I hate being back-packed
I hate it when I don’t play. Really hate it. I didn’t want to miss any matches of this World Twenty20 through form or injury; both have worked against me and I missed last night’s match against South Africa at Lords. And that’s also the second time I’ve been 12th man at Lord's, my only appearance there was the warm-up match against India prior to this tournament and that doesn’t count on any stats as it wasn’t an official Twenty20.
My back hasn’t been the best over the last week; it’s got quite tight through the lower area and has been a little tough to handle. I played against Scotland when it wasn’t great, I was OK to play but it wasn’t 100%. Over the days since that match it’s been up and down in terms of how tight and painful it’s been.
We trained at Lords the day before the match and I hit the nets to work on some plans for the SA batters. My back felt OK today so I went hard and got through some good stuff. I probably bowled about five overs when I stopped and headed in to see the physio. My lower back had ‘locked’ up and was rather sore. Not perfect and not what I wanted the day out before a big match.
So to the physio’s table, a place I’d been spending way too much time over this last week. Some work from the physio and then some acupuncture. I’ve always been a fan of acupuncture, no fear of needles, so get them in and give ‘em a tweak phys!
As we headed into the SA match we had the bare minimum to choose from because of injury and even in that bare minimum 12 there are still a mixture of niggles. I was considered fit and was hopeful of a start, not to happen, but Dan was out with a shoulder injury he picked up during a fielding session, Jesse out with a groin related injury and is now in hospital after getting considerably worse throughout yesterday and Franky with a knee issue. This meant Millsy, Broomy and Diamanti came into the 11 and it would be Diamanti’s Twenty debut. What a place to do it!
Our trainings throughout the pre tournament and since have been really well done and specific. Net training, generally, have been situation specific. You bowl with a new ball if you’re practicing that part of the innings and with an old one for the death stuff. I know that sounds obvious but it doesn’t always happen. The batters want to know what our fields would be so they can try to work out what we’re doing and where the gaps are. We’ve have had big open-wicket match situations, the blessing of having 15 in the touring squad, where we’ll practice the first six overs of an innings or the last four and almost compete for scores set or defended. I’ve enjoyed them, although tiring; they’ve set us up well.
The focus for last night’s match was the execution of our bowling plans and the boys did an amazing job. After a poor effort against Scotland we had to turn it around quick smart. We did more scouting, more research and had more discussion over the SA batting line up; for one reason that we knew more about them going into this match. Our plans were good and just had the execution to go.
We kept a very strong batting line up to 128 in the 20 overs; a very happy bowling and fielding group came off the park and up to the changing room. Butts and Nath were special last night, Butts only going for 13 off his four overs and Nath, with his little tweekers, going for just 4.5 per over.
I headed up to see the group and see what if anyone needed anything and then got back down onto the park and did a quick bit of work on my fielding. I wanted to do some as I always need to work on my fielding but more so to do some in the ‘change over’ light that we’ll have to field in more and more as we progress in the tournament. I caught everything, for a change, fielded all the ground balls clean and got what I wanted to out of it.
Baz started us off a treat rushing along to 19 off 11, in that time Gups had fallen to Steyn and Broomy to a very good caught and bowled by Kallis. Ross and Baz got were then together and put on 56 for the 4th wicket in 11 overs. The SA bowlers, through this period, contained these two big hitters and put themselves in a good position going into the last five overs.
We ended up leaving our run for the finish line a little late and lost by one run. Chasing a score of 128 shouldn’t have been so tough. We discussed, after the match, how we should have gone about the chase and what differences we could have made and would make next time we get ourselves in that position. Ross, in his innings, pulled up lame with a hamstring injury too which just adds to our injury worries going into the Super Eights stage of the competition.
I’m currently sitting in my hotel room, rain outside, India vs Ireland on the telly, almost finished this for today and just some food to get in before resting the body, keeping the back flat and preparing for tomorrow’s Super Eights match against Ireland. Hopefully we can field 11 fit players!!??
Fast bowler Iain O'Brien played 22 Tests for New Zealand in the second half of the 2000s