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Story: Mission Impossible

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  • Story: Mission Impossible

    As an avid Football Manager player over the last two decades, I've found myself wondering how certain well-known challenges could translate into Cricket Captain. For example, there's the Climb The Ladder challenge, where the manager attempts to take a team from the bottom tier all the way through to the top. Then there's the San Marino challenge, where the manager takes over the San Marino club side and the national team, attempting to develop top young players at the club side to strengthen the San Marino national team to the extent that they may qualify for the World Cup.

    Well, this story aims to translate both of these challenges into the Cricket Captain equivalent.

    We are taking over Leicestershire, the worst county in England, who finished bottom of the County Championship Division Two and both of their respective Challenge Trophy and T20 Blast groups in 2019. We are also taking over the national team of Ireland, who are ranked 12th in all three formats of the game. Where the two challenges come together is that in order to achieve success with both, I'll be looking to pick up young Irish cricketers for Leicestershire and develop them through training and matches, to try and strengthen the Irish national side and bring success to Leicestershire at the same time.

    The overall ambition is very simply to win as much as possible with both teams.

    Can Leicestershire win the County Championship, the Challenge Trophy and the T20 Blast?
    Can Ireland win the Test Championship, the ODI World Cup and the T20 World Cup?

    Welcome to Mission Impossible.
    Last edited by Joe Baldwin; 07-21-2020, 12:36 AM.

  • #2
    Sadly Ireland can’t win the test championship as there isn’t promotion/relegation, but good luck anyway!


    • #3
      I thought the current teams were locked in until after the second tournament, finishing in 2023, but after that it would be done on rankings?

      If I'm wrong there, well - it's Mission Impossible anyway...


      • #4
        Unfortunately they removed the feature from the game in CC19 as it caused issues with fixture scheduling, and they decided to stick with the same in CC20. Really sucks


        • #5
          Ah well - we'll still try and win as many Test matches as possible, and win the limited overs tournaments if we can


          • #6
            I have a Leicestershire save going which has been great fun, although challenging at the same time. Will be following this - good luck


            • #7
              THE SCHEDULE

              Of course, trying to win things with Leicestershire will sometimes require me to rely on the capabilities of my assistant manager, Barney Biggins. Ireland have seven series throughout the 2020/2021 season, five of which clash with the English domestic summer, and the performances of Biggins will be important for Leicestershire during those periods.

              The Ireland schedule for the 2020/2021 season is as follows:

              * Series 1 - Two Tests and five T20I's in Zimbabwe - 2nd April to 24th April.
              * Series 2 - Three ODI's at home to Bangladesh - 14th May to 19th May.
              * Series 3 - Three ODI's and three T20I's at home to New Zealand - 19th June to 2nd July.
              * Series 4 - Two T20I's at home to Pakistan - 12th July to 14th July.
              * Series 5 - Three ODI's in England - 10th September to 15th September.
              * Series 6 - T20 World Cup qualifiers against Sri Lanka, Oman and Papua New Guinea - 18th October onwards (hopefully ending in the T20 World Cup itself).
              * Series 7 - Two Tests, three ODI's and three T20I's in Afghanistan - 7th January to 31st January.

              As a result of this international fixture schedule, we're due to miss six County Championship Division Two matches throughout the season, along with the University match at the very beginning of the campaign and four T20 Blast games. This is based on the assumption that I won't be able to travel back for any limited overs matches for Leicestershire that take place during a limited over international series, even if the dates don't clash directly.

              If we're going to be successful in the County Championship, we're going to need Biggins to be in top form.


              • #8

                Leicestershire's starting squad is a blend of youth and experience, and some are evidently more talented than others. Having won just once in the County Championship Division Two in 2019, many of the players have disappointing averages from the last season, but there's some potential in the squad. For 2020, however, we will be relying heavily on the experienced players to try and give us a chance in matches while the younger lads get up to speed and we can reshape the squad.

                I generally prefer First Class and Test cricket to the other formats, so some of the stats are a little red-ball focussed, but they give a good indication as to the relative ability of the players.


                * Janneman Malan: our South African overseas top order batsman. He's got no Test caps yet, but averages 50 in First Class cricket and will be a mainstay at the top of our order.

                * Mark Cosgrove: 35 year-old with three ODI caps for Australia, averages just under 40 in First Class cricket and will be vital across all formats. Club captain.

                * Paul Horton: at 37, the oldest player in the squad. Averages just over 35 in FC.

