West of Scotland took the weekend apart, maintaining a 100% win record for both 1st and 2nd XI sides. This included a win in the Scottish Cup.
Hillhead 103. West of Scotland 104-6. West of Scotland win by 4 wickets.
Saturday's league match was a strong performance against a weaker side. West bowled first on a difficult wicket where some balls popped and others kept low. The first two wickets fell quickly. However, as always happens, a pair got more settled and put on a stand. Once this was broken there was another flurry of wickets followed by another stand where batsmen decided to hit out and got away with a few hits. Eventually this was broken too. The number eleven hung around while the number five looked to get as many as he could, but 103 was not enough even on this poor wicket.
My main learning point about the innings was how hard we are on ourselves. There were very few mistakes yet the tone from the loudest voices at the break was how we should have bowled them out for 50. If everything had gone well, then this was feasible, but to beat yourself up for imperfection is foolish. Perfect games come about very rarely. It's not an indicator of future success to be perfect or imperfect. We put in a very strong performance and it was more than enough with the ball. You might call it a B+ rather than an A+.
Of course, there are areas to work on. We gave away five runs in misfields (but even there we saved three with good stops, finishing on only -2). We dropped two tricky but possible chances (and caught two, one very good one). It was a good performance in the field that can still be taken up a notch.
There were 13 wides, which is also acceptable with room to improve. The Hillhead SB% was 22% which you would expect for a low score on a poor wicket. The RpSS was 1.98 (37 singles). The control was 64%. This shows how West dominated with the ball.
West's stats with the bat were different; 77% control (excellent on a poor wicket) and SB% was 26%. RpSS was 2.38 (21 singles). It is encouraging there were more boundaries scored and yet the SB% was also higher. When you see that West also stole 14 runs (losing 5 to poor running or good fielding), you can easily see how dominant a performance it was.
The runs were scored in 27 overs. This was due mainly to aggressive play from two batsmen after a solid foundation was set in the first 10 (30-1). From 10-18, another 29 were added, and with the addition of an attacking batsman, the last 9.3 overs saw 45 runs.
However one stat that is most worrisome is wickets. Six were lost in the chase. With such a high control and good RpO, the thought is batsmen were getting themselves out. However, analysing the wickets reveals it wasn't so bad; an LBW on a ball that nipped in, bowled from a ball that went away, and bowled from a ball that kept low account for three wickets. On all three the batsmen might have been lucky but didn't do too much wrong.
The other three were a technical error (caught leading edge), shouldering arms caught LBW (poor judgement let's say but it could have been a good ball too), and bowled after being distracted. The last one the batsman should have pulled away but decided to continue, so although the distraction was not his fault (and an external mistake), he took responsibility. On another day, at least four of the six wickets could have gone the other way and did not fully involve batsman error.
It meant the negative view could be taken that West did not finish clinically. While this is true, it also need to be mitigated. The stats were superior in every department and even in wickets fallen there was a 40% improvement on the opposition!
As always, we take what happened at the weekend with a "stop, start, continue" view and work on processes at training. With the ball we can sharpen the fielding further, maybe even pulling off some better dives and stops. The bowling can improve in accuracy but the tactics are working so it's just a matter of confidence and fitness unless a bowler has something extra he wants to try. With the bat, we need to individually review game plans and decide if it's working at the moment. Just because you got out for a low score doesn't mean your plan failed or you didn't try hard enough. If the plan is wrong, change it. If the plan is right, work on honing it further at nets.
A note on the 2nds who also won on Saturday (but I was not there); They are playing a strong side against terrible opposition. A 10 wicket win on Saturday is no fun or practice for anyone. The big challenge is to keep everyone interested and competing for places. However, two new batsmen got runs and will look to challenge for a first team place.
Scottish Cup: Irvine 91. West of Scotland 92-3. West of Scotland win by 7 wickets
Sunday saw a cup match for the 1st team. I played and so did not do a full match analysis. However, you can see from the score that the match was even more one-sided.
It was the same pitch and so scoring freely was always a challenge against good first team bowling. West had a close to full strength team against a clearly weakened Irvine. Yet again, there was some frustration about the fielding and, while I don't have the stats, it was almost always West in charge. The only tactic that worked for Irvine was for the tail to block to try and use up the overs. SB% was 19%. However, at least no naysayer was complaining about how were should have done better.
With the bat, it was all over in 21 overs. 27-2 from the first nine and 65-1 in the last 12. Five an over on such a poor wicket shows the power of being on top in the match. Great credit goes to West's number four who scored a run a ball 31 to close out the game. It was also nice to see a senior batsman who struggled last year to find a role make a cameo 5 not out when in other times he might have either blocked too much or got out after putting himself under pressure to finish the game. Progress.
What made me happy was that the games were very similar yet we showed a marked improvement in the second go. Certainly an A-. If we improve by this much every game we will be invincible. However, more likely is we will come under more pressure from stronger sides. We need to use the confidence gained in these games to get ready for harder challenges.
Train hard to play easy!