Nightmares and Prizes: the WUSGCC Chairman’s Report 2007

 

       This was a cricket season in which the high points were some of the highest in our history and the lows were some of the lowest. In the traditional way I will take some of the bad news first. The weather was surely the worst ever? It wasn’t just that it was a generally wet summer, some of the downpours were extraordinary. The number of cancellations broke records, but we do play more matches these days – or, at least, more matches are scheduled.

       We also seemed to be suffering more injuries, especially among the club officials and what I will politely call the more senior players. Nick Boucher, club legend and one of the two leading wicket-takers in the history of the club, had to retire because of a chronic shoulder injury. A horrible ankle injury put a speedy end to Andrew Hardwick’s briefly revived cricket career. The Sunday captain, Rob Evans and the Wednesday captain, Neil Carter, lost most of their seasons to injury while others, such as Steve Lamb and myself, were always struggling.

       Nor was the club getting any easier to run as I believe all of those involved would agree: a large membership with a high turnover and massive fluctuations in the numbers available. Players do not always communicate their availabilities and the changes in them as clearly as they might! All of the nightmarish aspects came together in July: of 24 potential fixtures we won only 2 – 11 were lost and 11 cancelled, though one of those was technically a victory because Preston Capes A scratched. One of the games which was played was rearranged at home when the Warwickshire County Council ground was waist deep in water.

       BUT – and it’s a pretty big but – this was also the only season in which we have ever won two trophies. The Premier Division Cup victory stands as a tribute to the quality of the very best players in the club while the Ian Collett Memorial Cup awarded to the divisional champions on the SNCL Division 3 reflects our strength in depth: 33 players were involved in Saturday 2nd XI games. A good deal of credit must go to the skipper. It is true that he had more resources available than his predecessors, but they also took a good deal more managing. It was never a question of picking a team on Monday or Tuesday and looking forward to Saturday, but the words, “How’re you doing, mate? . . . How are you fixed for Saturday?”, addressed breezily to a mobile phone, were heard constantly in our house. As a result we pretty much always had a balanced and competitive side when 2pm on Saturday came round.

       However, what did suffer most was our Sunday record. Three wins, a draw, twelve defeats, four cancellations and an abandonment is a pretty poor return and was only given the hint of respectability which it possesses by winning the last two. I don’t think people enjoyed the Sunday games as much as they have in the past. We need to make sure Sunday sides have more balance and a more consistent identity.

 

TWO ASPECTS for which I have particular responsibility.

 

Tour: In one respect we were quite lucky on tour in that we managed to get three games out of four in the evil weather of July. But they were three losses and our record in the three years of 4-day tours is poor and seems to be getting worse. Circles will have to be squared in 2008 because we want to be more competitive, but we have a number of “terracottas” wanting to make their final tour.

 

Mid-week friendlies: Although ruined by the weather in proportion to the rest of the season this is a much happier picture with five wins, a draw and only one defeat. As last season the only defeat was away to Warwickshire County Council and it was avenged at home. A less happy aspect is that we have progressively lost all 3 of our late season fixtures: Aberystwyth, Aberdare and Jim Rushton’s XI. I will be looking to replace these.

 

AWARDS

After voting and consultation – a bit up on previous years, I’m pleased to say, the following:

 

BEST MATCH: 1st XI v. Priors Marston, Sept 1st. I thought that the Bs 2 games against Wroxton would be difficult to beat – the losing scores were 218 & 227 – but you can’t compete with a successful chase of 310 with members of the Prophet family gnashing their teeth.

 

BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE: Fuwad. Definitely, with opinion divided between his Byfield and Priors’ knocks – as with Woody in previous years.

 

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN OPPONENT: No award. Quite a few mentioned, mainly batsmen, but no real multiple nominee.

 

BEST OPPOSING CLUB: Aberdare. Perennials squeak it, despite not coming to us this year.

 

BEST PUBS: Marston St.Lawrence and the Virgin and Castle, Kenilworth. Old favourites still in place.

 

BEST TEA: Marston St.Lawrence.

 

CHAMPAGNE MOMENT: Mike Smith’s catch at Horley. (Infer what you like.)

 

BEST MATCH REPORT: Chris Lamb. His entire oeuvre. The new Dan Hall. Reading them, I decided that this should really be called the P.G.Wodehouse award because those who win it are in the same mould of light, but profound prose. And Chris’s reports give you at least a belly-laugh per para!

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: I’ll stick with the tradition of saying who this is without actually naming him. Mike Allison and the Nair twins were mentioned as was Paul Wilson for a wonderful comeback to cricket. But the winner is another debutant, a slow left armer who took a lot of wickets and made some runs, who played (briefly) for the Bs before graduating to the 1st XI . . . .

 

 

Concluding thoughts: We struggle on – with substantial difficulties, but also substantial successes and some very good times. The core of players around whom the club has revolved for almost its entire history is steadily disappearing. As somebody remarked to me, “There are about eleven players at the heart of the club, but unfortunately only four of them actually work for the University of Warwick.” It is a problem, but we must solve it as best we can.