Monday, 2 June 2014

To bat, or not to bat? That is the question

There have been several comments below yesterday's piece with regard to the decision to put Hampshire in to bat at The Rose Bowl. Those comments were based on generalities such as "when the sun is shining, you should bat", as well as the time-honoured tactic of being wise after the event and, of course, being able to read a wicket from a distance of hundreds of miles away.

The truth of the matter is somewhat different. Wayne Madsen and Graeme Welch went out to inspect the wicket yesterday and with over thirty years of collective first-class playing and coaching experience between them, reckoned that our best chance of success, were we to win the toss, was to field.

Mark Eklid's report in the Derby Telegraph today confirms that we should have had success in the first period. They would have, had the skipper not put down his opposite number, Jimmy Adams, in Mark Footitt's opening over. That cost us sixty runs, but as I said last night, it happens. Maybe the skipper might benefit from being at mid-off in the early exchanges while he is pondering the options of the day, but we have lost two first choice slip fielders in Wes Durston and Chesney Hughes, so practice has suggested Madsen is the best replacement. He has held some blinders in his time at the county, so it would be silly to argue.

There were plenty of plays and misses that on another day could have seen wickets go down, but having already seen a drop cost us 60 runs, Gareth Cross then put down the free-scoring Adam Wheater, which cost us another 87. Take those runs from the total and Hampshire could easily have gone for under 250.

I prefer to look at facts, not supposition. The facts are that in eight LV County Championship matches at The Rose Bowl last year, on five occasions the side winning the toss bowled first. Fast forward to this year and the side winning the toss has so far bowled on EVERY occasion. Feel free to check if you wish. I did and was prepared to make a concession, had the figures proved otherwise. To suggest that Wayne Madsen and Graeme Welch made a mistake yesterday is just churlish. Of course, they wouldn't have wanted, nor expected, a closing score of 332-7, but as explained above, that could have been very different.

In high summer, when the sun is shining, the wicket is hard and dry and there is a strong likelihood of turn later on, of course you bat. Even then, if it is 'muggy' and the ball is likely to swing, you cannot always say you will do so, as you factor in other things, perhaps including the opposition overseas player who is a past master in such conditions. Only the people on the field, looking at the wicket and in full possession of the facts are qualified to make such judgements - on which they stand or fall, of course, unlike those of us commenting from afar.

I have been critical of Wayne Madsen this summer - I felt the rotation and handling of bowlers at Leicester in the T20 was poor, but there could have been factors we were unaware of. We don't know if player A had a bruised spinning finger, sustained in making a stop, or player B had a niggle that prevented him from bowling. From a distance, decisions seemed odd, but they were made for a reason, not, presumably, on a whim.

In my club game yesterday, the opposition skipper was delighted to win the toss and put us in on a wicket that was awful. Balls would lift spitefully off a length and then shoot through from a similar spot next ball. We were in big trouble early on, but, as I pointed out to successive batting partners, if we made a hundred they'd not get near it. This was in a forty-over game and we got past the ton with a few runs to spare in the end.

The efforts weren't pretty, but I was right. Our opponents didn't get fifty. The track was only going to worsen, as far as I could see, but someone else thought otherwise. Some you win, some you lose...

Derbyshire may or may not struggle when it is our turn to bat today. Yet the facts suggest we may have done a lot worse had we done so yesterday against a high-class seam attack offered help on a first morning.


Anonymous said...

Yes, all three sides have bowled first this season on winning the toss....but when Hants put Surrey in they scored 400-6 dec!! The other two innings were 263 by Worcs and 224 by Glamorgan. So, although conditions have been bowler friendly the average first innings score this season has been 295. Still think we should have batted!!!

Anonymous said...

it was a bad decision in my view, which I expressed shortly after the toss. However, lets hope we can get to 239 at the very least in order to avoid the follow-on. On a positive note, we seem to have found a genuinely good youngster in Elstone - he looks a prospect indeed.

