This report relates to friendly games played on Saturday and Sunday friendlies throughout the season, but does not include the weekday friendlies.
Statistics, as we all know, don't tell the whole story by any means. But in the case of this season's weekend friendly games they do tell an interesting one: 24 games played, in 10 of which we topped 200, including a highest total of 258 in a completed game (an amazing 325, including two ‘retired tons from Siddarth and Sourabh, were scored in a late-season Saturday friendly that was abandoned at tea time); an average of approximately 200 runs scored per game; 15 won but 9 lost (including the 258!); four defeats when we scored over 200.
Conclusions: we batted as well, if not better than we ever have on a Sunday, but our bowling didn’t match up; we also played against some excellent batting sides (e.g. Cublington); on four occasions we lost because of an outstanding knock by one batsman clearly used to playing at a higher league level on Saturdays: at Market Harborough (a brutal 165*, when no-one else was remotely as good); Horley (155*, carried his bat); Broughton (a couple of Oxfordshire league first-teamers down the order swung the game their way); & Harwell (a short but sour and decisive late-order knock when we thought it was all over). However, only rarely did we seriously under-perform as a batting unit (Greenflies comes to mind. Were there others?).
On the matter of outstanding individual performances, Varun’s century at Leicester and Srikkanth’s equally measured 94* in the town of dreaming spires and aspiring dreams, as well as Andy Davidson's powerfully cut-and-pulled 87 on a dodgy public park track in Market Harborough, all come to mind, as does a rare appearance by Matt Haywood at Broughton and North Newington, when he raced to 118 in rapid time, courtesy of 9 sixes. Shashank's gung-ho go-for-it approach at the top of the order on a good number of occasions was a delight to watch, and the front-foot square cut against Birmingham Indians in which the ball flew to the point boundary in the blink of an eye will linger long in the memory. So will, for different reasons,
So what can we say about the bowling? The stats confirm it wasn’t really our season. We, i.e. established regulars Andy Sellars, David Wilson and yours truly, plus debutants Chris Williams, Lachlan Smith and Yann Lawrence, and (more occasionally) Ali Faridi, Asad and Mike Allison, all had our moments and games to remember, some for the right, some for the wrong reasons: persistent if not always consistent. But we never flagged, even in the darkest hour at Mkt. Harborough when the ball disappeared regularly in to allotments and (alarmingly) a kiddies’ playground. Bowling memories and returns/spells for the Sunday season: Lachlan Smith’s Michelle v B’ham Indians when no-one else could stem the batting flow, Chris Williams’ 8 overs for 24 v Barby, (ditto), Ahmad’s spell of 2-40 at Cublington (ditto), Yann’s demolition of WCCCC’s top order, Andy Sellars’ spell at B’ham Indians (and esp. the look on his face when his best delivery of the season ballooned to slip and was duly grassed; the guy then went on to score 69 in double-quick time) and SL’s and David Wilson’s opening ‘burst’ [is this the right term? Ed.] at
The fielding was, as ever, variable, ranging from some execrable drops and misses through some amazing ground fielding from Chris Williams, to some superb catching. We'll gloss over the former (Chris's bowling stats are a particular victim of poor catching) but highlight
In addition to the customary challenges of fielding eleven men every week, much less of a problem this year, captaincy brought unprecedented challenges, including (for Mike, heroically) providing Leek Wootton with 3 of our players, including Anish, and for Richard (in his only game as skipper) the last-minute demand for a serious contribution to our hosts’ (B’ham Indians’) costs of hiring Old Edwardians’ ground, when fixtures secretary Harry thought we were playing Old Eds. anyway! We negotiated the fee down to include the tea, but still ended up paying the equivalent of more than one sub. Hardly satisfactory, but Coops and I made sure we still got our money’s worth by batting the full 40 overs!
But, as the match reports testify (and thanks to all who contributed to sustaining this tradition), overall such challenges will never be allowed to diminish, but will rather enhance our enjoyment of a brilliant way to spend a weekend afternoon!
Tragi-comic moment of the season: the single-ball sole appearance of one relatively new non-native English speaker member, unfortunately sent out to bat in too-high a batting spot against probably the best Sunday team of the season, whose coaching did not include the chapter ‘how to respond when asked by the umpire if you want a guard’, resulting in understandable bemusement, followed (rapidly) by their quickie’s immediate demolition of the timber and a slow return to the pavilion. A timely reminder to us all of the ultimate unfathomability of this most complex and esoteric, indeed eccentric of sports that we all love so much, and which can often appear in its most extreme and entertaining form in Sunday friendlies.
Steve Lamb, September 2013