And so another season ends … The weather was ‘the worst in living memory’ and the fixture list was decimated. Of the 21 games arranged by John King, four home games and four away games were cancelled because of waterlogged grounds and two games against Loxwood CC and Elsted CC abandoned because of heavy rain although the game against Elsted could have been restarted after a heavy shower but the opposition were not enthusiastic.
The season as a whole fell short of the successful 2011 campaign. The miserable weather was a major factor but there was also the perennial challenge of renewing the playing strength. Jack and Harry Dimond who sparkled in 2010 and 2011 were both away at University for much of the season along with their Seaford College friends Alfie Bunker and Nick Bellion. Graham Braithwaite, another star in recent years, could only play on two occasions because of work commitments. Tom Atkins and Tom Davis played on one or two occasions, Tom Davis taking 4 for 20 against Loxwood CC. Every ambitious youngster with a passion for the game wants to move beyond school and village cricket to play university and league cricket. It highlights the fact that the village team has to constantly seek experienced batsmen and bowlers who have perhaps ‘retired’ prematurely and to ‘blood’ young players. John Clifford and James Hickey were unavailable for much of the season too.
One young man who displays immense talent with bat and ball is Finn Campbell. He is a superb all-round athlete and his bowling performance of 8 over 6 wickets for 32 runs against West Chiltington was hugely impressive. Charlie Dimond is another impressive young man although his first love appears to be hockey which he plays at junior County level. Another delightful newcomer was Henry Rydon as were Lee Coyne and Ollie Hunter-Fox. 2012 saw the debuts of Henry Cruikshank and Joel Phillips. In three or four years time this crop of young players nurtured at the nets by the Paul Phillips ‘Village Cricket Academy’ will form the backbone of the team, until they too move on for education or employment reasons to be replaced by another generation.
The core of the team is strong and revolves around Matt Hall, Andy Long, Paul Phillips, Andrew Wilson- Smith, Ollie King, Rob Collins, Fergus Cruikshank, Lee Ayres and the ever-improving Dave Clark. James Hickey was unable to play until the last few games of the season but had an amazing performance behind the stumps against Goodwood CC when he took five catches and a stumping catapulting him to top spot in the fielding averages. Veterans Pete Long and Bob Powell are reliable and indeed have been known to win games when batting at 10 and 11. One new player to join the club this year is Will Salaman and he is a hugely talented batsman and fielder.
Some of the notable performances this year were Andrew Wilson-Smith’s 63 against Graffham, Jack Dimond’s 56 against Bosham and Matt Hall’s 55 in the same game. 16-year old Tom Coyne also scored 54 in the Graffham game and Will Salaman hit 50 against Parham. Dave Clark was consistent all year with bat and ball with his best performance being 4 for 34 against Goodwood, and Andy Long was back in scintillating form with the ball taking 6 for 56 in the Parham game. Fergus Cruilshank’s 47 against The Matt Hall Xl was also notable.
The Annual Dinner and Awards has been arranged for the 5thJanuary 2013 at the Hollist Arms and over the next month skipper Matt Hall will be pouring over the averages and considering who will collect the silverware this year. As the team goes into hibernation we thank our supportive President Joe Clifford, Vice Presidents and Chairman Allan Thompson and the ‘tea ladies’ who are the unsung heroines of village cricket.