Now that we know that Ant Botha is going to need an operation on his knee, and will be out of action on the pitch for 4 – 6 weeks, a lot of people will be scrutinising every action, on and off the pitch, of his inexperienced replacement Paul Best.
Well I wont be. I have already seen enough.
Yesterday morning, with the Bears match against Durham entering its second day, and the Bears first innings total poised between being slightly below or slightly above par, Best took guard ready to receive the first ball.
It was a long hop which he pulled straight to square leg and was out!
So, has this led me to conclude that Paul Merwood Best has not got the bottle or spirit to deal with the pressure of being in such a tight situation on his Championship debut? Or that he has not got the right attitude to change his style of play to match the requirements of the situation of the game?
All I need to know about Besty – apart from an explanation from his parents about the daft middle name – was revealed to me as I watched the final U19 ODI between England and Sri Lanka at Canterbury last summer.
England needed to win the match to square the series and they had not batted well and had set Sri Lanka a below par target.
England bowled well and Sri Lanka got off to a slow start. However, the weather was taking a turn for the worse and it was clear that rain would stop play at some point. Perhaps permantley. As the rain began to fall, during the last over that needed to be bowled for a result to be declared, Sri Lanka were behind the D/L par score.
So the equation was simple. Complete the over and go off for rain then England win. Go off for rain before the over is completed then the match is declared a no result and Sri Lanka win the series.
During that crucial over a Sri Lankan batsmen played a false stroke and offered an easy catch to Paul Best. He dropped the catch. Or more precisely he had the ball in his hands but allowed it to fall to the ground. As a peice of acting it made the average Home And Away actor look like Sir John Gieguld – but for a young cricketer it demonstrated an intricate grasp of the game situation, and how to use the rules of the game to your advantage. If the catch had been taken and the batsmen dismissed then by the time a new batsmen had come to the wicket and took his guard the players could have easily been heading back into the pavillion beacause of the rain. This ‘dropped catch’ prevented the game being a no result and allowed Englan U19 to square the series!
Paul Best in action for England U19
That Best demonstrated such cunning and nerve (after all the game was live on Sky Sports and his actions would easily be seen by some as against the spirit of the game) shows that he has the drive and ambition to want to win at all costs. A necessary requirement in any professional sportsmen.
So although he may have some nerves and maybe an extra visit or two to the loo during the rest of his debut game at Durham, I have no doubt he will become a very sucessful player for Warwickshire in the years ahead – whatever his batting and bowling stats in this match may be!
Best Wishes Besty!