By Matthew Fisher
We were very happy to beat such a strong Essex team on Thursday and are over the moon to be in the semi-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup against Hampshire on Monday. Two more wins and we have a trophy!
A lot has been spoken about our international absentees, but I felt confident at Chelmsford because we still have a strong group to select from.
We went out and delivered.
I thought Gary Ballance played beautifully for his 91. Only him and Adam Wheater played at a strike rate where it was up at a run a ball or over.
We were under pressure at 40 odd for four, but Gary does it for us time and time again.
When he was out in the middle, I saw his List A record come up from Sky on our TV in the dressing room and he averages 50. When you see that, confidence just oozes through you as a team-mate. It was a great innings.
Mine and Tim Bresnan’s partnership was also quite important. We gave ourselves time on that pitch and got hold of a few at the end.
As a team, we learnt very well from what they did wrong in that first innings.
They went away from hitting the pitch at the end, which was quite hard to hit as a batsman when they did. They also bowled a few wide yorkers, which were easier to get hold of.
Jack Leaning played well for his 57. He maybe looked a bit rusty in that he didn’t get off strike as much as he would have liked, but he still did a great job in setting it up.
Looking back, 260 was probably a par score.
We have lads with confidence.
Lads like myself and Tom (Kohler-Cadmore) getting called up for the Lions is a great confidence boost. I know I felt that when I went out there.
Although I know I still have a lot to do, it gave me confidence to know there’s people out there keeping an eye on you. Also, when I was bowling at Alastair Cook, for example, I was thinking ‘I’m not that far off’. If you bowl good balls, you can get them out.
I said in last week’s column about us lads stepping up when we’re without the England players.
We’re not young lads anymore. We’re experienced players. Myself, Coady and Karl (Carver) are 20 or 30 games in, Tom’s played a lot of cricket and Harry Brook is good enough to score runs anywhere against anyone.
If we don’t step up in those situations, we’re not going to be the players we want to be.
In that regard, it’s quite nice when the internationals go away and we get tested.
Against Essex, a lot of us learnt a lot about ourselves and how we can deal with pressure in big games.
When having to deal with pressure, it helps massively when you have someone like Steve Patterson on your side.
He has been phenomenal as captain recently, and I am delighted for him that he’s got the job full-time. That’s nothing against Gary, who was also top drawer as a leader. But Patto is a more than capable replacement.
He is exactly the same as a character on and off the field.
He’s so calm and intelligent. He knows about life off the field and knows about cricket on it.
He’s one of those who you always look up to, and most of the time if you listen to him, he’s right.
He said to me halfway through their innings ‘It’s nice when you put bowlers on and what you want to happen, happens’.
That comes from bowlers getting the same clear message. We had a chat at half-time about what was tough to score against, and we all stuck to it. When we didn’t get it right, we were honest with each other.
He’s open to listening to ideas, but he will always go with his gut instinct.
I said in last week’s column how much I look up to Gary, and I hope this move proves a positive one for his game.
In terms of the Lions series coming up, I’m pretty confident we will be able to play in a Lord’s final if it were to get to that situation, although nothing has been said for certain yet.
The last game of the group stage is the June 28. So there’s a day off and the final is on the 30th. Then the final of the tri-series is two days later. If we’re not allowed to play in a Lord’s final, it would be pretty tough on us. I’m sure we will, though.