Tim, Chesterfield said...

However the dust settles we should have batted. It was a negative action to take.

Anonymous said...

today's events answer the question you pose in the title. It was the wrong decision but in view of the performances in general at the moment , we may well have ended up in exactly the same position. The bottom line is that our performances are just not good enough. End of.

Rob Enderby said...

At approx 1300hrs on Sunday 13th April 2014 I sat in the scruffy county ground at Chelmsford savouring what had been a fine sessions work with Essex teetering at 60 odd for 7. I did not and still do not agree with the manner of KK's dismissal but accepting that he had gone and with the preseason we had had thought in GW we would be going places. Less than 2 months later our season, the players confidence and the supporters morale are in complete tatters. We are competing with no one else to pick up the wooden spoon in both competitions so far. Have not remotely looked like winning any game of first team cricket and most worryingly have just about used up our options to change it up. Tomorrow our only hope is to try and score the 70 odd needed and hope the weather saves us on Wednesday. Following on will leave us defeated by tea. The reasons for this debacle. Sure the wicket keeper situation has not helped. Looking around the line ups in Div 2 teams there are some fine players. The coaching set up are we doing to much? having video analysis is fine as longs as it works. I read that young Knight is having his action remodelled which always concerns me. The answers, not so easy. Change the coach? to whom and how. One thing is for sure we are not getting the best out of the players. We can not keep signing cast offs from other counties. Any good player will always have other irons in the fire and in our current state have no chance. We simply have to stick with the youth set up and produce our own. We realistically have to write this season off and accept the wooden spoon, swallow it, reflect and develop. Churchill once said "if you are going through hell keep going" The game against the same opposition in September 2012 looks light years away right now but what choice do we have?

Marc said...

We shall have to agree to differ on this subject,peakfan. You may not be able to read a wicket from 300 miles away,but most can,t read one when they are standing on top of it. It,s all guesswork and it proves it the number of times captain,s get it wrong,not just Madsen Often a green top will play perfectly well whilst a pitch that may look good can be a nightmare. For me,this aspect is only part of the issue.

First innings scores at Southampton have been 263,400/6dec,393/8dec,224 and 388. To my way of thinking those sort of scores show a wicket that holds few terrors for batsmen. Dropping Adams cost us some runs but there were precious few other early chances and the fact we failed to take a wicket during the entire morning is hardly justification for bowling. If it really was a bowlers pitch,missing the odd chance should make little difference to the overall outcome.We always drop catches,it,s nothing new.

Even in your match Peakfan,you won batting first.

There are times when bowling first might be the sensible option,but it has to prove the right decision. If it proves incorrect there is every chance the match will be lost. Why does nearly every team bat in a test match?. Because batting last is nearly always far more hazardous than batting first. As you hinted yesterday,I will bet a pound to million that Rogers wouldn,t put Middlesex in the field again if you turned the clock back a few hours.

Welch and Madsen have got experience but it counts for nothing unless it,s used properly. I am convinced we are afraid to bat and therefore take the easy option,more in hope than expectation it will pay off.

It is rather ironic the first word to prove I am not a bloggeristrRm robot is "plan".

Peakfan said...

Very good comment from Rob, to which I totally subscribe.
Needless to say, we'll agree to disagree, as Marc points out. If pitch inspection was an exact science we'd have captains taking qualifications in landscape management.
Anyway, thanks for comments folks!

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Marc hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned. In my opinion we were 'afraid' to take positive step and bat first. Bowling first is not seen as a negative option for no reason.

Peakfan said...

I'm not sure it is, Tim. It never was when Kim Barnett's side did it, nor when earlier Derbyshire sides cashed in on outstanding new ball bowlers.
And any side that faced Holding. Malcolm and Mortensen wouldn't have regarded being inserted as a negative move, as they strapped on all the padding they could lay their hands on...
Don't buy that one at all, mate!