In 2014, BSCC 4th XI was new to HECL Division 5 and with a new captain, Fred Hussain (with Roger captaining 4/18 games). The team coped well and ended in a comfortable 4th position with 11/18 wins and 327 points, behind the Champions Stansted 2 (390 pts), Lt. Munden (363 pts) and S. Loughton 2 (355 pts). This is the same number of wins as the previous two years combined and crucially without any penalty points - thanks to all the 34 players who played. In hindsight, it may be obvious that Div 5 provides a good standard of cricket, pleasant opponents and nice venues (& teas!) - perfect for the youngsters to hone their skills and progress to higher levels. This year, we fielded more young players than ever before – this is a great testament to the club & coaches and a good sign for the future. However, it did mean occasionally resting (or rotating – thanks Ant for the term!) some of the senior players and therefore they must be thanked whole heartedly for being understanding and committed to the club. Performance-wise, the 4th XI had a year of two halves. At the half way stage, the team were sitting comfortably 2nd behind Stansted with only 2/9 losses; against Fyfield and Stansted. However, the second half saw other teams improve, whilst our performance slightly faltered with 5/9 losses.
The squad in 2014 was particularly strong, in particularly the youngsters. The likes of Morgan Sewell (4/16 vs Matching Green), Jack Williams (3/8 vs Matching Green), Dan Williams (3/17 vs Epp. Forresters), William Price (3/22 vs Stansted), Sam Howlett (3/26 vs Albury), Joe Burslem (2/31 vs Takeley), Liam Sumner (2/32 vs. Potter St.) and Jake Morris (2/53 vs. Stansted) bowled absolutely superbly through the year. Whilst in batting, there were controlled and mature performances from Adam Bassingthwaite (42 vs Albury, 14 av.), Joe Hawkins (33 vs Fyfield, 29 av.), Joe Burslem (29* vs Matching Gn., 58 av.) and Dan Williams (28 vs Epp. Forresters, 15 av.) Other young players, too many to list individually, also showed great commitment, determination and promise. Well done to all the young players!
Perhaps, the youngsters would have done even better were it not for some senior players hogging the crease for long periods! The seniors were in fact the true backbone of the team and their brilliant individual performances should not be overlooked, e.g. Clint Williams (98* vs. Stansted), John Gibson (80 vs. Albury), Ant Foster (74 vs. Potter St.), Graham Smith (71 vs. Lt. Munden), Roger Parker (70 vs. S. Loughton), Nathan Sewell (63 vs. Fyfield), Ian Searle (62 vs. Matching Gn.), Nigel Witherden (48 vs. Albury), Mark Vasey (41 vs. Stansted), David Wilkinson (41 vs. Fyfield) and Fred Hussain (138 against Takeley) in batting, along with John Gibson (6/19 vs. Potter St.), Andrew Mumford (4/15 vs. Epp. Forresters), Simon Williams (3/17 vs. Lt. Munden), Ant Foster (2/32 vs. Matching Gn.) and Stuart Boyne (2/43 vs. Albury) in the bowling department. Fred Hussain also received the league award for the highest total in HECC Div 5, 2014, with 705 runs (and Clint with 678 runs couldn't have been too far behind!). Well done again and a big thanks to all the senior players.
One performance stands out the most. It was against the top of the league team, Stansted 2, in the second half of the season with our promotion chances still in the balance. The 4th XI was looking down the barrel with 84 for 6 chasing 176, when Jack Williams walked in. Realising the situation and keeping cool and composed, Jack (15 runs) built a memorable innings with Roger (47 runs) that helped steer the 4th XI to an unexpected victory. This should be an example to all players (including the captain!), that at times when the going is good, i.e. only needing 2-3 runs per over and with wickets in hand, not to play too many reckless shots and lose the momentum!
In 2015 and if re-elected, Fred, will look to remain captain of the 4th team, with perhaps Roger captaining a few more games. It may not be quite obvious, but a captain’s job can be rather demanding, i.e. on-field can be a juggling act, but off-field in particular, can be even trickier with availability and other issues to resolve! But, the good news is that Fred's experience should be invaluable towards the 2015 season. The second and perhaps not so obvious point, particularly aimed at the senior players, is the importance of nets. As you well know, bowling some overs or hitting balls prior to a match can be critical to your performance on the match day (and fitness!). With that regard and to remove the winter blues, please make it to the winter nets at HECC on Thursdays at 9pm, starting Jan 15th. The third point, now aimed at the youngsters is not to despair when on the rare occasions you are not selected – don’t forget you do get school cricket, whilst the adults only play on Saturdays!
And finally, if the 4th team performance can be nearly as good as the first half of the 2014 season, even though Div 5 has some “pleasant opponents”, there may be a real chance of going back up to Div 4 in 2015!!