2004 was a case of "good news and bad news" (with a bit in
between) The "bad" news was that after four seasons of success the
Second Eleven finished bottom of division two and were relegated. The
"good" news was that the Sunday Team won the Sunday Challenge, and the
"bit in between" was the First Eleven having quite a successful season
- finishing fourth in a highly competitive division one.
After yet another promotion we all knew we were in for hard season. However after some well attended winter nets and with a large squad to pick from I had every reason to be optimistic for the year ahead. After having our warm up game with Kempston cancelled due to ground trouble we were forced to look forward to our first game with no outdoor practice. Add to that the fact that at 7o’clock on the Friday we only had 10 men, and my optimism was starting to go. However we arrived at Kislingbury and after winning the toss (something that I wasn’t so good at later in the season) we bowled a useful batting side out for 162, with Paul Jones the chief destroyer with 5 for 39. We sat at tea quite happy and determined to get off to a winning start. Unfortunately for us while their batting was useful, their bowling on the day was superb and we were all out for 67. Not the start we had wanted.
thoughts we had of getting over the first game had to go on hold as our next two
games against O.N. 2nds’ and Earls Barton were both lost to rain. The next
time we took to the field was for the visit of 0.G’s, again our batsmen
struggled against some tight bowling and we were all out for 129. After claiming
a couple of quick wickets their batsmen weathered the storm and knocked the runs
off in 27 overs.
following week took us to the picturesque setting known as Redwell and a match
against Wellingborough Indians. I lost the toss again and after useful scores
from Andy Johnson, Brett Hanson and Rex Boddington we managed to score 178. But
on a good wicket (honestly) and a fast outfield, 200+ would have been ideal.
Despite David Ward claiming their two openers cheaply they passed us in 47 overs
with just 3 wickets down.
up we had to play the 12 men of Kempston. After a blistering start from John
Lavin and Nick Dawson the visitors were 3 down and on the ropes. Daws then
produced one of the balls of the season and tempted their number four into an
ambitious drive. The ball took the edge and off we all went in celebration, our
“joy” short lived however as
their umpire gave not out and set a tone that he proceeded to follow for the
rest of the day. The reprieved batsman went on to make 94 and we were set 239 to
win. After a steady start we lost 3 quick wickets and things looked bleak.
However Andrew Silsby, with his first league 50 for the club and vice captain
Brian Summers began to pull things around. Another clutch of wickets and
questionable decisions saw us 9 down with 8 overs left and 40 still needed.
Unfortunately (for them!) the heavens opened as Daws was walking out to bat and
the game ended in a draw.
stopping our run of defeats the week before, we were all looking forward to the
trip to our not so friendly rivals from the year before - Northampton Saints.
After winning the toss we put in a dogged bowling display and kept them down to
time Adrian Ward did the damage on his return - taking 4 for 40. Two hundred was
never going to be enough though and for the first time all of our top six
contributed to the total. Brett with 50 top scored before being run out by
“new” number five John Lavin. That set the scene for an amazing finish in
which we got 69 runs in 5 overs to win the game, with Lav hitting three massive
sixes and finishing 32 not out. A sweet end, and at last a reason to get
paralytic on a Saturday night!
first win achieved and we all started to believe that with some luck we could
climb the table and finish safely. We drew our next game, a nice friendly
encounter against the Indians at home. Ward senior claimed 4 for 57 as we kept
them down to 189 in 50 overs. We got off to a great start with both openers
doing well and Jimmy Bannard going on to make 52.
Although we kept going until the end we finished just short on 177, with a
bit of controversy along the way!
We’re on a roll now and next up 0.G’s away. In difficult conditions Daws bowled the spell of the season so far, his 14 - 8 -23 - 3 set us up perfectly and allowed us to keep them down to 154. The reply was anything but easy but we eventually passed them with 6 down, with contributions from everyone. Win number two!
a rain-affected match against the Saints we again outplayed them but due to
losing overs we only managed a draw. We bowled well and kept them to 201 in 50
overs. Unfortunately we only had 37 overs and finished on 155. Jonty 41 and Jimmy 48 were the top scorers before we ran out of
five games without defeat the arrival of an under strength Geddington side held
no fear for us. They won the toss and proceeded to bowl us out for just 55.
They then knocked off the runs without loss and gave Boddo the chance for an
that defeat it was up to us to show some “bouncebackability” against
Kempston. Despite losing 5 players from the week before, the team put in a
superb effort scoring 155 for 9. With Daws, 3 spinners and Brin Whithair (who
had to go back to work after 15 overs) the team pulled out all the stops but
unfortunately Kempston managed to limp to the total with 9 wickets down.
the good effort the week before and with a full squad to choose from we headed
to Thrapston. With several changes to the team we got off to great start with
Boddo and Jimmy hammering their attack all over the park. Unfortunately despite
Mark Carter’s dogged maiden half century for the team, we could only score
185. Although we took 2 quick wickets their middle order were quickly on the
attack, and despite a late rally from us they won the game with three wickets to
still not won at home our next visitors were Earls Barton. After being put in
yet again we got off to the worst start possible - 3 down for 9 runs. However
after a good recovery from the middle order, Paul Jones top scoring with 51, and
a late flurry from Simon Parsons and Adrian, we managed to set 169. In their
reply Barton got off to a flyer despite some less than respectful changes to
their batting order. Despite this our bowlers kept going and claimed 5 wickets
before we were again defeated.
