While many will point in the direction of the life-affirming story of Afghanistan, or the determination of Ireland as the enduring spirit of the World Cup, my focus during this tournament has been slightly less worthy.
I have, I am unashamed to say, become a complete ‘Fantasy Cricket’ addict. Sure, I’ve done fantasy games before. Every football season, and more recently via the excellent Daily Telegraph County Cricket Challenge, I have attempted to compile my fantasy team with the promise of making transfers every week and keeping myself up to date with all the latest fluctuations in form and fitness. In reality however, after three weeks of tinkering, and languishing at the bottom of any league I’ve entered, I give up and consign it to memory.
However, something about this edition of the Cricket World Cup has lured me in. I find myself deliberating all day over whether Hamid Hassan is a good bet as my ‘power player’ or should I possibly be using an all-rounder instead. On such decision are fantasy leagues won and loss.
I think the relative shortness of the tournament and the constant stream of games has helped to maintain my interest. Also, to be fair to the ICC, they’ve actually got something right for once. The scoring system is reasonably simple but still allows enough nuances to legislate for differing tactics in your selection.
I’ve found myself doing complicated mental arithmetic so that I can correctly judge the number of transfers I’ve used and when best to use my remaining swaps. It certainly helps that I had a good opening few games, and have been near the top of the different leagues I’ve entered.
Luckily the transfers are soon to reset, as the pool stages pass their halfway point. While this is going to give me bountiful scope to tinker with my side, it will I’m sure bring with it a whole new load of tactical conundrums.
Aside from being a game of numbers, which is very pleasing for a statistic obsessive, the fantasy game gives many matches that I would previously have glanced over, much more importance. For example, I wasn’t that interested in the game this morning between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, although a Bangladeshi win would have knock-on effects for England’s qualification process, but thanks to the way I’d loaded my team that day, the game became vital to my fantasy ranking.
Would Angelo Matthews reward my faith with a performance befitting of his ‘power player’ status? Would Mortaza rip through the Sri Lankan top order? As it turned out, neither of these happened. Thankfully I did have the ever-reliable Sangakkara in my side, to save me some face. But the ups and downs of the match are all part of being involved in the tournament through the immersive medium of ‘Fantasy Cricket’.
I’m sure that as the tournament rumbles on and my inevitable slide down the rankings takes place, I’ll lose interest. But for the moment, this childish and highly competitive hobby is set to rob me of more and more time.