You wait over a year for a defeat, then two come along at once. The once mighty RHC3’s slumped to a second consecutive defeat on Saturday, after once again turning up with just nine players. Fraggle really getting the short end of a very shitty stick as he stands in as captain.
Dunbar opted to bat first and things were looking bleak as they made their way to 120 for 1, but the introduction of Raj, on one of his rare ventures back from London, delivering an exceedingly good assortment of tempting pastry encased products slowed the run rate and began to winkle out the batsmen. A couple of pieces of questionable running aiding the collapse to 168 all out.
After a passable tea, we set about the chase, Hoffy taking advantage of some rank bowling to hit a few boundaries, before he tamely holed out to square leg. Progress continued at a good pace, we were always above the required rate, however wickets fell fairly regularly. Raj played a classy innings and we looked like we could sneak it while he stayed in. Sadly, he couldn’t, missing a full toss down leg side that ratteld the leg stick half way up. We fell 20 runs short. Those two bodies would’ve made a big difference to the outcome.
Two weeks in a row now with nine. On each occasion one of those has been either a non player or someone who hasn’t played for a number of years. In fairness, both have done solid jobs and contributed. We’ve used juniors, again they’ve held their heads high and we’ve competed, but this is not a sport where a shortage of players can be compensated easily.
In football the team down to ten men can often play better. It’s fairly simple to remain competitive in this situation if you remain organised. The playing area is not overly large, and the scoring area is strictly defined. It’s not overly difficult for an organised side to make scoring difficult even when shorthanded. It’s harder in rugbyas the scoring area runs the entire width of the pitch, thus it’s easier for the full strength side to stretch the cover and find a weakness to exploit. In cricket it’s almost impossible. Scoring can occur anywhere on the field, and a batsmen with nous will manipulate the ball to areas that aren’t covered. As a bowling team, you need to balance the need to take wickets and thus set “attacking” fields, with the need to prevent runs being scored. It needs real effort on behalf of the fielders to come close to covering the extra gaps. We have won games when shorthanded, but this rested more on the ineptitude of the opposition. Turning up with 9 against a full side of 11 is effectively a 40 run start for the opposition. We have nothing to fear in terms of ability from any other side in the league, but we are in danger of throwing away a great chance for back to back promotions by not getting teams out.
I’m already beginning to question my commitment. If other guys can’t be bothered to turn out, why should I go on knocking my pan in, particularly as the extra effort required in covering up for absences takes it’s toll. Injuries are to be expected and can’t be helped, but people who come to play for the club know when we play, know when games are and should be able to plan their lives so as to maximise availability. It’s not like it should come as a surprise. I communicated to the captain before the season began which Saturdays I was unavoidably elsewhere. The kicker for me was the sides grumpy old man. Who just days after delivering a lecture on availability, made the last minute decision to attend a music festival at the weekend. Hypocrit. To be honest, if I have to play anymore matches short handed this season, I’m quitting. It’s not worth the feelings of impotence as once more a ball is played through a gap that shouldn’t be there. I’m not so much angry about all this as disillusioned. League tables prior to this weeks games are here: http://www.eastleague.org.uk/index.php?option=com_joomleague&func=showRanking&p=25