The “Killer B’s” end of year report

 

As Steve said in his end of year report, some of these thoughts have already been published on our excellent web site (many thanks to Chris – and other contributors – for this).

 

Our early concerns

 

It seems such a long time ago since the raising of the possibility of a second eleven. As is usually the case, the club was split with the pessimists and naysayers questioning the viability of the project. A number of valid concerns were raised, including the keeper problem, selection, ground availability and the simple question of numbers. The keeper problem was solved with the new importsmore on this later - while ground availability was declared by Monnington as a minor issue. While it is customary to thank the ground staff, from my perspective, they have been absolutely fabulous this year. Only once (as I remember it) was a potential problem raised and this was dealt with easily and quickly. Long may this continue.

 

As Steve states in his report, overall selection worked well this year. I can only reiterate his comments (and I reproduce these below):

 

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’.

 

While the Bs rarely entered the field with less than eleven men (unlike Sunday matches) this was frequently the result of other’s flexibility and hard work on my part. A great deal of thanks, however, has to go to our imports and new recruits. The almost ever-presents, Harish, Chocks and Rajesh, really helped to stave off the foreseen availability crisis and added some real quality to the team.

 

The matches

 

All would agree that this has been a fantastic season for the Bs. Starting with nothing more than a desire to ensure that we fulfilled our fixtures may have contributed to a view that the season exceeded expectations, but this would be far too pessimistic. Gaining promotion, missing out on the title by one point (I’m sure others in the side have thought about where this solitary point could have been won) and the cultivation of an excellent spirit and attitude are all real indicators of our success. Additionally, the vast majority of the games were played in an excellent spirit (so much so that others may have questioned our intensity on some occasions). Personal highlights include the mammoth total (in the context of the rest of the year) at Thornborough, the hard-fought win at Helmdon, and the narrow defeat (by one wicket) at home to Woodford Halse.

 

The ethos

 

Throughout the season (although not exclusively) we managed to approach the game in the right spirit. There was a definite sense of camaraderie among the team and a real sense in which we enjoyed our Saturday diversion, whatever our roles in the club. Finding tea-makers was usually simple (although not always) and there was a hardcore of dependable volunteers for the usual duties. Bar one notable exception, all at least acknowledged my aim of involving everyone in the game as much as possible. Everyone knows that I like to win, but a second XI captain has to remember that he needs players to return week in and week out and that there needs to be a space in the club for everyone to enjoy competitive cricket. While others expressed the opinion that we’re bound to be having fun if we’re winning, I think it a measure of the players that they kept on winning while stressing the inclusive attitude at the core of the team. Enjoyment did come first, and the winning followed.

 

Final thoughts

 

The inclusion of the second XI has raised some issues in relation to the player of the year awards. Even if there is no actual award, I feel it is only appropriate to comment on some excellent personal performances. However, nothing should take away from the team effort inherent in our success. Storey frequently resisted his impulses and emulated the “Burns and Cooper” non-shall-pass approach to batting; on at least one occasion this proved to be match winning. Ryan really showed us all how to do this in the second half of the season! While it was not pretty and occasionally tried the patience of others, it was effective and helped to stop a run of batting collapses; this undoubtedly helped improve confidence in the batting and led to an improvement in this part of our game in the second half of the season. Rajesh took the opposite approach and a final average just short of 50 shows how important he was in a year dominated by bowlers and slow run-rates. Perkins, when we got him on the field despite his hectic social life, proved to be far too good for most opposition batsmen. His 6-35 at Helmdon being influential but 21 wickets at 7.76 says it all.

 

Deciding upon my player of the year was a really difficult process. Two candidates stood out as worthy of the award and I did contemplate naming both jointly. Harish Putti bamboozled batsmen most of the season with late swing – I’ll never forget the bemusement on the face of another Thornborough batter on his way after Harish somehow hit the stumps again. 28 wickets at 8.39 with three five wicket hauls speaks volumes. Add to this the frequent games when he deserved more and his importance to the team becomes apparent. But Harish was about more than his ability – it was his attitude. What he could do for the team, he did, no questions asked. More often than not, he would take the initiative in the mundane tasks that need to be performed for a club to survive. Whatever the situation, he would offer a smile and a friendly attitude. If he had remained around for longer, I’m sure he would have been an excellent club-man. However, most of this can also be applied to our other candidate, Mike Allison. I’m sure Mike won’t mind me saying so, but this season Mike really found his place in the club (despite Steve’s best efforts towards the end of the season to move him out of the Bs). As he admitted, he now felt that his place in the team mattered – others could not make up for his mistakes. To his credit, he responded to the call. He was the only batsman to score over 50 for the Bs, got his maiden ton at Thornborough and scored more runs than any other batman. The decision was not easy – both were excellent players with a positive attitude and offered worthwhile advice. However, in a year when runs were hard to come by, the “award” has to go to Mike.