Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC – Early Season Update

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After two rounds of the County Championship and before we hit the One-Day Cup trail, I thought that I’d provide an update of how I’m getting along.

The main graphic at the top of this post details my current positions in the table and I’m optimistic that I can build on a respectable if not sensational start. Having said that, my top ranked team is placed in an encouraging 524th position.

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Based on where one of my team’s were sitting at one stage, there are at least 7,500 entrants in the game. For the record, the 100th placed team has 2,410 points. 1st place has 3,096 though I’m only around 500 points off being placed in the top ten! As you can see, there’s only about 400 points separating my top two teams but nearly 3,000 positions between them.

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Remember that some teams didn’t play in the first round of matches so have only played once not twice. This was critical to my team selection thus far. I’ve managed to ensure that I’ve had at least ten if not all eleven players playing and have only made one (Out of 30) of my transfers in any of my teams. That could change though as I potentially tinker a little for the One-Day Cup. The fact that the cup is played in a block means that I accept making a couple of transfers to commit to the One-Day competition.

Will players like Harry Brook, Jack Burnham and Matt Milnes play the white-ball games?

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Milnes has been one of my good left-field picks. I selected him off the back of claiming some wickets in a university warm-up match. He’s only ever played First Class cricket but I fancy that we’ll see a white-ball debut soon.

Wicketkeeper Ricardo Vasconcelos (Selected by 5.5%) who produced a knock of 184 against Glamorgan, Durham’s Gareth Harte (2%) and a sneakily snuck in Marnus Labuschagne (1.5%) who scored a ton and claimed three wickets on debut, are other slightly under the radar players that have contributed well for me. Harte and Labuschagne are both listed as batsmen but have contributed with the ball. That was no fluke but a significant part of why I selected them. It’s my team that has a batting line-up of specialist batsman that has particularly struggled but I’ll maintain the faith for the start of the One-Day Cup at least.

Getting your captain (They score double points) correct is vital.

I’ll stick with Liam Dawson and David Wiese who’ve made vital contributions for me as well as Steven Mullaney who should be effective in fifty-over cricket.

I’ll almost certainly change Toby Roland-Jones though as I think I need captains who are more certain of getting a bat in the One-Day Cup. Based on his performances in the County Championship thus far, Roland-Jones is clearly still re-discovering his groove. He may well stay in one of my team’s but not as captain.

Roland-Jones’ Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan has made vital contributions with both bat and ball for me, as he bids for an England recall and another shot at Ashes glory.

Keaton Jennings is captain of my wife’s team that she selected though I’m providing transfer consultancy during the course of the campaign. Typically at this stage she’s ahead of three of my teams! I anticipate that KJ will bowl a bit in the one-dayers so could rack up some points. I really do think that your captain must be some form of all-rounder. If you’re skipper is purely a batsman and they score 0 (-20=-40) and 4 ala Ben Duckett this week then you’re relying on catches to get said player back in the black. As for Gareth Ice Berg who made a pair against Yorkshire… I’m glad that I didn’t provide him with the captain’s armband!

Should I bring players like Alex Hales, Luke Wright or Ross Taylor, signed by Middlesex exclusively for the One-Day Cup, into my team?

The New Zealander is a specialist batsman so won’t take any bonus wickets. He’s normally a good catcher though, so I’ll see how many people pick him. I don’t want to select him if everybody else does. I want to get points that other participants in the game aren’t getting. Hales, Wright and Taylor are currently selected by next to nobody but that could change over the course of the next couple of days as participants tinker for the One-Day Cup. Of course transferring these players in will cost two out of thirty season transfers because they’ll need transferring out again.

What about this guy?

Come tuesday night, I’ll be scouring the club website’s (All of them!) for squad news.

I’ll provide a further update of my progress after the group stages of the One-Day Cup are complete.

Malan Madness!

Don’t worry Dawid. If I get my hands on Cricket Captain 2019 for the Mac or dig out my PS4 and buy Cricket 19, I’ll provide you with another England cap!

