PROFESSIONAL sport is tough. As well as ability you need a winning mentality, perhaps summed up by W C Fields’ famous line 'Never give a sucker an even break'.
It does not mean cheat but it does mean be ruthless.
Can our county cricket team do this? The early answer must be no. Against Hampshire and in the current game against Glamorgan the evidence is damning.
Our inability to control games is shown in two ways, namely losing wickets in clusters and bowling that errs in both line and length. It is too early to comment on the tough tense battle being fought at Cardiff but the Hampshire game was lost because of exactly the faults I have mentioned.
The second day was a clear example. Firstly, we lost our last five wickets for nine runs. The chance to establish a good first innings score was squandered.
Two of our bowlers were exemplary. Will Gidman and, after an initial loose spell, Matt Taylor took wickets (nine of the ten that fell) and exerted the control the captain wanted. The rest were very much below par, two conceding runs at an alarming rate, namely six plus per over. Hampshire took full advantage. They scored heavily giving themselves time to force a win on the fourth day.
Not all is doom and gloom. There were good performances with the bat. Chris Tavare made an outstanding start to his county career, Michael Klinger and Gidman played one good innings each while Hamish Marshall stood firm and rallied the tail in the second innings. The fact we scored over 300 runs in each innings shows the side can bat, but these cluster collapses must be avoided.
Looking ahead there have already been talks with Klinger about an extension to his contract. Originally signing for two years he has been an outstanding success. We would love to keep him for longer.
Driving home from Bristol gives me plenty of opportunity to reflect on the day’s play. As I passed through Tetbury the loose bowling dominated my thoughts. I thought I heard a gyrating sound. It must have been Sam Cook turning in his grave (older readers will know exactly what I mean).