2018 started as 2017 had ended, with seemingly constant challenges around raising a side and with us therefore having to concede 2 of our first 3 league games. Indeed, I didn’t captain a 4th team until our trip to Thornbury at the end of May, a day on which the weather threatened to intervene all morning but turned into a beautiful spring day by the end of it.
Having lost the toss and been asked to bat, we set about making 220-9 at the picturesque Tockington Manor ground, Rob Simpson making an unbeaten 51 and Paul Nott (36) being run out by the most spectacular piece of acrobatics you’ll see this side of the Olympics. After tea, with just myself and Ian Vaughan over the age of 16, it was time for our young bowlers to shine. Ollie Harris (1-16), Archie Joslin (2-31), Charlie Vaughan (2-26) and Matthew Nott (1-12) all bowled excellently and led us to a 47 run win.
Victories were to follow in each of the next 3 weeks too, as Winterbourne (won by 7 wickets – Paul Nott 70*, Dave Yates 75*), United Banks (won by 5 wickets – Will Dearman 3-14, Ollie Harris 3-31, and Dave Ritchie’s first ever wicket in a game of cricket), and Bitton (won by 5 wickets – Will Dearman 1-9 off 8 overs, David May-Carrasco with a superb 8 overs of leg spin 2-26) were all seen off.
That string of victories was soon followed by a similar passage of defeats however (ignoring the win by default as BWI cried off). Rob Simpson’s 98* at the top of the order was not enough to see of Bedminster as opposing captain Chris Giles hammered an unbeaten 112 to chase down our total of 221-8.
Simpson’s first 100 for the club came the following week (103 retired hot) and saw the start of his partnership with keeper Murray Bishop (80*) though MSN were sadly able to chase down our target with relative ease. Defeats at Civil Service and at home to Thornbury (some bloke called Strachan 4-29) followed and a trip to high flying Winterbourne was next on the fixture list.
It was a gloriously sunny day, and with Doc Parker back in the side for the first time in 5 years and Greer Barnes making her senior debut, you’d be forgiven for thinking we might be second favourites for this one. And when the home side went about amassing 346-8 (Beesley 203*) off their 40 overs, you’d have definitely been forgiven for assuming this one was all over and going home.
That would have been a huge mistake however, as the partnership of Simpson (153*) and Bishop (127*) put on an unbroken 292 together for the third wicket with some of the most stylish strokeplay and fervent running between the wickets you could ever wish to see in Division 14. As captain, I was lucky enough to be out in the middle to watch (sorry…umpire) the entire innings whilst poor Doc Parker spent 30 overs sat in the sun getting pad rash! At least he should know how to treat it…
The next 3 weeks saw defeats to United Banks and Timsbury (Nathan Williams 74, Stephen Wilkinson 51, Palash Barman 52*) were interspersed by victory at Bitton (Dimi Naeem 4-21) and meant that, heading into the final weekend of the season, whilst outside the relegation zone only victory would ensure we stayed up.
We lost the toss at Bedminster and were invited to have a bat first. Simpson made 74, with extras then providing our second highest score (46) as we set a target of 255 for the home side to chase after tea. Again it was Giles who looked to be the potential match winner for Bedminster, but once he was removed by Palash Barman (Bevo finally taking a catch!) the tail faded away and a much-needed win, and our place in Division 14, was secured.
I’d like once again to thank everyone who has supported me during the season, helping to rope players in, ferrying children around, Nick and Lisa for their excellent teas (still the best in the league by far – and yet people still wonder why I want to bowl first!), and in particular my vice-captain Mr Bevan for his constant Mitchell-ing out in the middle.
Here’s hoping for some better availability and some equally as good weather for 2019.
Captain, 4th XI