It is safe to say that the list of players that I inherited at the end of the 2016 season and the list that I had the start of training in the winter could have been more different. Sadly, we lost Prabhakar and Felix back to various parts of the world, Ben Park would be at University for a large portion of the season. Andy Jones had announced his retirement from first team cricket to pursue a career as the 4th team captain. Henry was still wondering round Exeter in his pants unsure on how many games he would be able to play (3, it was 3). I was also disappointed to learn that after 15 years and 600+ games Joe Jarvis and Jamie Pemberton would be leaving us to play for Old Rutlishians.
Despite all this, thanks to a fantastic recruitment drive from Mike and some luck of players finding our club before others (and one returning old face), we acquired 6 players that help our title campaign. Justin Pretorius, Tom Pickup, Chris Tune, Max Manley, Andy Lessiter and after 7 years away Jonathan Opie.
This mixed with the huge amount of work done by Chris Notton on the pitch built the promise of wonderful season.
To the league
League Record P 18 W12 D1 L4 with one game abandoned
Stepping out onto the field in early May, none of us could have expected the season that was about to be set in motion. Our first opposition for the season was newly promoted Sheen Park, a team we knew little about, but with the advantage of being able to start the season on the green. Winning the toss and deciding to bat, we were about to discover what this new look Thames Ditton side (5 players on debut) was made of. After 4 months of complaining I agreed to allow Hamza to open the batting and boy did he deliver (caught at cover….for 0….first ball) despite this we mustered 248- 9 from our 45 over due to fantastic 50s from Oli Williams and John Annable. In reply Sheen managed 174-9 with all 5 of our bowlers getting wickets and one from a run out.
Our Season was underway; for those who follow the crazy structure of our league you will know that the first 4 games are limit overs, then 9 timed games, with the final 5 limited overs games to follow.
We had found a winning formula in the limited over game. It was simple. Bat first, get a big score, then bore the pants of them with ball so they couldn’t score any runs. ( Genius Eh?) in 4 out of the 5 opening games we had scored over 200 batting first: sadly the next game was rained of ( Claygate away) and when we stepped of the pitch after just 10 overs we were 91-2 with Mike 53* and John Annable 17* ( neither of these would be the most Memorable innings against Claygate).
We then swept past Ripley (269-7) with a brilliant 102 for Mike a quick fire 40 (31) from Hamza and a maiden club 50 for Justin. Despite the nice weather and beautiful deck the opposition still fell 70 runs short of their target with Max Manly taking 4-26 in his 9 overs. A similar job was put together against Horley at home batting first we went from 68-4 to 163-5 due to a brilliant partnership compiled by Hamza 67 and Max Newbold 47, we finished on 203-8. Thanks to some tight early bowling and an interesting run chase plan from Horley meant they would finish on 189-7 (M Dixon 3-37)
Onto the timed game, a format that we famously have struggled with over the years, but with this many new players in the team it would prove to be slightly different this year.
Old Tenisonians was first, recent relegated I remember telling Tom Pickup that they would have the best bowling line up in the league. 236-8 off 42 would prove either how strong we were or how little I know about cricket. A second century of the season for Mike (this time batting at 4 due to Delhi Belly) and starts from O Williams, Tom and Hamza saw us to a good position. In reply Tenisonions could only muster 144 with my PB of 5-29 and wickets from everyone else as well.
Frimley would prove to be the first points we dropped this season, batting first (again) we posted 257-8 with a stunning inning from Chris Tune seeing him scoring his maiden 50 and joining the 95 club. A late innings cameo from Max Manley 43 and a swashbuckling 21 from Warren meant our confidence was high again at the break. Sadly despite the best efforts of Justin 5-51 we failed to win having 9 overs to take the last wicket.
Back to winning ways the following week saw us back to winning ways, finding ourselves chasing for the first time this season Southern Rail posted 184 (Hamza 4-44). For a team that has scored 200 in every completed innings this proved an easy task with Tuney Scoring consecutive 50s and Jon Opie /Max Manley with an unbeaten 45/23.
Unfortunately our 7 game unbeaten streak came to an end over at Wandgas, despite them only posting 168 ( C.Dixon
4-42 Tune 4 Cts) the batting let us down for the first time with only Chris Tunes third consecutive 50 getting stuck in seeing us collapse from 71-2 to 145 all out.
Very quickly the woes of Wandgas were forgotten, bowling Effingham for 150 (Hamza 3-30) and chasing it just 3 down Ollie Williams swanning into the team for his 56* and Tom Pickup with 40*.
