A Summer of Success: WUSGCC Chairman's Annual Report, 2013
I don't go to many of our indoor nets because of the state of my right shoulder, but when I turned up in February the mood seemed fairly pessimistic. Recruitment was not going particularly well, either in terms of quantity or quality, I was told. The obvious weaknesses of our potential league team pool did not seem to be remedied - fast bowling being the most obvious. There seemed to be nothing at that stage to suggest that performance would be any better than in the immediately previous seasons.
But that's not the way it worked out. 2013 was one of the most successful seasons in the club's history at all forms of cricket. We won two of the four trophies for which we competed, the SNCL Premier Division Cup and the Coventry Midweek League divisional title. In the Premier Division itself we were runners-up, our best finish ever. There were only three defeats, to Byfield and (twice) to Evenley - who remain something of a "bogey" team for us - and I think we were genuinely unlucky not to win, partly in coming across rivals as consistent as Byfield and partly in the sheer rub of the green. Had either of the defeats been a victory we would have been champions. Great credit must go to Ankur Chandra as skipper of the side; it must be pointed out that this success was by no means entirely because of new stars. Some of it was due to the qualities of players such as Harry Singh, Danny Sherazi and Nicky Sandhu who were given better opportunities than they had had previously, while Rob Wood and Sandeep Sandhu continued their important roles. In several of those cases the player occupied an important role off the field as well as on. The overall record of the club suggested a good strength in depth: 45 wins as against 15 losses.
Success of this sort is the icing on the cake for a club like ours. The cake itself is our capacity to offer cricket and good fellowship to the staff and graduate students of the University of Warwick. regardless of age, ability or previous experience. Our history has given us many things to be proud of: we have easily outlived all other staff sports clubs, but the thing we should cherish most is the existence of lifelong friendships between people who would not otherwise have been acquainted. Also, we have introduced players to the game who have never played it before and in some cases they are players from countries where cricket is barely known. This season we saw a German take up his guard at the wicket without being at all clear about what was meant by guard in this context and we saw an important dismissal effected by one old age pensioner taking a catch off the bowling of another. This - as well as beating Byfield two out of four - is what we are about.
We want it all as a certain kind of feminist used to say. One of our many distinguished former members, now a vice-chancellor, once remarked to me that the thing he enjoyed most about our club was the sheer variety of cricket played, observing that he remembered playing on Oxford College grounds as well as factories, stately homes, public parks and the inevitable villages. Thus Sunday (and Thursday) cricket are extremely important as part of the experience we can offer as well as the bread and butter of league cricket. Look at the variety of clubs which featured on our Sunday list this year, 21 games of which 12 were victories. Some tensions have arisen and we do face issues about membership and selection, but I do think most of our membership fully understand the eclectisism of what we are about. In this light I would like to record and commend the willingness of such Saturday luminaries as Ankur and Danny to help out with Thursday games when required and also the enthusiasm of newer members like Anish and Siddarth in making sure games went on.
Finally, I must be in denial! I drafted this report without acknowledging that 2013 marked the retirement of one of the most important figures in the club's history. In my heart I cannot really accept that I will never again drive to a cricket match with Rob "Run Machine" Burns as I have for 40 seasons or watch the characteristic symphonic rhythmn of forward defemsive shot followed by cracking pull through midwicket. The stats are amazing and surely never to be repeated: over 1000 matches, over 24,000 runs, eight centuries, 149 fifties, 426 catches, 211 stumpings - and 38 wickets. And these stats are, as for other members of his generation, not the whole story because the scorebooks for 1974-81 were destroyed. Who destroyed them? Rob Burns, thinking no-one would be interested. Not his best decision! Rob was captain of the club (all games), 1975-82 and midweek captain 1993-99. The first of those periods was vital as he probably ensured the survival of the club and he definitely made important decisions which defined its nature. Rob's greatest strength was always his cool rationality with a bat in his hand: many a pub conversation has concluded that if all our batsmen made their decisions as rationally as Rob we would never be bowled out. characteristically, Rob's final innings was 78*.
Lincoln Allison, Chairman, WUSGCC