This weekend saw three games, with the Development XI starting the season with a friendly.
I was in the 2nd XI who won an easy game. We bowled them out for 30 and won without loss in 5 overs. It was nice for the two bowlers and two batsmen, but not a good way to prepare people for the next level. After the game, we discussed changing the league structure and, perhaps something more in our control, batting first by default.
We fielded well, the opening bowlers were on target and we stuck to the plan of being ruthless. It was over so fast there was little challenge, but it was also good to see we didn't relax.
Meanwhile the firsts were busy making me sound like a stuck record. We didn't score enough runs. We batted first and mustered up a hundred and change. The opposition lost three wickets in the reply, but did it in under 25 overs.
The reports of the batting were as always; batsmen find ways to get themselves out. The opposition bowling is good and accurate but not terrifying. We can survive all day, but when we look to score we lose wickets. I still believe the intent to score is correct, but am starting to worry that no one really believes we can score enough. That is reflecting in a fear of getting out rather than confidence to play. It's a working theory that might be solved with fresh personnel: If we can find someone raw and brimming with confidence.
The question I ask myself is this; how can we set up training to restore belief? That's a tough one.
I was at the ground for the second half. The bowling and fielding again seemed reasonable. We were lacking two of our main bowling attack and the 2nd team opening bowler got some early tap. Our main strike bowler was a little short on his lengths. He's too quick for most to pull from back of a length and he beats the bat a lot but isn't finding the edge enough. I will encourage him to bowl fuller to club players.
However, the game was over fast and so it's unfair to do too much analysis around the bowling and fielding. In short we look solid enough but need more on the board to not have to rely on a tear-through-the-top-order bowling strategy.
The job of the development team is twofold: to bring young players into adult cricket and to give club players who don't play league Saturdays a chance for a game.
We played a 40 over friendly on Sunday with a mixed team: Three players on debut (including a 12 year old batsman/leg spinner), a few first and second team players and a couple of guys who are not quite league standard yet. The game was played in friendly spirit with retirements on fifty and every bowler getting a bowl. We scored 198 and they got 175 in reply.
What mattered more was getting people into the game and the captain did that very well. I wanted to join up the preparation of the younger talented guys with a review post game, but they ran off, so I'll need to follow up with them another time.
I know it's a friendly, and results don't matter as much as enjoying the day but good habits are part of a culture, so I would like to sharpen up the intensity of fielding and running a little more. A short pre-match and post-tea warm up will focus body and mind there. My thinking is that when a player steps into league cricket he will understand the basics and the only change is in intensity rather than culture.
I'm also hoping that when we get a chance, we can slip in a declaration game or two just to mix up the pressures on batters and bowlers.