OPCC 2008 Report


The credit crunch seemed to hit the Old Parks about halfway through the 2008 season.  Having started brightly, with the first and second XIs well placed in mid season, the flow of results seemed to dry up.  The weather didn’t help!  But the Club found new heroes among its own youth development pipeline, and this augurs well for the future.

1st XI - a season of two halves

The 1st team were competitive in the first half of the season, with notable wins against Old Brentwoods and Benfleet.  The team bonded well and 91 points came from the first 9 matches.  Bob Curtis consistently excelled with bat, including 108 against Buckhurst Hill on 24th May.  But the second half of the season was disappointing.  There were no further wins.  Unable to select what they considered the best players, the team performance and motivation seemed to run out of credit.  They ended on 151 points, safely out of the bottom two, but way below what was expected and the capability of the Club.
Skipper Bob Curtis’ 600 runs at 42.86 provided the mainstay of the run getting, with Paul Robbins coming along nicely with 484 at 34.57 in his 14 innings, including a much needed purple patch late on.  Overseas all-rounder Aussie Dan Rootes provided solid support, although he never set the world alight after his 72 in the first game at Epping. The paucity of batting is shown by only one other batsman getting 200 runs.  This was the young and exuberant Alex Grayburn who smote 208 at 26 in his 10 innings. 

Dan and Alex also deserve mention for their 22 and 12 wickets respectively both at around 25 apiece.  Had it not been for Dan’s serious injury to his (spin) bowling hand attempting a return catch in the first game of the season, his returns would have been better. Josh Gordon was perhaps the most consistent bowler in the team and certainly the most economical with 20 wickets at 28 and an economy rate of 3.75.  If only young 'rookie' Baldeep Mann, fresh from last season’s colts, could have consistently produced the sort of bowling that gave him 6 for 35 in the away win by 46 at Old Bentwoods (where James Foley top scored with 75). 

2nd XI - close...but not close enough

The 2nd XI started even better, with 120 points from the first 9 games, including 5 wins, to see them well placed in third position only 3 points adrift of second place and well ahead of the pack.

This period saw them chasing 215 at home to Epping, with Haris (72) and Zafar Khan (63) setting up- a 3 wicket win.  Away at Southendians, Alan Bouquet’s 64 and Nomi Malik’s 54* chased down 249 for an excellent 4 wicket win.  Away at Ongar, ever present Waqar Yusaf’s 66 got the Parks to 200 and then Zafar Khan (5-19) and Ibtesham Chowdery (3-17) ran through them for 80 all out.  Home to Orsett, and chasing 228, an all round performance produced a one wicket win with Nomi Malik shining with 84.  The fifth win in this period was against Stanford-le-Hope.  Max Mukesh (5–32) kept them to 222.  Our confidence in reaching this was well justified with Waqar Yusaf scoring 69 and a magnificent, powerful 126 not out from young Haris Khan.  This was his second successive league century and saw the Parks home for the loss of 4 wickets to continue the promotion push. (He had scored 104 in the previous game away at Billericay where the Parks were missing 6 regulars, and Waqar lost two teeth and went to hospital early on, whereupon we struggled to 190!).

The highlights of the second half of the season included a terrific club record stand of 193 at home to Woodford Green.  Ever affable Dave Tack (48*) joined Haris Khan (153*) with the score at 60 for three and their unbroken stand allowed Parks to declare at 253-3 after only 35 overs.  Other highlights included the marvellous, exciting ‘revenge’ win at home to Billericay who declared at 248-3.  At 123 – 7 prospects looked bleak.  However Haris Khan remained batting in a very mature fashion and when joined at the crease by Shazad Ahmed they saw the team home to victory with 4 balls to spare with Haris on 114* and Shahzad 44*.  But that is not the only thing notable about this game.  The "opposition" umpire sent an email to the Club afterwards saying, “I would like to compliment the whole of the team on Saturday for the way they played the game, their humour and overwhelming politeness.”  Particular mention was made of Haris Khan, Ibtesham Chowdery and Shahzad Ahmad (“the fellow who bowled and scored 44 not out was so polite and modest”).

Unfortunately, the latter part of the season was soured after we conceded one game, and could not recover the momentum of the early season.

Following that, with every point needed for their promotion drive, the Parks could not force a win against Ongar after Farhad Yusaf’s excellent 101 in a total of 251-5 in 38 overs.  The same happened at Orsett where, in spite of Max Mukesh’s big hitting for 69, the Parks could not chase down 177 and lost by 22.

