We arrived at Torquay in perfect cricketing conditions. With a defeat haunting us from the week before, it was important to get back into winning ways fast. Justin Yau, the Torquay captain, won the toss and elected to bat, which was what I would have decided to do also, but having been so successful in past seasons bowling first I was not too perturbed. I knew that whoever played the better cricket would still win the game and that the wicket was not going to change dramatically in the course of 100 overs. Josh Bess and Sam Anderson took the new ball and pleasingly both hit their areas very quickly and very much bowled to their field. Torquay opening batsmen Benjamin Handley and Somerset’s Max Waller made a very steady and solid start. The scoreboard didn’t rattle away with boundaries, but the opening stand did well to keep the scoreboard ticking over with one’s, two’s and the occasional boundary. The wicket was slow but so far the bounce was consistent and our pre-match thoughts that the score would be nowhere near as high as the week before were now established. A score of approx 190 would be about par and would be eminently chaseable despite their 20 overs of First Class spinners in the shape of Aqueel Ahmed and Max Waller. For this very reason we didn’t want to be chasing too many. After the 10, 15 and 20 over mark things seemed to be going to plan, Josh had been replaced by Will Gater and Sam Anderson had bowled his 10 overs straight through for a mere 19 runs. Torquay were 49-1 after 18 overs having lost the wicket of South African Handley – Run Out - to a sharp piece of fielding from Josh Bess at point. The stage was set for us to restrict Torquay to the aforementioned target total. However, as soon as Miles Dalton came into the attack, Waller went on the offensive and looked to aggressively sweep most deliveries that Miles bowled. I had followed on from Sam at the score box end and although I was keeping the run rate relatively quiet I was still not happy with the way I was bowling and needed to put the batsmen under more pressure. Miles found the going tough and only had a short 2 over spell. The newly available Liam Lewis is a great asset to have back in the side. Liam soon hit his rhythm and before long dislodged the off stump of Justin Yau. The scoreboard had hurried along to 104-2 after 25 overs but this rate was still very controllable. Max Waller had upped his scoring rate, using the depth and width of his crease to make margin of errors minimal. However, these accelerating attempts brought about his downfall, as Lewis took his second wicket ensnaring him leg before wicket. With Torquay at 110-3, and Waller back in the pavilion following an effective 54, I gave Liam Lewis one more over and then brought Miles Dalton back for a second spell. The ever consistent Miles found the going tough again for the second time in the day and he was shortly replaced by Will Gater. In consecutive overs I trapped Matt Thompson LBW and Will Gater bowled Nick Watkin. Torquay slipped from 141-3 to 143-5 but with positive endeavour Torquay continued to prevent our attempts to grasp the ascendancy. Each batsmen came in and played destructive innings with Baldry, Callum Wilson and Aqueel Ahmed being the main antagonists. Yet again, the run rate soon amplified out of control and in Torquay’s batting powerplay the damage must have excelled past a rate of 10 runs per over. Although wickets continued to fall with Lewis picking up his 3rd and 4th and Josh Bess his 1st and 2nd, Torquay’s total was jumping from over to over and continued to rise above our hoped and surmised par score. Josh has bowled incredibly well at the death in most instances and has helped us keep things in comparative control. Matt Cooke was unlucky not to get a bowl but with right and left handers coming in through out their order and the slightly short boundary on one side, I felt the heavy ball, into the wicket, bowling of Liam Lewis would be harder to hit. The wickets fell at 161-6, 196-7, 208-8 and finally 220-9. Torquay eventually ended on 226-9 after their 50 overs, and as mentioned previously this was a few more than we had hoped to chase but we were all very aware that if we could bat out our overs we would be very close to chasing down Torquay’s total. Rightly or wrongly I asked Pete Randerson to open the batting as I knew the middle overs of Max Waller and Aqueel Ahmed could be very difficult to score off. I knew Pete and Josh Bess could get us off to a good start and ahead of the rate before the spinning pair came on and started their squeeze. That part of the plan all but worked and through putting away the bad ball Pete did indeed got us off to the hoped positive start. Regretfully, at the other end, Josh Bess was unluckily bowled off his thigh pad for 0. Although this was a huge blow for us and left us 1-1 things still looked promising as we made our way to 44-1. With change bowler Nick Watkin came the ‘all but’, and Randy was caught at mid wicket, Zak Bess adjudged caught behind, and Liam Lewis and Will Gater clean bowled. We slumped from the healthy platform of 44-1 to 58-5 and when Griffiths mis-judged a quick single and was run out we fell into further trouble at 58-6. With Nick Gingell injured with an Achilles tweak, the hope for the game rested on the shoulders of Sam Anderson and Matt Cooke. I knew it was slim but I knew there was still a chance. Both players batted positively and hit the seamers out of the attack. It was now the turn of the spinners to taunt us with their skills. Max Wallers’ first over was one I am sure he would not be particularly enamoured with and, as he did in the their Devon and Somerset youth games, Matt Cooke punished Wallers’ loose deliveries for a 6 and two 4’s. Sam at the other end was playing a fine positive and classy knock, rotating the strike and hitting boundaries when the opportunity arosebut Waller and Ahmed soon settled into their overs quickly and made the going tough for the fighting pair. Matt Cooke rode his luck one time too often and was well caught by Wilson at a deepish long off for 22, leaving us 107-7. Sam Anderson continued to bat well and approached his half century but this week the tail could not support him. He was eventually the penultimate man out for a very well made 55. I only made 3 this week and found it difficult to score off both spinners who regretfully (for me) had the ability to make the ball turn both ways and maintain impeccable control. We were eventually all out for 141. Most of the damage had been done before the spinners came on to bowl and whether opening with Pete Randerson was the right thing to do or not, I do not believe our score of 58-6 can be attributed soley to that. We didn’t let Torquay get off to a flyer as we have with other teams in previous weeks and if it weren’t for the last batting powerplay, which we perhaps didn’t execute as well as Torquay did, the needed total would have been greatly reduced. As a team we are currently struggling slightly. Having lost two games in a row, which I do not think we have done for 4 or 5 years, has made everyone stop and stare. Being a successful member of a winning team is far easier than being a match winner in a (currently) struggling team. From the outside and at Sidmouth Cricket Club things may not look very good for our 2012 campaign, however having had the luxury of playing with this team for a very long time, I know how much everyone at this club wants to win and be successful for their fellow team mates. Everyone is under performing, including myself. I need to start bowling at my best and winning games for the team. We are all practicing hard and all want success hugely. I am convinced we are only one good performance away from turning everything around. Torquay skipper, Justin Yau, described us as one of the best teams in the league and I still very much believe we are. I believe we can still win the league, I believe all the batsmen will still score the elusive 500 runs I know they are capable of and that all the bowlers will get their 30 wickets. We have the team to do it, we have been here before and pulled through victorious and I wouldn’t write us off just yet.