Cricket Captain 2018: Statistical Highlights… and Lowlights!

Five full years into my tenure as Coach/Selector of the England cricket team, here’s a round-up of the highs and lows that we’ve experienced as a collective thus far…

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Yes that does say 43 all out against Pakistan at Edgbaston! That’s an England all-time low and a slap in the face for our decision to bat exclusively (And optimistically) for a draw. The sweet success of 806 against Sri Lanka in Kandy seems a long time ago.

Joe Root’s 292 against India in Nottingham, came after he’d been dismissed for 230 twice during my tenure and in the same innings that James Vince briefly (Very briefly) held the record when making 246.

Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson’s 7-82 against New Zealand, also at Edgbaston, are the best individual bowling figures in an innings while Stuart Broad’s 11-98 against West Indies in Jamaica in 2019 remain our best match analysis.

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The year before the 43 all out debacle, 436 against the same opponents in Leeds, had been a none too shabby effort in a One-Day International. In truth, our limited overs batting has regressed since then. As in the Tests, it’s former captain Joe Root who leads the way with a rare double ton (214) in the fifty over format, indeed it was in that innings of 436 against Pakistan in front of a packed and vibrant Headingley crowd.

Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed astonishing figures of 6-14 against Australia in the infancy of his international career but lost his way a little in ODIs. He is however averaging sub 30 in the Test format and has become a valuable option in the longer format. He’s no slouch with the bat either.

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Errrr, yeah, 41 all out against South Africa in a T20I. Like I said, highs and lows. Never an easy place to bat is Cape Town!

Alex Hales 124 against arch-enemy Australia in Bristol has been the best batting output in the format whilst the often economical Tom Curran’s 5-26 against West Indies in Delhi at the World Cup is our best individual bowling analysis.

It’d be great to post 1000 runs in a Test innings but with the need for declarations this can often only be feasible in a dead rubber. 500 in a ODI and 250 in T20Is would also be welcome. It’d also be great to see an individual batsman reach a triple ton in a Test match but should they approach Sir Len Hutton’s 364 then I might have to declare!

Cricket Captain 2018: Cook Serves Another Feast!

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My first series as Coach and Selector of the national side and it’s a thumping series win for the boys. Victory margins of 199-runs and ten-wickets confirm our dominance. Both victories were built around the monumental batting of stand-in skipper Alastair Cook. Chef followed his 160 not out at Lords with an epic 198 in Leeds.

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Pakistan actually won the toss and chose to bat but soon regretted it. Opening batsman Sami Aslam’s 24-ball duck was absolute torture. To their credit, the tourists recovered from 111-6 to a respectable 335 all out. As was the case at Lords, this was again in the main courtesy of their leader Sarfraz Ahmed. The wicketkeeper-batsman made his second ton (117) of the series.

We then posted 476 to gain a healthy first innings advantage. As well as Cook’s monster 198, James Vince again looked good for 66 and Joe Clarke made a magnificent 80 in only his second Test. Mohammad Amir was the pick of the bowlers though still expensive. He finished with analysis of 4-154.

Pakistan then made only 151 second time out. Again Ahmed top scored but this time with only 39. The in-form Mark Wood claimed Test best figures of 4-31.

Haseeb Hameed, recalled at the expense of Mark Stoneman (7 not out) and Dawid Malan (4 not out) then knocked off the mammoth victory target of eleven without loss. Hameed made only 17 in the first innings but batted for 99 minutes in compiling 50 with Alastair Cook. Having made only one in the first innings at Headingley, then it is Dawid Malan who’s place seems most vulnerable should Joe Root return to full fitness. Of course questions will be asked about the captaincy given Cook’s splendid showing in this series.

For the immediate future it’s the white-ball (ODI/T20I) affairs for the team. Next up is a one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh. We may use the opportunity to rest senior players and explore our strength in depth.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Scintillating Sciver Can’t Save England!

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England Women succumbed to a chastening 302-run defeat against New Zealand at Headingley in a one-off ODI earlier today.

