The cricket season’s consistent desire to deny winning teams momentum continues, as I am removed from the Sussex set up to take charge of London Blue again.
Glenn Maxwell, Rory Burns, Joe Denly and Mark Wood are all absent – still – so I presume it’s international duty.
Daniel Lawrence, the 23-year-old who did not bowl me over last time he played, gets another shot.
Mainly because he is literally the only batsman I have left in the squad.
We’ve already played and lost to this lot before. Jason Roy, the Curran brothers, Sam Billings – all present and correct.
We lose the toss. They ask us to have a bowl.
London Green’s Innings
Roy and Rilee Rossouw are first into the firing line. I open with Toby Roland-Jones who has been quite the bright spark in this campaign so far.
It sort of works and it sort of doesn’t. After 20 balls, they’re 34-0.
Honours about even.
Roelof van der Merwe and Mohammad Nabi come on. We tinker with field settings and notice that Rossouw’s wagon wheel includes no shots straight down the ground.
We set the field so he has to try and hit through mid on and off. He’s caught by Amir from Nabi’s third ball. 47-1.
Stevie Eskinazi and Roy take the direct root. They hit both bowlers for several sixes. Which is one way to get the run rate up. 78-1.
At the 50 ball stage, they are 97-1. It’s going to be a hard chase at this rate.
If I’m honest, van der Merwe’s overs have not gone well. 20 balls, 56 runs is… ouch.
Nabi gets the breakthrough, though. Roy mistimes a leave and he’s bowled for 65 from 28. 117-2.
57/100 balls gone.
I bring on Jade Dernbach. But nothing works. At the 80 ball mark, they are 171-2, Eskinazi on 76 from 31.
I go back to Roland-Jones and Amir. The Pakistani international gets Eskinazi fourth ball snicking behind. The Middlesex regular goes for 78 for 35.
180-3, 90/100 bowled.
He nearly gets Alex Blake next ball but the umpire waves away the snick.
TR-J does get him in the final over, last ball. He’s well taken by Adam Rossington behind the stumps.
They finish 206-4. That’s rough.
London Blue’s Innings:
When you need over two runs a ball, it does not help when your young opener, Max Holden, takes five balls to get to 2 and then gets got by Surrey’s Will Jacks. 4-1.
By the time our skipper, Eoin Morgan goes, caught by Billings off Chris Wood, we’re miles behind the eight ball. 18-2 at 25/100 balls bowled is half – literally half – what we would need to be on to seriously challenge.
Lawrence goes for 1. No comment. 19-3.
Rossington gives Tom Curran a catch so easy I’d call it a Roxanne rather than a dolly. 26-4.
Next to get the chop is Zak Crawley. He gets trapped by the other Curran for 18 but at least he’s only taken 17 balls to get there.
We’re totally doomed. 40-5.
My little Dutchman goes to Sandeep Lamichhane for 14 off 8. 59-6.
Just the 148 from 33 balls needed then. No pressure.
There is at least the chance of some light relief when Nabi is dropped pathetically at mid on.
However, the smile fades quick smart when I see the target is 134 from 20 balls.
We really do well.
Which is why we need 114 off 5 balls.
I reckon we can do it… Ha. Ha. Ha.
Nabi hits a six and two fours in the last over. His and Luis Reece’s partnership of 48 is a new record for us, which means very little when you’ve been taken to the wood shed for 99 runs.
I’ve got 99 problems and my inability to shore up the batting line up is very much one of them.