Yes there are still probably 7 days left of the season, and Hampshire can still save themselves, but I just have this nagging feeling that we aren't going to survive. In truth we are not fully deserving of first division status next season - winning just two CC matches in a division that includes Kent, Warwickshire, Essex and Lancashire is not acceptable, and for that relegation wouldn't be a crushing blow. The performance today is a case in point. The scoring was slow, very slow in fact given that we chose to bat having won the toss. Once again Adams can hold his head very high, top scoring though at a perhaps disappointing strike rate. Vince by all accounts played a typical Vince innings, but the rest of the batsmen should be severely disappointed with the efforts today. If we win the toss then we should make the absolute most of the advantage, not surrender it to the opposition. Kent batted equally cautiously, as both sides I think did not hide the fact that they are fighting for survival. The two teams are paralysed with fear of messing up, and the winner (and there will be a winner on this pitch, I can assure you) is the one that actually plays their normal game. If that were to happen then you would have Hampshire as favourites, but anything can still happn. First thing (if there's play) is to get the batsmen playing at just about everything. Even if it results in a few boundaries, it will at least keep the bowlers in the hunt for wickets. The opening bowlers need to be incisive, Whilst Briggs really must come to the party on a wicket that is obviously taking spin. Dawson too should be given overs, though I doubt that will happen.
To be honest I think in a way this season has answered more questions than it's asked. For that I feel more optimistic about the future than I did say 2 or 3 years ago where we were releasing 5 or 6 fringe and academy players a season and losing a quality player a season (still contracts to be tied up this season though). For example, what have we learnt this season?:- Hampshire post-Pothas is not as apocalyptic as we first thought.
- Benham will sadly never be good enough to play in the Hampshire top 6.
- Wood has what it takes to play to a high standard in all forms of cricket, and must surely take over (I say through gritted teeth) from Tommo.
- Briggs is a bloody miracle and will surely be one of the top off-spinners in the country in a few years time.
- Vince can score over 30 more than twice a season and is our best bet at three in the 20/20.
- Carberry can put two good seasons together.
- Who's Michael Brown?
- We need at least one fast bowler who can bowl at more than 80mph in the CC
- Dawson is NOT a top 5 batsman, though I think there is still a future for him at 6 or 7.
- Cork isn't here just for a nice pension and the sun.
- We haven't lost our identity as a club following the tie up with the Royals. To be honest I quite like the name and the kit.
When the season is indeed over I will address each of these points properly, as well as looking at a few other things directly related to this season. But for now we can only look in trepidation towards the second, third and hopefully fourth days play. A win has not been as urgent this season as it has now, and our backs are well and truly against the wall.