Why am I so rubbish at fantasy cricket?

The Torygraph’s fantasy cricket season starts today but I’m not optimistic. It’s the same old story every year: I pick a team that would beat the Windies circa 1985 on paper, yet it usually performs like a clapped out Lada. Meanwhile, my mate that knows nothing, absolutely nothing, about county cricket wins our mini league. How does this happen?

I once asked my mate what his secret was. He simply looks at who is scoring the most points every week and then finds a way to draft them into his side. He can’t put a face to the name, and he has no idea whether the player in question is English, Australian, South African or even Kenyan. To him, Dale Benkenstein is just a commodity he uses to rub my nose in it.

I think my main problems are threefold. Firstly, I refuse to pick players I do not like. It doesn’t matter how many points Jim Allenby scores, I cannot stomach the thought of picking an Aussie playing under an English passport. The effectiveness of his medium pace trundlers highlights the paucity of talent in division two of the county championship, and his batting very much belongs to the ‘see ball, smack ball’ school.

Being a total snob who prefers the elegance of a Michael Vaughan cover drive to a Kieron Pollard swipe across the line, I find Allenby’s cricket offensive – mainly because I’m far too orthodox as a batsman myself and I’ve never been able to pull off the heave to cow corner, no matter how hard I try. I hate people that can score at twenty runs an over. Allenby is too good – and he makes me look bad.

My second problem is keeping up with the fixture list. I often find myself languishing at the bottom of the weekly points league, even during periods when I think I’m doing pretty well. It’s because I’m too lazy to change my team on a weekly/daily basis. Consequently, only half my team is active at any given time.

I bet my mates spend every lunch-break scouring the fixture list and looking for the latest injury news. Maybe I’m not obsessive enough? Or maybe I should just stop picking Simon Jones and Kabir Ali.

The third thing I find problematic is knowing when particular overseas stars are actually playing. Counties seem to change their overseas professionals more than students change their underwear. Picking David Hussey in your fantasy team seems like a good idea at the time, but after a couple of weeks you begin to wonder why he isn’t scoring any points. The usual reason is that he only plays for Notts on Mondays in May, and the rest of the time he’s off with Australia.

Can’t we get back to the days when great overseas pros like Countney Walsh played the entire season for Gloucestershire? Walsh might have taken 9-15 against the county you support, and probably broken the jaw of your favourite batsman, but at least his omnipresence made life easier for fantasy league players.

So what’s your secret to fantasy league success? I’ve you’ve got any hints, I’m all ears. Or maybe you’re just as useless as me. If that’s the case, let me know your own sob story. Tales of other people’s woe is often the best therapy.

James Morgan

PS In case you’re wondering, my XI for 2011 (which I’ve prophetically called ‘Morgsie Muppets’) consists of Adam Lyth, James Taylor, Usman Khawaja, Ravi Bopara (capt), Samit Patel, Peter Trego, Craig Kieswetter, Chris Woakes, Steve Finn, Ryan Sidebotton, and that Tsotsobe bloke from South Africa. If you want your own team to do well, I recommend you omit all these players.

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