Saturday's league game was a crushing defeat for the First XI. I coached as the opposition scored 236-8 and our reply was essentially over at 46-5 after 20. We ended up on 125-8.
The bowling and fielding remained solid, although mistakes cost us and we did not seem penetrating enough to cause problems. An opening stand of 87 in 23 overs put us in a weak position. We dropped a catch in this period but generally the batsmen looked comfortable against the opening bowlers.
We exerted tighter control between overs 15-30, again without much penetration. Our leg spinner - who has bought us valuable wickets in the past - didn't take a wicket until his 10th over and was attacked heartily. We didn't take another wicket until the 35th over, leaving them on a strong 145-2. Four an over seems a little slow in these days of sevens at international level but - as it turned out in the second dig - it was plenty.
They gave it the long handle in the last 10 and lost wickets but also scored 77 runs. It was a classic old fashioned, effective tactic; set a base, rotate in the middle and swing at the end. 236 was well above par.
As you know, our batting line up has not looked effective this year at all. Our reply was in keeping with the usual state of affairs.
Our main opener ran himself out trying to rotate the strike. The other opener got worked over with the short ball and couldn't play his role of hustling singles and hitting over the top. Number four was run out by number three and number five, by his account at least, got bowled by a complete jaffa. It did look good. Number six and I had a quick chat about what to do, and he decided to counter-attack because we already needed six an over. He has the style to do it but his first attempt didn't clear mid off. 45-5 in 18 overs.
Yet again, we had a plan, we tried to execute and we were found wanting. Their opening bowler was as penetrating and difficult to play as we were toothless. He hit his lengths, made it sing off the seam and took wickets as we struggled to survive until it was too late. His 15 overs got him 4-16. Their spinner was also ragging it and causing issues, in contrast to our spinner.
The rest of the innings was basically a block job. I understand the need to bat the 50 overs, but I didn't agree with batting out the time. Yes, it gave our number three chance to get fifty (stumped on 48 in the end) and it gave nine and 10 time at the crease, but it was a waste of time. On one hand, who cares? The game was lost. On the other hand, it's hardly going down fighting. Their spinner stopped trying to rip it in his last few overs and it made batting look much easier but if the game had been tighter he might have tried harder.
We can't even blame conditions as overnight rain and cloud in the first inning was ideal for swing bowling. The sun came out for out innings. We could not have asked for kinder weather. We were simply outplayed in every department.
We had a long chat afterwards and their was a lot of resignation rather than anger. There were many suggestions made, including giving batsmen more time in training against good bowlers (a fair point) and changing out approach to be more attacking without fear. Both are worth examining further.
- Stop: Finding ways to get out. Bowling without teeth.
- Start: Possibly playing with less fear and trying to hit the ball into gaps rather than blocking. Looking to build inning and take responsibility. Swinging the new ball and spinning the old one. Taking the fielding a notch up in the ring. Improving the wicketkeeping.
- Continue: keeping a positive and happy environment. The culture at the club is one of hard work, personal responsibility and good mates. There is a lot to applaud and if we keep getting that right we are doing all we can. The field was also at our usual solid standard overall.