The closing of my first season captaining the Saturday Second Xl left me with somewhat mixed feelings. Whilst the standard of our performances were much of an improvement on recent years, my overall impression was that we could have achieved even greater things had we performed with a little more consistency and belief in our own ability.
The opening friendly games quickly demonstrated to me that at such an early part of the season, it was an achievement to actually field eleven players rather than be too concerned about the ability of the team and we started with two disappointing defeats at the hands of Burnham and Brentham. The opening league game against Wendover however was more encouraging, Gerry Bowyer's unbeaten 69 being the highlight. This was one of many excellent knocks from Gerry which eventually led to his well earned promotion to the first XI.
Our next game was against the champions, North Maidenhead, and whilst we lost by four wickets we certainly gave them plenty to think about. Dave Thornley then took over the captaincy during my absence on holiday, winning one and drawing two of the three matches. Perhaps I should have stayed away longer!
Following this run of results, we continued to hold our own. Mike Bradley made a hard hitting 69 in a high scoring draw at Denham, at last practicing what he had so often preached!
The ensuing weeks saw some excellent batting performances where we passed 240 on no fewer than three occasions. I wonder what odds I would have been given on that at the beginning of the season? Eric Lark's belligerent 125 at Marlow Park, where yours truly declared at what now seems a ridiculously early stage!, and Bruce Bucknell's cultured 120 at Stoke Green (when we scored 273-3) were the best individual scores. Sadly, although not surprisingly, we were to see little of these two players for the rest of the season. Also during this period, and indeed throughout the season, Scott Bradley was scoring quickly, consistently and with no little style. I vividly recall one of his shots at Taplow when, playing on the wicket nearest the pavilion, he stroked the ball through mid wicket to the far side boundary. It went like a rocket and I swear that the ball was still accelerating when it disappeared into the trees. Scott also kept wicket for us in Gerry Bowyer's absence and performed equally as well as he normally fields.
For me, the best game of the season was against Wooburn Narkovians at Taplow. The visitors built up a massive score of 272-1 and thought that they had the game won by tea time. Eric Lark and Scott Bradley however quickly showed the opposition that Taplow could bat a bit as well and they shared in a marvellous opening partnership of 142. Whilst wickets tumbled rather quickly thereafter, we were in with a shout up until the last three overs and eventually finished just over twenty runs short with one wicket in hand. A great game of cricket.
On the debit side, our woeful batting displays in the league against Farnham Common, I.C.I. Paints and White Waltham, support my earlier comment about our lack of consistency.
On the bowling front, it was particularly pleasing to see Jon Wrapson and Chris Paskins collect so many wickets.
Dave Thornley and Mike Bradley also took in excess of 15 wickets in the league. These were all excellent performances in conditions which for the majority of a marvellous summer were not ideal for the bowlers. I must also mention Chris Lowe who bowled admirably but without any luck at all.
The final month of the season was something of an anti climax considering all that had gone before. One fixture was cancelled at the last minute due to the opposition being unable to raise a team and another rained off.
The final match left a somewhat unsavoury taste in my mouth when our near neighbours from North Maidenhead batted on beyond 4 o'clock with over 200 on the board when we were scheduled to commence 20 overs at 5.20pm and tea was still to be taken. It could just be that they had heard of some of our batting exploits earlier in the season and indeed some ferocious hitting by Paul Newman and Eric Lark nearly saw us bring off an improbable victory.
Looking ahead to next year, I am extremely hopeful that if we play to our potential we can finish in the top five of the league. Youngsters such as Scott Bradley, Paul Newman, Chris Paskins, Nick Jervis and Chris Swallow showed more than sufficient promise to suggest that they can become first XI regulars and I look forward to seeing them all performing well on a regular basis next summer.
On a lighter note I cannot help recalling one of the more amusing moments last season when, at Brentham, Simon Christy chased a ball to the boundary in vain. When attempting to go under the fence to retrieve the ball, the back of his sweater became entangled in the wire fencing and he was hardly able to move, let alone free himself! After some minutes his good friend Jeff Elder came to the rescue - I think Simon might still have been there now otherwise! If only for a camera.
Last, but certainly not least, I must extend my sincere thanks to the tea ladies for their wonderful efforts and to Dave Thornley who provided such invaluable support to me in his role as vice-captain.
