Well another exciting week of World Cup cricket. Ireland, or should I say Kevin O Brien, smashing the England bowling to all parts and, to be fair, he struck it very well – and then there is the call for all counties to sign him for the t20 this summer. This has happened before. Players have a day out and they are the next best thing – but the best players do it on a regular basis. They win games consistently and I know there will be people saying “but that was an amazing innings” and “if he can do it once”. Well, let`s just see what happens next. One thing’s for sure… He can be very proud that it was one of the great innings in one day cricket.
The win against South Africa certainly takes some heat off the England team and gives them a much more manageable chance of qualifying. The key, as I have said before, is to qualify and maybe not even play your best cricket in the opening stage. It is, perhaps, best to save that for the knock out phase of the competition. I have seen nothing to change my mind that India must be the main contender with Sri Lanka and South Africa being there as well.
I do have some sympathy with Otis Gibson and the West Indies team after their tough coach journey through the streets of Dhaka. I have travelled to and from the national stadium there. We broke down in our team bus on the way to training one day, and the security team flagged down a passing double decker, loaded us onto there and took us and the passengers sitting up stairs to the stadium! As we travelled through the packed streets, the sight of Murali and co looking out at the thousands of locals looking in caused much excitement. I`m not sure the poor people who were sat upstairs agreed however. The idea that the local people had mistaken the West Indies team coach for the Bangladesh coach is very plausible, and they do take defeat badly in that part of the world. Throwing things at the windows is probably not the best plan though, and let`s hope they play better in the next few games.
Onto the county game and I have read that the ECB are due to finally make some decisions on the way forward for county cricket. I am sure the feeling is… and about time too. The players and coaches feel exactly the same, and it is about time we had a clear plan of what county cricket looked like, and somebody from the governing body saying, this is what we want and this is the clear way forward. I do agree that the counties should have a big say and the members of the county clubs should equally have their opinions listened to. Rod Marsh always impressed on the national Academy players that they are the current custodians of this great game and must do all they can to nurture it.
County cricket is as responsible for the improvement in the national team as anything. The two divisions of county championship cricket has proved a massive success. The promotion and relegation now means that every game counts. My main concern is far too much t20 cricket. You know you can afford to lose matches yet still qualify for the quarter finals. Reducing it to 10 matches means you will need to aim to win as many as you can. The quality of the game is the most important thing and by spreading the t20 over the season, and providing better preparation time for the county championship matches, the players would be able to produce a much better product although that sounds like something you buy in a box, rather than a sporting spectacle.
I don’t want to reduce the championship, I do want to reduce the t20 matches and also I would keep all CB40 matches on Sunday afternoons and encourage families to have their morning at home or doing something else, then come to cricket for the afternoon. You don’t need 50 over cricket to replicate what the international teams play, otherwise we would be playing five day championship cricket.
All the players are back in the next few days, and reports are coming in from around the world on how those that have been away have done. We, of course, keep in touch with the players, but we also get various people sending through reports as to how they got on and that is always helpful.
Another week on and the changing rooms are going well. The roof is nearly on and the internal walls are up, so fingers crossed it is looking good for the first game against Gloucester. Don’t really fancy portakabins!
Have to finish with a little word on the mighty blues. It was a great win last Tuesday at the Bridge and thanks to King Kenny for blowing the title race wide open again. It could yet be a great end to the season.