Fantasy Cricket Challenge – Preview

You may well need to do some investigating of your own to get to the bottom of who the best picks will be but we’ll do our best to assist you in your initial overall picks for each of our categories. So here we go with a very speculative tilt at recommending who should finish top of the heap in each team!

Ladies XI

Batting: Helen Caird was the only player from the Ladies section to post a half century last year and must be strongly respected when it comes to topping the batting this year. However, Lisa Kelly, was narrowly denied a half century one a couple of occasions and we’re tipping her to go that little bit better this year, post a 50 and top the list!

Bowling: This one is a bit of a head scratcher after we’ve had a couple of tips backing the same player to come out on top of the list. Jannat Adil is highly touted and we look forward to seeing what she produces with the ball this year. However, hot tip or not, we’re going to stick with Orla Martin who was superb every time she was asked to bowl this year. She is expected to go from strength to strength and is one of our strongest tips for Fantasy Cricket this season.

Catches: Lisa Kelly and Hannah McGuckin are both suggested tips to take the most catches for the coming season. However picking this category is always likely to be tough. Kate Voice is in with a shout also but the final selection comes down to a choice between Vannessa Kelada and Karinda Tolland with the latter getting the nod.

Fist XI

Batting: We’ll try and keep this one as simple as possible. We’ll have some new blood this season, some of our younger players will continue to come on while some of our established players are capable of more than they showed last year. However our vote goes to incoming Club Pro, Riaan Jeegels, you simply don’t get to play at the levels he reached without having bags of talent. We back him to do exactly what it says on the tin and pile them up!

Bowling: A much harder one to call here as there is plenty of potential around the side. Tom Anders has come back with yards more pace in the nets this year and should continue to progress. First XI skipper, Conor Kelly, is definitely well in the mix and is more than capable of consistently bagging wickets. While joining us from Burwood Briars left armer, Steve Davis (no not that one) comes with a big reputation. However Irish conditions may or may not suit him. So our vote will go to Conor Kelly to lead by example.

Catches: To be perfectly honest this will be a bit of a blind guess. Corie Dickeson and Conor Kelly both, from memory, seem to be sure handed. Last years top man, Joe McKay, isn’t around so he can’t repeat his feats. So we’ll have a punt on Sadaf Raza to better his 7 catches tally from last year and come out on top.

Second XI

Batting: This is a bit up in the air for a number of reasons. Firstly Fordy can’t just award himself this title. However he is a top man with the bat and will be there or thereabouts at the seasons end. How much Tom and Rory play for the 1st XI rather than the 2nd XI comes into it too. If Jonty is around again for a full season he’ll be up there too while last seasons centurion, Vish, is more another strong contender. However we’ll give our nod to Kiwi new boy, Marc Wells, on the basis of watching him hit the cover off it in the nets the other night.

Bowling: Fordy will feature again here in this one while Marc Gibson McKenna may well find his name on the 2nd XI more often than not. Hollywood can get wickets at any level as he proved last year but, again, a lot depends on selection. Tyler Balogh, another of our Kiwi new boys, is highly recommended to take plenty of wickets too. However, on reflection, we’ll give the nod to Rory Anders to top the list.

Catches: At last an easy one. Jonty Wardell. Stick a pin in that one!

Third XI

Batting: This one is, to be perfectly honest, an absolute nightmare to all. Naeem Shazad, Aaron Joseph and Pete Nicholson made up the top three last year. However that doesn’t factor in that Nitin Naik never got going the way he had previously and he is well capable of making his mark this time around. Raj Gopal will be well in the mix and if he gets more than the 7 innings of last year the Adam Chester will feature heavily too. I think the top scorer from week to week for this side will be extremely variable but we’ll make our selection for this one Bard Ovenden. Bard is another new recruit and a very classy looking left hander. He’s our pick to come out on top over the course of the season but it will be a close run thing.

