Right guys and girls, I'm the captain of my school's 3rd XI team, and we're coming into a week which contains our two hardest games of the season. We've just (on Saturday) secured our second victory in three years (we're fairly bad!), and my first as captain in my fourth game (won 1, lost 2, no result 1 - shame that, we were in a decent position), and confidence among the team is very high.
However, my problems are as follows:
1. There are two players in my team who aren't contributing very much with bat or ball - one bats no7 and, due to most of my bowlers also being top order batsmen, bowls 3rd change. He gets frustrated at not getting much of a bowl (I gave him an over as we were about to win on Saturday, but I had to take him off to bring back our opener, as we wanted to bowl them all out instead of leaving them 8 down - it worked, he got the two we needed in the last over), and about batting no7, but the fact is he's not good enough to have a more important role in the team. He also has a very negative attitude, and it doesn't help morale to have someone telling the rest of the team there's no point putting any effort in because we'll lose anyway.
The second is a medium pace bowler who on his day can be very effective, but has a tendency to try too hard when he's not getting it right, meaning he just gets worse. He bats no11 and despite slogging it around it nets today, will never go any higher. My dilemma is, for Wednesday's tough away game against another school's 1st XI who are of similar standard to us (but usually have 1 or 2 players that outclass us and would be playing for 1st XI teams in schools with more than 1 team), do I drop these two players for two more of better quality, but even worse attitudes than the guy with the problems? The latter two would probably contribute more to the cause, but they would ruin the team spirit that developed on Saturday, as well as demoralising the other two significantly. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the two I'm considering bringing in are close friends of mine, and would probably take it personally if I decided not to bring them back into the team following their voluntary absence on Saturday - one of them in particular would find it hard to accept that we were a better team without him.
At the moment, I'm leaning much more towards keeping a settled XI, even if there are players in it who don't contribute much - the rise in confidence that Saturday gave us might be enough to secure another victory.
2.If the opposition on Wednesday do have one top quality batsman who decides to get after us, and my bowlers are simply not good enough to contain him, is there anything I can do? I've contemplated asking my more accurate bowlers to bowl wide outside off stump and set the field accordingly, but the problem then becomes that we normally play with fairly small boundaries, and I don't want him hitting my openers over extra cover for six every three balls. There's the leg trap option, of course, but if he's got the power to get over the field, he may well be able to do it consistently, time and again, in which case that plan will have to be swiftly thrown out the window. Yorkers are an option, but I'm not sure if any of my bowlers can bowl them consistently. I do have an offspinner on whom I think I can rely for accuracy, but he's young and I don't want to place too much responsibility on him in terms of containing the batsmen. Also, he's likely to only have 5 overs, as we are playing 25/25 on Wednesday for some crazy reason.
Thanks for any advice you knowledgeable guys can provide, and I'm sorry about the outrageously long post!