Thanks to the appalling early autumn weather the 1974 season seems an awfully long time gone; however we did play 19 games, of these we won 5 lost 5 and drew 9, which would seem to indicate that the strength of our current fixture list is about right. Nothing spectacular if you measure success on cold statistics alone, but if you bear in mind our resources, the strength of our opponents and the degree of enjoyment then I feel the season was more than satisfactory.
Apart from the defeat by Marlow Park, and at Hurst where we met a first team quickie, we lost only twice at the beginning of the season and once in August, these being due to poor availability, however even these weakened teams put up a good fight. Batting second in five of the drawn games we could score neither quite fast nor consistently enough to win though never looked like being bowled out, whilst two other draws provided exciting finishes, against Chalfont St. Giles and Hatch End, the margins at ‘stumps’ being a run and a wicket respectively. The win over North London Polytechnic was also a cliff-hanger, Peter Gibbons, last man in, dispatching his first, and the one remaining ball of the match for four in classic style.
All in all the teams we fielded were more competent this year, the batting especially more reliable, and the bowling if still lacking in real hostility and penetration, more varied and economical. We topped 200 twice and benefitted from some good starts. Here, after a disastrous early season in mid order, Keith Hawthorn suddenly found form and scored consistently as an aggressive opener. Roy Page was a great acquisition averaging over 30 until his inevitable promotion to the first XI, as well as keeping wicket extremely well and bowling some useful off-spin. Congratulations on his getting the first Saturday second XI 'ton' for some years. Most of the regulars weighed in with some good performances, especially the younger members. Paul Lewis played two particularly good innings as an opener against Northwood and Old Lyonians, attacking the bowling with strong off side shots and scoring an exhilarating 57 in the latter game. His award as most improved young player was thoroughly deserved, and he should persevere with his wicketkeeping especially to slow bowling.
In this context we benefitted considerably from the club’s colts policy, and much credit is due to David Hawes, Colin Abbott and their helpers for their efforts in running this team. Several of the youngsters played regularly in our side and their ability and enthusiasm augur well for the future.
Of the bowlers Roy Gauntlett always set the batsmen problems when the wicket helped him and gave little away when it didn’t. Brian May seemed to have precious little of any luck that was going, but again proved invaluable in shutting up one end. Colin Abbott, Keith Hawthorn and Derek Newman all got in more overs than previously, and with some success, and Peter Gibbons, Clive Richardson and another promising colt David Greenaway put in some useful performances later in the season. The fielding was adequate and we probably held a higher percentage of chances, at least Peter Senneck and Derek Newman did.
Having started with three home games we did not realise until we went away how much we take our wicket for granted. Doug Bentley deserves high praise for his work in a season when the weather was not exactly helpful to him, as do the members who keep the outfield in such fine trim.
To those regulars who did much of the umpiring (one member stood in every game for which he was selected) scoring, serving in the bar, and all those jobs incidental to our actually playing cricket, I extend my sincere thanks. Cheerful, unsolicited help makes the skipper’s task that much easier.
How long rising inflation will continue to allow our loyal ladies to maintain their continued high standard of teas for what we pay at present, I shudder to think, however yet again, on behalf of our visitors and ourselves a great vote of thanks for all their efforts.