The season's playing record was the worst for many years with three wins, seven defeats and nine drawn matches. Four of the defeats took place in May in a disastrous opening to the season - subsequently in fact, we were relatively successful.
It is difficult to explain the decline in our fortunes. Partly they were caused by a failure to press our advantage in drawn matches, partly by the two defeats inflicted by relatively strong CCC opponents and partly by inconsistent batting. The bowling, if anything, seemed rather more varied than in 1976 and rarely let us down.
The best wins were those against Farnham Common and Burnham (a poor cricket match but an especially sweet victory); the most feeble defeats those at the hands of Wooburn and Old Merchant Taylors. In both we batted pretty abysmally.
The season's memorable moments reflect the curate's egg kind of season that we had. More or less chronologically: a century opening partnership in the first match of the season; 7 for 4 and 8 for 5 starts in successive weeks against Englefield Green and Theale; Gerry Bowyer’s century against Denham; Simon Wigmore’s excellent 46 against Princes Risborough when everyone else failed; Bill Haley's metamorphosis in the second part of the season; Stokenchurch batsmen frantically treading on their wicket to give Barry Jones 8-38; Brian May's beautifully controlled spell against Burnham; the same gentleman's valiant attempts with the camera to make us look better players than we were; and Peter Senneck's quicksilver slip catching against Chenies. Appropriately perhaps there were some connoisseur's anti-climaxes. Paul Lewis having scored 104 not out the previous day, being run out attempting a second bye at White Waltham topped the list here but Keith Hawthorn managing to avoid taking a catch for the second successive season ran it a close second. In retrospect maybe this should rank as an achievement.
Over the season as a whole Paul Goodrham made progress in all departments of the game and Derek Newman was an effective Number 6 or 7 as the batting averages indicate. We had a particularly settled side with Hawthorn, Haley, Duggan, Newman, Senneck, May and Jones forming the nucleus of the side in most matches. Any suggestion that the season's indifferent results are largely attributable to this group of ageing gentlemen should be vigorously resisted.
Finally thanks to all team members for your support and unsolicited help with the various chores. I shall miss not being part of the scene next season.
Team Spirit is described in the dictionary as "A spirit of self suppression in co-operation". I feel that this state of affairs was present in the team that I had the pleasure of captaining during the past season. Looking back, it is gratifying to realise that this was not brought about by any chivying on my part, but by a genuine desire on the part of each individual to make a contribution. At the beginning of the season, I explained that I considered that my main function was to ensure that ten other people enjoyed a game of cricket and my memory of 1977, is that every other member of the team appeared to have the same attitude. All of you realised that someone has to field at deep fine leg, someone has to bat at number eleven and only so many people can bowl in any game. Consequently, I cannot let this pass, without saying thank you for a very happy summer.
During the season, there was a certain amount of good natured banter between various teams and this is obviously good for competition, but it must never be forgotten that none of us belong to a particular team; we all belong to Taplow Cricket Club.
Although enjoyment of the game is paramount, the playing record is important, since good results contribute to that enjoyment. A record of played 21, won 9, drawn 7, and lost 4, represents a comparatively successful season, but it would have been even better if it had begun with the same flourish with which it ended. Of the last six games, five were won and one drawn. In May, it was my ambition to go through the season without a defeat, and we came much nearer to it than the record suggests. At Mill Hill Park, batting second, we were bowled out by a series of shooters, on just about the worst mud-heap upon which anyone has ever played cricket. At Fleet, we had to bat first, in very poor weather conditions, purely because we had to start the game with only six players. Again, at Monks Risborough, we had to begin with a team of eight, but even so, Monks Risborough's last pair only managed to get the winning run off the fifth ball of the last over. At Braywood, our last wicket fell off the fifth ball of the last over, only because our useless captain was incapable of surviving the last four scheduled balls of the match.
I do not propose to single out individual performances, since this report is accompanied by a comprehensive set of statistics, and throughout the season, the highest and the lowest came to our rescue at significant points in many games. Everyone contributed something. However, I must say that we are extremely sorry to see the departure of Dick Duggan, who had a very successful batting season. It is now up to one of the younger members to make up for Dick's absence in 1978, and there are several who are quite capable of doing just that, providing they are prepared to harness their concentration to their talents. I will not name them, because they know who they are.
Finally, I have just one criticism. If anyone is unable to play in any particular game, please, do let the captain know before one o'clock on the day of the game. It really is an unenviable task to find a replacement in about half an hour. In this connection, my grateful thanks are due to Sam Barlow, who helped out at very short notice on numerous occasions. No doubt he will be even more helpful now that he knows the difference between a cross and a tick.
Let us all look forward to a happy and more successful season in 1978.