Sunday, 29 June 2014

The first third (and a bit)

I thought I'd post a brief description of how the fifths have been getting on. In short, we've had very little luck with rain, and when we have played we've been getting beaten by some reasonably big margins.

When I say we've had bad luck, I mean REALLY bad luck. Our first away game we had to wait for two hours while a boggy outfield failed to dry out before a heavy shower put paid to the match. Then the following weekend's home fixture was called off because our opponents couldn't find the players, followed by two away games cancelled shortly after we arrived and another away game called off shortly before we were due to leave Stafford.

Thus we've been restricted to playing at home, on that god awful astro wicket that's become the bane of my life. My team's pretty changeable and very inexperienced so I'm finding myself bowling more overs that I ideally would like to on that surface, and it's getting expensive. I'm feeling as if I have to chance my arm a bit to see if I can make the breakthrough, but that encourages me to attack more than I should, and any bad ball on that astro gets heavily punished. So far in 5 games I've bowled 21 overs and taken just the one wicket at the cost of 184 runs. It's just about the worst surface a team of inexperienced bowlers could bowl on, so it's no surprise we've been shipping a lot of runs.

As for our batting, more often than not we've been a little outclassed but we've had two matches where I was very pleased with our efforts. First of all we made 197 against Hales, sadly not enough to avoid defeat and it was a cup game so we didn't score points for it, but it was a pretty respectable score. Then against the 4ths - who look like they'll win the league this year - we faced a really impossible situation. I think it's fair to say we're the weakest team in the league, but the 4ths put out what I'm pretty sure is the strongest all-round team anyone in our league will face all season. We batted second and had no chance of chasing down 300, but we set ourselves to bat out the 50 overs against some very good bowling, and we were less than 7 overs short. I really liked the way the team was so focused on a single goal, and lots of players played their part.

I'm still feeling pretty inexperienced as a captain and I'm not all that comfortable fine-tuning my field settings, but the atmosphere in the team is exactly how I want it. I think everyone realises we're a team of new players and we're primarily about having a fun afternoon and enjoying each other's company. We don't want to keep losing week after week, but we understand that's the likelihood and we just have to make the best of it. There's a good attitude amongst the players, for example there's a group of five new guys of whom two or three play each week, and when our games were getting called off they'd immediately head into the nets for some practise.

That's how our season's gone after 10 out of 22 fixtures, and I've been starting to think about what happens next year. If the 4ths win the league they'll go up to Stone & District Premier league, while the 3rds may seek to switch to a different league. If the 5ths are still going we'll probably hang on in S&D 1st division and we should compete a bit more once our players have a season's experience under their belts, but if the 5ths were to be wound up there'd be no team for new players to start out in, so that'd be quite a loss for the club. I'm not entirely sure yet if I'll want to continue as captain (it's pretty stressful spending hours and hours each week trying to get 11 names together) so I perhaps need to think a little about possible succession planning.