Captain’s Log: Durham 1999 Part 2

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Welcome back! The very fact that a part 2 was commissioned means that part 1 was a success in my eyes.

If you remember, we we’re back in 1999, trying to make Durham a force on International Cricket Captain 2. When I left you we’d just finished Day two, and we lead Worcestershire by 176 runs, although the visitors have 5 wickets remaining. We have however snared the danger men Hick & Moody, so if we can make inroads on a sunny day three morning, who knows what could happen…

It’s 11am on an April morning in the North East of England so it is quite apt that David Leatherdale is caught cold with the fifth ball of the day, trying to drive Melvyn Betts through the covers but only edging to third slip where Jon Lewis pouches him.

Harmy already has three wickets so it makes sense to deploy him at the other end, a decision which is justified when his fourth delivery is too quick and accurate for Steve Rhodes, who finds himself bowled for 18. He follows that up with a delicious diving catch from his own bowling to remove Lampitt, before clean bowling Newport.

Worcs have crawled to 200/9, and although they’ve got a batting point, they are four runs short of avoiding the follow on. My internal debate about whether I’d enforce the follow on is ended when number 8 Haynes top edges over the slips for four.

Annoyingly it’s a sign of things to come. Haynes and last man Sheriyar play like Tendulkar and Lara and put on 92 painstaking runs for the last wicket. Our lead is 62, it should have at least been three figures but you knew there were going to be setbacks. Harmison finishes with 6-92, whereas Brown fails to take any wickets. Lunch tastes slightly bitter.

Never mind though, chins up lads. It’s a sunny day, and if we can score 200 this innings I’d fancy us to win. Time is also a factor, and whilst it’s the first game of the season (and thus not vital that we win) I am also very aware that this might be as good as it gets and we need to make our advantage count.

It is becoming apparent very quickly that my opening batsmen will define whether we are successful or not. Lewis & Boon this time put on 94 before Lewis is bowled by Tom Moody for 47. Enter Nick Speak.

At 97/1 the lead is 159, if we can put add 120 to the score in this session we can have a day to bowl at them tomorrow. It’s worth noting that the forecast is cloudy and unsettled tomorrow and the bounce on the pitch is now uneven. That’s almost perfect bowling conditions.

Unfortunately, however, this is Durham. So precisely 5 balls after tea, Nick Speak goes for an elaborate drive and edges to Hick in the slips. His scores of 3 and 5 make him an instant entrant on my enemies list.

David Boon had been holding the innings together but then he plays a stupid shot and is also caught by Hick in the slips. Hick was the only slip, so it’s pretty criminal to pick him out. And cue the all too predictable mini collapse …

Speight follows his skipper back to the hutch after a 2nd ball duck, also to Sheriyar. John Morris has experience so drops the anchor to try and play himself in. Unfortunately his patience runs out after just 17 balls before he offers up a dolly caught and bowled. He scored one.

That brings in young Colly again to join relatively young Jimmy Daley, and the two upstarts show their senior counterparts how it is done by adding 69 to the total until Collingwood is given out LBW to the third last ball of the day. It’s was Sheriyar’s fourth victim of the innings and his seventh of the match. Throw in his 26 with the bat as the last man and he’s becoming a bit of a nuisance. We end the day 243 ahead and with 4 wickets in hand. Hmmmm.

It’s a tricky situation now, I want the lead to be 300 but I’m also conscious that I’ll need my bowlers fresh and raring to go; therefore I don’t want them batting too long.

Daley starts the day on 45, so let’s hope he converts that into 50 and keeps going. For once, my plan works, with the lads bludgeoning their way past a 50 partnership, starting off the day cautiously before getting increasingly more aggressive. Daley is caught going for a massive swing into the leg side but his 87 has been a vital contribution.

It leaves Worcs needing 328 and 2 sessions. Plus 10 minutes before lunch, where they’re going to get the full slip cordon and a hungry Harmy.

I love it when a plan comes together. First ball! That brings key man Graeme Hick to the wicket, who sadly cares not for how hungry Harmy is and smashes him for two fours. There’s obvious still work to be done, but 9 wickets in two sessions is better than needing the full 10, right?

I’ve given Betts new ball duty at the other end – in the hope that it sends the virtual Simon Brown a message. The gamble pays off at the end of Betts’ 5th over, when Pollard top edges and John Morris catches it in the deep. Hallelujah!

Moody is next to the crease though, which is a problem. I’m just starting to consider tossing the ball to Brown when Harmison strikes gold – Hick’s out for 27! Lewis again with the slip catch. Suddenly Worcs are 3 down for just 44. I can almost smell a rare victory.

Unfortunately I eventually need to rest both Harmison and Betts. And predictably neither Brown nor Foster can keep the pressure up. I need to waste a few overs whilst Harmy recovers for another stint, so David Boon’s on to bowl some off spin.

Wait a minute…

He’s only gone and bowled Tom Moody! There’ll be some Aussie banter over that one.

Four down then suddenly becomes five down when Betts has Rhodes caught in the slips. The win is in our sights, Worcs are 85/5 at tea.

Sadly though, we are Durham. And the final session brings a total of zero wickets. David Leatherdale and Reuben Spiring put on a partnership of over one hundred in the final session and salvage a draw. Bugger.

Initially but I’m disappointed, but in hindsight I’m happy just not to get destroyed. We took more bonus points but clearly we need to be more ruthless.

We’re 6th after one game, nothing to get excited about of course but it sure beats being bottom! Up next is the visit of Hampshire. I’ll hopefully see you there!

Dave Black

2 Comments

  1. I loved this game. I had it on the ZX Spectrum, which remarkably survived all the way through my childhood and through my teens, before finally giving up the ghost. I probably still have the game somewhere but alas nothing to play it on.
    I always played as Hampshire and remember I started playing it in Robin Smith’s and Adrian Aymes (deserved an England cap in the virtual and real cricket world) farewell season.
    Neil Johnson was my overseas player and was very disappointing. Smith scored runs for fun and Udal took useful wickets. Alex Morris was a virtual superstar as was Will Kendall.
    I seem to remember that the one day matches were always a bit easier than the CC. In one dayers I remember winning div 1 and multiple cup competition’s, whilst mostly being stuck in Div 2 of CC. I used to end up with a raft of drawn matches where as the computer generated games never seemed to end in Draws. Probably thanks to my stonewalling Jason Laney, who I marked out early on as a 4 day specialist.

    I later signed Jacques Kallis as my overseas player and he was ridiculously good, once hitting 6 boundaries in an over to win a game. It was still an era when once the RRR got above 6 you though the game was up. So remember thinking it was maybe a little far-fetched!!
    Love the commentary. Glad it wasn’t just me that spent their time building a whole world of imagination around the bare data on the screen. I would love to say I was a kid when I did that but in reality was probably about twenty. Found a notebook a few years back where I had written down the season tables and averages for 6 years of this game. I should probably seek psychiatric help or at least go and buy an anorak and a thermos flask…

  2. Further to the earlier comment… My mind is playing tricks. I must have had it on PlayStation or Xbox. Can’t remember which.. but definitely not ZX Spectrum. The years just don’t stack up otherwise or the graphics!!
    On the Spectrum I had a far more rudimentary game called “Cricket Captain” that I remember playing around 1990…

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