                * Hasan Azad: averages just under 50 in FC, and at 26 will be crucial in that format for the foreseeable future. Never played a limited overs game.

                * Harry Dearden: earns £24K as a 22 year-old so maybe some potential there, but only averages 20 from 37 FC matches.

                * Sam Evans: 22, only 9 FC games to his belt averaging 20.

                * James Andrews: new signing from the youth players section, at 22 he earns £25.5K so he will get opportunities this season.

                * Pathum Nissanka: new signing as the overseas reserve, Sri Lankan 21 year-old who averages 67 from 33 FC games.


                * Lewis Hill: averages just under 24 from 42 FC matches. Aged 29, we'll probably be looking to move him on at the first opportunity.

                * Harry Swindells: earns £24.5K as a 21 year-old, only 9 FC matches averaging 17 but will get games this season.


                * Colin Ackermann: very talented off-spinner, will be crucial in all formats. Averages 40 with the bat in FC cricket, and takes wickets at 43. Still got a few years left at 29.

                * Arron Lilley: off-spinner, has taken 54 wickets at 31 and also averages 29 with the bat in FC.

                * Ben Mike: 21 years old, RFM bowler who averages about 33 with the ball and 18 with the bat from his 11 FC matches.

                * George Rhodes: poor player, averages 22 with the bat and 105 with the ball from 24 FC matches. At 26, not that young for someone who needs developing.

                * Tom Taylor: £44K wage, 25 years old, will be pretty important. Has 90 FC wickets at 31.52 and chips in with the bat as well.


                * Dieter Klein: our star bowler, left arm seamer, he's taken 228 FC wickets at 27 apiece. Will be crucial for us in all formats.

                * Gavin Griffiths: good all-format RFM bowler, has 68 wickets at 30 in FC. At 26 years of age, he'll be around for a while.

                * Callum Parkinson: slow left arm spinner, 23 years old, good player especially in T20 cricket.

                * Will Davis: 24 year-old on £39.5K wage, has 69 wickets at an average of 32. Very inexperienced in limited overs cricket.

                * Chris Wright: 34 years old, hugely experienced with 459 wickets at 33 from 162 FC games.

                * Alex Evans: 19, just three FC games to his name but took 7 wickets at 32. Earns £23K.

                * Nathan Bowley: 18, never played a game, earns £21K.

                The save begins on the 1st April 2020, and on the 2nd April, Ireland take on Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, in the first of two Tests. Therefore my assistant Barney Biggins will be taking control of the side for the University match against Loughborough MCCU and the first two County Championship matches against Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, so by the time I've been able to select a team, the players will be three matches into the season and I'll have some idea as to their form and who Biggins rates based on his selections.

                Without further ado, on to Bulawayo!


                • #9
                  2nd April 2020
                  Zimbabwe vs Ireland
                  1st Test (of 2)
                  Ireland won the toss and elected to bat first

                  So, our first match of the save, and it's an important Test match. There are two ranking points up for grabs, and Ireland have never won a Test match before, so this is a huge opportunity. Jack Tector makes his debut at the top of the order as I prefer a look to the future - the 23 year-old beats William Porterfield to the place in the team - while there are also debuts for James Shannon, all-rounder Simi Singh and seamer Craig Young. There is glorious sunshine forecast for all five days and the pitch looks great for batting, with just some very slight assistance for spin early on - a no-brainer once Kevin O'Brien won the toss to bat first.

                  Zimbabwe: T. Kaitano, K. Maunze, B. Taylor+, S. Raza, S. Williams, C. Ervine, R. Burl, B. Mavuta, K. Jarvis, T. Chatara, C. Tshuma
                  Ireland: P. Stirling, J. Tector, A. Balbirnie, J. McCollum, K. O'Brien, J. Shannon, G. Wilson+, S. Singh, G. Dockrell, B. Rankin, C. Young.

                  Paul Stirling quickly asserted himself, cutting the first ball of the Test match to the third man boundary, but we got a very lucky break early on when Tector survived an LBW shout which was bang in line and clipping the bails. He didn't cash in on his luck, however, when Tshuma eventually trapped him plumb in front for 19. Ireland reached lunch on the first day on 89-2, and Balbirnie was in excellent form, building a formidable third-wicket partnership with McCollum. It was worth 146 when McCollum was caught at the wicket off the bowling of Raza for 74. He'd come close to three figures, but Balbirnie wouldn't be denied, reaching his maiden Test century with a pull behind square in the penultimate over of the day.

