Annual Report 2003

Sunday, July 27th, 2003 . . .
. . . was a very big day in the history of the club, arguably the biggest. We raised two teams; one beat Milton Keynes Afro-Caribbean by 108 runs to win the South Northants League Cup and the other beat Horley by 7 wickets in a traditional fixture. Had we lost both games the season would have felt very different; not only would we have no cup to show off at the AGM, but we would have failed to meet the criteria we have long set ourselves of +10 in traditional fixtures. What made the achievement so remarkable is that neither side we played on the day was weaker than previously and that both had beaten us in the previous encounters.

The cup win was the first in the club's 37-year history, though that fact should be put in perspective. We did win two finals of inter-university competitions in the 1970's, though those were primarily round-robin competitions and there is an issue about whether those teams represented our club or the University staff (and friends) who usually played for other clubs. From 1973 to 1987 we competed in a cup based on Coventry and District (though quite separate from the league which we joined in 1978), our best performance being to reach the semi-final. There was very little chance of winning this competition because it contained scratch sides with the best of Leamington and Coventry & North Warwicks though the tactic of sending out a "suicide squad" to get us into the "plate" competition remains one of the more dubious episodes in the club's history: we didn't win that, either. My first act as Chairman in 1987 was to withdraw from this competition because I didn't fancy trying to put six teams out for six versions of the same tie (constantly postponed for bad weather) and so we could concentrate on the Wednesday League. We only took up cup cricket again in 2002 as a condition of membership of the SNCL. In short, there have been 21 seasons in which we played no cup cricket.

So congratulations to the team and especially to Steve Lamb who not only led them to victory but took five wickets as well. And did I mention that Allisons opened the bowling and took wickets in both games?

Afternoon Friendlies36191025(4)
20-over Friendlies53200(1)
League Cup33000(0)
Wednesday League158520(3)
All fixtures76452245(9)

  • Winners, SNCL League Cup Division 2
  • Runners-Up, SNCL Division 2, promoted to Division 1
  • Third, Coventry Wednesday League
  • 22-12 in traditional fixtures

This was a very good season and, in its way, every bit as good if not better than 2002 because the Saturday cricket was played at a higher level. It was a 21st consecutive winning season and it did follow our traditional pattern of being much better in the second half than the first. Mercifully, we broke the pattern of following a good season with a mediocre one.

The main characteristic of the season was exceptionally strong recruiting. The class of '03 - Darius, Goold, Jackson, Perkins et al. - was strong in numbers and talents. Thus our achievements of July 22nd and many others. But having 47 players and sometimes many more than 22 available for two games at the weekend caused many problems. Players who like to play twice were frustrated and some players were completely marginalised. Captains, especially in the first half of the season, were not always fully utilising the talents at their disposal. Teams were actually weaker in some instances than they were the previous season in order to try to get everybody involved. This was a factor in the number of defeats going up from 14 to 22. We lost to teams we had never lost to before including North Leamington School, Lapworth and Bugbrooke though in all these cases credit should be given to a greatly improved opposition. And at least the weather (May apart) helped us to get close to the maximum amount of cricket played - though we need a more reliable method for next year and the proposal to run a second XI is our biggest issue since the collapse of the Willoughby competition in 2001.

There was plenty of close and exciting cricket, especially in the friendlies and the Wednesday League. Apart from the four ties there were another seven games where the margin of victory was a dozen runs or fewer and even that doesn't tell the whole story as anyone who played in it will tell you that the 19-run victory over Jim Rushton's XI at Leamington CC was a very close game which only swung towards us in the very late stages. Interestingly - and insofar as you can compare oranges with apples - games won by the side batting second do not appear to have been quite as close, the major exception being our 1-wicket defeat at Hockley Heath.

It was an excellent summer, though not the best in brute statistical terms: four cancellations in a wet week in May saw to that plus a few other isolated downpours. Seventy six games completed including ten in September: we'd settle for that. And it was genuinely warm much of the time, prompting talk of global warming. But only journalists confuse long term trends with short term dramas. Beware next season: "We'll pay for it" as we say in Lancs.