New Zealand’s opening batsmen were utterly dominant on a gorgeous day in Leeds. Susie Bates (212) and Sophie Devine (144) put on 283 for the visitor’s first wicket. Amy Satterthwaite added 129 not out from just 49 deliveries as the home side claimed only two wickets in 50 overs. New Zealand’s total of 493-2 was a new world record in Women’s ODI cricket, passing the previous high of 455-2 also set by the White Ferns.

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Two dropped catches by stumper Sarah Taylor (Who was also dismissed first ball!) didn’t help England’s cause, although in truth a lot of the damage had already been done. England also missed an easy run out opportunity when the ball was inexplicably thrown to the wrong end!

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All-rounder Natalie Sciver, who despite bowling two maidens finished with record breakingly bad figures of 0-111 from her full allocation, finished the day four runs to the good after spanking a marvellous 115. Her 67-ball affair contained 13 sixes, most of which were reverse sweeps. In current cricket terminology, Sciver is probably England’s ‘Point of Difference’! Only Katherine Brunt (21) and captain Heather Knight (17) were able to provide any kind of support for Surrey’s scintillating Sciver.

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Sciver’s batting exploits did at least save England from complete ignominy and the side will look to bounce back next time they take to the field of play.

Disclaimer: I should probably point out that I was playing as England. In my defence, I’m now tackling veteran level (ie: Level 4/5)!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – 2023 First Class Round-up

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Following our One-Day Plate success, we, Yorkshire, turned our attention back to the First Class format. The knockout stages of the One-Day competition were actually played intertwined with the First Class season. Obviously there was a lot of attention around how I would back-up last year’s introduction to the four-day game given my epic knock of 325 against Sussex.

In the first round of matches against Middlesex, I got up and running with a first innings knock of 40 but that was only a prelude of what was to come. Come the second innings, I shared a partnership of 332 of which my contribution was all of 269. I was actually thinking about overhauling the 325 I had made last year but it wasn’t to be. The most frustrating element to this innings was that it would remain my highest knock of the 2023 campaign.

My reward for another double hundred was to be promoted up the order from five to three which suited me fine. I went on to make 118 and 32 against Glamorgan before enduring a frustrating period with the bat. My next run of scores was as follows: 30 & 32, 0 (1st ball!), 2 & 18 and run out for six before scratchily making 54 in the second innings of that match against Durham. Things improved thereafter as I went on to make at least a fifty in each of the next five matches (And in six out of seven in total). With the fixtures now in reverse, against Durham again, I registered scores of 27 and 67 before really enjoying myself against Kent. As was the case against Middlesex on the opening day, I dominated a lop-sided partnership of 246. I contributed 192 to the combo but went onto make another double century. Rather embarrassingly, I ran myself out with a lazy bit of work when returning for the second having been on 199. I’d reached 200 with the first run but the dismissal kind of took the gloss off any celebrations. With centuries in each innings of the match insight, I was gutted when I failed to execute a shot properly having made 87 in the second innings. I followed those knocks up with scores of 1 and 143 against Mitchell Starc’s Leicestershire.

Despite my List A and First Class contributions, I failed to earn a T20 gig with Yorkshire so returned to the club scene with Leeds. In the only outing that I was required to bat, I only faced the last two balls of the match. I promptly hit the penultimate ball of the game for six to tie the scores then ran two to seal victory. It was great to really give something back to Leeds and not be seen as some big show for whom professional cricket had gone to his head. I still care about my club side and the amateur game in general. It groomed me to be the professional that I’ve become.

