Before the season began, the club understood it would be a testing one. The luxury of strength in depth for the four Saturday captains to choose from would be no more, as, for various reasons, availability took an almighty plunge in 2017.
This resulted in the 4s conceding too many times so that they were disqualified from the league, and the 2s and 3s both being relegated. The 1s, competitive as ever, resisted the avalanche and finished a respectable fifth, once again not realizing promotion hopes on the final day.
Despite not amassing a score over 200 for the whole season, the 1s were always in the peloton for second place, thanks largely to some impressive bowling displays. At bookends of the summer, they bowled out Epsom for 25 and Dorking for 68 – scores rarely seen in 1s cricket.
At the crease, Joe Hill trumped the statistics with 399 (runs) @ (an average of) 44. Stalwart Rob Waite registered 300 @ 19, but will be disappointed not have lifted his bat, while skipper Rob Hill clocked 206 @ 16. Troy McKenzie entered the fray this season and lost no friends with 191 @ 24.
On the bowling front, Jon Faller-Fritsch took an impressive 27 (wickets) @ 15 (runs apiece), including two five-wicket hauls – not that he likes to mention them. Worcester Park’s very own Jamie Vardy, Mike Arundell, took 23 @ 13 with his wrist spin, backed up by swing-merchant James Harrison who took 21 @19. Waqas Sagar, Joe Hill and Aidan Bell all claimed 15 victims. Ben Davies took 13 catches and three stumpings.
The 2s simply did not have the quality week-by-week to compete in Division One, blighted by the availability issue and shortage of seam bowlers befitting of the division. On nine occasions, the side was chasing 200+ scores and, despite collecting the most batting points in the league, three wins over the season was not enough to keep their heads above water.
Jonny Evans was sublime with the bat, finishing the league’s top run scorer with 506 @ 46, registering six half-centuries along the way. Captain Travis Scott proved adaptable with 365 @ 28, with Ian Burrows showing mettle with 310 @ 28 also. Charlie King (196 @ 59) and Oscar King (146 @ 18) scored quickly, but were not available as much as they’d have liked.
In a forgettable season for the 2s’ red leather operators, newcomer Rehan Mansoor impressed with 15 @ 21, as Scott and the changeable Nicky Ball took 14 and 10 respectively, at 28 apiece. Oscar King (eight catches, two stumpings) and David Wilkinson (five catches, three stumpings) shared the gloves throughout the campaign.
Come closing time, the 3s only missed out on survival by eight points, but inconsistency cost them. None of the side’s victories were followed with a win, and the dearth of players available meant some line-ups resembled what would have been 4s teams the season before. The inspirational Andrew Botting didn’t offer a season aim back in May – so the side hasn’t underachieved, at least.
Averaging 17, Stuart Bradshaw top scored with 222 runs, fittingly getting three ducks throughout the season. The idiosyncratic Jim Williamson notched 174 @ 19, while Jon Mayhew (171 @ 34), who scored club’s only Saturday ton of the season, was always quick off the marks opening. Botting registered 170 @ 17, closely trailed by Connor Bliss (162 @ 34), who was rarely pigged apart by opposition bowlers.
Bowlers too rarely took the game by the scruff of the neck, but fledgling Luke Sapey ended as top wicket-taker with 11 @ 27. Cameo acts supported him, such as Ryan Somes and John Rivenell, both claiming eight victims. Matt Probert also chipped in with seven. Williamson was capable behind the stumps with seven catches. Respect to Matt Saunders who, after seeing his 4s side dissolve, stepped in as 3s skipper when needed.
The Academy’s season was poor judging by results, but new skipper Oscar King welcomed some new faces into the side. Faisal Husain, Luke Sapey and Louis Wilkinson were useful outlets with the ball and grew into the team as new Academy players.
Thank you to Alan Housden and Adrian Barratt for taking care of the scorebook throughout the year, Steve King for umpiring regularly for the 2s and Academy, Barry Hill and Barratt again for their efforts on the ground, colts organiser Ryan Somes, chairman Ian Burrows, the captains, loyal supporters, committee and all the other volunteers at the club for sticking with it throughout a tough year.
We also waved goodbye to Nick Kingan, who retired this season. Since the inception of stat-collecting site PlayCricket, he scored 36,667 runs for the club. He also registered a staggering 188 half-centuries and 16 tons in 1615 games. A true Worcester Park Cricket Club legend.
This season was one that nobody at the club wanted. For various reasons, availability was not as good as it has been over the last four years. But that’s why it’s more important than ever that all the players who love WPCC get the club back to where it should be. Here’s to bouncing back in 2018.
Updated 23:18 - 10 Nov 2017 by Steve Clark