Just Imagine How Much Fun We Would Have If We Were Any Good!!
Tradition requires that I begin with some facts and figures, so here we go. The 3rd XI ended up in 8th place in the WCCL Division 6 this year, one place lower than in 2014. As Collingbourne’s 2nd XI were “retired” from the league after failing to field a side on four occasions, we effectively finished one from bottom in the table and (at the time of writing) it remains to be seen where exactly we’ll find ourselves in the grand WEPL re-organisation for next year. Our point tally from 16 games was a disappointing 122; we lost 13 matches and won only 3 – although we also beat Collingbourne away before they defaulted. We garnered 42 batting points, the same as last year, and 50 for bowling, 4 more than in 2014. Unlike the previous season, however, we did not lose a single game to the weather.
Once again, and understandably, selection of the 3rd XI involved primarily a “who’s left?” strategy, rather than a discussion of individual form and team ‘balance’. To illustrate this point, the usual pool of 3rd-teamers was regularly raided to plug gaps in the 2nd XI - for example, Captain Hodder played 9 games for us, 7 for the 2nd’s and once for the 1st’s; V-C Ilo managed only 5 games in the 3rd’s, and the same number in the 2nd’s; other call-ups of note were Bishop, Snr. (6), Guy (4) and Dixon (3). A total of 36 individuals (including 3 women) made the 3rd XI team-sheet in 2015. Only 12 managed 9 games or more (but never did this cohort all turn out on the same day), 10 played just once, and 21 took the field on 5 occasions or less. As in 2014, Willsy made the most appearances (15 out of 16 official matches) with Piercy and Don Carlos Harris just one behind. Special mention also to Marshfield Maiden, Sandra Rouse, who played in 10 games.
The impact of this instability and uncertainty in the 3rd XI composition is self-evident: that is, on many occasions, we fielded teams with bowling resources that might be generously described as thin, and batting line-ups that were meager and simply not up to the challenge of the decent bowling attacks of opponents in the top half of our league. For the last few years, the 3rd XI has lacked the sustained presence of developing younger players to provide energy and consistency to the more, shall we say, evergreen regulars. Among the 36, who turned out for us this season, the number under the age of 30 can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand… Of course, there are excellent young cricketers in the club that are rightly playing at the higher levels but we are missing in the 3rd’s a supply of young talent before it blossoms into 2nd and 1st XI maturity. This year, many of our opponents frequently included several youths who, while perhaps far from any sort of finished article, were learning their trade with older cricketers, who had ‘been there, done that, taken the selfie, etc.’, and were making valuable contributions.
That having been said, it would be more than remiss of me not to highlight the hours of effort invested by our Comrade Cricket Manager in assembling circa 33 bodies every weekend for MCC. Ably abetted by former 3rd team leaders, especially Dicko, and by an understanding and sympathetic 2nd XI skipper, the Hodster ensured that we always had a full, or nearly full, complement to take the field at the appointed hour on a Saturday afternoon.
So, what of our performances in 2015? On the plus side, the season began well with a convincing 6 wicket win at Urchfont and, later on, we recorded back-to-back victories against Box, in our most exciting game of the year, and Marlborough. Our other “win” against Collingbourne was annulled when they forfeited the return match against us and were shown the red card by the WCCL. Less good news were some comprehensive defeats, the most embarrassing by Warminster when we were dismissed for a paltry 24. We also failed, as a batting unit, to reach 3 figures on four other occasions, and our highest score of the year was 184-9 in a game that we still lost by 60 runs!
