CricketXI – County Championship 2018: Season Review

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At the start of the year I stumbled upon CricketXI, an alternative fantasy cricket competition. This game focused purely on the County Championship (First Class) campaign.

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I selected a team of young guns and as you can see things went really well! It was great to see the likes of Jonny Tattersall, Zak Crawley and Will Jacks develop. Harry Brook, Ben Twohig (Love his name!) and Matthew Carter also made great strides.

Unfortunately Surrey pacer Matt Dunn got injured early in the campaign and disappeared from the professional radar once again. Wicketkeeper Lewis McManus lost his place in the Hampshire First XI. Teammate Asher Hart and Essex spinner Aron Nijjar (Who fooled me by playing in a pre-season university match!) couldn’t get near their respective first XIs. Neither could spinner Sukhjit Singh who was sadly released by Warwickshire at the end of the campaign. Warwickshire clearly have little interest in developing their own young players and much prefer to sign absolutely anybody. While that’s great for players like Will Rhodes and Olly Stone, it’s not for players like Singh and Andy Umeed.

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As well as my outfit of kids, I also selected a more ‘serious’ side but following early season injury, Sam Northeast failed to really get going having relocated from Kent to Hampshire and has fallen way down the England pecking order. Disappointingly, Sussex batsman Luke Wells and Nottinghamshire’s Riki Wessels failed to back-up productive 2017 campaigns.

On the plus side, James Hildreth was amongst the runs as ever, meanwhile Tom Bailey, Ben Sanderson and everybody’s favourite ex-England cricketer Jade Dernbach, contributed with the ball.

Well, there’s always next year!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2017 – Season Review

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The T20 Blast has reached its conclusion but I’m no richer. In my original article regarding my selection for the competition, I spoke about the importance of making transfers come the knock-out stages…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/telegraph-fantasy-cricket-t20-blast/

Unfortunately, what with a certain hospital visit and whatnot, I didn’t stay on top of things and so my team rather went through the motions. Anyway, it’s only fair to provide the promised round-up.

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Riki Wessels, Gareth Roderick and Brett D’Oliveira were the players who made both my County Championship/One-Day Cup team and my T20 Blast XI. Clearly the selection of Roderick as stumper was a misguided one. Having recently returned from absence for ‘unspecified reasons’ the Gloucestershire gloveman didn’t feature in the quick fire format at all. Wessels maintained his good form in all competitions however and D’Oliveira contributed some useful performances.

Mark Cosgrove, Ryan Higgins, Dominic Sibley (Who transferred from Surrey to Warwickshire during the competition), a belatedly arrived Moises Henriques as well as D’Oliveira all totalled 500odd points.

Durham’s Cameron Steel, Lancashire’s Stephen Parry, Gloucestershire’s Chris Liddle and due to injury, Surrey’s Jade Dernbach, were provided little opportunity to impress.

The sum of all parts meant that at least I registered more points than my wife’s and daughter’s teams but finished way down the overall league. Come the end of the 2017 CC/ODC competition, I’ll let you know how I finished in that too.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2017

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Telegraph Fantasy Cricket run an exclusive T20 Blast competition, separate to the County Championship/One-Day Cup combo. It would make more sense to me for them to have three separate competitions, each with a winner as well as having an overall winner.

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Anyway, three players from my CC/ODC side make it into my T20 side. They are Riki Wessels, wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick and Basil’s grandson Brett D’Oliveira. D’Oliveira is an opening batsman who bowls and is listed, fairly enough, as an all-rounder in the CC/ODC game but is down as a bowler in the T20 comp.

I’ve very deliberately (Wessels aside) selected players that aren’t in many people’s teams. It’s no good having the same players as everybody else because you simply don’t gain any advantage. To be successful at fantasy sports, it’s imperative that you identify and select players not picked by many but who will go onto put in the performances.

Mark Cosgrove and Ryan Higgins are listed as batsman but Higgins in particular, after a good showing on First Class debut recently, should contribute with the ball.

