My congratulations to everyone connected with the season's efforts.
A review of 1999 shows once again that although we relied on a few individuals, once more it was a team effort that drove us on. The season started with a draw at Amersham where Bansi Chatralia gave us glimpses of his class with a superb 64 out of an opening stand of 94 with myself. Chris Goodrham as is usual scored 50 n.o. despite this being his first pick up of a bat since September 1998. After the first league match with Wargrave was washed out after just 4.2 overs, we got down to the real business of retaining our title at Amersham Hill. It all started well with our pace quartet of Chris Lowe, Tim Isaac, Brian Wells and Mark Forde restricting the Hill to 131-6 from 52 overs. However the wicket was wet and we collapsed from 106-2 to 121-6 before Chris Lowe steered us home. Earlier, Chris Goodrham had hit 64. Still a win is a win as they say.
Next up, Little Marlow at home - always a difficult side to bowl out - and we were soon in trouble at 63-4 but 34 n.o. from South African Paul Smith saw us to 146 all out. Chris Lowe 4-23 and Tim Isaac 4-19 bowled us to victory as Little Marlow were dismissed for 121. Denham came next and Will Midlane hammered his first hundred for the Club - a majestic 146 - including an opening stand of 186 with myself (62). Champagne flowed in the evening courtesy of the President. A score of 257-3 was rendered academic by 35 overs of rain and Denham limped to 62-3.
Leaders Wraysbury came to visit but steady bowling by Chris, Brian, Mark and the rejuvenated Lewis Fisher restricted them to 204-6. Alan Kitley, 93 not out, made the run chase a doodle as we won with six overs to spare. We went to Penn & Tylers Green with a very strong side, kept them to 203-9 and won by six wickets with nine overs to spare. James Brewer announcing his return with a typically brisk 65*. Earlier Lewis 4-48 and Chris 3-30 were the pick of the bowlers. The winning run continued as we overpowered Coleshill by 200 runs. All the batsmen got runs with Chris Goodrham top scoring with 87. Mark Forde 3-28 and Tim Isaac 4-7 polished off Coleshill for 80 all out. Great Kingshill was another good performance and despite being bowled out for 182 the bowlers responded and we won by 28 runs - Chris 3-39 and Tim 4-39.
That was as good as it got as we embarked on a series of drawn matches. Amersham Hill, greatly improved from the first game, powered to 238-8 with only Lewis 3-59 gaining some control. We were 6-2 but a stand of 138 between myself and Simon Goodrham gave us a sniff of victory before we finished on 201-6. Little Marlow proved obdurate opponents yet again. We raced to 234-5 - myself with 73 n.o. and Alan Kitley 49 - before our attack, less Chris Lowe borrowed by the first XI, struggled to make an impression and the game ended in a tame gram with Little Marlow 156-6.
Denham also hung on for a draw after we had amassed 259-3 from 49 overs with the Goodrham family in form - Simon 66 and Chris 50*. We took eight wickets but Denham held on. Wargrave turned out to be an amazing game. Played in Sahara like temperatures, our much vaunted batting line up collapsed to 99-5. In stepped Ed Pettman and Jackob from the agricultural college who used the mow to good effect. Ed showed class to suggest a bright future if he plays. Yet again we couldn't finish them off as they ended on 195-8 with Lewis Fisher being the main man with 6-54.
Next came Wraysbury, fast becoming a grudge match. We struggled to 152-4 with Chris Goodrham 73 n.o.. After some rain they ended on 114-9 with Tim 4-48 nearly turning the match on its head. Next came runaway leaders Penn who set out their stall for a draw to stop us gaining substantially on them. We made 200-9 and they spent 48 overs amassing 106-6 with not an attacking shot to be seen. Lewis takes another four wickets.
A win at last at Coleshill where we dismiss the home side for 153 with Chris Lowe 3-25. Once again our batting was shaky - against a team with something to prove following their earlier thrashing. We slipped to 110-7 before Paul Newman and Chris Lowe guided us home with three balls to spare.
So the scene was set for the last game of the league season with Penn having finished their campaign the week before, 15 points ahead. Nothing but a win would do. In the end we suffered our only defeat of the season as we were outplayed by a young Great Kingshill side. They made 247-7 and the rest was history as we were bowled out for 195 with Eric Lark making 48.
So Penn finished on 255 points, ourselves on 250 and Wraysbury on 249. Six points covering the top three sides.
All season we were never out of the top two but the run of draws coupled with my inability to win the toss proved crucial.
