Hildreth on the Ball!

When it comes to selecting England’s XI for the first Ashes Test and indeed the one-off Ireland encounter that precedes it, it is the top three batting positions that England’s selectors will be spending the most time debating.

Somerset’s James Hildreth (Admittedly batting at four) led Somerset to victory in the One-Day Cup final today…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO45111

Having never won international recognition, it’s wonderful to see a player of so much ability perform on a big stage. In the article below, Hildreth makes an extremely astute observation, one that is correct and really does highlight the sort of naivety that you’d hope the England selectors would be beyond…

https://www.thecricketer.com/Topics/banner/james_hildreth_moves_up_no3_bid_finally_prove_selectors_worth_england_chance.html

Mark Stoneman would be the perfect example of a player doing exactly what Hildreth speaks of, of averaging in the twenties and thirties year after year then being selected for England on the back of one productive campaign.

I’ve been amazed at some of the English batsmen who’ve been batting at four or below this year when the England vacancies clearly lie in the top three. Players such as Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond have even allowed Ashes contender Matt Renshaw to bat ahead of him at three!

Back to today’s West Country hero Hildreth, the Somerset stalwart will need a stellar County Championship from this point forth to twist Ed Smith’s arm.

Disclaimer: Apologies for the poor quality image at the top of the piece. It was from the early days of all this gaming and blogging lark.

Dawson and Vince Hard Done by ECB not ICC!

Following on from my latest audiocast where I touched upon the subject of Liam Dawson and James Vince being unable to represent Hampshire in the One-Day Cup final, I feel that it’s necessary to look into things a bit further.

It’s a huge shame that these two players, both of whom are likely to more often than not be sub-fielding and carrying drinks for England (But you never know what can happen?!) can’t play in the domestic season’s marquee showpiece. It is of course only appropriate in the interest of fairness that they can’t. It would be unfair for them to be getting match practice, keeping their eye in, staying in form and gaining confidence when the players of the other World Cup participants can’t do so. You do have to question the ECB’s structuring of the English county season though as it is they who should’ve seen this coming and prevented it from happening. The One-Day Cup was played in an exclusive block up to a couple of weeks ago so why on Earth did we then return to First Class cricket for a couple of weeks before the One-Day final randomly slots in to the fixture list?

It’s a shame for the players in question and a kick in the teeth for devoted fans of a county game that in most people’s eyes is seriously struggling as a spectator sport. Remember that Vince is Hampshire’s captain and Dawson has been their star player this year.

Regarding Dawson, there are rumours that he’s been courted by Warwickshire but also that he may have hinted to Hampshire that he only wants a white-ball contract in the future. I’m disappointed to hear that but realistically he’s probably struggling to play Test cricket again. He’s been mightily effective in the PSL for a couple of years and if he can get IPL and CPL gigs as well as playing One-Day and Twenty20 cricket in England then there’s just about enough cricket to occupy him in the summer. This is before we consider the PSL, BPL and Big Bash etc in the winter time, not to mention the Hong Kong Blitz, Global T20 Canada and whatever pops up next! The riches of these gigs are far greater than the county game and a lot less gruelling so the appeal is understandable but it’s also confirmation that the standard of the four-day game in England in particular will continue to decline. If the best players desert it when still in their twenties, we could be left with only young players pre peak and old players post peak to fill the teams.

As for Vince, his appearances in an England shirt this summer have been exactly what everyone expected of him. Pretty but unsubstantial. Not out of his depth but not excelling. How will bench warming for England help him press his case for a top three Test vacancy come the Ashes?

Hopefully Dawson and Vince will get some game time at the World Cup. I’m a big fan of involving the whole squad when it comes to major tournaments but whether or not the structure of the 2019 competition and England’s results will allow it only time will tell.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC – Post ODC Update

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Hi followers

The graphic above displays my standings now that the group stage of the One-Day Cup has reached its conclusion. International call-ups, injuries and squad rotation have all played their part in scuppering my best laid plans. I’ve been reasonably aggressive with captaincy changes and have tinkered with transfers to get as many players on terra firma as possible. I’ve kept half my captaincy changes for the rest of the County Championship and for the most part have two thirds plus of my transfer allocation left. Now it’s about making sure that my XIs consist of long-term certain starters and saving transfers for the occasional uncontrollable. I do have to bear in mind players such as Marnus Labuschagne who won’t be around for the duration of the summer. Some players have arrived especially for the second phase of the County Championship (Bavuma/Rahane) or have returned from the IPL (Curran.S/Livingstone).

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Livingstone is a batsman who bowls and a good catcher. Curran is listed as a bowler not an all-rounder and with him not being in England’s World Cup squad, both are worth consideration.

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Leading points scorers

Across my teams my star performers have been Hampshire’s Liam Dawson (1027 pts), Sussex’s David Wiese (805) and Kent’s Matt Milnes (748).

IMG_3821

Dawson is now the third most selected player and Milnes is now in 17% of people’s teams but I’ve had him in from the beginning when he was in few people’s XIs so I was gaining points that few TFC participants were. The aforementioned Labuschagne (Listed as a batsman) hasn’t always fired with the bat but has regularly chipped in with the white orb. That’s the advantage of selecting a batsman who bowls because even if they fail with the bat (Remember a duck scores -20) they can still break even or contribute positively with the ball.  Yorkshire’s Jonny Tattersall, listed as a batsman but crucially keeping wicket regularly so claiming catches (10pts) and stumpings (15pts) has totalled 538 points. Some people have cottoned on but he’s still in only 5% of teams. Obviously some of my points scored have been doubled when said individual has been made captain, for example: Dawson has always captained for me when playing so has contributed 2054 points for me.