Dominic Sibley (T20 bat ave: 49.40) hit the headlines with a double hundred in the County Championship in 2013 aged just eighteen and has become a dynamic batsman at the top of the order for Surrey.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-cricket-2013/content/story/674737.html

California born bat Cameron Steel has come to the fore for Durham this year and should be provided with an opportunity in the shorter form of the game on the back of his CC/ODC efforts. He bowls a bit of leg-spin too.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/century-for-steel-stars-stripes-and-steel/

Ex-England men Stephen Parry (Now a CC regular) and Jade Dernbach lead my bowling attack. Dernbach is a player despised by many and therefore ignored by a number of Telegraph selectors but if not for injury he would likely have qualified for next year’s North v South encounters. Chris Liddle is also a fly under the radar pick. A journeyman pro and holder of an unhealthy First Class average, his limited overs stats are respectable though and he could be a surprise performer. Like Dernbach, he wasn’t far away from automatic North v South selection.

My captain is another ‘to be scoffed at by many’ selection. What Moises Henriques was doing batting at four for Australia at the 2017 Champions Trophy as Chris Lynn sat on the bench nobody knows. Well actually, it was because he bowls a bit of dibbly dobbly and at domestic level he’s an intelligent and belligerent batsman who will not be representing Surrey for the first time.

I will reiterate my key tips from previous posts for selecting a fantasy cricket team:

  1. Select batsman that bowl
  2. Select bowlers that can bat
  3. Select players that aren’t in many people’s teams

I’m advocating faith when it comes to selection for my CC/ODC team but transfers will be a crucial part of the T20 comp come Finals Day. Don’t be left with few players playing additional matches. When the crunch comes ensure that your side is full of players participating for silverware!

Dernbach On Fire! Davies Not So!

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3-46, 3-30, 4-31!

Only an idiot would suggest that an international recall for somebody recording those sort of figures in the One-Day Cup was an April Fool…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/dernback/

Meanwhile, it’s fair to say that Dernbach’s old Surrey buddy Steven Davies, isn’t quite on cue down at Somerset. He’s currently performing his very best Ajit Agarkar impression, having now accumulated three quacks in a row at the top of the order. Maybe he’ll find his form before the summer sets!

Dernback!

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England are said to be seriously considering a recall for ‘fan’s favourite’ Jade Dernbach.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/12461.html

The South African born Surrey pacer has jumped to the front of the selection queue in light of injury concerns to various senior members of England’s bowling attack and could feature in a Three Lions shirt for the first time since 2014. It could be that the ODIs against Ireland are a perfect time to reintegrate the thirtyone-year-old.

Dernbach didn’t exactly set the world alight during his previous carnation as an international player but the England hierarchy believe that he’s matured, developed as a player and risen to the occasion. The most obvious example of Dernbach’s progress was in the 2015 One-Day cup final against Gloucestershire when, despite Surrey being beaten, Dernbach claimed figures 6-35 from 8.4 overs, including the prize scalp of Michael Klinger for a third ball duck.

If JD does get another look-in on the global stage, he’ll hope to haul that ODI bowling average of 42.19 and his T20I economy of 8.71 down just a little!

Another String to Australia’s Bowe!

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Liam Bowe will play for Australia.

There, I’ve said it. Based on three overs in a T20 game, I think that nineteen-year-old slow-left-armer Liam Bowe will represent Australia. I want to put this out there so that in five or even ten years time when I’m proved correct, I can direct people to this post dated 10th January 2017.

Just look at his Cricinfo profile page. It is a thing of beauty in that there is currently no information on there that I couldn’t have told you myself…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/1076852.html

On Big Bash debut today playing for the Melbourne Stars, bespectacled Bowe claimed figures of 1-21 from three overs, his victim was the Adelaide Strikers versatile Ben Dunk. Having bowled two overs early in the piece his only bad ball was the first one of his second spell. Bowe arrowed the ball in at the batsmen on the full but with varying pace and looked completely in control of what he was doing. I’ll say it again. Liam Bowe will play for Australia. Don’t let me down Liam!

Another player that I’m going to back for international honours for the Ozzies is twentytwo-year-old opening batsman Jake Weatherald. Eleven runs from nine deliveries and a pretty ugly shot to get out might not seem like the sort of thing to get the pulses racing but based on what I saw this morning I’d put Jake Weatherald in the same category as somebody like Sam Curran. I think that he’s too good for T20 cricket. That’s not to say that I have a total disdain for T20 or that the best players in that format aren’t skilled but you should know by now that I’m a purist. Weatherald is a touch player and ran some good ones and twos today but due to the format he felt it necessary to attempt a big shot. Without the need to do so, he looks to me like a player that, if he can occupy the crease for extended periods of time can construct innings of magnitude. A quick glance at his Cricinfo profile page appears to back me up…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/781285.html

In nine First Class outings the left-hander already has a century to his name and a healthy average of 44.06 complimented by a strike rate of 60.75. In List A cricket he averages 47.33 with a top score of 141 at a strike rate of 108.81. That strike rate suggests that Weatherald can put his foot on the gas when he’s in and though I’m not expecting consistency in the T20 game in the immediate future, I still think that he’s capable of adapting and becoming a player of value in the shortest format, like I did for my team last year!