Bowling: There are loads of contenders for this one again but we’ll probably come back to picking the favourite after we analyse the options. Ben White and Marc Gibson McKenna are names to be considered but, yet again, with young up and coming players predicting which teams they will line out for most over the year is tricky. Syed Shah, having moved up the ranks, will take plenty of wickets this year and Nitin Naik will do so as well. We’ll go back to last years chart topper with 20 wickets and say Aaron Joseph will hold onto his crown. No pressure now AJ!

Catches: There weren’t a lot of standouts when it came to catching on the 3rd XI last season. Skipper, Conrad Jones, will of course be in with a shout but there seemed to be an inordinate amount of bowled and LBW’s on the 3rd XI scorecards last year so that may well count against him. Pete Nicholson and Suresh Samuel nabbed a few each last time but not exactly a bucket load. It’s not like many of the predictions have been based on rock solid logic so far but this is the blindest guess to date. Matt Gregg made his living as a professional goalkeeper for 16 years and graced all kinds of hallowed turf from Wembley to Anfield to Dalymount Park. He’s our pick to hang on to the most catches this time around.

Fourth XI

Batting: This, for me, is a straight shootout between two men. And two more different physical specimens you are unlikely to find. The imposing figure of Grant White came in to pile up the runs at the end of last season for the 4th XI and push them well clear of the relegation battle they briefly dipped into. Grant uses his imposing frame to full effect when boxing the ball to all parts of the ground but he’s far from a slogger and plays all the shots in the book. The diminutive Hashmi Khan is the other contender. While he is also capable of finding the fence Hashmi is more of an accumulator and can string together some long and telling innings again this year. The vote, in the end, goes to Grant White, though, as the 175 runs he pillaged in 5 innings last year suggests he’s the man to beat.

Bowling: This is another nightmare to try and pick the bones out of. So much depends on who will play on a regular basis for the 4th XI. Skipper, Mike Godwin, found his form with the ball at the back end of last season and he’ll be steaming in at full tilt and bagging wickets again. Ben White was well up the list of wicket takers last time around but he’s more likely (at a guess) to be on the 3rd XI. Shelden Carroll, if he resurfaces, will be in the mix also. However we have it on good authority (his own that is) that Willie Clarke will start the season on the 4th XI. If he plays the majority of games for the side he will absolutely mop up so he’s our pick.

Catches: The catching stats for the 4th XI from last season and so low and spread around various players that I haven’t a clue about this one. Newcomer, Jonathan Ebbs, may be worth a tentative pick but we’ve yet to see where he will land this year in terms of selection. On the basis of nothing more than his fondness of fielding at slip and his gigantic mitts we’ll give the nod to Grant ‘Buckets’ White.

Fifth XI

Batting: You’d think this one was easy if you look at the stats. Alan Maginnis stands out from the crowd by quite a bit. And The Electrician may well be the top dog again this year. However something to bare in mind when making your week to week picks is this. Last year Alan scored 71 runs between the 28th April and 18th August. He then went on to score a further 190 runs in the next three weeks. He may well be the man to pick again but he might just make you sweat for those 50 Fantasy Points. The only man to oppose him on paper will be skipper Graham Mooney. Graham chipped in with vital runs at the back end of last season and is more than capable of consistently producing. For that reason we’ll say Graham is the better week to week pick but Alan Maginnis gets the overall vote.

Bowling: Graham Mooney is once again likely to make the frame but John Anders is our NAP for the Fantasy picks. Golden Arm has claimed more than 25 wickets in each of the last two seasons and we see no reason that he won’t repeat.

Catches: This will be hotly contested race with the 5th XI having, statistically, more proficient fielders than any of the other mens sides. Two seasons ago the man with the top grabs was John Anders who clung on to one more than Stephen Moore. The latter reversed the form last year and finished ahead of John but he was beaten into third place by the ever athletic and elastic Mick McDonough. And it is he who gets our vote as he showed great athleticism both in the outfield and behind the stumps. However our dark horse tip and one to watch is US import, Wes Willets, whose baseball background should see him be a potent fielder. How he fares with the aid of a glove is all we await to see!