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The Challenge













 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.

As if to dispel the myth of global warming, the summer was back to normal after the balmy days of 2003. The second and third Saturdays of the season were both completely washed out.
The Sunday side was not deterred however and came through to win the Sunday Challenge, culminating in a nervous final against Buckingham. Skipper Andy Silsby received good support from his squad and, for the first time for several years, getting a team together was not a problem. The First Eleven under the captaincy of Andy Luck maintained their division one position by finishing fourth, with eight wins including victories against the top three teams. WCC Player of the Year, Chris Perry took 41 wickets, prompting the Northamptonshire Cricket League to award him the Division One Young Player Trophy. Harmit Bahra finished with 29 wickets and Jeff Connon 32.
Matthew Jones and Nick Shelton scored the bulk of the runs with 555 and 441 respectively and Marcus Shelton scored the only century of the season. Simon Parsons made a "dream debut" - taking a wicket first ball, and Liam Bates successfully stepped up for his first full season after learning his trade in the Second Eleven.

The Seconds meanwhile found the going tough in Division Two and possibly the luck from the previous season was evened out when games that looked to be won, slipped away. It was certainly a baptism of fire for the new skipper Darren Laughton who in spite of only the two victories and eventual relegation still enjoyed the season. Malc Fowler took over the job as regular Second Team umpire and did an admirable job, but he always carried his cricket kit in the boot of his car for emergencies. And there were a few! Dick Underwood then stood in with the white coat when required. Les Underwood, Judy Rowe, Lynn Perry and Rod Dean did a great job scoring with Rod also taking over a lot of the "extra-curricular" grass cutting duties.

The tote ran well again over the summer although, with ever increasing costs to play cricket, more people are needed to take part. It starts again in the middle of April running through to the middle of September. Please contact us for further details. Finally, we would like to thank all our sponsors and vice presidents for their support during 2004 and we look forward to seeing them all during 2005.



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.

Any 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.

The 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.

Next 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.

After 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 200.

This 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!

Our 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!

In 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 time.

After 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 early beer.

Following 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.

After 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 spare.

Having 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.

Ryelands 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.

Top 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.

Strangely 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.

Again 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.

Thrapston 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.

The 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.

In 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.

With 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.

Despite 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! 

Darren Laughton.  Second team captain.


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