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Roll up, roll up for our last ever Twitter round-up on Cricinfo

If there’s one thing we can say for our Twitter round-up column on Cricinfo, it’s that it clung on.

But no more. This week’s edition is the last.

Of all the cricket writing we’ve done, the Twitter round-up was the strangest. We can’t begin to explain the psychological impact of the trawling and sifting that was required to produce it. You’d also be surprised at just how long it took.

Then there was the readership. Normally when we do something that’s even relatively long-running, it builds a group of followers – people who check in each week. That never really seemed to happen. The majority of the few comments the column attracted were typically angry or quite obviously missing the point.

We honestly expected it to be binned ages ago, but it survived the death of Page 2 (Cricinfo’s satire section) and while we thought its days were numbered when it was made a fortnightly column, it turns out that happened all the way back in March 2013.

We honestly didn’t even know we’d been writing it that long.

The first issue actually appeared in April 2012 and it’s interesting to read it and contrast it with the latest.

We prefer the early format with subheadings, but it still suffers from the same problem we’ve always had in that the subject matter is fundamentally disjointed. In recent times, we’ve really tried to link the tweets together so that there’s some sort of thread running through them, but it’s tough-to-impossible. You’re totally at the mercy of what other people have said (and most of what’s said is either a retweet of an inspirational slogan, some none-too-subtle marketing, an unfunny in-joke with a friend, or a link to a photo on Instagram).

So unlike the much-loved Wisden Cricketer newsletter – which was reborn as Cricket Badger after it was cancelled due to something approaching popular demand – we’re not going to be reviving the Twitter round-up.

We will however pass on what we’ve learned, which is that Jimmy Neesham is pretty much the only cricketer worth following. Tino Best, Umar Akmal and Charles Dagnall have their very different moments. Also David Gower, when he can be bothered.

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County Championship Round Two – not even going to pretend to pass this off as a preview

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

We had at least one dissatisfied reader last week who seemed to be labouring under the misapprehension that we might have been looking to offer “insight”.

There’ll be none of that here.

Surrey v Lancashire

Surrey, just 22 points above the relegation zone, would do well to focus on gaining a few bonus points against unbeaten Lancashire.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul will be playing for Lancs and if Dane Vilas can somehow resist the temptation to call him through for a single that’s never there for the first week in succession, the Guyanan should secure victory for his side. Weirdly, Liam Livingstone will be captain.

Surrey should field Mark Footitt plus ten other blokes. If they even so much as look like winning, keep an eye out for those “it could be Surrey’s year” articles.

Yes, it could. Of course it could.

Hampshire v Middlesex

Middlesex have endured a diabolical start to the season and are currently propping up the table. Hampshire will also be playing.

Somerset v Essex

After cowarding out of a confrontation with Jimmy Anderson last week, Alastair Cook has recovered from his sore hip. Providing he doesn’t come down with the sniffles or an acute need for a bit of a lie-down, he will presumably open the batting.

Marcus Trescothick will open for Somerset. We’re keen to see whether he looks even more like a cuddly supply teacher this year, as this seems to be a look he’s moving towards (albeit a cuddly supply teacher who can crunch straight drives like no-one else).

Warwickshire v Yorkshire

Both teams lost last week and no-one else has, so this is officially Battle of the Losers.

Warwickshire currently boast one point from one match, which is the kind of form that second division Durham, who are currently on minus 48, can only aspire to.

Our analysis of Yorkshire’s first match of the season is that they made a bollocks of it.

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Laurence Elderbrook finds a new way to share his gift

Several seasons have passed and I fear that if I leave it much longer, my skills might begin to wane. I could spend another summer at my gentlemen’s club, laying wagers and sharing brandies with other Renaissance men, but there will be plenty of time for that later. Now, while I am in the prime of life, I owe it to the world to exhibit my skill at the noble sport of cricket.

But how? And where? Relationships soured at my old club, where I transcended my team-mates to such an extent that jealousy became inevitable. When the framed portrait of myself I had added to the wall of the bar was daubed with an unpleasant slogan, I took the sad decision to leave.

It strikes me that gratitude and appreciation fade with familiarity and this thought indirectly gives rise to an inspired notion. I will become a freelance batsman – a cricketer errant. I will wander the land and bat at three for any pitiful group in need of a calm, undemonstrative, yet domineering top order player with an extraordinary eye.

I look down at my handsome physique. Resplendent in my cream flannels, I look immaculate. But clothes hide a multitude of sins and I am aware that I am not quite in optimum condition. This will not do.

I immediately launch into my tried-and-tested regime. I essay twenty to thirty mad gambols followed by a series of naked frisks. Once complete, I am ready for action.

Next instalment from Laurence Elderbook

More Laurence Elderbrook

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Mop-up of the day – our 2017 IPL expertise laid bare

Cricinfo is running an IPL quiz called Wait, which team does he play for?

We can’t work out whether this is a joke about the inherently transient nature of many Twenty20 competitions or an acknowledgement that ever-changing squads are all part of the fun.

We scored two out of ten, a score that wasn’t helped by the crazy scrolling that meant we didn’t actually answer two of the questions. Even if we had, it’s clear that we’re not an authority when it comes to this year’s competition.

