“You Can’t Win Anything With Kids.”
In the case of our most recently concluded season, a 3rd place league finish, Wiltshire Wallop semi-final defeat by 2 runs and last 16 exit at the hands of Goatacre in the village knockout, the sentiments of Mr Hansen do in fact hold true. It would however, be slightly cruel to summarise the 1st XI season on those facts alone and doing so certainly wouldn’t do justice to the huge step forward the younger members of the club have made in senior cricket this year. From my perspective, it’s been one of my most enjoyable seasons at the club and certainly my most enjoyable as captain.
I’m fortunate to have benefitted from the substantial amount of groundwork put in by Russ and Dan over the last 4 seasons in getting the younger lads into the team; Nick, Piercy, Gary and Jonathan, who between them make up what must be regarded as one of the most formidable management teams the WEPL has ever seen; and finally to Tom Bright, for developing the kind of feared changing room stature with the younger members of the squad, that I can only liken to that of Captain Hadley and the inmates of Shawshank.
So to the season review... From a bowling perspective, Will Pascall was rightly acknowledged as the bowler of the season. He was the go to player throughout and to take 44 wickets as well as opening the batting and captaining the team in my absence was a phenomenal effort. Another stand out performer with the ball was Cameron, who, had we not been robbed of his services by the school his parents insist on sending him to in search of an education, would comfortably have taken over 30 wickets as well. A final mention should also go to Tom Clist, who was every bit as good this season as last, even in spite of his relationship commitments. Sadly, I fear these will soon claim the cricketing life of this promising young spinner; but for the sake of the MCC and wider cricketing world, I hope I am wrong. #PrayForClist
Batting-wise, we’re yet to find the consistency we need to win the league or compete in the national rounds of the Village Knockout, but this only comes with experience. From that perspective, to consistently be able to pick Alistair Christie, Jeremy Bond and Callum Burnstone at the top of the order was hugely important. Chopper has gone from playing no first XI cricket in 2014, to opening the batting in the league and VK games and is probably the batsman that’s progressed furthest this season. Next season will be a significant one for both Jeremy and Callum in terms of their batting contributions having had a season to acclimatise to batting up the order; and both should be targeting 500 runs as a minimum.
I’ll briefly take the opportunity to mention the VK. Despite our best run for a couple of years, we sadly fell short again at the last 16. Nobody could have any complaints at the result and we still played some fantastic cricket to get that far. I can’t mention either of them for their League contributions (as they were in parts non-existent, whether playing or not) but both Dave Jenkins and Tom Lamb were outstanding throughout the competition. Dave’s commitment to consistently board 6am trains from London and also to leave Glastonbury Festival the morning of the Last 16 fixture and come away with our only credible batting performance, was fantastic. Tom gets stick from just about anyone, for just about anything and rightly so, but in the case of his bowling during this year’s VK, he was faultless. Naturally given the prize on offer, this defeat hurt everyone rather more than others, but the VK team will only get stronger and more experienced in the next 5 years and I’ve absolutely no doubt, provided we continue the way we are, that we will see a Lords visit in that time.
In terms of the league season, with Dan Watson dropping down into the 2’s, Dave Jenkins relocating to London, Imy Heer focusing on his powerlifting career and Russell developing a nasty case of Postman’s back, we effectively lost 4 experienced 1st teamers for the vast majority of the season. Credit at this point must go to Gary Hodder, whose tolerance of the Friday night “Someone’s dropped out” text was admirable!! A particular highlight was the Friday evening before our home clash with the eventual league winners, Trowbridge; at 5pm on the Friday we had 8; at 5pm the following day we had 8 plus Andy Jenkins, Boop, Ollie Rogers-Jones and 300 runs on the board at tea; a comprehensive victory for the selectors.
We’ve tried to adopt a policy during the season of replacing players on a like-for-like basis in terms of bowling and batting, rather than just selecting the most experienced alternative, particularly during the second half of the season; and where this hasn’t been possible, find other people to make up numbers, rather than depleting the other teams. This led to some remarkable cameo appearances by several people (Sam Johnston’s display at Calne will live long in the memory of those that witnessed it), and also meant far more consistency in terms of selection across the teams.
In the second half of the season we only lost 2 league games, to the teams that finished first and second in the league, both of which went close. The first to Trowbridge, thanks in no small part to their club professional, who scored over half his teams runs and whose salary demands for a single season’s services, exceed our own club’s aggregated operating profit for the past 3 financial years. Luckily, during one ‘amicable’ mid game exchange, Tom Bright was able to confirm that this particular professional does in fact, truly enjoy laying waste to the amateur bowling attacks of the Wiltshire Premier League every Saturday; so it’s definitely not just about the money......
The other defeat came at the hands of Westbury which, despite the defeat, turned out to be one of my highlights of the season for several reasons. We fielded a side with an average age of 20 against a team containing 5 players with Prem 1 experience, 3 of whom were in the county setup; we produced the grittiest batting performance we’d managed all year, with Hamish, Russ, Clisty and Matt Cox producing a rear guard action that would have gone down in MCC folklore, had it not cruelly fallen 6 runs short; and finally, I was lucky enough to overhear the opposition skipper asking a question of his mid-off fielder as he turned to bowl, that vindicated all of the work that’s gone into our youth setup over the years, “How on earth does a village like Marshfield (I presume the use of the word ‘like’ is in reference to our size, rather than in a more derogatory sense) produce so many decent young players and we can’t find a single one in Westbury?!”. I didn’t bother to share the real reason which is probably best kept in-house....
