Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2019 – Season Review

A disappointing T20 campaign with my best placed team only finishing as high as 2,228th place. The winner accumulated 12,566 points and won by a margin of 23 points.

In truth I should probably have tinkered a little more early on. Leaving as many as three/four captaincy changes unused is just wasteful.

See below for the best performing players. Note how many are batsmen who bowl.

I remain optimistic of at least one top thousand finish in the CC/ODC competition and will update after the final round of matches this week.

Catching Commentary Standards!

“Oh what a catch”. “Wow, an amazing catch”. “That’s the best catch I’ve ever seen”.

It’s become a bug bear of mine this current penchant for cricket commentators to label ordinary run of the mill catches as something special.

Last night a commentator got carried away with a catch by Middlesex’s AB de Villiers to dismiss Somerset’s Eddie Byrom. I can’t find the particular BBC clip but the word used to describe this absolute dolly of a catch was something along the lines of “Outstanding” or “Sensational”. Maybe the commentator was simply in awe of an extremely talented player but he could still avoid using hyperbole in his work.

Later in proceedings, Somerset’s Max Waller executed a genuinely high quality catch to remove de Villiers but for the record the commentator described that catch incorrectly…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/cricket/49532155

Waller caught the ball in his right-hand not his left hand! There was also an error when identifying the coloured clothing of a catch held by a spectator. If you’re going to commentate please describe things accurately. On radio I guess that you can get away with it but when there are online clips you can be made to look incompetent. We all make mistakes (Heck, read my blog!) but this was poor and cricket desperately needs better from its professional and qualified media at the moment.

Back to my original point, please don’t describe something as “Great” or “Brilliant” when it’s only “Very good”. This is not meant to belittle anybody’s efforts but only to confirm that reasonably high standards should be maintained.

Please click the link below for match highlights but it’s not the same commentary. De Villiers’ catch barely gets a mention from the commentator here…

This attitude has become an all too familiar thing on BBC commentary. Oh and on that note, if cricket (In the form of The Hundred!) will be on the BBC next year, do we really want Jonathan Agnew fronting it?

On Top of the World!

How great is it to see Reece Topley playing regularly and amongst the wickets?

Topley has eleven wickets at 12.64 in this year’s T20 Blast for Sussex including figures of 4-33 taken in his comeback match against former employers Hampshire. The Suffolk born left-armer has ten ODI and six T20I caps to his name but it would be foolish to be thinking about England consideration so soon after returning to first team action. It’ll be great if the twenty-five-year-old can go onto play List A and First Class cricket but if not then he could still make a healthy buck specialising in the shortest format.

It’s also encouraging to see another left-arm quick bowler in the form of Topley’s teammate Tymal Mills playing regularly and being amongst the wickets too. Mills may only have seven wickets but an average of 17.14 is healthy and most notably, his economy rate is just 6.32. This compares favourably against a career economy rate of 7.82.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/english-twenty20/averages

Looking through the averages another left-armer caught my eye. Nottinghamshire’s Harry Gurney has already committed to a white-ball world having made an impression at both the Big Bash and IPL. Soon he’ll be turning out in the Euro T20 Slam. In this year’s Blast he’s picked up 13 wickets at 15.85 including a career best 5-30 against Derbyshire. He’s leaking runs at an eye-watering 9.36 per over though so will want to temper that.

It’s not impossible that the above players could yet turn out for England again. David Willey has never dominated for England as would’ve been hoped and hasn’t (To be fair often hasn’t been able to) make his batting provide him with an edge. To say that he’s been ordinary in this year’s Blast would be an understatement as he comes to terms with his World Cup omission.

Yorkshire v Lancashire T20 Match

Firstly, please accept my apologies. The above image is a file photo (From my files!) because I neglected to actually take a photo at last night’s encounter.

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8053/scorecard/1167147/yorkshire-vs-lancashire-north-group-vitality-blast-2019

Lancashire defeated Yorkshire by 9 runs with paceman Saqib Mahmood looking particularly impressive. Even when he went for boundaries he kept his head up and responded well. Mahmood was outstanding in the One-Day Cup earlier this year and will surely come into white-ball consideration for England though competition for places is extreme to say the least.

David Willey’s fielding stood out amongst a shoddy effort from Yorkshire, that international experience making the difference. Gary Ballance batted at six but there seems little logic in him being in the side. He used up seven deliveries for 4 runs before basically willingly being run out.

Debutante spinner Jack Shutt snapped up a couple of wickets but was expensive in his last. West Indian Nicholas Pooran just about kept the home side interested with some huge sixes but even he needed time to get going. Harry Brook looked good for 30 but you still sense that the shorter format won’t be his best. It was also good to see the extremely talented Liam Livingstone back from injury for Lancashire.

