Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Feasting in First Class!

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Following on from my previous career mode update, post my captaincy heroics at club level, I entered the professional circuit. I was delighted that my debut came at home for Yorkshire against strong opposition in the shape of Kent County Cricket Club.

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I’d attempted to stay grounded and not get carried away with my recognition. The match against Kent could’ve been the only First Class match that I ever played and after being dismissed for 8 in the first innings and running my partner out off my first ball in the second innings, it seriously looked like that might be the case. I’d be just a footnote in history. I dug deep though, all those years on the Northern amateur circuit have served me well. I combined in an epic partnership with my teammate, falling only one-run short of a double-century stand and five shy of a hundred on First Class debut. Of course I would’ve loved a hundred but my 95 showcased both my ability and character after my poor first impressions. Most importantly, we went onto win the match.

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In my second match, away at Sussex, a side containing the likes of Vernon Philander and Jofra Archer in their bowling attack, I immediately set course to right the wrongs of my century shortcomings on debut. I surpassed my career best 95 but had an uneasy tea whilst 99 not out. In truth I dealt with Test bowler Philander as well as Archer with moderate ease. It was the less heralded left-armer George Garton and Scotland’s Stuart Whittingham who carried more threat. The home side lacked real penetration on the spin front though and I soon chalked up a maiden First Class hundred in only my second game. I proved a lot to myself by carrying my club form into the professional game. The same teammate and I shared another century partnership and I went past 200. As you’ll see from the image above, when I went past 300, I just couldn’t contain my excitement. This was despite my energy reserves running low.

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I eventually fell for 325 having re-written many record books in the process of the innings. This was only the start of things however. In pursuit of 195 for victory in the second innings, we were soon on the back foot at 57-3. A few hours later though, with only two overs of the match remaining, I helped get us over the line by four wickets with a composed and measured 96 not out. To see my name spread across the headlines, both online and on paper was truly humbling. I knew though that such a performance so early in my career served only to increase the pressure and expectation on me to go on have a rewarding professional existence. Some in the media brought up the word ‘England’ but let’s not get carried away!

Northampton away in the next match was definitely something akin to a Lord Mayor’s Show. My reward for my performance of 421-1 against Sussex was to be demoted in the batting order from four to five to accommodate the return of England Test captain Joe Root. Gary Ballance, successful skipper against Sussex, actually had to make way. I made just 18 & 9 with South Africa spinner Tabraiz Shamsi causing me problems.

Come the final match of the season in Wales against Glamorgan, I knew I needed a score before the season was out to prove I was no one-match wonder. As was the case on my debut, I had a little luck in my innings when the wikcetkeeper actually prevented the ball from rolling onto the stumps. I made him pay and went onto notch another First Class hundred. Not only that, I made it a double but inexcusably threw my wicket away immediately after, falling for 202. A tired 12 in the second innings was my limp farewell to a season of huge success for me.

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My First Class scores so far read: 8, 95, 325, 96*, 18, 9, 202 & 12. All but the first match were played away from home.

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I actually topped the First Class division one batting averages with 765 runs at a Bradman dwarfing 109.29. If only I could have hit the campaign trail earlier!

I’m delighted to say that I’ve accepted offers to be part of both Yorkshire’s First Class and List A squad for next season. There are rumours of one or two T20 franchises around the world keeping an eye on my progress too. In 2023, I’ll endeavour to back-up the encouraging start I’ve made to my professional career and help my beloved Yorkshire win some silverware.

A Complete Restructure of International Cricket… Again!

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Following Australia’s annihilation of England in the 2017-18 Ashes, there’s surely no better time to once again campaign for my proposed changes to the structure of international cricket, namely the fact that all Test series should consist of three matches.

Here’s the link to my last foray into global alterations…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/a-complete-restructure-of-international-cricket-revisited/

Admittedly I keep struggling to remember why I ever thought an odd number of teams was appropriate but even with tweaks, this is the crux of it:

All tours consist of three matches of each format, that’s Tests, ODIs and T20Is. There is an amalgamated points table covering all three formats. There has to be, you can’t have different teams getting relegated and promoted in different formats. It just wouldn’t be logistically possible in future cycles of the competition. The top division would have Test, ODI and T20I status but the division below would only have First Class, List A and T20 status. Nobody should have a divine right to have top status and every country the world over should have the opportunity to work their way to the highest echelons of international cricket. Players, media and fans would have the chance to travel to ‘unvisited’ parts of the world. The league would also provide the very clear qualification process for both ODI and T20I World Cups. That’s that the top positioned teams in each format at the end of each cycle qualify for the respective tournament.

On a side note, it’d be fascinating to see the career statistics of players only in matches that matter. Should Tom Curran and Mason Crane be recorded as actually having played Test cricket? Does Don Bradman average 99.94 if you strip away ‘Dead rubbers’?

