A season which had promised so much following our excellent improvement the previous year ended with an overall feeling of disappointment. Whilst we remained undefeated in our 8 friendly matches, our league form was patchy and we eventually finished in 9th position.
In our early friendlies we recorded victories against Penn & Tylers Green, North Maidenhead 3rd XI and Flackwell Heath and a draw against Burnham. The highlight of these games was on opening stand of 124 between Gerry Bowyer and Mike Bradley at Flackwell Heath. Mike scored 50 and this was to prove typical of his form throughout much of the season. He came back last season following his serious leg injury and seemed determined to make up for missed time. Invariably it seemed that if he failed with the bat he would atone for it with the ball and the same vice versa. Needless to say he was not slow to let the rest of us know about it!
The league season began in disastrous fashion with 5 defeats in the opening 6 games. An excellent opening match against Wooburn gave us cause for optimism, Chris Goodrham scoring an impressive half century, but this was followed by woeful batting displays against I.C.I., Amersham Hill, White Waltham and Winchmore Hill. Our solitary victory during this period came against Stoke Green when Dave Thornley took 2 wickets in the final over of the match to give us what had seemed an unlikely win. One of the few batting successes during this time was Peter Perryman who rarely gave his wicket away without a fight. In the Winchmore Hill match, Martin Fisher made his debut for the Club and played as well as anyone I have seen at this level of cricket, scoring a magnificent 73 out of 125.
In my absence, Dave Thornley led the side to a marvellous victory against Wendover, the second successive year we have beaten them, and this started a run of five unbeaten games. We managed to bore the pants off North Maidenhead, upsetting them immensely in the process, and recorded a good win against Kimble in a most enjoyable game. This match will be best remembered for a club record second XI 8th wicket partnership of 70 odd between Chris Paskins and Geoff Reynolds which really pulled us out of the mire.
August proved to be a mixed month beginning with a humiliating defeat at Denham. The less said about that debacle the better. We did however make amends for this with much improved batting efforts against Cookham Dean and Farnham Common and the league season ended with a sweet victory at Marlow Park. In this game everyone was delighted to see Steve Roach return to form, showing us exactly what he is capable of. It was also fitting that Mike Bradley should end the league season with yet another five wicket haul.
Our remaining friendly matches saw us win one and draw 3. The Skipper enjoyed a purple patch in the first 3 of these games, scoring 201 without being out including a first ever century against Princes Risborough. I must mention Ross Dunlop's role in this as he was batting superbly at the other end and unselfishly let me have nearly all of the strike once he realised I was nearing the magic figure. I am trying to remember what it was that I had to drink in the weeks leading up to these games and if I do, I will certainly have a few pints of it before every match next year!
Not to be outdone, Mike Bradley blitzed 72 in no time at all against Dinton to help us to an excellent victory in what proved to be our final match of the season.
At the time of writing this report, I think it's unlikely that I will be standing for re-election next season and I would like to wish my successor the best of luck. I have enjoyed every minute (or almost every minute) of my three years skippering the side and whilst acknowledging that we are not a team of world beaters, the spirit in the side has always been excellent and I'd like to thank everyone for that. My thanks also to Dave Thornley for being vice-captain - the team always seemed to win when he captained in my absence - to Chris Lowe for his assistance in what is an unenviable job, and to Dave Wigmore for his umpiring. Finally, I must thank the tea ladies for producing by far the best teas around.
Last year's Captain, the distinguished Mills senior, managed to stave off defeat until 4.45pm on April 29th 1990. This year, one day 5 minutes earlier, also first game, also Tring, we lost by 7 wickets. Man of the match, their wicketkeeper, 26 byes.
The following week to Mont Blanc, alias Chalfont St. Peter. Abject defeat confronted us until Greg Lightfoot played the saving innings, albeit not troubling the scorer.
Lost again to Chertsey redeemed only by Steve Adams' four wickets and Mills junior batting like senior.
