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We start the season full of hope and with a fresh new skipper, at home to Royal Ascot. The bowling was okay and Lewis scored a fine 80. We draw. Spelthorne - Lewis 53, Wiji 31, Dutchy 43 and new keeper Joe Doherty 37* as we post 189-5. Not a bad score until we start to bowl and field - crushed by 7 wickets.
Harrow-on-the-Hill and a young man with a caterpillar on his lip gets dropped 11 times and is finally run out for 170. Clive bowls well and it's a good draw. Hurley 258-5, 48 overs. Lewis 65, Wiji 59 look good early on then get bogged down. We finish on 176-6. Denham - it rained 276-7 then us 163-6, Wiji 81*. Skipper now beginning to lose his faith.
Chris Paskins gets married in Spain and invites a few players so we call up youngsters Tim Isaac anc Dave Wigmore. Both were part of a hat-trick as we fall for 124 on a wet wicket. Tarn's 51 was the only bright spot. Tim not really in for his batting takes 5-25. Paul 2-24 and Simon 2-12. We win a league match for the first time in 18 months. Next it was Cookham and at 46-3 in walks Wiji's mate. He can bat and bowl I'm told. Heard that one before but Pintherumahanaduge Barnard Jagath Santha Fernando doesn't look too bad 87 and Boom-Boom a quick 48 as we declare on 248. At 159-2 the skipper panics and brings on Dross Runlop but it works - Carlos is caught by Dutchy. Hutch comes back, bowls fast and straight and we win again. We're now on a roll. Great Kingshill 216. Never enough. Joe 109* and Fernando 56*. Win by 7 wickets.
Crunch game with the very strong Great Hampden. Tarn 64, Dutchy 58, Wiji 67*, Boom 37 and Dross 31. 286-6. The week before, Hampden amassed 50 all out. Hutch remove both openers and has number 3 dropped on 0 and 1. Goes on to make 109 - taking a liking to new boy Brett Jacobs but at 153-7 they had run out of players.
Little Marlow near the bottom score 241. Lovely track. Fernando 76 and Paskins finally back from honeymoon 48 take us near but we just fail. Amersham Hill - Joe 57, Lewis 37 put on 105 for first wicket we all chip in for 211-9. A good game, they get 196-8 and it's a draw. Lewis broke a finger in the slips (he caught the ball though) and is out for rest of year. Also, this games marks the end of Joe Doherty's career at Taplow.
Stoke Green crawl to 187. We're looking good at 71-2 then it rains. Winchmore Hill, nice wicket. The ball flies and we don't field as well as we can. Clive 3-44 bowls well. Brett brings his brother David along for his first game for two years 66. Tarn 45 - a win by 5 wickets.
Braywood - green wicket in middle of summer but they win the toss and bat. The Jacobs are late Dutchy drops a catch and leaves the field - we're down to 8 men. Paul then bowls really well 5-18. Hutch 5-44. 92 all out. Brett bowls well without luck. Game over by 5.30pm. Chalfont 197. Should have been a lot less thanks to my dropped catch. Dutchy 23, Tarn 40, Fernando 28, Wiji 24 all got in then got out. Should have won this.
Back at home for a good wicket, 236. Paskins 36, Tarn 44, Fernando 69, Wiji 43 should have been a 101 more as they stroll it. Farnham Common - Tarn 43 and Fernando 24 only ones at ease 132-5 to 142 all out. Hutch, Fernando and Tarn bowl well. It was close but we just failed to snatch a win.
Littlewick Green - we started with 9. Jonathan Kellett gets an early wicket and we all bowl well. 162 all out Dutchy 43, Wiji 28* and Wrapson 21* see us home. Penn we make 123. Before a fight over tea they make 22-2. It then starts raining - Game over.
Princes Risborough 186, us 96 all out with Dutchy carrying his bat for 50*. Rickmansworth and another lively wicket. Chris Paskins arrives late. Brett 3-34 and Dross 5-41 bowl well. Chasing 143 we're 77-8 when Brett 32* joins Dross 35 and we win with Brett scoring 2 fours off the last 2 balls.
Richmond Town - Fernando 54, Wiji 41, total 194. Their skipper thought it would not be enough but we bowl well. Clive 4-24 but they hold out 122-9. Sulhampstead win toss and bat. We feed 130 runs. Old Doug goes mad, gives me bollocking number 95 for the season. Wiji 54 and Paul Newman 61*. Win it in 22 overs. Last game Amersham Hill, Wiji 81, Chris Goodrham 63, Dave Jacobs 27, Chris Paskins 53*, 256-4 in 40 overs. On a small ground they show no interest. Boring draw.
