A few words from Vince Cross...
The last time I played so many cricket matches in a season, Edward Heath was Prime Minister, England had only just moved to decimal currency and Freddie Mercury had yet to grow a moustache. It was that long ago. 1971. All those wasted years!
The reason I've been such a reluctant cricketer has a lot to do with the people I played cricket with way back then. I suppose I was intimidated by them, and probably a bit scared of the ball too. (I still am!)
Well the point is, St. Michael's are simply the nicest bunch of people I've ever taken the field with, and I just wanted to write a few words to say thank you to each and every one of you for your great company this season. Thanks for introducing me, Bill!
Which moments will I particularly remember around the Cross's winter fire? Well, first and foremost of course, a game I couldnít play in - the Dick Garnett Cup final at the County Ground. My dad would have loved to see me play there, and I was pretty peeved that the Bishop chose that day to visit our church. Never mind, maybe the prayers worked! Dale's batting was really calm and accomplished, and Swanny's semi-house-trained heave through mid-on to win it for us a lovely testament to the value of experience and a cool nerve.
Mind you, we won an unlikely victory largely without Malcolm against Olivair at WFUS : one of those games where you can feel the force ebbing from one team to the other. The pivot was Malcolm's leaving for his barbecue! I enjoyed that game a lot, apart from getting chinned by Chris Bell, their quick bowler. Maybe helmets are a good idea!
I particularly liked watching Malcolm and Martin bowl: a nice and sometimes unlucky combination. It was only when standing as umpire in the last match that I really appreciated the difficulty opposing batters can have with Martin's high arm - a very awkward proposition if he's going well, especially if the bounce is uneven. I gave three lbw decisions that day, but by my count could easily have given another four - every one against Express. I assume this would have been a new league record, but might have cut short a promising umpiring career.
I've admired Brian's resilient, agile and determined keeping: our bowlers occasionally gave all those who kept a hard time down the leg-side! Dave Teb's cheeky batting gave me pleasure, and so did Will Kingston's fluent stroke-play. I reckon Will should score a lot of runs in the future -not just fifties but tons too. Several of the younger lads bowled with calm assurance: I hope we continue this mix of youth and experience, and donít just all grow old together. Other Town League teams, please note! Ged's captaincy was always thoughtful: I loved the way he involved people and encouraged while keeping us competitive too.
On a personal note, I didnít score as many as I'd wanted - well short of the target Graham Mayes set for me in March! But, I hit my first ever six, against Obelisk in the cup. OK, it was a short boundary, but you've got to know where to aim! And I set up a few innings for us, digging in. The innings at Ecton was probably worth twenty more, given the outfield. I probably just didnít cash in on a few good startsÖa question of fitness, and poor shot selection.
I want to improve. It's no good staying where you are, even if you're one of the older players. I'm not sure we'd get on, (I suspect his politics would get right up my nose!) but Alec Stewart's amazing. If anything he's more agile than when he was twenty. And he seems to have learnt to play spin bowling at last. So who can teach a physically challenged fifty-one year old to do one of those slidey stops every junior knows how to do? I want to get my arm back. And I really, really still want to score a century.
Maybe, muscles and bones permitting next season! Who knows? See you at the (weekly?) winter nets. Thanks again fellas!