My congratulations to everyone connected with the season's effort.
The Chilterns League campaign got off to a solid start with winning draws against Farnham Common and Chalfont St. Giles. On wet wickets on both occasions we showed character to scrape enough runs and then saw our seam bowlers nearly win the games. Farnham 9 wickets down and Giles 8 down. These games saw our bowling strength as Chris Lowe (3-13 & 5-11), Tim Isaac (4-18 & 1-33) and Jonathan Kellett (1-37 & 0-26) made good significant early impressions.
The wickets got better as the weather improved and we registered our first wins, 3 wickets over Coleshill and 109 runs over White Waltham. At Coleshill we chased 211 with Steve Roach (54) and myself (60) putting on 114 to set up the victory although it needed a cool 38 n.o. from Chris Goodrham to see us home with just 8 balls remaining. Against White Waltham we rattled up 243 with Vaughan Edmunds (56) and Chris Lowe (39*). Then Chris Lowe (4-13) made short work of the opposition as we strolled home.
Next a setback as we lost to Amersham Hill on a hastily prepared wicket on a very wet day. We were shot out for 102 and the visitors won easily by 7 wickets. Little Kingshill were next and we cruised to 243-8 with Glen Ploughman stroking 98 n.o. and Paul Newman a rapid and typical 30. Jonathan Kellett, improving all the time, (5-44) saw us to a comfortable 81 run victory. Rain then cancelled frustratingly the games with Great Kingshill and Penn.
A tense nervy affair saw us sneak home by 2 wickets over Littlewick Green. Steady seam bowling once again by Tim (15-7-27-1), Chris (12-2-33-0) and Gus Gorman (8-2-27-1) restricted the visitors to 150, a total we crept past in the last over in gathering gloom thanks to the Littlewick bowler pitching a half volley on my leg stump.
Our only other defeat came against Hurley on July 12th, the last time in the season that we lost a game. Hurley looked very strong and despite Richard Thorogood's whirlwind 41 we collapsed to 109 and lost by 7 wickets.
A big big victory over Denham came next, courtesy of Ross Dunlop's 103 (his first 100 for Taplow), Chris Goodrham's 91 n.o., Vaughan's 2 superb running catches and Simon Goodrham's inspired 5-20. We won by a mammoth 180 runs.
Rain returned and we played water polo with Cookham Dean but unfortunately not cricket. On a usual flat Little Marlow wicket, stalemate occurred. We were 60-3 before Chris and myself put on 158 to take us to 242. They finished on 161-8 with little chance of a result. The Singing Detective was not happy as he reckoned he was underbowled just as he had found a Shane Warne "wonderball".
The Great Hampden game was a big disappointment. On the hottest day of the year I lost the toss (which was quite normal) - they had 7 men and batted. They reached 209 off 52 overs (Singing, 8 overs and "2 wonderballs" for 41) but more importantly also picked up 4 more players. We never got out of first gear and embarrassingly struggled to 103-9 as Simon Christy played out time.
Next came the game of the season as we played the Champions and league leaders Stoke Green. We batted consistently as all our batters got in but didn't go on to a big score as we finished with 189-8.
Stoke Green were on course to win but we kept nagging away (Simon 11-3-41-3) but as Brian Wells bowled the last but one over they needed just 3 runs to win with 2 wickets in hand. 3 balls later it was all over and we had the victory that set up our final push to win the league.
In the last two games we played like a team in form. At Winchmore, Vaughan (72) and Alan Kitley (42) made runs, the bowlers chipped in (Chris 3-45) and we won by 106 runs. Going in to the last game at Braywood, we were in second place with just Chalfont ahead and Amersham Hill close behind. All we could do was to win our game and hope that Giles came a cropper at Littlewick. Paul Newman unluckily out of the team acted as pony express, shuttling between venues but it was bad news as Chalfont won to take the title by just 3 points.
We beat Braywood by ten wickets. Tim (4-21) and Chris (4-22) did the damage as Braywood were dismissed for just 109. Richard opened with me and ended up in Wexham Park Hospital to spoil his good looks but Jon Wrapson (48*) was an adequate replacement as we cantered to a comprehensive win.
We were left disappointed especially as the winners Chalfont St. Giles came a poor second to us back in May. However we should take pride in putting Taplow back on the cricketing map. If we are to move onwards and upwards as a club we need a strength in depth that this season has demonstrated .
Whilst it was a team effort, with everyone making a contribution, Chris Goodrham's batting (680 runs at 48.57) and Chris Lowe's bowling (30 wickets at 13.07) stood out. Some like Jonathan Kellett, Jon Wrapson and Simon Goodrham found themselves shuttling between the first and second XI's like the proverbial yo-yo. However with Jon, Simon, Glen Ploughman and Andrew Thornley the basis of a good young side is developing notwithstanding which team they find themselves in next year.
I was indebted to the support of the "old" and "not so old" brigade.
Eric Lark (the catch that won us the thriller with Stoke Green), Gus (steady slow bowling), Tim (24 wickets from 141 overs plus some eccentric batting in a crisis), Steve (a fine knock at Coleshill), Vaughan (248 runs and fine catching), Paul (rapid batting and fielding), Keith Paskins (4-35 at Coleshill on a flat wicket), Richard (133 runs in only 6 innings as rain coincided with his week to play), Brian (the highlight being 15-2-34-1, rolling back the years at Little Marlow) Simon Christy (dependable as ever when needed even when Reading were being thrashed 6-0 by Tranmere) and especially to vice-captain Alan Kitley (221 runs, including a stauch 51 in the first league game, and 11 catches behind the timbers).
For some like myself, Brian and Chris Goodrham it was history repeated as in 1984 we all played in the first XI that came second in the league. For others like Tim and Simon Christy, it came on top of a winning second XI in both 1975 and 1979.
Finally thanks to Dave Wigmore, Doug Hatch and Simon Christy for umpiring, Nick and Laura for scoring and all of you who provided teas which once again were second to none.
Let's go one better in 1998 !