Well it’s been a funny old year………what with one thing and another.
The December weather is appropriately dismal as I write this, but the days will soon start to lengthen, the COVID vaccination programme is underway and we have 5 days coming up to entertain friends and family.

2020 – Desolation Row It is difficult to believe that it was this March when we had three weeks of indoor nets at Sibford school, we had arranged a full refurbishment of the outdoor nets and plans to start work on the square were well advanced before everything changed.  At many points through the Spring, I, among many, doubted that any recreational cricket would be authorized for the whole year, but in Mid-July the prospect of some cricket became a reality, albeit with a host of new regulations and restrictions.  A full, or even shortened League was not possible in the time available and not all clubs and teams were able to participate, so the OCA organised their historic cup competitions into a series of mini-leagues, loosely based on the previous divisions and location.  Outdoor nets were authorized to start in June, in groups of 6 and we had a big demand for slots, so we ran two open and a women’s session each week.  Players seemed delighted to have an outlet from the weeks of lockdown and some sort of normality.
We entered one combined team and played seven matches in the cup competition, generally against teams from higher divisions than either of our two regular teams.  Unsurprisingly, despite a couple of close games, we came second in each one, but it was great to be playing again.  We also had the bonus of three friendly games on the final three Saturdays in September.  Luckily the weather was good for each one and it also gave us a chance to provide game time for all who wanted some.  We fared better in those games against Bodicote, Sibford and Ascot-under-Wychwood, with two wins.  
The season was also marked by an encouraging number of new or returning players, notably, Kieran and Dan Rawlings, Alex Bull, Will Gilbert, Paul Lazenbury and Adrian Victor, bother of Club stalwart, Dave. ( I’ll leave it to you to decide which is the younger sibling).
The season was a too short to consider player averages, the good and not so good ones, to any great extent, but there were a few notable performances.  Oliver Roberts continued to bat consistently well, when he was able to play and has the capability of accelerating when needed in an innings.  Paul Lazenbury proved to be a fine talent with both bat and ball. Elliot Barton, when over his broken finger, developed some real pace and was becoming a handful in our ‘lively’ nets and out in the middle by the end of the season. Adrian and Dave Victor, both put bat to ball effectively at times and Stu Leece, Rob Barton and Rob Preston all bowled some excellent spells and probably did not get the wickets they deserved.  Newcomers Alex Bull and Will Gilbert also improved with playing, encouraging for next season. Finally a mention to Andy Cork, for his stunning brace of sharp catches at first slip in the game against Bodicote and to Dan Rawlings for his fine catch at backward point and some good bowling against Sibford. The Women’s section faces similar difficulties to the men, with all league events cancelled, they were left to arrange friendly games where they could.  The off-on nature of the season made it difficult to create a strong commitment from some players, for a number of sides, Deddington not excluded, so in the end only a small handful of games were played and the regular squad number has dwindled to around 7.  The ECB are committed to developing women’s cricket, and hopefully a season without disruption will see numbers grow to a more sustainable level in 2021.
So, to next year, with encouragement and the hope of a return to a more normal season to come.  

The times they are a’ changing
Change is coming however, for, as most of you will know, the Oxford Cricket Association League has amalgamated with the Cherwell League. This means a new league structure for 2021, new playing formats and new teams to play for both Deddington teams.
I won’t list all the changes we will see, but here are few key elements.

-The new combined League will consist of some 176 teams, divided, roughly, into divisions of 10 and regionalised below division 3 into 5 tiers of 2, or three divisions.
-All of the OCA teams are in tiers 4-8 with a mix of Current Cherwell teams.
– Matches are 45 overs a side for tiers 6-8 and are a mixture of win/loose and win/loose/draw games, with different point scoring and playing regulations for each type.  These regulations are generally around over limits, fielding restrictions and what constitutes a wide. This introduces more variety to the season with Captains and players having to adapt in style and tactics.s
-Games start at 1pm as did OCA games.
Umpires are not necessarily from a pool of independent officials.  We and our umpires have a choice, which could be an advantage for us next year. (See umpires below)
The two Deddington teams are in the B divisions of Tiers 7 and 8 respectively, so only one level apart.

The Cherwell League has details of the match rules and divisions on their web site which can be found here:- https://www.cherwellcricketleague.com/index.php

Homesick Blues So what does this all mean for Deddington CC? In many ways, not a lot should change for Deddington in light of the League changes. The Committee did look at alternatives to joining the new structure, such as applying for the South Northants League, but on balance we thought the best option for the Club was to move with the rest of the OCA to the Cherwell structure.  Based on the provisional divisions, our travel-time to matches will be reduced, with an average distance for our Division 7B team, 14 miles and even less for our Division 8B team. (That assumes of course, that you are starting in Deddington, not a given with our Taunton, Milton Keynes, Bicester and possibly soon to be Evesham diaspora).On the Umpire front, it is very sad to report that Barrie Smith, who has given the Club fantastic service and support for many years and his wife have endured repeated and serious ill-health this year. None of it is COVID related from what we know, but we have lost a loyal Club member. Mike Sinfield, our other umpire, has been shielding this season, but subject to vaccines and risk levels, hopes to resume next season, which is excellent, but it does mean we are on the hunt for another regular umpire and as a contingency measure we need to increase the number of players who are comfortable umpiring on rotation.  I know some people have already embarked on the basic on-line umpire course, which is great.  The Cherwell rules on umpires favour our situation compared to the OCA, as non-playing player umpires are allowed and they can travel with the team and not have to officiate another game.If anyone knows of a possible permanent umpire, or someone who would like to consider it, please contact me.  Likewise, if you are willing to umpire the occasional match as well as play in the teams next year, let me know.  I can direct you to the on-line training, which is quite handy to know as a player as well and is a good thing to do during the long Winter evenings.As you may also know, the Club was fortunate to receive some emergency funding from the ECB and Sport England to help us make up for lost income and sponsorship money.  These funds have been essential, and ensure that we have stable finances coming into 2021.  Kate Williamson, our Treasurer will provide more information for the AGM. There were a few conditions attached to this and so we will be recommending at our AGM some changes to the Constitution of the Club. This is mainly around recognizing the need for a Welfare Officer as a Club official and adopting a number of policies around the welfare of children and vulnerable adults who attend Club activities.

Dates for the Diary
Please make a note of the following date and time for the AGM. 
Please put the following date in your diary, Friday January 15th at 6.30pm.  By necessity it will he held via Zoom and a Zoom meeting invitation will follow soon along with the agenda, reports and proposals. If anyone wants to stand for the committee or player positions, please let me know by January 10th, so we can inform other members. 
Also that evening, at 7.30, David Webb and Joe Roberts are running a topical and fun-packed quiz on Zoom.  There will be some top prizes to be won and other special elements are planned, so watch this space for more details.  It would be great to have as many of you as possible on the call.
Well, that is more than enough from me.  Can I wish you and your family a wonderful and safe Christmas and thank the rest of the Committee and those who have helped with the ground and other, off-field activities for their hard work and support in such difficult circumstances.  Here’s to a better 2021 and I wonder if Bob Dylan is up for joining the 49 Club?

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