“How on earth does a village like Marshfield (I presume the use of the word ‘like’ is in reference to our size, rather than in a more derogatory sense) produce so many decent young players and we can’t find a single one in Westbury?!”
Sadly, we did not achieve the lofty ambitions set at the start of the season; namely a run of 34 unbeaten games in all competitions culminating in a trip to Lords and the infinitely more prestigious Wiltshire Wallop crown (far better to win a competition sponsored by a bakery, than by a cheese); however it was still a hugely successful season from my perspective, and I would hope from those of the others involved as well. At the time of writing preparation for the 2016 season is already underway with a number of the younger squad members already in training. While I will do my best to stay off my soap box, or quote song lyrics about the children being our future, I do want to echo Dan’s comments in his review of last season and also those of various umpires, opposition captains and random and in most cases drunk spectators this season; we are currently very lucky to have a group of extremely talented and not entirely intolerable (Chopper has his moments) youngsters. Providing the focus over the coming seasons is on ensuring they achieve their potential, then it should be an extremely successful period for the Club.
Thanks again to everyone involved this season.
Final League Table
|Westbury & District CC, Wilts||18||12||6||0||0||0||65||92||0||277|
|Great Bedwyn CC||18||6||11||1||0||0||55||52||1||172|
p - Played, w - Won (10), l - Lost (0), c - Cancelled (6), a - Abandoned (6), t - Tied (5), BatP - Batting Bonus Points, BowlP - Bowling Bonus Points, Pen - Penalty Points, Pts - Points
|James Williams||13||13||2||682||104||62.00||7||1||0||126.81||0(0.00 %)|
|Jeremy Bond||16||16||0||460||94||28.75||4||0||1||97.79||0(0.00 %)|
|William Pascall||16||16||0||396||68||24.75||3||0||0||66.00||0(0.00 %)|
|Calum Burnstone||16||16||0||348||63||21.75||3||0||2||58.06||0(0.00 %)|
|Alastair Christie||16||14||1||190||49||14.62||0||0||2||44.08||2(12.50 %)|
|Dave Jenkins||7||7||0||160||35||22.86||0||0||0||62.26||0(0.00 %)|
|Cameron Walker||8||8||2||150||71||25.00||1||0||2||59.06||0(0.00 %)|
|Russell Lodge||9||9||1||115||37||14.38||0||0||1||61.64||0(0.00 %)|
|Tom Bright||8||7||3||102||58*||25.50||1||0||0||70.83||1(12.50 %)|
|Jack Ticehurst||6||6||2||95||58||23.75||1||0||0||91.30||0(0.00 %)|
|William Johnson||8||8||0||82||36||10.25||0||0||1||29.39||0(0.00 %)|
|Tom Clist||13||9||0||57||23||6.33||0||0||2||53.27||4(30.77 %)|
|Finlay White||2||2||0||57||47||28.50||0||0||0||50.89||0(0.00 %)|
|Matt Watson||8||7||2||53||25*||10.60||0||0||0||75.36||1(12.50 %)|
|Matt Cox||8||8||2||48||23||8.00||0||0||1||46.60||0(0.00 %)|
|Ben Gardner||2||2||0||36||34||18.00||0||0||0||80.00||0(0.00 %)|
|Rupert Crockett||1||1||0||28||28||28.00||0||0||0||70.00||0(0.00 %)|
|Hamish Walker||4||3||1||26||21*||13.00||0||0||0||33.77||1(25.00 %)|
|Andy Jenkins||2||2||0||25||19||12.50||0||0||0||30.12||0(0.00 %)|
|Wayne Pascall||1||1||0||23||23||23.00||0||0||0||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Ben White||2||2||1||16||16*||16.00||0||0||1||40.00||0(0.00 %)|
|Gary Hodder||1||1||1||10||10*||-||0||0||0||83.33||0(0.00 %)|
|Sam Johnston||1||1||1||7||7*||-||0||0||0||58.33||0(0.00 %)|
|Rhan Heer||2||2||1||4||4||4.00||0||0||0||28.57||0(0.00 %)|
|Jim Creed||1||1||0||3||3||3.00||0||0||0||13.04||0(0.00 %)|
|Thomas Lamb||8||5||3||2||1*||1.00||0||0||1||9.09||3(37.50 %)|
|James Roper||1||1||0||1||1||1.00||0||0||0||14.29||0(0.00 %)|
|Jackson Witts||1||1||0||0||0||0.00||0||0||1||0.00||0(0.00 %)|
|Keith Pullin||1||1||0||0||0||0.00||0||0||1||0.00||0(0.00 %)|
|Ollie Rogers-Jones||1||0||0||0||-||0||0||0||-||1(100.00 %)|
|Daniel Watson||1||0||0||0||-||0||0||0||-||1(100.00 %)|
|Imraj Heer||1||0||0||0||-||0||0||0||-||1(100.00 %)|
|Player||Wkt Keep Catches||Stumpings||Total Wkt Keeping Wkts||Fielding Catches||Run Outs||Total Fielding Wickets|