Hello Fantasy Fans!

For those stragglers who still haven’t parted with their £10 to knock Clive Lomas off his perch, what are you waiting for? Head over and sign-up today as we look through fantasy land on the eve of the 2017 season.

This year sees some major changes to the Rams with a long-standing tyrannical clubman stepping down to finally be replaced. That’s right, after a three-year stint Jake Reynolds is no longer in charge of Fantasy Cricket and I, the malevolent Commissioner Burgess, have taken his place as Jake is demoted to the role of 1stXI captain.

This season brings one of the biggest changes to the Fantasy Cricket landscape since, well, I took over. To help accommodate one of the major selection headaches, the powers that be have decided to merge the pool of All-Rounders and Wicketkeepers.

Without delving too much into the technicalities, you can now select an All-Rounder in the Wicketkeeper slot or vice-versa if the situation arises. However, if you attempt to game the system and select the same player in both roles then I will be forced to deduct points from your weekly total.

I can’t emphasise strongly enough, please don’t make me work.

So, to your overview…

Batsmen

Andrew Clarke (£9m) again tops the list of out and out batters, a section with a much-changed dynamic as Jake Reynolds moves to the All-Rounder slots.

Whilst it wasn’t a vintage year in 2016 Clarkey still amassed the most points and sits alongside 1stXI big guns Max Driscoll (£7m) and new overseas Josh Henry (£8.5m) as the cream of the batting crop. You can also expect to see these three in prominent catching positions too, chipping in with additional fielding points over the 2017 campaign.

If you want to ration your funds then James Banner (£5.5m) and Stew Reynolds (£4.5m) can step up to the plate and the more involved fantasy manager may wish to keep an eye on the weekly availability of Jamie Pollard (£5m) who was a points-per-game behemoth last season.

If the planets align and either Ash Boardman (£4m) or Henry Clark (£3m) are available then they represent a value play that could be the difference in your quest for fantasy glory.

Bowlers

Your most expensive player can be found amongst the bowling stock as the acquisition of Toby Carson (£10m) will make a dent in any budget. His wickets were a critical part of any successful team last year, well done to all those fantasy savants who went against the grain in 2016 and backed a right-arm swing bowler to be successful in Cheshire conditions.

If £10m is too rich for your blood then Matt Wragg (£6m) and Jalal Junied (£7m) have the happy knack of picking up wickets and are a threat on their day to deliver the sweet nectar of additional bonus points for a five-wicket haul.

History suggests that Simon’s Lomas and Hare (both £4m) are a low-risk play but accommodating both may require some creative use of transfers throughout the season.

If you want to back youth, or you’ve already spent all your budget loading up on runs, then Joe Rooney (£4m), Tom Crick (£3m) and Sam Potter (£2.5m) are all top prospects that contributed useful points across the 2nd and 3rdXI last term.

Due to the sheer volume of games I played in 2016 I’ve received another price hike up to £8m, so why not get your spin fix arm elsewhere? Mikey Gilmour (£5m) already looks good enough to send me into early retirement whilst evergreen leggie Martin Blackbourn (£7m) produced his 10th successful comeback to cricket with over 30 wickets for the 1stXI last year.

All-Rounders/Wicketkeepers

2016’s Fantasy MVP resides in the newly combined all-rounders and wicketkeepers section. Manusha Wettasinghe gained 1346 points over the season at a bargain price that made him a must-have but his herculean efforts are reflected in a new price of £8.5m.

As mentioned previously, Jake Reynolds (£8m) has been reassigned, presumably because his egomaniacal captaincy is expected to see him bat, bowl and keep wicket to maximise his Saturday afternoons.

If you’re looking for all-rounders who may be selected for the dream double weekend of 2nd and 3rdXI action you may fancy one of the all-action duo of Dave Potter and Madusha Wettasinghe (both £7m) but again a keen eye on availability is key.

Alex Dyson’s (£5m) donkey drops (2ndXI batsmen’s kryptonite) again see him sneak all-rounder classification whilst all at the Rams will be hoping this newly unified selection will see Alex Dickman (£5.5m) and Will Ritchie (£5m) remain behind the stumps and not with ball in hand.

Those wishing to gamble on the unknown may be charmed by the prospect of Jamie Henderson (£5m) and his spritely bowling and lower-order hitting. Budget buyers can balance their selections with Matty Cooper (£3.5m) or Xan Wood (£2.5m), two quality players but who managed just 16 innings between them last term.

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