Upon my return to Yorkshire and off the back my my recent knocks of 67, 200, 87, 1 and 143 I was promptly demoted in the order to number four in the batting line-up. I wasn’t particularly enthused about that. Following demotion, I fell for just eight against my Northamptonshire nemesis, South African spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. I was his victim again in the second innings but did at least briefly take him to the cleaners before falling for 54. There then followed solid knocks of 50 and 80 against Derbyshire but disappointment at failing to convert them into more hundreds. In the penultimate match of the season against Glamorgan, I batted abysmally and was deservedly mopped up for scores of just 1 and 17. Following that one poor performance, I went full circle, demoted back to number five in the batting order and so finished the campaign where I had started. There was no double ton against Middlesex this time but scores of 64 and 15 took me to a season tally of 1472 runs in First Class cricket. I finished as seventh highest run scorer in the top division though my average of 54.52 was some way down the rankings.

It was a disappointing season in the longest format for Yorkshire. Winning our final two matches restored some pride but we finished in an unacceptable sixth place, way, way off challenging for the title.

As for my career, I now total 2237 First Class runs at an impressive average of 65.79. I’ve reorder six centuries complimented by nine half-tons. Of those six hundreds, three have been doubles and one a triple. I’m very proud of those performances. I also average a healthy 63.73 in List A cricket but am under no illusion regarding the challenge ahead to maintain those figures. I’ve signed up with Yorkshire for both First Class and List A cricket in 2024 but do hope to finally win a professional T20 contract. If I can get some T20 game time with Yorkshire then I can push for gigs in the Irish or Afghan T20 competitions.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Plate Princes!

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The 2023 season commenced with my introduction to List A cricket in Yorkshire blue. I disappointingly ducked on debut and followed that up with only four in the next match. After starting my First Class career so impressively, I was desperate to show that I could transfer my ability to the professional one-day game. A knock of 72 in my third outing demonstrated that I belonged but in truth I blew a great chance of a century.

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I righted that wrong in the next match however but was again gutted to get out. Being dismissed at anytime is frustrating but there’s something really criminal about falling immediately after reaching a milestone. I backed up a maiden List A ton with 68 in my next innings to make it three scores of fifty plus on the bounce.

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I then clocked up another ton and this time started to go on. I had made 129 from just 80 deliveries before committing another criminal act by running myself out. Annoyingly, as much as a double ton had been real possibility against Northamptonshire.

My impressive performances at number three in the order saw me promoted to open the batting but my form dipped as a result. I made scores of 23 then 29 in a thrilling run-chase that ended in a tie courtesy of an epic hundred by Gary Ballance. That result qualified us for the knockout stages and a quarter-final encounter against local neighbours Derbyshire. Come the big day however, our expectation exceeding opposition failed to show. Ben Coad claimed four wickets to rip through the underdogs and limit them to a paltry total of just 178 all out. Again, I got started but got out. I really thought that I could carry the team to victory but made only 19. Joe Root (81 not out) however led the way, as we comprehensively paved a path to the semi-finals courtesy of an 8-wicket win.

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The play-off for a place in the final would be a tasty clash with our arch rivals Lancashire. On such a big occasion, I was determined to display my qualities and help my county reach the final. I promptly recorded my career best List A effort of 155 from just 84 deliveries. My knock included 16 fours complimented by six maximums. We were delighted to brush aside our trans-Pennine enemy but knew that the job was not done. It would be yet another boundary border opponent come the final in the form of northern neighbours Durham.

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On one of the biggest days in the county cricket calendar and in front of a full and hostile house, we won the toss, batted first and totalled just shy of 400. I swashbuckingly contributed to a century opening partnership inside the first ten overs. I reached my fourth One-Day ton from just 45 deliveries but was aghast to be caught on the ring for 102. Joe Root replaced me at the crease and carried the innings with a masterful 138 not out. The lad’s got talent and will go far in the game!

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We ran out 2023 One-Day Plate victors by 94 runs. Just look at the smiles on the players faces during the victory celebrations. The pubs and clubs of Leeds and indeed throughout all of Yorkshire made a profit on final night that’s for sure!

I finished my inaugural List A campaign with 701 runs at an average of 63.73 complete with strike-rate of 172.66. I notched 4 tons as well as two fifties and a winner’s medal of course. Next up is a return to the First Class stage where I’ll look to maintain my lofty average of over 100!

