Annual Report 2001

Even a Luddite like myself has to recognise that the whole context of an annual report has changed when you can read literally everything you need to know (with perhaps a little bit left over) on the club's website updated on an almost daily basis. Gone forever are those reems of paper carried to the AGM and the excitement (for those who don't count) of finding out your averages some time in December. Dons' stats are now available globally and instantly and we pick our teams (and do many other things) by email. We completed an electronic revolution in 2001 and this report acknowledges that in both form and content. And it was nice, on the Monday after tour, to be able to "link" to the Aberdare site to read their report on our rather impressive performance the previous Thursday.

In general I felt our club was in a very healthy state in 2001 which I would break down under the usual headings.

RECRUITMENT:
I read that we only used 41 players, by no means our highest. But none of them were guests, we were never short of players and the level of recent recruitment has been such that on one occasion I looked round the field and realised that nine of the eleven players had played most of their cricket for us in the 21st century. There are, as always, some doubts about next season, but there are also plenty of reasons for optimism.

FINANCE:
For the first time the club was able to operate without charging either a subscription or a match fee. This was due to accumulated surplusses plus a profit on winter nets, the source of both profits and losses over the years. Does anybody else offer this good a deal?

GROUNDS:
At one stage the Lakeside square was poor while the outfield was good and the Roadside square was playing well though the outfield was made dangerous by poorly finished drainage work. Yes, there were problems, but the long-term trend is good with every reason to suppose that Roadside next year will play as well as any home ground we have ever had. Also, to confound the sceptics, both fields now have mini-pavilions in place.

RESULTS (& WEATHER):
This was a 19th successive winning season: let's make sure it's 20 next year. But, for a club in such good condition, at least some aspects of our results were disapointing. It was disappointing to finish only 5th in the Saturday League when we led it for a time and had just as strong a team as when we won it two years ago: the performances with both bat and ball were just not as outstanding as on the previous occasion. We were also 5th in the Wednesday League and might even have been runners-up if two or three close games had gone our way: essentially, we competed better in this league than in the previous couple of seasons.

The only thing that was disappointing about Tour was the weather. We set off with one of our strongest parties ever (or, at least we would have done had not Steven Cammiss managed to enter Tour legend by injuring himself seriously while leaving his flat) and it showed in results. Since we won the only two games which were completed pretty convincingly we could claim that this was only the 2nd "100%" tour of the 26. But such a claim is poor compensation for losing more than half the playing time to the weather. In a season of poorish weather the tour weather was actually the worst ever.

Our Sunday record is a little deceptive since five of the six draws were really "winning" draws where we batted first and the opposition held out. Note the freakish feat of your Chairman in winning 12 successive tosses - 13 if you count the courtesy toss at Llanidloes! And the best part of our cricket was the day games which were not part of League, Tour or the Sunday programme: played 11, won 7, drawn 4. Some of the most satisfying performances fell into this category, including beating Jim Rushton's XI at Leamington and getting the better of Aston Unity when their West Australian had looked as if he was going to make mincemeat of our attack, Nick Boucher clean-bowling him.

HAPPINESS AND A DARK CLOUD:
Several people both inside and outside our club have commented to me that we seem a very happy lot who get on well together despite (because of ?) considerable differences of age and ability. Our nets continued from January to September this year and seeing us at play would have seen a bunch of grown-up kids "playing out" with all the possibilities of humour, rivalry, fun, banter that is implied by that phrase as well as serious efforts at technical improvement. Compare and contrast the utter misery of (say) a county junior net.

The major cloud hanging over this broad, sunlit upland is the possible collapse of our Saturday League, surely an integral part, now, of what we have to offer as a club. At the time of writing we are trying to recruit for it with unknown prospects of success. If we fail we may face a rather patched-up season followed by an application to the Cotswold Hills League for 2003.It is true that we have an interesting fixture list and that the Midlands Club Cricket Conference has rarely, if ever, let us down, but it would all look rather thin these days without regular Saturday League cricket.

CONGRATULATIONS...
...to Chris Cooper for winning the WICC wicket-keaping award with 23 victims.
...to Steve Lamb for sharing the outfield catching award with 13.
...to David Storey whose 6-7 against Champions Willoughby won the the award for the best individual bowling performance.
...and some commiserations to Chris Stride whose 26 WICC wickets put him joint 2nd among bowlers in the League.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR...
All the above would be candidates plus several previous winners, but my choice is the clear leader of the overall bowling averages who has also done a great deal to effect our electronic revolution. This is a man who is mad in the best possible ways and whose bowling is amongst the most intellectually interesting I have ever encoutered. Try turning up to one of our games when we are fielding and listening to the opposition discussing it!

Lincoln Allison, October 2001

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