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The Alphabet Cup: A Stupid Tournament

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  • The Alphabet Cup: A Stupid Tournament

    The Alphabet Cup Chapter 1: What the hell is the Alphabet Cup?

    While staying up significantly too late a few nights ago, I remembered the fact that the record for the lowest first class score in history is held by a team called 'The Bs' - an occasional cricket team in the 19th Century made up of players with surnames beginning with B.This gave me a (stupid) idea - to select a team for each letter of the alphabet, and play out a tournament between them in Cricket Captain. And to document it here, for the first time in many a year. I feel I have more questions to answer.

    Why are you doing this?
    I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a big old pandemic on, and I have nothing else to do. I also felt like I needed to write something, and honestly this is all I could think of.

    How are you doing this?
    On Cricket Captain 2020. 25 teams (we'll get to that) will battle it out in a single-elimination T20 tournament to find out once and for all... which letter of the alphabet has the best cricketers.

    How did you pick the teams?
    Teams were selected according to strict criteria to stop me having to look through literally every player in the database. I used Cricket Captain's 'surname' to decide which team players were eligible for - it's not necessarily ideal for all name types / cultures but it's 1000x easier for me.
    • Only current players were considered (anyone eligible for a T20 in Custom Match Series, which doesn't include players retired from T20Is, but does include Kolpak players)
    • Anyone who has played a T20I in their career will be chosen over anyone who has not (this essentially means that some of the 'less common' letters have a number of associate players in their teams)
    • After that, any remaining positions can be taken up by players who have not played a T20I (in these situations I've done my best to select the best players, but I don't have an in-depth knowledge of everyone!)
    • I've also tried to give every team a fair amount of balance (where possible under the above rules) - ideally 6 bowling options, including at least 3 seamers and at least 1 spinner, with at least one keeper.
    Wait... 25 teams?
    Yup. There are exactly 10 players in the database with a surname starting with Q, and exactly 1 starting with X, so the two tricky letters have joined forces in a joint Q/X team. Frankly I don't hold out much hope for them.

    Which teams will you play as?
    If there's a notably weaker team in a given match, I'll play as them to attempt to level the playing field a little, and if not I'll draw it randomly. Honestly I don't know if me playing for a team will be a good thing for them.

    And the draw?
    The first 7 teams out of the hat received first-round byes (due to the number of teams), and the remaining 18 were drawn into 9 first-round matches. These bye-given teams & matches were then randomly drawn into a bracket. Honestly one of team Z or I is going to be in the quarter-finals and that's ridiculous.

    The bracket for this stupid tournament

    So what are the teams?
    They've all been selected in advance, but we'll deal with the teams as they play their first matches - I'm looking forward to you shouting at me for my terrible favouritism-led selection policies.

    Will you ever finish this?
    Who knows! But there's only 24 T20s to play to complete the bracket, so it doesn't seem as stupid as previous things I've failed to finish.

    How can I help?
    You can't! I'm far too far gone for that.

  • #2
    The Alphabet Cup: The first match

    The first match of the first round is here, and it's due to be an absolute battle between two teams that are... somewhat lacking in quality. It's relatively clear that Y are the underdog here, so I'll be taking control of them, but honestly V might have a few problems too.

    Y only have 5 players with T20I experience, and I'm not certain Pikky Ya France would have made a first choice Y XI otherwise. The 8 overs of Kuldeep & Umesh Yadav will likely be crucial for them, but aside from that there are definitely some weak links, and the batting is fairly suspect-looking too.

    V on the other hand had roughly 20 players to pick from, and seem to have a fair bit of quality on all sides, especially the batting. Weaknesses could well include a lack of star names in the lineup, especially the bowling.
    V Y
    James Vince 1 Pikky Ya France
    Tobias Visée 2 Surya Yadav
    Rassie ven der Dussen 3 Will Young
    Dane Vilas 4 Shahid Yousuf
    Pite van Biljon 5 Aamer Yamin
    Asad Vala 6 Codi Yusuf
    Roeloef van der Merwe 7 Jayant Yadav
    Jeffery Vandersay 8 Kamsha Yangfo
    Norman Vanua 9 Kuldeep Yadav
    Timm van der Gugten 10 Umesh Yadav
    Paul van Meekeren 11 Craig Young

    Pikky Ya France calls incorrectly, and team Y are sent in to bat under cloudy skies. His bad luck continues as he's bowled in the second over for 3. Things go quiet for a couple of overs and Young gloves behind, but Surya Yadav starts peppering the boundary, and team Y end the powerplay 43/2. Spinners come on from both ends straight afterwards, and Yousuf and Yadav start to power on the scoring, reaching the 10 over mark handily placed at 84/2.

