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I accept responsibility for unacceptable collapse against Gloucestershire

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That catastrophic collapse against Gloucestershire in the Vitality Blast could be the watershed moment of our season. Losing eight wickets for 23 runs in six overs was something that no one saw coming, and it was right that captain Ravi Bopara had a go in saying it was the worst performance he had seen in more than 400 matches of Twenty20 cricket.

Gloucestershire took eight wickets for 23 runs to beat Sussex by four runs defending only 145 (Photograph courtesy of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club)

It was definitely something that we didn’t expect when we were two down with, what, 30-odd to get. It looked like a cruise, a walk in the park, but obviously cricket is one those sports where you have to be nailed on right until the end. We didn't quite stay nailed on and get our skills right, and they took that opportunity to get one over on us.

I know I should have won the game, finished the game off, being we needed less than a run a ball. But it was a weird situation because the overs before that and leading into it I probably could have just won the game and not allowed it to get that deep into the game. The right thing to do is probably to take it as deep as possible, and taking it into the last over needing nine or ten. We know nowadays getting that is still pretty easy. I definitely take a bit of the blame — there’s always something to learn for us as a group, and for myself definitely.

We all know as a batting group that from the position that we were in we really shouldn’t be losing the game. And I think it’s pretty fair that we have to take accountability, own up to our mistakes and understand that, in professional sport, that’s probably unacceptable. But in cricket sometimes, that’s how it goes. We need to learn from that and bounce back in these next six Vitality Blast games and put it right.

It’s a pity the way it ended because in the first half, that was probably my best bowling. Going for only 13 runs in my four overs and picking up a crucial wicket in Ryan Higgins, I couldn't have really asked for anything better. I think all the bowlers did well — we took wickets up front, we squeezed in the middle. At the back end, they got a few away, which is natural, and normally what happens in T20s, but if you would’ve said to any of us, “Would you take chasing 145” at the start of the day, I think everyone would’ve said, “100 per cent”. So you couldn't fault the bowlers’ efforts, and I think we did a magnificent job.

A further ray of hope is after losing these three matches on the bounce, the top four have not really got away and qualification for the quarter-finals is still well within our reach. It’s one of those cases where one team [Surrey] keeps winning in the group. Everyone else is pretty level in terms of points at the moment, and this is the period where hopefully we can get some momentum and get things going our way. If we can go into these next six games and win a minimum of five, realistically you’re looking at qualification fairly easy. If we can win five out of six, then definitely, but more so for momentum of the group and going through to quarters and potentially the Finals Day as well. We’ve seen teams over the last few years get on a run, and once they get on a run, nine times out ten, they go all the way and win the comp. So, yeah, looking to just bounce back really as a group in our next game against Essex on Friday and put things right. Hopefully, we can get some momentum, go on a run and try and get into a trophy-winning position.

In between we have had the return of red-ball cricket, which everyone has to adjust to after a spell of white-ball cricket. I’ve taken comfort in spending a fair bit of time in the middle, spending 74 minutes over my 21 in the first innings in the four-day match against Glamorgan and 2hr 23min for my first championship fifty of the season (57) in the second.

I’ve been practising really well these past few weeks. I got one down the leg side that nine times out of ten, I would probably clip away. I felt I got back in, but was given out stumped and obviously had to walk off. Those things happen.

The main thing for me, though, is that I feel like I’m progressing the right way — and it showed. I think the clarity and the calmness that I now have in the middle is something that has been a long time coming. Working with batting coach Grant Flower has been brilliant for us over the past six months for us as a group, and I feel like my cricket and my skill and my batting’s going in the right direction.

Also going in the right direction are England. That win at Trent Bridge was fantastic. It was probably one of the better wins that they have had in the past few years. They definitely showed the skills, showed the talent that they have and also the character that they have in that group. With the personnel and with a head coach coming in like Brendon McCullum, I think it just showed the way they’re going to go about their cricket and play their cricket in challenging games.

Everything about that Test match was positive; even the way that Popey [Ollie Pope] and Joe Root batted in the first innings, the way they bowled in the evening on Monday and leading into Tuesday morning — everything was all about trying to win that game, and I think it showed. When your captain comes out and he runs down the wicket and hits one of the premier fast bowlers in the world over his head for six, it’s a good look for English cricket and where it is heading. If they keep playing with that mentality and that character, I think you will see them win a lot more Test matches in that fashion.

I am aware of the comment my former England Under-19 coach, Mark Ramprakash, made in his Guardian column where he referenced me in relation to the development of young players and how they could be damaged if being exposed to the front line too soon. He has a point but it’s probably just one of those cases where if you’re going to bring a young player in to get his feet wet, sometimes it can work. If you stick a young player at the top of the order, and he goes in and tears it up and is away, he then has got a lot of confidence going forward. But the majority of the time it’s a fairly decent step up for some guys, and you’d rather not take a chance rather and chuck them at the top of the order and probably break them. Whether or not they go well, it’s always a learning curve. If you look at it in that fashion, there’s always something positive to come out of it. I’m pretty sure in the coming years, you’ll see a few more guys getting chucked in at the top of the order and given a chance. Hopefully they can show how good they are and progress as English cricketers.

• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith

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Published June 16, 2022 at 11:27 am (Updated June 16, 2022 at 12:05 pm)

I accept responsibility for unacceptable collapse against Gloucestershire

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