Sim Series, Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, day 1: Cook to the fore on turgid day

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With the Sri Lanka v England Test series postponed because of Coronavirus, we’re playing out two Test matches between Sri Lanka and England on Cricket Captain 2018’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode… Welcome to Sim Series.

If you missed Tuesday’s preview, this is what we’re doing this week.

Might as well start with the team news.

The England team

With spin expected to dominate, England have gone big on spinners. Jim Laker gets the nod over Graeme Swann as a right-arm option because of that 19-wicket thing; the hugely-underrated Derek Underwood is there to bowl his sharp left-arm mentalness; and of course Wilfred Rhodes plays as well because so far Wilfred Rhodes has been the King of Cricket Captain 2018 All-Time Greats Mode.

With so many spinners, the tourists wanted to play their best keeper, so Alan Knott’s in, while Syd Barnes gets the nod over Jimmy Anderson because his hybrid seam/spin approach seems like the kind of thing that would work in Sri Lanka.

Alastair Cook’s in through weight of runs; Kevin Pietersen’s in because he’s magic; and Beefy’s there because he’s Beefy and you have to pick Beefy. (If only to keep him off commentary.)

The Sri Lanka team

Sri Lanka have pretty much just picked their all-time top run-scorers and top wicket-takers.

You will however notice that they have a spare S Jayasuriya. This is what is known as a “fuck-up” on our part – we neglected to remove Shehan Jayasuriya from the auto-selected squad because we didn’t immediately realise he wasn’t Sanath.

The only real decision here is asking Dinesh Chandimal to keep wicket to free up Kumar Sangakkara to do ultimate run-scoring.

The toss

Tails never fails.

Bright sunshine, pitch at its best: England say they’ll have a bat.

Morning session

It immediately occurs to us that where Sri Lanka have a spectacularly dynamic opening partnership (Jayasuriya and Dilshan), England’s (Rhodes and Cook) is about as slow and lumpen as it’s possible to get. We almost want them to lose a wicket early on.

After five overs, England are 1-0 with Cook on 1 and Rhodes on 0.

After seven overs, they are still 1-0 before a breath-taking surge in excitement in the eighth over, in the form of two singles.

“Christ, this is dull,” laments Jonathan Agnew on commentary. Or maybe we imagined that.

In the 14th over, Wilfred Rhodes hits a four. An over later, Cook hits one too. Not a cut or a pull either – a nice drive through the covers.

They’re looking comfortable, but Muttiah Muralitharan’s getting warm and he’s starting to create chances.

At lunch, the score is 45-0 and the crowd are considering returning to their homes and self-isolating to protect themselves from this tedium.

Afternoon session

With both batsmen settled, things pick up a bit. A whopping 55 runs flow in the next 24 overs.

At this point Rhodes inexplicably misses a Herath straight one by about two feet and is given out LBW. Quite the misjudgement. Not sure we should be saying this really, but the ICC’s anti-corruption unit might be taking a look at that one.

Incoming batsman Herbert Sutcliffe’s style is described as “very defensive” and he duly plays the anchor role while Cook millimetres his way to a deserved and awful half century off 175 balls.

We might as well show you the bowling figures as well.

No-one knows why Mahela brought himself on first change.

Evening session

Sri Lanka take the new ball after 82 overs with England 160-1.

They say the new ball goes quicker off the bat, but Sutcliffe and Cook neatly sidestep this by largely refusing to use theirs.


England end the day 179-1.

We believe it’s mandatory to term this “a day for the purists.”

Join us tomorrow for day two. We state with confidence that it’ll get better, because it can hardly get worse.

We’ve got a Patreon page if you for some reason feel like you want to fund this absolute horse shit. It should go without saying that you absolutely should not do this if you’re unable to work at the moment and can’t pay your rent or mortgage. Or if you can think of something better to do with your money, for that matter, which you almost certainly can. We suppose what we’re really saying here is don’t fund us via Patreon.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Good day of cricket. I imagine that the crowd got up to all sorts of shenanigans to keep themselves (and TV viewers) entertained.

    Interesting that the quicks got the overs that they did. Also interesting that Jayasuriya didn’t get a bowl. I suppose if we’re only 3 wickets down deep into the second session tomorrow, he might get a go.

  2. “Not sure we should be saying this really, but the ICC’s anti-corruption unit might be taking a look at that one.”

    This and bribable umpires would add a whole new dimension to cricket management simulation games.

    Also your players quitting to join rebel leagues/tours.

  3. You should sell this concept to William Hill and get them to run a book on it. Desperate times for them – had an email yesterday encouraging betting on Cheltenham 2021.

    I’ll have a tenner on the draw btw.

  4. I’ve noticed a tendency in Cricket Captain, which carpists might call an error, for non-bowlers to get a few looseners in before a proper bowler comes on and then leaves after a few unspectacular trundles.

    I quite like it.

  5. If this pitch is to become a raging bunsen with sharp turn as the match progresses, England are setting themselves up very nicely indeed.

    If KP, Stokesy and/or Both (did you see what I did there?) get going tomorrow, the scoring rate could increase as exponentially as Covid-19 in a city where social distancing isn’t happening.

    I just can’t wait until tomorrow. Well, actually, I can wait. I shall have to wait whether I want to or not. It’s that sort of era now.

  6. This is making me want to (metaphorically) dust off my own copy of ICC, but I am (un)fortunate enough to still be working full-time, albeit from home – I actually have slightly less free time than I would normally, as setting everything up takes marginally longer than walking to the office, and it’s harder to break off from calls/etc at the end of the working day when everyone knows you’re not going anywhere.

    Maybe I’ll get back into ICC and/or Civ III at the weekend, although if I do that there’s a danger that I might suddenly realise it’s Monday lunchtime and I’m late for work….

