Wish Wells Well!

I was surprised to discover that Sussex have released 29-year-old batsman Luke Wells. Predominantly a red-ball cricketer, Wells has eighteen First Class tons to his name as well as having made handy contributions with his part-time spin.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/350126.html

Left-hander Wells is Sussex through and through but it’s to be hoped that he can find opportunities elsewhere on the county circuit. He’d walk into quite a few teams and I’m stunned that Sussex have not renewed his contract!

CricketXI – County Championship 2018: Season Review

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 10.11.05

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.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 10.10.06

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.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 10.10.42

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!

England Uncapped XI

IMG_4028

Imagine that England’s cricketers have gone on strike. They’re upset about that car sponsorship deal ending or they all want to play in the new Kazakhstan T20 league. England’s selectors are reluctant to return to players that’ve failed to produce the goods at international level before. They decide to select an extremely experienced squad so ignore the likes of Ollie Pope, Joe Clarke and Sam Curran amongst others. The below is what an England Test squad might then look like.

First XI

James Adams

Daryl Mitchell

Sam Northeast (Captain)

James Hildreth

Darren Stevens

Keith Barker

John Simpson (Wicketkeeper)

Ollie Rayner

Luke Fletcher

Steve Patterson

Chris Rushworth

12th Man

Steven Mullaney

Tourists

Luke Wells

Riki Wessels

Ben Brown (Wicketkeeper)

James Harris

Stand By

Chris Nash

Joe Leach

I’ve selected Northeast as captain so as not to burden either of my openers, Adams and Mitchell who make for a strong left-hand/right-hand combo. Hildreth is at four ahead of Stevens and Barker who provide all-round options with Barker’s left-arm variety essential. Simpson dons the gloves meanwhile Patterson and Rushworth take the new ball backed up by Fletcher as well as Barker and Stevens. Spin options are a bit limited but Luke Wells makes the touring party as spin back-up to Ollie Rayner. Steven Mullaney makes the squad as 12th man, providing strong all-round cover with bat and ball.

As well as Wells and Mullaney, Wessels and Harris provide a good variety of cover. Brown backs up behind the stumps whilst Wessels is also an emergency ‘keeping option.

Top order bat Chris Nash who can bowl decent spin and dependable all-rounder Joe Leach are officially on stand-by.

Disclaimer: The likes of Rory Burns, Benny Howell and Tom Bailey are among the unfortunate omissions. Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Hain, Liam Norwell, Lewis Gregory, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad join that list but I was generally plucking for the most experienced players.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.22.07

The above is my first XI. It’s in the all-rounder roles that I’ve gambled with Rhodes and Rawlins. Rhodes has moved from Yorkshire to Warwickshire so should see increased game time and will be keen to show what he’s capable of. Rawlins made an impression in the North v South matches and this should be his breakout season. Simpson is a reliable wicketkeeper and I think there is real logic in the stumper being captain. I’ve plucked for a possibly slightly under the radar bowling attack and expect Mennie and hopefully Hutton to contribute runs too. I’ve very deliberately selected batsman that will at least occasionally bowl and should get opportunities in both formats of the game.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.22.24

For my second XI, I’ve gone for the two all-rounders that I consider guaranteed runs and wickets. I’ve opted for a reliable batting unit and expect Fell to return to form this year. Though my bowling unit may not be guaranteed outings in both codes, Coad and Footitt are wicket takers in the First Class format. Mahmood is coming into the campaign off the back of impressive performances in North v South and Nijjar, a useful spin bowler, has been opening the batting for Essex pre-season. What happens to Alastair Cook with England may determine Nijjar’s opportunities. If Roderick is available throughout the season, he should be steady away behind the stumps and with bat in hand.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.22.45

Have I ever mentioned that I like Ben Duckett?

