The 2004 SNCL Division One skipper’s report contains some already published thoughts, plus a few additional reflections:

 

Highlight results? Three stand out for me, other members may have others:

 

·        The recovery  to win chasing 138 at Culworth

·        The win at Gayton, again chasing, but this time, uniquely in our SNCL experience, over 200

·        The miraculous cup-final win. 

 

A few individual efforts secured the first two, collective team work the third.

 

Saturday Division One highlights (again merely a personal view)

 

·        Nick Boucher’s bowling all season. I cannot better Shakespeare: “age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety”. Nick will know that these words refer to Cleopatra, so the personal pronoun has been changed in the interest of accuracy and to prevent any impugning of his virility! Nick on the field this season has been a joy to skipper and anything but a drama queen.

·        Chris Lamb’s batting, at Culworth & Gayton, & v Woodford Halse (twice, 90 in total for once out).

·        Keating’s bowling. For once the statistics (39 @ 10) don’t lie. His German is doubtless now good enough to appreciate the significance of “Versöhnung und Verständigung, […] Partnerschaft und Freundschaft zwischen den Völkern”,[1] so he should be encouraged to further extend his unique contribution to the Coventry/Dresden city partnership by the occasional appearance in whites next season.

 

Lessons for the season?

 

When it first became apparent that promotion was no longer an option, the consensus was that Division One was ‘about the right level’ for us. A final position of fourth out of ten would appear to confirm this, but the margin between victory and defeat in 40 overs cricket can be slim, and as a club we need to reflect on how we perform, especially in the latter stages of innings, both batting and bowling. Division One requires consistency, in both batting and bowling, as well as a higher standard of fielding. Division One teams bat much further down the order, and all have at least one batsman capable of a match-winning innings.

 

Stride’s summary is pithy and to-the-point: in the first half the bowling (our traditional strength) compensated for the batting’s deficiencies, whereas in the latter stages, when it really mattered to defend totals (152 v Culworth, 144 v Croughton, 105 v Greens Norton), we couldn’t get the bowling basics (line, length and general accuracy) right enough often enough for long enough.

 

The skipper needs to reflect more on the demanding task of balancing the needs of a match situation and the aspirations of individuals. There were times when he might have been more ruthless about bowling changes, (horses for courses, or rather for pitches and oppo batsmen) even if it meant someone might be denied the opportunity to make a full contribution to a game. Games such as Greens Norton (home) and Croughton (away) might not have been lost if different bowling choices had been made at certain key points.

 

Being skipper is fun, one of the best forms of relaxation, but of course it can only be really rewarding if our peculiar brand of democratic centralism continues to operate effectively. If someone’s bowling is not having the required effect I welcome constructive discussion, including the acknowledgement (thankfully evident in a good number, but not all) that a bowling change is required! Constructive advice, of which much is available in this club, is always appreciated.

 

The challenge, as always, is to ensure a healthy balance of playing to win and keeping everyone interested. Promotion for the Killer Bs is positive in various senses: it guarantees everyone competitive cricket every Saturday, offers the chance of mobility and flexibility depending on the challenges of a particular Saturday, and offers the chance, if needed, to re-discover form a few divisions lower.

 

On the whole our selection procedure worked well, for which thanks are due to Steven Cammiss, Robert Pettifer (before the Cup Final!) and Rob Burns (after!). Getting two teams out every Saturday and still producing a balanced Sunday side every week (apart from one!) was one heck of a challenge, but worked, due mainly to the above, but also to members’ flexibility. Thanks also are due to Chris Cooper for deputizing during my absence. My  champagne league moment was Cooper/scooper’s six that scattered Cammiss and Keating on the Green’s Norton square-leg boundary.

 

On the downside, may I remind us of a paragraph from my report of the Woodford Halse away game: “a less than happy cricketing day, leaving the skipper to reflect on the need to rewrite the job description to include: other peoples' anger management; the ability to encourage amongst team-mates constructive self-criticism and humility, as well as socially acceptable language and behaviour.”

 

One more slightly negative note. Those who work at the chalk (or screen inter)-face know how much emphasis there is these days on skills. We all have, to varying degrees, the generic type (i.e. batting, bowling fielding etc.), but on the transferable skills front some of us lack the key one: communication. Our system of selection operates well on the whole, but the work of the selectors would be greatly eased if certain simple procedures were observed by all, and not just by most members:

 

1.      Notify Steven Cammiss by the deadline of your availability.

2.      Click on the return menu when you first read the team list and confirm you’ll be there. And send the email to ALL three captains, Sat & Sun. That way, all three can make adjustments with a minimum of effort.

3.      If you cry off later in the week, maximize the chance of the skippers knowing quickly by a phone call, text and email. There were a few occasions last season when people cried off on Weds, but the message wasn’t seen till Friday.

4.      Remember that changed information about availability is not always remembered if said in the sweat of the dressing room or later in the pub. Please put it in writing.

5.      Get to the ground in good time, i.e. 20 minutes before the scheduled start. This is crucial a) because a skipper needs to know all are present and correct before tossing the coin and b) at home there are things to do: boundary markers, pitching wickets, opening up the pavilion, moving sight-screens, moving covers. And there’s enough to do without the distraction of a 2.25 p.m. mobile phone call with people, some living all of 500 yards away on campus, confirming ‘I’m just on my way’.

 

My season’s highlights have to be focused on two clubs: Gayton and Culworth. The former for the away Saturday victory and the cup-final triumph, the latter for a league win snatched from the jaws of defeat and a cup semi-final victory. All four games embodied the best in this club and the game of cricket in general. All four were genuine team efforts, but also included superb individual performances: Chris Lamb’s gung-ho batting from (and over) the top; some astonishing hitting by James Cullis, who must turn out for us more season next season; and a match-winning chalk-and-cheese partnership of the two Chris’s, Cooper and Lamb. The hostelry at Culworth also got my vote as the only away pub where we celebrated victory twice!

 

Steve Lamb

 



[1] We look forward to his translation of: “Für Dresden erklärte Herbert Wagner, Oberbürgermeister von Dresden, daß mit dem Wiederaufbau der Frauenkirche ein großartiges Symbol für die Überwindung von Krieg und Haß, für Versöhnung und Verständigung zwischen den Völkern, für Partnerschaft und Freundschaft wachse. Sein Amtskollege aus Coventry, Nick Nolan, erinnerte daran, daß die Partnerschaft mit Dresden mit der offiziellen Vereinbarung im Jahre 1959 begann. Würden Europa und die Welt dem Beispiel Coventrys in Dresden folgen, so Nick Nolan, brauchte man sich über die Zukunft keine Sorgen zu machen. (www.berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung/archiv/.bin/dump.fcgi/1995/0214/politik/0009/)