Despite a wet start to the season, the Saturday second XI soon settled into a winning routine. Of the nine Chilterns League matches, we lost only two (unfortunately one of these was Marlow Park, the eventual league winners), winning the remaining seven. This success was due not to any individual but more to a team effort. The bowling was always reliable – especially as the first XI felt able to dispense with Dave Thornley on many occasions. Simon Kennedy bowled well if not consistently, while the two “work horses” Paul Goodrham and Barry Jones did marvels. Both these players had an excellent season and deserve special mention as well as their individual awards. The batting was often fragile – no one person being able to maintain any consistency. Bill Haley produced glimpses of his old talent; John Midlane batted with determination and on occasion flair; Simon Wigmore showed us his undoubted ability and dash, although all too often being out to a casual shot; Geoff Reynolds played many a vital innings; Doug Hatch – well what can I say? – keep going Doug, a great season again! Roy Page kept on being caught at square leg; Derek Newman continued as a great team man; Keith Hawthorn eventually reached double figures and then never looked back; Brian May at one stage averaged 100 – look out D.G.
The team was often peppered with youngsters, ie. colts, who often turned out at late notice and always performed with credit and enthusiasm; many thanks to A. and H. Crowley, J. Potter and C.Freed. The future of the Club lies with these youngsters. I hope a place can be found for them next year.
Many thanks to everyone who played – a really great season and apologies to all those not individually mentioned who deserve to be so. Last but not least, a big thank you to all the ladies who gave up their precious free time on Saturday afternoons to provide us with such splendid teas.
P.S. Of course there was Gerry Bowyer. Although we never managed to be in the same team, I did find Gerry once entwined with Sue at the far end of the ground. Thanks Gerry for your help.
My 1977 report ended with the words "Let us all look forward to a happy and more successful season in 1978". I think 1978 was a happy season, but unfortunately, a slightly less successful one. We won on three fewer occasions and were defeated in six games, compared with four in 1977. Of the six games lost, it was, in at least three of them a case of presenting the game to the opposition, rather than being beaten by them.
It was the old story of Taplow panicking in the face of spin bowling. The attitude to spin has been the same at Taplow for as long as I can remember, and it is not always confined to the second XI. Far too many batsmen consider that the only honourable way to play a spinner is to hit him out of the ground. Batsmen just will not appreciate that two two’s and your wicket intact, is far preferably to a spectacular six and out. In our standard of cricket, a spinner will bowl at least one and probably more bad balls in each over and if you are prepared to use your feet, the proportion of bad balls can be considerably increased. If you are prepared to go right out or right back, you will be surprised at the number of long hops and full tosses that you receive. Tempting though it may be, unless you are in top form and your timing is perfect, never, never, try to lift a spinner from the half volley. You may do it once, you may do it twice, but then the inevitable will happen. Even people who should know better, ignored this principle, so games were lost which we should have won. The most glaring example of this was at North Maidenhead, when our score deteriorated from 68-4 to 87 all out, at the hands of two very ordinary spinners, who were bowling an absolute minimum of two bad balls per over. The last wicket fell to a skier taken at gully, off an intended straight driven six.
During the past season, I heard surprise expressed at some of the team selections, so perhaps it would be as well to say a little about the policy of the selection committee. Whenever possible, the two strongest elevens were selected for Saturday and the strongest available for the Sunday first XI. We then tried to select the Sunday second XI in such a way as to ensure that anyone without another game was chosen. This meant that the Sunday second XI was not always the strongest available, but it was fair to the vast majority of members. On reflection however, I do not think we introduced enough promising colts, often enough. Maybe this can be corrected in 1979.
The highlight of the season from our point of view was obviously the match against the first XI. The result was not all important, but obviously we were delighted with the outcome. However, I think it right to have a day each season, when all the club members can get together and enjoy themselves. For this reason, I hope that a game in some form or other, will again take place in 1979. I would suggest that it can be used as a practice match at the beginning of the season, but it must be taken seriously in order to reap the greatest benefit.
Finally, I would like to thank all who played in the team, for helping to make 1978 another happy season, and I have no hesitation in saying that if invited, I will be more than pleased to carry on.
Again we owe a great debt to the tea ladies, and I would like to say a special thank you to Joyce Hatch and Ann Clark who kindly helped with the food after the club game and at the bonfire night.