First use of African wickets proves vital

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Not the kind of start they were hoping for and even for the more experienced players in the squad it appears to have been a steep learning curve. It is hard to know where they went wrong. I guess it’s a combination of factors, the wickets would certainly not have played to their strengths and the experience of some of the other sides, in particular Afghanistan and Hong Kong far outweighs their own.

The fact that the team that batted first won all of the nine matches on the first three days would point to a strong bias in the favour of sides batting first, possibly because the pitches deteriorated during the day, but whether that fully explains Jersey’s poor batting performances – they did bat second in each of their first three games – is debatable.

In our domestic league the team batting first has won 53% of all matches in the last two years, which wouldn’t indicate that there is a strong bias in Jersey. Further analysis, however, reveals that Romerils, OV’s and SCF, the clubs from which the squad is largely selected, have an 84% win record when batting first, and only a 64% win record when batting second.

Could it be that Jersey teams are just not as good at chasing totals as they are at setting them? Jersey have had some success chasing, notably when beating Norway and Germany in Glasgow, and then in Italy when they beat the home side on two occasions.

They managed to win those matches comfortably without the loss of many wickets, but when wickets do start to fall the wheels can come off pretty quickly. Against France in Glasgow, a couple of pre season games against Guernsey and the 2006 Inter Insular are recent occasions when they have appeared to throw winning opportunities away, and they even made hard work of beating Guernsey in this year’s Inter Insular, despite only chasing 119. Some teams just seem better at chasing.

It is interesting to note that Springfield and Caesareans, the bottom two clubs in the league, enjoy a better win percentage when batting second. The solution then seems fairly simple. The Island XI should consist of players from those two teams, although should they be made to bat first their 0% and 8% respective win records would not have supporters holding out too much hope of a victory.

It’s a shame that some cracks were reportedly appearing in the squad after their loss against Italy on Tuesday, where the Duckworth Lewis calculation didn’t seem to do them many favours, and there were rumours that Peter Kirsten might resign from his post. It sounds like those fears have been allayed – if they ever existed – but it seems that some words may have been said.

All this made Wednesday’s match against fellow strugglers Fiji all the more important, and fortune appeared to be favouring Jersey for once as Matty Hague won the toss and unsurprisingly decided to bat first. Jersey set the Fijians a competitive total of 228 off a reduced forty overs, which was good enough for a 79 run victory. A much needed win for the team and one which will have hopefully restored confidence within the camp. Jonny Gough’s 75 runs from only 59 balls was a welcome return to form after ducks in his opening two games, and may have helped solve Peter Kirsten’s number three problem.

Meanwhile Afghanistan managed to buck the, team-batting-first-will-win trend and maintained their unbeaten record when they successfully chased down the other unbeaten side, Hong Kong’s 206, in the final over of their innings. Still the stats of 10 wins from 11 games for the side batting first are pretty significant, and I would think that in hindsight Matty Hague will be regretting his decision to put Tanzania into bat after winning the toss in their opening match. I suspect they could well have won that match and things could look very different now.

Still that’s cricket and it’s not all gloom and doom as a win for Jersey today against Hong Kong could yet see them retain their place in the division, providing other results go in their favour. Those of you that are not seeing Aaron Eagar as often as you would like now the season has finished, fear not, as you can see him every night at the Arts Centre for a two week period, starting on 16 October.

He plays Bill Snibson in their production of Me and My Girl or, more accurately, Me and Simon Parker’s Girl, as he plays opposite Michelle, Simon Parker’s new bride, who plays Sally Smith. Even if the prospect of not seeing Aaron for the next six months is actually quite appealing, I would still think that you would enjoy it as you have to admit, he can be quite entertaining really. His co star also says he’s a pretty good tap dancer.

Michelle is also a regular at cricket matches, although usually playing a more passive role, lying in the sun, but does makes a pretty good cheese cake, using a secret ingredient (evaporated milk, but don’t tell her I told you). I wonder if Mrs Canham will be following suit, although I think she is slightly more traditional. Anyway I’m sure all at Caesareans and Springfield and anyone else who knows them will be wishing both Michelle and Aaron good luck, or in the true tradition of the theatre, hoping they both break a leg.

Next week we will hopefully get an insider’s thoughts on the St Ouen team and some of their shenanigans. So if you want to get the low down on Gomy, “It was the worst over I’ve ever had to score,” et al from someone who should know, make sure you get next week’s copy, although I’m a bit concerned that I haven’t heard from the whistle blower recently. I hope she/he hasn’t been silenced.

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