West of Scotland 118. Stirling 69. (32 overs rain reduced match).
Despite forgettable batting, West showed mettle in the best bowling performance of the season so far.
Stiling are one of the sides in the better half of the division, so the game was set to be a challenge. In wet conditions, the game was reduced to 32 overs. Unlike last time, we handled the delay well. Most players had an impromptu game of football in the wet while we waited and I didn't hear one complaint. The warm up was focused.
West batted first. The pitch was slow and the outfield was long and wet. We knew batting would be tough. It turned out to be the case as Stirling turned to seam and swing, taking three wickets in the first 10 overs. There was a recovery in the middle order and an acceleration from 2.2 an over. At one point West were motoring at 6.1 (between overs 18-24). 150 was quite possible with even 180 on the table.
Sadly, a poor decision from one player led to a run out and then getting bowled the next ball. From here, with only a few overs to go, the lower order struggled to pick up the pace. 87-3 became 110 all out with 28 runs scored in the last eight overs.
Overall control was the lowest of the year at 75%, SB% was down at 28% (compared to 41% in the last rain reduced match an 31% on average) which tells a story of poor conditions. We managed 30 singles, 9 stolen (compared to 41/18 in the last reduced overs and 45/19 average). We hit seven boundaries. These stats was a consequence - in my mind - of tight bowling, ring fields, a big slow outfield and few gaps to hit. So, it poses an interesting tactical question on how we play in these conditions, when you have fewer balls you can score from and you can't hit the bad ones for many boundaries. The foundation is staying calm and keeping frustration out of your head, then building a method that allows you to break the shackles. We did this well in a couple of patches but still need to work on with individual methods.
Nevertheless, it was the bowling and fielding that won the day. West were simply better than Stirling. Four bowlers were used and all tied down the runs and took wickets easily. 23-2 from 12. 44-6 from 20. 69 all out. It as easily our best performance with the ball and those numbers tell you everything.
Catching was at 57% with the slips the culprits for the drops. It was made up in some good outfield catching and stopping. The fielding difference was -1 overall showing both sides did well. However, we bowled half the number of wides as Stirling. Essentially, we out-bowled them. I was most pleased with the approach: no complaining, just positive and focused. We knew we had to bowl the, out and we did it by executing on the basics very well.
Pleasingly, the seconds also won easily but are working hard to improve fielding standards too. The Development team also won playing on Sunday on the same wicket. Although a lower standard of cricket, the scores of 56 all out and 57-6 show you just how much the wicket favoured bowlers!