Secretary's Report - 2010
I used last year's report to review the Club's playing fortunes over the past ten years. I concluded that 2009 with the 1stXIs promotion to Premier League cricket was the pinnacle following a steady rise for Harefield Cricket Club. Little did we know what fortunes 2010 was to hold.
In 2009 the 1stXIs success in becoming a Premier League team was rightly celebrated but we recognised that the rest of the teams, especially the 2ndXI needed to improve their position in the TVL to support out 1stXI with players pushing for selection into the 1stXI. A target was set for the 2ndXI to gain immediate promotion back to Level 3 in the TVL. I'm pleased to report that, as we all know, this was achieved in some style as champions. This was backed up by our 3rdXI & 4thXIs also winning their championships in a season of unprecedented success for our club.
Being triple champions was particularly pleasing for myself and other officials, because whilst HCC has gained several promotions since joining the TVL in 1993, until last year we had only ever won one league title (Dean Wood's 3rdXI of 2001) and it was about time Harefield appeared on the TVL honours lists. Four titles in two seasons has got us noticed.
However, despite all these trophies, I still consider that the 1stXI being competitive and finishing in 3rd place in our first season at the higher level or Premier League cricket to be our most significan achievement in 2010.
I am proud of the continued progress of Harefield as a cricketing force in the local area. Our first team now play in a higher standard of cricket than all local clubs except Eastcote in Middlesex Premier Division 1, but their success depends a lot on the support from the County Club. We have got where we are today by developing and finding our own players. Harefield is a good place to be. The club spirit, friendliness and camaradarie between players, officials and supporters is the best I have ever known in all my years at HCC. No wonder cricketers want to come and join us. Long may this be the case.
The recent success of our club saw us attract new players seeking to improve their cricket in 2010 and in turn they have improved our cricket. This year we were joined by the Morris brothers, Hiren Patel, Deep Sara, Tom Waite and Simon Scott... Lads, you are most welcome and we have enjoyed your cricket. These new players, along with even more young colts playing senior cricket has meant I can properly hang up my boots. I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to walk around the ground watching, particularly the 1stXI in the HCPL, spending most time trying to keep our Chairman calm whilst our boys are batting in their usual cavalier manner.
I will briefly touch on the season's performance of our teams, leaving the captains to go into more detail on individual and game perfomances.
Most local experts who claimed to know the Premier League along with our Chariman and Secretary felt that HCPL survival to be all we should aim for. At the halfway stage we sat in the bottom two, having won just one match. It was at this stage the lads seem to get to grips with the new rules, the higher standards and grow in confidence, realising we could comfortably compete at this level. Premier League cricket is vastly different than what we have been used to in the TVL - the standard is much higher, playing rules and conditions are significantly different and it is no wonder we took some time to settle, especially with such a young, inexperienced side.
The team played aggressive and quite fearless cricket much of the time and were ultimately rewarded with a record of 6 wins, 5 draws and only 5 defeats. Whatsmore the cricket was thoroughly entertaining. Even the 5 draws finished with either us or the opposition 9 wickets down. When you consider that all this was achieved with a team containing 8 players under 21 and without Macca, the clubs leading batsman over the last 20 years, 2010 was indeed a quite remarkable season. Whilst Akshay, Mluleki, James and Doug consistently put in big performances, they were always well supported by the whole team.
Akshay had a brilliant season, scoring 545 runs and taking 30 wickets, as well as expertly leading the team. You will be aware that he has now decided to stand down as Captain after seven seasons in the job. In this period he has led the club and overseen massive change and improvement. He is the only player from the first side he skippered in 2004 still in the 1XI. Not particularly surprising as most of his current team-mates were in 2004 just breaking into the U13 colts (or playing Test cricket for Zimbabwe). The club's progress during his tenure of captaincy is down to his courage and belief in promoting our young players. Along with his attacking cricket, where he truly does lead from the front, he is simply one of the best players ever to play at Harefield with both bat and ball and an inspiration for those who play under him. An innings of 162 not out, out of 220 for an under strength side against Cove in 2005 and his recent 6-36 against Reading last year show his stature at HCC. I am delighted Akshay will continue to play for and support our club and would like to thank him on behalf of all cricketers for what he has achieved as Captain of HCC.
Finally the 1stXI's record in the second half of the 2010 season when we won five games and accumulated more points than all other League teams saw us finish strongly in a well merited 3rd place. This form tells me that if we start next season well, HCC can next year challenge for promotion to Division 1 and I confidently see challenging for promotion as a realistic target.
Happily the 2s bounced straight back to Level 3 by comfortably winning Division 4. The team was strengthened by the regular inclusion of club legend Richard McLeod and the return to form of Steve Quinn and especially Dan Evans, who I confidently expect to be pushing for a 1stXI spot in 2011. Captain Barry Webb, who suffered injury and 1stXI call ups was ably assisted by vice captain Paul Collett. A special mention here goes to George Shiel, who showed maturity and ability beyond his 15 years and will one day soon be a major player for this club. In the match v Princes Risborough George scored 92 and took 6-19 with the ball. I am struggling to recall a better all-round performace in one match during my 40 years at Harefield.
The thirds this year were captained by Robbie Evans and his first season as captain has seen the team rise to it's highest ever position in the TVL. A very successful season saw us promoted as champions to Level 5 with a weekend to spare. The transient nature of selection at this level meant that only five players played in more than half of the matches and the team's leading wicket taker took only 13 wickets. The success of the 3rds really does indicate the strength of the club and indicates a real team/club effort. The team was well led by Rob in his calm, nerveless and understated way.
