WardyMcWharf

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No seriously, this actually happened!

Ian Ward, Anthony McGrath and Alex Wharf all played international cricket for England. Some supporters may look back on those times as dark days for English cricket but I actually think that all three players were rather unfortunate when it comes to how their international careers played out.

In the case of Ward, Wardy to his mates or maybe Wardos (No that’s too Ozzie!), probably just Wards, he’d made a name for himself as an obdurate pitch a tent style opening batsman for the A-Team and had notched up quite a few hundreds in the West Indies if my memory serves me correctly. I watched him make 39 on Test debut against Pakistan. I actually did. Cricket was on Channel 4 back then. Unfortunately Ward then spent the rest of the summer failing to reach 39 again as the Ozzies took him and not only him to pieces. Ward seemed to bat everywhere from about three to eight. I think that on at least a couple of occasions he survived late in the day only to have to start again the next morning and the use of nightwatchman saw him shunted down the order as well. When he was eventually dumped, Michael Atherton suggested there were some technical flaws to eradicate. Ward then departed Surrey for Sussex and transformed himself into quite a destructive limited overs player before taking up a presenting role with Sky Sports (Boooo!). By all accounts, Ward has made a good career behind the pay per view wall.

As for Anthony McGrath, his grandmother insisted it was pronounced like paper not Glenn. A-Mac is statistically one of the greatest players ever to play the game. He averages 40.20 with the bat and 14.00 with the ball in Test cricket. He was performing a decent containing job with the ball in ODIs as well but then a newspaper article came out saying how rubbish the likes of he and Ian Blackwell were and McGrath never donned an England shirt again.

As for Wharf, now an umpire, he averaged 23.77 with the ball at an economy of just 4.39. Those impressive stats were spread across 13 ODI appearances. That’s a lower bowling average than his last international victim Shaun Pollock! Wharf owed his chance to the fact that he’d worked with England coach Duncan Fletcher whilst at Glamorgan but proved his worth during his short international stint.

Cricinfo sums up the end of his international career in a callously blunt but seemingly incorrect assertion … “After this Wharf faded from the international scene due to a combination of injuries, loss of form and not being good enough…”.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2017 – Early Season Update

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We’ll start by getting the elephant out of the room. My captain hasn’t made a single first team appearance this season. His absence put down to personal reasons. He’s made a hundred for the seconds this month so fingers crossed he’ll be back in the Gloucestershire outfit very soon. The advantage of this is that when he returns nobody else is likely to have him in there team (He’s actually only in 0.21% of teams in the game). It’s all well and good having the best players in your team but it’s no good just having a side composed of the most selected players because you really don’t gain any advantage.

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The contribution of my batting line-up has been frustrating. Steven Croft was injured for a few weeks but did strike a blistering 127 against Warwickshire in the One-Day Cup. I had hoped he’d contribute with the ball but that hasn’t been the case so far. Lancashire are well stocked for spinners.

Glamorgan’s Aneurin Donald has hit a few fifties in the County Championship but had a torrid time in the One-Day Cup, reaching double figures just once. Being shunted down the order and batting as low as seven probably didn’t help and seemed a bit odd for such a potentially destructive batsman. Donald has been selected in barely 3% of teams meaning that there’s not many selectors gaining his points when he does deliver.

Tom Fell did well to return from cancer with a century last year but just hasn’t got going this term. He’s made a double hundred for the seconds but is yet to reach a quarter double hundred for the firsts. He’s not keeping wicket either. Those catches could have been a brucy bonus.

Nottinghamshire batsman Riki Wessels has led the way with an undefeated double century in the County Championship followed by a series of starts in the One-Day Cup followed by another century once back to the First Class format. With Chris Read injured last week, RW snapped up some catches behind the stumps as well.

In the all-rounder slots, Ravi Bopara of Essex has been steady if unspectacular. Lots of 30s, 40s and fifties and two or three-wicket hauls. They all add up though and he did make an undefeated 92 in the ODC.

Worcestershire’s Brett D’Oliveira made a slow start to the season but has found form of late. This included reaching 150 in the last round of County Championship matches. BD isn’t even in 1.5% of teams in the game so when he’s contributing it’s great to know that not many other Telegraph Fantasy Cricket players are benefiting from his performances. It’s a good example of why you should stick with someone that has a poor start. If you changed him and went with a form player then you’re just getting the same points as everybody else but if you stick with a player that’s not in many people’s teams then that players points can be decisive.

Onto the bowling department and Durham’s James Weighell (Rated 2 out of 10, team max is 60) has been a shreud selection. He wasn’t initially in the County Championship side but took wickets for fun in the One-Day Cup (18 @ 23.11) and recorded a maiden half-century in his last First Class outing. Weighell is in less than 10% of teams (That will have gone up since the start). As mentioned before, it’s these sort of under the radar performers that you need in your team… from the start.

