I’m back in the management game. After years shirking away from fantasy league based games and following some careless prompting, via email, from Greg Tredwell earlier I found myself on the Telegraph’s Fantasy Cricket webpage filing through the names and values of the hundreds of county cricketers on the game’s database. I can’t explain what caused my sudden about-turn.

Was it the return of the LV County Championship this morning? Was it a winter away among the county diehards subliminally telling me I had to do more to support the cause in the face of this IPL nonsense? Was it some kind of hangover from picking my Elstow Fantasy Cricket Team the other day?** Or, was it the top prize of an Ashes trip to Brisbane and £5000 prize money that swung it?

I’ll be honest. It was the last option. As if I’ve even got a cat’s chance in hell of winning. Alright, I know this now.

But in that moment I was boarding the plane to Bris with some of the winnings sagely spent on an upgrade to Business Class. Fantasy football or cricket competitions for me are a bit like relationships, sadly. As soon as I’m bored I tend to lose interest very quickly. Expect to find me having denied all knowledge of this post in late May.

But, in that moment…

Half an hour and six quid later and I was done. My emotional return to the rollercoaster of fantasy cricket management was complete.

So, my team then, Chazzwazzers XI. Come and meet them.

Marcus Trescothick (Captain), Somerset. Cards ready? Let’s play Tresco Bingo…
“Premature retirement from the international game is a real plus for the county game.” “It’s a road at Taunton; he’s always good for runs there.” ” Excellent pair of hands at slip.” “Attacking style of play means he’s ideally suited to all formats.”

Varun Chopra, Warwickshire. Chopra’s runs were an important part of Warwickshire’s championship success last year. He always seems to start the season well too. In addition to this, if Chopra keeps scoring runs, in this, an Ashes summer, with few contenders for the role of genuine opening batsman, he must be in the international frame soon, surely?

Simon Katich, Lancashire. This looks like an ideal match. Ex-Aussie international in the autumn of his years seeks club down on their luck for mutually beneficial relationship. Katich should find the perceived drop in standards to his liking as he looks for a decent end to his career. Lancashire need his quality to get them back to the top tier.

Luke Wells, Sussex. The son of Alan, who was capped by England once. Then dropped. Well, it was the 1990s. And he didn’t play for Surrey. Greater things are hoped of young Luke who enjoyed a steady summer in 2012. This season will see Loughborough graduate Wells Jnr develop his cricketing education in the unforgiving world of Division One.

James Kettleborough, Northamptonshire. As the only Elstow CC representative to be playing in the County Championship, I couldn’t not pick one of Bedfordshire’s finest. Good luck to James in his full debut season at Northants. James played several matches for us indoors a year or so back.

He never made the team outdoors.

Mark Wallace, Glamorgan. It was a toss up between the wily Welsh wonder of the wickets or Tiny Tim Ambrose, another of the lynchpins of the victorious Bears team last season, for the wicket keeper spot. The Welshman won out though as I have a sneaky suspicion he will be to the fore in his side’s promotion bid again this year.

Paul Collingwood, Durham. Adroit, gritty, dependable, steadfast, unwavering, resolute, determined, unflappable, imperturbable, dogged; how long before ‘Collingwood’ officially enters the language as an alternative definition for ‘solidity’? Collingwood starts the season as captain having rescued his team halfway through 2012 doing what he does best, being persistently consistent with bat or ball.

Matthew Hoggard, Leicestershire. My cricketing hero. Enough said.

Gary Keedy, Surrey. Johnno Snr and Jnr rave about Keedy’s contribution to Lancashire cricket down the years. His move south was one of the more eyebrow-raising ones of the close season. Expect Keedy to whirl away un-fussily tying down an end while his more illustrious colleagues take all the headlines, in what could be a good year for the South London side.

Reece Topley, Essex. I’ve been reading and hearing great things about this beanpole left arm quick over the last few months. There are high expectations of nineteen year old Topley, son of former Essex bowler Don. Junior may better Senior’s achievements on the field but he’ll never wear a ‘tache in the same vein as his old man, who, back in the day looked every inch Norfolk’s answer to Magnum.

Jack Brooks, Yorkshire. Picture the scene. Pre-season. A tundra-like training ground on the Moors. Sir Geoffrey and one or two other granite-hewn members of the committee make a beeline for their new signing. “Come on lad. Those head bands. Let’s ‘ave ‘em. You won’t be needing such Southern bourgeoisie nonsense up here. Head bands indeed. Freddie Trueman never needed ‘em, neither will you. Now bloody man up, bowl bloody quick and get us some bloody wickets thar knows.”

These fine eleven fellows, after a solid summer’s work, are my route to The Ashes. Hopefully.

And we all know what hope does.

Anyway, now come and join them. I’ve set up a league online. Simply follow the link below;


Choose your team, do the other bits then select the league name, ‘The League of Gentle Ben’ and pop in the PIN, 8036454. I look forward to welcoming you aboard with a meat pie, cup of Yorkshire Tea and as many jumpers as you could possibly need to get you through the English summer.

*Yes, it’s from a rave song or some other assault on the ears from several years ago. I went to Shades in Leighton Buzzard once. I was forced into it. This was probably playing. I hate myself for sufficiently dumbing down enough to allow this level of musical slurry to adorn the title of one of my blog posts.


Teams cost £6, enter by 27th April. Terrific cause. Thanks. Good on yer!