The T20 Blast is a funny old tournament, it follows no sort of fixtures structure, is played while England players are one duty and is hard to fully keep track of due to the lowkey nature of it in the media. Its respective fantasy game is no different.
The Telegraph game is a simple one though, or so at least the scoring is.
Team formation comes in the shape of 4/5 batsman, 1/2 all-rounders, 1 wicketkeeper and 4 bowlers. One of which will be captain and score double points(duh).
Batsman scoring is as simple as +1 for a run, -20 for a duck, +10 for scoring over 20 runs at more than a run a ball and +3 for each Six.
Bowlers rack up +20 for each wicket, -1 for every 5 runs conceded, +20 for three or more wickets, +10 for each maiden and +10 for an economy rate less than 6.
Additional fielding points are +10 for a catch an +15 for a stumping. (Nothing for a run out in this game?)
You have 30 transfer changes and 15 captaincy changes over the ENTIRE tournament.
The trick with the Telegraph game is that it allows users to register as many teams as you like, all paid for of course but having multiple teams will drastically change your approach to the game. Some people will register 50 teams and have subtle changes in each side to cover pretty much every single possibility. I have 10 team credits so I’ll likely be covering all bases to begin with.
So yeah, that’s the game. Here’s the my process to the opening approach.
Having a fixture map for such a messy tournament is essential to allow you to make full use of your transfer and captain changes in getting as many games out of your players as possible. The nature of the fixture list is a great starting point as we begin the tournament without fully knowing how the teams/player will look so having more games, even with what may turn out to be lesser players should act as a counterbalance to our knowledge gap.
Here’s the first of five ‘blocks’ of fixtures.
As I said above, fixtures are massive when starting a competition and give us an idea of which sides it’s worth researching.
Two of last years finals day sides, Yorkshire and Northamptonshire start strong with 4 games in this block and three games in the opening 5 days. Early 2017 favourites Surrey are the only other side with 4 games this ‘block’.
Likely batting top five’s:
Yorkshire: Willey, Lyth, S.Marsh, Lees, Handscomb.
Northants: Levi, Duckett, Cobb, Rossington, Wakely.
Surrey: Finch, Roy, Sangakkara, Pietersen, Borthwick.
Ideally you want to be covering your side with 2 each players from Yorkshire and Northants whilst at least once Surrey asset should do given their high price.
From another angle, Derbyshire(Tahir), Nottinghamshire(Hales & Lumb) and Warwickshire(Hain & Bell) all begin with back-to-back games in the first two days and may prompt immediate investment with quick transfers to Kent and Somerset assets looking profitable straight after.
The player list and forming a team base.
Telegraph’s player list is viewable here and makes for interesting reading with a few glaringly obvious ‘errors’ in player pricing on their part. The budget is 60 spread across 11 players and pricing ranges from 9-1.
Early observations suggest batsman are expensive this year an the value picks aren’t yet viable. I suggest going heavy early on before downgrading to the emerging value pick is the most likely form of success to counteract this. This means going cheap in the bowling department and Telegraph have played right into our hands with their pricing of overseas studs Mohammad Amir(4), Imran Tahir(3) and England’s emerging leg spinner Mason Crane(1). These three, in fact, will form the base of the bowling core in all 10 of my sides costing a mere 8 of our 60 budget. 52 left.
Onto Wicketkeepers now and one man immediately jumps out from the page. Ben Duckett(8) of Northamptonshire full fits the fantasy mantra of having elite fixtures and opening the innings. A majority of viable keepers bat far too low in the T20 blast with just Rossington(8), Mustard(8), Buttler(7), Billings(7) and Alsop(4) the only other keepers likely to bat among the top four in their respective sides. Of those, Billings and Mustard fail to meet the immediate fixture requirement, whilst Rossington is expected to bat at 4 and unlikely to rival Duckett in the runs department, but should still keep wicket. Alsop has a lot of competition for his place at Hampshire with Rossouw and Bailey signings coupled with Carberry’s return and Vince’s flexibility to open. As with Buttler his form with the bat has been questionable lately and I want to see something from him before reinvesting my Duckett stock to him. I’ll add Duckett to my base as essential Northants coverage.
Duckett, Amir, Tahir, Crane. 16/60. 42 left. 8 slots. This is where it gets interesting as Yorkshire posses so many potential assets that this is where the core essentially ends as picking up all-rounders and batsman to satisfy the core’s need begins.
Distributing shares of likely opener and fantasy dream all-rounder David Willey across 7 of my 10 sides to compliment Duckett in providing essential coverage of the early fixture mantra sides and a captain rival to Duckett. He’s the staple of Yorkshire ‘coverage’.
‘Doubling up’ with Northants Ben Duckett is either Richard Levi(5) or Josh Cobb(8), both of which are equally as potent at the crease alongside Duckett. I split these guys into 4 and 6 of my sides. *Richard Levi missed the first game and was replaced by Hain and Livingstone in most sides*.
‘Doubling up’ with Yorkie opener David Willey is an assortment of Adil Rashid(4), Adam Lyth(6) and Shaun Marsh(7). Rashid makes it into 4 teams as a counterbalance of Duckett & Cobb’s pricey double up whilst opener Lyth and one drop Marsh have 5 shares between them.
The combinations of Cobb, Willey and Rashid should fill out almost all of your all-round slots.
Onto Surrey batsman and opener Aaron Finch(6) provides the much needed cheap alternative to Jason Roy(9), Kumar Sangakkara(8) and Kevin Pietersen(7). Finch automatically makes it into 8 sides, including a double up with KP….until KP is “unavailable”, a couple more Hales shares here then.
To fill in the first remaining batsman blanks, I bring you back to “Nottinghamshire(Hales & Lumb) and Warwickshire(Hain & Bell) all begin with back-to-back games in the first two days and may prompt immediate investment.” Split these guys into your sides, mainly focusing on the in form Alex Hales(6).
The final two slots are simply freedom picks based on how much you have left, but I would recommend investing in some Surrey/Northants bowlers to compliment their batting coverage as we have Willey/Rashid for that purpose in Yorkshire’s case.
As for the batsman some sides have the inform Colin Ingram(9) off the back of three sucessive RLODC hundreds, others featuring up-and-coming England LOI player Liam Livingstone(5) as these are my favourite picks from the best-of-the-rest selection. In the cheaper category Jacques Rudolph(3) is incredible value while Ben Godleman(1) could even open up for Derbyshire.
Almost out of breath there, time to recap what we’ve got…
NOT/WAR, SUR, FREEDOM, YOR, YOR, NOR, Duckett; Tahir, Crane, Amir, SUR/NOR/FREEDOM.
As far as i’m concerned this is a great core to build your teams from and allow for the best possible start by being a dullard and covering all bases in teams that we sort of know enough about to be able to pick and prosper. Remember flexibility is key as more the teams play, the easier it becomes to pick them and asses their options. Reassessing after the Northants/Yorkshire game on Tuesday is likely to give us a greater long term outlook on our side and immediate “knee-jerk” moves can be ‘covered’ by replacing Notts/B’ham players after their opening weekend.
**Sorry that there’s not much actual analysis in this, Telegraph essentially wants you to ‘cover’ options to be successful so having an equal amount of most options seemed sensible, look for future analysis when we have to move from this core after the opening slate**