Mitchell is as consistent as they come and bowls too. Smith has returned to Durham and I expect plenty of runs from the experienced head back up north. Alongside him, Brook is primed for his breakthrough campaign after debuting last term. Kuhn may not keep wicket but is a solid performer at domestic level. My bowling attack may receive England and England Lions call-ups but have runs as well as wickets in them in both formats. Bresnan is as solid an option as Patel and Bopara and van der Merwe is a destructive player.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 17.44.56

In my fourth XI, I’ve gone Warwickshire and England veteran heavy in my batting line-up, messrs Trott and Bell leading the charge. Bell-Drummond will be looking to kick-on and fingers crossed for a run-filled renaissance from Nick Compton. Like Kuhn, Pope may not always keep wicket but will be playing regularly and in the runs this year. Berg is as reliable as anyone with the ball and Procter prospered last term having relocated to Northamptonshire. I want a bit more from Barker and Rayner this year. Fletcher is back from injury and if Overton, rated 3!, can stay fit then he’s a shrewd selection.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.23.20

In my fifth XI are the other players that I like who I couldn’t squeeze into my first four teams. Northeast has moved to Hampshire but is as reliable as they come with the bat. Wells is solid in the First Class game as is Burns. Dent is an under rated player too. McManus gets the gloves with the experienced Clarke, back at Surrey, and less experienced but quick Chappell in the all-rounder roles. Hopefully Norwell has shrugged off any injury niggles. Ball will be left to play county cricket this term whilst Patterson is another of my reliable picks. Qadri made an impressive debut last year and will look to back it up.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve avoided selecting players that will be on England duty. It’s steady away county pros that you need sprinkled with one or two yet to be discovered gems just primed to be this year’s Ben Coad.

Let me know what you think about my teams and which one is likely to win me the massive cash prize of……….. £3,000!

https://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/county

Disclaimer: I’ve since been tinkering away, so my teams don’t look quite the same as above. I’ll keep you up to date once the campaign commences!

Cricket Captain 2017: 2020 T20I World Cup Review

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 08.19.17

… or 2020 2020 Review if you prefer?

By the time England secured victory over Bangladesh in their final match of the Caribbean staged tournament, their fate had already been sealed.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 19.30.07

The welcome rare win had been preceded by defeats against India, South Africa and Pakistan. At least all the island hopping allowed England’s players to enjoy the sights and sounds of the West Indies! England’s batting throughout the competition was at best woeful. Only captain Liam Livingstone (101 runs @ 25.25) and Zimbabwe born Ryan Higgins (91 runs @ 22.75) walked away from the tournament with their reputations in tact. The likes of Dawid Malan, Riki Wessels and Joe Clarke all failed to really get going during the competition.

On the bowling front, Toby Roland-Jones repaid the optimistic faith (He averaged 167.00 not long ago!) shown in him by the selectors by claiming 11 scalps @ just 10.36 apiece including two four-wicket hauls.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 19.31.06

Having performed well on the tour of New Zealand winter past, the Middlesex man now looks set to be presented with the opportunity to lead England’s Test attack against South Africa this summer.

For others however, their international futures are uncertain. Ross Whiteley arrived on the international scene with a reputation for frequent six-hitting. The left-handed bat has however only mustered a paltry return of 99 runs in ten T20I innings to date. In truth, given that he can’t even get a game for his county side, he probably shouldn’t have been included in the World Cup squad at all.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 19.30.41

The likes of Matt Coles and Lewis Gregory will also be sweating over their international futures though Toby Roland-Jones’ redemption may help provide others with further opportunities.

Next for England it’s demanding back-to-back home and away series against South Africa before a challenging trip to Bangladesh. After an abysmal last twelve months for a beleaguered England side, it can only be hoped that the selectors make the right calls and the players apply themselves better than has recently been the case.

Batsmen Brett D’Oliveira, Aneurin Donald and Sam Hain as well as bowlers Tom Helm and Jamie Porter are among some of the players who could force their way into the international reckoning this season.

IMG_1416

Possible Test squad for the first Test against South Africa: Luke Wells, Max Holden, Tom Westley, Liam Livingstone (c), Riki Wessels, Sam Curran, John Simpson (w), James Harris, Jofra Archer, Toby Roland-Jones, Jack Leach, Hamidullah Qadri