In truth, 2003 promised more than it delivered
in terms of league results. Only two wins from ten matches played was not
brilliant from the Fourth Eleven, even in a Third Eleven league.
It was however a most bizarre season, where batting often over-performed at this
level (including four scores of 180+ runs, in four games lost), only to be let
down by poor bowling. Before a bowl was bowled, key opening bowler Chris
Stark suffered a bad knee injury (foolishly playing football - shades of
yours truly in 2002) and did not play at all. Opening bat/medium pace bowler
Bob Ward also missed several games during the first part of the season
Brian Dury - Super
Key bowlers Tony Wilcox and Ken
Taylor bowled in almost every game, yet managed only nine wickets each at an
average of 35 per wicket, despite bowling consistently throughout. They deserved
much better. Yours truly was marginally 'better' with eight wickets at 20.37.
Other all-rounders like Mark Williams and Tim Rutter had good
performances with the bat, but inexplicably fared much worse with the bowl.
Thank goodness for super veteran Brian Dury, without doubt the Fourth
Eleven's player of the season, with 25 wickets at 15.36, and three lots of five
or six wickets in an innings. He was superb!!
Batting wise, Gareth Rees had an excellent season, topping the averages
at 28.5. Roger Davis, Tim Rutter and myself also averaged 25+,
with good support from Mark Williams, Bob Ward and Tony Wilcox.
Add to that, the excellent contributions from Tom Riley (72 & 0),
Chris Weeks (80) and Peter Sykes (32), and it is easy to see how
well the Fourth Eleven batted throughout the season.
Jack Hollinghurst - Good
season behind the stumps
Jack Hollinghurst is my nominee for the
best performances by a young player in the Fourth Eleven, where he was
consistent (and loudly enthusiastic) throughout the season as first choice
'behind the stumps'. Martin Somers stumped three but caught none, when he
very ably took over the role.
Chris Evans, Mike Smith and Jim Roxborough were the other
regulars in a side which often had an average age of 50+. In my view, this was
not a good policy, and one which the selection committee needs to address in
2004. Whenever a young player played well in the Fourth Eleven, he was promoted,
which I agree is progressive, but NOT if the player concerned then gets less of
an opportunity to bat/bowl in a higher team. This 'policy' also resulted in the
Fourth Eleven looking like (grand) dads army. This zimmer frame fielding did not
help the bowlers much!!!
I have very much enjoyed my three year tenure as skipper of the Fourth Eleven
(truncated by a broken leg). It is certainly an interesting position, especially
when the team on Friday night looks nothing like the one I selected earlier in
the week. It is to YMCA's credit that throughout the season we had a full side
for every Fourth Eleven game, and were also able to put out a Saturday Fifth
(Nomads) Eleven on several occasions. Genuine thanks to all those who helped me
throughout the season.
On a slightly less favourable note, I was sorry that Mike Smith was axed as
captain/vice captain at the AGM. Mike always works tirelessly for the club, and
he has been upset by this decision. However in elections, there are always
winners and losers, and the appointment of Ed and Dickie will at least lower the
age of the side.
Finally, I was pleased to win (comfortably) the captain's 'head to head' "double
wicket" challenge/centenary match against Shaun, helped no doubt by people
called Grant and Big Jim (who unfortunately were never available for the Fourth
Eleven during 2003. Maybe next season?).
Sir Robert (Bob) Britton
Fourth Eleven Captain