Sunday, 28 April 2013

Hard lines

To Aston where, for the seventh competitive match in a row, I ended up on the losing side. Aston is a curious little club, rather new and as a result rather unpopular with neighbouring clubs such as ours whose players they have recently pilfered. They're a good side with an even mixture of experience and youth and always a tough fixture. The weather forecast was decidedly unpromising, but when we got to the ground the sun was out and the wicket pretty firm.

We lost the toss and were inserted, and were a wicket down off the second ball. Dan and Sam batted reasonably and Azar was astonishingly good, making a stylish 39. However, four ducks later - including three wickets in a single over - it ultimately came down once again to Jamie and myself at the crease having only just crept past three figures. Jamie wanted the strike and I was only too happy to give it to him. I had to see of the final deliveries of a couple of overs, which I did with relative ease, before Jamie was bowled for 15, leaving me stranded on 0*. We'd made only 112 and, criminally, had a full 14 overs of the innings left unused. Again...

In to the field we went, but with a required run rate of less than 3 there was no pressure on the batsmen to do anything except defend the good balls and punish the bad. This they did to great effect, and after four or five overs they were well on their way. I was getting a little concerned about how long the match would last, so I was just about to lean on Chigsy to give me a bowl when, would you believe it, at EXACTLY that moment he called me on to bowl!

Well I knew I was on a bit of a hiding to nothing, given the match situation, and life was further complicated by not just of a shiny ball and a bit of moisture on it, but also the addition of those extra lines you see in the IPL to demarcate a wide ball. I can not for the life of me understand why these extra playing conditions regarding wides have to be brought in, considering the sheer simplicity of the original Law 25 paragraph 1(b):
The ball will be considered as passing wide of the striker unless it is sufficiently within his reach for him to be able to hit it with his bat by means of a normal [i.e. controlled] cricket stroke.
But anyway, "theirs not to reason why" and all that. I have been trying to bowl more of a middle stump line precisely because of the amount of wides I haemorrhage down leg side, but now I was faced with a pitch that had hardly any bounce, and any ball pitching on a good length on off-stump turned too far and passed too low for the batsman to reach it without moving, and given the lack of urgency for runs they certainly weren't in the mood to chase the ball. In this way the first three balls I bowled were all wides, but the rest of the over was reasonably good; just three singles scored, one beat the bat and another seemed to surprise the batsman, with one really very wide wide in the middle.

My second over was a bit looser, as I tried to bowl a little fuller to avoid the wides and inevitably bowled a couple of full tosses, both of which went for 4 although the first may well have been cut off for no run by a more competent fielder. There was another wide, down leg side this time though, and since others wanted a bowl I wasn't too surprised when I was taken off. Final analysis:

Overall though, there were some good plus points to take from my bowling, despite all the plus signs in the analysis. Firstly, I was getting good spin on the ball, and I was feeling reasonably good in terms of overall body shape. I did threaten the batsmen a bit despite their defensive mindset, and in the circumstances I wasn't that bothered about the runs conceded. It's just nice to have got the first spell of the season under my belt with my confidence relatively unscathed, although those two full tosses were rather a pain.

We struggled on but in the end they knocked off the runs about six overs later without a wicket down, as had seemed on the cards even four overs in. Chigsy was in the car with me on the way back and we were mulling over what had gone wrong. "Just not enough runs on the board" I said, and we hatched a plan of possibly looking to bowl first in future matches so at least then the batsmen have a target to focus on, rather than an uncertain void. When you really get down to it, firstly we're not the strongest of teams either in bowling or batting, and we're far too impatient and indisciplined. I'm certainly no exception.

Good points: Solid comfortable defence while batting, mistake-free and purposeful fielding, bowled reasonably well with good spin.
Points for improvement: Too many wides, allowed myself to get distracted by the extra lines, lost discipline a little in the second over - need to be more patient and focused in future.

Saturday's stats: (Aston 1st XI vs Stafford 4th XI, 40 overs each)
Batting: No.11, Not out, 0 (2bf, 0x4, 0x6 prt: 10th ~8)
Bowling: O 2, M 0, W 0, R 18, wd 5, Econ. 9.00
Fielding: Ct 0, St 0, RO 0

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