OLD PARKONIANS CRICKET CLUB - 2009
The Executive Committee and its Officers have spent untold hours behind the scenes keeping the affairs of what is a large club in order – not to mention all the physical effort on the ground, what with nets, repairs and so on. We must thank them wholeheartedly for ensuring that the Club is well organised, retains its excellent ground and facilities, remains financially viable and, most importantly, has a strong membership.
The work on this starts well before the season gets underway. The colts again had two full terms of cricket training at the new ICHS Sports Hall. And the senior players also had a very successful series of training sessions in the same facilities with Paul Robbins and Josh Gordon taking the coaching – they are not only the 1st XI skipper and vice skipper, but also two of our level 2 coaches. The programme built up very rapidly to a regular attendance of some 16 – 18 players, and set the scene for a much better approach to fitness and skill training during the season.
The first eleven’s approach in particular – before, during and after each game - appeared to create the sort of team spirit and attitude in the field that we need to maintain, and spread throughout the club. On the field the results did not immediately reflect the off-the-field efforts, but the groundwork has been lad for future success.
The young 1st XI had mixed results, with two victories in the last three matches lifting us to midway in the division. We showed we could compete with the clubs finishing above us by beating West Essex by 7 wickets and Old Brentwoods by 34 runs, as well as falling only 2 runs short of beating promoted Stanford-le-Hope, chasing 195. However, at other times, we failed to get close to targets set by opponents when batting second and lacked the experience to close out games from a winning position. We lost two matches by one wicket, e.g. allowing West Essex’s last pair to put on 31 to gain an unlikely victory, but lessons did seem to be learnt by the end of the season when we bowled out Epping for 82 (thanks mainly to Paul Robbins 9-23) and then squeezed a 4 run victory over Woodford Green after only posting a modest 117. Rushan Pandya started to show the benefits of regular cricket with two five wicket hauls, and, similarly, Haris Khan began to show his undoubted potential with three half centuries towards the end of the season.
The 2nd XI started well enough, with four victories in the first five matches, but after that we lost players who were injured or unavailable, and consequently lost our way, managing only one more victory during the rest of the season. The high turnover of players (a total of 47 were used) clearly disrupted the team and only a few of the regulars, such as Waqar Yusaf, Uday Raval and Jayaprakash Sivarajah (‘Yabba’) can look back on the season with any satisfaction.
The 3rd XI, usually the model of consistency and pressing for promotion, also suffered from the patchy availability of players and surprisingly slipped down into a relegation spot in the last few matches. The pattern was similar to the 2nd XI, with a good start of 2 wins in the first three matches but then only one more victory on the first Saturday in July. The batting was solid, with veterans Paul Warren, Chris Nutt and Karuna well supported, if not overshadowed, by youngsters Janagan Vijayanathan, Ravi Raval and Max Solomons, and we usually managed a score of around 200 or more. However, skipper Vijay Vijayanathan, who bore the brunt of the bowling, could not find enough other bowlers with sufficient penetration to achieve enough victories to avoid relegation.
The 4th XI pushed for promotion all season but could not quite find the cutting edge to win the division, although most of our opponents were 5th or 6th XIs from other clubs. It was the same story as the more senior sides, with unsettled selection, and anyone showing good form was whisked up to higher teams to fill the gaps there. Mat Court was a case in point. Although not regularly available, he scored two centuries for the 4th XI and then moved up. Similarly, promising displays by Max Solomons and Dan Shalom also resulted in promotion to the higher elevens. Captain Nick Weekes put in good performances with bat and ball, and extra-veteran Jim Gambleton headed all the bowling stats as usual.
Sunday cricket was good this year and we fielded 2 teams nearly every week. Five or six 1st XI players were available most weeks and the youngsters benefitted from this. There was a big improvement over last year and it also helped to identify some good colts. The stronger fixtures encourage the better players to play.
The experience, practical support and wise counselling of Peter Nightingale as First Team Manager and Chairman of Selection Committee was an undoubted asset to the younger captains and vice captains throughout the senior teams. Such is the weight of organising and administration that falls on league captains these days that the support of a good team manager is truly important.
Away from the SNEL and colts league and cup arrangements, the friendly fixture list is improving. Most players are now properly kitted in OPCC colours, and there has been a marked improvement in the collection of subs and match fees. Not least, thanks to the excellent work of the Selection Committee and Team Captains personally, late cry-offs have been much reduced.
We must again thank Alan and Jonathan Medley for preparing such fine pitches again, especially as poor weather in the autumn of 2008 badly affected the main square re-seeding. The second square also had to cope with an enormous amount of usage and took quite a battering during the season. Alan and John also keep the pavilion and dressing rooms clean! Let’s not forget Mark Boundy; without his regular maintenance and repair work on the outfields - including litter-picking before he can even start the mowers! – we wouldn’t have one of the best kept grounds in Essex. Thanks to the efforts of various working parties, the whole ground is now ‘fit for purpose’, looking spick and span.
The Colts set-up goes from strength to strength. The talent of many of these younger players is something to behold. It’s a pity that more of the senior players are not able to get along to watch the games – and learn a thing or two. Pete and Ian Simpson are doing a terrific job at the helm. But it takes more than Pete’s admirable organising drive to make things happen. He has built up a group of knowledgeable and enthusiastic team managers and coaches at all the age groups, whose voluntary time throughout the whole year, together with Adrian Rollins admirable professional coaching services, make it possible for us to boast one of the finest and most successful youth sections in the county. For a club of our position in the senior leagues to accomplish this in the face of local competition from premiership clubs is a remarkable achievement.
Paul Robbins became the Club’s all time leading run scorer in a season when he notched up his 2,140th run in all cricket at an average over 50 some weeks before the end of the season. He was also the leading run getter in league matches with 676 runs and took 56 wickets in all cricket during the season, including 9 for 23 in 8.2 overs in a league match against Epping. His 2,000 run and 50 wicket double in a season is an all time Club record. His runs total was, however, overtaken in the last game of the season by Hermes Solomonides who amassed a remarkable 2,148 runs including 5 tons and 13 fifties at an average a fraction under 50! (Max) Mukesh Vippanapelli took 60 wickets in all cricket.
Colts Janagan Vijayanathan (977 runs, 2 centuries), Ravi Raval (762 runs, 1 century and 39 wickets in all cricket) also demand mention. Indeed, as the statistics reveal, we are blessed with a pool of young talent. Baldeep Mann’s 34 wickets were all taken at 1st XI level, and Haris Kahn’s 804 runs (2 centuries and 5 fifties) were mostly at the same top level in the Club.
Overall, however, the senior sides did not fare brilliantly well in the League in 2009. But this must be put in the context of fielding young sides which, if we can stay together, will undoubtedly blossom in the seasons to come.