One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs East Shirley Blue, Sydenham Park #3, Presidents, 10th January 2015
It would seem that this playing group had a pretty good Christmas. I'm not sure if it was the Christmas pudding, or the excessive alcohol consumption, but we certainly seemed to tire pretty early into this match, with only the imminent threat of a first up loss seeming to get us back on track.
It was typical after Christmas conditions at Sydenham Park with the temperatures in the high twenties, the outfield starting to brown off, and a pitch which, whilst a touch too dry, was mostly bouncy and full of runs. But as is the case these days there was total confidence in the skipper's ability to win the toss and bat, which he duly did. And despite Wildy's third ball leading end that caused an initial set back, the boys started well. Laught's looked from the start to be set upon another big score, and Matt, despite some early uncertainties, looked in similar touch. Between them they took the score from 1/1 to 74 before Matt was bowled for 32. Ralphy came and went early, and then Laughts fell over one somewhat and lost his leg stump to fall two short of his fifty.
Phil Walker had a brief but promising 15, but when he went Flem was still there playing his best innings of the season with an excellent 41, and Jeremy was starting to take on the responsibility of a batsman who can bowl, rather than an impression that he gives at times that any runs he gets are a bonus. When both were gone at 190/6, with still a number of overs to go, we looked set for the 220-230 score that the conditions demanded. But then, for the second match in a row, we capitulated from the middle order down to lose the next five wickets for a miserable two runs. Our 190/6 became 192 all out as Bert, Phil B and Ferg were all dismissed inside five balls, and Jules for little more. Criminally, Jeremy was left playing well but stranded on 28*.
That disappointing finish extended further into East's innings in reply. Our initial first up bowling was wayward, either too short or too full and rarely troubling. Easts didn't lose their first wicket until Rose fell at 45, and at 127/1 with the run rate down to four an over, Nick Cottam and Sadarth scoring at will, Easts were cruising. Something had to have been changed far earlier, bowlers changed more quickly, and boundaries protected much more at a time when were clearly losing control. Finally something was changed, we slowed the pace of the bowling down and bought Flem on, be it at least two bowling changes too late in the opinion of those of us watching and frustrated on the sideline - it proved to be the turning point of the match. In conjunction with the returning Ralphy, the two of them combined to clamp down on the run rate and in doing so picked up five wickets between them that was effectively the winning of the match.
Suddenly 127/1 became 134/4, and as is unfortunately the case for Easts, in doing so exposed their middle order batting that does not possess the same talent as their top three. The pressure finally applied by the bowlers also saw a step up in the fielding and when Jeremy caught the catch of the season to date, an impossible one running back over his shoulder at mid-off, it was obvious that the whole team had accepted the danger and had stepped up. Eleven required off the last over with two wickets in hand was as comfortable as we got it, but by then we were favourites and we finally won it with six runs to spare.
So a first up win after Christmas which was vital, but with two big lessons to learn. Firstly, we need more runs from our middle to lower order especially when time is still available (14 runs from 13 batsman from no. seven down in the last three matches isn't something we can survive on against the better sides). But secondly, and most importantly, we need to be more proactive in the field to what's happening, rather than waiting until defeat is almost inevitable before doing so. Continuing with the same approach which isn't working is nonsensical, and against the top sides that has been terminal already on more than one occasion this season. And so with yet another warning of it from this match, we can have no excuses if we don't recognise it and actually start communicating early on when similar situations are clearly starting to develop in a match - at least to two old heads on the sideline, it was clear that communication and intensity was there towards the end, but frankly, zero sign of it earlier.
Man of the Match: Dave Fleming
Check out the scorecard from the game.