A bittersweet season for the 3rd XI that delivered a third successive promotion, but for some unfortunate circumstances would have also ended with back to back titles.
Looking at the low points in the season first we managed to get bowled out for 33 away vs Churchways, received an absurd 20pts deduction and had the last three league games cancelled due to the weather. We turned up at Churchways with just nine players so knew it would be a challenge, I then managed to stick my full index finger in the wicket (not sure I can call it a wicket) before losing the toss. Needless to say we were asked to bat, end of story! The 20pt deduction we received ultimately cost us the title, I’m not going into details but basically we disagree with the decision. I firmly believe that even with the points deduction we would have still won the title but for a highly frustrating end of season when not a ball was bowled for three weeks.
Enough of the low points and on to some huge positives and very enjoyable days. The opening game of the season saw myself and Hamish Macgregor at the crease with us two down for nothing, 150 runs later and we were in a commanding position. Hamish claiming his first senior 50 and batted beautifully. Our game against Frys was a cracker, we were chasing 175 to win with a very young side. Needing 10 off the last two overs I was in the middle and set on 92, we were favourites. Malty (as umpire) then decided to get in the way of the last ball of the penultimate over which was heading for 4 and victory. Needing 4 off the last Ben Harris and I scrambled a single before I threw my wicket away looking for a big finish, terrible leadership! A golden duck next ball left us need 3 off 2, Ben and Joe Cuthbert manfully ran two singles leaving the game tied. The way the two youngster handled the pressure was great to see.
We then hammered Frampton Cotterill, beat would be champions Bedminster by five wickets with plenty of time to spare and had a comfortable victory against Stothert & Pitt to leave us well placed. We then came up against old foes Downend in what turned out to be another great finish. Set a target of 166 and losing two quick wickets we kept ourselves in the game but gradually fell further and further behind the rate. Needing 10 an over from the last six overs Tom Rivers set about given his batting partner cardiac arrest, singles turned into two’s and two’s into three’s. A four from Randall Leonard of the penultimate delivery secured the victory and pandemonium, a mini pitch invasion on the bottom square! The following week saw us win easily at Old Down with Ollie Meadows scoring his maiden senior 50 and captain Beach with a massive jug avoiding 99*. The reverse fixture against Frampton was a completely different game, a great bowling performance from them meant we were restricted to 131. With the opposition sitting nicely on 98/4 in no time at all the game looked lost, that was until Kunal Barman game on to bowl with figures of 3.4-0-4-7. The wickets tumbled, the final four for no score and we had won!
Next up was Bedminster, a glorious day on an absolute road and lightening outfield. I had selected a strong side, which included a fit again chairman (well not fit at all but willing to play through the pain), and when we were asked to bowl I declared I would be happy chasing 275. We restricted them to 208 with a great bowling and fielding performance. Chairman and captain then set about winning the game with as little effort as possible, the first fifty of our chase was scored in boundaries. Even then the first single of the innings was walked!! I made my way to 111* and we chased down the total with 12 overs to spare. Bedminster would go on the win the league but two strong victories against them meant the moral victory was ours.
Other notable contributions during the season include Ben Harris with his first senior fifty and Ollie Meadows who on top of his elegant batting showed his all-round skills with some great leg spin bowling.
Special mention must be made for Paul ‘Malty’ Millward who after 30 odd years playing and being the stalwart of the 3rd XI has decided to retire and play golf. Malty is miles ahead on the club leading run scorer list and he has contributed a tremendous amount off the pitch as well. I hear that having seen his golf many are suggesting he has made the wrong choice!
2016 was my final season leading the 3rd XI, after many attempts Glynny finally accepted my resignation (presumably as he was standing down as well)! I have thorough enjoyed the last five years leading on the pitch, not so much the drain of trying to get eleven men on the pitch. We have given hugely talented youngsters their first tastes of senior cricket and every one of them has contributed to our successes. I wish the incoming captain, Tom Rivers, every success and am sure the 3rd XI will continue to go from strength to strength and provide a path into senior cricket for our talented youngsters and a stage for us older generation to still enjoy the game.