We started the season with two fairly uneven contests against Ascot and Marlow Park. The only performance worthy of note was Dave Ewbank's battling 55 n.o. in 42 overs chasing Marlow's 228. Dave must have the distinction of being one of only a select few that have faced bowling from ten different bowlers in the same innings and survive. Following my philosophy of "If you have to draw against a Van Niekerk, at least make it a good draw", we chased the runs all the way to leave the match on a knife edge, with the last over to go we were 117 runs behind, 6 wickets left - we couldn't quite finish them off though - Draw. And so, after the friendly games, I was confident that the batting would look after itself, but what about the bowling? - in 2 games we had taken 5 wickets and Eric Lark's 1-21 off 9 balls were the best bowling figures. Fortunately, the wicketkeeping duty was covered by Alan Kitley, though after the start he had in the Ascot game he's going to spend a lot of time (in this report) with his new nickname of Iron Gloves.
Our first league match was at Chalfont St. Giles. Eric (47) and Steve Roach (37) built the foundations of a high score, putting on 80 for the first wicket. Iron Gloves hit a masterly 73 and a brute force 62* from the new boy, James Boom-Boom-anything-in-a-skirt Brewer allowed us to declare after 45 overs with 259-4 on the board. Our bowling was led by Ross Dunlop who bought his first 3 wickets (all caught by Iron Gloves). Simon Goodrham bowled a good 11 over spell taking 2 wickets, but with time running out, Ross came back to collect 2 late (genuine) wickets including a fourth caught by Iron Gloves to give us 3 overs at the last pair. Then, unbelievable, 42 runs behind and with just the last over left they run themselves out and we win!
There then followed three appalling matches. Against Great Kingshill only Iron Gloves shone, making 53 out of a pathetic 150 all out - Lost. Graham Kell bowled well against Penn & Tylers Green, taking 4-34 off his 15 overs but, chasing 216, we lost wickets at regular intervals and could only muster 148-8 with Dave Thornley fighting a valiant rear guard action, holding off Penn with a sterling 0* off the last 13 overs. Turnham Green was a very similar match. Again we bowled the opposition out, this time for 164. Jonathan Kellett opened and took a wicket - caught Dad, bowled Son - the Dad then bowled a marathon 17 over spell, taking 5-42. Our batting followed the same pattern as before with Boom-Boom's 47 the only highlight of our 120-9 reply.
Things were not going well, we needed some luck or an exceptional performance. We certainly got both against a hopeless Denham side. Good old Dutchy drops Tim Isaac from the firsts and I gratefully pick him for the match, over at Denham in non-stop rain. I won the toss (luck), put them in and Tim knocked them out. After his eleventh over he had the remarkable figures of 11-6-10-7 and Denham were on 49-7. In the excitement Chris Goodrham fancied himself as a bit of a captain and moved himself to short-leg, shortly followed by moving himself to long-hospital after putting down a dolly. Matthew Rattana picked up a couple of wickets at the other end and Iron Gloves claimed another 4 catches. Iron Gloves and I then polished off the 93 runs required in 14 overs and we all dried ourselves off and sent a message of thanks to Dutchy, thanking him for his insight.
Little Marlow were next and we still had Tim. They batted first but unfortunately we didn't still have the Denham wicket to help us. Tim failed to get a wicket in his 15 overs and Little Marlow piled on a good score. Dave Thornley bowled well, getting 2-27 and I took 3 wickets before taking a bit of punishment at the end (6 overs, 3-17 → 11 overs, 3-62). We really should have won this one. The top five all got more than twenty but only Roachy could carry on to a fifty. We collapsed from 185-4 to 216-9 and had to accept a draw, 17 runs short.
Next was Amersham Hill and after a bit of friendly persuasion in The Swan, Paul Tarn returns to Taplow from Burnham. Dutchy: "Great, I'll have him" - Me: "He can't play away, Dave". Everyone bowled well and we kept them down to 209-9. Our reply was built around Iron Gloves powerful 72 but it took Paul's excellent 57* and Jon Wrapson's 28* to see us home with 5 wickets and 13 overs left.
Against Stoke Green, we bowled a load of rubbish and let them get 283 in 49 overs. Our reply again consisted of plenty of twenties, only Chris Goodrham got a fifty. We never had a chance of winning but we would have saved the match if it wasn't for some partisan play from their most valuable player - their umpire - who saw Chris off on 57 then followed up with Timmo' s wicket.
A good performance against White Waltham came next led by Paul Tarn who "can't play away again this week, Dave" and Thorners, both picking up 4 wickets. Iron Gloves only claimed 3 catches this time. We cruised to victory with Eric (32), little brother Scott (29) and Chris Goodrham getting another fifty.
