F irst of all, the statistics: 6th place in the Wiltshire County Cricket League, Division 7, with a total of 216 points; 7 wins (2 of which involved forfeits by the opposition), 9 defeats and 2 games abandoned with no result; 40 batting points and 66 bowling points. By my count, 27 people played (or were at least picked) for the 3rd XI during the season, with 10 individuals playing in 10 or more matches (A. Wills making the most appearances).
Only away to Devizes in the first played match of the season did the 3rd XI not manage to send out 11 bodies onto the field. Indeed, there were a number of Saturdays when willing players were unable to get a game - a testament to my teammates, enthusiasm, if not necessarily to their sanity. Cricket-wise, our overall performance was below par earning, in my estimation, a B- across the season. Not for the first time, batting was the weak link and our tally of batting points was the second worst in the Division. Only two people managed to accumulate more than 200 runs, with just 5 half-centuries made in the entire season. Too often, our innings either got off to a terrible start and required rescuing by the lower order or, on occasion, a good start was frittered away by blood rushing head-wards. The bottom line was that we only passed 200 in two games (both of which we won) and we never really fancied ourselves to chase down any sort of target when batting second.
Individually, there were a few highlights: Roper Snr’s return to MCC appeared, at the start of the season, to have met the need for a competent number 3 (an excellent knock, well supported by Bishop Snr, at Westbury being a stand-out), but somehow the mojo was lost and the runs dried up. Dixon made the no. 4 spot his own and delivered consistently, including his maiden 50 for the club. The batting award would have been his but for an incurable need mid-season to hit gentle full tosses directly into the hands of grateful fielders. Instead, the skipper’s name goes on that side of the board – also consistent but repeatedly out when set either edging behind or miscuing a pull shot (no, he’ll never learn). Hopes were raised by the belated appearance of Squeaky Salen, who spanked 50* and 75* in his first two games of 2013 – these were the same matches in which we scored over 200 and won. Unfortunately, having got out cheaply in his third at-bat (leaving him with an average of 129.00), he then disappeared from sight and normal ‘service’ was resumed.
Other batting of note was limited but worthy of mention are the Wills/Brown partnership that eased us to victory against Devizes when all seemed lost, one inspired knock by Redman including his first ever 6, glimpses of Pierce’s classical style of old, and other valuable (but usually just one-off) contributions from just about all the regulars and a couple of our occasionals. This season also saw the dismissal of the Vice-Captain for the first time since August 2011, allowing him finally to have a finite average for the season!
“Cricket-wise, our overall performance was below par earning, in my estimation, a B- across the season. Not for the first time, batting was the weak link”
Historically, the 3rd XI bowling has been the stronger department and 2013 was no exception. Leading the way, and almost replicating his triumph of last year in winning the league’s bowling honour was the "ever-modest" Dixon. His tally of 34 wickets was more than double that achieved by anyone else, and included four remarkable sets of figures: 10.3-4-20-6 (vs. Box 2nd XI), 11-4-26-5 (vs. Burbage E&R 3rd XI), 11-3-19-7 (vs. Devizes 3rd XI), and 12-4-16-5 (vs. Heytesbury & Sutton Veny 2nd XI). No-one in the entire club, in fact, has matched Dicko with the ball in the last two years: 70 league wickets at less than 10 runs each, and a fair question, therefore, is “why has he never appeared for the 2nd XI?”
It must be said, however, that other bowlers, young and old, provided more than decent support to Mr Downhill-with-the-Wind. New recruits, James Ford and Kartar Singh, each bowled 80+ overs and took 27 scalps between them. Fordy bowled like the miserly Dixon on occasion (but with a touch more extra pace, of course!) and made some decent batsmen distinctly uncomfortable at times. His 5-wicket haul against Buscot Park was a just reward for a season of sustained effort and enthusiasm.
Kartar is able to impart prodigious spin to a cricket ball. He bamboozled more than a few opposition batters over the season including one of the best in our league and assured our victory in the return match against Westbury. Kartar wins the award for most unusual appealing style this year , rather than asking the question of the umpire, he simply asserts 'YES!' [Note to Kartar: this does not always work and may, in fact, be counter-productive]."