On the same day as England would beat Sweden we faced Claygate in a top of the table clash. Batting first they set us 181 to win, against a very tough bowling line up. Just 39 of the 51 overs were needed to win with 5 batsmen scoring 20+ (Max Newbold 37 and Tom Pickup 35) were key but all these innings were overshadowed by a well worked single off his legs by young Nic Corvi on Debut to see us win by 4 wickets.
The ups and downs of the timed game continued with a loss that is better forgotten at Sheen Park.
On the ropes again away at Horley we were 112-7 and if it was not for a valiant 47 stand from Jon Opie and Tim Sweeney this could have been devastating for out campaign (we finished on 167) . At 95-4 we once again found ourselves in trouble, but the new team does not give up easily and 7 wickets between Mike and Justin with catch of the season from John Annable and a nervy caught and bowled from Mike saw us win by just 4 runs.
Back to proper cricket
5 games and any 2 of 6 teams could go up, us still in the driving seat.
A more than controversial win at tenisoians chasing down 174 saw Tom with his maiden 50 (67) and us scrape to victory by just one wicket. This game also marked the career end of long standing member Adam Terrington who signed off with 27.
Frimley came to us with a team that showed no fight what so ever, bowled out for just 88 (C.Dixon 3-25) and beaten by 10 wickets in just 8.5 overs ( Mike 48* Hamza 32*)
A slip up against Southern Rail brought the league even closer but with three games remining it looked like it would be between us, Wandgas and Claygate the two promotion spots. It was simple, win the last two games and not only promotion but the title was ours, but any slip ups and we could finish 3rd. The math and fixtures meant it was nearly impossible for us to finish 2nd.
So how do you start a must win fixture against Effingham? That’s right you get yourselves 8-3….after all why would we have wanted to do it the easy way? Fighting back to 90-3 again we made hard work for ourselves falling to 116-7 including an Ollie Park 1st ball duck after moaning his way back into the team. 67 from Mike and 39* from Jopie ( as well as a wagging tail) saw us to 187.. Job done you say? Oh no no no, when relegation spot Effingham were 76-0 once again we found ourselves in the corner. If it was not for a brilliant spell of bowling from our senior players Mike and Jopie who between them bowled 9 overs 7-52 including 7 wickets for 25 runs and a catch from Ollie park that knocked him off his feet. Brilliant death bowling from Dave Morgan and Tim Sweeney saw the visitors wain to 142 all out.
So 1 game, 4 points, league champions. 0 points, claygate win, we finish 3rd. Simple
What more could any league want but 1st playing 2nd on the last day of the season.
With all this at steak and the whole club behind us, our team assembled early at the green to set up and get ourselves prepared. It was to great shock that we turned up to find a colts game not only on the green, but playing on the strip that had been prepared for our title clash in the afternoon. As angry as we were we politely moved them across strips and asked them to get a move on, I also gave the instructions that nobody was to tell Justin what had happened. Losing the toss they stuck us into bat with the hopes of bowling us out for less than 120 and chasing it simply. Our batting line up had other plans, 36 overs it took us to win the league that day, a 115 wicket stand for the 1st from Mike and Dave(37) and a 3rd hundred /player of the season winning innings from Mike (112) as well as some quick fire runs from O.Williams (20) Tom (32) Jopie (12) saw us post a mammoth 240-4.
The league was ours, how do you get a team that has already won the league motivated to go out and field? You tell them the quicker we get this done the faster we can get the champagne out. The Atmosphere in the field was electric but slow at the same time ( somehow ) in reply Wandgas managed 207-7 the pick of the bowlers being young Tim Sweeney who took 3-34 and Dave 2-22. Ollie Park also got his first league overs of the seasons and bowling to a batsman who so far had managed to average 4.2, Took 20 off the two overs he was allocated.
Due to Claygate managing to pick up just 2 of the 5 points they needed Wandgas could celebrate too as they had gained promotion.
Finally from this never ending season report I would just like to say a few thank you’s.
Thank you to all the players that came into the ones this season and having the patience with me while I found my feet in the first season of my captaincy.
Thank you to Nick Darby and Wez for umpiring the games that Chas couldn’t.
Thank you to Sue for doing the teas and keeping our players well fed at the interval.
Thank you to Pat and Ian as well as Kayley who were our supporters of the season, coming to the games whenever they could.
Sadly we lose two people from our set up before next season, Chas has announced his retirement from umpiring so many thanks to him for his number of years of services to the club and Justin back to South Africa he will be missed in the field and in the bar (when he was allowed)
Onto Next Season
1st XI Captain