I return to the south coast. Only to discover that my next match in charge is the opening game in this season’s Challenge Trophy.
There will be 8 games of this and then a finals day. We’ll be opening our campaign taking on Durham.
I struggle to contain my excitement.
Almost no one is available. Literally.
Luke Wright, Laurie Evans, Shehan Jayasuriya, Ravi Bopara, Delray Rawlins, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer are just some of my staff off either on a money making T20 jaunt or playing for their countries.
David Wiese is just injured. Still.
Stiaan van Zyl is back but is still wincing whenever he takes a deep breath, so it’s not ideal.
Travis Head is back. That’s it.
That’s the silver lining.
Head, Harry Finch, Luke Wells, Ben Brown, our other keeper, is dragged in to play alongside Jonty Jenner (at least we’ll have some safe hands somewhere on the field) and Olly Robinson all come into the side.
As does 21 year old Tom Haine who has made 16 first class appearances, none of them in a one day format, who becomes our emergency opener.
We lose the toss and are invited to turn our arms over.
Australian Cameron Bancroft and Scotsman Scott Steel open the batting for the northerners.
I chuck the new cherry to Olly Robinson and tell Mitchell Claydon to be limber.
We examine the batsmen’s preferences and decide we need to bowl short and angle it across them.
They’re 19-0 after four overs when rain stops play. The delay lasts an hour and a half. The resultant game is reduced to 46 overs-a-side.
Robinson and Claydon see out their spells and I bring on Sir Monty of the Panesars.
They help themselves to 9 runs from the over.
Aaron Thomason goes for 4 from the other end.
They nurdle and tickle. They hit the odd boundary. After 14 overs they are 70-0 and we’re travelling at 5 an over.
After gradually tying the batsmen down, Monty traps Bancroft leg before wicket and the big man is walking for 29. 88-1.
South African David Bedingham is next man to the wicket. I demand that the PA system plays “Gotta Get Through This”.
Bedingham certainly does get through it. He streaks to 17 off 9. He plunders Travis Head’s over and our own Aussie has conceded 24 off 2.
The boys do, eventually, rally and make an attempt at keeping the runs coming.
I send Robinson back on for his second spell and he goes around the wicket.
It works, and Scott ‘Man of’ Steel is gone for 87. They’re still on 142 for 2 and only halfway through their overs.
We move the fields to very defensive and put the ball outside off stump, trying to draw them into a mistake.
Thomason does me proud as he takes out Farhaan Behardien’s middle stump for 14. 181-3.
John Walsh takes Durham to the 200 and is then caught off the bowling of Monty. 200-4.
I’m going to be short of bowlers at this rate as Monty finishes his overs.
Head has got his economy rate down to 10. I shove him back on. Ned Eckersley soon falls to him for 11. 232-5.
Paul Coughlin strolls to the wicket. He thumps Head’s opening delivery to him for four, and then lets our number four batsman castle him. Get in! 236-6.
Ben Raine decides to try and make it rain. 6 balls, 12 runs. Gone. Caught Head bowled Claydon. 257-7.
James Weighell bats pretty well before, unbelievably, Head gets another one. Gone for 21. 292-8.
Liam Trevaakis takes the long walk from the dressing room.
He then takes the significantly longer walk back again as Head clean bowls him and takes all three stumps out of the ground.
292-9 and Head.
Travis Head. The Aussie.
That one: is on a hat trick. I’m crying laughing.
Scotland international Gavin Main is the man who has to survive old T. “Hand Grenade“ Head, as I have just rechristened him.
No hat trick.
Next ball: no stroke.
Next ball: loses all his stumps. Head has taken 5-72 and Durham are all out for 292.
Haines and Wells go out to battle. We need to travel at around 6.5 an over.
Hmm. We’ll see…
We start off not too badly. Wells is out to a superb diving catch by Bedingham off Raine for 8 at first slip. 28-1.
Haines is going well and really laying a marker down for more one day appearances.
But, what’s going to kill us is the run rate. Too many runs coming at too far below the balls bowled.
Haines eventually falls for 46, a snaffled catch by Eckersley off Trevaskis. It’s a nice knock but he’s used 62 balls to get there. 83-2.
We need 210 at 8.4 an over.
Finch, getting out to give them a wicket maiden, does not improve my mood. At all. 85-3.
Any colossal fuck up Finch can do, Head can do better. Tamely caught and bowled, and Weighell now has 2 in 2 overs. 86-4.
Oh yeah and the run rate is now over 10.
Brown and Munsey put on some runs. Munsey is taking so long that I move his aggression up to “could be sectioned” just to get rid of him.
6 runs from 28 balls, as the run rate spikes to over 15 an over, is enough to have me screaming with rage.
It works though and he’s out. 117-5.
Brown, who is really our last batsman, goes for 22 from 39 balls. 121-6.
172 to get at 16.9 an over. Unlikely.
It gets even more unlikely when Jenner snicks behind. 136-7.
Robinson departs for 4 and it so obvious we are going to fall very far short. 144 from 24 balls seems highly unlikely.
I decide I’m bored of this. I make their aggression bonkers. Thomason loses all his pegs. 149-9.
I do the same for Monty because … banter. He’s nearly out first ball but survives, and watching him smack a bowler for six is always hilarious.
We still need 126 from 12 balls by the way.
At this point every run is just annoying for them. Eventually Monty is gone, caught Eckersley, bowled Behardien for 5.
All out for 175. We fall humiliatingly short by 117 runs.
My one day form is woeful.