I deliberately selected bowlers that can bat. Keith Barker and Jofra Archer should probably be considered all-rounders but maybe the fact that they open the bowling led to them been labelled exclusively as bowlers in the game. Sussex’s Archer’s has racked up two fifers and two fifties in the longer format and Barker, though not quite setting the world on fire, has been steadily chipping away in both the runs and wickets columns and it was a bonus to see him get so much game time in the One-Day Cup.

Ollie Rayner has slightly underwhelmed so far. He didn’t get much action in the One-Day Cup but as pitches around the country seem to be turning spin friendly and teams return to the longer format of the game then hopefully the wickets will come soon. I expect him to contribute with the bat too.

I’m currently in 9605th position! It’s a marathon not a sprint. Hare and the tortoise and all that. We’ll revisit things later in the campaign to see if I’ve ascended the table.

Why Not Wales?

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Ireland have their own cricket team and so do Scotland, so why are Wales silently tagged on with England?

It’s the England and Wales Cricket Team you know?

ECB stands for England and Wales Cricket Board but surely Welsh cricketers deserve the right to represent their home nation at international level, not just play for their big neighbours.

Should New Zealand’s cricketers have to scrap to get a gig for Australia?

Wales performed well at the 1979 ICC Trophy then between 1993 and 2001 played against Ireland and Scotland in the British Isles Chmpionships. Of course Ireland and Scotland joined the elite (Well almost!) and Wales were left to fend for themselves… so on themselves that they haven’t played competitively since. The Dragons (Maybe they’re called that?) played a few one-day games against England in the early 21st century and courtesy of former England opener Steve James they actually won the first meeting in 2002.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/2062244.stm

A couple of years later they beat Denmark in the C&G Trophy. A quick Google search suggests that the question of an independent Welsh cricket nation is often brought up, particularly at http://www.walesonline.co.uk. Of course the notion opens a can of worms regarding Glamorgan’s existence or at least their place in the English county structure and whether or not domestic cricket in Wales needs ramping up a level. Only recently and with only three teams were Ireland granted First Class status.

Maybe one day we’ll see some Welsh willow wielders wearing the Wales name!

A Complete Restructure of Domestic Cricket in England

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Remember that time I completely restructured world cricket?

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/a-complete-restructure-of-international-cricket/

Well I’ve realised that I was just showing off, so I’m stripping it back and today I’m just going to completely restructure domestic cricket in England!

First Class (County Championship, 4-day matches)

Three regional divisions, sorry, conferences, that seems to be the buzzword nowadays. Six teams in each, as follows:

North – Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire

Central – Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, Warwickshire

South – Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex

Each team plays each other team in their regional conference twice per season, once at home and once away, totalling ten matches. Regardless of whether or not we adopt any alterations to the points system, the top team from each conference after the ten matches qualifies for the semi-finals as does the best second placed team. The semi-finals could either be held at a neutral but geographically equidistant venue or the two highest points scorers of the three top placed teams in each conference could have home advantage. In the semi-finals, the team that qualified as the best second placed team would not be allowed to play the team that topped their conference. The final could then be played at Lords.

Ten guaranteed First Class matches per season with the potential for an eleventh and twelfth, the twelfth being a grandiose final, would provide great value upon each match and the semi-finals and final in particular could really help prepare players for the intensity of Test match cricket. There are enough matches to genuinely separate the strong from the weak and gauge the ability of players when it comes to international selection but not so many matches so as to increase both the risk of wear and tear injuries and mid to late season matches that lack value. In a small country such as England (Compared with Australia or India) though regional conferences are logistically and environmentally advantageous, it may be that simply mixing up the three conferences year to year may be worthwhile if purely for variety’s sake. Breeding rivalries is good but as we’ve seen with the Ashes, the same teams playing each other too regularly can devalue things somewhat.

Okay, I lied. It’s not a complete restructure of domestic cricket in England but merely a restructure of First Class cricket. To be fair, the One-Day Cup is structured… you’ll be stunned, quite logically and probably wouldn’t need to stray too far from its current format, particularly if a newly employed First Class structure did adopt a regionally organised base.

The T20 disorganised chaos however…

… that’s probably another post. City franchises, Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, Forestry Commission areas, who knows how we could divide English cricket in the shortest format of the game?!

Oh! Don’t forget my plans for university cricket as well…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/university-challenge/

County Championship Night and Day

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England take on West Indies in a Day/Night Test match at Edgbaston in August of next year and as a precursor the County Championship will include a round of day/night matches, pink ball and all to wet the appetite.

2017 County Championship Day/Night fixtures

Matches to be played 26th-29th June

Division One

Essex v Middlesex

Hampshire v Somerset

Warwickshire v Lancashire

Yorkshire v Surrey

Division Two

Durham v Worcestershire

Glamorgan v Derbyshire

Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

Nottinghamshire v Kent

Sussex v Gloucestershire

No I don’t know what Nottinghamshire are doing in Division Two either!