1XI Annual Report - 2010
2010 saw the 1st XI play in the HCPL for the first time in the club’s history. There was definitely a buzz in the air before the 1st game against Slough and despite being bowled out for 143, we bowled and fielded our socks off to record our maiden win in pretty poor conditions, showing the fighting qualities that got us promoted last year. Dougie King started where he left last year taking 6 high quality wickets and was ably supported by third seamer Ollie Richards who did a tremendous job filling that role in the absence of Tom Crick. Having lost Cricky to backpacking and Macka to the second team, we did gain The Morris brothers from Hillingdon and I think they gave us an added dimension with the ball all season, especially Dale with his ability to tie up and end. Having started the season in such wonderful fashion raising the expectation levels amongst the supporters, we went on a slide that was to last a good four to five weeks. Too many loose shots, indisciplined bowling and a general lack of smart cricket saw us slide down the table, leaving the supporters fearing the worst. This was swiftly arrested when we played Gerrards Cross. James Hammerton took it the GX bowlers to record his maiden ton with his timing impeccable in every sense. The skipper also found some form with the bat and Syke and Dougie bowled long inspired spells to nearly bring us a first win in 7 weeks. It was not to be as they held on with one wicket left, but this was to prove to be the turning point in our season. It gave us the belief that we belonged in the league and we further emphasised that a couple of weeks later by outplaying leaders Reading in every department only to have to settle for a draw, with Reading holding on with one wicket remaining. We sat second bottom at the half way point in the season with plenty of work to do to ensure survival.
We started the back 9, visiting our only conquest of the season so far in Slough C.C. We turned up to be faced by a recently capped Pakistani test bowler. But once again the top order battled hard with useful contributions from the lower order to post a par score of 218. As we had done against Slough in our first encounter we battled hard with the ball and were ably supported in the field. Syke’s superb one handed caught and bowled started us off and Dougie bowled an intelligent spell on an unresponsive pitch. The skipper managed to extract some turn and bounce to take 3 middle order wickets and despite a late challenge from the Slough lower order we managed to get a run out to seal our second win of the season and completed the double over Slough. We were back and the good cricket that we had been playing in the last few weeks was rewarded and translated into a much needed 25 points. Next up was Farnham Royal and a game we had targeted as a game that we could win. We fell back into bad habits and perhaps it was the comfort of a victory the previous weekend, but we just were not at the races and we lost by 4 wickets. We needed to beat teams around us and that meant a quick recovery as we had Dinton followed by Finchampstead. Both of these sides were also fighting relegation and these quickly turned into must win games.
We went to Dinton and luckily for us I got lost with Scotty on the way to the game and it meant that someone else got to toss instead, which needless to say they won. We started pretty well and our situation improved when their opening bowler pulled his ticker muscle on what was looking like a very long afternoon on a flat wicket. Somehow we only managed to get to 239 and had a job on our hands to get some meaningful points from the game. Again Syke and Doug started well ably supported by Dale and we managed to get another vital 25 points. The game also was the last for Olly Wilson in a Harefield shirt and he capped it off in fine style by producing a one handed pick up and direct hit at full pace. He is a great team man and will no doubt be missed by the club but on behalf of everybody I would like to wish Olly the best of luck in the future – as a recent father he has his hands full!
Next up was Finchampstead – win this and we were closer to safety. We scored a very competitive 269 and performed out of our skins in the field. The skipper’s 7-16 proving too much for the Finchampstead batting line up to handle. James Hammerton took two very sharp catches in close enhancing his reputation as one of the best close in fielders the club has ever seen and certainly a cut above anyone else in the league. A disappointing result against Falkland followed after we lost another toss and had to bat on a damp one. Thame Town was washed off and it the local derby against Gerrards Cross next. The mercenaries of GX turned up to play at the mighty Hares. Having been thoroughly dominated in the first game, GX knew they would be in for a fight. Doug started well removing their opener off the first ball of the day. Captaining the side in the skipper’s absence, Syke produced a masterful spell of bowling finishing with 6-58 of his 18 overs. 172 was the target and nobody was under any illusions that this would be easy. After a promising start by James and Matty Lench stepping up to open, we went from 51-0 to 120 for 8. Luke Baldwin had other ideas and played a superb hand to win the game single handed scoring 46 off 43 balls and showed everyone just why he is a regular member of the 1st XI. With his livewire fielding and ability to hit balls into gaps towards the end, Luke has proved a real asset this year. All this while I was ringing the chairman up for constant updates and when we finally got the winning runs, the family barbeque was interrupted by a loud roar, which the locals misinterpreted as the beginning of a Haka. It was an immense achievement to stay in the league in the first year and consolidate our position. We finished our season off in style thoroughly dominating Beaconsfield and then breaking Reading hearts in the final game of the season when they failed to chase 103 runs to win the league gain promotion. The skipper capped his final game in charge as skipper to get on the board again and a very fun post match party was had by all, especially as we had news that the 2nds, 3rds and 4ths had all won the league and managed to gain promotion. What a great year for the club. The best I can remember and one that I sincerely hope we can improve upon in the coming few years.
There were lots of outstanding performances this year – especially by the youngsters at the club. Jack Shiel scored his maiden league hundred against Dinton. James Hammerton opened his account against Gx and came close a few more times. Dougie King has gone from strength to strength and I hope he continues to work hard over the winter if he wants to get representative honours. Matt Lench showed he is a talent with some fantastic performances behind the sticks and Luke Baldwin finished a key game in a tense situation. It shows and takes a lot of maturity and mental toughness Olly had a quiet year but I have no doubts whatsoever he will be back. He is too good not to. What we have to bear in mind is these guys are still young and will become better and better as they get older and no wonder Harefield is fast becoming a team in the HCPL that nobody wants to play against. There are no weak links and the players in the 2nd team knocking on the door will ensure that this remains the case.
As you all know I have decided to step down and pass over the reins. So I want to take this opportunity as I have a few “thank you’s” to make (I apologise in advance if I have missed anyone out)–
The Chairman for showing confidence in me and therefore giving me the freedom to make decisions (and of course for the regular pick ups and drop offs from Denham, West Ruislip or wherever it was!!!). Macca for always being very supportive and allowing me to tap into his wisdom and for providing counsel. Custer and the committee for ensuring this club is what it is today – he performs a tireless task and does it better than anyone I could imagine. The skippers of the 2nds, 3rds, 4ths for always letting me have the pick of the players and giving me the inside word on some of the younger more promising players. Lappers and Baz for making sure all the teams were sorted out well in advance of Saturday. Tracey and Steve (mainly Tracey obviously) for the best teas in the league. Finchy’s post victory jugs phone calls to mini cab firms are much appreciated also. The Dog for his support and advice in the early days. Last but not the least I want to thank every single player I have played with for their effort levels; unflinching support and never knowing when were beat. None of our recent successes would have been possible if it wasn’t for you guys. A special mention to the big fella Syke, who has one of the sharpest cricket minds around and apart from being a terrific player, his influence on the younger guys is one of the key reasons there is such strength in depth at the club. He has been a huge source of support for me especially during the tougher times over the last year. I wish him every success in taking this club from strength to strength. The club is in great hands. Lets all get behind him.
Finally, a big thank you to Statto for his outstanding and much appreciated work on our behalf in he scorebox. Also for his match day administration which allows me and all other Club skippers to focus on the game and our teams. The fact that HCC is one of only six Clubs in the HCPL and TVL not to incur any fines this year is testimony to his hard work and efficiency.