Friday, 15 July 2011

Felled at the final hurdle again

This time last week it all looked so rosy, we'd just trounced Hampshire and needed just two points from our final two games to qualify for the quarter-finals. We didn't do it and the Twenty20 kit goes back in the locker for another year.

The game tonight was remarkably, nay depressingly, similar to last night. Hamilton-Brown lost two crucial tosses in 24 hours and in truth we were well beaten in both games.

Sussex were in deep trouble after two overs, the score was 13-2 and their momentum had stalled. The next four overs saw a clinical display from Murray Goodwin in particular and the pressure was well and truly released. Goodwin went on to score an unbeaten hundred from only 59 balls, he was particularly harsh on Meaker, de Bruyn and Schofield who between them bowled four overs for 57 runs. In truth we have bowled and fielded poorly in two crucial games, the pressure got to us, by and large.

The opposition again looked set for a score north of 200 tonight but Nannes and Dernbach brought us back from the brink, conceding just 11 from the final two overs to keep Sussex just below the 180 mark.

Chasing two fewer runs than against Kent last night, Jason Roy got us off to another blazing start but once he'd gone to his fifty, his fourth such score in the T20s this year, he swung Rayner into the deep, we never really looked like recovering after that.

De Bruyn was sent up the order to bat at three, a combination of wanting a wise old head to bat with Roy and keeping some Hamilton-Brown firepower for the lower order. Neither aspect of the plan worked out. De Bruyn wasn't able to contain Roy's exuberance and by the time Hamilton-Brown came in (below Schofield, another batting gamble) he had too much to do too quickly.

The scorecard says much about the plight our selection policy leaves us in, scores of 50, 31 and 46 from three of the top four, but nothing thereafter. So much pressure is heaped on Roy's shoulders because there is no power in the lower middle order, he has coped admirably but he can't be expected to deliver every single game.

We rely too heavily on batting first, and on one big score from one of the top five (or more regularly, two big-ish scores). With the batting power in our top five Twenty20 should be our game, but the tactics didn't allow enough flexibility and it's cost us at the crucial moments.

The squad can now focus their efforts on the CB40, in which we lie top of our group, and the Championship, where we are in the mix for promotion. They must look to get something out of one (or ideally both) of those competitions.

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