This season the side showed some improvement over the past two seasons and we moved off the bottom of the league table and climbed to the heady heights of twelfth. The season started in bitterly cold weather at Ascot and of the ten players who braved the conditions I was the only one who survived to play the last match, which ended in the rain at North Maidenhead. I hope that it was not my captaincy that discouraged those players from completing this season. It was in that match at Ascot that Andrew Barton played his first game for us and bowled splendidly to take 6 for 33 and he bowled well in all his league appearances which eventually won him promotion to the first eleven.
The friendly matches played around the league season generally ended in drawn games with the exception of the narrow defeat by Hatch End. The league season started with us unexpectedly winning both the opening fixtures against Kimble and Denham but it was obvious at the time that these two were amongst the weaker sides. However, this was encouraging after the past two seasons and we generally managed to compete with the mid-table sides without having a match winning batsman or bowler that would have turned a number of close defeats into wins. We suffered crushing defeats by Wooburn Narkovians, Wendover and North Maidenhead, who I felt were by far the strongest sides in the league. It might be of interest that next season our league programme opens with matches against Wendover and North Maidenhead!
The batting this season had no outstanding performer; there was the promise of Chris Swallow who is improving with every match as well as several sound innings from Gerry Bowyer and most of the team were capable of batting well on occasions. The most consistent bowlers were David Thornley, Andrew Barton and David Wigmore and with the limitation in the league to ten overs it was difficult for any one bowler to make an impact on a match. Paul Newman and newcomer Nick Heaton bowled well at the end of the season without much luck. The bowlers were not helped by our abysmal fielding, in several matches as many as eight catches were dropped, even Scott Bradley caught the disease at Wooburn.
Outstanding memories of the season were Jon Wrapson's extraordinary innings of 92 on a bad wicket at Pinkneys Green and also in this match Bob Bryant's three fine catches. Other highlights were the wins against Denham, in which Chris Paskins played a splendid innings under pressure and the defeat of Winchmore Hill, in which David Wigmore took me back 25 years with his bowling and two fine short leg catches. The drawn match against Bledlow was played in splendid spirit and climaxed by a gem of an innings by Piers Morgan. It was pleasing to see the return of Nick Jervis at the end of the season and his innings against Acton promises well for next season.
Thanks are due to John Midlane who umpired on two occasions whilst playing, when we were unable to comply with the new league rule on providing umpires. Also I must thank John Ford who umpired a number of our league matches. Thanks too to David Wigmore for helping the groundsman to prepare such good wickets on which we invariably failed him by not getting the runs they deserved. Our teas as usual were probably the best in the league and my thanks go to Iris Midlane for organising the tea rota and all those ladies who gave up their time to prepare them.
I would like to go against tradition by first thanking all the ladies who provided such excellent teas throughout the season. Our first game was away at Chertsey and after fielding first I spent 2 minutes in the dressing room sorting out the batting order before going in to tea. There was not a single sandwich left by that time. What a contrast with the high standard consistently provided at Taplow! Nor do the ladies seem to drop out on Friday evenings! Many thanks.
Reverting to the cricket, the season started on a high note at Chertsey with just about everything in Sunday second team cricket going right. Firstly the weather was warm and sunny (early May!). Secondly everyone made a contribution to the game with the wickets being shared by no less than six bowlers and everyone getting a bat. Thirdly the colts made a major and vital contribution which is so important to the future of our club with Steve Holland and Andrew Mills sharing 3 wickets and Chris Swallow making a fine 49 not out. Fourthly the game was close and exciting, going to the last ball of the 20th over. Fifthly we won!
On the following Sunday we descended to earth with a bump with the first of two disastrous games against Cippenham losing by 90 runs. We did have the man of the match in Mike Bradley who scored 51 and took 4 for 11. Unfortunately for some curious reason he was playing for the wrong side!
The game against Wallingford, although drawn, was close and enjoyable with Dave Thornley helping us out by coming in at the last minute and taking 5 wickets. Dave also helped us out at short notice later in the season against Kew with a splended 52 not out - his first 50 for the club. We must be his lucky side! Our second victory came on 5th June against Richings Park and was marked by three outstanding performances. Steve Adams and Brian May bowled exceptionally well taking 8 wickets between them for 63 runs with Brian in particular swinging the ball quite prodigiously. This was followed by a fine match winning 42 not out by Mike Eddowes.
This match was followed by some indifferent performances but on the last Sunday in June we achieved our last and probably our best win of the season against a strong West Drayton side. We put in a very good bowling performance getting them all out for 95 with Steve Holland and Andrew Mills bowling exceptionally well against such strong opposition taking 2-13 and 1-9 respectively. Our reply of 96-8 relied heavily on Chris Swallow who made a high class 31 and a fine unbroken stand at the end by Roy Prosser playing one or two unusual strokes, and Andrew Mills.
The remainder of our season was less successful with no more victories but many enjoyable matches. For the season as a whole our batting was much improved which was just as well since Geoff Herbert was only available for a few matches. Apart from those already mentioned, Brian May, Mike Bradley and Derek Newman came up with some very useful knocks whilst Dave Vincent and Simon Edlin both did well later in the season. Martin Butler batted extremely well and very enthusiastically and noisily towards the end of the season whilst Nigel Hallchurch and helmet also made a useful contribution in September. On the bowling side Steve Holland and Andrew Mills made very good progress during the year and invaluable contributions were made by Steve Adams, Mike Bradley, Jeremy Spring, Jon Wrapson and Dave Vincent. Our most successful bowler however was Mike Eddowes who turned in some very good performances from mid-season onwards. Derek Newman was, as usual, our most successful fielder with 9 catches and even the captain caught one or two this year.
Altogether I believe we enjoyed our cricket and I would like to express my thanks to all players who usually volunteered to do the various jobs before being asked and readily accepted my juggling of the batting and bowling order to ensure that in virtually every match everyone was able to bat or bowl.
Finally I would like to thank Tara Newman for turning out regularly and making an excellent job of the scoring.