Chris Adams' high risk, high reward selection strategy, let's call it the Adams Doctrine, which brought such handsome rewards against Essex and Middlesex, came a cropper against a Kent side which is fast becoming our bogey team.
Adams made two changes to the team which faced Middlesex, bringing in Maynard from the naughty step for the horribly out of form de Bruyn and Jade Dernbach, released by England yesterday, for Dirk Nannes.
Rory Hamilton-Brown won his third consecutive toss, and for the third time in a row chose to bat. Continuing that theme, for the third time in as many games the top order batsmen struggled to get going. 31-3 against Essex, 32-4 against Middlesex and now 39-3 against Kent - the top order batting just is not working at the moment.
Poor old Gary Wilson is bearing an enormous burden and it was another fine rescue job from him today. He was dropped twice along the way, but ended 53 not out from 41 balls to give himself an average of 140 in the Twenty20 this year. Steve Davies was the next highest scorer with 31, the only score of 30 or more from any of the top four batsmen in three games so far. Spriegel couldn't replicate his heroics from Thursday, he came to the crease with the score on 51-4, but the rate was well below 5 runs per over. Such pressure on the scoreboard makes it difficult for him to get settled, as we know he likes to do.
Our lowest total of the competition so far, 116, never looked like enough against a Kent side well used to beating us by now! Such a low score can be chased down with one big-ish score, and Kent's skipper delivered that, Rob Key carried his bat for 51 as they chased the total with three and a half overs to spare. There were eight tight overs of spin from Kartik and Batty, but the Kent batsmen didn't spare Meaker or Ansari who ended with chastening figures of 1-63 from fewer than five overs between them.
We've been here before, a side with so many bowlers is all well and good, but the top order have to give them something to bowl at. Gary Wilson can only do so much, someone in the top four has to step up to the mark. Jason Roy is averaging ten from three matches, Hamilton-Brown just six. Their confidence in the bowlers is admirable, but today's results show that can only go so far.
Adams did re-jig the top order today, asking Roy to open the batting with Hamilton-Brown taking his number three spot. I don't think that's the answer, Roy should be moved down the order with a more stable, in form batsman moved up. There is also the option of bringing in Rory Burns, scoring freely for his club side, to stiffen the batting but the fact that he didn't make this 15 man squad suggests he is not in Adams' immediate thinking.
Another defeat to Kent is of course disappointing and with a slimmed down competition, and frankly rubbish weather lingering, it could be damaging. But we can't expect to win every single game. We know the talent is there in this squad to win these games comfortably, but the form just isn't there in the batting at the moment to make it a sure thing. Hampshire are up next at the Oval on Wednesday - it's a televised game so the ideal moment for a Roy, Maynard or Hamilton-Brown spectacular, and it can't come soon enough.
The Steve Smith infographic
1 day ago