Returning to the restructure of the global game, the scaremongers will point to the possibility of Armenia touring Australia, or India (Or whoever?) and all the telly money being relegated but if Armenia did play Australia then the gap will have been closed over many years. Armenia will have played competitive cricket for sometime and earned the right to challenge the historical might. If India or whoever fell from the top table then maybe China, USA of Timbuckzimbaboutermongolialand will pump tons of money into the game.

There are some half-hearted nonsensical league formats coming into place in international cricket shortly but quite frankly they’re a joke. Cricket continues to embarrass itself with an inability to identify a fair structure. Well if you’re reading ICC…

Extras: An Ashes Tour Themed Question Filled Extras!

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Bye: Is Mason Crane the first player to make his Test debut in a city with which he shares his middle name?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/660889.html

Leg Bye: Have the following players misunderstood an instruction to have Don Bradman like averages?

Tom Curran: 100.00

Jake Ball: 114.33

Mason Crane: 193.00

Yet Craig Overton (37.66) doesn’t average over a ton. Go figure!

No Ball: Will Chris Lynn ever be fit?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/21998811/chris-lynn-injury-raises-glenn-maxwell-question

Wide: After returning figures of 0-108 in Melbourne, has Jackson Bird played his last Test?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/215152.html

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

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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.

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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.

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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!”.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Pre-release Gameplay

Here’s some pre-release gameplay for Ashes Cricket, due for release on November 16th. It’s dawned on me that it’s worth pointing out this is somebody else’s video, before anybody gets the impression that’s me spouting insight about the game. One completely random thing that I noticed amongst some really encouraging stuff in this clip, is that the batsmen’s feet don’t seem to disappear into the ground as they did in Don Bradman Cricket 17!

As mentioned before, I’m led to believe that you can do everything you could on DBC 17, for example: Career mode, custom leagues and tournaments as well as players and kits etc. You’re not just limited to playing the 2017-18 Ashes!

According to the clip, there’s 32 face scanned Australian players and 28 English. This should help clarify concerns regarding the composition of the on-disc squads prior to implementing any customisation.

The suggestion in the video is that the game has become easier. I previously read that the lower levels are more arcade like but the harder skill levels are still tough. Big Ant are bound to have toned things down a little as they try to attract the casual pick up and play gamer via the Ashes tag but I seriously hope this game hasn’t been dumbed down too much. The beauty of the Don Bradman games was that they were demanding!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): You, Me and Virtuality!

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Been missing my Don Bradman write-ups? Cricket Captain and its graphs and charts just not the same? Well fear not Silly Pointers because with the release of Ashes Cricket soon upon us, my PS4 based cricket adventures are about to begin again!

Come the release of Big Ant’s third (DBC14/DBC17/Ashes Cricket) venture to the crease, you can look forward to the following:

  • Yours truly setting out on a career and this time getting a county gig before the age of 26, a batting average at least in the twenties and international recognition… hopefully!
  • England participating in newly formed Test, ODI and T20I leagues. As per my previously detailed plans to restructure world cricket, I would ideally amalgamate all formats and create the Global Cricket League (GCL) but that is beyond even Big Ant’s customisation boundaries.
  • The Stateside Smash (Something that I’m confident is within Big Ant’s customisation boundaries). Los Angeles Ashes, New York Nightwatchmen and Houston Apollo are just some of the franchises rumoured to be signing up.
  • Original jazzy kits and funky bats designed by yours truly.

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Silly Point himself registering a First Class century, England becoming Test champions of the World, a razzmatazz USA based T20 league, Mark Footitt winning an England cap and Ross Whiteley turning out for Phoenix Free Hitters. These are all things that could happen… if not in reality then in virtuality, in Big Ant’s Ashes Cricket!

 

Cricket Captain 2017: Complacent Against the ‘Chevrons’ (No really, the ‘Chevrons’!)

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After the 2-0 Test series success, England comfortably claimed the ODI series against Zimbabwe as well. After three matches England had assumed an unassailable 3-0 lead and went onto win the fourth courtesy of a record breaking partnership (More about that later). Up to that point England were only truly tested in the third match however Zimbabwe deservedly won a tight final encounter of the series.

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England’s 4-1 win made their ODI ranking a bit more respectable.

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Durham’s Paul Coughlin averaged just 7.71 with the ball in the series and is currently the tenth best ODI bowler in the world according to the rankings. Jamie Overton, Toby Roland-Jones and Sam Curran are also currently placed amongst the top twenty. Newcomer Matthew Taylor endured a tough time however, claiming just two wickets at 79.00 apiece.

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In the fourth ODI, Lewis McManus (167) and Sam Northeast (142 not out) recorded England’s highest ever ODI partnership. McManus fell just four runs short of equalling England’s highest ever individual ODI score but does now hold the record for the highest ODI and T20I innings during the current management reign.

