2015 was a memorable season so how would the club follow that up in 2016? The only time the 1st XI had been in Level 2 they were relegated the following season. The same happened to the 2nd XI in Level 5. The 3rd XI are now playing in the division that the 2nd XI had just vacated so how will they fare? What will the 4th XI playing strength be in Level 8 this season?
So many questions for the 2016 season.
The 1s had a strong season, the lowest position in the league was 5th in Week 1 and they were vying for the runners-up spot, although promotion was unlikely as Henley 2s ran away with the league.
The match that I think sums up the attitude of the 1s this season was the amazing win away at Hurst. The 1s batted first and made 184 for 6 off 52 overs recovering from 45 for 4 with Ollie Dunnett, Will Ellison, Paddy Edrich and Andy Murray all contributing.
Strong bowling from Andy Murray with 5 wickets kept Ascot in it, but when Hurst went from 144 for 7 to 183 for 7 then the game looked over. But Kevin May got an LBW to make it 8 down. Andy Murray took his 6th wicket to make it 9 down. Still Hurst only needed 2 to win. But the last pair set off for a run but were run out for the 1s to pull out an amazing 1 run victory. Resilience like that will put them in good stead for the future.
It’s a team game but individuals make the difference. For the 1s, the batting plaudits go to Jack Kendall with 575 runs and skipper Nick Sweetman with 411 runs.
In the bowling department Andy Murray led the way with 32 wickets supported by Mike Brown with 27 and Kevin May 25.
On his return, Andy English topped the division with 19 catches and 7 stumpings and Nick Sweetman took 10 catches.
A final position of third capped off a good return to Level 2 and the 1s should be able to build on this in future seasons.
Despite the 2s previous experience in Level 5, there was some hope and expectation that they could make it a second consecutive promotion. In the end it became a three-way fight for two spots between the 2s, Bagshot 2s and Boyne Hill 2s.
Bagshot 2s became champions after only losing once – and only out of the top spot once during the whole league season. So it became a battle between us and Boyne Hill 2s.
In the head to head battle it was one win each. But the turning point in the season came in Week 16. The 2s were behind Boyne Hill 2 by 19 points. The 2s got 25 points with a 36 run win against Slough 4 thanks to a Henry Chapman five for. Boyne Hill were at Bagshot but lost by 9 wickets and only picked up 3 points.
So the 2s were ahead and in Week 17, both teams won to leave it to a final week decider. In the end the weather won out and the 2s won promotion by 4 points
The batting plaudits went to Joshua Oshea with 318 runs and Jeremy Wing with 301 runs. The bowlers were the strength though lead by Saeed Ahmed’s 36 wickets and supported by Henry Chapman 22, Jason Carr 21 and Joshua Oshea 18.
Tony King took 9 catches and 3 stumpings while Joshua Oshea and Myles Trainor took 9 and 7 catches respectively.
This was a great performance by the 2s over the whole season and shows the depth of strength that the club is now developing.
The 3s had made the dizzy heights of Level 6 after winning the title in 2015. The main objective was to avoid relegation for the season. But in the end, they so nearly took the second promotion spot.
With 8 wins and 5 draws the 3s became a tough outfit to beat. The only defeats were twice to eventual league champions Wargrave 2 and once to a resurgent Aldershot 3.
But in between there were some excellent performances which shows much promise for the future. The away win against Hurst 2 showed the never say die attitude that is now pervading throughout the club.
The stand out batsman for the 3s and in Level 6 was Jack Lunghusen with 684 runs including 118 against Boyne Hill 3 and five more 50+ scores.
Mike Wyatt led the bowling attack with 35 wickets supported by 17 from Elliot Coggins.
Jack Lunghusen took 11 catches and Dan Corsini with 7.
Third place was well deserved by a young team and again this shows great promise for the future.
In 2015, the 4s reached a very respectable 5th position. However, this season proved to be a lot harder as the joint captaincy of John Dunnet, Richard Wyatt and Chris Thomason tried to find a winning formula. Runs were difficult to come by as no batsman made more than 300 runs and Lewis Sullivan was highest wicket taker with 18 wickets.
However, a rally at the end of the season saw the 4s manage to pull clear of the relegation threat in 7th place with 200 points and 4 wins.
But the 4s were able to give some of our Under 12 colts their debut and Charlie Dunnett, Sam Negus and Joshua Jayasingh all making promising debuts.
In overall attainment then this was our strongest season ever. Some good performances all around and many of our younger players have made strides including Ollie Dunnett, Henry Chapman, Elliot Coggins, Daniel Mallett, Jacob Parry and Will Goderski.
Also, four years ago, in our Club Development Plan the objective was for the 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s be in Level 2, Level 4, Level 6 and Level 8 respectively in five years. We reached the objective with one season to spare and now we need to adjust our targets and aim even higher.
I want to end this senior season review with a few thank yous. Without these people there would be no club, and the following people are part of the heartbeat behind the season of the club.
Firstly, to chairman Mark Wiggett and Judy Wiggett. Without Mark and Judy many jobs would not be done, whether meeting with the Ascot Authority to discuss future plans, to managing and serving behind the bar, to scoring, to tea making and much more – we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.
Secondly to Nick Sweetman. We’re always grateful if members take on one role but Nick has undertaken three – 1s captain, Fixture Secretary and Grounds Chairman. In all three roles he has done a great job.
Next, we say a massive thank you to Lesley Abrams, who is standing down as Secretary after 15 seasons. It has been great to see Lesley and Gary support the home teams on a Saturday – and she has always ensured that Ascot has kept on the right side of anything that needs to be done.
A big thank you also to our wonderful tea ladies, Beryl, Marilyn and Judy – your teas are always much appreciated and our officials, Gordon, Dangerous Dave, Judy (again), Pamps and Ian Dummigan.
Thank you to our groundsman, Tony King who has to organise so many wickets for seniors, colts and also County Age Group
A big thank you to Richard Mallett. Richard is standing down this season from managing the Under 15s having seen them progress from Under 8s. Richard with Ken Allen and myself helped shape the Colts section and under Richard’s leadership several of our Under 15 players have made great progress at club and county level including his son, Daniel.
Thanks to Jason Carr for organising the Race Night and Jack Kendall and Andy English for organising the first Inter Club tournament, both raising significant funds.
To Ralph Weeks, many thanks organising our summer tour.
The final thanks goes to some people that we can take for granted week in, week out – and that is the committee that helps run the Thames Valley Cricket League. They help ensure that we get to play in a great league on great grounds. This is my 12th season and I’m still playing at new clubs and grounds.
While the cricket is nearly finished, there is still more that needs to be done, whether it is a committee role or raising funds for the new clubhouse. So, while I hope you enjoyed your season – it would be great if several of you decide to help and volunteer for next season.
The final thought goes to the loss of one of our cricket family – Jonny P. It just shows how fragile life can be. We will raise a glass to you at the 3s v 4s match. Cheers.