2006 Annual Chairman’s Report – Warwick University Staff and Graduate Cricket Club.

 

       This was a season of very mixed fortunes and achievements. Taking the bad news first, it was the first season since 1982 in which the club as a whole lost more games than it won. Also we won no trophies: it was technically true that we didn’t win anything in 2005, but at least on that occasion we won the SNCL Division One Championship on the field, losing it only because of a 20 point deduction due to a registration technicality.

       On the other hand, the club was competing and holding its own at a higher level than ever before and the Saturday First XI coming 3rd in its first season in the Premier Division is the outstanding achievement of the season. This was indisputably at a higher level than previously, but it was also the opinion of many that the Saturday 2nd XI and the Wednesday side were also playing in tougher competitions than before. Compared with five or ten years ago we have more players but fewer stalwarts and higher turnover. From an administrative point of view this can be very difficult: the fluctuation in the number of players available was such that we changed from being able to raise two sides on each of Saturday and Sunday while still leaving a lot of people out to desperately registering people to play in the Saturday league and having to cancel a Sunday match. Unfortunately, the abundance occurred largely in a wet May when many games were cancelled and the shortages were in the genuine summer of June and July. We seem to live on a knife edge at times and we will have to think very carefully about recruitment and availability.

       The remainder of this report is written by me not as chairman, but as organiser or captain in other respects:

 

“Casuals”

       In the strict sense (meaning the Thursday night friendly side) the “Casuals” had a rather good season: we lost only once, to Warwickshire County Council, and that defeat was well avenged by a fairly inexperienced side on a night in which the cream of the club were playing in a cup match. It is true, though, that the toughest fixture – against Kenilworth – was lost to the weather. If, as seems possible, the SNCL dispenses with mid-week cup games, we should look into the question of extending our fixture list. We have never had a problem in raising sides for this sort of game.

       The broader question of mid-week friendlies in general requires some effort (on my part). Our fixture list has been eroded over the years and this is a great pity not only because we have players available but also because I am well aware that many players think these games are an important complement to our basic fixture list. They give different opportunities, have a different atmosphere and even involve different skills (especially when they are “declaration” games).

 

Tour

       The hero of tour was Tony Derrick of Aberdare. When Brecon let us down at short notice he was able to raise a Mosquitoes side to fill the Wednesday fixture, albeit with an evening game. Otherwise, we had a reasonably strong squad and were blessed with excellent weather, but managed to lose the first three games. I would argue (as in other contexts) that the standard of opposition was at least as strong as it’s ever been on tour. It was a great relief to beat Aberystwyth, traditionally the strongest opponents, on the final day.

 

Saturday Second XI

       I am writing this report because the original captain resigned during the Gawcott and Hillesden away game on June 10th. We came 8th, with six victories, and thus avoided relegation, a kind of success because it’s about all we could have achieved. It went to the wire, requiring a final-day victory over Maid’s Moreton to leave us safe by 6 points. Last season we managed 7 victories and 7th place. Although the records look similar it was really all rather different: in 2005 we were generally reasonably competitive whereas this year we did piece together six vital wins, but a lot of the time we were outclassed, reduced to trying to gather together a few bonus points. Not much fun.

       Nor difficult to analyse. Two statistics stand out: first, that our record against second teams was 4-0 whereas our record against first teams was 2-9 and second, that of 32 bonus points we accrued 28 were with the ball. This clearly demonstrates that when we were being well beaten it was because of failures with the bat rather than with the ball. And the reason for that isn’t hard to find. Any skipper of our 2nd XI might have thought, at the beginning of the season, that his batting line-up would be drawn from the likes of Burns, Mike Allison, Faisey, Hall, Mark Smith, Lees, Gregory, McNicholas . . etc. In fact, there were occasions when none of the above was present and we usually had no more than two of them. The loss of Rob “run machine” Burns was especially felt (now working as a note machine!). But in many cases the loss was to injury and to weddings and stag weekends, so there can be cautious optimism that we won’t be as badly affected next season.

       In the end a large number of players performed for the XI and few can be said to have had very good seasons, but I will mention four. Harry Singh and Warren Finlay both bowled well and were instrumental in our survival. Neither David Storey nor Mike Allison can be said to have had wonderful seasons, but both performed the role of vital stalwarts. Both of them batted, bowled, kept wicket, captained, umpired, scored, made tea and transported team mates as required. Order of Lenin First Class to both. Not that Lenin knew anything about cricket so it will have to be Order of Lincoln.

 

Personal Comment

       This year the lows seemed very low and the highs very high. Personally, my worst moment occurred one minute after I’d packed my bag for tour on the Monday night when Brecon rang to say they were crying off. The next two were both against Gawcott and Hillesden – as nice a bunch of lads as you could hope to meet, but we do seem to get ourselves into nightmare territory against them. In the away game there was acrimony (entirely our fault) culminating in the resignation of the then skipper. And in the home game we had the watered-and-covered pitch so that when we lost the toss we were soon 18-6.

       And the good stuff: at the height of the season I captained teams to two excellent, high scoring wins in two days, both games played in beautiful weather. Friday was the tour win against Aberystwyth and Saturday was the vital league victory against Willoughby. The “Casuals” home victory against County Council was the most satisfying victory in that kind of game which I’ve ever known. And there was also that hat-trick, which I’ve avoided mentioning so far . . .

 

Awards, AGM etc.

       I am not including the various awards in this report; that excitement can be saved for later as I am still receiving opinions. If we kept to the equivalent date for the AGM as last year it would be on Friday December 2nd.

 

 

                             Lincoln Allison

      

      

And the winner is . . .

 

(Voted “best in category” for the club in the 2006 season. Note that there weren’t all that many replies – around a dozen if you include people who only wanted to make one or two nominations and some people made loads of nominations or otherwise did it in their own way, but I wouldn’t have it any different.)

 

Best Match: Away at Willoughby. IE two games, both 1st & 2nd XI players thought their game at Willoughby was the best of the season and it worked out even. Fairly ironic when you remember what we used to say about games at Willoughby.

 

Best Performance: Chris Lamb 121* v. Priors Marston. Off 91 balls . . . out of 194 . . won the match.

 

Best Opponent: Tony Derrick of Aberdare. Mainly for off the field stuff: brilliant effort to save Tour Wednesday, excellent leadership plus taking Neil to hospital.

 

Best Tea: Marston St.Lawrence squeaks it.

 

Best Pub: No real winner. Honourable mentions for Boddington & the Virgins.

 

Best Match Report: Mike Allison, Gawcott & Hillesden (H). A model of brevity. Caught the mood!

 

Champagne Moment: Chairman’s Hat Trick. Never to be forgotten (or repeated, I guess). Same player also nominated for 3 other incidents and as best performance, but that’s going too far. Though not nominated by one of the players who assisted; perhaps he thought it was “vintage claret” rather than champagne!

 

Player of the Year: A product of our “youth policy”; there were no other nominations. It was said to be a “no brainer” of a decision; also that without him the 1st XI “would have finished bottom three rather than top three”. “Easily the classiest batsman in the club” (not said by one of his relatives, but by one of mine) etc. Nice chap! He’ll probably sell the trophy on ebay, but . . . .

 

                                               Lincoln