I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I hate losing! It doesn’t matter who to, how big, or if the writing was on the wall, I just hate losing.
We set India 39 in their second innings to win the Test. A 10 wicket hiding we were served. Out played in all departments meant that we weren’t even close.
Test cricket is hard; it’s supposed to be. It’s tough cricket for five consecutive days. It’s hard on the body and extremely hard on the mind, and that’s probably where we’ve let ourselves down. The concentration that is needed to perform for the periods of time that is needed in Test cricket takes its toll and is a tough skill to have, learn and posses. Only the best have it and only the best have that selfish streak that puts such a value on what you’re doing out in the middle that you going to go out there and do it yourself no matter how ugly you make it, you’re going to succeed. I don’t think we showed enough selfishness. I don’t think we ‘gutsed’ it out for long enough, we didn’t show the fight and determination needed. Test cricket can make heroes, more than One Day cricket can. It’s your Test record that goes down in history and is spoken about when you’re finished; it’s our history that we’re creating, and some of us are not doing enough to be remembered for very long at the moment.
We had to bat out the day and bat into day five to save, or maybe set up something in this Test. We were bowled out soon after drinks in the last session just 38 in front.
I was hoping for a very lazy day, feet up watching some genuine Test cricket batting. Not to be, I was padded up and out there just after drinks in the middle session. I joined Baz out there; last time we batted together was in Adelaide in a similar situation and we put on 50 for the 9th wicket; of that 50 I got none, it was all him and a couple of extras. A 36 ball duck, the fifth longest duck time wise in Test cricket, but a partnership none the less. We decided that the same strategy was the best way to play; Baz would take the majority of the strike leaving me with one or two balls at the end of the over to get through. It’s not a pretty way to play, and it’s tough mentally turning down runs for both of us, but it was a means to an ends at the time, and it worked. Together we put on 76 for the 9th wicket. I got 14 off 44 balls in the 100 minutes that I was out there and I was loving it. Every now and then we wouldn’t be able to get the single to get Baz on strike for the next over and I’d have to start on strike. This was probably better for me as it actually gave me a chance to score a couple of runs. It’s my job to not get out, but also to get Baz on strike for the majority of the over. So a couple of sweeps and pushes got me some runs and off strike.
Our ‘annoying’ partnership, that’s annoying for India, not us, was curtailed when I was given out caught in close off Harbhajan, his 6th for the innings. At the time I didn’t think I had hit it and when I got back to the changing room and watched the replay and ‘hot spot’, there was no visible sign of a nick but that’s the way it goes. I was a little disappointed as I needed just one more run to beat my previous best of 14* against SA, a somewhat shorter innings, just six balls that one was (0, 6, 4, 0, 4, 0). On the flip side, earlier in my innings I had come back for a second run to the bowlers end, a throw from long off right next to the stumps, bails off and it was close. I turned around to Baz and gave him the thumbs up; I thought I was in by about a ‘foot’. That was how it felt and I have now learnt that there is a big difference between feel and what the TV shows when it comes to run outs. A really long wait meant that it was a whole lot closer than I thought. I was watching our viewing area for an initial feel from our boys as the TV replays would be playing up there, I was watching the Indian viewing area for the same thing. Signs coming from both areas were of one thumb up and one thumb down, nobody was sure. I got the benefit of the doubt there and maybe that was my luck done for the day.
Sitting around a losing changing room is not much fun and it’s not supposed to be. I got packed up, sorted out washing from clean stuff, had some food and chatted to the physio about a programme for me over the next couple of days in regards to my side. It’s coming along good and I had a gym session this morning where I didn’t feel any discomfort, it feels like a bit of a bruise on the 11th rib, almost like it’s been banged against the top iliac crest (pelvis) in delivery, probably one of the bouncers I was trying to bowl in my last spell.
Travel to Napier tomorrow, a place that I have always liked and have, just recently, had some good success on the park.
Losing is easy, winning is hard, we have to be harder!