90s XI v Now XI, day 1: Slow pitch mars opening day

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We’re playing a Sim Series between a 1990s World Test XI and a Current World Test XI using Cricket Captain’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode.

Let’s start with teams and stats. Partly because we imagine you want to pore over the averages, but mainly because there’s a 12th man joke we want to do.

First up, the 90s XI.

We thought long and hard about who should be captain and decided that Andy Flower should be because he always seemed to thrive on responsibility.

Then when we were shuffling everyone about, we realised that Graham Gooch was way older than everyone else and it just seemed more fitting that he’d be captain.

They’re up against the Now XI.

Captaincy decisions here too. Loads of things to weigh up, but in the end we just figured that Jason Holder was the best captain.

The toss

The match is being played at the Now XI’s home ground, whatever the hell that means in practice. Probably just that no-one’s allowed in to watch.

The 90s XI wins the toss.

There’s a slow outfield and looks like there’ll be a bit of cloud around later in the day, but Gooch is a by-the-book type and opts to bat.

Anil Kumble to win it on day five – that’s our prediction.

Morning session

Gooch walks out with Saeed Anwar and takes the first ball from Mitchell Starc.

A couple of singles and then it’s Pat Cummins from the other end.

Gooch and Anwar open the batting like it’s the 1990s and make 10 runs in the first 10 overs.

Holder brings himself on for the 13th over. Brace yourselves for some seam movement, 1990s cricketers.

Virat Kohli somewhat surprisingly bowls the 14th over. Brace yourselves for some dibbly-dobbly medium-pace, 1990s cricketers. (Maybe the Now XI could have done with an all-rounder after all.)

In the 17th over of the day, Anwar hits the 90s XI’s first four. It is a bold on-drive across the line that dribbles down to fine leg off the inside edge.

Nathan Lyon comes on and Anwar carts him for four rather more convincingly.

Steve Smith filth! Maybe it WAS a good decision to deny them an all-rounder.

Gooch cuts him for four.

Lunch. A steady, scene-setting sort of opening.

Afternoon session

It’s similar stuff immediately after the break. It’s dull enough that the commentators are already throwing forward to what might happen later in the match. They show the scorecard and Nick Knight says “plenty of batting to come”.

Starc beats Gooch. It’s quite possibly the first play and miss of the day.

There’s not much in the pitch for the bowlers and rather too much in the outfield for the batsmen.

Lyon gets Anwar caught behind.


The Wall sweeps Lyon for four first ball, which is no less than the bowler deserves for being who he is.

The Wall straight drives Starc for four next over. You wouldn’t have had money on The Wall being the one to up the run-rate.

Gooch thinks it looks like fun and tonks Lyon to the boundary, which is no less than the bowler deserves for being who he is.

Gooch then plays a back foot defensive shot against the same bowler and inside-edges it almost for six. Physics be damned.

After further boundaries off Lyon and Holder, Gooch passes fifty. We might finally be up and running in this match.

Cummins cuts him in half and appeals for caught behind. Not given.

Gooch cuts him for four.

Lyon bowls Gooch for 65 and now it’s Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar takes a single and ah crap. Lyon appeals for LBW against The Wall and it’s given. Two wickets in the over. To Nathan Lyon.

Hawkeye reckons it hit The Wall in line.

Hawkeye must have had a few 9% Belgian tripels or something. (Although before you cry ‘gross miscarriage of justice’, it’s worth pointing out that if anything it’s The Wall’s ghost that’s wrong there and actually it did look like quite a good shout ‘live’.)

Brian Lara walks in.

Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar are batting together.

Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar are batting together against… Nathan Lyon.


Who had Nathan Lyon down to be player of the match? Anyone? Anyone?

Thought not.

Evening session

Lyon beats Lara in the first over after the break. (This is bullshit.)

And again. But then Lara punches him back down the ground for four, which is no less than the bowler deserves for being who he is.

Nathan Lyon bowls Brian Lara for 14. Cricket is a ridiculous and painful sport

Jacques Kallis walks in.

Kallis and Tendulkar bat like Nathan Lyon is just Nathan Lyon for a bit and then the Now XI take the new ball.

Nothing remarkable happens.


It could theoretically have been worse for the 90s XI. But surely only theoretically.

Join us tomorrow for day two.

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  1. Maybe you should have had Ravi Ashwin after all.
    After the match do you think you could publish a match report (the ones that don’t mention cricket) about watching this match?

  2. Very disappointing decision from The Now XI selectors not to call upon The Great Neil Wagner.

  3. Unless I’m mistaken it appears you’ve updated to Cricket Captain 2020, having declared only last series that the 2018 edition was the version you wanted at this point in time and had faith in to get the right results.

    This is very much adding to the 1990s feel.

    1. The developers told us that you could do World XIs with the latest version. We actually didn’t bother to check whether you previously could anyway.

  4. Several comments:

    Why is the crowd separated into “people wearing green” and “people wearing red”? Is this some new form of crowd management in the COVID era? Infected people in Stand A, clean people in Stand B?

    This 90s World XI is playing exactly like a 90s England XI. 50 for 0 at lunch, steady if uninspiring, a good platform to build on in the afterno… oh, three down at tea.

    Based on that Hawkeye picture, there is no way Dravid should have been given lbw. He should have been given bowled, because at the point of impact he failed to have his pads anywhere near stopping the ball from hitting the stumps directly.

    Your computing machine is clearly broken. Does it not know who Rahul Dravid is? Does it not remember Tendulkar and Lara? Cricket has its variations, its ups and downs, but in no scenario do these three not add a minimum of 150 runs.

  5. Not looking great for the 90s XI so far.

    Just as well the same person picked both teams and clearly has no preference for, emotional investment in, one team or the other.

  6. Hold on.

    We consented to the omission of our hero, Ben Stokes, on the basis that he was being omitted from “A” Now XI, not “The” Now XI.

    But several times in your write up you describe “the Now XI”…

    …on one occasion using the grammatically monstrous phrase, “then the Now XI…”

    We, your subjects, simply cannot tolerate this style of disingenuous leadership from you, KC, promising one thing and then delivering something quite different. Who the hell do you think you are, the Government or summat?

    1. It’s clearly *a* Now XI, but when the only teams to which we could be referring are a Now XI or a 90s XI then it seems okay to deploy a ‘the’ because within the context of the match, there’s no other option.

  7. I feel like the (non)dismissal of The Wall is umpire’s call and on principle you should overturn the umpires decision as it is the The Wall.

    1. I would go as far to say that the game should be started again.
      With Ashwin, Jadeja or Root as the spinner.

  8. I had a dream last night that England were all out in an Ashes match for 6. Australia were then all out for 2. An excellent second innings meant that England set the Aussies 12 to win, which they did without losing a wicket (and with a six to finish).

    The important things from this (in my dream) were that everyone with Day 2 tickets would get a refund, and that Australia now have the lowest test score in history. I’m sure everyone would agree that these are by far the most important aspects of this.

  9. Making Gooch captain, while not a bad decision, is to be frowned upon as the data clearly suggests otherwise. If you look at the Captain-per-Match (CpM) stats in the table, you’ll see that Gooch scores 0.87, i.e., he is captaining only for 87% of the match. This is not bad, but nowhere close to Andy Flower’s 254% – this means Andy captains well after the day’s play continuing till the wee hours of the morning, whether or not his players want or need him around. Clearly that’s the man that should be leading. It is also rather obvious Waqar and Ambrose would make terrible captains, presumably because they are pissed off with the general ineptitude of the human race most of the time.

    I would posit that KC not trusting his intuition has led directly to this debacle.

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