There might be two more Test Matches to come in the Ashes Series, but for Deddington, the Season is, bar a final game for the Ladies at Charlbury on Sunday, at an end.
I am the first to acknowledge that it has not been a season of unbridled success for any of the teams, but I end the season in a distinctly more positive mood than at the beginning.
We started the season with the unexpected loss of three long-term members from our regular first team batting line-up; Gerry Duncan, one of the all-time best batsmen Deddington has had, our young rising star, George Welch and Lewis Bletchley, who had come through the junior set-up we had a decade ago and had become a big personality in the Club. We were also without Rammy, our regular First team skipper for several years, who had not recovered from a knee injury and needed to have an operation in July, ruling him out of the whole season.
First team responsibilities fell to Manny and Rob Preston and more generally to Rob, due mainly to an unexpected extended trip to India for Manny for family reasons. Many thanks to Rob for stepping into the breach and for all his support this season.
So, Not a good place to be for a team that has struggled to get two OCA sides out in the preceding two seasons. However an active recruitment drive, the return of some former players and continued support from the women’s section has supplemented our initial meagre squad depth. Having said that, the Club had to concede three second team matches and a full 22 was not always possible every weekend. We are not the only Club suffering in this way and the OCA League continues to loose teams and Clubs from its membership. At the start of the season the OCA, in recognition of this, tried to introduce changes to shorten games and make them more attractive to a wider number of possible players, but in general the Clubs resisted significant change, only reducing the length of Division 7 games from 45 to 40 overs. More probably needs to be done and at a point where any changes can influence the decision of people whether to join a club and play or not.
So, onto the positives. First, an enormous thanks to our largely unseen members, Mike Sinfield and Barrie Smith, our two Club umpires. Some of you may not know that for each team a club enters into the OCA League, they must provide a qualified umpire available for the season. Mike and Barrie have been the Deddington umpires for many years and without them, we would not be able to run two sides, however many playing members we had. As we have neutral umpires for each game, the opportunity for Mike and Barrie to socialize with the rest of the members is very limited. Hopefully the playing members will get the chance to say thank-you in person during the off-season at a club event or two.
Our drive for more players has seen a number of successes this season. Rob Barton played a little in 2018, but both he and his son Elliot have been regulars in the Firsts this year and deservedly so. Elliot’s game, both batting and bowling is developing well and Rob’s batting and bowling has been a real plus for the team this season. Richard Plumbe who also came to the club late in the 2018 season, decided that you are retired for a long time and that another Summer out in the middle was in order. His ability to hold-up one end with nagging accuracy was very evident in the Second’s away game against Kidlington. “My kind if wicket” was his pithy comment after going for only 20 runs in 9 overs in the game that got away from us and probably the “one we should have won”. I also appreciated Richard’s ‘senior Pro’ contributions on the field during games.
The real newcomers this season were Biswajit Neog, who has brought his enthusiasm, energy and skills to the club having approached us at the Windmill open day last September, Terry Moran, who has been a regular at nets this year, but unfortunately has not payed as many games as he and we would have liked because of work commitments, Daniel Court, who moved into Deddington during the Summer and has already become a popular and committed team member (just don’t get injured again playing rugby this season Dan), Paul Covacic and Lee Boswell and two of his four sons, Daniel and Dale, who came from Chipping Norton after the Sunday team which Lee ran there, folded. A special mention also to Jack Welch who decided he wanted to play cricket again after many years and who quickly became the ‘glue’ in the First team’s batting and the most committed member of the club with 13 games under his belt. A total of 138 runs and an average of 11.5 and a top score of 26, does not tell the whole story, as his stickability was a fantastic asset tone team. Jack’s game improved every week and his bowling was not easy to face as well, when give the chance to bowl.
Other returning, or more regular players this season were Stu Leece, who remained largely, injury-free all season and remains one of the best bowlers in the League on his day, Chris Buckingham, who’s season was cut short through a shoulder injury, Gary Friday, who again improved with every game he played and Hagrid himself, Adam Moody, who returned to Deddington after a couple of seasons and another child. It was great to see and hear Adam’s enthusiasm on and off the field again. Of the more seasoned club players, the stand-out performances were easy to spot, in a year where the general level was, to be honest, nothing to write home about. Dave Victor has his best season evs, as my children would say, particularly with the bat, where he scored 273 runs, had two 50s a top score of 84 and an average of 39. He also contributed with the ball, taking 6 wickets. Oliver Roberts just fell short of getting his maiden 100, scoring 96 against Wolvercote. He went on to average 25.5 and scored 196 runs in eight games. Evergreen (his word, not mine) David Webb also scored 196 runs in total and averaged 28 with a season’s best 65. And a mention for Al Collins, who averaged 24, the fifth highest in the Club in his six games, albeit he was not out in four!
On the bowing front Rob Preston bowled the most overs, took the most wickets and had the best economy rate of all the regular bowlers, on a par with Stu Leece. He also arguably had the best individual figures of 5 for 30 in the last game of the season against Wolvercote, including, incredibly, wickets with the first two balls of the game. Other strong individual performances were the 6 for 64 by Chris Buckingham, 5 for 51, including a hat-trick for yours truly at Stanton Harcourt and the 4 wicket hauls for Adam Moody, Biswajit Neog and Matthew Oldfield. Jonathan Watts bowled his heart out for the Seconds and did not get the wickets he deserved as did Kate Williamson. Dave Victor toiled for the Firsts and Ram and Manny Verma showed what we missed, in the few games they were able to play. Full averages published separately in all their gore and glory, click the link below for details!
But playing for Deddington is not about points, or averages as much as it is about spirit, enjoyment and sociability. Yes, we would all rather play better and win more, but playing is more than that. And in general I think that the spirit in the sides remained resolutely positive despite some real hammerings and repeated batting collapses. Players moved between teams without complaint in order to get sides out most weeks and despite personal failures, continued to rally the other team members during games. Thank you to all who contributed to the Club as, player, supporter, umpire, groundsperson and scorer. In particular I would like to thank, Andy Cork, Derek Boughton, Joe Roberts, Richard Holmes, Caz Ward (for her playing and immaculate scoring), David Webb, Rob Preston, Adey Bletchly and Rich Munro for their commitment to the Club and teams on and off the field. Special mention should go to Derek, who having agreed to move up to the Firsts for an away game against Shrivenham, did not get the message that the game had been cancelled because of bad weather until he arrived at their ground near Swindon! Sorry again Derek.
While the games have finished, there are still a few things to wrap-up before we say farewell to Cricket for another year. I will be asking for volunteers to help put the square to bed in the coming month. Please make some time if you can, as it spreads the load amongst those who do make themselves available.
We are also planning an awards/end of season evening in the next few weeks and we hope to see as many of you as possible there. The Committee would also welcome any feedback from members on any topic and also any volunteers willing to take on some of the tasks the Club has. In particular, with Bristol Street Motors ending it’s sponsorship arrangement, a new headline shirt sponsor would be very welcome and any offers of help or suggestions of where we may get this from would be very welcome.
See you all soon.
Chairman, Secretary, Groundsman, second team captain………..