Caversham saw Richard Duggan showing all the old flair. Still we could only manage 149 from 51 overs so complaints were unjustified when we bowled 39 and lost off the last ball. Well, that's what I thought after the game only to realise I'd changed the bowling right at the end and consigned Steve Adams to the worst last over of his life. Steve apologies.
A week later the perfect answer Steve scores the winning runs in the last over having, with Tim (Taplow don't bowl many overs when I play) Isaac, put us in a winning position.
Next week, despite valiant efforts by Keith Hawthorn, no away fixture could be found leaving Ian Kinrade and his lot to overwhelm the aptly named Stage XI. Perhaps their performances should be confined to the theatre in future?
Richings Park; Dave Shoemark and Eric Lark a slowish opening stand of 49 in 18 overs which looked positively sparkling when translated into 128 all out in 54. Excellent bowling from Steve Adams, Andy Mills and Steve Holland, left one wicket to get in two and a half overs; we didn't.
Favourite place to go and be rained off only when we had found it (via Plymouth I think) was Fleet of course. Aston Rowant also no go, Pluvius (who he?) again.
GWR, a game best forgotten, except for good bowling by Tim Isaac and Steve Adams. Two interesting overs from Jon Wrapson. We weren't going to lose and didn't.
We bored Hanwell to death; they used nine bowlers. But afterwards the rock and roll at Taplow!
Little Marlow: Gerry is back to his rightful home but it's Andy and Derek Newman who save us after Marlow's caber throwing champ endangers the lives of peaceful road users. He hit six sixes.
To Chenies, our saviour is out third ball and now averages 0.5. We lost but not before stumped Gerry Mills bowled Andy Mills; scorer Di Mills. An obvious moment to thank her and of course all the ladies. We should have fed the opposition to defeat at all home games, but we knew the delights of a Taplow tea, so who cared about the result.
Kings Langley, difficult to find even more to get their opener out, which we could not. He got 32 out of 107, Tim, Steve and Steve bowled really well. We started our innings at 5.52pm Somewhat after 8.00pm we won, Gerry 76 n.o.. Win number two but by now it's July 28th.
Then Littlewick and down to earth. Chris Lowe and Steve Holland bowled tightly so we needed only 135. Despite a superb effort from Dave Vincent, 92 balls for 14 n.o., we succumbed on the penultimate ball. One C Symonds' analysis was 18-13-13-1, yes 13 maidens. God help the ladies of Littlewick. Roger Field, who once sold us a house (so he owed me one) 7 for 22 and he retired last year. Life is not fair.
Monks Risborough; we must win this. They, after Brian May bowled 16 overs for 22, got 120. Us 57 for 7 and, shades of Littlwick, their openers bowl 30 overs for 35 runs.
Supposedly at home on August 18th, Bagshot can't raise two sides, so we go there. Wicket and outfield awful and we are playing their first XI. End of lament, we cruise home with everyone batting really well, Dave Shoemark, Steve Roach, Jeff Elder, Derek Newman, the waster Nick Jervis and yet again Dave Vincent.
To Windsor Vics, dull draw but a game to be remembered. Tim Isaac off a straight run looks like Hadlee as long as the mirror is distorted. Keith's best innings.
We lose badly to Datchet. Gerry, Andy plus the ever better Derek Newman, the only men in double figures.
September 8th, billed in the Fixture List as TBA, but we're at home, so no problem. Like hell. Two days and twenty calls later we get John Hampton. Tim Isaac and the Back (yes it's Clive Kellett) bowl well but we can still only manage 85 for 6.
The last two games are hearsay.
First Braywood, has it improved or does Wrappers, vide Pinkneys Green, only bother on certain wickets. 3 for 12 was one thing; preceded by 72 and the first fifty in 28 minutes was quite another.
Last Pinkneys Green and we introduce a Third XI player, Richard Lane; 7.5 overs, 27 runs 8 wickets, he wins it for Taplow by 66 runs. An upbringing with sheep must have some merit.
A season without one moment of unpleasantness is unusual, one with the Sunday second XI fielding enthusiastically and well was a revelation. My thanks to everyone, especially to Keith and the ladies for their unfailing kindness and support.