Whilst we relied on seven or eight players who were nearly always available, there were still a number of significant contributions from nearly everyone who played. The real concern of course is that the side is not getting any younger. Whilst there is no substitute for experience, the majority of the side are the wrong side of 45 and we did get exposed in the field on certain occasions. Whilst Neil Sood and Oliver Lowe made improvements in the season, we still do not have enough young players coming through.
On the batting front Chris Goodrham and myself scored 524 and 517 league runs respectively to finish first and second in the overall league aggregates. Chris, Lewis and Tim all took more than twenty-five league wickets to finish in the top twenty overall leading wicket takers. Lewis especially became a key player in our bowling strategy.
Eric and Bansi played one or two class innings but Bansi's back and Eric's horses meant neither played as much cricket as they would have liked. Alan Kitley gave me strong support as vice-captain and started the season with a lot of runs, in particular his match winning innings against Wraysbury. Paul Bannister kept wicket admirably and kept encouraging even though he often batted down the order which did not suit him. Paul Newman gave us his annual blast from the past with his effort at Coleshill.
Brian Wells, despite his ailments and hangovers, hardly missed a game and would bowl his usual ten overs very economically. Alastair Ideson unfortunately got injured but came back strong at the end of the season. Colin Callaghan also plied his dibbly dobblies to good effect whenever called upon. My thanks also to Ross Dunlop, Jon Wrapson and Simon Goodrham for their contributions whilst from first to second XI and back. Mark Forde also turned in useful bowling spells before decamping to the first XI.
Finally, my thanks to all the tea ladies, the scorers and umpires without whom we would not have had a season. See you in year 2000.
We were soon brought back down to earth at Ruislip Manor. The gallant Taplow nine, comprised of five men (the youngest being 48) and four boys (the oldest being 15), held on desperately for a hard earned draw against a very useful side. Gerry Mills (50) and Dave Holland led the way.
Back to winning ways against Windsor. Ian Kinrade (4-32), Laurence Brown (3-28), Gerry Bowyer (30) and Paul Bannister (37) saw us home by 8 wickets. As ever, at Frensham, Taplow contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, only Andrew Lavender (3-26) turning in a note worthy performance. Fingest the following week proved too strong. Despite a fluent 69 from Dave Holland a 6 wicket thrashing was the order of the day.
Spirits were rived by a splendid game against Marlow whose side ranged from 11 to 78 years old!! Paul Bannister (85), Jon Wrapson (4-6) and Andrew Lavender (3-36) led the way. Taking nine catches also helped. The icing on the cake was Ian Kinrade's dismissal of Marlow's star all-rounder with the Brockenhurst ball.
A first visit to Burnham's new ground yielded a draw with Dave Holland's 103 n.o. the highlight. Andrew Lavender and Jon Wrapson bowled steadily to take three wickets each. Chris Lowe (74) and Neil Sood (58*) were the stars in a 50 run victory over Holyport. Despite the captain and vice-captain attempting to lead the team to the wrong ground we still managed to beat Bledlow Ridge. Paul Bannister was in good form again scoring 64 but the guile of the Singing Dective (7-37) proved too much for a young side!
Pinkneys Green thought they were in for an easy game as the octogenarians took to the field. How wrong they were. Ian Kinrade bowled superbly again (6-33). Paul Bannister, returning to his roots, scored 67 n.o.. Ed Pettman flayed the ball to all parts of the ground and the 8 wicket win, if anything, flattered Pinkneys.
Paul Bannister's rich vein of form continued against Cookham Dean (43) helped by 35 from Andrew McKersie. Defending a modest total, Tim Isaac, Dave Thornley and Ian Kinrade bowled well, taking 3 wickets each and Taplow triumphed again. A strong side, on paper at least, crumbled against the Yateley attack. Only John Clark (34*) shone in a modest total of 134. This proved an easy target as only 3 wickets fell in the chase.
Rain deprived Taplow of a rare victory over Old Pals. Ian Kinrade bowled superbly again (7-58). John Clark scored 41. The weather was the eventual winner with the home side 30 runs short with overs and wickets in hand.
The game against Eversley resulted in a hard fought draw. Chasing 225 after a hard afternoon in the field Dave Holland batted magnificently (129*). Taplow finished 20 runs short against probably the strongest side we had faced all season. The final game against Datchet proved to be a fitting end to the season. As the game went into the final over all results were still possible. Chasing a total of 112 on a very wet wicket Datchet finished on 108-8. Ian finished his year with a four wicket haul. Mark Forde, making a rare appearance for the Sunday second XI ended with 3-10.
Finally I would like to thank Ian for all the help, transport and drugs he has given me this season.