The 2007 season started in May and I was looking forward to my first season skippering the second XI on a full time basis. As we went on to the field for the first game against Winchmore Hill, I had realised my first error I had only picked 10 players. After 20 overs and with the score at 93-0 my decision to put them in was looking to be my second mistake, Winchmore Hill's stylish opening bat and Ed Headly batting well, I changed the bowling bringing our two spinners on to bowl and after we got the first wicket, Harvey went on to take 5 wickets as we bowled them out for 197. In reply our batting started well with Kieron and Charlie Kent putting on 49 for the first wicket before Charlie was out for 17. Kieron went on to make 55 and Young Dale showed how well he could bat with a top score of 57. It was left to Nick and David Heaton to see us home for a 4 wicket victory. We couldn't know then what a good score 198 was for the seconds but more of that later.
Onto the second game of the season with our confidence high, we travelled to Holyport and having won the toss on a damp day and made the appallingly bad decision to bat, we suffered as a consequence and 16-4 we were not in a good way. When Pasco was out for 29, we were 51-5 and collapsed to 107 all out thanks to Ben and Rob. Holyport cruised to victory by 9 wickets, with only Bone taking a wicket and only James Wiltshire bowling well.
Our next match was home to the new boys in the league Little Kingshill. Having been asked to bat, we again started poorly but having recovered to 64-3 our lack of application showed as we were 99-9 with Nick Heaton batting really well but Bone walking to the wicket. Much to our amazement Bone stayed at the crease as Nick compiled a great 78 as they shared the largest 10th wicket stand in the league and got us to 160.
In reply we opened with Bone and myself and after 10 overs they were 26-3, with Bone bowling particularly well. Wickets fell steadily but a resilient 9th wicket stand was broken by Bone who finished 4-27 and we gained victory by 46 runs.
On to our 4th match where "As good as it gets" came into his starring role, I won the toss and asked Penn to bat and after 10 overs we were wicketless then some running and calling that Inzi would have been proud of led to a run out, Ross then preceded to take 7-38 with a great spell of bowling Penn having 6 ducks. Our reply had our usual early wicket but with Pasco and Bansi playing well we looked assured until at 83-2 Bansi decided that he would audition for Strictly Come Dancing and was stumped by 5 yards. We lost 3 more wickets until the skipper smashed the 6 required off one ball.
Next was our trip to Great Kingshill and the fun and games started with our journey over there. Geoff Court taking a route that broke three sat navs. Again Ross was our star man after I won the toss and invited our hosts to bat, a wicket in his first over showed what was to come as the great man took 7 more wickets for 53. This was aided by some brilliant catching and outfielding which was becoming the norm. We needed 103 for victory, Taplow started as usual by this time and we were 34-4 until cometh the hour cometh the man and a great 52 from Bansi with no dancing made sure of a 4 wicket victory.
After our bye week and tour we were leading the league with 4 wins from 5 games and our out cricket was superb our batting not. We faced Chalfont St. Giles next at home. We lost the toss and were asked to bat, I suspect you can guess what happened next as we lurched from 36-3 to 73-6 after half of our allotted overs with yet another 20 odd from the helmetless Pasco. When Kieron was out at 106 Craig Ainsley came to the wicket and made a useful 27 and we managed to score 173 off 47 overs. In reply we started well with Ross and the Time Lord taking an early wicket each then the spin twins of Pasco and Salty bowled and wickets began to tumble reducing Chalfont to 130-7. With Salty bowled out and Pasco getting tired Chalfont were now 14 runs from victory with three overs remaining when the greater talented Kent was asked to bowl, he took a wicket with his 3rd ball and we were back in with a chance, the next over Pasco took a great catch off Nick Heaton's bowling and with an over to go all four results were possible they needed 4 runs, after a single off the second ball Charlie then bowled the number 11 and we had won by 2 runs.
Our next game was away to Little Marlow, and we were asked to field. Ross again bowled really well to take 4-56 but it was our worst fielding performance of the year as countless catches were thrown down by most of the fielders and the innings was closed we were set a daunting 258 to chase. As we sat down for tea the sky got darker and then the heavens opened, the game had no chance of surviving lucky for Little Marlow as we would surely have got 258!!!
Next a game against Wraysbury at Ten Acres and after being invited to bat Ross took a wicket in his first over, but Wraysbury batted well until the introduction of Nick Heaton who bowled a great spell and took 3-19 with Ross taking 3-54 and we had them at 71-6, they put on a partnership of 30 odd for the 7th wicket before Salty and Bradley wrapped up the tail and we had bowled them out for 133. Next came our innings and yet again it was callapso cricket at its finest we were 78-7 with Bondy making a good 29 and defeat looking probable with Bradders and Ross at the crease, after some lusty hitting and with 17 needed to win Bradders was out for 20 but with Ross at the crease still every chance of victory, after another couple of lusty blows the scores were level and a single would suffice but for some reason Ross decided that a six would be the best way to finish the game and was caught, James walked to the wicket to join Harvey, well at least we cant lose, Harvey then chips a ball to square leg, two players run for it the collide the ball is dropped the batsman run and Taplow win by 1 wicket.
