In terms of results 1972 was not an especially successful season. There were perhaps two reasons. We were often seriously short of bowlers in a season when the Taplow wicket seemed more benign than ever before, and on several occasions a certain amount of ill luck seemed to combine with a determination on our part to resist winning matches. Among the “ones that got away” were the Cricket Society, Hurst, Amersham Hill, Farnham Common (when we lent a nine-man side a player who scored 75 against us), Evershed and Alleyn Old Boys. Against N.W. Polytechnic our players “drifted away” after seven o'clock and we finished the match fielding nine men while in the fixture with Old Gaytonians we scored an excellent 180-plus batting second but still failed to win because our bowling strength was impossibly weak (six bowlers whose combined wicket total for the season was only twelve) and our opponents had earlier scored over 200. I feel it is no exaggeration to venture that in the kind of season when things go well we could easily have won ten games rather than five. To be completely fair however, we made inordinately hard work of two of the games we did manage to win.
The most satisfying games were the wins against Old Lyonians and Old Merchant Taylors and we bowled and fielded in inspired fashion against a strong Alleyn Old Boys team. Nevertheless the season generally lacked exciting finishes and I imagine few games will remain long in the memory. It may seem churlish to suggest it, but is our wicket now too good? It's become almost impossible to win batting first.
Batting and bowling averages were both higher than ever before - and as perhaps the leading second XI archivist, this is an observation I feel reasonably well qualified to make. The batting that I shall remember most will be Doug Hatch's consistency, Julian Pemberton's first wicket assaults, the emergence of Keith Hawthorn as a middle order stroke maker and some elegant innings from Brian May late in the season. Tim Isaac's progress with the ball is all the more commendable in view of the fact that almost everyone else found wickets very hard to take. His 443 overs is easily a second team record and week after week he turned in 15 over performances. Apart from Brian May in the second part of the season he had no regular support. I can't remember there ever being less variety in our attack. We particularly lacked spin bowling although Clive Kellett bowled well on a few occasions late in the season and if he remains a second XI player should take a lot of wickets in a full season.
In terms of overall organisation the season was a near disaster towards the end. We proved we can’t manage without a team secretary and I personally have great reservations about the wisdom of discontinuing a regular selection evening. Combining selection with evening league fixtures was successful until the end of the league season but for the last two months selection became increasingly shambolic until we were finally assembling the four teams unilaterally. I also feel that the regulation requiring new members to play at least their first game for the Club in the second XI should be rigorously reapplied.
Also for the first time since its introduction the highly successful bar rota broke down on at least three occasions late in the season. Most of all we need more committed members who are able to take some responsibility for one aspect of the Club's functioning.
Having said all that, I would like to conclude by indicating that I do not intend to stand for re-election to the captaincy in 1973. This may seem somewhat hypocritical in view of the above but for the last two years I have not had the time to devote to the job that I would have liked and consequently feel it is time to bow out. I have had a run of eight seasons all of which have given me considerable enjoyment and I would like to thank all those who have been such excellent team members during that time.
Reflecting back on this season’s performances I feel we achieved some very good results. For the first time we were able to stop the better class teams beating us and in fact obtained creditable draws from games with Old Actonians and Wycombe House. The three games we lost, two were due to our own poor performance on the day. The other one I feel was caused by my own weak captaincy. I am not saying which one of the three that was. I'll let you think about it.
Even with the disappointments of two fixtures not being played, due to our own administration, and Gordon Slade taking the team on a Car Rally through London before the game with Salusbury. I feel we played some good cricket and had more than our share of laughs. The team spirit and moral throughout the season was excellent and because of this my job as captain became easy and rewarding.
This year I did not want to mention individual performances because we played more as a team and didn't have to rely on one or two players' ability, but I hope you won't feel I'm favouring one player if I congratulate Tim Isaac on his bowling throughout the season.
"Well done Tim".
Thank you ladies for providing the teas. I don't know how you manage to feed us all on 15p per head.