Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wellington v Otago, 50 overs, Basin Reserve, 7 February 2010

To the Basin for an abject display by Wellington that finished their chances of qualifying for the final stages of the 50-over competition (four of the six competing teams go through).

Wellington won the toss and batted first, but wickets fell regularly (including Owais Shah for an unstellar eight from 24 balls). It was 116 for 5 in the 33rd over when Chris Nevin and 19-year-old Harry Boam came together. They steadied the innings, building their partnership sensibly by working the ball into the gaps. By the 38th over a total of 230 plus seemed a reasonable aspiration, 50 or so less than the usual par score at the Basin, but one that would have left Wellington with a chance on a pitch that was turning more than usual.

But the fool's gold that is the batting powerplay glistened too temptingly. It was taken. The gaps in the field closed. Big shots were attempted, wickets fell, and the innings ended at 169 in the 44th over (it was amusing to listen to the radio commentators - not the excellent Ron Snowden today - discussing whether the powerplay should be taken two overs after it had been) .

In one of their recent ODIs against Pakistan, Australia demonstrated that the best attitude to the batting powerplay when half the side is out early is to forget about it until the end of the innings. More often than not, it will expose the lower order and reduce, not expand, the final total.

It can be reported that a former Kent player did well: Yasir Arafat took two for 22 in eight overs. I spent some of the afternoon trying to devise a team consisting of players who shared their name with historical figures, but could add to Arafat's only the name of Julius Caesar (Surrey 1849-67). I welcome suggestions, particularly from my Blean correspondent.

The Otago response was well-paced and relatively untroubled, though Luke Woodcock bowled his slow left-arm well and was unlucky not to take a wicket. Shaun Haig scored an unbeaten 93, and Otago won by eight wickets in the 36th over.

During the interval I visited the excellent cricket museum in the old stand, well worth a look, even if it is coy about the nature of the relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston.

Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket

In the same package as this year’s Wisden , there arrived Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket , co-authored by Stephen Fay ...