The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for the players, and the coach! Here's a summary from on field performances and training thoughts.
The last four games have been a win, a win (over top of table rivals), a loss (against the other rivals) and abandoned without a ball bowled. This meant that we could have moved into second place for promotion after beating Poloc, but were scuppered by a weak performance against Greenock.
The chances of promotion are now zero.
As has been the case all season, the bowling has saved the batting repeatedly. Scores of 171 (against weak bowling), 132 and 102 batting first are not enough and the source of the issue has been no runs from the top order. Lucky for us, the bowling has won out mostly. It was telling that the day West didn't take enough wickets was the day we lost.
It's interesting that batting control has remained high all season and is still at 78% for the year. However, scoring ball percentage has dropped from 32% in the first part of the year to 28% in the last few games. As we average about 2 runs per shot played, that accounts for a drop of 24 runs when batting first. It's 18 runs when adjusted for average balls faced.
Really, this should have gone up over the year as pitches improve and batsmen grow in confidence. It hasn't. Scoring off more balls and rotating the strike is an area to work on.
There has been an expectation that anything less than 250 batting first is a failure. However, realistically, this does not happen; even at the top level. Premier teams with better batsmen and more reliable pitches only manage an average of just over 200. West average 150 unadjusted for conditions. This is still not enough from the batting unit, but it's good to be realistic about what is achievable.
And this 150 has been enough to beat lesser teams when we bowl them out for, on average, 140. The bowlers - apart from the Greenock game - have plundered wickets with ease.
The fielding has remained strong. We save an average of six runs a match and catch about two in three chances. Combined with better running than most, we average nine runs a match better in "controllables" than the opposition.
What does this mean for West now?
With one game left, training will be winding down. I would like to see guys take the chance to practice something they don't normally do, like strike rotation or power hitting. I suspect instead it will be a mixture of apathy and "having a hit". I'll push my agenda as much as possible though.
Then I'd like to have a review with senior players to work out what to do differently next year. It will be good to know both individual and team goals for the winter sessions so I can plan so appropriate work.
In my mind, this means better strike rotation and better confidence of top order batsmen to take scores on to forty plus. It also means furthering fielding skills to take even more catches, make even more good stops and - our biggest weakness in the field - hitting the stumps for run outs.