call it what you will!) in virtuality to reality and excel in the role of National Selector. I’m available for interview at any time and await your response with much anticipation.

Yours faithfully

 

Paul Morris

2019 Cricket World Cup

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I’ve thrown my e-mail address into the ticket ballot for the 2019 One-Day Cricket World Cup that is scheduled to take place in England next summer. Quite what this means I’m not sure. Could I end up with tickets to see Papua New Guinea vs. Bangladesh in Cardiff? I should probably point out that I’m a Yorkshire based England fan! Here’s the link to the ICC’s ticket page:

https://www.icc-cricket.com/media-releases/595204

The tournament qualifiers are currently taking place in Zimbabwe with two teams from ten progressing to the World Cup. Can you call it a World Cup when there’ll only be ten countries taking part? It’s a bit of a lottery as to which matches count as ODIs and which ones count as List A only. It’s pretty crucial stuff when a player registers a hundred or claims a five-for!

Many of the associate nations taking part at the qualifiers are missing key players because they’ve jumped ship and joined Test nations (Mark Chapman, Hong Kong to New Zealand) or because they’re working on doing the same (Michael Rippon, Netherlands to New Zealand). They’re also missing players because they can’t afford to play and need to work, e.g.: Preston Mommsen (Scotland) and Jamie Atkinson (Hong Kong).

Cricket needs to spread and develop the game globally. It could be that Test cricket will be saved by the associate nations. As players abandon the longest format for the T20 dollars and Test cricket becomes less competitive then the likes of Kenya and Nepal may join Afghanistan and Ireland in dining at the main table. Having said that, Rashid Khan and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichane have already had a taste of the global T20 league so already even the second tier teams are potentially losing players from competing internationally to the domestic dollar competitions.

Back to the qualifiers, Scotland have already upset Afghanistan who were captained by nineteen-year-old Khan, whilst Zimbabwe posted nearly 400 in imposing defeat against Lamichane’s Nepal. You can keep up to date with proceedings here:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/_/id/8038/season/2018/icc-world-cup-qualifiers/

Hopefully next year’s World Cup will catch the fans’ attention like last year’s Champions Trophy did. Here’s to some fine English weather come 2019!

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!

Malan’s the Man!

Not content with notching up Test hundreds in computer games, Dawid Malan’s only gone and got one in real life!

Although fellow England newbie Mark Stoneman hasn’t registered a century yet and is developing a penchant for contributing both classy and at the same time gritty fifty-somethings, I sincerely hope that England stick with these guys post Ashes and don’t just move onto their next new toy like they did after Michael Carberry. These thirty-somethings have developed their game on the county circuit and having been presented with the obvious fact that Test cricket is a step up, they’re raising their game and learning to adapt. Come home series against subcontinental sides, you’d like to think that ‘Rocky’ and ‘AC’ will now feel at home in the England shirt and can prosper. As for James Vince…

It’s not just against India or Pakistan at home that you’d like to think Stoneman and Malan could deliver. Having displayed their skills and character in ‘The Land of Oz‘, they’ve shown they might posses the required nous to adapt against all sides, home and away. Of course touring places like Bangladesh is like playing on another planet.

Mike Hussey didn’t arrive on the Test scene until he was aged thirty, Andy Flower blossomed around thirty-two and the likes of Kumar Sangakarra and Misbah-ul-Haq peaked much later. Here’s hoping and believing that Stoneman and Malan follow suit and inspire those players who aren’t bred through the normal modern development channels. As for James Vince…

On a serious note, hopefully Vince can be inspired by the the efforts of Stoneman and Malan. If the Hampshire man can adapt where necessary but trust his own game where appropriate, he could register the sort of scores that win matches and earn long careers.

It’s Miller Time!

Jamaica twirler Nikita Miller has deservedly won a recall to the West Indies side on the back of consistently strong domestic performances. For now Miller remains a wicketless one-cap no wonder at Test level but he’ll add to his tally of 46 ODI appearances against New Zealand later this month. In doing so, the thirty-five-year-old can push for another opportunity at Test cricket as well. On the regional circuit, Miller’s stats are truly staggering. He averages a mind boggling 16.17 with the orb at First Class level and is rapidly approaching 500 victims. In the List A format, Miller averages a possibly disappointing 28.28 but at an economy rate of just 3.95! It does kind of beg the question: “Why hasn’t he won more international caps to date?”. Admittedly there are a few West Indies based bowlers, spinners in particular, possessive of some ridiculously low bowling averages. Miller hasn’t donned a Windies Jersey since 2015 and played his solitary Test against Bangladesh as far back as 2009 but his time has come once again.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/52622.html

It’s also good to see thirty-six-year-old Trinidad native Rayad Emrit earn a maiden T20I call-up. It’s more than a decade since Emrit won his two ODI caps in India and he’ll hope for far more productive performances against New Zealand having failed to take a wicket in his ODI outings. Like Miller, Emrit has been rewarded for consistent domestic showings and though some may criticise the need to call-up players well into their thirties, there are a number of young players currently around the West Indies side and Miller and Emrit’s experience could compliment those players well.