I have a secret. You can keep your online gaming, throw away your motion control sensor, bin that Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Yes…. I am a ICC fan and I love to watch my poorly rendered, stat driven cricket team as they beep into battle against the old enemy, the Australians. It’s hard to explain the appeal of ICC to anyone unaccustomed to the world of detailed management sims or fantasy sports leagues. As a cricket lover I have a hard enough time explaining my deep love of a game that often lasts 5 days and ends in a draw, so imagine the difficulty trying to explain a cricket management sim in which any “in-game” action is limited to a few poorly animated sprites and a ball that looks suspiciously square.
So to my team and selection, a key part of any Ashes challenge…In brief, I decide to drop the out of form Giles (although keep him in the squad and assign him a physio), Chris Reed gets the nod at keeper over the “butter fingers” of Geraint Jones, Trescothick, having not gone mad in the game world is kept in the side (although the option of assigning him a shrink is not provided); and in a pathetic concession to my wife I give the call up to Mark Ramprakash because his “Jive was good last Saturday on Strictly Come Dancing”.
After a bit of practice in the nets (and some catching practice for Monty Panesar) we head of to The Gabba for the first test and the pressure seems to show as we lose the toss and Australia bat to an impressive 130 for 1 at lunch. With Hoggard and Harmison bowling with little result it’s time for a bit of Spin, so Monty steps up and manages to drop a couple of quick wickets. After Flintoff has a couple of overs and makes his way through to the Australian middle order the fight-back has pulled England back into the game, and Australia down to an average 220 for 6.
As our fast bowlers polish off the tail end of the Aussies for 359, we are left with a difficult task of getting back into the game. Unfortunately all does not go well. My selection of the svelt-hipped Ramprakash back-fires as he goes for a duck and Flintoff’s triumphant return to the England side is cut short by a frankly pathetic 4 runs……and I’m starting to suspect that Tresco needs more time with the psychiatrist as he smacks it straight back into the hands of tubby spin bowler Shane Warne.
By the end of the match I have been roundly beaten by an impressive 8 wickets and 180 runs, and I am starting to regret agreeing to blog about it for the site. Still….this is England, the fight is not lost yet, and I have just the right amount of self-delusion to believe I can still retain the ashes…..and so to the second Test.