The curtain has come down on another cricket season and for Worcestershire CCC there is plenty to reflect on with pride as winter looms on the horizon.
They were once again a major force to be reckoned with in white ball cricket, reaching the quarter-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup and coming within one delivery of retaining the Vitality Blast title.
In contrast, the Specsavers County Championship provided plenty of challenges and a recognition that improvements will be needed to manoeuvre into a position to challenge for promotion.
Here First Team Coach Alex Gidman reflects on his first full season in charge in the second part of a two part interview with the Worcestershire CCC website as he discusses the One-Day Cup and Blast campaigns.
Question: On the white ball front, another successful season, reaching the quarter-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup and within one ball of retaining the Vitality Blast?
Alex Gidman: “Absolutely. The Royal London One-Day Cup seems a long time ago now but I thought we played some outstanding cricket in that competition. There were a couple of amazing performances.
“The win up at Lancashire was one of the best performances I’ve seen from any team in a long time. Then we won some really nitty gritty games as well which is a sign of a really good team.
“The Notts game here, the chase against Durham in the rain and the game at Northants when we didn’t play as well as we could have but still found a way to win – similar to the T20 campaign’
“A huge amount of learning and really good positives came from that competition but unfortunately we picked the wrong day to perform poorly.
“We were outplayed by, as it turned out, the best team in the competition (Somerset) because they won it. That was disappointing for everyone because we had worked really hard and sometimes it happens.
“No-one tries to perform below par, no-one does it intentionally. We just didn’t get it right on that day and Somerset played very well. It was one of the few games where we didn’t play anywhere near our best.”
Question: You came so close to being the first side to retain the Vitality Blast trophy?
Alex Gidman: “The T20 was a very similar campaign in the sense we played a lot of very good cricket.
“Obviously, we also came up against some teams that were very good, very competitive, and we didn’t quite play as well as we could do in some games, but I thought the team dealt with the pressure and expectations of being champions very well.
“However, once you get to the knockout stage, which is everyone’s ambition to start with, then you are only a couple of amazing performances away from reaching the final which is exactly what happened.
“Moeen’s knock down at Hove was unbelievable and I thought the whole team performance against Notts was extraordinary really, very similar to the performance up in Durham.
“Not every game is going to be perfect but if you can hang in games for as long as possible then it’s a crazy game and you can get those opportunities to win which is what we did.”
Question: The final went to the wire and could have gone either way?
Alex Gidman: “The final was an amazing game to be involved in and I thought personally it was our best batting performance in the whole campaign.
“We were under pressure on a very tough surface against a quality bowling attack and one of the best spinners around in Simon Harmer.
“To get what was a good score under those conditions, on that wicket, was excellent.
“We also bowled ever so well but two guys (Ravi Bopara and Harmer) had their day at the end and took it away from us.”
Question: The team could have given no more in that game?
Alex Gidman: “Ultimately we were one ball away from doing something no other team had done before.
“When you lose like that, you don’t want it to be because of a dropped catch, poor run out or a mistake, as a coach you sit there desperately wanting the guys to put a performance in that they are proud of.
“It was an amazing day, two games of cricket, we won one and lost one, but they will have learnt more from than those two games than a whole campaign over another year.
“To experience those moments for what is still a youngish team will be amazing in the long run.”
Question: You mention young players and people like Adam Finch, Dillon Pennington after returning from his injury, and Jack Haynes all had a taste of first team cricket?
Alex Gidman: “They all had their appraisals recently and there was disappointment from all of them that they didn’t take their opportunities as well as they would have liked which means they have high aspirations.
“That is great but on the flipside they also recognise that they have got a lot of work to do to improve. They have all realised first team cricket is really hard work.
“It is tough, competitive, and against experienced opponents who know what they are doing day in and day out and it has been challenging.
“There is a huge amount of potential there and I’m looking forward to watching them all evolve and grow over the next few years.”