It’s nice to be sitting down to write this on a day off.
My last few editions have been written whilst sitting in my corner in the changing room...
It wouldn’t be like me to do something last minute! Usually I have Zafar Ansari, a Cambridge Scholar, sitting beside me reading over my shoulder. Today I have nothing but a latte.
The county season is so busy, when you do get a couple of days to chill out it really is a welcome break. Each player will have a different way of resting up their body and mind.
Some examples... Jason Roy has gone to the South of France for a couple of days with his girlfriend, Graeme Smith spent yesterday with his family at Westfield shopping centre while I had an excellent morning on the sofa with my duvet followed by 18 holes in the afternoon.
I do enjoy getting out on the course and we are lucky enough at Surrey to have an agreement at three different courses, the trouble is, with London traffic, they are all nearly an hour away. Wentworth starts on Thursday and with a good Irish Contingent in the field I think I’ll try and get down to watch on day one or two. Tomorrow though, it’s back to cricket. There is a second XI t20 day at home to Sussex which I was keen to play to keep my eye in.
In the second XI, you play two games in a day. They are tough days, especially if you lose the first game! It can be very difficult to pick yourself up to play in the afternoon.
I was therefore very surprised that Middlesex chose to play two in a day in the Nat West T20 Blast last Saturday. I just didn’t see what they had to gain from it.
No doubt there would have been a reason for it, otherwise it wouldn’t have been organised but from the outside looking in, it looked like they had arranged two games in North London, where club cricketers would be playing for their local side and the biggest football cup final in the land was being played less than 10 miles down the road...Strange.
Back to us tomorrow though and I think it is important to keep trying to hit balls in match situations.
With no first team game this week it’s an opportunity to go and look at things in a less pressurised environment. I am hoping to get the chance to bat in the power play, in all the t20 games I’ve played it’s not something I have done a lot of and I’m looking at this as a good opportunity to practice it.
It was a bit of a mixed start for us in the Blast this weekend. We lost a game that we should have won and then won on Sunday when perhaps we were slightly behind the game.
It was bitterly disappointing not to get a off to a winning start on Friday night at Hove. Putting 171 on the board we thought we were well ahead of the game on a slowish pitch. I think perhaps we didn’t box smart enough with ball in hand.
Kevin O’brien bowled his 4 overs for 22 with lots of slower balls and cutters. Unfortunately the other bowers didn’t quite hit their straps. Even taking that into account, with Sussex needing 16 to win off the last over and Jade Dernbach to bowl it, we were clear favourites.
Unfortunately, Jade didn’t quite nail his skills and they got the runs. Give Jade 16 to defend in the last over of a County game and he will do it 9 times out of 10.
He will be the first to admit that he hasn’t hit his straps the way he would have wanted in international cricket but in county cricket there is no better death bowler in the shortest format of the game.
In the last three years when Jade has bowled the last over of the opposition innings we have won 84% of the time. When he hasn’t, that figure drops to less than 50%. That is an incredible stat and testament to how good he has been in that period.
We got down to a similar scenario against Somerset, with Jade needing to defend 18 in the last, we won by 14 runs...big cojones from him.
From a personal point of view it was nice to start the competition off with some runs, it was a successful period for me last year and hopefully I can continue that this season.
The only downside was I let my Irish team mate George Dockrell get me out. Thats twice now!
The new layout of County Cricket is far from ideal for the players, having to jump in and out of formats.
It’s understandable from a club point of view if they think they can sell out more often with bigger gaps between games. Having said that, in the two games at Hove and Taunton, I saw no difference to any other year that we have played there.
They were both well supported, as always.