You may be wondering why I’m randomly putting forward a couple of names for international selection for Australia. Well the big flaw in my whole cricketing blogosphere is the lack of cricket that I actually see but what better way to spend a week off from work than watching some Big Bash action. Commercials appear after every over and after the fall of a wicket, not in-between every delivery like that time I watched the IPL on ITV4.

A word of advice to Ricky Ponting. When playing the cut shot, no I’m only joking. Don’t say things like “I texted him in the car last night” on global TV without specifying that you were either a passenger or parked!

Another player that I’m going to tout for an Ozzie call-up or a recall even is Marcus Stoinis. Yes he plays with his hair a lot, chews his gum voraciously and looks disturbingly like Jade Dernbach (Whose night out in Wellington buddy Evan Gulbis didn’t look too shabby either!), oh and only scored 1 run after recording figures of 0-28 from four overs but I saw enough in his bowling (First Class ave: 49.13, seriously, where are you going with this Paul?!) to think that with the right words in his ear, he could have something to offer. At 27 now though, he needs to get a move on and put together contributions of substance.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/325012.html

On to Gulbis, his stats are solid but unspectacular…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/381183.html

… and he kind of looked like a guy you’d play with in your local league who just rocked up to the Big Bash and said, not in a nasty way, “I’m playing tonight guys, alright?”.

He bowled effective bouncers without looking like he was trying too and his six off the immensely impressive Ish Sodhi was as cleanly struck shot as you’ll see, even if he did run out Kevin Pietersen the next ball. To be fair to Gulbis, the two was just about on and he made it there and back.

Back to his stats, his First Class career best of 229 is his sole hundred and a batting average of 24.35 is just weird for someone that has a double-century to their name. He suffers from the usual Australian domestic cricketer syndrome in that despite being thirty years of age, he just hasn’t played that much top-flight cricket (Career Apps: FC: 20, LA: 33, T20: 30). A quick scroll down on the ever reliable Cricinfo tells us that he didn’t debut domestically until the age of 25 and the pros of a club to state system have been seriously questioned in recent times as the national side continue to provide debuts to thirty somethings.

Wes Agar had a tough baptism for the Strikers (3-0-36-0) and in truth, his captain Brad Hodge should have had the courage to take him off, even after he only conceded a single in his second over, having gone for sixteen in his first.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/959833.html

He should however be a better player for the experience and has done well in the few List A games that he has played.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/959833.html

Ben Laughlin (3-19) looked like a player who could have won more than five ODI and three T20I caps but at the time when he was in the international mix the competition was a lot fiercer. A First Class bowling average of 60.45 probably didn’t help. You do wonder what players like Laughlin, who last played First Class cricket as far back as 2012 when aged just thirty, would be doing without the Big Bash.

Well there you go Australia. There’s some hunches from an unqualified talent identifier who thought that Jimmy Ormond was destined to take 200 Test wickets for England!

Extras

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The second instalment of our new little feature where we cram a few articles or shorts into one…

Bye: This article by Tim Wigmore…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/review2016/content/story/1073177.html

Leg Bye: The Japanese batsman that walked off the ground to change their bat only they didn’t request the umpire’s permission so were promptly dismissed ‘retired out’. They were on seven at the time. A lesson to all young cricketer’s out there!
No Ball: D’arcy Short smacking 61 from 29 deliveries on his Big Bash debut for Hobart Hurricanes. A rare example of an Australian cricketer with actual aborigine heritage making waves on the professional circuit. He made his List A debut way back in 2011 but only made his First Class and T20 debuts this season. As is so often the case down under, at 26, he’s only just making his way in the game. Some in Australia have been critical recently of the ageing Test debutant (Hussey, Voges, Ferguson).
If their players aren’t making their domestic debuts until they’re 26 (Short isn’t a one-off) then what do they expect?
Wide: Doesn’t end Well-ington for Dernbach! Everybody’s favourite England cricketer (And his own!) Jade Dernbach, has been dropped form the Wellington team after a late night and has since engineered a return to England. His chances of an England recall (Ha!) have surely gone up in smoke!