Annual Report – Warwick University Staff and Graduate Cricket Club 2005.

 

       Ende Gut, Alles Gut

          . . . as our substantial German-speaking contingent might say. The First XI were promoted to the Premier Division of the South Northants Cricket League and the Second XI held their place in the 3rd Division. Targets reached, aims and objectives achieved, whatever the tribulations on the way. Note that the First XI won their divisional championship but for a stray email and that, given a disappointing record in cup competitions this meant that we won no trophies this year. Still, if that’s what the distribution of the plasticware comes down to then we must treat it as (even) more trivial than we already did and rejoice in the achievement of having risen from Division 4 to the Premier Division in just four seasons with one divisional championship and two cups along the way.

       It is the connectedness of league cricket which gets to you. In the old days if you played a good game of cricket and won on the Saturday before you went on holiday you would be pleased but forget about it. But now you find yourself ringing home nervously to find out how the Killer Bs got on because if things went badly that victory you were part of would be rendered valueless. (Or I do, anyway.) A lot of members have told me that they actually enjoy “friendly” cricket more than league cricket, but that they only do enjoy it provided things are also achieved competitively.

 

       Rue du 30 Juillet

          If we did adopt the continental habit of naming streets after great days in our history then we should lobby hard for July 30th. That was the day that the first team won what must count as one of the most remarkable victories in nearly forty years of club history recovering from 37-9 to beat Culworth easily after an unbeaten last wicket stand of 99 between Mike Keating and Chris Stride. It will be remembered for a very long time as the Great McGonagle liked to say. There have been other very remarkable victories: believe it or not we once won defending 42 when the opposition reached 41-3! But they were neither of the importance of this one nor at such a relatively high standard of cricket.

       And it wasn’t just the First XI ! The Bs went into an away game at Marston St. Lawrence on that date desperately needing points and without any of the bowlers who had taken their wickets previously. The attack consisted of the wicket-keeper, an injured player, one who had shown no form so far (though he did eventually) and a player whose season was just starting due to injury. Yet we held them to under 130 and won at a canter, Tom Day and Rob Burns putting in excellent performances. And it turned out to be an important result as it was Marston and not us who were relegated in the end.

 

       Always something new . . .

          It is always said of cricket that it is sufficiently complicated that however long you play you will always come across something new. There were plenty of new collective experiences this season, not all of them pleasant: first relegation struggle, first points deduction (we’ve been fined money often enough), first all-midweek tour, first time we put out two teams simultaneously at home (this happened twice because of cup draws). First time (I think) that we won 50 games; well, sort of – we won 48 proper games plus a cup walkover, a league walkover and a win in a six-a-side tournament.  And first time an opposition skipper declared in a twenty over game. First time we’ve conceded 300 runs (which happened twice) and first time we’ve scored 300.

 

       Tour, Casuals, etc

          These comments are mainly made by me not as chairman, but as someone with special responsibility for some of the “friendly” cricket:

CASUALS: The Thursday night friendly side had its best ever season, returning a 5-1 record, losing only in a bizarre first game at Kenilworth where they went beserk with the bat and their skipper declared when they got to150 off 15 in order to make it more interesting: we got within 12. There was no difficulty in raising a side or a pitch even when we had a cup game on the same night. I should look at filling the gaps in this list though there are really only a couple of practicable ones.

TOUR: The four day, midweek tour with the current fixture list is fine and looks set for the future. The record this year was even-steven: 1-2-1. Problems were that the Worcester Fossils game was too short for a declaration game (can be rectified), a freak thunderstorm caused the Brecon game to be abandoned as a draw and the minority who wanted to stay on in Aberystwyth and go on to league games in the morning were unable to because accommodation was all booked for degree day (might be rectified by earlier booking). The logistics of this tour format work well once these wrinkles are sorted and I’ve heard  worries that the opposition is getting too strong, but that’s better than the alternative.

MIDWEEK FRIENDLIES: At least we got to play most of these this year with two wins, a (very winning) draw and three defeats. The game at Leamington was everything one could want from such a fixture and rated many mentions in my survey.

     I NOTE that our record in all friendly fixtures including Sundays and the above categories was: P 37 W 23 D 4 L 10. This would have constituted an entire (and very successful) season in itself for most of the club’s history whereas now we have 50+ league and cup games to add on to this.

 

       And the Winner is . . .

          I asked people to nominate up to three candidates in seven categories in order. I had around twenty replies altogether, but few of them fitted my specifications: some made one nomination in a category, some made seven, some invented their own categories etc. I wouldn’t have it any other way: ie I wouldn’t want to be in a club where chaps were prepared to fit their opinions into neat categories created by me. But it does make for difficulties in interpretation. Fortunately, a lot of this was pretty clear cut however one interpreted it:

 

BEST MATCH: That Culworth game. Runners-up: Bs v. Helmdon (H) and the Sunday game v. Norton Lindsey.

 

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A TEAMMATE: This has to be a joint award to the Keating-Stride stand of 99* and to Rob Wood’s best four knocks which together got more votes.

 

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN OPPONENT: The fast swingers of the dreaded Wilkins of Culworth. Runner-up: the all-round performances of Ben Thorne of Helmdon. After that a lot of big performances with the bat, including someone referred to by several as T.H.E.Twatt of Coombes Wood.

 

BEST TEA: Winner – Norton Lindsey. Runner-up: Weoley Hill. Few home efforts mentioned!?

 

BEST PUB: Joint award to the Gadlys Arms in Aberdare and the Marston Inn in Marston St. Lawrence. Not as many votes here. Don’t the First XI do pubs?

 

CHAMPAGNE MOMENT: Boucher’s 6 to win the match at Leamington. Behind this were Tughral’s hat-trick, Wood-bowled-by-a-granny and lots of others.

 

BEST MATCH REPORT: Mike Allison. He would have clinched it for his insouciance in relation to the Coombes Wood game on its own and come second for his “heroic” (!?) couplets about Keating. The Great Escape poster was next.

 

       &, last but not least, PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

          This is not a vote, but the Chairman’s selection after traditional (Tory) consultation. This proved very indecisive with many candidates mooted including Keating, Stride, Morrell, Cammiss, Wood. However, this award recognises achievement on and off the field and I am giving it to a player who had an excellent season, but more than this, he is the last of his generation who can command a first team place and the captain who has taken the club from Fourth to Premier divisions since 2002.

 

Concluding Thoughts

       The club has reached new heights in the past two seasons. Generally things have been exciting and gone well. But it has been based on a high turnover of players. When half a dozen leave seven turn up, sometimes even better. Luck? Or judgement favouring us through word of mouth , a superb website etc. We need to keep a very close eye on the situation especially with one team in the Premier Division and another in the Third. Think on!

 

                               Lincoln Allison          October 2005.