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Most selected players

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve always advised picking players that have been selected by few participants of the game.

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Having returned from injury, I slotted Essex’s Matt Coles in to one of my teams. He’s been picked by only 0.3% of TFC participants but has gained 280 points for me (Some doubled) from only a few appearances. Dean Elgar (A useful bowling option come CC long summer days) and Mohammad Abbas are a couple of 1%ers that I’ve snuck in recently. Following his temporary relocation up north, Dom Bess is another player that I might transfer in before next week.

My minimum target is for one of my teams to finish in the top 1000 but disappointingly I’ve just slipped out of the top 1k! Hopefully I can get back up there and will keep you posted later this summer!

Bess Heads North!

Somerset’s briefly England spin bowler Dom Bess has joined Yorkshire on loan in what seems like a smart move for all parties.

Bess is a talented young cricketer who just can’t get in the team at home county Somerset. He’s understandably behind the ever impressive Jack Leach in the county’s pecking order. Similarly to players such as county colleague Craig Overton, Bess more than hinted that he has the temperament and talent to succeed at the highest level when gracing the Test arena. Overton has been ripping it up on the county scene this year but is still some way off an England recall. Bess too, what with the aforementioned Leach as well as England’s no.1 Test spinner Moeen Ali present, Ali like Bess being an off-spinning all rounder, is a million billion trillion miles away from England’s Test side. Bess has failed to make an impression during the One-Day Cup this year but will hope to hit his straps pronto in the County Championship with Yorkshire. Extremely capable with the bat in hand as demonstrated during his two Test appearances, Bess could yet end up being a more batting-orientated player.

What Josh Poysden will make of this who knows?

Poysden was recruited by the white rose county last year when Adil Rashid’s future was uncertain. He’s done okay in the One-Day Cup this year (6w @ 50.50, 5.51rpo) but only okay. He possesses a reasonable First Class record but in truth has played little for a man of his age…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/464110.html

Yorkshire’s premier spinner, Adil Rashid, was informed by England Selector Ed Smith that he needs to play red-ball cricket in order to be selected for England’s Test side. It may be that following his one outing in the Caribbean earlier this year that that ship has already sailed. Come winter tours on the subcontinent however, Smith may still want to get funky and pick Rashid. In the short term of course, he’ll be at the World Cup.

I’m not a fan of transfers left, right and centre in county cricket but this is the sort of mutually beneficial deal that gets an immensely talented player on the field so should be welcomed. You wouldn’t want Bess to stand in the way of homegrown talent but in truth the likes of Karl Carver will benefit from more exposure to second XI cricket whilst James Logan is injured.

No Moores Ducks!

Never has a scorecard summed up my fantasy cricket efforts better than what you’ll find in the link below…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO45059

List A debutante Lyndon James (Transferred in today especially!) Jake Libby (A duck in the last match!) Steven Mullaney and Tom Moores (Made Captain for today so double minus!) all ducked!

All these players are in one of my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket teams.

Carter and Ball did at least contribute whilst Coughlin and Wood are actually players that I’ve removed from my teams. On the plus side I transferred Pat Brown in and he soon claimed a wicket whilst Wayne Parnell claimed a five-wicket haul. He gains bonus points for a four-wicket haul and sub 4 rpo economy rate.

When you’ve got a handful of teams and therefore have players across all the counties, there are so many ups and downs during match day. Sometimes you’re celebrating a wicket only to see that it’s one of your batsmen that have been dismissed… or are you celebrating a good knock (Ideally a score above forty scored at more than a run-a-ball containing lots of sixes. BONUS POINTS!) then one of your bowlers claiming a wicket?

What might seem like inconsequential catches can be celebrated with a fist pump for the points they bring.

Look out for my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket update at the conclusion of the One-Day Cup group stage late next week.

England’s Alternative ODI Squad!

As we approach the business end of the One-Day Cup and England commence their international summer, here’s an alternative England ODI squad based on domestic white-ball performances so far this summer:

Playing XI:

Varun Chopra, Essex (263r @ 87.67)

Billy Godleman, Derbyshire (479r @ 95.80)

Sam Hain, Warwickshire (301r @ 60.20)

Steven Croft, Lancashire (375r @ 125.00)

Jonny Tattersall, Yorkshire – Wicketkeeper (205r @ 51.25 / 10c/2s)

Liam Dawson, Hampshire – Captain (232r @ 46.40 / 13w @ 18.00)

Craig Overton, Somerset (146r @ 146 / 11w @ 12.09)

Nathan Sowter, Middlesex (15w @ 18.13)

Matt Coles, Essex (7w @ 17.14)

Luke Fletcher, Nottinghamshire (14w @ 17.93)

Saqib Mahmood, Lancashire (20w @ 15.85)

Squad Members:

Tom Westley, Essex (295r @ 49.17)

Tom Moores, Nottinghamshire – Wicketkeeper (196r @ 49.00 / 6c/2s)

Alex Thomson, Warwickshire (215r @ 53.75)

Stuart Meaker, Surrey (5w @ 24.20)

What are your thoughts?

Are there any players that I’ve omitted that you think merit recognition?