After a break – enforced by the vagaries of the fixture list – my faith in the fairness of British society was renewed today with the sight of cricket players in whites and playing with red balls!
A short visit to the Oval to see Surrey take on West Indies A team brought about this grand renewal. Some of the WI stars of the future were on display and whilst none was clearly ripping up the proverbial trees, there are a few players who could develop into good players.
The match lacked atmosphere since a) its a friendly and b) the crowd of less than 500 looked well dispersed across the acres that are The Oval. The match petered out into a tame draw as there was no other imperative for either side to force a win but there were some performances of note – the bowling of Holder and Smith and for a while the batting from Campbell promised a lot.
And just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see on a cricket field, I have never seen an eight-one offside field as WI had from time to time. For non-cricketing experts, there are nine fielders and usually five field on one side of the pitch and four on the other (in essence the ball is likely to go anywhere in the field having been struck by the batsman), sometimes six are on one side and three on the other and so forth. The more prominent the number of fielders on one side or the other, the more important it is for the bowler to bowl appropriately so that the ball is likely to be hit towards the side with the most fielders.
Seven on one side and two on the other is not unknown but does require greater skill by the bowler whilst eight-one is almost never seen but I saw it in action. Holder and Smith both used this field setting from time to time and it worked but it also telegraphed to the batsman where the ball was going to be bowled; some shots got runs, some not and the odd ball generated a wicket – caught in the main – as the batsman was frustrated and lost patience – and their wicket.
So, when you think you’ve seen everything…
How about the pose below for a leg before wicket dismissal? It was taken milliseconds after the ball struck Campbell on the pads and almost knocked him over – clearly out – but he saved himself from falling over. He has the skills to develop into a good West Indies batsman and if the walk off the ground was a guide – being the slowest seen for some time; a good 2 minutes – he has the style of a WI test player too!