HOWZAT! A report from Shipton cricket club

cricketawards 2018The seniors – a challenging year
We knew this year would be tough: several of our best and most experienced players had moved on with new jobs or family commitments, but we hadn’t appreciated quite how hard it would be.

Our 1st team, led this year by club pro Anupam Sanklecha, played at a hugely challenging level, but their hold on a place in the Home Counties Premier League, always a little tenuous, has finally slipped and they will be back in Cherwell League Div 1 next year. This was despite some increasingly strong and mature performances from teenagers such as Charlie Miller, Ben Norgrove and Lewis Marstin. The demotion was not a surprise, and in many ways is a blessing, as it will allow our young cricketers a chance to find their feet at what remains a very competitive level of the game.
One of the consequences of relegation is that we can’t field a club pro next year – the Cherwell League don’t permit it – which means we bade a sad farewell to Anupam after five seasons. Well, perhaps not entirely: we are very hopeful that, should he get hired by another Oxfordshire team, we can still employ him to run coaching sessions on a couple of nights a week.
More of a concern is the relegation of the 2nds, as we were hoping they would compete well this year. The lack of a consistent squad didn’t help, but once again many of the younger players performed wonderfully well and put down markers for the future. Freddie Norridge, Dee Jarvis, Greg Woods, Blake Richardson and Iwan Roberts are just a few who deserve a mention.
Fortunately, the 3rd team performed well and challenged for promotion until late into the season, with youngsters Tom Bartlett, Callum Dingle, Nat Carter and Jason Duckworth doing particularly well.
The 4th team – yes, we have one – will always struggle when the squads above them are short of players. Most of those we thought would comprise the fourth team squad became the 3rd team for much of the season, with the result that nearly 40 players featured at some point in the 4s, some of whom hadn’t played cricket for decades. But that is the joy of village cricket: 40, 50 & 60 year olds are pitted against 14 & 15 year olds, the latter generally winning the contest. Victories were few, in fact, there were none, but we played as though we might win every game and we had a lot of fun.

On the day of one of England’s (football) World Cup matches, we interrupted the game, repaired to the village pub, watched one of England’s better performances on TV, and then resumed to complete our match. As captain on the day I was hoping our opponents would be rather more the worse for wear than we were; alas they weren’t!

The juniors
Numbers were slightly down on the record-breaking levels of last year, but Friday nights – ‘youth night’ – was, if anything, busier and more buzzing than ever. Of course, the wonderful weather in early summer helped, but the continued superb effort from our many volunteer coaches and helpers allow such events to flourish, week-in-week-out. There are too many to list them all but Callum Knox and his sons Athis and Cameron, as well as Charlotte Lewis, deserve mention because they are stepping down after many years of service.
On the playing side, the U13s were the most successful, getting to the finals of their two competitions. In the squad we have a core of very strong cricketers who, if they stay in the club, will form the backbone of the senior teams in the years to come.
The U15s struggled for numbers, but for the first time ever we put out two U17 sides.
At U11 we try to give a match to as many players as we can, and for the first time, we integrated hard ball cricket for boys and girls. It worked well, but we do still lack a female coach who can inspire our girl cricketers.
For the second year we ran the ECB’s All Star programme for 5-7 year olds.

The Shipton Summer Shindig
This was a new venture for the club: an afternoon of family softball cricket, games and activities, followed by an evening of music from the Wychwoods’ own Bumblefoot Project and local rock stars, ‘The Reaper’. The day was hot – very hot – the cricket was surprisingly intense, especially after a bevvy or two, and the music was most agreeable.
We wondered if we could keep the action going over a period of nine hours, and we found that we could, even if fatigue, heat, and perhaps those bevvies caught up with us by the end.
We will hold the event again next year, so do come along. Music, cakes, beer and cricket, what could be better?

Winter nets start in January
Last year we held indoor pre-season nets at Charlbury’s wonderful new sports hall next to the Coop. It has really good cricket facilities and proved ideal for our needs (the coffee and cakes in the café are an attraction too!). So, from the first Saturday in January through to the end of March, we’ll be back. Anyone can come along who aspires to get into one of the senior squads, or who just wants to improve their batting or bowling, and prospective members are very welcome. Nets for the junior squads will be announced later via the club’s website.

Club history
Another winter project is to make a start on gathering together a history or chronology of the club. To this end we’d be delighted to hear of the memories of those associated with the club over the years, and if you have any old photos of the club and its teams, even better.

Graham Nelson

December 2018 – January 2019