Crawl through the overs in the first session and he’s got more time to work things so his side throws the bat. Run through them at a fair clip, and there’s less room to work with. Do the maths yourself. Someone who goes to lunch at 2-60 off 30 overs has plenty of time to build a total. If that 2-60 comes off 35 you’re not going to be facing the same run chase, and if it’s off, say, 38 (which was, if I recall correctly, the best any of my sides managed, and I was understandably pleased) you’d definitely fancy your chances batting second.
That meant, when you went through your team preparation you used your centre wicket practice to work on a lively change between overs. Keeper and slips jog to the other end, and everyone should be in place by the time the umpires are in position with the bowler at the top of his run up ready to bowl.
The NQ speak for this was the razzle dazzle. You set out to razzle dazzle the opposition, and you worked on your batsmen to take their time and avoid being hurried when the opposition set out to razzle dazzle you. Take a moment, check your guard, that type of thing. Not deliberate time wasting, but not being hurried either.
That’s Part One of the background. There were a couple of additional factors that applied on the Sunshine Coast in 1996. One was the fact that this was my fourth go at the NQ coaching job, and having coached the winning side in 1992 and missed out in ’93 and ’94 I was hoping to depart on a winning note.
We also had a couple of kids who looked rather good chances for State selection, one of whom was the best prospect I’d sighted in Bowen Junior Cricket over the twelve years I’d been involved. Maybe not quite as good as Greg Pearce, who went on to Australian Under-17 selection, but the best prospect since Pearcey.
There were a couple of other matters that related to this particular carnival, which was being played over venues scattered across the countryside, rather than in one central location. Constraints imposed by the calendar meant twelve teams were split into four pools of three rather than two pools of six.
Two pools of six meant you were in the Final if you finished on top of your pool. Four pools of three meant you had to win a game against one of the other two sides if you wanted to progress to the quarter finals, and from there things worked on a knock out basis.
We’d duly won our first game, had a day off for an excursion to the beach while the other two sides in the pool played, and got rolled by a Metropolitan side on Day Three. The opposing coach expressed commiserations, since the cross pool knock out bit meant our next game was against Darling Downs, rated as odds-on favourites to win the carnival and, coincidentally, historically rated as masters of the razzle dazzle.
Not the side you’d want to meet in the quarter finals when you’ve got three kids with a fair chance of State selection.
They won the toss, elected to bat, and after I’d gee’d up our boys on the Razzle dazzle (at least thirty-five by lunch would have been the instruction) out they went.