The only thing we know is that after the teams have played roughly two games each, Chris Lynn is top scorer.

And now he’s injured.

Our IPL tip

Gujarat Lions are definitely worth watching. Despite the presence of wily old Praveen Kumar, they’ve so far taken one wicket in two matches.

Later this week

With Championship matches now typically taking place from Friday to Monday, midweek is a bit quiet, county-cricket-wise. We’re therefore permitting Laurence Elderbrook a brief reappearance on this site, possibly starting tomorrow.

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Mark Footitt and some other stuff: a review of the first round of the County Championship

The first round of the County Championship is over. Here are some of the things that happened.

Hampshire beat Yorkshire

This match was one for true connoisseurs of momentum in cricket. Hampshire had all the momentum when Yorkshire fell to 152-7 in their first innings, but momentum being momentum, it wasn’t long before the home team had recovered to 273 all out.

From there, Ben Coad made Hampshire be losing at the cricketings, bowling them out for 141. The momentum was clearly now with Yorkshire. Or at least it was until Kyle Abbott did a Ben Coad and bowled them out for 187. Hampshire then sashayed to their target for the loss of just six wickets.

Marks Stoneman and Footitt v Jonathan Trott

Ex-Durham batsman Mark Stoneman made 165 for Surrey and then ex-Derbyshire bowler (and one to watch) Mark Footitt doused Warwickshire in petrol and lit them. After that, Jonathan Trott killed some time by making a hundred but Warwickshire still lost by an innings and a run.

The result means that a certain corner of the cricket press has leapt into “this could be Surrey’s year” mode. This happens a lot. The last time there was a groundswell of excitement, they got relegated. Technically, it could be their year though.

Lancashire may or may not have beaten Essex

We were going to wait until seeing the result before writing our review. That seemed to make sense. But then we suddenly decided we didn’t want to.

Dane Vilas ran Shiv out. That was the main thing that happened in this match. He partially made up for this by making a load of runs, but unforgiveable acts are unforgiveable, so we won’t be forgiving him.

Lancashire’s wicketkeeper Alex Davies made a second innings hundred opening the batting. This probably means that Jos Buttler will return to the side later in the year in a charity case sort of a role, batting at seven and not keeping wicket, purely so that Lancs don’t get told off by England for not picking him.

We can’t see Essex winning many games this year. They don’t seem to have enough bowlers.

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Who is Ben Coad, Yorkshire’s new strike bowler?

Earlier this week, Ben Coad was just some dude; some dude called Ben Coad; a young bowler whose Cricinfo profile page has him down as a ‘workhorse seamer’.

A couple of days into the county season and he’s Ben Coad, strike bowler.

He finished the first day with 5-18 off eight overs as Yorkshire’s wobbly start receded from memory in precisely the way things rapidly recede from memory in this day and age.

He continued, albeit slightly less spectacularly, on day two and finished with 6-37.

Coad is from the miniature city of Ripon and from what we’ve read seems disinclined to concede runs. The only other fact we’ve managed to glean is that his nickname is Coady – and quite frankly, we could have guessed that.

Suggested nicknames for Ben Coad:

  • Coad Breaker
  • Coad Red
  • Coadeine
  • Bar Coad
  • Coadependent Personality Disorder
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A preview of the first round of County Championship matches?

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Don’t expect us to ever do this again – and not just because the competition will, by definition, be moving onto the second round of matches next week.

Essex v Lancashire

This is the only one anyone really cares about, because everyone supports Lancashire. That’s what our empathy tells us. It tells us that if we were in your position, we’d support Lancashire. Why would we support someone else just because we were in your position? What would that change?

The big news is of course that The Great Neil Wagner will not be playing for Lancashire this season, which will be a tremendous loss. The situation is compounded this first week by the fact that he’s playing for Essex instead. All of Essex’s wicket-taking bowlers have retired due to acute old age, so they’ll need him.

Lancashire meanwhile might have Jimmy Anderson at their disposal. We can’t remember. We read which matches he was likely to be playing somewhere, but honestly, who can keep track of that stuff?

Prediction: Lancashire can’t lose because Shivnarine Chanderpaul is playing for them.

Yorkshire v Hampshire

Yorkshire may or may not have Australia’s Peter Handscomb playing for them. Honestly, who can keep track of these things?

South Africa’s B-team have some Hampshire players making up the numbers. They may or may not have George Bailey playing for them too. Honestly, who can keep track of these things.

Prediction: Either team could lose as neither has Shivnarine Chanderpaul playing for them.

Surrey v Warwickshire

It’s a surprising-but-true fact that Surrey remain a first division side. They have signed Durham’s top order to try and extend that unlikely record for another year.

The Warwickshire side increasingly comprises high-achieving available-for-all-matches county stalwarts like Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Jeetan Patel, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott. You’d think they’d win more than they actually do.

Prediction: Either team could lose as neither has Shivnarine Chanderpaul playing for them.

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There’s a King Cricket County Championship fantasy league after all

As with so many things, we sort of half-floated the idea with no real enthusiasm and then someone else went ahead and sorted it out.

