A little bit about me and my little blog

This is by far not the first cricket blog to be written and it certainly won't be the last (or necessarily the best). But it's mine.

This is mainly an excuse for me to carry on about a sport that has been something of an obsession since I was knee high to a middle stump. An obsession which has never left throughout the many highs (behave, there have been some) and lows (and boy have there been many of those…..) of being and England cricket fan in the years since.

The views and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Sometimes light-hearted, occasionally irreverent, hopefully never offensive.

What gives this fool the right to have an opinion on this great sport? Where are his credentials I hear you ask? Well I think my catch at mid-on in the inter-house final at Heath Grammar school in 1981 speaks for itself…..

Monday, 12 May 2014

The NatWest T20 Blast

I'm not a man who believes in fate or strange coincidences. You know what I'm talking about; the "Oh wow, I was just humming that song just before it was played on the radio", or the classic, "Oh its completely spooky that you rang me right now, I was just thinking about you". There is nothing fatalistic, spooky and absolutely no element of psychic phenomenon going on here. It's all just straightforward probability. The fact is that for every thought, decision and action that we take in this wonderful crazy mixed up world, there are an almost endless amount of consequences that could take place. Our day-to-day minds are cluttered with thousands of thoughts and musings each day and some are bound to connect in some way to another thought or another action. In essence, It is all just random chaos, and I like that.

However, many people don't like the idea that life could just be the result of endless coincidences which are actually numerically highly likely to take place at some point in someones day. Many people need to believe that in certainly, we don't often like probability and we certainly don't like things that are unexplained. There is is a term for it  - Apophenia , which is tendency to see patterns everywhere, even in random data. We demand, often unconsciously, an explanation (be it spiritual or conspiratorial), when in fact the explanation is that statistically, any particular occurrence - the chance meeting of an old friends only recently after thinking about that person, for example, was bound to happen eventually.

However, even that particular view of mine was put to the test the other day when I was contacted by the founder of a company called Switch-Hit. He informed me that Switch-Hit was fantasy sports platform developed by a team with academic backgrounds from University of Oxford, University of California - Berkeley, Georgia Tech & Indian Institute of Technology. I don't know if I was supposed to be impressed by all that  - but, er, I was.
Now before I go any further, for anyone who doesn't know me or has never read my blog ( and why the bloody hell haven't you??!!), Well bowled, Harold. An England Cricket Blog there is one thing that you need to understand. I love Test cricket, I can just about put up with the one day games, but have never, and I mean never, have had any love for the T20 format. I won't bore you now with the reasons why- if you wish to pass an hour or two of reading rant fuelled musings on my views then read some past posts from my blog. However, recently i have been re-thinking my attitude. 

In fact, only one night earlier this week I was lying in my bed and thinking about Cricket. Now don't misunderstand me, I know I'm a little sad and have little life outside blogging. I often think of of many other things (some of them definitely unprintable) while I'm in bed. However on this occasion, I wondering if I should finally try to embrace the admittedly universally more popular of all the games formats. I still love Test Cricket and will always regard it as the truest and best form of the game. However, as I lay in bed I realised that the only way for the Test format to continue against a backdrop of falling attendances is for all of us embrace ALL formats of the game. For too long in recent years have the Test aficionados (like myself) looked down upon the other formats - the true fact is that we all need each other to survive. So I made it my promise to try and at least follow and enjoy the English domestic competition,NatWest T20 Blast, that takes place this summer. I think I then rather quickly fell asleep and snored the night away after the wine finally took affect.

Anyhoo, back to the email from Switch-Hit. The message went on to say that they are building the world's first social fantasy sports platform for cricket and having hosted IPL & WC T20, they are now ready for NatWest T20 Blast.......and guess what, yes, that's it - for some reason they thought that I might be able to contribute in some sort of meaningful way. What a coincidence!! - or not, depending on which way you look at it. And you know what - I was interested, no matter that I was something of a novice in trying to enjoy T20......CANT WAIT!

So, for the un-initiated, what is the NatWest T20 Blast.? Well until last year it was known as the Friends life T20 competition and is the attempt by the domestic powers that be to revamp the domestic competition after a series of false starts. The competition sees 18 clubs, initially split into two divisions (north and south) for the first group stages. The top four teams in each league progress to the Quarter-Finals stage to play for a place in the first ever NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston in August 2014.

