Annual Report – WUSGCC 2009

 

CONGRATULATIONS, first of all, to our officers and membership on getting through the 2009 season with a reasonable degree of success. Much of what follows will be premised on an assumption of crisis and “the status quo is not an option”, but it must be remembered that both our Saturday teams, in positions to which they had been promoted in the past, managed to retain their status. The club won a total of 27 games, losing 42. This required heroic efforts on and off the field, but particularly in raising teams. The brunt of this is due to Steve Lamb, with the assistance of Nick Sandhu, though Mike Allison and various Sunday skippers must take credit. I had some taste of this in putting a 2nd XI out in the latter stages of the season: much harder than “work”.

     Also we have had very nice messages – for example, from Saumya Patesaria and Deepak Kumaresan, saying how much they have enjoyed playing cricket for us – and those messages are a reminder of what is good about the club, which we must not take for granted.

 

FAREWELL, then, to the Bs. Six seasons of a Saturday 2nd XI: one championship, once promoted as runners-up, three successful struggles against relegation and one unsuccessful one. Started, as we thought, in Division 5, promoted without playing a game, further promoted to a level at which we were competing almost entirely against 1st XIs, ending in Division 3. After our final game, a victory which avoided relegation on our own merits, it felt sad. Two of the players contacted me to express their doubts and regret about the decision; one of them was leaving the club and the other had played one game – and was not a member of Warwick Sports. If we continued there would surely be too many occasions like the one a couple of weeks earlier  when enormous efforts were put into raising a team to go to Wroxton and we arrived with 9 men, two of whom had not played cricket before 2009 – under the circumstances we did very well.

 

FAREWELL, also, to tour, which had in any case been reduced from five games to three (as it proved sadly impossible to raise a side to go to Aberystwyth for the last three years). We hadn’t won a game for three years and it was proving very difficult to put out sides, let alone competitive ones.

LEGACIES of tour:

1. We will continue to play Barnard’s Green, which is an easy day trip, and may be able to put out a stronger side against them.

2. We have a warmly expressed standing invitation to play Aberdare on a weekday of our choice, which is just about possible as a day trip. I will review this situation when we see how easily we are raising teams next season.

3. We should investigate and discuss holding a cricket event away from the bread and butter league season. It could include, for example, the Kevin Jacob Memorial game which we played last year.

 

THE PROBLEM – DECLINE OF OUR CORE MEMBERSHIP: Go back to our records for 2006 and 2007 and you will come across some of these names: Chris Lamb, Kevin Morrell, Tom Day, Rob Evans, David Storey, Paul Guerry, Jonathan Wortmann, Richard Dobedoe, Eddie Ryan, Nick Boucher, Mike Keating, Dan Hall. All of these were legitimate, long-term members of our club who in 2009 played little or no part in proceedings. They have been replaced, if at all, by shorter term members who are less regularly available and less able or willing to provide tea or transport. And in some cases, it transpires, it turns out they have been replaced by people who were not entitled to be playing for the club. To make matters even more difficult you will also come across names who played far less in 2009 than in the past: Rob Burns, Steven Cammiss and Hari Singh, for example. Two facts among many to illustrate our problems:

 - WE HAVE NOT RECRUITED A MEMBER OF STAFF SINCE 2007 (PAUL WILSON).

 - ON AUGUST 15th ONLY 15 PLAYERS HAD STATED AVAILABILITY  - and we had to find 22 players for Saturdays alone.

 

WHAT WE AGREE ABOUT:

 - we want to continue.

 - we wish we still had the playing strength of two or three years ago.

 - we must recruit new players from within the university.

 - we cannot continue trying to put out as many teams as in 2009.

 - given that something must go, it should be one of the two teams on Saturday.

 - preferably, we want to recruit players like Deepak Kumaresan – an ideal club man and around for a number of years, but he, too, has now had to leave.

 

WHAT WE (PROBABLY) DISAGREE ABOUT:

 - priorities. Some members want to play cricket at the highest possible level. For others a friendly and convivial club is all that matters and league cricket may be a threat to this.

 - recruitment. It follows that there is a gulf between those for whom it is imperative that we recruit players who can play in the Premier Division and others who might think this is too big an ask. One argument concerns whether our high league status helps us attract players or not. Clearly some players would be attracted by it. On the other hand we have failed to recruit in our natural territory – the dozens of players who are qualified to play for us who play in inter-departmental games. There is some anecdotal evidence that we seem too pretentious and serious for their tastes.

 - level. Should we have withdrawn the 1st XI or the 2nd XI form the league?

 

WHAT HAS HAPPENED:

At the end of the season emergency meetings of club officers decided to withdraw the 2nd XI. In order to keep up our strength it was agreed to ask permission for three of our members who are not strictly entitled to join Warwick Sports to be allowed to continue to do so; this permission was granted for one year, provided that they join as external members. It was also agreed that we should equalise the combined cost of club and WS subscriptions between members. These players are Ajit and Ajay Nair and Nicky Sandhu. All of them have made a massive contribution to the club and it is important also to note that in 2009 they were bona fide members of Warwick Sports, having joined in good faith, even though we are now informed that they were not technically eligible.

 

FOR AND AGAINST:

FOR: It is the natural imperative of sport that you try to compete at the highest possible level. We still have a number of very good players who are in their prime and deserve the right to do so; they include the Nair twins, Rob Wood, Paul Wilson, Sandeep Sandhu, Chris Stride, Mike Allison etc. If we can recruit a few more we may still do very well and staying in the Premier Division will help attract suitable players.

 

AGAINST: University staff cricket clubs normally manage to play only friendly games. That we moved onto a different scale from these (and from any other staff sports club at Warwick) is due to a combination of a very strong and cohesive generation of players combined with injections of South Asian talent. The former has now gone and the latter is proving insufficiently reliable. As a result we should think about reverting to our natural sustainable level – if not for 2010, then for 2011. Football fans may bear in mind “Peter Ridsdale syndrome” which involves thinking that you “belong” in Europe or the Premiership so that you put in process unsustainable procedures for keeping your club there with the result that you collapse to a point below your sustainable level. Many football clubs have gone down that route. Of course, the financial mechanisms are not the same for us, but we could imagine the club fielding a Premier Division team which relied on former students (and, in desperation, perhaps, their friends and relatives). Warwick Sport would not allow this; many of us would not want it and it would possibly be depriving our basic constituency of cricket.

 

      For the moment, we have had to make decisions, but we may have to review them urgently and we will certainly have to review them next year. In any case, either choice could be made to look foolish by an unknown factor – the quantity and quality of our recruitment.

 

                            Lincoln