The season went better than was first thought possible with runs from Fernando (446), Tarn (364), Wiji (552) and Dutchy (516). Wickets from Hutch (35), Tam (22), Fernando (21) and Clive.
George Taylor umpired 95% of the games and María Paskins did most of the scoring. Many thanks to Alan for producing some great wickets and what can I say about the teas. Well I put on 2 stone. Thank you all.
Last year we had to wait until 20th August for our first win - this year Bledlow, our first opponents, sportingly collapsed in the face of Tony Hutchings (4-47) and James Brewer (4-33) to give us a flying start to the season. Dave Holland had earlier given us a total to defend, scoring an excellent 70. Having led my superstars to a well deserved victory I cheered up my vice-captain no end by treating myself to a new cricket bat!
We had a poor old game against Chalfont St. Peter where we batted very badly although we made them work a little bit to reach our feeble score of 115 - Les Andrew bowled 14 overs, 10 of them maidens for 16 runs. Thame then carne along and, for the second year running, we enjoyed a very close match. Our score of 234-3 was based largely upon Dave Holland's 94 n.o.. He batted for 2 hours 39 minutes and stormed off the field in disgust, having been given the signal that we had 1 over left, completely misinterpreted it and then preceded to push around looking for a quick single for his hundred. They had 43 overs to chase this total and the combination of Tony Hutchings and Ian Kinrade opening the bowling reduced them to 49-5 after only 11 overs. I brought myself on to bowl and opened the game up and watched in dismay as all the late order batsmen played their shots, rode their luck and took the team to a winning position - with 5 overs left they needed only 10 to win with 2 wickets left. Tony picked one up with his last over leaving Chris Lowe to bowl the last over at their number 9 who had batted beautifully for his rapid 46. The first ball was pushed to the outfield where all the fielders were, allowing the single, and to everyone's astonishment he galloped down the wicket for a run leaving a young colt to face the rest of the over and get the four remaining runs for victory. He faced 3 balls, all of which illustrated that he was unable to even get the ball off the square - realising his mistake the number 9 called for a suicidal single and got his partner run out. Taplow now had won 2 out of 3, as many wins as last year put together - it was going to be a great year!
Wooburn should have been our third win. We fielded and bowled superbly on one of the coldest, windiest days of the year and were well on course for victory. With the 20 overs to go we had reached 100-2 chasing 186 and Mike Bradley was still in, batting with the luck of the gods on his side. James Brewer, having lost about 2 stone earlier in the day then scored a quick 19 but we then lost our nerve and the late order failed. Clive was left to hold out for the draw with John Clark batting through for his 56 n.o.. Odney were next and John Clark was in charge while I was getting married to the team's scorer! They were seen off in emphatic style with Mike following up his 51 against Wooburn with a match winning 72 not out. That made it 3 wins out of 5 - this Sunday business was easy, I couldn't understand why we struggled so much the year before. The Richings Park game was notable for being the first match I captained after my wedding and also saw the debut of my new bat! Andrew Mills scored a classy fifty, James Brewer blasted a brisk 42 and my bat scored 15 but we remained way behind the clock throughout our innings. I think we were all left with the impression that the Richings Park team weren't very happy with our efforts - ending 50 behind with 4 wickets left.
We then travelled towards London for our match against Polytechnic. While the lower order walked off to watch the ladies cricket played on the other side of the field, William Midlane, battled with his asthma on a hot day to record his first ever fifty for the first XI watched by his vocally supportive mother from the balcony. We lost wickets regularly though and we only managed 182 all out when 220 should have been on the cards. The weather was very hot and despite some penetrating bowling from Tony we seemed to be a little disinterested with the game and the fielding became a little ragged. Perhaps if we put a little more effort into it we could have come away with something more but we did witness a most extraordinary collapse by the home team. Clive, who was victim to some of the worst fielding started things off. Polytechnic, at 175-5 found themselves in the space of 4 overs reduced to 179-9. Unfortunately, despite Clive and Tony's best efforts to nick the last one out we lost with 10 balls to go. We all adjourned to the balcony to listen to the adoring comments from Iris about her little soldier.