Batting, then, was not a strong point and 50 was passed individually only by Roper Jr., in his one appearance, when he smashed an excellent 90 against Box in the aforementioned defeat, and by Ilo (54 out of a total of 102 all out) in a loss to Potterne 4th’s who won the league. The board was taken once more by your correspondent, with 311 runs at an average of just over 31. However, getting out on 4 occasions in the 40s smacks of more than carelessness when the batting is as fragile as ours. Second in line, and 135 runs adrift, was Piercy, who always looked the part and delivered some important contributions, including the sealing of our win against Marlborough at the Withy. With a bit more practice, and some fitness training over the winter, we can look forward to an even more productive 2016, I’m sure. Of course, running between the wickets remains a challenge, both physically and conceptually as James Roper and Guy Lowin will attest…
Big Chris Revell, the Captain and Dicko also passed 100 for the season, with Willsy and Ilo falling just short. Big C made an aggressively stylish 45 in a heavy defeat away to Marlborough but rarely found that magic again. Comrade Skipper mixed up obdurate defence with, at times, manic slogging, the latter delivering the goods in the last over victory at Box. His frequent to-ing and fro-ing between 3rd’s and 2nd’s was an obvious distraction to batting consistency, however. Dicko was less reliable than he should have been and showed only glimpses of the form he produced in 2013. There is an argument, I believe, for AP, Gary H and Dicko to be made responsible for specific places in the batting order and to remain there all season – it’s simply impossible to regularly post scores of 200+ (or even 150+) unless two or three, or better yet 3 or 4, batsmen make decent and reproducible runs.
Like last year, there were some encouraging cameos interspersed among the low scores: Derek Watkins saw us home at Urchfont with a decent knock; Andy Elliott and Roper, Snr. both made 40s in the highest MCC stand (101) of the season at Lacock before all went pear-shaped and we were all out for 140; James Ford batted very sensibly before the Skipper’s heroics versus Box; and Simon Taylor, Threaders, Willsy and Chris Middup all played decent innings at various points in the season. Other notable partnerships involved our no. 1 batsman with James R (84 vs Box at home), Threaders (73 vs Urchfont away) and AP (57 vs Warminster at home and 55 vs Box away).
|Richard Guy||10||10||0||311||49||31.10||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Andrew Pierce||14||13||1||176||42*||14.67||0||0||1||1(7.14 %)|
|Chris Revell||10||10||0||114||45||11.40||0||0||3||0(0.00 %)|
|Gary Hodder||9||9||1||109||37||13.63||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Mark Dixon||12||11||1||103||21||10.30||0||0||1||1(8.33 %)|
|Andy Wills||15||14||1||98||23||7.54||0||0||5||1(6.67 %)|
|Rob Iles||5||5||0||94||54||18.80||1||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|James Roper||1||1||0||90||90||90.00||1||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Mike Threadgill||10||10||4||66||24*||11.00||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Chris Middup||9||7||3||57||24*||14.25||0||0||1||2(22.22 %)|
|Tim Woodman||9||9||2||56||19||8.00||0||0||2||0(0.00 %)|
|Andy Elliott||2||2||0||54||45||27.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Martin Roper||5||4||0||50||40||12.50||0||0||2||1(20.00 %)|
|Derek Watkins||4||4||1||47||23*||15.67||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|James Ford||2||2||0||42||28||21.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Matthew Green||9||9||1||37||12||4.63||0||0||3||0(0.00 %)|
|Terry Bishop||7||6||0||37||22||6.17||0||0||2||1(14.29 %)|
|Simon Taylor||1||1||0||32||32||32.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Harry Smith||2||2||0||28||15||14.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Ravi Jain||6||6||3||16||9*||5.33||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Charles Harris||14||13||3||13||3*||1.30||0||0||5||1(7.14 %)|
|George Pollitt||3||2||1||11||8||11.00||0||0||0||1(33.33 %)|
|Hussain Saeed||2||2||0||10||6||5.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Sandra Rouse||10||8||1||7||2||1.00||0||0||3||2(20.00 %)|
|Ian Valentine||1||1||0||6||6||6.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Kent Collins||2||1||0||6||6||6.00||0||0||0||1(50.00 %)|
|Mark Salen||1||1||0||5||5||5.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Alan Chivers||1||1||0||5||5||5.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Simeon Townend||1||1||0||4||4||4.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|G Lowin||2||2||0||3||3||1.50||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Charlie Chivers||1||1||0||2||2||2.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Keith Pullin||1||1||0||1||1||1.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Nicola Rouse||1||1||1||0||0*||-||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Amelia Jobling||1||1||0||0||0||0.00||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Gregory Sankaran||2||1||0||0||0||0.00||0||0||1||1(50.00 %)|
|Steve Ley||1||0||0||0||-||0||0||0||1(100.00 %)|
On the bowling front, for the first time in a few years, Dicko was given a run for his money to take the board once again. Up until the very last game of the season, Piercy had his nose in front but could never pull away decisively. Unfortunately, there was to be no “mano a mano” climax in the final game – AP was not available and Dicko did the business to come out on top with 24 scalps to 22. Although both delivered over 100 overs and, on occasion, bowled particularly well, neither looked like running through an opposition batting order as has been seen in the past. Most unusually, there were no 5-for’s (or better) achieved in 2015 by any 3rd XI bowler, the best analysis recorded being 4-23 by an individual I’m too embarrassed to name.
