Disappointing as it was, yesterday’s defeat to Netherlands was just one match, just one defeat. Contrary to the belief of some, it doesn’t end our season but highlights the fact – as if we needed it - that our young squad has a long way to go.
There were grumblings on IMWT last night about the absence of Groenewald, Palladino, Clare and Khawaja but that is patently unfair. The first two had a lot of bowling against Middlesex and the signs are that they will be the focal point of our attack this season. We need to treat them well and give them breaks when the coaching and fitness staff – the professionals – think they are needed.
Jon Clare and Usman Khawaja are both carrying injuries. Clare missed the crucial second innings and it was obvious against Middlesex that Khawaja is currently unable to sprint. That is less of a problem in four-day cricket where he can stand at slip and jog between the wickets, but more of an issue in the one-day game, where there is no hiding place. For me, resting him in a game that we should have won made sense – it was the batsmen that played, Durston and Madsen apart, who let us down. Eight, maybe nine times out of ten, a team chasing seven an over from the last ten with seven wickets in hand would stroll to victory. It just needs a bit of common sense.
There were also comments about the injudicious use of the reverse sweep yesterday. When it goes wrong, a batsman can scarcely look more ungainly, but at the end of the day, it is down to personal judgement as to the right time to play it. Wayne Madsen’s hockey background usually helps him look one of the more adept at the shot, but if it costs a wicket too frequently, a batsman has to make a decision on a stroke. The great England opener Herbert Sutcliffe cut out the hook shot after a few too many dismissals playing it, despite scoring a lot of runs in between times with the stroke. Together with the ramp, the reverse sweep is one of the new shots that batsmen have at their disposal and, like all the others, there are times they work and times they don’t.
Anyway, that was yesterday and, slipping seamlessly into my best Scarlett O’Hara impression, tomorrow is another day. We can make amends with a good performance against Leicestershire.
The following squad has been announced:
So Clare was injured, but is fit, while Palladino was supposedly rested but isn’t in the squad. One assumes a niggle, sustained in training, keeps him out, while Mark Footitt probably needs some bowling in the Seconds. Presumably there will be a late test on Jon Clare and if he is fit, logic suggests Tom Knight will miss out, with Jones and Turner then vying for one place.
Azeem Rafiq should certainly play. If Grace Road sticks to tradition, there will be early movement and then the wicket will increasingly aid spin as the match progresses. ‘Rafiq the Tweak’ will have to match the bowling of 'the lion tamer' Henderson (Claude). It is big challenge for the youngster, but he gives the ball a rip, has the doosra in his armoury and bats well enough to have a first class century to his name.
Should Knight also play I’d venture that it is the youngest spin pairing we have ever fielded and the ECB age payment will need to be transported guarded by armoured cars…
It is hard to see Leicestershire being as poor as they seemed at times in Derby and we will need to play much better collectively than we did on Monday to get anything but a good hiding.
We must keep it in perspective. Somerset have had a nightmare start but they are from being a poor team. We’re not in their class but I’m prepared to see yesterday as an unfortunate blip on an otherwise competitive start to the season. I still think we’ll have our good and bad days in equal measure.
The players will prove or disprove that one in the near future.