Seven wickets left and every reason to fight until the bitter end!

At the end of today’s play against Durham the Bears are facing defeat squarely in the face.  Barring a miracle or a tropical storm Durham will beat Warwickshire by an innings and plenty at some point tomorrow – most likely between lunch and tea.  (A mere snack for the Durham bowlers in-between meals.)

I wrote a lengthy post in this blog a while back (after the disasterous collapse in the second innings against Lancs) about how, amid wickets tumbling and near certain defeat, players need to focus on their own personal goals and acheivements even though the team effort is doomed to failure. 

So, given that all realistic hope of avoiding defeat is lost, what reason is there for the Warwickshire batsmen to even ‘turn up’ in the sporting sense, tomorrow.

Well, we have seven wickets left, so here are seven reasons why the batsmen should fight to the bitter end of this game no matter what the result of the match may be!

1.  Durham are our first opponents in the T20 Cup at Chester-le-Street on 2nd June.  So best not to roll over too easily it might lower morale for the start of our T20 campaign!

2.  Jim Troughton.  He has been getting a lot of stick from fans last season and this one too.  Now would be a good chance for him to prove that he should be in the team for his batting skills alone as well as his captaincy and fine fielding.

3.  Twitter.  A lot of the Warwickshire team like to spend their nights off having a bit of banter with their followers on Twitter.  If they have been seen to try their best for Warwickshire then they will be assured of a warmer reception online - and with the Champions League final taking place on Saturday night the Tweeting banter will be at fever pitch over the weekend!

4.  Chris Metters.  Metters is probably the best spin bowler that Warwickshire have availiable at the momment – but once Ant Botha is fit and Paul Best is fully availiable and free of university commitments – Metters’ skill with the bat may come in for almost as much scrutiny as his skill with the ball.  So every run here could count towards the assessment of  his all-round usefulness to the team!

5.  The Pitch Controversy.  If ever a team had a reason to want to prove a point to anybody who is watching it is the Bears!  C’mon guys show the ECB that they have not broken your spirit yet!

6.  Also, the Bears should want to show that they are a good team without their England – and now Ireland – superstars!  Do it for the county pros!

7.  Religious reasons.  Many of us do not converse with the almighty as often as perhaps we should.  So when we do it is perhaps not good for the destination of our eternal souls if our prayers are primarily concerned with sending heay rain clouds in the direction of Edgbaston.

And if all that fails to motivate our remaining batsmen tomorrow – then do it for your mum!

She could be watching Sky Sports News!

Here’s to a glorious defeat . . . . . Yoouuu Beeaaarrrsssss!!!!


Next! Spinner Maurice Holmes auditions to be Bears’ new spin king.

Last week against Durham in the Championship it was Paul Best.  On Wednesday against Lancashire it could well be Chris Metters.  But today against Leicestershire it was the turn of Maurice Holmes to make his first team debut as replacement for the injured Ant Botha.

All in all the lad done good today.  Eight overs, bowled during a run fest, for 47 runs (the second most economical of the Bears bowlers after Clarke)  and the wickets of Nixon and

The new Murali ?

Boyce to boot!  Throw in two catches – one of which was a caught and bowled – and you have a very decent debut performance in a form of the game that can be ruthless to bowlers.

However, Maurice Holmes has not always had things go his way as easily as they did today!  He has very flexible joints and his bowling has been compared to that of Muttiah Muralitharan.  Great praise indeed – but it also means his bowling action has been put under the microscope in the past.  There is nothing worse in cricket than to be labelled as a ‘thrower’ or a ‘chucker’, and Holmes has had to adjust his action to please the ECB.  The fact that he has come through such scrutiny, and is still a promising young player, clearly indicates that Holmes is a confident and determined young man.

Now clearly, comparing any young player to a unique bowler like Murali is perhaps rash at best.  But it was not merely a casual observer, or local sports writer with column inches to fill, who was of this opinion.

In the early summer of 2009 England hosted the World T20.  Holmes, then with Kent Second XI, was bowling in the nets and left a lasting impression with some of the New Zealand players including Daniel Vettori.  They were amazed by how similar his bowling was to that of the Sri Lankan legend.  So much so that when NZ were touring Sri Lanka they organised for Holmes to join them on the tour to bowl at them in the nets.

Therefore Holmes, at age 19, was effectively on international duty, bowling at spinner Daniel Vettori and under the instruction of Saqlain Mustaq – who was part of the NZ staff at the time.  So facing Leicestershire on first team debut? No problem!

So lets hope Warwickshire keep faith with Holmes for tomorrow’s game against the Scots so we can see more of this promising young talent in action!



The only thing you need to know about Paul Best

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?

Certainly not!

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 Warwickshire CCC

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!