The crowd was good natured for what can sometimes be a raucous affair. The thunderstorms stayed away but the less said about the sweaty train journey there the better and as for the woman who preferred her bag to have a seat than any of the people stood up on the return journey, don’t get me started!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018 – Season Review

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 09.48.48

It says it all that my Fifth XI finished the 2018 County Championship campaign as my top team!

Tom Bailey (1912), Ryan Higgins (1819) and Morne Morkel (1636), when he eventually got going, led the way for me. However an overall position of 7454th is nothing to write home about!

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As the above graphic displays, Kent’s Kiwi quick Matt Henry, his domestic teammate and potential England Test debutant Joe Denly and Sussex’s former Yorkshire tearaway Ollie Robinson led the way in the overall points scoring. Ollie Robinson, oh look, another player that Yorkshire have either failed to develop or/and allowed to blossom elsewhere (Carver, Rhodes, Lees?)! There’s a theme developing here isn’t there?

Ed Barnard, Tom Bailey, Ryan Higgins and James Hildreth all made my England Ignored XI…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/09/27/england-ignored-xi/

… having been consistent performers throughout the campaign. Please remember that this competition was specific to the County Championship (First Class) and One-Day Cup (List A). The T20 Blast had a completely separate fantasy competition.

My five teams did at least resign my wife and daughter’s XIs to the bottom of the family table. Anyway, there’s always next year!

England Ignored XI

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England have named their Test and ODI squads for the winter tour of Sri Lanka as well as announcing the Lions squads for matches against Pakistan A in UAE:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_cricket_team_in_Sri_Lanka_in_2018–19

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/24802981/jason-roy-named-england-lions-four-day-squad

Here’s a party of players who must feel unfortunate not to have at least made the Lions cut…

First XI

Ben Slater (Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire) 349 CC runs @ 43.62 (Div 1) / 676 CC runs @ 42.75 (Div 2) / 386 ODC runs @ 55.14

Left-handed opening bat Slater’s consistent run plundering earned him a move from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire. He made runs in both the First Class (Divisions 1 & 2) and List A format. Next year he’ll hope to continue to go well amongst many new faces at Trent Bridge.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire) 972 CC runs @ 44.18

Having departed Yorkshire, Rhodes grew and grew at his new home finishing the campaign with four tons in the County Championship. He and Dominic Sibley look a strong foundation for a Warwickshire side that like a signing!

Daryl Mitchell (Worcestershire) Captain 957 CC runs @ 38.81

With a lot on his plate off the field, Mitchell made four tons in Division One having previously been criticised for scoring the majority of his centuries in Division Two. He’s a more than handy asset with the ball too and could captain the side.

James Hildreth (Somerset) 1089 CC runs @ 45.38 / 438 ODC runs @ 62.57

Runs, more runs for the Somerset veteran, not just in the First Class arena but with the white-ball too. Somehow he remains ignored by yet another selection panel.

Tom Abell (Somerset) Vice-Captain 883 CC runs @ 40.41 / 19 wickets @ 25.89

Similar to Mitchell in that he’s a batsman come all-rounder, Abell’s batting has started to fall into place again and he and Mitchell would make a good leadership brains trust.

Ed Barnard (Worcestershire) 516 CC runs @ 23.45 / 49 CC wickets @ 23.22 / 153 ODC runs @ 76.50 / 16 ODC wickets @ 28.88

It’s utterly absurd that Barnard’s efforts haven’t been recognised by the selectors this season. With both bat and ball and in red and white-ball cricket, Barnard has  consistently starred.

Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire) 48 CC wickets @ 18.38 / 195 ODC runs 65.00

Like Rhodes, a move has been a good move for Higgins and like Barnard, he’s performed in all facets in all formats having joined Gloucestershire from Middlesex.

Ben Brown (Sussex) Wicketkeeper 912 CC runs @ 43.43 (52ct/1st)

Another strong campaign from the Sussex gloveman. A genuine top six willow wielder and has handy captaincy experience to support Mitch and Abell behind the stumps.

Matthew Carter (Nottinghamshire) 16 CC wickets @ 32.81 / 13 ODC wickets @ 15.23

Carter didn’t rack up phenomenal stats but the potential is there and it was good to see him get more experience under his belt. England should ‘Get Carter’! Sorry, I’ve used that one before but couldn’t resist!

Tom Bailey (Lancashire) 64 CC wickets @ 19.66

Bailey’s consistent wicket-taking means that he’s another odd one to be so obviously neglected. He poses a constant threat for batsman and averaged sub 20 with the ball in County Championship Division One.