Overall it was a very good season, and we beat both promoted sides (Old Southendians and Billericay).  The performances and behaviour of this young team promise great things in the coming seasons.  Fifteen year old Haris Khan’s 783 runs at 71.18 from 14 innings included 4 tons.  Nomi Malik (349 at 49.86 in 12 innings) was just behind Waqar Yusaf’s total of 377 at 25.13 from 16.  His son, Fahad (101) and Ravinder Singh (112) both notched tons and Zafar Khan added 218 runs in 10 innings to his 17 wickets at 21.4.  Haris also contributed 15 wickets at 21.3.  Zamir Shar’s 8-52 against Orsett late on suggests more promise next year.

3rd XI - the youth policy begins to bear fruit (no, not a reference to the skipper!)

The 3rd XI were more consistent but still tailed off in the second half and slipped back a little from the performances of the previous season.  But this was in no small part due to our youth development policy for giving experience to colts’ players.  That is certainly not to say that they were not worth their place.  Indeed Liam Lee (age 14) made 478 runs at 36.77 with a top score of 109* and his 22 wickets at 19.27, including best figures of 5-33.  Sagar Patel (age 15) made 388 runs at 29.85 included a century.  Janagan Vijayanathan (13) took 19 wickets at 21.09.  Amit Kalley’s 306 runs at 30.6 were always stylish.  Neil Cox was available for 5 games after university and his 247 runs at 49.9 were a revelation.

Three games were won.  Away at Old Southendians, colt Janagan Vijayanathan stole the show, bamboozling all the batsmen with his beguiling spinners – taking 8 for 44 – to set up a win by three wickets.  The other wins were away at Gidea Park & Romford when the Parks fielding and catching was exceptional and tight bowling kept them to 158 runs from 52 overs.  Then colts Sagar Patel (52) and Liam Lee (56) batted exceptionally well against a strong bowling line-up with a century stand.  And the Parks bowling came good at Epping (Liam Lee 5-33) and we chased down 202 with Amit Patel stroking 12 fours and accidentally hitting a six in his 59 to win by 5 wickets.

Two other games come to mind.  Sagar (100) and Liam (70) also starred against Orsett when chasing 236 but we lost late wickets to fall just short at 230-9.  The other instance, in poor light and drizzle, was the last game when Parks mustered only 99 and Benfleet had 34 on the board without loss, which turned into 30 for 7.  But they batted on fearlessly to win at 100 – 8 to much applause from the Parks.

4th XI - stop-start frustrations

The 4th XI had a frustrating start to the season, not helped by Hutton’s late omission from the division and then not knowing whether or not Wanstead 6th would be making up the numbers.  When it got underway, the first two league games against Wanstead 5th and Hainault & Clayhall 5th were both lost badly, another washed out, and with so few League matches to follow, it was difficult to anticipate as good a season as the previous one (2nd).  Spirits were lifted by a good win against Brentwood 6th by 181 runs when Nick Weekes’ took 5 for 12 to notch up his 300th Club wicket.  This was followed immediately by a good run chase against Gidea Park & Romford (234) that saw us home by five wickets (Dave Allbury 70, Indipreet Bhatia 52).  The eventual match against Wanstead 6th was a draw (Tony Keen 67*) but the Parks were feeling more like their old selves. They again beat Brentwood 6th, this time by 6 wickets.  10-year-old seamer Inquiyad Chowdury claimed the first wicket in his second over.

With a bit of luck, the Parks could have ended 3rd in the Table had Hornchurch not held out in the final game.  Dave Allbury led the way with 73 and schoolboy Max Solomons eased to 30.  Chasing Parks’ 185 – 5, Hornchurch held on in the final few overs to 145-9.

Dave Allbury’s 276 runs at 27.6 in 8 innings was the leading batsman.  (Amazingly he ended the 4th XI’s short season playing three League games for the 1st XI.)

Looking back - looking ahead

This was a season when the youth came to form the core of the Club.  Three early 1st XI ‘certs’ had left the Club by mid season (with our blessings).  Some of the older pros took more of a back seat to leave space for the younger talent.  After some 25,590 runs (and that misses quite a few to ‘lost’ scorecards) George Carter finally turned to umpiring – although it’s not beyond hope that he might fit into his whites again or commission a new pair when the credit crunch is over.

Bob Curtis for the firsts and Nick Thorpe for the seconds, provided much needed routines, discipline and leadership over the past two seasons. The Club as a whole is certainly the stronger for their role modelling.  It should not be long before the playing record for all four teams starts to reflect the actual talent available to the Club.

With recent, excellent colts’ management, coaching and the youth policy bearing fruits, the Parks should be turning to a new era.  The first and second XI have new, young leadership and enthusiasm.  The playing membership is strong.  Up the Parks!