Saturday, 30 April 2011
Leicestershire v Derbyshire day 4
It didn't change, but they managed to bowl straight and had two class bowlers in Claude Henderson and Matthew Hoggard, as well as a rapidly improving one in Jigar Naik (26). Conversely our off spinner is 20 and had no such bowler of quality to bowl with and learn from. As I wrote the other day, Henderson is a class act, a far better bowler than he was five years ago and proving the merits of experience to that art. Anyone who can't see that substantial difference between the two sides is having a laugh.
Full credit to Azeem Rafiq though, who used up 122 balls this afternoon in a fantastic effort to follow a tidy one with the ball, while one has also to pay credit to Tim Groenewald (again!) for lasting 87 balls and Mark Turner for his unbeaten knock that ensured we took unexpected points from the game. If nothing else, their efforts highlighted an excellent spirit in the camp and it is good to see us to do Leicestershire what they have done to us in the past.
By the same token, I'd regard today's play as disappointing. We should have been capable of batting out the day with ease after they made 500-5 yesterday. All the batsmen got starts and then got out when they should have been on the verge of an innings that would have made a difference. Much as in the first game at Bristol, we let ourselves down and the only thing you can say is that it was poor batting. All reports acknowledged it was spinning but it was slow and shouldn't have been that big an issue. Goodness knows how we'd do on an old sticky after some rain...
16, 45, 35 and 25 are Usman Khawaja's scores so far and anyone who has seen the genial Aussie will vouch for his obvious talent. For all that, as the hired import he will need to start going on to the big scores sometime soon, as such scores are the preserve of a player of only modest talent, something that he isn't. For all the fact that he has had an injury, a fragile batting line up like ours needs a steady, regular contributor, as we've had in recent seasons from Chris Rogers and Simon Katich before him. I'm well aware of his relative inexperience, but as Australia's brightest batting hope he will need to turn those starts into bigger contributions in the near future.
English conditions are completely different to those in Australia and you probably need to work harder for longer. Perhaps Khawaja needs to remember that, but I'm still confident that this talented young man will come good soon. So confident that he's in my Telegraph Fantasy team. Rating him a 2 is a bit of a joke...
The team? They have some work to do, but I'd have expected Groenewald and Turner to have walked into a dressing room tonight where at least one player was bouncing a ball off a wall and catching it in a baseball mitt.
The Great Escape? You better believe it. We have to do better, but you can't fault the commitment. That at least is cause for optimism.