Saturday, 13 May 2017

Saturday thoughts on a loss: Viljoen the right choice

I have had a few emails and comments overnight regarding the defeat yesterday at Stanley Park.

There was a common theme - and one that I will disagree with - in that Billy Godleman made the wrong decision in entrusting the penultimate over to Hardus Viljoen.

Why wouldn't he? Hardus is an experienced bowler who has carried out the role well many times over his career. In the game against Warwickshire he bowled a nigh-perfect closing over and the hope would have been that he replicated that. He has done similarly many times in South Africa and doubtless will many times for us in the future. Brought over as our strike bowler, he has earned that reputation for a reason.

Yet sometimes it goes wrong, for him and for all bowlers. The margin between a ball that is hit and one that isn't is small and you have to second guess what the batsman is planning. You get it wrong, and he goes back in his crease to one that you bowl short of a length, it travels. Or he may come down the track, or back away outside leg, go the other way to scoop, or simply edge it.

You get the picture. It isn't as simple as 'he bowled badly' on occasion and you have to credit the batsman when it happens. Look at Ben Stokes in the Kolkata T20 World Cup Final, when the sixes were raining from Carlos Brathwaite's bat and he conceded 24 from the over. Did it make Stokes a bad player? Of course not. He is a far superior cricketer to Brathwaite and has bestrode this year's IPL like a colossus, but on that night he got his lengths wrong and the West Indian kept hitting through the line to great effect.

If they repeated that final over a hundred times, my money would be on Stokes in at least 95 of them, probably more, because he is s stellar cricketer.

It is especially an issue for fast bowlers and for Hardus Viljoen read Mark Footitt, or Devon Malcolm. They get it right, when body and mind are in synch and they are lethal. Get it wrong, at that pace, it flies away, anywhere and everywhere.

The only other option for Billy Godleman yesterday was Matt Critchley, but the critics would have had a field day had a young leggie been given the ball and been hit. He could have thrown the ball to Alex Hughes or Luis Reece, but neither had bowled in the innings and being then given the penultimate over is a tough gig. Let's be honest, we are all wise after the event.

No, Billy called it right but it didn't work yesterday. By the same token, it doesn't make Hardus a bad bowler by a long chalk.

Finally today, the wicket-keeping of Daryn Smit will have given food for thought when the T20 starts. A leg side stumping from a wide by Jeevan Mendis yesterday was further proof of his credentials and he has yet to concede a bye in the games in which he has kept. The decision between Smit and Gary Wilson for the short form of the game will be interesting and just one of many decisions that John Wright will need to make when he gets over.

Mind you, he has a gem in Shiv Thakor. What a player the young all rounder is and to bowl such a spell on a small ground when the batsmen are going for it reinforced his growing reputation, as did his earlier clean hitting. When this reviled new competition gets up and running he will be a very sound 'pick' for one of the sides.

The signs are we are much improved and good displays against Leicestershire and Worcestershire in the coming days can reinforce that opinion.

More from me soon.


jasper said...

Generally I agree with your comments peak. However yesterday does reinforce the impression that billy has a reluctance to use alex hughes at times which is somewhat puzzling to me. Of course it's easy to be wise after the event but pace off the ball seemed to be the way to go yesterday. A very disappointing and frustrating defeat especially as it looks like making the televised match on tuesday a 'dead rubber' for us.

Peakfan said...

Yes Jasper. Had he bowled earlier it is a different decision and the success of slower bowlers makes his absence from the attack harder to fathom.
Mind you,nine times in ten any skipper would go with the star bowler..or be castigated if he didn't!

jasper said...

Yes difficult to argue with his choice. What worries me is that as soon as thete was some pressure exerted on us in the field we seemed to capitulate.. anyway I'm off to take out my frustrations on the opposition today!

Mark said...

I don't think that Viljoen did much wrong in his last over. A dropped catch off the first ball, an inside edge which went for 4 & 2 mis-fieldings that went for boundaries. If the fielding errors were avoided & the inside edge went onto the stumps then from the same deliveries we could have taken 2 wickets for 6 runs - which we would have been ecstatic with. The dropped catch was not straightforward, I thought it was one I would expect us to take 7 times out of 10.

The defeat was & is hard to take. But on the positive side we bossed most of the game, Shiv is looking good with both bat & ball, Critchley bowled well in a pressure situation, the openers have formed a good partnership.

As supporters we need to be more glass half full than glass half empty

Peakfan said...

Good and informative comment Mark!
Heaven help the opposition Jasper..I feel a Devon Malcolm moment coming on...

Doug said...

I struggle with these questions everyday...

Who do I dislike most? Yarkshire, Lankyshire, Birmingshire, or the host of southern counties


Has supporting Derbyshire over all these years made me bitter?

Can you help me Peakfan?

Peakfan said...

I think that needs a shrink Doug!
I dislike Notts but the rest are fine when we beat them.
And if support makes a man bitter I would be past help by now!

Doug said...

Thanks for your help, I knew I could depend on you

I completely forgot about Notts, I really don't like them

Ash said...

I'm with you Mark, we need to be more half full with our glasses. We have a decent one day side shaping up. Bill and Ben look very good as an opening pair, Shiv is showing real quality at 3 and also with the ball, Mads is well, Mads - Mr Quality, we have Wilson and Smit who can hold a very good pair of gloves and also offer with the bat. We've still got HH to come in the WK department too. On the bowling front Cotts would be my first choice one day bowler, HV WILL come good when he's 100% of that I'm sure. Dino is still Mr Consistenty. Critch is developing all the time and can sure hit a hard cricket ball. Alex Hughes is a good player to have in any 11, whether it's for his batting, bowling or fielding. Keep these players together, chuck in Luis Reece, Tom Milne and any of the academy guys who want smash down the door and join the party and the future is bright. What we need is 2 good performances, preferably 2 wins (obviously) to take into the next CC games and then on to the T20. Stating the obvious the team needs to cut out the silly mistakes and our captain just needs to take that extra 20 or 30 seconds when making the decisions in the heat of the moment, above everything else we all need to stick together, I believe we'll get there, just got to stick with the plan. See you good people Tuesday ! Phew ! After that I'm off to write an inspirational self help book !