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

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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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I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the ‘is Tim Bresnan a bit of a bellend?’ edition

A semi-regular feature in which we ask Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

Is Tim Bresnan a bit of a bellend?

Never particularly struck us as one. Why?

Saw him interviewed on the news wearing shades and a cap and he looked like a colossal bellend.

Was he in the UAE? To be honest, cricketers wear shades and a cap most of the time. He may even be contractually obliged to wear the cap when he’s not on the field. Dunno.

I don’t think it was an official cap but I may be wrong. It’s just, you’re on the news, it doesn’t look bright, you’re talking to a camera and a person and they’ve not placed you directly in front of the sun. Don’t be a bellend and take your sunglasses off.

I hate people who wear sunglasses unless absolutely necessary. In my life it has been necessary twice. Once in France with you when it was so bright my eyes hurt, once when I was driving into a setting sun. What’s wrong with squinting?

You can achieve a lot with squinting.

There’s a photo of Steps walking into a hotel yesterday where the press pack were waiting for someone more famous. All of ’em wearing shades. That sums up it up for me. Sportsmen and shit people wear sunglasses. (People with eye conditions are exempt.)

Tim Bresnan has a serious eye condition.

That must make life as an international cricketer tricky.

Bressy Lad wishes he were still an international cricketer.

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Cricket recipe: Ged Ladd’s “Home Of Cricket” Glazed Drunken Prawns

King Cricket was one of my guests the first time I cooked and served this dish. Although he praised the dish, KC also described the glaze as “less of a glaze, more of a gelatinous gloop”.

Well I can assure you, King Cricket, my original attempt at Throdkin was gloopy, whereas the sumptuous, high viscosity sauce for the drunken prawns is glazy.

If you want an artificially shiny glaze, then add cornflour, like a cheap Chinese restaurant.  But don’t listen to KC (or me) – try it yourselves.

Ingredients

  • 8oz raw Nicaraguan jumbo prawns (other varieties of large prawn would do, but surely part of the purpose is to enable remorseless prattle at the cricket about your recent holiday in Nicaragua)
  • One clove of garlic, crushed
  • One large spring onion, finely chopped
  • A little bit of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • A splodge of sesame oil
  • A splash of good, honest, light soy sauce
  • A dash of decent white wine (cheeky Riesling ideal, but not essential)
  • A smidgeon of five spice (fresh ground if possible, otherwise any good brand of powder)
  • A teaspoonful or two of the finest Manuka honey (ok, ok, in truth any honey will do)
  • An ounce or two of sesame seeds
  • Four large rolls or bagels, but ideally Paul Rhodes breakfast muffins
  • A squeeze of fresh lime (optional)

Method

Heat the sesame oil, then add the garlic, spring onion and ginger. Once the oil is seasoned with those ingredients (don’t cook them), add the prawns and cook the prawns thoroughly.

Once the prawns are well on their way, add the five spice, soy sauce and white wine. Reduce.

Towards the end of cooking, glaze with the honey and toss in some sesame seeds for good measure.

Chill. (That’s an instruction to you, as you might be getting a bit stressy at this juncture. Don’t. It’s an easy dish; it pretty much cannot go awry. Anyway, if something has gone wrong, it’s too late now.)

Allow the dish to get cold. You can refrigerate it overnight and it should be good for a couple of days at least if you want to prepare it well in advance.

Makes reasonably generous portions for filling the four large rolls, bagels or muffins. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime to balance the sweet with sour (optional – but that’s what I do).

Not convinced ‘cricket recipes’ will turn out to be a thing, but pretty much every match report we’ve ever received has devoted a great deal of attention to what was consumed, so maybe it will. Email us at king@kingcricket.co.uk if you’d like to contribute something. Maybe send a photo too. Everyone likes photos of food.

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Free-to-air cricket debate is short-sighted in the internet age

There’s been a few headlines about the possibility of some free-to-air cricket off the back of the ECB’s proposed new T20 league. People get excited about this sort of thing, but the whole point of free-to-air is that it opens up a larger market, yet this is a form of media which is of rapidly diminishing importance.

How many people will be watching conventional forms of TV by 2020, which is when the tournament is due to take place? Whatever free-to-air channel wins these rights may also broadcast via some sort of internet player, but it seems to odd to us that this is secondary and not the focus itself.

We saw one report on the tournament last night – which has since been edited – which floated the possibility of an online stream to which cricket fans could directly subscribe. We were briefly excited about the prospect, but then the end of the sentence revealed that this would only be available to overseas viewers.

