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September 2008
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RMJ: Wagging tails and sagging spirits hit Sussex

September 26th, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in County cricket and tagged , , , , , , , ,

I think I speak for all honest county trundlers if I say that there is nothing more irritating than the tail wagging. Yesterday was possibly the most frustrating day’s cricket I’ve had in my career. We arrived at the ground in the morning buoyed by a great half day in the field on the previous day. Yorkshire, our Championship relegation rivals, were well and truly dans la merde at 80-odd for six. All the talk in the morning team meeting was of hitting them hard and knocking off the last four wickets by lunch and then getting stuck in with the bat, hopefully finishing the day with a nice healthy lead.

Five hours later I was bowling my 27th over of the innings as the Yorkshire total eased its way past 400 and, more importantly for them, five precious bonus points. The Yorkshire heroes were their Nos.8 and 10; Adil Rashid and David Wainwright, who scored their second and maiden first-class hundreds respectively. Admittedly, Rashid is a better player than a No.8 and was only batting there because of a lack of recent runs and a nightwatchman going in before him. But the case of Wainwright is a classic one of how county cricket has changed most profoundly in the last decade or so.

When I started, almost every team had a 9, 10 and 11 who were out-and-out bowlers. If they clobbered together 30 runs between them they had done their job with the bat. They probably had one net a week that was likely to be against some gentle throw-downs. These days there are very few genuine bunnies around. Barely one a team, in fact. And so it’s not unusual to see a No.10 stride confidently to the crease and play a beautiful straight drive down the ground to his first delivery. Some of Wainwright’s batting against us was of the highest quality. He feasted on some very tired end-of-season bowling on a flat wicket admittedly but he had a very impressive temperament. He clearly takes his batting seriously, which is the key to the difference between the tailenders today and yesteryear. It used to be a bit of a joke watching them go in and throw their bats heartily at every delivery that came their way.

And so a tired Sussex unit left the field yesterday having seen Yorkshire score over 300 runs for the loss of just three tail-end wickets. And then the inevitable happened: we lost three quick wickets in the remaining five overs of the day.

Looks like we are the ones now truly dans la merde.

2008 is Robin Martin-Jenkins’ benefit year, visit for further details.

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