Last week, QLD’s shield defence started down in Adelaide on what was described by some as the flattest track they have ever played on. Conditions, prep time and grass coverage all contributed to an incredibly dull wicket. Not long before this game, SA v WA was played on the same wicket but with a lot more grass, unfortunately the same result transpired….
For those of you who don’t know the result of the game, it ended in a draw, QLD declared 145 runs behind on 1st innings (still in a position to bat another day and a half) and Tasmania batted out the remaining overs with almost zero intent to force or drive a result home. After the match had ended, Tasmania came out and said, they had no intent of actually winning, they were more concerned with not losing the game….. Seriously what an incredibly mindset to have as a professional team that is striving to be the best in Australia. We were more concerned with not losing the game and didn’t think we could get 10 wickets to win the game.
I don’t believe the players are to blame because the playing style and directions come from the coaches. These days there are plenty of coaches to provide opinions and ideas on all aspects of the game but when a team doesn’t have a head coach and their fill in coach had the nickname ‘The Boom Gate’, can you really expect anything else then negative cricket?? How you played the game in my opinion translates into the way you coach. Sometimes just because we have played the game, doesn’t mean we will be a good coach. It gives us an understanding of the game but that’s it. So much more involved then just playing at the highest level.. It showed last week down in Adelaide unfortunately and probably highlighted the coaches in Tasmania have little faith in their team to actually find a way to win on the 4th day.
Let’s break this down, because it also happened in the recent test between Australia and India on the Gold Coast. Tasmania won the toss on a good wicket. There are potentially 360 overs in a game, all things being equal on a good wicket, you are going to have to find a way to win on the last day. Generally a side will want 90 overs on the last day to win a game. Gives them a 2nd chance with the new ball. On the last day, runs to win probably aren’t as important as time, so let’s for arguments sake say Tasmania want to set QLD 315 off 90 overs to win on the final day. Tasmania batter first for 156 overs and then QLD followed up with 109 overs. 265 overs down. Tasmania have a lead of 145.. Problem is there is only about 100 overs to go in the game. So already Tasmania would not be thinking at all about declaring. Against the nature of their assistant to push the game.. What would have been good and given a chance for both teams to win would have been Tasmania looking to score 120 off the next 30 overs and give QLD around 280 to score off 70 overs.. Tasmania might have lost, but they also might have won. It’s amazing what pressure can do on the final day. Unfortunately Tasmania will never know if they can compete on the final day because they didn’t take the option of competing and having a crack. If you lose, so what??? You gave yourself a chance to win. If you don’t take a chance you will never know? Tell me what did their batters learn on that wicket when Tasmania used a night watchmen TWICE throughout the game??? Incredible scenes.
The other side of the coin was the recent game between the Australian women and India on the Gold Coast. It was interesting to watch because throughout that game, India had complete control and never once needed to put themselves into a position of losing the game. I believe there is a difference between dominating and given the opponents an unwarranted chance of victory to a very dull game that neither team is ahead and not trying to achieve anything. I found it interesting to listen to some of the comments from the Aussie girls questioning the tactics of the India batters and wondering why they aren’t trying to push the game forward. In my opinion it’s hard to question India’s tactics when one of the Aussie players scores 60 off 200. I’m not saying the innings wasn’t warranted or needed but you can’t complain that a side isn’t giving you a chance to win when you have essentially batted all time out of the game.
I see it all the time and was witness to it recently with our 1st grade side against Souths. We were sent in on a good but challenging wicket. In my opinion we had held the upper hand all day and had batted ourselves into a position where we could potentially declare at the end of the day and put Souths in for a short period. I’m always a believer in looking to push the game forward where you can. General rule of thumb for grade cricket is to bat the day, make 350 and then come back next week to bowl them out. I don’t necessarily agree with that theory but it works. However Souths are traditionally a team that thinks draw before win and I thought that if we could snare a wicket or two the night of, with tired legs, it will give us a better shot next week to get the full points. In the end, we didn’t get 350 and we didn’t have time to bowl any overs at them. I was frustrated at the last 45 minutes of play from our boys when we dominated from the onset….. But how can I expect them to execute my plans or theories when I haven’t coached or even floated the idea of this (before the day)..
So in my honest opinion it was 100% my fault that we didn’t declare or look to push the game harder that afternoon. I didn’t prepare well enough. I didn’t talk to my group earlier and express ‘this is how I would like to look at playing’. The way your team plays comes from the leaders. As head coach, I am the leader and responsible for how we play. Which brings me back to my opening point. When QLD declared against Tasmania and the stand in coach was nicknamed the boom gate and loved to just bat all day, can you really expect anything else other than batting all day??