I was having a look through recent posts on IMWT this afternoon and there had been a few premature and unfair comments about Azeem Rafiq. Why haven't those making the comments been back on to praise the lad's recent efforts?
In the carnage at Grace Road the lad bowled 36 overs for 108, a tidy if unsuccesful spell in which he was reportedly unlucky. Then he batted 122 balls and 105 minutes to save the game for us, aided by Tim Groenewald and Mark Turner, as well as Greg Smith.
Today? Seven overs for just 31 against a good side, his wicket being that of international Murray Goodwin, one of the best imports of the past ten years. He's also a tidy fielder and to have been made captain of his country at age group level suggests that he is a considerable talent who we are lucky to have.
The lad has only just turned 20, the same age as Chesney Hughes. I doubt the county have ever fielded a younger spin pairing in a first class match. If I had been capable of doing as 'badly' as Rafiq at 20 I would have been an extremely happy lad. Like others who have ever played the game he will learn to take the rough with the smooth of course and a salutory lesson came today at Edgbaston.
Yesterday at Leicester Claude Henderson, a very good cricketer, bowled 51 overs and took 3-84. Today in Birmingham he bowled 8 overs for 70. I'm not sure whether Azeem will develop into Rafiq the tweak or Rafiq the technique, but the lad is entitled to patience, understanding and respect from supporters while we have him, as he has a long apprenticeship ahead of him in a very difficult art.
Finally tonight, the Netherlands suffered their first defeat in the Pro 40, by one run against Middlesex at Lords when chasing 287 to win. Tom Cooper scored an unbeaten century for them (no doubt just like that...) and they came very close to a third straight win.
The moral of the story? They ain't no minnows, they're a very good, organised and competent side who took a fine Middlesex side to the wire. Perhaps we were all too harsh on our boys for losing to them last week.
Next year, please let us have Scotland...