Big Chris and the Captain respectively bagged 11 and 10 wickets each with vastly contrasting styles. The former generated some serious ‘wheels’ at times and he and Ilo were probably the two quickest bowlers in the WCCL Div. 6 this year. Big C, however, did mix it up rather and made the keeper’s job quite “demanding”. The Hodster, on the other hand, simply baffled most batsmen and was the most economical of our ‘strike’ bowlers. In our league, Gary should be bowling a full complement of 12 overs in every game – I guarantee that this will bring him 20+ wickets in a season and a warren-full of victims that will make Dicko drool.
Next on the list of wicket takers were Chris Middup and well, ahem, me. This latter piece of information attests to the desperate straits in which we found ourselves bowling resources-wise and to the remarkable ingenuity of some opposition batsmen to get themselves out. Chris M bowled well, on the whole, and delivered an outstanding spell (without any sort of luck) against Lacock at the Withy. Sadly for him, however, his 2015 season will be remembered for one over in our home game against Box that went for a nice round 30… the clear winner of this year’s “Ouch” award. Otherwise, Derek Watkins made good contributions with the ball in the few games he was able to play, Ilo – as said above – was pacy and sometimes unplayable but had no luck whatsoever, and Al Chivers produced one really good spell in his single appearance for the side. Willsy bowled 2 overs, took a wicket and had the best strike rate of all; George Pollitt showed promise and it would be good to have him as a regular next year; and Nicola Rouse appears a tantalising prospect to watch as well.
With respect to the 3rd XI out-cricket, one can only say that it belied the fact that there was, to the best of my knowledge, not a single fielding practice all year and that any “warm-ups”, which took place before our games commenced, would give the word ‘desultory’ a bad reputation. Despite such rampant apathy, however, our performances in the field – with one painful exception – were of a consistently high standard. New faces, Sandra Rouse, Don Carlos Harris, George Pollitt and Chris Revell, deserve special mention. Nobody covered more terrain than Sandra, and our Mexican chorister learned how to field like a demon with no knowledge whatsoever of the meaning of a ‘long barrier’. The Skipper’s nephew – I won’t hear a word about nepotism – brought much needed and youthful enthusiasm to a team of increasingly creaky elders, and a reliably safe pair of hands. Likewise, Big C who has buckets at the end of his arms was panther-esque in the deep and held on to some formidable catches invariably taken on the run.
Behind the timbers, Tim Woodman did most of the work and, somewhat unusually, stumped more than he caught in a season of tidy and efficient glovework that was highly appreciated by all bowlers and captains of the 3rd’s. On those occasions when TW was not available, no less than three other players tried their hand with the big gloves with Bish T and Roper M, in particular, doing their bit when needed.