                  Resuming on Day 2 with the score 257-5, Ireland continued their dominance and Balbirnie was again influential in another significant partnership, this time with Gary Wilson for the sixth wicket. The stand was worth 148 when Balbirnie finally departed, caught Burl bowled Mavuta for 154. Wilson continued his flamboyant performance with the tail, eventually completing a century of his own, and despite falling for 107, the damage had well and truly been done. Ireland were bowled out for 472 in the evening session on Day 2, leaving Zimbabwe with a tricky 45 minute spell before the close.

                  The hosts negotiated the evening well - Kaitano and Maunze eager to impress on their own Test debuts - but four wickets in the morning put Ireland in a commanding position. It should have been five, too, but Singh, having trapped Ervine plumb in front, had overstepped. It would prove costly, as Ervine, who had just arrived at the crease, would go on to top-score with 69. His efforts took Zimbabwe past the follow-on, but their score of 282 gave Ireland a huge 190-run first innings lead, and the pitch had really begun to spin, as evidenced by the very impressive George Dockrell, who took 6-72.

                  With plenty of time left in the game, Ireland had time to manage the game and pick their declaration point. Losing Tector LBW for a duck in the first over was a setback, but Balbirnie looked just as majestic second time round as he did in the first innings, and his 69 set up the declaration, which came with the score on 212-6, just half an hour before tea on Day 4.

                  Zimbabwe had just over four sessions to bat to try and save the game, with their target of 402 looking very unrealistic given the degradation to the pitch over the four days of play. Their first task was to get through to tea without losing a wicket, but Craig Young had other ideas. Young produced a brilliant spell with the new ball and took four wickets in three overs before tea, which Zimbabwe reached at 22-4. The Test match was a formality at this point, and just over an hour into Day 5, the win was sealed, with the final wicket leaving Zimbabwe all out for 122.

                  Young ended with second-innings figures of 6-39, while Dockrell took 9-105 in the Test as a whole. However, Andrew Balbirnie was voted the Man of the Match, with 223 runs in the game.
                  Ireland won by 280 runs
                  Man of the Match: Andrew Balbirnie

                  Ireland's first Test match victory, and what a crushing victory it was! Some fantastic individual performances were the primary reason for the victory, and the fact that one Test ranking point is already guaranteed gives me the freedom to continue blooding the younger talent without fear. The players have just two days to rest before the second Test begins in Harare.
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    9th April 2020
                    Zimbabwe vs Ireland
                    2nd Test (of 2)
                    Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat first

                    Having claimed Ireland's historic first Test win a week earlier, we made one change to the side, with seamer Barry McCarthy replacing the spin of Simi Singh. It would be McCarthy's Test debut. The Harare wicket looked like it would favour the seamers more, and this was further evidenced by Zimbabwe bringing Carl Mumba into the side and not going with a spinner at all - though Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza are reasonable spinners in their own right.

                    Zimbabwe: T. Kaitano, K. Maunze, B. Taylor, S. Raza, S. Williams, C. Ervine, R. Burl, K. Jarvis, C. Mumba, T. Chatara, C. Tshuma
                    Ireland: P. Stirling, J. Tector, A. Balbirnie, J. McCollum, K. O'Brien, J. Shannon, G. Wilson, G. Dockrell, B. McCarthy, B. Rankin, C. Young

                    The first over of the Test match saw Craig Young dispatched for twelve, but he responded perfectly, trapping Kaitano LBW in his next over. A fifty partnership between Maunze and Taylor then developed, and the introduction of Barry McCarthy into the attack didn't make an immediate difference - his first ball disappeared to the fence. However, it was he who broke the partnership, clean bowling Taylor for his first Test wicket. Zimbabwe batted very well on the opening day, scoring at well above four an over, and reaching 396-8 at the close of Day 1, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Sean Williams, who scored 95 from 96 balls. Maunze also made 78, and we eventually bowled them out for 417 in the first hour of the second day - Young ending with 6-119.

                    It had been a pretty uninspiring bowling performance on the first day from us, and now we needed a response with the bat. An opening stand of 79 between Stirling and Tector set us on our way, before the latter was trapped LBW by Jarvis for 42, but Balbirnie could only make one as we fell to 98-3. Stirling and O'Brien rebuilt the innings with a century partnership for the fourth wicket, but O'Brien's dismissal for 49 was followed quickly by James Shannon - both removed by Chatara. Stirling was still there, and the tail did wag a little bit in support of him as all but Rankin managed to reach the teens, but we were bowled out for 341 - a first innings deficit of 76. Stirling carried his bat all the way to make a wonderful 156*, and now we'd need an equally brilliant performance with the ball.

