I AM DELIGHTED to be wrong!
Last week I wrote the team off. The cricketing evidence, following poor performances at Cheltenham, was overwhelming but the players have, despite all expectations bounced back.
Three wins has put us top of the Royal London One-Day Cup Group A table. To go to Headingley and defeat a strong Yorkshire side and then beat Hampshire and Leicestershire at Bristol proves there is quality in the squad. Is there consistency as well — and what has made the difference?
First of all the team has been tweaked. Will Tavare and Jack Taylor are now included and wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick is back behind the stumps. Will played a match-winning innings (77) against Hampshire in his first ever limited over innings. I am not in favour of pigeon-holing players. Always pick your best XI – whatever the competition. If they are good enough they will adapt and Will Tavare certainly did.
Jack Taylor is a sharp, aware cricketer, able to contribute with both bat and ball. With the bat he helped Will Gidman win the Headingley game. With the ball he took four wickets against Hampshire. Did anyone notice his hat-trick? Two wickets in two balls to finish Yorkshire, then one with his first ball against Hampshire.
One reads so much piffle about the poseurs and popinjays that make up the Chipping Norton set, at last Jack has proved there is someone from that area who can do something positive.
Left arm bowler David Payne has been a revelation. At Cheltenham his bowling reminded me of Mrs Light at a coconut shy, but at Headingley he took three good wickets cheaply.
Another unsung hero is Benny Howell. He bats with so much common sense and his bowling at Bristol put the squeeze on Hampshire, causing them to panic. Electric fielding brought about three run outs. So many of us remembered the fine performances in the days of ‘the Chicken men’. Yes, it was that good. Now for more – please prove me even more wrong!
It is not all good news. South Hill have withdrawn from the Cotswold Cricket league. Shortage of players!
South Hill is not the only club suffering from lack of players, and I know the frustrating weather (it rains only on Friday night or Saturday morning) has put many people off. In a varied cricketing life I have moved from the cricket fields of the Cotswolds to the corridors of power at Lord’s. Without doubt the most fun I have had was here in this county of splendid cricket grounds. To those involved in the many splendid youth schemes I say stick with it. If there is no room for you at the club where you learned the game find another one. To those who are thinking of taking up the game again do so! Your local club needs you.
I close with surprising news. James Whittaker, chairman of England Test selectors, left the recent Test to see Gloucestershire play. Watch this space.