2005 SNCL Division One skipperís report:
This has been an excellent season for the firsts, as the league table below confirms. Initial concerns we might be light on the bowling front (one ageing skipper, a purveyor of flight and guile that someone surely would collar one day, an Aussie possibly more preoccupied with the outcome of his thesis than that of the ball from his hand, and a new Pakistani quickie unused to the vagaries of soft middle-England tracks) proved unfounded, as all four reached a league tally of 30 wickets or more. So truly a team effort on the pie-chucking front.
Although he didnít top the wicket-taking table, Tughral Turab Aliís one season with us deserves special mention. Apart from providing endless insights into the operation of elites in Pakistan (his uncles appear to have at various times managed the national cricket team, Ďdiplomaticí relations with India and negotiations between Bin Laden and the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan) his endless enthusiasm and commitment, despite frequent asthma attacks and an understandable aversion to the British heat, were a regular source of comfort to the skipper. In retrospect his dropping of a dolly at Thornborough merely added interest to the seasonís latter stages, as earlier promotion may have resulted in a loss of competitive edge late on. This, and the three drops that punctuated Dave Croninís 99, the highest knock against us, were the only significant blemishes in an otherwise excellent performance in the field.
On the leather-biffing front a similar pattern of consistency emerged. Our top order let us down only twice: once in the Great Escapade v Culworth at home when the now already legendary 10th wicket stand of 99 turned the game around to get us out of jail, and once v Thornborough away, when we still finished only 10 short, despite a crumbling track. Every regular batter made a decisive contribution at some point, with Carterís solidity in the first half of the innings, Kevinís bat-and-pad-together forward defensives followed by straight drives over the top and Woodís characteristic brutality, especially at Syresham, Radway† and v Bodicote, particularly prominent. Rich Lambís idiosyncratic match-winning 78 away at Woodford Halse will not be easily forgotten, especially his Morrell-like sorties down the track to bowlers aiming ever wider outside the off peg. Batting consistency was the decisive difference from 2004, when not enough of us scored sufficiently when it mattered. More significantly perhaps, we are now a team that gets on with it in the middle. I donít have the stats to back this up, but 4.5 to 5 an over now seems to be the norm. With so many batters equipped and willing to attack it has never been difficult to ensure that regular runs were coming from at least one end, and usually two, especially in the second half of the innings.
Skippering has not been hard with such depth regularly available. As always Chris Cooperís wise Brummie head has been invaluable, both when I was there and when I was not.
Next season will surely be much more demanding: a) because of the higher level, b) because 45 overs will surely feel like much more than five overs more, at least for some of us and c) the Afros loom large once more.† Notwithstanding that, I see no reason why we should not do well en haut, provided availability remains strong and people perform to potential. There is real talent in this club, not just amongst last yearís first-team regulars,† and if the oppositionís rivals ours next season, so much the better. It should make for absorbing Saturday afternoons.
Interestingly the giddy heights will yield only two grounds totally new to us: Charlton and Priors. All the others we have played at already, either against an A team or in a cup final.
Organisationally this has been a relatively trouble-free four months, for which many thanks to all members for observing the rules on availability and confirmation, and in particular to Steven Cammiss for running the system so well and being such a cooperative co-selector. The registration problem resulting in the loss of 20 points could have been worse. We need to discuss how to avoid such like in future. May be a registration supremo is the answer.
At the time of going to time press I know of only three certain losses: Reg Darius, Nick Gould and Bob Speight. We shall remember them all.
M & P Scott (Builders) Division One†††††††
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P††††††††† W††††††† D†††††††† L††††††††† Pts
Thornborough†††††††††††††† 18††††† 13††††††††† 1††††††††† 4††††††† 289
Syresham†††††††††††††††††††† 18††††††† 9††††††††† 2††††††††† 7††††††† 250
Woodford Halse†††††††††† 18††††††† 9††††††††† 2††††††††† 7 †††††††218
Culworth††††††††††††††††††††† 18††††††† 7††††††††† 2††††††††† 9††††††† 206
Preston Capes††††††††††††† 18††††††† 7††††††††† 2††††††††† 9††††††† 199
Bodicote††††††††††††††††††††† 18††††††† 7††††††††† 2††††††††† 9††††††† 196
Radway††††††††††††††††††††††† 18††††††† 6††††††††† 2††††††† 10††††††† 188
Gayton†††††††††††††††††††††††† 18††††††† 6††††††††† 2††††††† 10††††††† 170
Greens Norton†††††††††††† 18††††††† 3††††††††† 2††††††† 13††††††† 127