St Michaels 91. West of Scotland 92-1.
West are back on track with a stunning victory over a weaker side.
At home, the conditions looked great for batting. St Michaels, who had a strong start to the year but have tailed away in recent weeks, decided to bat first. Sadly, their hopes were dashed with a combination of good opening bowling and poor batting. Our strike bowler was essentially too quick for them and at 25-5 the game was already over after nine overs.
The ball swung. West's control was excellent and the fielding was the best of the year. A direct hit run out from about 40 yards was combined with a brilliant one handed diving catch from the keeper to crush opposition hopes. There were no recorded misfields and seven good stops. One dropped catch prevented the perfect game. We are now so good in the field I feel slightly disappointed when a full stretch dive to get to an unreachable ball is not snaffled. Outstanding overall and improving all the time.
There was a rally, with the number six scoring a well-considered 52 in 89 balls. No one could give him much support though and, despite lacking our number one spinner, the spinners got rid of the danger man and cleaned up the tail. They scored at 2.4 an over with an SB% of 21%. That fifty prevented it being a farce.
One opener developed a migraine while on the field so decided to push someone else up the order so he could rest. West went out before tea to bat for 15 overs. In my ideal world we would have won it before tea.
Instead there was some accurate if danger-free bowling and a few nerves from the openers meaning the start was far too slow. Nine runs in nine overs was very flattering to a bowling attack who needed our batsmen to make mistakes to get wickets. One opener tried to move the score along, but the other decided to defend everything, scoring three in 21 balls and blocking 17 in a row at one point. I looked back at the video and I'm confident not all of those balls were good ones. What I saw was nerves from a naturally attacking and stylish batsman who wanted to "not give it away because we had plenty of time". Instead he started to feel under increasing pressure that no one trusted his plan. We had a chat afterward and he listened when I said I thought he was so concerned with taking his time he forgot to play his natural game. Had he played his normal way we would have sailed along at at least threes if not fours. He said seeing off the new ball was his plan and everyone should trust him, I advised that he needs to forget about what everyone else thinks. If he is confident in his plan he needs to do what he needs to do. He's the one with the bat in the middle! I think if he had ignored the situation and batted normally he would have been fine.
It showed a little once he was out. The pair came together on 29-1 from 14 and won it in the 29th by batting as normal. They rattled along at five an over with almost zero danger, both finish not out in the thirties.
I think we can learn something from that as a team: Players need to feel confident in their games, and we need to support each other even if we disagree with the tactic. The time to discuss it is after the match or at training when we can review. Otherwise, like this opener, we risk putting them under extra pressure when they are most doubting themselves.
Nevertheless, overall it was a complete team performance and great to see. We should take a lot of confidence that we performed our skills as well as possible. We will come up against stronger opposition, but if we play as well as we did in this match, they will also struggle. We did the basics well, and threw in some world-class moments to top it off. The second half of the season looms with positive signs.