After a very wet and cold start which saw five of the first six games cancelled the Saturday second XI enjoyed a generally successful season in the mid summer heat with ten wins, five defeats and three drawn games. In the Chilterns League we won half of the ten games played with four defeats although the first two scheduled fixtures against Marlow Park and Princes Risborough wore lost to the weather.
Generally we battled fairly solidly if unspectacularly. Apart from batting performances better forgotten against Kimble, Wooburn and Hillingdon we usually made enough runs. If there’s a problem it was perhaps that we were not often able to score quick runs in the early part of an innings and had to look to later batsmen to give ultimate respectability to our score. No batsman dominated the season but a number of good innings were played : John Midlane against Burnham, John Ledgard, OMT and Fencibles, James Thorn, Acton and Denham, Clive House a match winning 36 at Hatch End and Doug Hatch against Chalfont St. Giles, Henley and Denham. Doug's 76 in the heat at Chalfont was as much a test of stamina as of batting skill.
David Thornley, Brian May, Barry Jones and Simon Wigmore did the bowling. Barry had a particularly good season until he left the club at the end of July. We shall need someone to fill the gap in the attack which his departure has created. Simon Wigmore had an excellent season all round and although his best batting performances were probably reserved for Sundays, he was eventually desperately unlucky to fail by only one wicket to become the. first player to complete a unique second XI 'double' of 500 runs and 50 wickets.
Our fielding was usually quite good. Doug Hatch and John Midlane both took excellent slip catches and Simon Wigmore was the pick of a number of effective outfielders. Simon's full length catch diving forward against Hatch End and Ian Harrison's one handed effort above his head at extra cover in the Wooburn game, remain in the memory.
None of the new or younger players really established a place in the side with the exception of Nigel Bunce who made sound progress behind the stumps. Jon Wrapson and/or Tony Cane (if regularly available) could come through next season and claim regular bowling places. Piers Morgan made a selfless contribution and will hopefully meet with more batting success next year. He did not always have much luck.
Of the games in which I personally took part, the two most memorable were not won. The one wicket defeat by Chalfont St. Giles provided a thrilling finish in which Tony Cane just failed to bowl us belatedly to a narrow victory after Barry Jones and Greg Jervis had been smitten for enormous sixes by the opposition's fifteen year old match winner. In the season's final match at Knotty Green we held our opponents to a particularly exciting draw after we had batted badly against a pretty woeful attack. Brian May's final over can only have been professionally scripted.
On a different kind of note, I would like to enter a plea for the dropping of the Hillingdon fixture. I don't honestly think that this game has given anyone any pleasure for some time now and each year we are turned over at the end of August when usually at our weakest, by an increasingly complacent, and latterly patronising, Hillingdon team who this year made the process of achieving a ten wicket victory a matter of inflicting humiliation upon us as their batsmen ostentatiously refused a single which would have won the game in order to wait for the bad ball which could be hit for six.
Finally, I have already commended Doug Hatch for both batting and fielding performances. Doug returned belatedly to the side after terminating his brief umpiring career with the first XI. The season's other 'rave of the grave' was Bob Holmes. Not many playing now will remember the raw Australian twenty year old of 1920 who was the fastest bowler the second XI have ever had. Suddenly he was back, for a limited season, to bowl expensive off breaks. Since his departure I have suffered a recurring nightmare that he will return next year as promised and bowl for us again. It was nice to see you again Bob - my Christmas copy of this report is even now on its way to the Antipodes!
After a really dismal start to the season due to the rain, we played our first game on the 8th May getting sweet revenge against Chertsey - a good start.
The following Sunday, after a week of heavy rain and more on the morning, the welcome phone call from Acacia cancelling the game was not received and we trooped disconsolately down the motorway. Matters here made worse where their skipper appeared wearing wellies suggesting we tossed for first knock as the pitch would be played within half an hour. I made other suggestions. In fact it was playable (almost) and we won a farcical low scoring game, none of our batsmen getting into double figures.
An excellent start to the season. However we then suffered a Celebrity Match hangover and lost to Fleet despite Ian Harrison's powerful 78. A series of uneventful draws followed and we also lost the two Tim's to the first XI, for long spells. By this time the weather had changed completely - it usually does when I elect to go abroad for a holiday. In my absence, John Clark mainly, but several others, took over as captain and I am indebted to them for keeping everything ticking over smoothly.
The season had its highlights. Barry Jones and Northwood Town's umpire proving that even Sunday second XI games can get serious. Redingensian's opening bowler attempting to emulate Michael Holding - well he looked like him. Nigel Bunce's handsome contribution to the beer kitty at I.C.I. after he mentioned he was going straight home after the match. The resolute way most members refused to leave the bar until closing time. We had another enjoyable season which although finishing with two more 'rained off' games ended on a high note with a pleasant 'booze and nosh up' at the Club on the last Sunday, a feature which I hope we can repeat next season.
Thanks once again to the glorious T.T.L's (Taplow Tea Ladies), Diana and her coloured pencils for scoring and the team in general for providing some golden moments.