Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Phil, Mac and cap - another Aussie at Hants.

The equation for this match was simple - win and we were in with a chance of qualifying still. Lose and we were out of the running. As it was we just have the Championship to concentrate on now, as we were just outplayed, though by not very much, by a Kent side in a similar position to us. There were some disappointments throught the game, which contributed to a disappointing though not suicide provoking performance. In truth we looked a pace bowler short, Slug as first change is not ideal to be honest. Yes he bowled well but we lacked the pace of somebody like Jones or Griffiths to provide something a little different to Cork and Wood, both of whom bowled ok, but not spectacular, Cork outperforming Wood on this occasion though. Replacing Riazuddin with Dawson wasn't the problem either - the two spinners operated decently though not quite to the same level as Bandara and Tredwell. Carbs' one over thankfully remained his only over, and to be honest why it wasn't given to Dawson I don't know. The fielding was good but not great, Wood in particular having a bit of trouble in the deep with the bouncing ball, twice being undone by a ball that was spinning and twice conceeding the boundary. Adams however was quite the opposite, despite messing up one boundary stop he pulled of I think three fines stops that more than made up for those runs. He also helped run out Coles by combining with Briggs after Key had sold Coles out. Coles' innings was to put it mildly, strange. First ball Briggs found a slight edge but it fell safe. This was followed by a slog for one, a reverse sweep in which the ball somehow managed not to connect with anything, and then the run out.

A mention must go to Phil Hughes, on debut. If I'm honest I had slight reservations considering it was his first game back after a 7 month lay off due to a dislocated shoulder. However he batted superbly, looking in really good touch and playing some excellent shots. His fielding stank of test match practice, such was his energy, enthusiasm and alertness inside the 30 yard ring. To top it off he took an absolute stunner of a reflex catch to dismiss Blob Key off the bowling of Briggs, the force of the shot knocking Hughes off his feet, whilst it's a good job he got hands to it otherwise there wouldn't be much left of his face. Obviously on the runs front Hughes would have wanted more but the runs he did score, as I said, were top drawer, couldn't fault him as a debut performance. Another man in fine form was Jimmy Adams, who played just as he always does. Picking out the gaps on the cut and drive, so assured at the crease and he absolutely dwarfed Hughes in the middle. His dismissal was extremely disappointing and frustrating, but up until that point he had played the sort of innings that in all honesty we have come to expect. Surely, surely he must tour with the Lions this winter. Nice day for Macca too, who was awarded his county cap by Brangrove before play. All we need now is his signature for a contract for next season! Sadly he was unable to repeat his performance against Leicestershire, as he struggled to work the field around enough and keep the strike rotating in time with the run rate. Sacrificing himself the ball before Carberry took the batting powerplay to get Slug in was very nearly a masterstroke but it was not to be. The truth of the matter was that we did not have an MVJ (though Adams got damn close), someone who oversaw proceedings, could rotate the strike and select balls to send to the boundary. It was a masterful performance by the South African, and certainly the difference between the two sides as after the opening stand we were unable to put together any meaningful partnerships. And so ended our interest in the CB40 for this season, but given the start we had to the season, we should be extremely chuffed witht the way that we turned our form well and truly around. Still, always next year. The Championship gets full attention now, with Macca and Hughes almost certain to start in Hampshire's top 4. They will be needed too, as Liverpool is an original result pitch. Carberry's reported asthma problems are hopefully not too serious either.

A special mention to Stan Rudder, who got to bowl to Cork before the match in recognition of his service to the Hampshire leagues, terrorising opposition batsmen and most probably their sons that followed them, such was Stan's longevity. A true champion of the country's cricket leagues, and he received the applause from the crowd that he so richly deserved. A memorable day for him and for all those associated with the club game in the county.

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