Mike has set up The King Cricket CBA Cup within The Telegraph’s county fantasy league thing. CBA stands for ‘can’t be arsed’ to reflect the spectacular levels of enthusiasm underpinning the venture.

You’re all welcome – even those of you who are cricket journalists. We know as well as anyone that such an occupation will provide no advantage.

You can find the league by picking a team, paying EIGHT JEFFING QUID and then going to ‘my leagues’ whereupon you can search for ‘King Cricket CBA Cup’. The PIN to gain access is then 8124380.

If we were to set rules for this league, we’d say ‘no transfers’. You just pick your side and then fate has its say.

However, you’re paying EIGHT JEFFING QUID, so do what you want. We daresay no-one will have strong enough feelings to rigorously enforce the ‘no meddling’ law. In fact it remains to be seen just how many people can muster strong enough feelings to part with EIGHT JEFFING QUID in the first place.

The deadline for entry is 11am on Friday. Sorry if that’s relatively short notice. Sorry also that it’s The Telegraph. And sorry yet again that it costs EIGHT JEFFING QUID.

Of course there aren’t any prizes. Don’t even ask.

Update: You can also get three teams for FIFTEEN JEFFING QUID if you happen to be a billionaire.

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As the IPL and County Championship loom into view, which fantasy cricket game is best?

telegraph-fantasy-cricket

If there’s one thing we like about fantasy cricket leagues, it’s eking out our few remaining fantasy points/doubloons over half a dozen all-but-unknown cricketers to complete our XI after going a bit overboard with our first two selections and an unsuccessful attempt to rein things in a bit with the next three.

If there’s one thing we don’t like about fantasy cricket leagues, it’s paying close attention to how our team is getting on as the season progresses. We don’t want to feel any sort of obligation to do ‘transfers’ to maximise our point-scoring. We just want to pick a team and then passively monitor them, checking in on them about once a fortnight and perhaps bemoaning the fact that our entire bowling attack is either injured or performing so poorly that they are no longer playing first team cricket. This to us is the whole point – the helplessness and underperformance.

That’s what we’ve been on the lookout for today: a kind of hands-off fantasy game that will if not exactly reward inactivity, then at least not punish it. They don’t really do this. They seem to want to you to repeatedly log in and do stuff. It’s almost as if that is the very thing they’re striving for with these games.

So, in summary, the best fantasy cricket game is all of them, right up until the point you submit your side. Our tactical withdrawal game-playing strategy also brings with it the benefit that you don’t have to pay anyone any money or give them your email address or owt.

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County cricketers to watch 2017

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

We stopped doing this in 2014 because we always seemed to end up picking much the same bunch of players as the year before with perhaps one or two replacements. In short, it had become a bit boring and whenever we threw a leftfield selection into the mix to liven things up a bit, all we ever succeded in doing was making a mockery of the whole enterprise.

But after a couple of fallow years, we now feel like we can return afresh, so here’s a bunch of names to kick around.

Liam Livingstone, Lancashire

Has been pretty much monopolising the pre-season going-to-be-an-England-player-by-the-end-of-summer columns off the back of a strong Lions tour and the coaches’ knowing winks to journalists. Looks toss, but makes runs, which as you all know, is precisely what we look for in a batsman.

Nick Gubbins, Middlesex

Makes loads of runs.

Yorkshire’s opening batsmen, Yorkshire

The ALs – Adam Lyth and the alphabet-straddling AZ Lees – have taken different routes to nondescript competence. Lyth averaged 40.46 in the County Championship last year, Lees averaged 40.17. We can’t imagine either of them will play for England any time soon, but we’re interested to see them jockey for position. Surely someone has to nose ahead.

Tim Bresnan, Yorkshire

He made fewer runs, but a compelling case can be made for Tim Bresnan having been a more effective batsman than either of his top order colleagues last season.

Bres the Bat, who was last sighted before his England career even began, seemed to make a return in 2016 and if he only made the one hundred, we described his bonus point securing knock in the final match of the season as “a quite majestic innings of sturdy clomping.”

So yes, Tim Bresnan is one to watch in 2017 – on the basis of his batting. If he continues as he did last year and bowls as he can, we truly believe he could become a County Titan – whatever the hell that might mean.

Closer scrutiny means we may also be able to draw some sort of conclusion regarding whether or not he’s a bellend. We’re still erring on the side of ‘not’ – but let’s see.

Jack Leach, Somerset

We couldn’t for the life of us work out why we couldn’t find the article we wrote last year about how Leach isn’t some sort of saviour. Then we realised that it was because we’d for some reason decided he was called Joe. We’ve since reversed this decision as there’s already a cricketer called Joe Leach and things will only get confusing if we insist on calling Jack Leach by someone else’s name even though he’s got a perfectly serviceable one of his own.

Ollie Rayner, Middlesex

Rayner and Leach are both spinners who take sizeable hummocks of wickets at a decent average and may or may not be really good.

Mark Footitt, Surrey

England people don’t seem to think Mark Footitt is quite good enough for England, yet e bowls quickly using his wrong hand and his career average is 25.51.

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