Ben Coad (Yorkshire) 48 CC wickets @ 16.33

Like his Lancashire rival and in this squad, opening bowling partner, Coad is another strange one to miss out. Despite his excellent Division One performances he’s rarely mentioned in England dispatches. There’s possibly a reluctance on the part of the selectors to pick another Yorkshireman.

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The following players could also make the squad with some selections geared towards limited overs cricket in particular.

Ian Cockbain (Gloucestershire) 208 ODC runs @ 69.33

Laurie Evans (Sussex) 243 CC runs @ 60.75 / 614 T20B runs @ 68.22

Ben Cox (Worcestershire) Wicketkeeper 396 ODC runs @ 79.20 (18ct)

Sam Cook (Essex) 27 CC wickets @ 25.33

Ben Sanderson (Northamptonshire) 60 CC wickets @ 16.70

Amir Virdi (Surrey) 39 CC wickets @ 30.36

Even beyond this squad there are yet more England qualified players to have been neglected. Maybe Ed Smith and crew will pull another surprise on us soon!

Six to Watch: 2018 – Season Review

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A little premature with the season not quite concluded but here’s 2018’s Six to Watch Review. This year two players from my selection have been promoted to the full England side. One has already debuted and one likely will in Sri Lanka. For the others, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag but should get better.

Tom Fell  (Worcestershire)

Another difficult year for cancer survivor Fell. There were glimpses of his determination and ability but little consistency. Fell has registered only four fifties in 22 innings this term but two of them, including a season best 89, came in the same match against champions Surrey. He’s currently averaging a disappointing 27.82 in the County Championship. Despite an impressive career record in List A cricket, white-ball opportunities have been harder to come by. Fell has only ever played three T20s.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

So good have been Pope’s numbers (He’s averaging 70.50 in CC2018) that he was fast tracked into the England team. Unlike some sceptics, I think that Ed Smith has got a lot of qualities but his decision to parachute Pope in at number four in England’s Test side was misguided. Pope had never batted higher than six for Surrey! The Chelsea born bat has a good head on his shoulders however and will be better for the experience. This year he’s a Championship winner and breeding that winning mentality can only be good for his development. He’s likely to commence the Sri Lanka tour on the bench but the opportunity to tour will serve him well.

Hamidullah Qadri (Derbyshire)

A frustrating year with limited opportunity and limited success for Afghan born Qadri. Last year the then sixteen-year-old announced his arrival with an outstandingly effective performance against Glamorgan to help Derbyshire win for the first time in… years!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/scorecard/1068618/glamorgan-vs-derbyshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2017

This year’s appearances have been fleeting but four more County Championship appearances is more than most for a man his age. He’s claimed eight wickets at 39.88 in CC2018.

Delray Rawlins (Sussex)

Precocious talent Rawlins’ opportunities have been limited to limited overs cricket but his batting caught the eye of many in this year’s T20 Blast. Rawlins made it to the final with Sussex and made starts in both matches on Finals-Day. The Bermuda born bat ended the campaign with 203 runs at 25.38. His strike-rate was 146.04. Little was seen of his bowling however or the red ball this term. Rawlins could be a potentially good draft for a Big Bash or PSL franchise this winter.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

The move from Yorkshire to Warwickshire seems to have worked well for Rhodes. Yorkshire didn’t seem to know what to do with him and have had Harry Brook (Better suited to the middle order) opening while losing Alex Lees to Durham. Keeping and making the most of Rhodes may have been a good move by Yorkshire but Rhodes is yet another talent they failed to fully develop. Warwickshire are grateful to have been the beneficiaries of Yorkshire’s slacking. The Midlands outfit have persevered with Rhodes and former Surrey man Dominic Sibley as an opening pair, even when the runs haven’t flowed. Sibley can be feast or famine but Rhodes’ consistency has meant that he’s been one of the county circuit’s more successful openers this year. The left-hander has compiled three tons plus four fifties, a top score of 137 and is averaging a healthy 41.05. He’s also a viable bowling option.

Olly Stone (Warwickshire)

Rhodes’ Warwickshire ally Stone commenced the County Championship campaign with figures of 8-80 against Sussex, cue lots of calls for him to make the England side. Of course he promptly got injured again! Like his main rival for the speedster’s role, Somerset’s Jamie Overton, Stone has recently taken wickets in T20 and First Class cricket, crucially… he’s been on the pitch at all! The former Northamptonshire man has claimed 37 wickets in just six matches at a mightily impressive average of 12.27. With Liam Plunkett and his wedding arrangements undone by a flip of England’s tour schedule, Stone will go to Sri Lanka with both the ODI and Test side if not the T20I side. He should debut sometime on the tour and will have an eye on the West Indies trip too.