Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Goodbye T20, Hello One-Day Cup

And so, on Friday, we bid 'adieu' to another season's T20 campaign.

It was not as successful as we would have wished, but there were reasons for that. There was an expectation that one of our big-name overseas would score big, which is why we brought them in, of course. It didn't happen and in eight combined innings, Hashim Amla and Tillakaratne Dilshan made just 216 runs, with one fifty each.

Not disasters, by a long stretch, but for what we must have paid for their services, the club will rightly have expected more. With international status comes a pressure to perform and neither did so to the extent of their reputation. While watching them walk out to bat together against Lancashire will live long in the memory, the reality is that Hamish Rutherford, a New Zealander of high talent but lesser reputation has made eight runs less in two innings fewer.

The loss of Wayne Madsen for four games and Alex Hughes for five was also a blow, as was losing Ben Cotton after only four games, in which he went for under seven an over, despite bowling at the top and tail of the innings. On such things do fortunes turn, but Shiv Thakor bowled very well and the bowling was, overall, much better disciplined than in previous years. The game plan was obvious in the way they went about their task and largely it was accomplished well.

Nathan Rimmington came in as a 'death' bowler and sometimes showed his expertise, but too many of our 'local' players were ahead of him in the averages for it to have been deemed a success. An early finger injury didn't help him and perhaps he was playing catch up thereafter. It was a shame for a player who has been nothing but whole-hearted in his approach.

Things went awry at Old Trafford, but at Northampton we were taken apart by David Willey and at Birmingham by one of the format's greatest players. You can have all the plans you like, but when a player like Brendan McCullum gets the bit between his teeth, you really need at least two fielders ten rows back in the stand...

The batting was the issue, a perennial problem that I hope will be resolved this winter. We improved in our use of the Powerplay, beyond argument, often averaging ten an over. That was nosebleed territory compared to previous years and captain Wes Durston and Rutherford deserve credit for the daring way in which they launched our innings, the new captain leading by example with bat, as well as ball.

The loss of Madsen, the calm head in the middle order, was crucial, while Alex Hughes' ability to adapt his game to the game plan was also missed when he broke a thumb. The rest seemed too often to adopt a 'three swipes and hope' mentality to run chases that were far from demanding and the team cried out for an experienced 'finisher' in the middle order.

The nous to do this efficiently comes with experience and I am sure that winter recruitment will look to address this issue. There are very shrewd, intelligent people in charge of our cricket and those who suggest the contrary do them a grave disservice. Expect changes over the winter and accept that the club is not going to accept mediocrity.

Going into the last game, we could have had seven wins, have ended up with four but have improved on the one of last year. Importantly, a largely young squad has suggested, albeit too sporadically for some tastes, that they are mastering the techniques of the game, together with the mental and physical demands that it brings.

The many chats I have had with current and former players confirmed that they all, without exception, only felt they really knew their games as they approached their mid-to-late twenties. Some have had seasons of sporadic form by that stage, others haven't been lucky enough to get that far.

There are a few who hit their stride early, but they are exceptions, rather than the rule. With the right players recruited to play alongside them, we can and will build on the small steps of progress this summer, by an exciting collection of young players.

Those wins against Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire will get me through the winter for now...

1 comment:

Marc said...

Overall,we have made some small strides in 20/20 but few would doubt we still have some way to go before we can consider ourselves competitive enough to have a chance of reaching the knock out stages.

There are signs which offer hope and a win in the final fixture would underline progress. We have not had good enough returns from our overseas contingent and I feel we need to consider the value of an extra batsman in place of a bowler. I have never been a fan of signing bowlers for this format and Rimmington,s comparative struggles have done little to change my mind. I feel we may be better adapted to the 50 over format as a team and i,m looking forward to seeing us make a good stab at qualifying.