It’s safe to say that England’s T20I series in the West Indies hasn’t quite been what DM was hoping for…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/26136404/dawid-malan-itching-restate-credentials-season-wilderness

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/sport/2019/mar/04/dawid-malan-t20-chance-england-west-indies

On another positive Dawid, with first team England appearances err, appearing unlikely, I might find a place for you in my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket Team. Clouds and silver linings and all that!

Twenty20 Vision?!

England have named their squad for the T20I series against West Indies and I can’t say that I’m enthused…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1058447/sam-billings-and-dawid-malan-named-in-england-s-it20-squad

I back whoever plays for England (Unless there’s a serious reason that I shouldn’t. We’ll come to that!) but some of the selections in this squad are puzzling.

I’m a huge Dawid Malan fan but he’s hardly been tearing it up on the franchise circuit recently. Yes his international record is outstanding but he’s in no form whatsoever to maintain that record. This opportunity, as with his previous ones, have only come about because of squad rotation. He fully merited selection when he replaced a ‘rested’ Eoin Morgan however, in what was effectively at T20I final. Contrary to his recent franchise efforts, he had been tearing it up for England Lions. I just don’t feel that he’s primed to perform at international level right this moment. I hope that I’m wrong though and that a strong showing can put him back on the Test radar.

The selection of Chris Jordan is a generous one for me. He struggled in the Big Bash this season but is part of the T20I fabric for England. He benefits from the absence of senior bowlers to get game time in this format and of course he does take wickets. Anybody should be able to keep tallying wickets when the opposition are slogging away at the end though. He’s a good fielder but needs to take more wickets for less runs… obviously!

James Vince was superb in the Big Bash, Harry Gurney was steady away and Laurie Evans has backed up strong white-ball seasons in England by becoming an in-demand player on the franchise merry-go-round. None of the above make the squad but…

… Sam Billings does! I can understand the frustration for and with Sam Billings. It’s not easy when you’re a fill-in player, particularly in T20Is when there’s often just one match in a series. This series has three matches though, so Billings will desperately hope to bat in the top four to have a chance to impress. If he can hit the ground running then he could make the most of the series but then again, he’s just filling in. Like Malan, he’ll likely then get dropped again to accommodate the returning Roy, Buttler and Stokes.

I understand the logistical reasons but did England really need to name their squad so soon?

Liam Plunkett could be letting his World Cup place slip away though knowing him, he’ll probably take four wickets in the next ODI. If he fails to take a wicket and gets dropped during the series though, will he still be what England want in the T20Is?

What if Vince hits a couple of hundreds in the PSL between now and the start of the series? Could he be drafted into the squad? Ed Smith is sending out very mixed messages regarding Vince. He was pretty curt when he originally axed the Hampshire man, despite Vince making 76 in his previous Test innings. He did recall him because of injuries for a One-Day International, only for Vince to run himself out… again! Now following sparkling form in the Big Bash, he’s been omitted again.

Another player that’s been mentioned on forums is Joe Clarke. I think that a lot of people don’t know or don’t care why he’s been ignored. My understanding is that he wasn’t dropped from England Lions because of what a teammate may have got up to in his bed. He was dropped because of the list of women on his phone and the competitive element of that. If he matures then I’m quite happy for Joe Clarke to play for England in years to come. As it stands however, I (And that’s just me. I’m not speaking for anyone else) don’t want him anywhere near the England cricket team. Clarke can argue that he’s unfortunate it all came out and of course we don’t know what all players get up to away from work but… tuff!

Another thing that I may have mentioned before. ODIs are ODIs so I call the T20 version T20Is not IT20s… so there!

Edit:

James Vince next PSL innings: 84 off 41

Dawid Malan next PSL innings: 1 off 6

Back to the Future

There have been many great batsman who didn’t crack Test cricket first time… or even second time!

Could any of the players pictured above force their way back into England reckoning?

Gary Ballance 1498 Test runs @ 37.45

Possessing by far the best Test record of any of the batsmen listed, it seems unlikely that Ballance will get another chance. Being Joe Root’s ex-flatmate helped him before but won’t again. He’ll have to score an insatiable amount of runs to make a case and combine that with having eradicated perceived technical deficiencies.

