Everybody likes to think that they could pick a better team than the one that strolls out onto the park to play. No matter what the sport. No matter what the level.
Women's cricket is no exception. We all think that we know best. We all have our favourite players. We can all justify the inclusion or exclusion of certain players. Sometimes it is very difficult to see how others cannot see what is so blinding obvious to us.
Of course none of us has all the facts. We have no knowledge of player injuries, niggles, worries, form in the nets. We only get to see them on game days, and sometimes then all too briefly, if they have a bat in their hand or bowl a bad over. We have no knowledge of how the wicket is going to play or the atmospheric conditions that prevail on game day.
What we do have of course is the stats. Cricket followers love stats, as they can always support your point of view, no matter what it is. "The stats never lie" is an oft-quoted misnomer. Stats can be misleading, and particularly T20 stats. They have no context. There is no differential between an over bowled in or out of the powerplay; nor at two batsmen who are well set and tonking the ball to all parts of the ground; nor at the death of an innings when a team are happy to throw caution to the wind. Likewise a batsman may be facing the best bowler in the world, moving the ball miles; or come in when her team are 5 for 3 in the second over of the game; or 150 for 1 with just eight balls to go with the message "just fling your bat".
Stats do lie - frequently.
So, it is with this proviso that I asked "The Cricket Bloggers" to select their T20 team for the first game at Whangarei on Thursday (not the team that they think will be picked, but the team they would pick). I was not prepared for the diversity of thought (or lack of it?) that went into each individual team. Given that there are only 15 players in the squad you would expect a certain degree of uniformity - far from it. All 15 players make at least one team and only five players make all five teams - Edwards, Taylor, Brunt, Shrubsole and Sciver. No player holds down the same batting position in any more than three teams and each team has a completely different opening partnership which casts seven different squad members in this role.
What does this prove? Well absolutely nothing of course. We are all right because we can always say that "our team" batting and bowling in "our order" would have done it better. We can pontificate all we like (and we do), but at the end of the day it is down to the girls on the day to perform to the best of their abilities.
And don't forget cricket is a cruel game. You can be bowled first ball by a jaffa or whack a horrible half-tracker straight down square leg's throat. Those of us that have held a bat in anger have all done it. Alternatively you can bowl like a demon and end up with 0 for 35 off your four overs or bowl like a drain and get 4 for 15.
Actually I think it is the vagaries of the game, as well as the delight of seeing someone bat or bowl brilliantly, which keep us watching.
So here are our selections, for what they are worth. Feel free to disagree. We know you will.