I think it is time that people like myself give the format, and particularly this home English competition, a proper chance to shine. This could well be the opportunity for the ECB to produce a genuinely innovative competition while while still retaining some semblance of cricketing tradition. There are none of the nonsense auction shenanigans of the IPL where money and the highest bidders are running (or arguably, ruining) the game. The fact that the signing of oversees players are limited in the NatWest T20 Blast means that Counties will be represented by a mixture of loyal home-grown players who are richly complimented by sombre truly exciting foreign players. 

The fact that most of the games take place on a Friday night (at least 87 of the 126 group stage matches) means that this English summer might be one to remember. I genuinely and sincerely look forward to watching and writing about it.

So,with each team being able to field no more than two overseas players the teams have been making most of their limited opportunities with a number of notable signings. I thought I'd leave you for now with a list of five that I'm personally looking forward to see play.

My five oversees players to watch....

1) Perhaps the most exciting (from a Yorkshireman's point of view) was the high profile signing of 'Mr. Lets take the English attack to the cleaners' - Aaron Finch. The opening batsman, currently ranked as the world’s third best T20 batsman, was partly responsible for continuing the calamity down under during our Winter tour of Australia. However, now that he is playing for Yorkshire I obviously forgive any of those past playing discretions against Captain cook's brave boys and now I love the man. Well that is, until the end of the English summer.

2) He may be 38 years old but the signing by Leicestershire of New Zealander Scott Styris is still an exciting one. It only seems like a couple of years ago when he grabbed the headlines by smashing a century off just 37 deliveries against Gloucestershire, well actually it was just a couple of years ago. Styris has so far amassed nearly 4000 runs in the T20 format alone - not bad at all.

3) The on-off signing of Saeed Ajmal seems to have finally become a done deal and it's one that should see Worcestershire benefiting from the off-spinner's genius. His 63 T20 wickets are itself pretty special, but when you also take into account his 182 ODI wickets and, most importantly of course, his 169 Test Wickets....well you have one very special player.

4) Due to Saeed Ajmal's commitment to the Caribbean Premier league, he will be replaced part-way through the competition by another high-profile New Zealander, Mitchell McClenaghan. McClenaghan has played a large part in the recent resurgence of the Kiwi's in the limited over formats, particularly in the recent T20 World cup where he achieved figures of 1-22 against England (we were rubbish again), 1-29 against the Netherlands and also a couple of wickets against Sri Lanka.

5) I've lost count of the times I seen the term 'free spirit'  and 'controversial' referred to Jesse Ryder, and while the 29 year old New Zealand all-rounder has had something of a chequered past, well that's all done and dusted.....isn't it? Well if he finds the hard hitting form that he is capable of then Essex probably won't care too much, methinks. The man is  a stunner of a hitter on his day and I for one am really looking forward to seeing him in the middle. The rumours that the security staff of Essex's nightclubs have been put on emergency overtime have yet to be confirmed......

I mentioned that I was going to be contributing articles for Switch-Hit, well an amended version of this article now appears on their website and blog (I know, get me) - links to the company are as follows

Their Facebook page can be found at

Their website address is

Find them on Twitter @PlaySwitchHit

If becoming interested in T20 wasn't enough for me then today there was another 1st for me,  for today I form my first ever fantasy cricket team. Switch-Hit are hosting the NatWest T20 Blast Fantasy Cricket on On the site you can build your team and challenge your friends and possibly lose them.  Yes, it can get competitive and taxing especially with an in-built sledge tool. A place where you can vent your anger, sledge and disorient your opponent and win a psychological battle.

You are Three steps away from a fantasy cricket experience
1) Create a league
2) Invite friends
3) Build team

Or you could  simply join the league that I've just created for the NatWest T20 Blast on My league is called Well Bowled, Harold and my (winning) team is called ThiswilldountiltheTests. Feel free to join me and come second!

1 comment:

  1. Recently I have started playing fantasy cricket and I must say I really loved the whole concept of it. And nowadays there are so many websites catering to fantasy cricket and even T20 cricket. For me I have loved to play the t20 matches & the most trusted site for me is Dream11, which is extremely reliable too when it comes to not only playing but also all the money transactions part. I have been a constant gamer on this and have won lots of prizes too. The whole concept is so unique and also the tournaments are designed in such a way that it is very easy to play. As a cricket lover the idea of fantasy cricket has been the best thing to indulge on to and get the feel of owning your team. I would surely recommend it to all the cricket lovers to at least once give it a shot and enjoy it!!!