The summer of 1989 will go down in history as the season when we lost not a single game to the weather. Has it ever happened before and will it ever happen again? Our results overall were most encouraging with five victories and this in spite of adopting our usual policy of giving everyone a game even if it meant an unorthodox batting order or taking bowlers off while they were taking wickets. On a number of occasions we did not pick the best side available for the Sunday second XI. Faced with the choice between giving a better player two games over the weekend or a lesser player one game, I usually opted for the latter option. This was partly to ensure paid up members got at least a few games and partly to ensure they did not opt out of the club leaving me struggling to make up a team in the holiday months. We really do now need a Third XI to resolve this problem.
Our opening two matches showed us turning in a classic Jekyll and Hyde performance. Chalfont St. Peter made a remarkably sporting declaration at 103-6 only for us to descend to 32-6 and struggle to 75 all out, despite 33 from Geoff Herbert. The following week against strong opposition (Chertsey), we contained the opposition to 167-9 with a good all round bowling performance from Paul Newman, Steve Holland, Nick Jervis and Mike Eddowes. We then sailed to a 7 wicket victory with a 50 opening partnership followed by a 73 from Geoff Herbert at his best.
Our victory against Caversham & Sonning the following week was notable for 6 wickets shared by Jon Wrapson and Andrew Mills and 44 runs from Derek Newman who was by far our most successful batsman this season almost reaching 350 runs for an average of over 26. The next 4 weeks saw us without a victory but outstanding batting performances from Jeff Elder (71 n.o.) against Amersham and Gerry Mills against Fleet, putting in his sole appearance for the Sunday second XI and making the season's top score of 91 n.o.. Steve Holland bowled extremely well against Fleet and his 1-45 off a long opening spell against a side making 202-2 was a good line and length effort.
The last Sunday in June saw a very satisfying and comprehensive victory over Cookham Dean thanks to a knock of 80 from Simon Christy and some quite outstanding bowling from Tim Gibbs 5-15 and Tim Isaac 4-11. This was the first of a number of fine bowling performances from Tim Isaac and his presence throughout the middle and latter part of the season made a substantial difference to our results. Well done Tim on the second XI bowling award.
We gained no more victories until the last Sunday in July but there were good individual performances from Steve Holland (4-18 against Hanwell), Nick Jervis (4-19 against Penn) and Mike Eddowes (the first of his two 50's of the season against Penn).
Against Bracknell on the last Sunday in July, I had given up hope as we descended to 33-6 with all 6 wickets falling for 17 runs. However, we were rescued with a marvellous innings from Simon Edlin falling 2 short of his maiden 50 and a lightning 38 between Jon Wrapson and Tim Isaac who then proceeded to collect all 10 wickets between them for an unexpected victory.
August was a bad month! We were comprehensively beaten by Littlewick Green and positively annihilated by Windsor Vics. The same pattern was being followed against Datchet as we struggled to 79-8 against their declaration of 188-3. Paul Newman then played a superb innings of classic defence and fierce aggression making 69 n.o. including a partnership of 58 with Andrew Mills who defended stoutly for 3 and Steve Holland 17 n.o.. We finished on 158-9 and Datchet were not chuffed.
Both Redingensians and Henley cancelled in September with the Henley cancellation coming too late to arrange a conference fixture. If two such strong sides claim to be unable to raise teams I suggest we look elsewhere for fixtures next year. Our final victory against Pinkneys Green saw us with 136 all out including an excellent 44 n.o. from Nigel Hallchurch and we then proceeded to polish off the opposition for 53 with Andrew Mills getting 2 of the first 3 wickets and Tim Isaac claiming another 7.
Altogether a most enjoyable season - good cricket, marvellous weather and as usual excellent teas from the ladies - many thanks.
Tim Isaac became the all time leading wicket taker for the second eleven and now has 438 wickets. The previous highest was Brian May with 422.
Gerry Bowyer became the third player in second XI history to carry his bat through an innings. He made 39 n.o. in a total of 100 against Burnham. The other two to do this were:-
Eric Lark's score of 125 v Marlow Park is the highest individual score by a member of the second XI. Bruce Bucknell's 120 n.o. against Stoke Green was the second highest total. The previous highest was 118 by Roy Page in 1974.
Taplow's score of 273-3 against Stoke Green is the highest score ever made by the second XI and is probably the best ever by any Taplow side. The previous highest score by the second Xl was 233-9 against Ashford. Taplow first XI's score of 273-4 against Bagshot equalled this new record.