SNCL first-team captain’s 2007 season report

 

Our second season in the Premier Division saw us consolidate our position, after last year’s excellent start. Admittedly we won three fewer games, but we also played a good deal of competitive cricket, including a hugely enjoyable July Sunday in the sun, when on their own ground we gradually silenced opponents Byfield, as well as virtually the whole village, to win the Premier Division final at a canter, in the process playing some of the club’s best all-round cricket ever.

 

Of course a season’s success is often achieved as much in the planning as in the performances. This entailed much assiduous work by the first and second-team skippers + Steven Cammiss and Rob Wood, not least in ensuring we identified and kept tabs on winter-nets newcomers. Second-teamers will documented elsewhere, but for the firsts this preparatory work produced regular appearances from one-time India U-19 squad member Aditya Jainarayan from Bangalore, whose debut and second matches could hardly have been different: single figures v Afros followed by a match-winning ton v Charlton; Sandeep Sandhu from Birmingham, whose 51 league wickets, including 37 for the first team, will surely take some beating; Viren Bakhru from Milton Keynes, who played with skill and enthusiasm in all but one of the league games; and, sadly all-too-rarely, but decisively when he did play, Fuwad Sayed from Mumbai, whose superbly clean and apparently effortless caressing of the leather to sometimes very distant parts won us two encounters, the cup final and the last league match v Priors, a tussle that broke all records, as well the Prophetts’ hearts, and made the ups and downs of amateur cricket seem so worth while. Priors had been contenders till late on to win the league, but that fourth Dons’ victory over them in two seasons condemned them to third place behind Byfield and Evenley, who at least had to work harder in 2007 for their second successive league title. Lowlights for us were the injury-determined losses against Charlton away and Syresham at home, when Chris Lamb in the former and Ajit and Paul Wilson in the latter spent more than half the match in Casualty, awaiting x-rays on broken fingers from catches dropped. These too will long remain in the memory. Likewise the home match v Willoughby, when the skipper’s misjudgement on the mid-wicket boundary in fading light in the last over cost us the game when the scorer of the highest knock against us by far won the game with a boundary over my head, this same batsman having refused to walk off after his first delivery produced a blatant leg-side catch. It said a lot for the spirit in which we like to play the game that we continued after that without dissent. Of our home-grown talent, Chris & Rich Lamb and Rob Wood were ever reliable, with the former again top aggregating (by some 90 runs) for the second successive season, albeit without a ton this time round. Seven batters averaging over 25 is what is needed. Chris Cooper and Sandeep also produced key innings when it mattered most. Neil Carter also came into that latter category, albeit his overall contribution was hampered by an injury that pre-AGM still awaits surgery. But he was, as ever, the most loyal of team-men at all times.

 

On the bowling front Ajit and Ajay soldiered on, at times generating pace that was a match for any in this league, and were complemented by Sandeep’s guile (see above), Chris Stride’s parsimony (approximately 25% of his overs were maidens!), the skipper’s perseverance seeking to overcome the effects of a slipped disk, and Aditya’s aggression.

 

Fielding again was a mixed bag, with great catches and butterfingers in near equal measure. Chris Cooper’s sustained excellence behind the stumps was ever-reliable, with Rich Lamb deputising in his customary laid-back but competent manner on two occasions.

 

Our home wickets got better and better, thanks to the sadly departed ex-Oval grounds-man Lee Fortis, whose know-how transformed the two University strips during his brief sabbatical from London’s green pastures. We trust his legacy, a combination of great skill and commitment way beyond the call of duty, will be continued by his successor.

 

Taking the broad perspective, the prospects for the club are generally very good. Wearing my two hats as first-team skipper and academic representative on Warwick Sport’s Management Board I’m certain that this latter body has been of undoubted benefit to our club, still the only official Staff Sports Club. Its support, financial and administrative, clearly helps us recruit a steady supply of international students eager to enjoy the benefits of a decent standard of amateur English cricket and appreciative of a well-managed organisation. We’ve also seen, particularly last season, some astonishingly high-class batting, not least in the cup final and the final SNCL Premier league game of the season. Alan Lovell, a good judge with as many years experience of staff cricket as I, was right to say that these two games produced some of the best WUSCC cricket ever.

 

Other conclusions: we fully merit our Premier Division place; we perform well without sledging or cheating; we can look forward to new venues (and less travelling!) next season; continued hard work by club officers remains crucial to viability and success in 2008; a good number of our more recent recruits will be available next season (e.g. Sandeep, Paul Wilson, the Nairs, Jonathan Wortmann inter alia), but our search for fresh talent at the winter nets must continue.

 

Finally thanks to one and all for their support, especially Chris Cooper, Neil Carter and Rob Wood, Lambs minor and Chris Stride for their excellent off-as-well-as-on-the-field work, as well as to second-team skipper Mike Allison for a consistently constructive, communicative and harmonious team-selection process from April to September.

 

Final table 2007 SNCL Bankier Sloan Premier Division

                                                            P          W        D         L          Pts

Evenley                                    18       11         4          3          281  (Champions)

Byfield                                      18        9          5          4          250

Priors                                       18        8          7          3          249

Syresham                                 18        8          4          6          231

Warwick University Staff          18        7          4          7          224

Marston St Lawrence               18        6          5          7          201

Leamington Khalsa                   18        5          6          7          199 (withdrawn in 2008)

Willoughby                               18        4          5          9          184

Charlton                                   18        4          4         10         159  (Relegated)
Afro Caribbean                        18        3          6          9          155  (Relegated)

 

 

In 2008 we lose Leamington Khalsa, Charlton & Afro Caribbean and acquire from Div One:

Bodicote                                  18          10      7          1             278  (Champions)

Fenny Compton                        18          11      2          5             259 

Woodford Halse                       18            9      4          5             254

 

 

Averages

Name

Matches

Innings

N O

Runs

H S

100s

50s

Av

 

A

Jainarayan

10

9

2

319

105*

1

1

45.57

 

C

Lamb

14

12

1

410

98

 

4

37.27

 

N

Carter

9

7

2

146

55

 

1

29.2

 

V

Bakhru

13

11

1

258

60

 

1

25.8

 

AJT

Nair

12

6

3

77

47*

 

25.67

 

R

Wood

12

10

2

205

67

 

1

25.63

 

R

Lamb

13

10

0

253

89

 

1

25.3

 

S

Sandhu

11

6

1

86

28

 

17.2

 

C

Cooper

12

7

3

46

21

 

11.5

 

AJY

Nair

13

6

3

14

7

 

4.67

 

S

Lamb

13

7

1

27

10*

 

4.5

 

C

Stride

13

7

0

19

7

 

2.71

 

Qualification:  5 innings

 

 

Name

Overs

Maidens

Wickets

Runs

Best

5-Wkt

Econ Rate

Strike rate

Av

S

Sandhu

120.2

9

37

599

6--40

2

4.98

19.51

16.19

AJT

Nair

115

21

18

390

4--31

 

3.39

38.33

21.67

S

Lamb

44

3

11

247

3--25

 

5.61

24

22.45

C

Stride

126

33

13

350

2--22

 

2.78

58.15

26.92

AJY

Nair

100.4

9

10

420

2--17

 

4.17

60.4

42

A

Jainarayan

43.2

2

5

256

2--34

 

5.91

52

51.2

Qualification:  20 overs