Disclaimer: Incase this article seems a little familiar, that’s because I previously mistook the quarter-final for the final. I wondered why there weren’t any celebrations!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Captain Fantastic!

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Following the disappointment of the one-day cup final defeat at the hands of Scarborough in my first match as captain, the team headed into the T20 competition determined to go one step further. As was the case with my team selection for the fifty-over final, I made bold changes to the XI for the T20 campaign, ignoring the scars of the final defeat. In our first two matches at Bradford and Sheffield, such was the application of our side that I wasn’t even required to bat as we notched back-to-back victories. It was against Scarborough again that we would come undone, this was despite my 26 from 14 deliveries. My swashbuckling 45 from just 15 balls helped us get back to winning ways at home to York before we then beat Hull in the final round of matches, again with me not required to bat. That meant another final against guess who? That’s right, an opportunity for revenge against Scarborough. Again, a ruthless alteration to the team was made and we restricted the seaside side to just 121-9 from their allotted overs. Soon though, we were 15-3 and in real trouble. My 46 from 35 deliveries however helped steady the ship but I was gutted to be dismissed with just four runs required for victory. It didn’t matter though, as we ran out winners by four wickets. Without doubt, it was the proudest day in my Leeds career. It won’t only be Leeds that I’ll be playing for in the future though…

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I’m delighted to announce that I’ve accepted a First Class contract offer from Yorkshire County Cricket Club. I’m reliably informed that I’m not too far away from joining the List A and T20 sides either. I’m due to make my First Class debut at home against Kent and there are three First Class matches remaining after that. It’s up to me to take my best ever club form into the professional arena and earn the right to play for the mighty Yorkshire for years to come. I’m delighted to sign off this campaign for Leeds in style but it’s onto the professional circuit for me now!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – One-Day Highs and Low!

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Off the back of my productive three-day campaign, I took my good form into the 2022 one-day season and delivered the most productive 50-over summer of my career so far.

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In the premier round of matches, I chalked up 102 from 72 deliveries (Including an all ran 5!) at Bradford Recreation Park. The innings meant that I now had centuries in each of the amateur three-day, one-day and T20 formats. I then went onto plunder 35 from 20 balls at Sheffield Gardens before notching up 45 not out from just 25 deliveries at home to Scarborough.

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Maintaining my momentum, I racked up a career best 125 from 92 deliveries at home to York to maintain my run-laden summer. We had been precariously placed at 25-4 and 58-5 but I was only dismissed two runs short of our target of 220.

I would go onto make another half-century in the final round of matches, 68 from 40 balls at home to Hull. In truth, there was another century there for the taking that I didn’t snap up. A win in that match however meant, after defeats in the first two games, we’d won three matches on the bounce and qualified for the final.

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That was a heck of a time to be handed the captaincy and I made a couple of bold changes to the XI. Unfortunately it turns out that the ‘Art of Captaincy’ is not to change a winning team and bring in untried players for a final. I wish somebody had told me that in advance!

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On a personal level though, I contributed one of my best ever knocks in the final. With wickets constantly falling around me, I applied myself appropriately to total 100 from 75 deliveries. If only I could have helped yield another 20 runs or so from the remaining few overs. As it was, we always seemed a bit short having failed to post 300.

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Though we claimed four wickets, Sheffield ran out comfortable winners. To see their players celebrating on the podium was tough. Though the players I brought into the first team for such a big occasion didn’t disgrace themselves, neither did they do enough to really justify their selections. As captain of Leeds, I take full responsibility for those calls!

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To reach a final is no disgrace however and on a personal level I’m now firmly on the radar of the English county sides. Scores of 102, 35, 45*, 125, 68 & 100 in a final amounted to 475 runs at an almighty average of 95.00. It goes without saying that I topped the one-day run charts in the north but there… I said it! Now my captaincy skills will be put to the test in the T20 format. I’ll endeavour to lead the team to the best of my ability as well as continuing to press my case for county recognition.