We are now halfway through the season and we have 6 wins, a loss and a rain affected draw, our batting has generally been awful our fielding and bowling have been of a good standard but now the first XI are starting to need our players and we have to turn to our younger players. Holyport at home next and our 4 spinners attack. Ross again opens the bowling and takes early wickets as we reduce them to 46-3, but it is the introduction of Bradders that turns the game as he mops up the last 6 wickets for 27 runs and we bowl them out for 142. We go out to bat with an achievable target to chase, but we collapse to 36-6 and when Ben is out for 22 we are 54-7 and finally are dismissed for 84 with only 3 double figured scores.
Next it's the return match with Chalfont St. Giles and on a damp track, the norm for the season, we are asked to bat, our openers put on a respectable 38 for the first wicket but when Nick is out for 22 it all goes downhill again, Ross's 30 at number 9 proving invaluable as we get to 109 and a batting point. Fortunately God is watching over us again and it proceeds to rain for an hour or so, Chalfont desperate for a win, go to great lengths to try and rescue the game but after lots of effort, we get a rain affected draw.
The last Saturday in July sees the visit of Penn & Tylers and I decide with such a strong batting line up that we should have first go, do'oh! We totally collapse yet again scoring 84 off 34 overs on a good wicket Penn bowl well, we bat dreadfully. I decide to bowl with spin and get a few wickets and rescue a couple of points Bradders and Salty bowl 25 overs unchanged and we have them at 65-5 when Pasco takes 2 wickets in his first over and it is game on at 67-7, There skipper Morris then bats well and gets Penn over the line with an unbeaten 22 the highest score of the day and we lose by 3 wickets.
For the next game we travelled over to Wraysbury on an unusually pleasant day for this summer. After winning the toss I invited the opposition to bat, it was an historic day for Taplow as we fielded our first lady cricketer in league cricket and Alice showed her worth with a hand in the first two dismissals a run out and a catch. Wraysbury batted well on a good track and we bowled and fielded well with Billy Moffat taking 3-21 and restricted Wraysbury to 241 all out. We batted and it was all over after 5 overs. The only two batsmen to offer resistance were Bondy and Alice, the only disappointment in the whole match though was Wraysbury's bowler celebrating the wicket of Sachin Tendulker when in fact he had bowled a 13 year old girl! That aside everyone tried but we were all out for 67.
Englefield visited us for our next game and playing one of the bottom two our hopes were high, Again we had a young side out and we put them into bat, Nick and Burgers bowled well and tightly but the openers put on 76 for the first wicket. At this point it was Harvey and Salty bowling and they took all ten wickets Harvey 6-55 Salty 4-42 as we dismissed them for 166 a very good effort including a magnificent catch from James Martin. We had a total to chase, then after 3 overs we were 6-2, to follow a theme wickets fell steadily after James Martin was out for 23 and we were 79-8, all hope was lost, Burgers being a typical Aussie (no not a convict) showed determination and resilience and after Salty was out at 105 began a partnership with Harvey that had Englefield worried but on 35 he was adjudged lbw and we had failed by 31 runs.
Next match Winchmore Hill, Rain affected draw. Didn't play
On to the next game at home, we had lost the last 4 completed games and selection problems were again evident as we only had 9 players at the start of the game and 10 by the 6th over. Great Kingshill won the toss and decided to bat. Great Kingshill's openers batted well and put on 132 for the first wicket. Again Billy bowled well at the end of the innings and fully deserved the figures of 3-30. The score of 263-8 did look a long way off. Our reply started in the time honoured way, we were 15-2 in the 5th over but Phil MacLeod and Ben put on 40 and things looked steady, those two were dismissed in consecutive overs which brought Bansi and Alice to the crease, they too batted well, Alice in particular playing their young quickie very well until he dismissed her with his last delivery. We lost out next 4 wickets for 1 run, all out 93. Relegation was starting to be a concern.
Next game Little Kingshill, lost. Didn't play.
The last game of the season and the threat of relegation had been lifted through other results and we welcomed Little Marlow who needed a 30 point win to stay in the division. After winning the toss I took a brave decision and asked Little Marlow to field. The first wicket fell on 28, there was then an 80 run stand between Ben and Tom Allen playing just his third game of the season, Ben unfortunately got himself out for 49 and Tom made a good 54 and we were 163-3 with Charlie Kent making 45, Bondy looked great in making 35 n.o. as he saw us to 237, our first score of over 200 in the 16th and last game of the season. Opening up on a turning track with Harvey and Salty, our new keeper for the day Joe Godding was in the action in the 3rd over holding a catch off Harvey who by now had reduced them to 5-2, a wicket in the next over saw them reduced to 8-3 and we sniffed victory. Wickets fell regularly and at 90-8 with Brian Robinson unfortunately retired hurt, we just needed one wicket with 26 overs remaining. Steve Shore batted well for his 54, but in Harvey's last over he edged one to Joe behind the stumps and Taplow had won by 99 runs. This meant Little Marlow were relegated, unfortunately, and we would love to see them back in Div 1 asap.
All in all a very mixed season for Taplow second XI, but with better availability and our younger cricketers maturing and playing better cricket and a few of our old warhorses there to assist, I look forward to challenging for the 2008 title.
I would like to thank everyone who turned out for me this year. Special thanks to George Taylor who umpired almost all the games. He had a particularly good view of our batting performances throughout the season. Finally, thanks to Iris and all the tea ladies, best teas in the league as always.