The inaugural first season of Cricinfo Cricket Manager is now complete on the Cricinfo game server. Over 4,000 teams competed across 256 leagues and battled their way to promotion, mid-table security or, in the case of the unlucky ones, relegation to the leagues below.

The end of season is an exciting time for Cricinfo Cricket Manager devotees as, promotion and relegation aside, the new season is for the first time set to include 3 cup competitions. These include the Elite Cup for the top 64 managers in the Manager table; and the Champions Cup for all the league winners.

In addition, managers at the top of their leagues will receive an award of Credits according to their performance allowing them, amongst other things, to trade in new players ready for the challenges of the new season.

Manager of the Season
One particularly successful manager in the first season was "theblackbag", also known as Martin Waterman, who won the Manager of the Season award for finishing top of the manager table. We interviewed Martin about his season and views on the game.

Cricinfo: So, to start with, where did your user name "theblackbag" come from?
Martin: It's a bit of a long story - embarrassing actually. Let's just say that it came from a very drunken end of season tour in Prague... I wish you'd asked something else!

C: We know your real name is Martin Waterman - tell us a little bit more about yourself & your life outside of Cricket Manager!
M: Do you mean the life I used to have before discovering Cricket Manager? The one where I used to spend quality time with my wife, going to the cinema, eating out, or just relaxing in front of the telly. Or time with my mates drinking out or playing snooker. Or time when work hours were spent working and sleep hours spent sleeping. Well, I guess I also find time to keep a few Sunday League football teams running too.

C: Do you play cricket in real life?
M: Very, very rarely. Football has always been my participative sport and since picking up a permanent knee injury a few years ago, I've had to retire to the snooker table. Mind you, the footy team is getting on a bit so we've started discussing re-inventing ourselves as an occasional cricket team. We're planning our first game later in the summer (we need to build up to it you see).

C: What Test country / domestic cricket team do you support?
M: England & Gloucestershire.

C: Who are your favourite Test cricketers, both current and of all time?
M: Freddie Flintoff & Jack Russell. Although Graham Gooch was the main man when I was growing up, it was Jack Russell who really got my interest up.

C: When did you start playing Cricket Manager and how did you find out about the game?
M: I started playing it during Beta testing, so was there from the launch. I think I found out about it from a link on the Cat Games site.

C: You had a fantastic season, winning the first Manager League. What were the secrets to your success?
M: Oodles and oodles of luck. To be honest, I was very fortunate not be given a team in the highest division. Being one division below meant I probably had a few less really decent teams to pit my wits against. Then apart from grasping the key tactical points, I think the key was building a squad of players, each of whom had `decent' attributes, as opposed to a team with a few stars and many hangers on.

C: Did you sign lots of new players? If so, how did you choose what players to buy?
M: I replaced 19 of the 20, mostly on the cheap. I tried avoiding the high `overalls' and concentrate on those with a range of decent attributes. Some of my best batsmen are rated no more than 54 overall!

C: What is your favourite thing about the game?
M: It's difficult to identify any one aspect as a favourite. The whole game has been very well designed. It's easy enough to pick up and play yet complicated enough to keep your mind well occupied when working out how to beat the next team. I like the competitiveness of pitting yourself against others around the globe, and against yourself! Coupled with the camaraderie of the forums.

C: What would be the one thing you would recommend to new managers joining the game?
M: A couple of good players won't win you anything, build a decent squad rather than an exceptional team.

C: Your promotion last season has put you into the top division. What are your goals for the new season?
M: They're simple - to win the league, to win the Managers table, to win the Elite Cup and to win the Champions Cup! But I'm not greedy so 3 of the 4 will do...

C: Do you have a message to your fellow Cricket Manager managers?
M: Just to wish every one of them the very best of luck for this and coming seasons. Aside, of course, for those up against me in the league and cups!

If you think that you can emulate Martin's achievements and be a success in Cricinfo Cricket Manager, click here to join the game FOR FREE today and start enjoying the challenge!