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Will Beer, an average Don Bradman would’ve been proud of!

In the sole T20I, an at best England second team suffered a final over defeat as Zimbabwe finished the tour with back-to-back victories.

Ashes Cricket (PS4)!

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Well well well. Having switched to Cricket Captain 2017 on the MAC and just when we’d all given up hope on Big Ant Studios and the future of console cricket, just look what’s coming out in November this year…

https://www.bigant.com/fully-licensed-ashes-cricket-video-game-to-launch-this-summer/

Don’t be put off by the Ashes tag either. Details released advise that the usual customisation elements of Don Bradman Cricket games are there: Career mode, unparalleled customisation and women amongst other elements. Let’s hope the bugs that were prevalent in Don Bradman Cricket 17 have been well and truly ironed out for the PS4, XboX One and PC release but this is extremely welcome news for the cricket gaming community.

Here’s a a teaser trailer on YouTube…

Just look at the pockmarks on Mitchell Starc’s visage. The realism! This is actually now the main reason why I wouldn’t want to be a professional cricketer, to have my ‘unblemished’ skin on the big screen. Oh and a cork and leather combo coming at me in excess of 90mph!

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Hopefully England’s batsmen can produce a few more innings like this one by captain Joe Root come Ashes Cricket’s release!

Is Ben Stokes the Best Cricketer in the World?

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Australian captain Steven Smith averages 59.76 with the bat in Test cricket.

South African paceman Dale Steyn averages 22.31 with the ball in Test cricket.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes averages 35.72 with the bat and 33.93 with the ball in Test cricket. Those numbers wouldn’t be considered good enough for either a specialist batsman or bowler.

So how could anyone possibly entertain the idea that Stokes could be the best cricketer?

The clue is rather obviously in the word ‘cricketer’. Smith may be the best batsman but he only bowls a bit. Steyn may be the best bowler but he only bats a bit. Surely to be considered the best cricketer you must contribute significantly with both bat and ball. Regarding Stokes, let’s not forget his fielding prowess either.

If Stokes were a specialist batsman who rarely bowled would he average 45 with the bat or if he were a bowler who batted at eleven would he average 25 with the ball?

If Stokes was the recipient of the award ‘World’s Best Cricketer’, surely Smith would look at Stokes’ batting stats and take umbrage. Surely Steyn would look at the England all-rounder’s bowling stats and go “Eh?”.

Taking a step backwards for a moment: Who is the greatest cricketer of all-time?

Many many people would answer by saying the name Sir Donald Bradman. The New South Wales native averaged an unparallelled 99.94 with the bat but claimed a mere two Test wickets. Bradman is so far ahead (There aren’t many between him and Smith) that he can possibly claim to go from being not just the the best batsman but the best cricketer. However George Lohmann averaged 10.76 with the ball but only totalled 213 Test runs. He might be the best bowler but surely not the best cricketer.

So does the world’s best cricketer have to be an all-rounder and are any of the following the best cricketer of all-time? Are the names listed below better than Bradman because they offer something in both disciplines or is Bradman so far ahead that his lack of bowling contribution is insignificant?

Kapil Dev (India) 31.05/29.64

Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) 27.16/22.29

Ian Botham (England) 33.54/28.40

Imran Khan (Pakistan) 37.69/22.81

Wow, okay. I selected those names off the top of my head but just look at those statistics! Clearly Ben Stokes has some way to go and I think that I’d take Khan over Bradman. Sorry Don!

Ultimately I think that to compare all-rounders with specialists is futile. (Well that was a waste of my time then!) Each player is only one man in the team. Maybe there is no such thing as ‘the best cricketer’ but only ‘the best cricketers’. Rather apt in a team sport.

Extras

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Bye: Napoleon Einstein!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/279540.html

Leg Bye: England outcast Ben Duckett is amongst those named in an MCC squad to play the annual county season precursor in Abu Dhabi. The MCC side will take on 2016 County Championship prevailers Middlesex in a match that commences on 26th March. With the North v South fixture also now part of the season, there are plenty of opportunities for fringe England players to put forward a case to the national selectors. Uncapped spin bowlers Mason Crane and Jack Leach are also amongst those in the MCC squad. For the full party please refer to the link below…

https://www.lords.org/news/2017/january/hameed-and-duckett-to-feature-for-mcc/

… and on the subject of the MCC, if anybody’s looking for a job…

https://www.lords.org/news/2017/january/chief-executive-and-secretary/

No Ball: A little precursor to our review of Roy Morgan’s Real International Cricket (Which won’t be for a while due to the small font size!)…

 

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Poor Fraser, out for a duck when absolutely everybody else made double figures!

Wide: Tune into this YouTube channel from a fellow cricket blogger…