    Yousuf is immediately bowled for 30 when pace returns in the 11th over, but Yadav continues to strike the ball well, though Aamer Yamin appears to be mostly attempting to stay in, scoring only 7 off his first 12 balls. He hits his stride, taking 20 off his next 9, before Surya Yadav is caught behind off Vandersay for a heroic 86 from 53 deliveries. The last over goes for 13 runs and 3 wickets, and team Y end on a fairly creditable 182/8.

    Vince makes a strong start to the innings, but Young has him caught behind in the 4th over for 28, with the score on 31. Rassie VDD comes in and hits consecutive boundaries to start his innings, but is then bowled by Young the next ball, with the additional wicket of Visee leaving team V 54/3 at the powerplay's end. Jayant Yadav removes Vilas, but Kuldeep's first over goes for 18, leaving team V 94/4 at the end of the 10th - ahead of the runrate, but 4 wickets down with a slightly wobbly-looking tail to come.

    Kuldeep's class starts to shine through, and he removes Vala, van de Merwe and Vandersay in the space of two overs, leaving team V 113/7 and staring down the barrel after 13 overs with only Pite van Biljon and the bowlers remaining. The seamers return, leaving an over of Kuldeep to spare, and Codi Yusuf strikes to remove van Biljon despite going for 13 in the process. Top-order destroyer Young returns to remove VDG, and Kuldeep's final over of mystery does for van Meekeren, meaning a 35 run win for team Y!

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    To be honest I'm stunned that team Y won that, but I suppose the better bowling attack won through on the day - aside from Vanua, no-one could keep a lid on Surya Yadav's scoring, and then no-one from team V could make a telling contribution themselves.

    Join me next time for what promises to also be a slightly low-quality affair - Dean Elgar's Team E against Imam-ul-Haq's Team U.


    • #3
      And so we move on, through the first round, to match TWO, between teams E & U. And the teams are as follows...
      E U
      Scott Edwards 1 Robin Uthappa
      Dean Elgar 2 Imam-ul-Haq
      Laurie Evans 3 Tony Ura
      Craig Ervine 4 Mahela Udawatte
      Stevie Eskinazi 5 Mohammad Usman
      Gerhard Erasmus 6 Isuru Udana
      Armand Erasmus 7 Lahiru Udara
      Nathan Ellis 8 Zia-ur-Rehman
      Chamikara Edirisinghe 9 Jaydev Unadkat
      Alasdair Evans 10 Naveen-ul-Haq
      Romesh Eranga 11 Mujeeb-ur-Rahman
      Both teams are... honestly a little average in most respects, but team U probably has the edge in a few ways, with a strong opening pair and the bowling of Mujeeb and Unadkat, so I'll be taking control of team E. Team E won the toss under cloudy skies, and opted to let team U bat first.

      The openers for team U got off to a great start, but Imam was removed by Eranga for 17, and Uthappa skewed the ball down to long off to fall for 29 off Evans, leaving the U team 58/2 at the end of the powerplay. Erasmus and Erdisinghe came on for a pair of expensive overs, but they were replaced by part-timer Elgar, who immediately removed Tony Ura for 6. Ellis' next over took 2 further wickets, leaving team U very much in trouble going into the second half of the innings. Wickets continued to fall, but Udawatte kept hitting with conviction, and left team E chasing a pretty large 190 to win.

      Team E didn't lose wickets to start with, but the run rate started climbing as Edwards and Elgar failed to hit it far off the square, ending the powerplay at 42/0. Both fell in the next few overs, and the runrate didn't pick up, leaving team E 70/2 after 10 and struggling to keep themselves in the game. Wickets kept falling, 3 to Zia ur-Rehman, as team E tried to push the rate up and failed entirely. Ellis gave it a good shot by scoring 31 from 17, but no-one was able to support him and team E ended up a long way short of their required target, finished off by 3 wickets from Mujeeb.

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      A fairly regulation win for Team U in the end, built on Udawatte's brilliant 78 from 47 balls. Next time, a real high quality match - team S (featuring Stokes, Smith & Sharma) against team D (Dunk, de Kock & Dhoni).


      • #4
        I'm invested


        • #5
          Interesting concept to compare with my replaying the Test series of the 1970's. I've tend to get stuck around 1975 as just prior to Packer there was an explosion in the number of Test players.