Why?

Last month we wrote about how more and more people are streaming live cricket via Kodi or other online applications. It’s a mistake to think this is happening purely for reasons of cost. In many cases it’s because it’s more convenient, or because it’s literally the only way of accessing the matches you want to see.

The software is arguably not yet sufficiently mainstream to warrant serious consideration, but what will the situation be three years hence? The concept of a sport-specific subscription at reduced cost to the consumer – because they wouldn’t also be paying for darts, biathlon, motor racing or the broadcaster’s hardware – makes sense to us.

A broader cricket app could even serve as a hub from which individual matches could be ordered. That might typically be for a fee, but it could also be free of charge if the broadcaster in question could find a way of funding the broadcast through advertising or reduced outlay on rights.

The ECB seems keen to make at least some of their domestic T20 matches easily and freely accessible. Perhaps in 2020 the place where people will go looking for such a thing is in the ‘free sport’ category within their online TV application.

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Virat Kohli is basically livid about beating Australia

Virat Kohli must be the dictionary definition of hard-to-please, for no-one on earth is an enraged by their own success as he is.

When Kohli makes a hundred, he’s angry. When his team wins a series over Australia – even though he’s not actually playing – he’s positively enraged.

We’ve done detailed analysis of a grainy video posted to Twitter to prove that second point.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Kohli’s initial reaction to series victory is something that could, at a push, be construed as pleasure.

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It isn’t long however before that emotion starts to make way for something else.

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The eyebrows are starting to harden. The jaw is tighter. The fists are starting to clench.

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By this point it’s unmistakeable. Virat Kohli is decidedly pissed off about winning a Test series against Australia.

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This is where he ends up.

Livid.

Absolutely sick to the back teeth, the front teeth and tonsils of experiencing sporting success against his rivals.

Someone is going to pay for this positive outcome.

Big time.

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The India v Australia sitcom

This series has finally bucked its ideas up. We’re not sure at precisely what moment things turned – possibly when Steve Smith played on – but at some point somebody pressed the lever on the View-Master, the slide wheel clicked round and the picture changed.

The new view was a normal one, where Australia collapse and India (probably) win. It’s taken a while. Seems like we’ve been waiting for this to happen for pretty much the entire series. There’ve been glimpses before now, but then the wheel’s clicked round again and we’ve been back in some other dimension where Australia are actually worth playing in a country other than Australia.

It’s a bit like a sitcom where no matter what zany escapades take place during the episode, you can rely on everything being pretty much back to normal by the time the credits roll.

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Tom Latham can see the future (+ video)

Tom Latham, Timelord

That is the only half-decent explanation for this catch.

Far and away our favourite part of this footage is seeing Bruce Oxenford visibly embarking upon a gasp towards the end.

Even as the ball was en route to bat, Latham was off and running. We don’t know how many times he stopped time and rewound it before he got this right.

We’d guess one million times.

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Steve Smith woefully out of form in the nets

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

That’s what we’ve heard. We’ve heard that Steve Smith can’t find the middle of the bat when he’s batting in the nets.

Smith may or may not have commented: “I’ve been hitting it really well out in the middle, so I don’t think I’m out of form. If I can just keep on performing well, sooner or later it’s all going to come together and I’ll get some decent results in my preparation as well.

“The coaches say they can’t see too much right with my technique, so it’s the same as it’s always been. I think if I can just stay patient then a good solid net session is right around the corner.”

Conversely, when it comes to Tests, Steve Smith is most definitely not due.

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David Warner is totally bossing net cricket

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

David Warner says: “I couldn’t be hitting the ball any better but it’s just that the runs aren’t coming for me at the moment.”

In this week’s Cricket Badger, we point out that this runs counter to Temba Bavuma’s matter-of-fact observation that, “you can’t be playing well and not scoring runs.”

Warner is, presumably, crisply striking the ball straight to slip. In the next couple of days, he’ll get the opportunity to prove his ability to hit it elsewhere.

If there’s one kind of form we love above all others, it’s net form. A batsman’s professional life is bound up with events that are out of his control to a far greater extent than he’d ever care to accept. This leads to a necessary level of self-delusion that is far higher than a rational person would maintain and at no time is this delusion more apparent than when net form is cited.

The next development for Warner will either be:

  1. Scoring some runs – ‘proof’ that he was always in form
  2. Another failure, which he’ll chalk up as the latest in a lengthening list of aberrations

If you’re a batsman, run-scoring is the norm – because if it isn’t, what the hell are you doing with your life?

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