Monday, May 26, 2014

B&PCC 4th XI v Stanford Le Hope 4th XI at The Rec Langdon Hills (Home)

So, two big losses out of two games and two losses in friendly games as well, I can see a pattern developing. Initially the team looked okay with some decent regulars, but as with all lower XI teams I had my players promoted up into the 3rd XI, it was touch and go whether my older son Ben would play in the 4ths for a few moments as they wanted him to go up to the 3rds, but then I realised my in-laws were down from Derby and were going to come along and see us all play in the same team, so Ben was left with us. The weather was looking a little iffy before Saturday and played its hand in making that decision the right one in the end.

Friday night there was final shift around and the last two players made themselves available on the website and I ended up on Saturday with...

In batting order..

Stuart Munday (Regular)
Dave Thompson
*Liam Harms
Gopal Viswanathan
*Mitchell McLeod
*Kieran Barbero
Lee Dutton
*Tim Brown
Tony Harms
*Ben Thompson
*Joe Thompson (U13)

* Indicates U15 players

None of whom have massive reputations as being batsmen that can save a game single handed with someone doing a good job at the other end. It looked again as though we were going to struggle with 6 under 15 players. During the week I'd been looking at bowling stats and was planning to try something unusual with the bowling, but as the moment of truth approached I began to think I should put that plan on the back boiler. One thing I had considered having seen the team, was that, if this was going to be another easy win for the opposition, would I be facing a situation where some of my better adult players would be looking at the situation and thinking I'm fed up with turning up every week and losing?

Saturday morning at 09.00hrs it was raining and it looked as though as predicted it had been most of the night, meaning the wicket would have been soggy. As the morning went of the rain stopped, but the sun didn't come out and the wind wasn't that brisk, so the wicket was going to definitely be wet. Once at the club talking to those in the know, the general consensus was that we should bat first, so I left with that intention. This time round what with it being a home game and all the ensuing organisation aspects, all that was a lot easier and in addition my wife Michelle had said she'd do the teas.

Once there at the Rec under leaden skies, it soon became apparent that the opposition weren't happy with the wicket, saying that it was too wet to play on. They asked about sawdust and I had to say that there wasn't any and there didn't seem to be any plan to have any available either. Lee Dutton had turned up in the meantime and agreed with the oppositions captain saying that we should leave it for a while and see if it would dry out a bit. At that point there was a distant break in the clouds and the chance that if left till 1pm there might be an improvement? The toss was done and we won and went with the prior advice to bat.

Looking around at our blokes and theirs it was obvious that again this was going to be another up-hill struggle. Only two of their players were marked as being Under 18, so not even under 15? A massively different looking to side to ours.

Talking to Lee he wasn't optimistic either about our prospects and said that we should mix up the kids with the adults, but start with a couple of adults, he didn't want to bat up the order and I offered to go in with Stuart.

Stuart and I saw out 15 overs, with Stuart able to get the ball away for runs a lot better than I ever could, but I kept blocking and made the odd run every two overs or so. Around about the 15th over Stuart suggested that we upped the game a bit and then within a few more balls he was given out LBW. Liam Harms came out to Join me and was gone with a matter of seconds having scored no runs. Gopal was up next and before he got going with me having Stuarts words still in my head about starting to get some runs on the board I tried to turn a leg-side ball around the corner only for it to hit the edge of the bat and ping up for an easy  bowled and caught.

The good news was, as I walked off I saw Gopal walking out to replace me, so, hopefully this would be the start of getting some runs on the board as Gopal is a 3rd XI player as far as I knew. I was still taking my gear off when I heard a cheer go up and looked to see Gopal on his way back having scored just one run. But that wasn't too bad we still had Mitchell and Lee to come and steady the ship?

Unfortunately Mitchell wasn't there very long either and was dismissed for 1 being caught at Mid on. Kieran lasted seconds too playing a defensive shot that went straight under his bat. Tim went out and scored 1 run. Lee went out and hit a four and a couple of singles and all around him batsmen came and went without scoring any runs. My older son Ben blocked for a couple of overs almost, but couldn't get anything away and eventually went the way of many of the others for 0, Joe strolled out and strolled back for 0 too. The whole team bowled out for 49 off of 20 overs.

The batsmen had licence to do what they wanted to and the whole thing was over within 10 overs. Totally out played. One of our players didn't even stay for tea, saying that he wasn't prepared to do this every week and pay £12 to do so and that in the week he'd be looking for another team. Which I guessed might be the situation with some of the experienced players. I spoke to a couple of the others and they seemed to be a lot more positive despite the 5 losses out of 5 games, they just seemed to be happy to be playing cricket, but the bloke with the hump will be a big loss as he's one of my key players.

 Ben surrounded by the SLH players blocking for his life.
 My son and our U13's player Joe going out to meet certain death
 Both sons passing each other
Joe trying to block, the ball went on to hit the stumps - out first ball

Next week though it gets worse as my secondary wicket keeper is away for three weeks and my regular keeper is still not due back for at least another 2 games as far as I recall.

Reflecting on this longer term, I can't see that there's going to be anyway in the short term that this is going to change a great deal and I'm kind of resigned to the fact that as far as batting is concerned we're always going to struggle. In which case it seems to me...certainly for the next few games or so ,we should play to our strengths and ensure that as a team of kids and blokes whose strength at the moment is in their bowling, we should look to always bowl first? The rationale being that, we're all going to be bowling at potentially much stronger teams and therefore this is an opportunity to bowl against a range of different players and think about our bowling, both collectively and as individuals. Already, just in these few games I'm already in a situation where I've started to think in terms of bowling to the batsmen in different ways dependent on how they approach their batting, or whether they're right or left handed. If, all the kids can approach their cricket in a different way e.g. look to bowl well, look to learn how to bowl to different batsmen, there may be far more value in playing than there is at the moment where we're thinking in terms of winning the games through the contributions of the blokes that bat which seems unfair, because generally there's so few of them? I'm not suggesting that we forget batting altogether, but maybe dependent on who we have got batting we approach the batting more defensively if we're low on attacking batsmen. I mean this week as you've just read, I survived 15 overs, if everyone else who struggles with the bat can do the same maybe we'll sneak a win or two or maybe force a draw if we've bowled well? At least we'll have had our money's worth?