As a season 1981 bore a number of resemblances to the career of a sickly child. Wet weather throughout May ensured that it suffered an unduly protracted period of gestation. Subsequently for the duration of its short and ill-fated span, life flickered only weakly and more than once it seemed to argue a convincing case for euthanasia. Mercifully perhaps the rapid decline of a belated summer brought about a swift and premature termination.
We won very few games - I have to acknowledge only two under my captaincy. It did not escape most people's notice that we were a very mature side. There may have been a casual relationship between these two facts. At times the maturity was such that as captain I found the new scheme of systematically assigned match day duties difficult to operate as nominating a member of the side with the stamina required to sustain the demanding journey around the perimeter of the ground inserting boundary markers en route, left me conscious of responsibilities towards anxious wives.
The side which contested an early Chilterns League fixture with Kimble achieved instant, and I suspect legendary, fame (notoriety?) for when the first nine players had assembled in the dressing room, it was realised that none could reasonably deny that they had been making their own small contribution to the nation's war effort at the time when the Battle of Britain was won. The subsequent arrival of Messrs Bowyer and Isaac did little to reduce the side's average age. Nevertheless on that occasion experience proved to be the critical ingredient and whatever medicaments were administered with the mid afternoon refreshment put new life into aging limbs and a comfortable win was achieved, Brian May taking an excellent 5-14 in as many overs.
Otherwise victory over Fencibles - not perhaps the most worthy of scalps - was the only other success in which I participated. There was, regrettably, a string of defeats most of them accompanied by Taplow batting failures. Often we found the achievement of a triple figure score beyond us as a side. It really was a season of few highlights and even fewer memorable matches. Paul Dewey's improvement with the bat, when he clearly came to know the pleasure of really clouting a cricket ball, as well as his totally committed fielding even in lost causes, are well worthy of comment however, this right to the ‘most improved player’ award was unquestioned and wholly deserved.
I think otherwise we have some young players with promise for the future but who are unlikely to be able to make major contributions towards sustaining a successful second XI for the next year or so. Others whom circumstance elevated to the first XI before their time would almost certainly be able to do just this. We have generally however a conspicuous absence of mature club cricketers in their twenties and even early thirties. Thus we were often outclassed by teams such as Hatch End and Hillingdon who had them in plenty.
I don’t know what conclusions can be drawn. One season's problems tend to disappear before the start of another, although one cannot really see the present Saturday side taking on a new lease of life. Some regeneration and reconstitution of the side is necessary. On a personal note I would like to make clear that I became increasingly conscious during the season of the fact that I no longer regularly have the time mid-week to commit to the process of selection. I am happy to continue on this basis if required, but equally recognise that the membership may wish to exercise its prerogative to find an alternative.
We had a miserable start to the season, the first game didn't take place until the 31st May at Bessborough where we were shot out for 53.
In fact we lost three games to the abysmal weather and two games due to lack of commitment by club members.
At the beginning of June the weather and our fortunes changed with a win at Acacia where David Thornley, promoted to opener, saw us to the required total with a fine 37. We then drew an exciting game at Fleet who ended two short of our total. The winning streak continued at Yateley where two suicidal run outs by the early Yateley batsmen and a good spell of bowling on a fast wicket by Tim Isaac (4-34) saw the opposition back in the pavilion for 90. We even had to bat before tea.
From that point our hopes of another successful season faded with only one further victory against Monks Risborough scattered amongst a multitude of draws and two defeats.
The batting this year proved extremely fragile and there were few innings worth remembering. Perhaps Geoff Herbert's striking of the ball at Redingensians (9 fours out of 46). Dave Wigmore who dispensed of "catched and bowled" Whitfield at Hurst with 3 sixes and five fours out of 47. Notice the obvious dipping out on jugs here. Finally a mention must be made of Philip May's 31 against a fiery Bedlow attack.
The bowling proved to be inconsistent with an outstanding performance coming from Ian Clements with 8 for 31, which turned likely defeat into a possible victory at I.C.I. and his 5 for 33 against Kew.
Needless to say the last two games of the season were laid to rest by the weather.
The team were always enthusiastic and I must pay special thanks to the colts Philip May, Jon Wrapson, and Tony Cane who although they did not have a great deal of effect on the result, certainly reduced the average age of the team. I am sure we will see a lot more of them in the future.
Thanks again to our tea ladies for the excellent teas, by far the best value in the area.