West have played much better with the bat in 2017 than last summer. Average score is still about 200 (compared to 154 last year). And while that is overpriced due to a big score (346) and batting first in full length games, we are still clearly more confident with the bat.
I still think we are on for adding 25+ to the team average compared to last year because of this.
But there are still signs of the old team now and again.
In a high-emotional finish in the Scottish Cup, we lost by one wicket to, on paper, a strong Edinburgh side. It was close because we bowled and fielded brilliantly to almost defend 135, which we know we can do when we go well.
The batting was some of the old stuff though. We lost wickets regularly, unable to build partnerships, and went a little into our shells to try and dig out a total. We did face good bowling, but we also lost the strike rotation option, picking up only 5 quick singles (we average 15) and rotating only 10% of the balls we face (average is 19%). I'd estimate the loss of confidence cost us about 30 runs. And scoring 165 would have put us as favourites rather that at fifty/fifty of 135.
This was following on from last few games where SB% has dipped under 30%. (One of my goals for the season is to get SB% above 35%).
We still have intent to score more quickly, but a combination of factors has knocked confidence in this, which we need to address:
- Our best strike rotation exponent has made just one big score, meaning overall SB% has been knocked in most games. He did score at an incredible 63% SB% and rotated 44% of balls he faced in his ton though! More please!
- Two other deft runners have not fired at all this season. If any of these three batters get going, the SB% will shoot up.
- The bulk (75%) of the runs have come from four guys who prefer boundary options. These batsmen only rotate 12% of the time (10% less than the rotator batsmen), but hit 8% for a boundary (3% more).
- In the cup game, we were slightly intimidated by a "big" side and let them bowl at us a little too much, rather than wrestling control. This was not totally true but it happened in places.
So while I am not worried too much about the dip in rotation, we do need to focus on staying confident and batting with intent. The way I see doing this is to work with the "hitters" to get them to push rotation up a little alongside maintaining their boundary rate. Also, I'd like to build the form of the rotators as getting them facing more balls will push up the overall average.
As I said at the end of last year, rotation is vital. It shows confidence and skill of a batting side, so I monitor it in detail.