Amazingly the game marked the start of an appalling run of results. In the next 9 matches, one was abandoned and the other 8 were very heavy defeats. After the successful start to the year I still find it hard to believe what happened in the matches that followed. Aston Rowant amassed 249 runs in only 39 overs - Clive bowled extremely well, his 13 overs went for only 53 which leaves you to imagine how badly the rest of the team bowled! Our batting started quickly as well but we also lost a wicket every other over!
Graeme Paskins, playing his first Sunday match since Bledlow batted superbly and for a while, with me at the other end, we staged a recovery and I still remember discussing our chances as we reached the 20 overs mark at 130-5. Unfortunately, I threw my wicket away soon after and with it our chances for an improbable win. Graeme batted on to reach a well deserved century but in the process ran out Clive and with 8 balls left fatally gave Tim the strike to defend 2 balls - Tim was clean bowled on the first!
North Maidenhead turned out to be a one sided, or perhaps I should say one playered match. Ross Dunlop opened the batting and scored 74, his highest ever score for the first XI. Assisted by Joe Doherty who scored an effortless fifty and another very mature innings from William we declared on 233-8. Ridiculously early I know. North Maidenhead were fielding a young team including Jon Stewart who had just finished a 15 over bowling spell. He then put his pads on and smacked 143 n.o. in 38 overs. Jon now must be averaging over 200 against Taplow and it is a clearly reckless decision to declare under 300 if he's playing. Princes Risborough was another dreadful game. The Risborough team contained 3 county players, we had a weak batting team and the pitch was a rapidly improving damp wicket. Their captain won the toss, put us in on it and then threw the ball to one of his county stars and let him bowl 20 overs. I scored 55 which only just improved my humour as I couldn't believe how their captain tried everything to destroy any chances of making anything of this game. Another superstar then opened their batting on a now dry wicket, clearly nicked the ball early on into Graeme's gloves and decided not to walk. Clive again bowled well and Mike Bradley pulled off a good catch at gully but the game was nevertheless a very poor one.
An even weaker team played against a strong Burnham side and we were rightly taught a cricketing lesson by our neighbours to the tune of 133 runs. Clive picked up his best bowling figures of 4-54 but the team we fielded that day was at best a poor second XI and some of the players would not have made Greg Lightfoot's reserve list. The following Tuesday during the selection meeting the Chairman of Cricket told of his embarrassment seeing Taplow's first XI represented in this way and hoped to see better from now on - Holyport came along and thrashed us by 5 wickets the next week followed by Chenies & Latimer who saw us off by 79 runs the week after!
Against Holport I scored a quick fifty and Graeme got 91 out of our defendable 215 all out. I got a bit carried away with the Paskins contribution as I kept Keith Paskins on to bowl 12 overs and I gave Graeme his first serious bowling spell which saw him pick up 3 wickets in 14 overs. I felt that the only way to get wickets was to keep Holport interested all the way in the same way as I did against Thame. Holport scored 60 in the last 7 overs and won with 5 balls left - my gamble had failed.
Chenies lost 4 wickets to our new specialist all-rounder, Graeme Paskins, but a dramatic collapse in the middle of the innings including a famous golden duck for our new specialist bowler, Graeme Paskins, meant that we were left trying to save the game throughout the last 15 overs. As has been proved again and again over the last couple of years, we are particularly ill-equipped for saving games and we were finished off with a couple of overs left - our seventh defeat in a row.
I had Mike Bradley and Graeme opening the bowling against Barlinger Waggoners but it was Singing Kinrade who stole the show with 5-60 in 15 overs. The rain hammered down with us well set for a win with me on 56 n.o., scored in 18 overs in front of my clearly impressed mother-in-law from Madrid. The match was abandoned with the square completely submerged after 10 minutes of the extraordinary downpour. A disappointing end but at least we hadn't lost!
Long Marston is a long way away but Dave Holland clearly travels well because it was here that he managed to get what he threatened to do earlier in the year. His 102 was excellent reward for a tremendous physical effort which meant that he could do little more than act like a third umpire in the field while Long Marston chased and reached our score of 215 without too much trouble.