The good things to be said about tour are that we played cricket on all five days, including excellent games against Aberdare and Yoxall and that the league team continued the promotion run without the tourists. Having said that, the structure of tour needs some thought. The “Welsh Tour” this year involved three English opponents even if we played one of them in Wales. Many thanks to The Resourceful Stride for solving the Saturday problem where I had failed. Sadly, Saturday is now not the only problem after Llanidloes, our most longstanding tour opponents, let us down on the Sunday. Radical ideas are now being mooted, including a 5-weekday tour.

Seven potential awards, six based on voting and the seventh made by the Chairman after consultation. You were asked to rank up to three in order in each category. More than a team, but a good deal less than a club responded. A substantial minority of non-conformists did it their own way, making one or nine or five nominations in a category and/or not bothering to rank them. I tried to include them on a reasonable basis; e.g. two unranked nominations scored two and a half points each and with more than three nominations I ignored the ones that no-one else had bothered with. It was good fun: a great sense of enjoyment and anecdote ran through the responses. So here goes:

A good scatter here with the Wednesday League unusually prominent - both Pak Shaheen home and away and Highway. Yoxall and J.Rushton's XI were prominent among the longer games. I decided to give two awards given two varieties of cricket and (to some extent) two different teams.

BEST EVENING GAME: PAK SHAHEEN (A) in which Cammiss turned into Dennis Lillee and after which Boucher said he'd never seen the team so excited.
BEST DAY GAME: J. RUSHTON'S XI (A) in which we defeated strong opposition on a good ground coming from behind with an excellent performance.

This is a case of "any hit record by Elvis Presley" as they used to say on Housewives' Choice. That is, you voted on mass for any big innings by Rob Wood. So let's go for R. WOOD 146 (club record) vs Hanslope (A) . (Bowlers hardly seem to get a mention in this, but R. Dobedoe v Aberdare (H) - 8 overs, 7 maidens, 5 for 1 - did not go unnoticed.)

Two separate focuses of attention here so two awards: K.FINSON (Wootton) for his 10 sixes on our ground and ABERDARE (at Aberdare) for their efforts in getting the game on and the disciplined performance of their young team in beating us.

Very scattered voting with previous winners Llanidloes not involved and Stoneleigh apparently unmemorable, so no award given

Unlike last year, I feel there were enough votes to give an award: THE ROSE & CROWN, RATLEY (near Radway). A worthy runner-up was the Gadlys Arms in Robertstown, Aberdare, but even its bat-mending services couldn't clinch first place.

I was lucky enough (as they used to say in old-fashioned autobiographies) to be personally involved in three of the four multiple nominations in this category. The one I didn't see was Hardwick's Last Catch which sounds like a classic Victorian sports print. I was there, though, when Richard Dobedoe ran the tieing run at Leek Wootton and I saw the look of terror in his eyes when he reached the same end as me (where he was supposed to be, since I had a runner, but panic does strange things to a man). And I was very much involved when keeper R.Lamb intercepted one of my deliveries just before it struck middle and leg. But the winner is: K. FINSON b. L. ALLISON Which is, frankly, a bit of a Lambrusco moment since we lost the match. And, surely, any of you would have said "I can't see what the problem is" in those circumstances. But you voted for it in droves.

In Shakespearean terms what happens when he comes in to bat is that we "stiffen the sinews" and "summon up the blood". What he does is to "Cry Havoc and let loose (the mighty willow)". And there are certainly "Gentlemen in England now abed" who are having nightmares about having to bowl to him next season. Since this goes on the website and is read in China I'll break with tradition by actually naming him: ROB WOOD. Though it should be added that our oldest playing member, one N.Boucher, had an excellent season with the ball and should be considered a worthy runner-up.

And finally, to praise and echo The Resourceful Stride in his praise of the contributors, what a stunning website we have! What a memoir, souvenir and advertisement it is! What a consolation on dark November days in the office! And this from a Chairman who was asking, "What exactly is a website?" not very long ago.

Lincoln Allison, October 2003

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