And like that Wellington Firebirds are out of the State Shield, the domestic One Day completion, and there is still one match to go. We’re rock bottom, we’ve won three from nine and in those six losses five of them have been, for lack of a better word, hidings. We have really lost badly in more games than we should have. Yes we are hit hard when the Black Caps are playing but in saying that, in the last two matches, one close loss and one beating, we’ve been at absolute full strength. Gillespie, Patel, Elliott, Ryder, Franklin and I in the one team should go a, very, long way to certainly winning more games than we lose. Excuses: I have none; we just haven’t played anywhere near consistently enough.
This last game was against Canterbury; we had been giving a sound hiding by them at their place early in the competition and we needed a win, let alone revenge win, to stay a chance in the competition.
We batted first on a track that we had already used twice in the previous two matches at the Basin. It was looking a whole lot dryer and tired than it had done in the last match against Northern Districts, where it was a very good One Day track! We really needed to score huge and hope the pitch got harder and harder to score on as the match went on and, hopefully, give us a chance for a bonus point by keeping them to 80% of our score; neither of those was to happen. We scored 217 off 49 overs which was Duckworth-Lewis’ed up to 220 as we lost that over in the middle of the innings because of rain.
Handy start with Jesse and Belly putting on 48 for the first wicket, but that was where that ended. The next best partnership was just over 30 and the rest averaging around 15; really not enough if you need to put a big score on the board. No sixes for me today, but I did hit one a couple of games back against Auckland... what’s that, you want to hear about it... oh, ok.... Nine down, I head out to bat with one ball left in the innings. “Where should I try to hit it?” I ask as I walk past the guys on my way out. “Over long on” is the answer. Not the biggest of boundaries at Auckland’s Eden Park Outer Oval so I guess anything was a chance. Tuffy had the ball in hand, I set myself up just before he lets the ball go into a bit of a golf stance, and I see it and hit it. Not over long on but over extra cover clearing the boundary and the advertising signs losing my balance in the process; I ended up running around the stumps past Hoppy, who was keeping, and back off to the shed to change and have the lunch break with a cheeky smile on my face.
Anyway, enough of that, I did have a promotion in this game to 10, from 11 in the batting line up. There was still 4.3 overs left when I headed out to bat accompanied by “Bad Medicine” by Bon Jovi; we get to pick our own songs to walk out to and I very much like this one! Shane Bond was bowling, it’s seems every time I bat against Canterbury I have to face Bondy, although this track wasn’t quite as quick or bounce as the last one. Bondy bowled really well, I couldn’t get bat on ball, he was bowling big leg cutters that were bouncing a bit too. I had no idea although did manage to get eight off the 13 balls I faced. Not quite the 600 strike rate in my last innings, but it meant we faced out our overs which added 3 extra runs to our score; we were going to need every run we could get our hands on. The innings could have been a little different with James Franklin given out LBW on 45. I’m not saying it was a bad decision, but sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. No excuses, maybe things could have been different!? That’s why cricket is one of the most debated topics in the summer. So many little bit and pieces that can be dissected and discussed.
So, firstly we have to defend 220, but if we can we need to hold them to, or dismiss them for, less than 177; both were going to be big asks. And we couldn’t do either. Canterbury knocked it off for three in the 46th over. Peter Fulton playing the anchor role and scoring a patient 85 off 122 which included a six and two fours in the last couple of overs he faced to pump that strike rate up just a little. He did the job they needed.
As I’ve said I’ve been working hard on my One Day bowling, and it’s paying off. I might not be taking as many wickets as some but my RPO has been pretty good. Two games ago I sat down with the analysis computer (called the ‘Pooch’, don’t ask me why) and looked the areas I had been bowling, the percentages of balls in three different line channels. The channels were ‘middle and leg’, ‘off and just outside’ and then ‘wide of that’. I then compared my percentages of balls pitching in those areas to a couple of other guys that had been bowling well and were having success and worked out that I had to change my lines a little. Since I did this analysis and worked on my lines my RPO has come down and I’ve been a better bowler; always learning, always trying to get better.
We now head to Invercargill for our last match, against Otago, in the series, there is still a semi and final to be played, we’re not involved; we’ll be training for the T20 competition which now follows; or, hopefully, selection for the Chappell-Hadlee series in Australia. Who knows!
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