Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cricket Team Selection

Here's a common gripe amongst players, I think I may have blogged recently on the same theme and this post will be along the same lines. If you look back through this blog to the good ol days of the MPA team, you'll find the dilemma that I faced as the driving force behind the MPA 1st XI. The team was made up of a bunch of blokes in our dept, some who had played cricket, but many who had not, in fact the blokes that hadn't played cricket hadn't played anything in their lives, being the victims of Thatchers playground thefts and then the ensuing idiocy of non-competitive sport in schools. As we lost the matches and I met more cricketers and practiced with more cricketers, the MPA 1st XI grew to around 20 people creating a selection issue and I was faced with the prospect of continuing with the original team that had invested all their time and money (Hiring a hall for winter nets) and lose like dogs in every game or bring in some of the new blokes. It was a tricky and uncomfortable business, that I wasn't at ease with at all and it didn't help that I consulted some of my mates that played football. Some where of the opinion that it was only the win that was important and others were saying it's about your mates and sticking through thick and thin, win or lose. I eventually went for the win option, what mattered was the win.

So my older son Ben tonight is devastated that he's not been selected for the big semi final. The team are in the semis for the first time in the clubs history and his bowling and fielding has been integral to them getting there. Additionally, he's been with this team in varying forms for three seasons now, being one of the regulars, training through the winter and summer hardly missing a session, only ever missing games because we've been away on holiday. Like my mates would have done, he's seen new kids just stroll into the side and take places that a part of him sees as being his. It's a difficult thing to deal with, but it's sport and the goal is a win at all costs other than cheating.

It's especially bitter sweet when at the moment his bowling is phenomenally good, but as I well know, in practice that may be the case, but taking it to the field and doing it in front of the people that select the team is a key objective that you need to meet and perhaps he's not done it. Over the summer I've seen this coming, I've tried to encourage him to bat more and maybe he has a little, but there's a reluctance and a sense that maybe naiavely he's considered his bowling and fielding is enough to see him through. His mate Kieran has joined the club and he's very competitive and can bowl straight, but more than that, he's got very good eye/ball co-ordination and you can sense that with some coaching if he was to listen he may become a half decent bat and in doing so push Ben to the margins of the team.

Fortunately, this is the end of the season and the make-up of the team will change dramatically next year with Ben probably securing a place in the team. But, maybe this will be a wake-up call for Ben, maybe next summer he'll look to get in the paddock as much as possible and to face as much bowling as he can rather than avoid it?

On a final note, all is not lost as he is the 12th man and it is the middle of the summer and as yet there are 4 boys who have yet to confirm that they can play, so we've all got our fingers crossed for him. If he don't play, he'll be there supporting and hopefully he wont be there begrudging the place to the bloke that was deemed a better player than him.