Ok Peakfan, I know you rarely disagree with decisions made by the club but give me one good reason why we should not have batted against the Bears. Forget about McCullum, he's not the issue, what is the issue is why change something that worked well in the previous match for no apparent reason?
I'm sorry, but I agree with many of your comments but
this is agreeing with what happened at the toss for the sake of it.
Don't forget, whatever reasons may have been at the forefront of
Durston's mind, they did not work. Why agree with something that was so
I got the above comment from Marc, late last night and decided that it needed a response in greater detail than the comments box would allow.
First of all, I don't disagree unduly often because they are professional people who largely make the right decisions through that professionalism. Both on and off field affairs are run by men of exceptional talent, who work with the limited resources that they have in order to make us a competitive side. I think, with the benefit of that wonderful tool available to us all called hindsight, that we got most of the overseas decision wrong this year (or half of it) but there were few dissenting voices at the time. Why would there be, given the reputation of those involved?
Yet even there, if the awareness of names like Amla and Dilshan coming to our club convinced the agent of, say, Mitchell Marsh, that a stint in Derby was of career benefit for half of next summer, there may be unseen merit that is not being considered right now.
So, coming back to Marc's point, why change what worked in the last game? Well, you base decisions in life on that day and time, not on history. I enjoyed Mrs P's delightful poached salmon yesterday, but it will be nice to enjoy something different today. I had a good trip to work on Friday, but am going a different route on Monday because of roadworks, a factor, or unknown quantity thrown into the mix.
Can any supporter, from his armchair or even the boundary edge, judge conditions better than a professional, experienced captain who is looking at the wicket, knows the conditions, the opposition and the feelings of his own team? I won't flatter myself that I do, so anyone who makes an assertion to the contrary is kidding themselves on.
Yes, we beat Nottinghamshire the previous week by batting first after winning the toss, but we beat Lancashire doing the opposite and should have beaten Durham by the same tactic. We beat Leicestershire after they won the toss and put us in, so you can't read too much into previous games.
I think our bowling is our stronger suit and as such it made sense to try and limit a team perhaps striving for too many runs and falling down in doing so. While improved, our batting is patchy and not entirely trustworthy, so for me, the decision was the correct one. Had we opted to bat first on the first day of a four-day game under cloudy skies with a green wicket, I would say the opposite, but it is rarely so clearcut.
A former Derbyshire coach once told me that supporters don't know half of what goes on in the dressing room and nor should they. Your star batsman may have a bad headache and you bowl to give him a chance to recover. Your best bowler has a painful wisdom tooth and could do with time to recover, or seek treatment. Your star all-rounder has had a row with his wife and is in a bit of a state. All these things (and none relate to the current side, for the record) can have an impact on a captain's decision.
Finally, Mark says 'Ignore McCullum, he's not the issue'. Really? We are up against one of the top three T20 batsmen in the world and we don't consider the best way to combat him? Do you think football teams facing Lionel Messi ignore him in pre-match chat, or cricket teams due to bowl at Chris Gayle or AB de Villiers ignore their presence? Did captains playing Worcestershire last summer ignore the fact that the opposition had Saeed Ajmal in the side and say 'You know what, we'll put them in and opt to bat last against a bloke who will turn it sideways'? Of course not.
If we had nicked McCullum early, we had a decent chance of winning on Friday, but Birmingham are a good side and may well have beaten us anyway. They have not won eight out of ten by accident, after all.
Maybe, had we opted to bat, we would have scored 200 again, got McCullum early in their reply and won the game. Maybe, our fragile batting would have imploded and we would have been bowled out for 130, leaving them to win in a canter.
We opted to bat at Northampton and didn't bat to potential, then lost the game. We did the same at Worcester and made a mess of our innings, leaving them winning with seven overs to spare. For whatever reason, Wes Durston opted to bowl, it might have worked, it didn't. End of story. There were no guarantees either way. Cricket is no exact science and things don't always go to plan.
Today he may opt to bat and we win, or opt to bowl and do so. He's a hero then, good old Wes. If we lose, it is a different matter, because we are all Mike Brearley, with the benefit of hindsight
But the skipper was still better placed than any of us armchair or deckchair enthusiasts to make that call...sorry Marc.