were our next opponents, and having beaten them the season before we were all
confident of doing well. We got off to a screamer with Boddo 65 and Jonty 50
posting our first 100 opening partnership of the season, in just 18 overs. After
such a good start we were all thinking of 250+, but again our batting let us
down and apart from Jimmy’s 33 and Brian’s 30, nobody else managed double
figures . We eventually scored 231, but with the wickets being so good at home
we knew it was still going to be tight. They also started well bringing up 100
in 17 overs. But just as things looked bad, two wickets in two overs (including
a run out) gave us hope. Spinners Dave Ward (15-3-62-4) and Simon (l4-3-27-2)
swung the game back our way. Unfortunately however, we couldn’t claim the last
2 wickets and they finished on 224 to secure an entertaining draw.
of the table O.N 2nds’ away were next. With some popular and some not so
popular changes to the team we arrived at the ground with 3 frontline bowlers.
After giving the lads a fright by telling them I might have to bowl, we went out
and produced our best bowling and fielding display of the season. Dave, Adrian
and Daws shared the wickets with a fine opening spell from Paul keeping us on
top. Apart from my customary drop catch we were faultless and we kept them down
to a very gettable 185. We knew we needed a good base to win and at 85 for 4 the
game was in the balance. Sadly after being so good all day none of the top order
could settle and we were all out for 93. Although we didn’t know it at the
time, this was the last time we would lose during the season.
after such a heavy defeat the week before we seemed to have more belief than
ever that we could move off the bottom and stay up. Our first day opponents
Kislingbury were next and we really wanted to stuff them. We won the toss and
kept them down to 189 with Ward junior getting his best return of the season
with 6 for 64. After the way we batted over there, Kisle were confident of
winning. After reducing us to 4 for 2 they must have been thinking of another
early finish. However they didn’t realise that our secrets weapon - in the
form of young master Bates - was about to be unleashed. Liam hit a fine 65
showing us in the Seconds what we’d been missing. In a sign of things to come
our middle order all batted well, but a steady fall of wickets saw us finish
just short on 182 for 7
Towcester next and a game we had to win. We looked at the pitch and couldn’t believe what we were seeing. If Wellingborough Indians ground was bad this place was truly awful. After establishing that there was a cricket pitch on site we won the toss and prepared to get stuck in. Unfortunately despite our good result the previous week our fielding and effort were below our usual standards and they rattled up 234 in their 50 overs. Despite having the worst ground in the league the, tea at Towcester was without doubt the best all season and after filling ourselves up it was time to knock off the runs.
we got of to a good start and all of the top order chipped in. But similar to
the week before we couldn’t kick on and despite Brett (69) and Carts (67) we
fell away from 200 for 3 in 43 overs to 231 for 8 off 50 overs. We left the field after a tight draw feeling very down and
cursing a lot of missed opportunities. A pattern was forming to our season now
and despite our efforts the wins we needed just weren’t materialising.
were the next team that we couldn’t finish off. We won the toss and after 47
overs they had 125 for 6 but they completed their 50 overs on 162. Again Adrian
was star man with 4 for 27 off 15. Although
chasing a modest total we again made hard work of things and only Carts 37 and
Brian 23 really troubled the scorers. We finished just short again on 152 for 9.
following week Brian took charge of the team away to St Crispins. After
eventually getting to the ground we were put in to bat and made a respectable
172 with Brian leading the way with 48, and Malc giving up umpiring for the week
to score 27 at number two. Despite being a small ground the sloggers from St C
were no match for our attack as Daws, John Pike and Dave all took 3 wickets
each. Again though we couldn’t finish them off and they closed on 139 for 9.
our last home game we entertained Towcester. We batted first and despite our
batsmen “getting in” only Boddo 35 and Brett 31 made over 20. Some lusty
blows from Pikey at the end of our
innings at least helped us to 164 with John getting a “nice” send off for
his efforts - from the opposition! Unfortunately for Towcester this parting
diatribe aimed at John only fired him up more, and when he opened the bowling,
proceeded to rip through their top order. John went on to take 5 for 29 and
despite Adrian and Dave grabbing 3 between them Towcester held on to close at
136 for 8.
relegation already confirmed our last game at Geddington was a suitable end to
the season. Having arrived in the rain the game started on time with Wollaston
batting first. However after only one over the heavens opened and we had to come
off. After 30 minutes the pitch was inspected and with neither captain in
agreement the umpires were called for. Unfortunately for us we didn’t have an
umpire and in no time at all the game was called off.
relegation the effort and enthusiasm remained the same all season, and with a
bit of luck we could have easily finished mid-table. I’d like to thank
everybody who played in the Second Eleven for the help and support they gave me,
and if our missing luck returns next season we should have a few more wins to
read about. Thanks again and here’s to better days!
Laughton. Second team captain.