It was now the start of September and Old Latymerians proved too strong for us although with Clive back and bowling well (3-52) and some good batting from Graeme (81) early on gave us hope of a win. In the end Graeme was left with too much to do and a now regular middle order collapse including some extraordinary shots from William and Mike meant that a draw could not be salvaged either. Readingensians put us in on a good batting wicket at Taplow and were staring accusingly at their skipper very quickly into the match. Graeme opened the batting with me and must have broken a few quick scoring records that day. He scored his first fifty after 28 minutes (31 balls) and reached his hundred after exactly 1 hour (58 balls). I was still there but was bowled 4 minutes later with the score on 142, I had made 25!
Graeme reached his 150 off 91 balls and was finally out desperately going for his 200. In reply Les Andrew jogged in like he does, turned his arm over and clean bowled their opener first ball! Jonathan Kellett bowled their number 3 for a duck and the chances of a run chase were finished. I enjoyed my longest ever bowling spell picking up 4 wickets but we couldn't force a win. We failed to get a wicket in the last 15 overs and Graeme was disappointed he didn't get a bowl!
Braywood, who were thrashed by us in the league earlier in the year gifted us our fourth win of the year to end our winless 12 match streak. James Brewer batted for an hour as opener which was considerably more than in his last five or six matches on Sunday put together and he seemed a lot more cheerful. Andrew Mills batted with great flair for his 65 and Dave Holland passed the 1000 mark for the season on the way to his 54. Braywood batted very well early on and seemed to be coasting to victory at 142-4 but it wasn't to be. They came up against Clive Kellett (3-46) and Mike Bradley who pitched the ball well up during his 5.4 over spell. With their supporters egging the lower order on, wickets tumbled to some poor shots and Mike came away with remarkable figures of 6-26. Braywood lost their last 4 wickets with the score on 169!
I.C.I. came to Taplow and set a total of 186-7. It was the manner of their scoring which was so peculiar. After 30 overs they had reached 126 but then batted on and on scoring only another 60 runs in the last 21 overs. The main reason for this was a tremendous bowling spell from Jon Wrapson supported by some good outfield catches from Graeme. Unfortunately, Gerry Mills injured himself whilst bowling and since we only had 10 players anyway (Tim was at hospital with his daughter) it left our side a little short on batting. Graeme got 51, the newly confident Brewer got 31 and John capped a great day with an entertaining 34 but the rest of the batting was dismal and we could only manage 147.
The final match was freezing cold with rain always threatening and we turned out against a strong Datchet team. Graeme scored 88, a low score for him against Datchet but our 172-9 turned out to be woefully inadequate. Last year they made little effort to chase our score so I thought this score might make them more interested but perhaps I went too far. They won by 9 wickets with 7 overs to go!
1995 was a terrible year so we had to do better. We doubled our wins, 4 instead of 2 but we also doubled the number of defeats, 12 instead of 6! Is that an improvement?! The middle of the year saw us lose 9 of 10 matches with the other one abandoned - something that surely can't be repeated again! Why did this happen? My feeling is, is that there simply aren't enough first XI quality players making themselves available on Sundays. Even so, I'm thankful that Clive plays on Sundays and was well rewarded this year with 26 wickets from 155 overs. Another star who turned out on a regular basis was Graeme who in 10 innings on Sundays got 4 fifties and 2 hundreds (including that 173) at an average of 77 (619 runs). He also bowled well and got 11 wickets at 17 each and it's clear that as long as he's offered the chance of a bowl we can keep him at Taplow for the rest of his life! Andrew Mills completes my trio of regulars who enjoyed good years. Andrew scored the second most runs (442) at an average of 26 and picked up plenty of catches and stumpings.
Others worthy of mention are John Clark, Mike Bradley and James Brewer. Mike and James, even though they had their commitments to the Saturday team, played a majority of matches for me on Sundays making my tricky job of finding 11 players that much easier. John Clark, my vice-captain had a less successful year with the bat after his remarkable achievements last year but he led the team to victory over Odney and was good support throughout the year.
Fortunately for the future, the colts like William Midlane and Jonathan Kellett will, in the next few years, build on their experience and good performances and establish themselves in the top team. I also hope some of our first teamers who helped the Saturday side to such a strong position in the league can find the time to play a few games on Sundays as well.
Finally, thanks to María, my scorer and understanding wife, and George Taylor my umpire and sometimes player. The tea ladies also get the whole team's thanks for their excellent and never underestimated contributions. The Taplow tea and the fact Taplow Sunday Firsts roll over and capitulate so easily ensures the Taplow fixture is the most looked forward to fixture in many clubs' calendars!