Speaking of catches, the side took some doozies this season. As well as Chris, James Roper held a “superman” catch at home to Box, running faster than the proverbial you-know-what before launching himself full-length to hang on with two hands. Spectacular. The Skipper took two one-handed blinders in the slips, one off Ilo, the other Piercy, snaffles of high quality only to be eclipsed by Willsy more than matching this dexterity with one off Dicko. Mention should also be made of Greeny’s increasing confidence as a fieldsman and as a safe pair of hands, as well as the Senior Professor’s remarkable catch with his wrists in a game where we held anything that dared to go in the air off the bat. Of course, there is always the exception that proves the rule and our away fixture against Potterne provided a more characteristic Keystone Cops demonstration of 3rd team fumbling. As the match report for that game (well worth another read; see Potterne Match Report) has singled out the especially guilty party, I’ll refrain from bringing any further shame down on Dicko’s head.
|Player||WK Catches||Stump||Total WK Wkts||Catches||Run Outs||Total Field Wkts|
Richard Guys season review gives an excellent account of the season 2015. Here are some points I can add of my own.
We began the season with high hopes of an improvement in both results and league position from the previous few years but what soon became clear due to the lack of consistent availabilities throughout the club just being competitive in games would be a major achievement and bar a couple of times this we did. There was great support and enthusiasm from within the group of players that we managed to “cobble” together on a weekly basis and the most pleasing part of the season is that whatever the result we managed to have fun. A particular highlight being a 10 over a side beer game we held at the Withy after losing the real game heavily.
Hopefully our switch to the Stroud and District League will enable us to be more competitive and coupled with the addition of 2 or 3 players from the youth system a very enjoyable season should be in store.
Many thanks to all who helped during the season both on match days and of course “panic Thursdays” and “f**k me Fridays”!!
Special mentions to Rob Iles, Dicko, Rich Guy and Threaders.
Cheers Gary - 3rd XI Captains Report 2015 AGM
In conclusion, it certainly wasn’t a dull season and team spirit remained high despite the poor win-loss record. The new, early start time of 1 p.m., coupled with some woeful batting displays, meant that we were regularly back in the bar at Broadleys in time to lubricate the vocal chords and “cheer on” our compatriots in the 1st and 2nd XIs. The weather was extraordinarily kind as well, and the Withy had taken on the appearance of a proper cricket venue by the end of the season. Furthermore, for our initial games, when the fortress was visibly ravaged by the recent football season, we were lucky enough both to play away more often than not and to take advantage of the availability of the rather lovely pitch at nearby Tormarton on a couple of occasions.
In addition to my earlier, laudatory remarks re. the Skip, a word of praise must be directed at AP for his excellent mowing of the Withy, his efficient negotiating skills with Tormarton, and his ‘constructive’ support for whomever happened to be leading the 3rd XI on any particular day. If this season is anything to go by, we’ll need to nominate Capt, V-C, Deputy V-C, and an Acting Reserve V-V-C next season to cover all eventualities. Finally, some last-minute awards to round off the year: Tantrum of the season goes to Ilo for bat-throwing and expostulation extraordinaire in the penultimate match against Swindon NALGO… a higher dose of Ritalin is clearly called for. Run out of 2015 is jointly awarded to Junior Roper, who had made 90 runs of a “nailed-on” ton before being seduced by Piercy’s wit and repartee (aka ‘calling’), and to Guy Lowin, dismissed in a similar style, by the same protagonist, just 100 short of his ton and without even the opportunity to face a single ball. Biggest 6 of the year goes to Rob Atkinson of Marlborough 3rd’s – the award will be collected by the bowler off whom this enormous blow was struck (I’m indeed honoured). Tosser of the season belongs to our favourite Comrade, who elected to bat after winning the spin at Warminster, only to see his team rolled over for a cringe-worthy 24 all out. The Gary Sobers Memorial (“Ouch”) Prize is Chris Middup’s, of course (see above). Finally, the Jonty Rhodes (tongue-in-cheek) Fielder of the Year for 2015 belongs to the Preston Puffer, undoubtedly another trophy that he’ll not be giving up any time soon.
So, another season comes to a close (but 2016 is, of course, just around the corner). It has, naturally, been a real pleasure again to take part in the camaraderie and banter that characterises MCC 3rd team cricket, and I suspect that most of us will be back with an optimistic outlook and great expectations next April… we’ve been doing this for years so why spoil the habit of a lifetime? Just imagine how much fun we’d have if we were any good?
Final League Table