May 14, 2000

Jimmy Cook writes about his second month with Hampshire

Jimmy Cook

The first month of the season has come and gone, and after the initial successes of beating Essex and Surrey in the Benson and Hedges Cup matches to reach the quarter final, we have had several very disappointing results.

Our subsequent loss in the quarter final match against Glamorgan has probably been hardest to accept. We played well on a very poor pitch for this type of match. Having done well to restrict them to 182 in their 50 overs, we completely fell apart with the bat and were bowled out for 69.

I really have never been a person to complain about pitches etc., and I certainly attach no blame to the Cardiif groundsman who had problems outside his control in preparing the pitch, but I really do feel that in general the powers that be in English cricket do need to take a strong line when it comes to pitches. It is no secret that good pitches produce good players and one only has to look at the Australia system where even some of their club grounds would have better pitches than some County Grounds in England, and to see the quality of players which they are producing.

Jamie Cox, the Somerset captain, is a case in point. Here is a top class batsman brought up on good Australian wickets and he plays with a quiet confidence which many young English batsmen lack.

Our own batsmen at Hampshire have come across a few indifferent pitches around the country and at the moment are pretty low on confidence. What they need is a long innings on a good pitch where they can learn to move their feet well and play forward and back with confidence, knowing that the bounce will be true.

Still, it has been interesting trying to help our younger batsmen to overcome mental fears of failure and help them to improve techniques of playing on difficult pitches. This however takes time and the public, members and selectors etc., need to be patient and allow the players time to come to terms with changes that are made.

The team spirit has remained superb despite a few disappointing losses and it has been incredible to see how supportive and upbeat a person like Shane Warne can be in difficult times and his contribution to the team in the dressing room has been of enormous help to me.

Lets hope the winning trail is not far away.

Jimmy Cook - 13 May 2000