Friday, 25 September 2015

Derbyshire v Leicestershire day 4

Leicestershire 329 and 363

Derbyshire 352 and 331-8 (Hughes 101, Madsen 66, Slater 56, Godleman 51)

Match drawn

As a game of cricket, this was a quite wonderful way to end a season. With the sun shining brightly across the 3aaa County Ground, I am sure that I was not alone in thinking wistfully of the next six months or so without the greatest of games. Yet that sadness was qualified with the sight of, not for the first time this season, Derbyshire simply throwing a game away that was in the bag.

At 285-2 with nine overs to go, we needed 56 to win. Despite the loss of wickets from there, we only needed thirty from five, yet in the end, ran up ten runs short. It was a madcap, frenetic display of batting that cried out for someone to use a little nous and, like George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes long ago, simply get 'em in singles.

One by one, batsmen perished in assaying ambitious shots, or attempting runs at which Usain Bolt would have balked. You have to give credit to Leicestershire's bowlers, but the bowling wide of the stumps and putting nearly everyone on the boundary caused greater vexation for our players than one might have hoped.

I'd have to say that the visitors are a somewhat graceless bunch on the pitch, a comment borne out of watching them, their actions and words over four days. It was easy to see why they had been docked points earlier this season and they did themselves few favours today, as did a somewhat boorish section of support. I can only hope that the chap with the vuvuzela ended with it in an uncomfortable place on the way home, because there is no need  for that in four-day cricket.

The Derbyshire top four batted splendidly. Openers Godleman and Slater hinted at a fine pairing next year, while Chesney showed how good he can be when he gets his feet moving. Meanwhile Wayne Madsen again passed his thousand and confirmed his role as the lynch pin of the batting.

After that? Oh dear. I can only say that we need people to step up to the plate next year and a ten to fifteen per cent improvement across the board. Either that, or we need someone in the lower order who appreciates that winning a game of cricket isn't simply about slogging the ball to all parts and running as if your tail is on fire...

To clarify for anyone commenting later, I attribute no blame to Tom Knight in blocking the last four balls. Had he not done so, we could quite easily have ended the season with an embarrassing loss, which would have really sent the the postbag into overdrive.

He was acting on instructions to, as evidenced by the word from Ben Cotton, when he came in. I don't blame the reverting to 'what we have, we hold' one bit.

But by crikey, it was a shambles at the end and should never have got to that stage. The one that got away? Truth be told, there's been too many of them this year.

There's a lot of room for improvement this winter, that's for sure.

Postscript - thanks to all those with who I enjoyed chat and discussion, not just over the last four days, but over the season. It has been a pleasure to spend time in your company.

Roll on April...


Sam said...

That is by my reckoning at least half a dozen times we've thrown victories away across all formats this season by way of a run chase going wrong. It rather begs the question as to whether it's a mental issue, or it's really a skills issue with the Middle and lower order players lacking the required ability to get us home in the pressure of professional cricket. I suspect the real answer is probably a bit of both, though it really is becoming engrained in the DNA of the side, and it'll be very hard to shake it off I fear without wholesale changes. It's all well and good saying that a squad of young players will learn from these situations, but it's happened with such regularity that they really should have learned already.

I couldn't make it today, but going back to the northants game at Chesterfield when elstone and poynton couldn't knock off 24 in 3 overs. Granted, the death bowling was good, but when push came to shove, Poynton was still slogging through the leg side, as he has been doing for a number of years, despite the fact the field was set for him to hit there. Despite being an experienced member of the squad now, he hasn't developed other scoring options that we see other counties players have, for example late cuts or scoop shots (fine leg and third man were up in the ring that day), which to me points to it being a skill issue. I don't think its a lack of confidence, the players simply don't have the 21st century skills that cricketers need, and I don't see any of the current young players showing any signs of developing them. Elite performance has yet to address this in my opinion, and it doesn't just need to happen with the current first team squad, it needs to happen all the way down to the junior squads as well.

Mark said...

Disgraceful, whoever gave the decision to block the last five balls, you could call it cowardly as well. Sums up this disastrous season in a nutshell that final hour. How we could go from certain victors to near losers is just ridiculous.

Peakfan said...

So you would sooner have lost Mark?
Dont know where you play your cricket, or if you have, but where I learned mine if you cannot win or look like losing you make sure the other team doesn't.

notoveryet said...

I'm with Mark on this. The decision's always a balance of risk and reward and depends on context - for example, if we had needed to avoid finishing bottom, there would have been no thought of not trying to win it even if the likelihood of winning was even lower than it was here. In this case, we had Knight in and able to hit the ball, with Cotton, who is also able to hit cleanly and was comfortably the best in the second half of the batting in the first innings. If one of them had gone, do we really not trust Footitt to see out a couple of balls if necessary? The risk of losing would have been minor if we had gone on for another wicket, and the rewards would have been a finish one place higher, avoiding a season without a home win for the first time in 10 years, and something tangible to show for the excellence of the majority of the innings.

It was timid, fearful cricket to follow on from half a dozen overs of poor cricket that showed that nothing has been learned from the identical failures in the one-day competitions - the huge heaves when pushed singles are enough, the madcap running (I though Knight had been making the calls at the time but the video highlights show quite clearly that it was Milnes and Taylor who turned blind and charged for the second when Knight was holding back)and the inflexibility of the batting order that Graeme Welch promised a couple of weeks ago had been a mistakes, when Cotton would have been a better bet than Poynton or Taylor.

I have to say that I was more deflated by the failure of nerve to try to chase down the win that the earlier efforts deserved than I would have been by a defeat trying to get it, and I think that was true of most people that I spoke to after the game.

Peakfan said...

You would have been a lot more deflated had we lost the game notoveryet...
That the cricket in the last five overs was shocking is undeniable but with eight on the boundary..let's not forget was unlikely. The knives would have been out had we lost and I don't fault the call to regroup and hold what we had.
I do fault the madcap antics before it though and it was very poor.