      1. I had that one, and the ‘Ashes 2005’ version. I have a version on Steam but not sure which one without checking. I reckon the 1999 version would probably still work but might go a bit ‘funny’ (possibly messing with the aspect ratio on your monitor or running the animations at a strange speed).

        There is – I believe, haven’t checked recently – a free demo of the latest version available on Steam for any who wish to try it out for themselves. I think there may even be a referral link somewhere on this website.

  7. What settings are you operating on? Are you watching every ball? Every run? Every boundary and wicket?

    1. We’re not playing on ‘easy’. Should probably state that.

      Everything else must remain unknown. (It varies.)

      1. Judging by the match so far, every ball would be masochism beyond the call of duty, even in the current circumstances

  8. Are you “playing” as England? Or do you just press a button and let things run their course like the keyboard player in the pet shop boys?

    1. We were waiting for this question. We’re “playing” as England. (And then writing it up as if we’re not.)

      1. Does that make you the eponymous Cricket Captain? Who is the captain? Is it Hammond? If so I hope you espouse the method acting school.

  9. This is great and just what the doctor ordered right now (besides social distancing).
    Already this is my second favourite form of cricket.
    Particularly good that you included the scorecards.
    On the subject of scorecards, and to indulge for a moment in Ged-like reminisence, many years ago – OK, it was 1992 to be exact – I attended a programming course where, in my spare time, I wrote a programme (in C) which basically just produced cricket scorecards, ball-by-ball, over-by-over. Using various random and fixed factors to drive boundaries, runs, wickets, etc., the programme was able to produce fairly realistic Test and ODI scorecards (with occasional laughable exceptions). It was quite exciting to see the match develop and unfold over the two or three minutes it took to run through the innings onscreen.
    As a bonus, the scorecards had a Ceefax look-and-feel to them.
    In short, I thought my fortune was made.
    I showed it my classmates.
    They thought I was mad.
    I probably was – remember, all the user saw was scorecards being updated in quicktime. They just didn’t get that the scorecards told the story of the match.
    Were there cricket-simulation games back in 1992?
    Could I have been a first-mover?
    Ah, Halcyon days.

    1. We think we speak for everyone when we say we’d love to see this. Suppose the code is sadly lost.

    2. Fascinating, Chuck.

      Back in the day, I was a huge fan of Tim Astley’s Ultra Cricket simulation, which really was the cat’s pyjamas.

      I’m not sure if it preceded your 1992 effort but I’ll guess it did. The following write up, from January 1995, is clearly not written by someone who has just discovered the game – he must have played several seasons. I think there were two seasons per year, IIRC.

      It was a super game for its era, it really was.

      1. Oh wow – great e-detective work there, Bail-out. I didn’t even think to look at the Wayback machine, but I do have my old orders and correspondence in my personal archive.

        At some point, I’ll write up the Ultra-cricket experience for Ogblog and/or for KC – one way or another folk around here will find out about it. It’s not absolutely top of my list, unless I get a groundswell of requests for it.

    3. The thing about the “occasional laughable exceptions” is that you have to have a certain number of bizarre scorecards in order to accurately reproduce cricket’s occasional ridiculousness – not too many, but not too few either. The problem is you have no idea which crazy scorecards are scarily prescient, and which are just garbled nonsense. I did find the following article more amusing than the dodgy-looking name of the website suggests. What it’s missing are the True Underdog Stories which can also taint scorecards with a strong hint of unrealism unless they also turn out to be correct…

  10. Serious question KC – are you ‘doing OK’ in the current environment, given your income partly relying on there being cricket?

    If there’s a way to do a one-off boost via Patreon, I’d be willing to chip in a little extra (maybe for a month or two) as I expect I will continue to be employed, unlike many others. You have to promise not to spend it all on Andrex though.

    1. Serious answer: The cricket part of our income is… well, it’s currently non-existent other than this site. The (fortunately larger) cycling part is so far still the same – although ad revenue could easily take a hit even as traffic goes up. That said, indoor cycling is booming, so who knows? Freelance writing is not the best industry to be in right now, but it’s not the worst. (At least we can work from home, what with doing that anyway.)

      If you or anyone else finds themselves in the overlap of the ‘comfortable’ and ‘generous’ Venn diagram and feels like they want to support the site a bit more for the next few months (and let’s be honest, this is not a site where we’re likely to run short of things to write about in the absence of sport) then it’s easy and fine to edit your monthly Patreon pledge amount and then drop it back down again at a later date.

      EQUALLY… NO, WAIT, NOT EQUALLY – MORE IMPORTANTLY… if you’re in a similar position to us and can’t currently work, do please edit your monthly Patreon pledge down. You can always shunt it up again if we get the world back again at some point in the summer.

    2. Oh and regarding Andrex-spending – we’re absolutely prepared to go ‘jug of water and left hand’ to economise.

      1. European friends with bidets are greatly enjoying the anglophone world’s panic over (imaginary) toilet roll shortages

        On the Patreon thing – I am upgrading to ‘honorific’ – I’m going to be a ‘knight’ for a couple of months, before presumably getting caught up in some sort of scandal and having my title removed. The precedents for those types of scandals are generally all horrific things though, so I’ll have to do something horrendous like say Matthew Hayden is a thought leader or something like that.

        I reckon this will offset at least one person downgrading or stopping whilst still covering the cost of an extra Pot Noodle or two for the End Times.

      2. It is hugely appreciated. As you may or may not already know (depending on whether the Patreon messaging thing is reliable) we consider you a gent as well as a knight.

  11. What’s the ground, an SSC featherbed or a Galle raging turner? Or is the ground not a thing in Cricket Captain 2018?

      1. Yeah, it doesn’t seem to say.

        Guess it’s just played at the generic ‘Sri Lanka’ ground.

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