Part One of Two
As we headed into Day 5 we knew it was going to be a tough day. And it was. The Windies were seven down and 210 in front. If we could pick up these wickets for around 40 odd runs, then we’d be very happy. That would mean there would be about 70 overs left in the day to chase around 250 and on that track we certainly would have fancied our chances. But by saying that, that means getting these three wickets was going to be hard work.
Day five and I’ve bowled ever day of the Test. The body was pretty tired, I didn’t have the muscle soreness that I would usually, but the body was feeling tired. I knew I was going to have to work hard for every bit of rhythm and pace out in the middle.
Early bus to the ground for the fifth day in a row; there’s no point spoiling what has been working. And when I say that, I mean it. Cricketers, generally, are superstitious. Although superstitious is almost the wrong word though. If something is going well then we will repeat those things we have been doing. A shirt you’ve worn when you done well is then considered lucky will be worn day after day. The Breakfast you eat before you head down to the ground will be the same as the day before if you’ve had success. A lucky bat, a lucky pair of socks. Any day when you done well, I can almost guarantee you that cricketers will try to replicate the actions that honestly have nothing to do with the end result because we are mental! We have issues. We believe in silly routines that hopefully will bring us continued success.
So I get to the ground early and tape up my feet to save more blisters appearing. The feet are still sore and aren’t going to get any better in the short term. I’m not complaining and I’m not the only one going through pain to play, not at all. It’s just that it’s my blog, and I can only really speak on my behalf. The blister on the ball of my left foot is the one the hurts the most. Every time I land to bowl it gets smashed up. But Iain, just get on with it, just bowl. Shut up and bowl!
Gayle and my ‘pal’ Fidel were batting. The first plan was similar to how I came out and bowled on the Saturday morning. Hit the deck hard, don’t try too much, keeping the runs down and hopefully knocking them over early. Alas. I started well. Rhythm and pace came early which I was sure was going to happen as warms ups had gone well. It didn’t last though. I don’t know if it was me being tired, possibly trying too much to bowl dots to Gayle or Gayle just deciding he was going to hit me everywhere. Probably a combination of all of the above, but in my fourth over I was made to look very much like an average medium pacer. He just upped his game; maybe the bouncer I caught his grill with woke him up and made him angry. Sixteen off my fourth, and therefore last, over was not what we wanted. We will have to chase every one of these runs down to win.
I head away from that over hurting. I’m doing my best and at the time it wasn’t good enough. I’m letting the team down. I was trusted with a job and couldn’t do it. And those reasons right there is why this game is so damn difficult. One day a hero the next you can feel like a nuffy even though you’re still bowling ok, things just don’t go your way. Yes, luck does play a part! And I wasn’t lucky today. I have mentioned in earlier blogs that when things like this happen I can sometimes shut myself off, get grumpy and not give enough to the team’s effort. It’s only normal to be disappointed and showing it and feeling it are often not the best things in a team game. I tried as hard as I could to get back into the game, to back the boys that were trying to do what I couldn’t. It took me a couple of overs to ‘get over myself’ and start giving what the team needed in the field. This is a big improvement from what I have been like in the past. Still got some work to do with it, but sometimes when you’re disappointed it just takes some time to be sociable again.
In the last over before lunch we picked up the last wicket and headed into the shed. 312 off 60 overs. We get this and it’s going to be one amazing chase.
We were heading in the right direction, not cruising, but I’m sure our batters are making them nervous. Unfortunately we lost a couple of wickets in the middle of the chase and things started getting a touch nervous on our side. It was going to be a twitchy afternoon. Baz joined Jesse and things were looking good. 140 odd off about 21 overs. That really is possible. The more we chase it too, the more chance the Windies have of dismissing us; a balancing act that both sides didn’t want to give away too much.
Baz was given out caught behind playing a pull shot. Instantly he referred the decision to the 3rd umpire as he was sure he hadn’t hit it. The footage couldn’t ‘conclusively’ show that Brendon didn’t hit it so the decision stays with the original decision.
I’ll cover this rule off and the application of it in a couple of day’s time.
And that ended our chase. Sure we still had five wickets in the bank, but could we guarantee that we could get through the 15 overs remaining intact if we kept chasing.
A real hollow feeling filled the changing room when it was agreed, with nine overs to go, that a result was not possible for either team. Some real weird emotions ran through me, but mostly disappointment that I couldn’t have been the difference on the 5th morning of this match. I tried as hard as I could the previous night to be that difference. I picked up a wicket and created a chance. I do take a lot of pleasure and confidence from my performance in the first innings but I wanted to have more of an effect at the important end of the match, to make the difference, to turn it into a very, very special match for me and a Test match win for the team.
I've got a couple of things to add to this in the next couple days, so keep tuned.
Have a great Christmas all, that's if you celebrate it, of course. I'll be with my parents, at home, a welcome day off.
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