Probably about time I sat down and did a bit of a catch up, starting with the final day of International cricket for the summer in New Zealand.
Originally I was going to get this done sitting in the departures lounge of Auckland Airport as I waited for me flight to the UK to join up with Leicestershire County CC, but as I am still sitting here in Wellington, over a week after my original departure date I thought it was about time got this all down.
So, Day 5 of the Test match, our only task was to save it, to fight it out for a draw. One thing we had in our favour was the rain forecasted for the middle of the afternoon that would probably stick around for the rest of the day. The pitch was still flat, no real wear and tear and the windy day makes it hard to bowl; so we had a chance to do something strong, not roll over and hang in there for the day, or at least till the rain came.
I was batting with Dan when ‘that’ rain came in. Rossco had been brilliant, a great hundred at a time when we needed a couple of guys to stand up and save a Test match. The other guy that stood up was Franky, his 50 and partnership with Rossco was the game saver. Although very secretly and humorously, I think I saved that Test match single handedly. Ha! Eight down and I joined Dan. Our only plan was to bat for as long as we could, hang in there and hope the wind died down so that the rain could pass over the ground. Wellington has a funny weather pattern. If it’s windy, really windy, like it was, it won’t rain at the Basin; the rain hangs about the hills and doesn’t fill in the gap in between.
We could see the clouds filling in out the back of the ground; the hills were slowly disappearing. A good sign if you don’t want to lose a Test match. I had decided that if I got a bad ball I’d hit it from Sachin. He had troubled a couple of the guys and picked up two wickets. I didn’t want to be his third and I didn’t want him to be able to get away with bad balls. I got a couple of full tosses, one I hit straight to Sharma at square leg, not clever, but, fortunately for me, be put it down and we lived on. It was Sachins googly that I was most worried about. I got a shortish leggie that I cut for four and the next ball was the googly from about the same area. For some reason, I just forgot about the googly, and went to cut this one, then, as it spun back into me a bit sharper than I then thought it would, I had to change my shot and only just got some wood on it. I then started reading what I was going to get. I was trying to predict what he was going to bowl to me and make sure I was in the right place to a) not get out and b) hit runs.
I was doing ok to Harbhajan, no real intent to score off him, but I still didn’t want him to be able to bring to many guys in close looking for a bat pad. I kept trying to sweep him early in the over, to get a single and therefore off strike, and then keep him out towards the end so that I wouldn’t be on strike early in the next. It was the formula that I had used through the series and it’s been working. I’ve doubled my Test match runs in these three tests. I had 61 runs in my previous 14 Tests. I scored 61 in these three Tests, and am really happy that the hard work I’ve been putting in on my batting is paying off for me and the team.
The rain was getting closer and Zak was brought back on with the wind behind him. He’d been brilliant throughout this whole series. The last throw of the dice before the rain came in. Dan and I had spoken a couple of overs ago about trying to slow things down as much as possible in between balls and overs. We had to try everything to give the rain as much time to get to us. I know it’s negative but I would rather draw a Test match that we can’t win than lose it. We’d managed to slow things down a little, but not much, it’s not that easy to do it when you are out there. Intentions are easy; carrying it out sometimes is harder! With Zaheer coming back, his longer run up and a change in field meant there were a couple of delays that Dan and I were happy about. At one point, off a very short run up, Zaheer started his run up before my head was up and ready, a great chance to pull out, take up some more time and make him start the ball again. I did much to the disapproval of the Indian guys around me. But you could also tell that they would be doing the same thing as the smiles behind the words said something else.
Half way through the over the rain came in quite heavy, Dan turned and started to walk off, almost not waiting for the Umpires to call it. I tucked my bat under my arm and followed him. We’d made it; we’d got through to the rain.
The next two hours were spent wondering the halls of the Basin, checking on the weather and hoping it would stick around. The covers came off twice in that time and were then hastily put back on.
And that brought an end to the Indian Summer. A one nil Test series loss to close out a summer that wasn’t great but it wasn’t too bad either.
I’ll be back in a couple of days with an update of what’s been happening in the last week, and a couple of possible changes to the blog....