The small number of people who know my name on the interwebs will know me from my blogging exploits on old versions of Championship Manager – that’s football to the uninitiated. So I thought, why not bring that to the world of cricket?
Thankfully the Championship Manager equivalent, International Cricket Captain, sits upon my shelf waiting for a moment like this. I did spend £2.49 to buy the first ever one from eBay, but an error message regarding small fonts cost me two nights of my life trying to get it to work before I finally shelved that idea and settled on the second version, cleverly titled International Cricket Captain 2. It covers the 1999 season and beyond, which is absolutely perfect.
Why is it perfect? Well, we are relatively spoiled by the England Cricket team in today’s game, maybe not in Test format but in 1999, things got so bad the Oval crowd gave a rendition of “we’ve got the worst team in the world” to poor old Nasser Hussain. Before all that though, Cricket came home! By that, I mean England hosted the 1999 Cricket World Cup. What could go wrong?
They went out in the Group Stage. To Zimbabwe. That was the end of David “Bumble” Lloyd’s time in charge and in came Duncan Fletcher. But enough of the history lesson. It’s time to re-write history.
ICC2 begins in April 1999, which means it is just one month until the World Cup. I’ve got 3 warm-ups against County opposition, which sounds like the ideal opportunity to humiliate ourselves, before the World Cup itself starts. Oh, and I have to name a squad, with little chance to assess anything.
I opt for a largely safe squad though there’s room for the odd maverick. Little known Matthew Bulbeck is called in despite a lack of International experience, but I seem to remember him being good. He competes with Mark Ealham and Vince Wells for the all-rounder positions, whilst Andrew “don’t call me Freddie” Flintoff is deemed a batsman only, though he has 5 ODI wickets to his name from 4 matches at this stage, so we’ll see. Alec Stewart and Nick Knight are the only two openers I have selected, with Hick, Ramprakash, Thorpe and Nasser Hussain in the mix for middle order positions. Dominic Cork, Darren Gough, Alan Mullally and Angus Fraser are the pace options, with Phil Tufnell the spinner. The only spinner. I am my own worst enemy sometimes.
Several players are badly out of form – another plus from the selection process – so this is the side I’ve cobbled together. There are places up for grabs, lads.
We win the toss too, remarkably.
I am terrible at this game, as a disclaimer. We’ll have a bat.
Stewart and Knight go off like two trains, though one train is right-handed and the other a lefty so it causes more problems than Kent can cope with. Poor old Martin McCague takes a hammering. We get to 65 before Knight tickles Ben Phillips behind and that brings in Hicky. He is on the maximum 5 stars of form having smashed Durham about for Worcestershire. Dean Headley, possibly aggrieved at not being in the squad, bowls Stewart next over and we’re 65-2 with two new batsmen in. Hick and Thorpe rebuild but the run rate is less than 4 an over, so as we up the ante Thorpe is bowled by Matthew Fleming for 38 – the partnership breaking on 99. Ramprakash arrives and plays a couple of nice shots before running Hick out for 64. Jesus. Ben Phillips returns to bowl Ramps and captain Nasser, claiming ridiculous figures of 3-15 from his 10 overs. We crawl to 207. Going to be a long summer, boys.
I tell Mullally and Gough that if Ben Phillips can bowl like that, YOU can bowl like that. They open with current England selector Ed Smith, who is LBW to Gough’s yorker for 12. That brings in Andrew Symonds, Australian of course, who is caught by a diving Dominic Cork for just 5. That is a relief. Kent are 34-2 after 10 overs.
Sickeningly, that’s as good as it gets. David Fulton and Alan Wells go to town on our shoddy bowling. Mark Ealham, who actually plays for Kent, goes for 30 off 2 overs. Cork goes for 6 an over. Tufnell starts poorly but gets it back a bit towards the end, however, the damage is done. The partnership is unbroken, Alan Wells gets his 100 at the death and Kent win by 8 wickets with 10.2 overs to spare. Start the car.
I hope this is as bad as it gets…but I doubt it will be. That was awful. We’ve made Angus Fraser appear undroppable. Please join me next time as we face Essex to try and restore some pride.