2017 was going to be a tough season with relegation being a massive issue for the 2s, 3s and 4s – with the 2018 expansion seeing 7 new clubs entering the league.
To lose one captain before the start of the season is awkward but we lost two – with the 3s captain out after being hospitalised and needing surgery and the 1s captain breaking a finger in the warm-up matches.
The 1s started the season well and adapted quickly to the limited 50 over matches and were top after the first 5 matches. However, the return to the 100 over win/lose/draw format saw the side fluctuate in fortune and in the end finish 6th. A season full of promise ended in a little disappointment but there is a lot of talent in the side which will serve us well for future seasons.
Four players scored over 300 runs for the season, Andy Murray 392, James Gamble 386, Ollie Dunnett 334 and Nick Sweetman 320 – with James Gamble making the highest score of 105 against Burnham 2s.
Kevin May led the way in the bowling department with 33 wickets and Andy Murray took 25 and Ollie Dunnett 23 to show their all-round capabilities.
Andy English took 11 catches and 4 stumpings while new skipper Jack Kendall pouched 9 catches.
The 2s were going to have a challenging season in Level 4. They needs to finish 6th or above to avoid relegation and for most of the season were in 6th or above but they then faced a crucial match in Week 15 when they were 7th and playing 6th placed Bagshot 2s in a 50 point match.
With a weakened team they managed to reach 161 all out thanks to 43 from Dan Corsini and a crucial 7th wicket stand between Deep Mohain 34 and Ralph Weeks 22.
Bagshot looked in control at 100 for 3 but then collapsed to 131 all out thanks to 5 for 48 from Tom Dummigan and 3 for 24 from Myles Trainor.
In the end the 2s finished 5th with Murray Barter top scoring with 391 runs, Mike Wyatt, Jason Carr and Saeed Ahmed all taking 24 wickets and Dan Corsini taking 8 catches. A good performance in the end which saw the 2s through to keep their place in Level 4.
The 3s started the season rather weakened with the loss of their 2 opening bowlers, top batsman and their captain. Early indications suggested that this would not be an issue but from being top in Week 3, by Week 7 they were in the bottom 2 and remained there for the remainder of the season, only finishing 9th due to a great win over Aldershot 3s chasing over 250.
Part of the issue was that over 48 players represented the 3s during the season and only one, Dirk Benneyworth, who gamely stood in as captain made 14 or more appearances with 15.
So relegation to Level 7 looks likely despite the fact that over 13 teams have now pulled out of the league during or after the 2017 season ended. However, there is a lot of promise, and some encouraging performances at the end of the season including wins over Farnham Common 2s and Aldershot 3s and a narrow defeat by league champions Sonning 2s in the last 4 matches indicate the future looks bright.
Dirk Benneyworth led the way with 269 runs for the season, Tom Dummigan with the ball with 21 wickets and Dan Mallett with 6 catches. A special mention to Marc Ames who batted in 8 innings and was not out in 8 innings!
The 4s had the toughest assignment – needing a top 4 position just to remain in the same division. However, the joint captaincy of Richard Wyatt and Chris Thomason ensured that they stayed in the top 4 the whole season and finish in a very creditable 3rd place.
John Dunnet led the way in the batting with 310 runs, and a special mention should go to Under 13 Joshua Jayasingh with 284 runs including a maiden 101 not out against Finchampstead 5s.
Naeem Mohammed led the way with the bowling with 32 wickets – and also won the Level 8 Bowling Award – an excellent season from a great all-rounder.
For fielding, our Omar Sharif look-a-like, and now undoubtedly the best Italian wicket keeper at the club led the way with 8 catches and 4 stumpings.
A solid season and one where while tinged with a little disappointment with the 3s being relegated, there was more than a silver lining with the strong gains made with the main excellent performances from the colts in the senior sides. We can look forward to 2018 with high expectations.
The one area we really need to look at is ensuring that players can commit to at least 14 league matches per season – as this was much lower than previous seasons.
A few thank yous to the following people who keep the club on track.
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, supporting the colts at matches and much more – we continue to owe a huge debt of gratitude.
Next, we say a massive thank you to Gary Abrams, who is standing down as Treasurer. Gary has served the club magnificently in several capacities including as 1st XI captain and his contribution has been massive. While he stands down we hope that we’ll continue to see Gary and Lesley make the tour of the Racecourse and Locks Ride grounds on match weekends.
A big thank you also to our wonderful tea ladies, and our officials, Gordon, Judy (again), Pamps, Dave and Ian.
Thank you to all the captains and committee members for their work in and out of season and also a special thanks to Mike Wyatt for undertaking the Weekly Cricket Programme.
To Mike Brown, many thanks for organising our summer tour.
And a final thank you to our groundsman, Tony King who has to organise so many wickets for seniors, colts and also County Age Group and his helpers, Myles Trainor and Will Ellison.
Our final thoughts go to the loss of another stalwart of our club – John Baker. We will raise a glass to you at our Annual Dinner. Cheers.