After a steady first season in 2009, the 4ths, led again by Craig Collett, stepped up a gear in 2010 to be the only undefeated team in the TVL (170 teams). However they were pushed all the way by Farnham Common and did not secure the title and promotion to Level 8 until the final week of the season. As is our policy, we the 4ths, coninued to promote the young colts as the future of the club. There were many appearances and significant improvement and performances by the likes of under 14 colts Ryan Finch, Matt Ogden, Miles Pidgeon, Josh Brazier and Jordan McLeod, all again indicating a bright future for HCC.
Adding to this success, our Sunday XI were champions of Chess valley Division 4 and will next season play in Division 3. the Sunday XI has proved such a success that it has outgrown its original aim to play social cricket and provide games for some senior and colts players who may be missing out on a Saturday. It is now planned to address this by fielding a second Sunday XI in 2011 to make sure we can fulfill the orignal aim of the side. At first, in 2011 we will, numbers permitting, play only home friendly matches, but look to enter in the lower Chess Valley League in 2012. As ever the success of this venture is down to you the players being available to make it work. I know we can rely on your support.
Ground & Changing Rooms
Unfortunately we will have to go at least one more season without permanent changing facilities for our teams on the Dairy Farm. As explained at earlier meetings, our plans to redevelope the clubhouse for extra changing facilities is entirely dependent on renewing the club lease. Once this is done grants will be available to fund our plans. Such things unfortunately involve beaurocracy and take indeterminate lengths of time. We are nearing completion and ask that you bear with us and enjoy the portacabin in the meantime.
The long spel of dry and hot weather last summer meant the Dairy Farm pitch became dusty, crumbling and uneven towards the end of July. There was clearly a problem with watering & rolling. (The pitch did improve once the wetter weather returned.) The groundsman probably needs some assistance in his tasks at such periods. With this in mind, cricket committee members plan a meeting with Vinnie during the winter to make our requirements clear and indentify how we can assist him in his duties at any given time, but especially during periods of extreme weather.
Club spirit and camaraderie among the players continues as good as I have known it at HCC. Everyone of all ages get on so well. More players are supporting the club like never before, no longer leaving all the work to the "same old sods", more and more are prepared to give up time for:-
Cricket practice sessions throughout the year.
Working parties in 2010 supported by up to 30 players and parents. Thanks especially here to Jamie, Doug, Daisy, Quinny & Dan for putting up all the netting at the Dairy Farm.
The cricket week and Sunday XI are now fully restored to our fixture list.
The club is indeed in a very healthy state regarding cricket and it is all down to players commitment and effort, both on and off the field. Let's make sure it continues.
Our first season in the new Premier League has gone very well off the field as well. In general, opponents, umpires and visiting league officials have spoken very highly of our club, our ground, our catering and our team... Well done to all concerned behind the scenes, especially Steve and Tracey.
So far I have nothing to report on the HCPL - their AGM is not until January. I believe all registrations done last year remain valid for next season, except fo overseas players who need to be registered every year. I collected the 2011 fixture list yesterday...we start away at Reading.
I attended the TVL AGM yesterday evening. From 2011, matches will now start at 1.00pm (voting 40/10). Clubs in levels 1-3 now have to have covers for the bowlers run-ups (this is also a requirement of the HCPL) and fixtures will be posted on the website soon.
Letter received from the TVL congratulating HCC as one of only six clubs not to incur a fine in 2010. This is of course all to the credit of Paul Dean for his administration skills. Well done Statto, you are much appreciated and we are very lucky to have you at Harefield.
Selection seemed to run smoothly for much of the season. It should be remembered that the club has always run a selection committee with all captains discussiing selection of the weekends teams. I appreciate these days that communications technology has progressed and discussions and selection can take place by mobile/texts/emails, but the principle of committee should remain. Paul Collett has an important role in co-ordinating the selection committee. His duties are that of Team Secretary, a position which is a full club committee post. I feel it is appropriate that we elect this post onto committee later in the meeting as we always used to.
There was an issue that arose during the summer of what the club policy is towards playing membership, fees and selection. The main committee reminded those on selection that full paying membership is £60 (or £50 for colts) with no concessions and those that pay these subscriptions and are available for selection should be selected in front of those not paying the full fee.
I would like to thank on behalf of the players:
Steve and Tracey, Des & Kath for their excellent teas - without doubt they are the best on the circuit. Tracey deservedly won an award from Middlesex CCC for the best cricket teas in the County.
Timber for umpiring our 2ndXI and Phil Evans for umpiring the 3rdXI.
Paul Dean for his efficient scoring, administration and statistical work.
Vic Devers for his scoring and administration for our 2ndXI.
Steve, Tracey, Bob and the staff for pouring our beer.
Thanks to all those who are involved in our expanding colts organisation:-
Steve Finch, our Colts Manager. All the team managers, our qualified coaches and to the parents for their help and support of youth cricket.
Special thanks again to Mluleki Nkala, our popular overseas player for the time he has spent coaching senior club players as well as our colts.
We are also very lucky to have such active and valued support from parents of our colts and young players - particularly Sue & Steve Shiel, Mike & Heather Lench, Richard & Wendy McLeod, Pete Morris, Andy Hammerton, Tony Day, Lyn Andrews.....Thanks for all you do for Harefield CC it really is appreciated.
Momentum continues in the right direction here at Harefield, while many cricket clubs are struggling and suffering. It's taken a lot of hard work to get the club where it is today and I am sure these high standards will be maintained.