Drawing breath after today. Let's put the rancour that's been expressed on the Forum today down to everyones' overstretched emotions, and calm down a little to take stock.
We won today, which is what matters. But you shouldn't have to rely on a gritty, mature stand between two bowlers to pull a win out of the fire when there's a gettable target, good batting conditions, and (sub-par) opposition who have nothing to play for! I'm glad it worked out how it did for Patto, in his benefit year, and for Fisher, who now cements his future as a man who can deliver when it counts, not just a lad with brilliant prospects (see Gale's comments, and the warm congrats for Fisher from his teammates and Moxon in the line up for Ryan afterwards). But I'm embarrassed for the team. Should have done better.
And for all Patto's and Fisher's heroics, Warwickshire were beaten today by Ambrose being even worse at coping with Patel's bounce and turn than Yorkshire's batsmen were. Extras jockeyed with Patto for being top scorer. Between them, Extras and Patto scored half our runs! At key times too -- the repeated four byes after lunch were the moment that the advantage turned our way.
Warwickshire were sure Patto had gloved a Patel ball to leg slip. I was watching through binoculars and thought it more likely the sleeve on his forearm or wrist. Umpire obviously thought so too ... but I'm not sure Patto did, and words were exchanged. One or two while he was going off the field as well.
Our batsmen didn't seem to have a coordinated game plan. Ultra-cautious at first, failing to look for nudged singles, we were on the back foot as soon as a wicket fell -- which it was bound to do. Then Brezzie decided that approach was a mistake, chanced his luck to take the fight to the enemy ... but came unstuck straight away. Then it was back to block/dodge/leave, and slash and miss ... . This zig-zag strategy didn't seem to have any captain's instructions to it, apart from 'do what you feel's best'. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what it looked like, and 96 for 7 felt deserved.
However, we do have strength in depth, and we'll likely remember 2017 as the year that Patto and Fisher saved us from relegation in the next-to-last game. Like we'll remember 2016 as the year Brezzie and Sidders nearly won us the Championship on the next-to-last day.
The year as a whole?
We've been average. An average-quality first division team, performing right in the middle of the pack. We have 145 points. Add up all the counties' points -- 1,176 -- and divide by eight and you get 147. And we've won 4, lost 4, and drawn 5. Average, just average.
The stress and disappointment have come from the kind of average we've been. It's been the "Fred's average temperature is a healthy 37.4 degrees. But Fred's head is in the oven and his feet are encased in a block of ice." That's how we've performed this year.
But I'm a glass half-full guy. We've been as good as average when several batsmen have been simultaneously out of form, and when the ageing bowling attack showed this year it had lost its edge. Lyth, Lees, Leaning, Ballance, Bresnan have class -- they've proved in previous years that they're good enough to be top performing county professionals. And with Coad and Fisher we now have real prospects of refreshing the pack-hunting pace attack.
I don't go for this 'we need to re-new/recruit/regroup' stuff at all. I think we should stick with the team we've got. I agree with the poster above who said we can look forward to:
"Lyth, lees, leaning, TKC, Ballance, Hodd, Bresnan, Patterson, Fisher, Coad, Brooks and Rashid being 12 of our 14/15 man first team squad."
What's more, Waite looked the part at Edgbaston and Taunton this year as well. Brook is as good a prospect as any (never know really how a young'un will step up to First Team standards between 18 and 21, but clearly the potential is there). Shaw back from his Div 2 experience the year after next? And Carver?
If any/all of these guys can emulate Coad's '2016/17 winter progress with Pyrah' then we can look forward with confidence to a strong, young (ish) squad in the next few years.
And the coach? Does it really matter? Obviously an exceptional someone like Dizzy brought extra inspiration and Aussie ruthless killer-instinct. But it's the guys on the field and the captaincy that really count. Isn't all this stuff about the coach just pulled over from the celebrity-coach culture of soccer? Who was the coach of the great team of the 60s? There wasn't one.
I'm looking forward already to next year. And before that, to Chelmsford, where, for what it's worth, I think we'll burst Essex's bubble, spoil Silverwood's clean sheet ambitions, and win handsomely
. I've got my AirBnB booked and am going to cheer the boys on.