I think it would be safe to describe the 2017 season as somewhat of a disappointment for the club. Whilst there are a number of positives that we must draw on, two relegations out of four Saturday sides was not the target we had set at the start of the year and there must now be a renewed focus to ensure that we are able to bounce back quickly.
The 1st XI started the season strongly, winning three of their first 4 completed games coming off the back of an unbeaten preseason. However injuries to key players, including our overseas Ash Streker who returned to Australia early with a recurrence of a back problem, and some patchy availability meant that the side was unable to get any sort of consistency going. A final day victory against Stapleton which included Lisle Durrans’ first hundred for the club sadly wasn’t enough to prevent them from dropping down to the B&D Senior Division for 2018.
The 2nd XI got off to a magnificent start to the season, racking up 363-5 at home to Old Down – Alex Harris making 94 and Steve Jacobs 123 as they won by 120 runs. Five further victories were to follow, with Alex Lee’s side tending to beat those around them in the table, ensuring safety with a week left to go in the season thanks to a win against Knowle which saw Jack Harvey pick up 3-12 in restricting the visitors to 192.
As he stands down after two seasons at the helm, I’d like to place on record my thanks to Alex Lee who took on the role when nobody else wanted it ahead of the 2016 season and performed admirably in difficult circumstances across both seasons. His willingness to blood some of our youth players at that level, a couple of whom have also gone on to play 1st team, is what I think gives us a positive platform to take steps forward next year.
The loss of Mark Beach to the 2nd XI and Paul Millward to retirement meant that the 3rd XI had a lot of runs to try and replace heading into the 2017 season. Despite the best efforts of Jon Sheeran in particular (2x hundreds – both unbeaten), that proved a bridge too far and once again a poor run of form in the second half of the season, only 1 win in 9, proved costly.
The 4th XI once again yo-yo’ed their way to a lower mid-table finish. Some impressive wins, including chasing down 236 in under 32 overs (Ewen Macgregor 97*), were backed up by some near misses (United Banks away, both games against Carsons & Mangotsfield). 13 year old Joe Durie’s first senior half century will live long in the memory – coming in at 25-3 on a drizzly afternoon and providing some much-needed stability as we eventually posted 217 against United Banks at home, enough to win by 20 runs.
The Sunday XI again had a mixed season, yet somehow ended up winning the Three Counties League title due to the number of games cancelled by the other sides in the league. The away game at Bath will be remembered by many, though curiously not by me, whilst the all-round performance of the year certainly came at Brislington where every member of the team contributed with either bat or ball to an excellent victory on a boiling hot day!
Our Ladies team had another good season, winning 5 of the 8 games they played including an 84 run win over YMCA which included captain Rachel Evans’ 3rd half century for the club and a 55 run win over Cam in which Denise Powell scored 50 and then took 4-10.
Off the pitch, I need to say a massive thank you to each and every one of our fantastic volunteers. Our captains do a tremendous job in leading their teams both on and off the field and the effort put in behind the scenes is fantastic, both from them and our Chair of Selectors Gareth Griffiths who is always happy to give his opinion.
Equally our youth coaches – particularly Alex Harris who steps away from his role as Head of Youth Cricket after a decade – all do an excellent job and give up their time selflessly in order to help develop the next generation of OBWCC 1st team players. Gaya Barnes also does an amazing amount of work behind the scenes to keep the youth setup so organised and deserves an incredible amount of praise.
I must also thank our Treasurer, Peter Matthews, who ensures we remain in a decent financial position; our outgoing secretary Steve Jacobs and social secretary Jon Sheeran for their tireless efforts both in their roles as well as across the club throughout the last few years; Will Penny, who has continued to badger people for money via sponsorship and the bonus ball scheme; Steve Williams, who once again took responsibility for the ground work parties; Randal and Sally Leonard for agreeing to host Ash for the entire summer; Richard Glynne-Jones for taking responsibility for ensuring we were successfully re-accredited by Clubmark; and Phil Thorn, for compiling the Club Handbook and ensuring we continued to meet our child welfare requirements.
I’d also like to record my thanks to Nick and Lisa, who once again fed and watered us fantastically throughout the season – the home made sausage rolls being a personal favourite!
12 months ago when I agreed to take on this role, I had very little idea what I was letting myself in for. Indeed some might suggest I still don’t. But with a thriving youth section, our increasing investment in coaching and some great volunteers, and I am confident that this club will be heading in the right direction before too long. Bring on 2018!