Warwickshire win by five wickets

Even today, over two days after the match ended, this one still hurts. After two days I thought we couldn’t lose, but we did. It means that we have lost both of our LV=CC matches and sit at the bottom of the first division. On the whole, however, I think we played well and that there is reason for optimism.

Our batting collapsed some in the first innings and more dramatically in the second, but it was actually not particularly poor relative to the rest of the matches. We batted first in the match and across the eight matches the average score of the side batting first was 209. Lancashire’s 250 was actually the third highest score overall (Leicestershire’s 324 and Gloucestershire’s 255 being the two higher) and the highest in the first division. No other Division One team even got a bonus point after batting first. Two hundred fifty does not look good overall, but I thought at the time that it was a pretty good score and I still think that is true.

The collapse in the second innings was more troubling. Batting for time and batting through rough patches is something at which we need to improve and our cause was not helped by some very rash shots. Being caught on the boundary just before stumps is pretty much inexcusable. It is, however, something at which we can improve and especially as the tricky early season conditions fade there is no reason to suspect that we will not. Certainly the fight both in the first match and in this one shown by Ashwell Prince is a good sign.

It is tempting to say that our bowling lost this match, but I think that would be inaccurate. As bad as it looks to let the opposition go from 81-7 to 327 all out, the fact is that we ran into a pair of very good innings. It has looked in the first two matches like counter-attacking is a good strategy and Rikki Clarke did that to great effect whilst Maddy had survived the toughest parts to make sure he had a partner. Perhaps we would have done more with the ball, but in this case the opposition simply did very well. More indicative, I think, is too look at the rest of the innings: the other nine partnerships in the first innings were worth a combined 103 runs. That is very good, especially when one then adds in the 71-5 in the second innings. We never really looked like winning, but given that we had nothing really to gain it was fantastic to see that kind of fight. Had we another fifty runs…

We lost. And we’ve now lost two matches at what was our fortress last year, Aigburth. To have done so is a horrible missed opportunity, yes. But we have to remember that we aren’t usually going to concede 224 for the eighth, or any, wicket. It was very much anomalous. There is definite room for improvement, but I strongly believe that if we play as well in the rest of our matches as we did in this one we will win much more often than we lose.

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