Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Wahab boosts Kent, Too much cricket? - then lay off the TV work

I watched Kent's Twenty20 game against Glamorgan with a novel interest as I stumbled across it while flicking through the TV channels on Saturday evening. Having just got in from work and finding nothing worthy of my viewing I started looking for some random rubbish to watch. Bizarrely I found the "criced"  on S4C Wales and was pleasantly surprised to find Azhar Mahmood ambling to the crease. I had to turn the volume down as the commentary, being in Welsh, sounded more like interference than a call of the game.
Kent's bowling looked pretty average early on as Cosgrove and Petersen took it to the cleaners (if I was a Glamorgan player I would be very annoyed at Cosgrove's highly-paid employment given that basic fitness is evidently not part of his contract). When young Adam Ball entered the attack I feared the worst as, if these two experienced guys were able to get after him, it could be a major setback for the seamer. I thought Ball bowled superbly and showed real potential. He was undoubtedly Kent's best bowler on the night and I really enjoyed the confidence he seemed to have. James Tredwell also bowled well and a total of 155 always looked at risk if Kent could get going.
I thought Robert Key and Joe Denly got Kent off to a decent start. However I have to say that Denly looked so far out of form as to be embarrassed by his inability to deal with the slow-bouncer - he received six in a row in one over and hit only one four, off the toe of the bat. When the end came for Denly, though, it was the sort of thing that happens when your luck is well and truly out - run-out by a deflection on to the stumps by the bowler.
With sixty runs needed from the last six overs it seemed that Kent would fall short. Enter Wahab Riaz and Sam Northeast to alter the game. Wahab played some wonderfully powerful strokes to drag his side towards their target. Northeast provided a good foil for Wahab, rotating the strike as much as possible and also weighing in with his own boudaries. To win the game with balls to spare was a great effort and hopefully a real confidence boost to the players. If Wahab can continue to have this sort of impact then Kent supporters might get just a little bit of joy in these next couple of weeks - even if it is in the Twenty20.

Last year I read an interview with Robert Key (and other prominent County players) where he complained about the frequency of fixtures and the impact that has on recovery time and the lack of opportunity for practise and preparation. I have never subsribed to this theory in any way, but if that's the opinion of the players then they are entitled to it. Given that the Kent Captain has these views one has to wonder what rest/practise/preparation he was undertaking in the days before and after Kent travelled to the West Country and Wales. On Thursday evening Key was at Northampton to commentate for Sky. He then travelled to Somerset for the washed-out game on Friday, and then on to Glamorgan for the Saturday fixture. I was amazed, therefore, to turn on my TV on Sunday evening to see him in the TV studio at Headingley, once again commentating for Sky. What rest/practise/preparation was Kent's Captain enjoying during this four-day stretch?
If players believe that the fixture list is not conducive to performing at their best on a regular basis, I would suggest that any opportunity to get some peace should be taken. Another of the issues the players have with the fixtures is the regular travelling around the Country. Perhaps a trip from Kent to Northampton to Somerset to Cardiff to Yorkshire, and back to Kent, over a four day period is not helping. Or is it that the travelling doesn't affect your performance as long as you're being paid by Sky to commentate? Very poor form indeed.

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