Friday, 3 October 2014

Column 31, 2014 – Fantasy XIs: TMS vs Sky

Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 103, Friday October 3, 2014.
[Full text below]

As this is the last Cricket Paper of the year, I thought a bit of end of term fun would be in order. You know, like when they used to let you bring games in on the last day.

A popular game among cricketers and cricket fans, is fantasy elevens. There are many variations. You can have All Time XIs (Ashes are a favourite, of course), Now vs Then (21st vs 20th century), or for the seriously advanced, Alphabetical XIs. You get the idea. Current and all time World XIs are a good place to start.

You can do it with club cricket too. What if all our local villages were merged into a superclub, with A, B, C & D teams. What would that look like? Which one would I get into?! Or make an XI out of your league, taking the one really good player most teams have and making a side out of them. What a team that’d be. What league would THEY play in?

Anyway. Way back when sitting around in the pub garden talking cricket drivel was what I did every Saturday evening, (ie a few weeks ago, before the end of the season,) we fell to discussing, not for the last time I’m sure, the relative merits of BBC TMS, and Sky TV. I think it’s fair to say that we have rarely been better served in terms of technical and first hand knowledge in our comm boxes. Certainly the character and rich texture of non-ex-international contributors is sorely lacking (the likes of Arlott, Jonners and CMJ are simply yet to be replaced; it is currently a fort held solely by Blowers) but in terms of know-how, there’s no shortage.

So Fantasy XIs, who would win? That would be two pretty decent sides, wouldn’t it?

Lets start with the top order. TMS has Boycott, Vaughan (c) and Ed Smith. Not to be sniffed at. Sky has an embarrassment of riches: Hussain, Atherton, Gower, Nick Knight, and recently Strauss, as well. Who are they going to drop?!

They also have Bumble and Ian Ward down the order, and of course Beefy, who’s opening the bowling with either Holding or Willis, with Paul Allott second change, and not a bad spin option in the shape of a certain Shane Warne (c).

The TMS spin department is not too shabby either, with Swanny, Tuffers and Vic Marks all vying for a spot. The pace attack is less contested. Harmison’s in as a frequent contributor. Simon Hughes is there, but Gus Fraser is too busy selecting to help Aggers out with the new ball, so Isa Guha steps in with some solid medium pace.

What TMS have in that middle order though, is the guv’nor. Alec Stewart (wk). Ah! There it is, the ace up the sleeve, Sky are doomed – they haven’t got a keeper! Who’s gonna keep to Holding having never done it before?!

See you next term.

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