Ben Duckett 110 @ 15.71

In contrast to last winter, it’s been a hugely encouraging time for Ben Duckett recently. He was recalled to the England Lions squad and returned to the scene of the crime in India. He’ll be looking for a fruitful campaign with his new employers Nottinghamshire to get back into the full England side.

Keaton Jennings 750 @ 25.86

The most recently jettisoned on this list, it seems highly improbable that Jennings will line up against Australia this summer. Come England’s next tour to Asia however and even if it be as back-up/sub-fielder then he could come into contention.

Dawid Malan 724 @ 27.84

Malan wasn’t happy to be axed and he has been hard done by after a record-breaking start to his T20I career. He couldn’t really argue with his Test termination however. He’s not set the world on fire since, neither in county cricket or in various T20 competitions so has a lot to do to earn a recall.

Mark Stoneman 526 @ 27.68

A potential recall for Stoneman isn’t actually that outlandish. If he prospers alongside Rory Burns at Surrey in the early days of the county campaign then he could yet force his way back in. He could do with improving his fielding though.

James Vince 548 @ 24.90

Vince has performed superbly in the latest edition of the Big Bash and maybe white-ball cricket is a more likely route back in for him. Such is the competition for places though, that it won’t be easy.

Of course all the players detailed above may now be labelled damaged goods so we may see some Test debuts before we witness recalls for any of the above.

Extras

Bye:

USA return to the fold. United States of America have had their member status restored…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jan/15/cricket-american-dream-usa-icc-status

Leg Bye: Revamp of the Minor Counties set up. From 2020 the Minor Counties will have a new name and new structure…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/46059647

No Ball:

England discard Dawid Malan has signed a new contract with Middlesex that will keep him at the club until the close of the 2021 campaign. Malan is currently skipper at Lords and is joined in committing his county future by former Glamorgan man James Harris. Harris, once a player seemingly destined to play for England, has at least developed into an important player for his adopted county.

Wide: A player you’d (Or I at least!) had completely forgotten about, has actually gone on to have a productive career… with a First Class average the right side of 40! The things you learn when scrolling through scorecards the world over…

http://m.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/content/player/336594.html

Great Britain Olympic Cricket Team

Please take a look at my latest YouTube video. Remember to ‘Like’ and ‘Subscribe’. My videos will get better, I promise!

Here’s my Great Britian Olympic Cricket Team in full:

England: James Vince (C), Sam Billings (W), Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Scotland:  Matthew Cross (W), Josh Davey, Calum MacLeod, Safyaan Sharif, Ireland: Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Wales: Aneurin Donald, Brad Wadlan, Jersey: Harrison Carlyon, Jonty Jenner, Guernsey: Matthew Stokes, Montserrat: Quinton Boatswain

Please let me know your thoughts on my squad and whether or not cricket should be at the Olympics at all…

Ben Duckett and Nelson Mandela in the same Sentence!

The last time that England’s cricketers were in Asia, batsman Ben Duckett was there. Despite scoring three fifties (ODIs/Tests) in Bangladesh, he had a torrid time of things in India then literally pissed off top brass the following winter in Oz. Whilst the senior team lap it up in Sri Lanka and the Lions travel to UAE, Duckett can be found playing in the Mzansi Super League in South Africa. It’s the latest T20 league to pop up on the global calendar (Yeah that’s right, Canada and Hong Kong had competitions before SA!).

Representing the wonderfully named Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, The stocky left-hander smashed 75 (5×4, 5×6) runs from just 45 deliveries. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come after some lean patches post that run-laden summer a couple of years ago. Next year he’ll join Ben Slater and Joe Clarke in an exciting new batting line-up for Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. He’s probably still quite some way off an England recall but the shoots of recovery have started sprouting.

Another left-handed batsman who’ll be hoping to use the Mzansi league as a springboard back to international selection is Dawid Malan. The discarded Middlesex stalwart will lead Cape Town Blitz while domestic colleague Eoin Morgan will turn out for Tshwane Spartans. Morgan is a left-hander who doesn’t need to work his way back into the England fold, he’s already there!