                    The pitch had begun to show some uneven bounce, and chasing anything over 200 would surely be tough. We'd been bowled out with about 90 minutes of Day 3 remaining, and the seamers went about their task with tremendous aggression. Maunze was dismissed, caught and bowled by Young for 3, and with the score 29-1, Taylor edged Rankin into the waiting hands of slip... only for the umpire to raise his arm to the side, signalling a no-ball. Zimbabwe were given two more reprieves, with Kaitano being dropped in consecutive overs - once at short leg off Dockrell, and once by keeper Wilson off McCarthy. Dockrell managed to take the wickets of both just before the close of play, leaving Zimbabwe 93-3 and in a commanding position.

                    The morning of Day 4 belonged emphatically to Ireland. Zimbabwe progressed to 120-3 without too much trouble, but the hosts' middle order capitulated and they lost their last seven wickets for just 39 runs. Dockrell starred, blitzing the tail to end with 5-20, and the fourth innings target was set at 236 on a wicket which was proving extremely helpful to the bowlers.

                    Ireland reached lunch on 5-0 and tea on 67-1, with Tector (9) falling to Chatara. Stirling and Balbirnie had batted well to lay the foundations of the chase, but Sikandar Raza struck immediately after tea, inducing an edge from Stirling which was snaffled by Burl at slip. McCollum and O'Brien didn't last long, both only making single figure scores as Ireland were reduced to 97-4, leaving the lower order with a mountain to climb. It would have been easy to discount James Shannon after his first three Test innings, but he rose to the occasion, building a partnership for the fifth wicket with Balbirnie that gave Ireland a glimmer of hope. Balbirnie fell to Raza for 58 - a great effort from him in the conditions, and one which took him 196 balls - and Wilson joined Shannon to push Ireland on to 170-5 on the morning of Day 5.

                    WIth just 66 runs needed and five wickets in hand, the Test looked to be swinging Ireland's way. Tendai Chatara had other ideas, however, and his dismissal of Gary Wilson sparked a chain reaction which included Dockrell and McCarthy, as Ireland fell to 203-8. Shannon was farming the strike and trying to hit boundaries, but the task proved too much for him, as Mumba got him out LBW for 53. The last wicket needed 30 runs to win, but they couldn't manage any as Young edged behind straight away. Zimbabwe had levelled the series, winning the second Test by 29 runs.

                    Zimbabwe won by 29 runs.
                    Man of the Match: Kyle Jarvis.
                    Zimbabwe 1-1 Ireland

                    And with that, our first Test series of the career was shared. Victory in the first Test guaranteed a ranking point, and will go down as a momentous week in Irish cricket, but we're still rooted to the bottom of the Test rankings, three points behind Afghanistan. Andrew Balbirnie was the leading run scorer in the series with a century and two 50s to his name - he scored an impressive 282 across the series - while Craig Young (15) and George Dockrell (14) were the two highest wicket-takers on either side.

                    We now have a five-match T20 series against Zimbabwe to contend, while Barney Biggins fighting the Leicestershire cause in my absence. A thumping win over Loughborough MCCU in the University pre-season three-day match got the ball rolling nicely - Leicestershire winning by an innings and 223 runs, with standout performances from Hasan Azad (129) and Dieter Klein (7-32 in their second innings). However, the first match of the County Championship season saw us lose to Nottinghamshire by five wickets. Having bowled them out for 299 in their first innings, we were then skittled for 129, with Luke Fletcher taking 6-33. Following on, we made 254 in our second innings, having recovered from 101-5, and we gave Notts a scare, taking five wickets before they were able to scrape over the line.

                    While we play the T20 series with Zimbabwe, Biggins will be leading the side against Derbyshire in the County Championship, but I'll be back in time for the start of the third County fixture, which is the following week against Glamorgan.
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by Joe Baldwin; 08-06-2020, 01:31 PM.


                    • #11
                      Great start. As a Football Manager Mobile player for quite some time now, I dig your idea about the challenges. I did a similar career in ICC 2019 about trying to get Bangladesh to the top. I have not bought 20 yet have plans to buy it soon.