As always I will start by reviewing on the field. It is right to review this first as it remains and always will be the club’s priority.
At 1st XI level, it was as disappointing as it could possibly have been. Our pro, Thikshila de Silva, understandably took time to settle on his first visit to the UK. A change of captain early in the season as Pual Houldsworth stoof down, and our – correct – appointment of a young captain coupled with an -inexperienced 1st XI was always likely to contribute towards an inconsistent season. However, to finish second bottom and have to re-apply for election into the league can only be described as disappointing.
We did win more games than the previous season, but it must be acknowledged that in Division 2 we were playing a poorer standard of cricket than in 2018. To finish 11th out of 12 is not a great outcome.
So, the only way is up. We have 2, and we hope to possibly have 3 or 4 new faces looking for 1st XI cricket, joining or re-joining us, and competition for 1st XI places can only be a good thing.
John Seedle once again did an excellent job as coach, and continues to bring a far more structured approach to practice and 1st XI matchdays. Thanks to him for his support and services throughout 2019, and we are delighted to have him again for 2020 and hopefully for many years to come/.
I would personally like to thank Matt Oddie for taking on the role as captain, we believe the youngest captain in our long history. He will only get better as his years and experience progress.
Turning now to the 2nd XI, led by Russell Whalley. We started the seaon very well, winning 5 of the first 6 matches. But the bright start faded, and we finished winning just 4 of the next 14 league games, to finish 7th out of 12 in Division 2. Our 2nd XI is intended to be our breeding ground for future 1st XI cricketers. But the outcome of only one player under the age of 45 scoring more than 170 league runs, and nobody taking 20 wickets or more, is a cause for concern.
Finally, in terms of senior cricket, our 3rd XI secured a top-half finish, with our young players getting opportunities of developing their skills and abilities against good quality opposition. Now, I will be the first to admit I do not see as much 3rd XI cricket as I would like. Nonetheless, in our group of 7, we finished 3rd, winning 6 out of 10 games played. In the inter-group play offs, we lost both games to finish an effective 9th out of 21 which is still a good outcome. We are however one of very few clubs to offer a genuine 3rd XI team. The vast majority of clubs are only able to field a 3rd XI made up of 2nd XI players and younger 1st XI players. The gap between 3rdXI and 2ndXI cricket, particularly in Div 2, is therefore not so large, and helps keep the 2nd XI competitive at times of player unavailability
The most exciting cricket development of the year was in respect of ladies cricket. We are delighted to have our first formal ladies team, and rule changes are on the agenda at tonight’s meeting to place that team on a formal footing. Thanks must go to Vicky Cocken for getting this team off the ground, as we look to add to our offering for our local community. They remain however a small band of individuals which needs your help and support to help them develop.
Turning to junior cricket, we continue to surpass expectations of a club of our size, in our community, surrounded by multiple other clubs. Mick Deasey, and all the junior managers, do a wonderful job. Special thanks must go to everyone involved. We are acknowledged to be one of the top 3 clubs across all age groups together with Clitheroe and Lowerhouse. They have significant, multiple advantages over our club, and we operate in an area which is overpopulated with league clubs. Nonetheless we enter teams at all age groups, almost always in the top divisions available. The teams continue to challenge for honours at all age goups. The challenge for the club is to develop these players into long term 1st XI cricketers. This is difficult, as we also look to balance the interests and rights of other playing members to a meaningful game of cricket
To summarise ourt cricketing performance overall, there is obvious room for improvement, particularly at senior level. That will only come with hard work, dedication and commitment to one another. We need your help and support.