Young Thornley and old Isaac opened the bowling against Farnham Common but we had to wait until they had 166 before we finally broke through. They smash 260-6. In reply, we got off to a flyer too, 48-0 after 20 overs. I get in and shoot 63, Chris Goodrham gets 40 and with little brother getting 37*, Taplow's honour is just about saved. The following week, Wendover thrash us with 21 overs left. Our batting let us down after a good start and our 194 really wasn't enough against the farmers.
It was now August and the Winchmore Hill match saw our batting at its most destructive. They got 216-8 with all the bowlers chipping in and Iron Gloves picking up another trio of catches. In reply, we reached the hundred in quick time then accelerated when Boom-Boom arrived at the wicket. Winchmore didn't know where to bowl, James reached 66* assisted by a good knock from the now boringly reliable Goodrham (53*) and we won by 6 wickets.
Next we had a week off from the league and played Stoke Green again, this time batting first. Roachy has a touch of the jug avoidances, but top scores with his 49, 39 from Iron Gloves enables us to declare on 219-7. Tim Isaac and Gus Gorman opened the bowling and threatened to finish the bowling between themselves as well. I had taken the day off and was having a good time at the races so Chris Goodrham had taken over the captaincy. He broke a finger so Roachy took over. Tim and Gus bowl the first 31 overs (Tim taking five wickets), Dave Wigmore labels Roachy with some affectionate petname, the skipper then brings Boom-Boom on to take the last 3 wickets and we gain our revenge.
The weakest team in the league came to Taplow next and stuffed us. Me (36), Scott (43) and Wendyhouse Will Midlane (39) were the only scorers over ten. Great Hampden chased the 148 with only Tim (4-24) making any impression and they quickly secured their first win. Coleshill next, a nice bunch of lads really. Their captain calls Scott a w**ker and who are you anyway? - Scott: "I'm the w**ker who's smashing your bowling around." Scott gets 52 and I build a patient 113 in 24 overs as we make 254-7. The skipper completes a good day by getting 3 wickets and Jonathan Kellett finishes them off with a double wicket maiden.
Cookham Dean was a great game. Apart from an excellent 117 partnership between Chris Goodrham (61) and Boom-Boom (62), everyone else takes a day off and we lose by 75 runs. The league season ended with that game but we had three more friendlies and won all of them. Against Crossbats, I'm caught off the first ball of the match and then watch Scott get 84. Chris Goodrham milked 70* and we reached 220-3. We then bowled them out in no time at all with Kellett junior and senior both getting 2 wickets. Simon Goodrham then finished them off with his first, and their last, ball.
The final 2 matches were against Amersham Hill. Jonathan Kellett bowled well again, with Dave Thornley and Boom-Boom clearing up. Steve Roach's 43 and 71* from the unbeatable Goodrham wins the first game easily. I opened the batting in our second encounter and this time survived the first ball only to be caught off the second. Everyone else chipped in to take us to 186-6 with the colts, Michael Lavender and Simon Goodrham doing especially well. The other two colts, Jonathan Kellett and Andrew Lavender bowled well at the start but it was Gus Gorman (5-49) and a face saving spell from the skipper (4-25) that pulled us through. With 2 runs needed, 2 wickets left and our unbeaten away record on the line, Gus came up to bowl his fifteenth over. He cleaned bowled the last two and we won by 1 run.
It's been a winning year, we won 10 and lost 6 of our 22 matches on Saturday. Chris Goodrham scored 6 fifties and was unwaveringly consistent though a little accident prone! Boom-Boom had a great first season and topped the league batting averages. Alan Kitley had a great start to the year with the bat and got a huge haul of catches behind the stumps. Scott batted well and has returned to something of his old form. The bowling was led by that first XI reject, Tim Isaac. I got a few wickets as well and the other bowlers, both young and old, shared plenty of good performances. I was particularly pleased with the way Jonathan Kellett's bowling has developed this year. By the end, he was my regular opener and always bowled with accuracy and was a great asset to the team. The other young lads, Simon Goodrham, William Midlane and the Lavender boys all showed great maturity in their first seasons in regular second XI cricket and I hope that we manage to look after them and see great things from them in the future.
Finally a thank you to Nick Thorne for promoting himself to second XI scorer, to George Taylor who took over the umpiring from Simon Christy who broke his arm when he tripped over his feet while batting, and to the tea ladies who always make it well worth while being picked for a home game (although, if you look at what happened when we did play at home, I think the distraction may have been a little too much!).