The senior generation also did their bit with Piercy and Threadgill sharing 25 wickets from a combined 86 overs of toil – a word I do not use lightly in this case. The Vice-Capt actually headed both the strike rate and club's averages, demonstrating that this old dog’s tricks are still able to do the job! The Club Treasurer moaned his way through the season, as we have come to know and love, although I find far-fetched the claim that he would have had the majority of Dicko's victims if my field placing had been better
In the field, our performance was not bad at all, given that there were times when half the team were clearly fantasising about the purchase of a mobility scooter. Fortunately, younger members of the side (Kartar and Fordy already mentioned, but Rob Redman too, and Ed Brown, Charlie Chivers and Sam Burnstone, as well) were prepared to dart about all over the place as the elderly statesmen shouted their encouragement. Willsy kept wicket for most of the season in the end, although M. Roper also showed some Italian flair with the gloves in the earlier games. Some fine catches were held – examples by Wills, Brown, Townend stand out – and not too many were put down.
It has been a pleasure to skipper the 3rd XI in 2013; the enthusiasm and commitment of the team cannot be faulted, and their patience, in the face of serious provocation, in accepting 11th-hour substitutions and replacements, has been commendable. Dealing with the latter, and dealing with rare, but growing, situations where long-standing 3rd XI regulars are not always assured of a game, have been my greatest challenges. It’s also been ‘fun’ to lead a side with half a dozen former captains on the field at the same time, all of who have the answer to the dilemma of the moment (as if, otherwise, why aren’t they still captain?).
Finally, thanks to my Vice-Capt, who’s had to do more than a fair share of my job, to Mouldy for organising the teas at home (all of which were delicious), to the Andrews and Bishops for working on the Withy wicket and outfield so hard, and enabling us to play on a decent surface at home all season, and to Dicko for his unique ability to bind the side together and get everyone thinking alike (i.e., everyone is of one voice in not wanting to hear, ever again, about his bowling/batting/catch/Preston, etc.). I’m sure the spirit will prevail next season.
|Player||Games||Inns||Not Outs||Runs||High Score||Avg||50s||100s||Ducks||Strike Rate||Did Not Bat(%)|
|Richard Guy||13||12||1||303||75*||27.55||1||0||0||-||1(7.69 %)|
|Mark Dixon||16||14||0||274||53||19.57||1||0||1||-||2(12.50 %)|
|Martin Roper||14||12||0||168||69||14.00||1||0||3||-||2(14.29 %)|
|Andy Wills||17||13||2||147||30*||13.36||0||0||2||-||4(23.53 %)|
|Mark Salen||3||3||2||129||75*||129.00||2||0||0||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Andrew Pierce||10||8||1||104||26||14.86||0||0||1||-||2(20.00 %)|
|Terry Bishop||14||12||2||88||42*||8.80||0||0||3||-||2(14.29 %)|
|Robert Redman||10||9||0||85||35||9.44||0||0||1||-||1(10.00 %)|
|James Ford||11||10||3||83||27*||11.86||0||0||1||-||1(9.09 %)|
|Martin Ould||8||6||0||57||22||9.50||0||0||0||-||2(25.00 %)|
|Sam Burnstone||6||4||1||52||25||17.33||0||0||0||-||2(33.33 %)|
|Rob Iles||4||3||0||51||31||17.00||0||0||0||-||1(25.00 %)|
|Charlie Chivers||7||5||0||43||13||8.60||0||0||0||-||2(28.57 %)|
|Ed Brown||8||6||1||41||15*||8.20||0||0||1||-||2(25.00 %)|
|Alan Chivers||9||6||1||39||18||7.80||0||0||1||-||3(33.33 %)|
|Mike Threadgill||16||10||8||38||18*||19.00||0||0||2||-||6(37.50 %)|
|Andy Watts||4||4||1||29||23||9.67||0||0||0||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Harry Smith||2||2||0||27||27||13.50||0||0||1||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Simon Bishop||3||2||0||20||15||10.00||0||0||0||-||1(33.33 %)|
|Simeon Townend||2||2||0||14||14||7.00||0||0||1||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Kartar Singh||11||7||0||11||4||1.57||0||0||2||-||4(36.36 %)|
|Sammy Jayasuriya||1||1||0||9||9||9.00||0||0||0||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Alastair Christie||1||1||0||5||5||5.00||0||0||0||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Jim Creed||1||1||0||5||5||5.00||0||0||0||-||0(0.00 %)|
|Michael Holman||2||1||0||2||2||2.00||0||0||0||-||1(50.00 %)|
|Matthew Green||3||2||0||0||0||0.00||0||0||2||-||1(33.33 %)|
|Player||Overs||Maidens||Runs||Wickets||Best Bowling||5 Wicket Haul||Economy Rate||Strike Rate||Average|
|Player||Wicket Keeping Catches||Stumpings||Total Wicket Keeping Wickets||Fielding Catches||Run Outs||Total Fielding Wickets|