So the full season is eventually underway after a stuttering start, and true to form the weather does it’s best to spoil the party in the first full week of SHCL action! Very early days, an emphatic win last Sunday in the 1st round of the National Village Cup against last years Area Finalists Eaton Bray in front of a good crowd and on a lovely sunny afternoon at Reed. A polished team performance and some notable personal performances give hope for another good Cup run. Dare we dream the undreamable!!
A great win that defied the weather for the 2nds yesterday but overall events in the early weeks of the season have unfortunately been shrouded in some disappointment and embarrassments for our Club.

Could it be said that the problems really centre around the close season apathy that surprisingly seemingly prevailed amongst many playing members, even after all the excitement of Lords and a promotion of the 1st Xl to SHCL Division 1. Despite invitations to discuss and agree the best day/evening for winter practice nets, what proved to be an unsatisfactory agreement on alternative week Friday evening nets was decided. The paltry attendances, almost exclusively under double figures, sounded some warning notes, about likely early season availability and match preparedness.

Last autumn our Fixture Secretary took soundings from our team Captains on the General Committee about the volume of early season fixtures that they wished to see in the fixture calendar. These were duly noted and the requested arrangements made. We cancelled fixtures in the 3rd week of April that have historically been arranged as past availability had been so poor, and started our matches a week later. However, Week 1 we put out 1 x Xl v Broxbourne (a fine “Tie” achieved in the match) but in a catalogue of errors we neglected to remember the other 2 teams that we had agreed to put out against them on the same day! Even if we had remembered, availability was such that we would have had to cancel both matches! So 22 men of Broxbourne, anticipating a game of Cricket were inconvenienced by arriving for matches v 2 non existent Reed teams. Egg on face! Embarrassment for the club. Fixture Secretary grievously embarrassed. The next day is little better. We send a “10 man team” to play Preston. An emphatic win – BUT – a 10 man team for Reed’s 1st Xl fixture of the day – from a Club that puts out 4 x Saturday Xl’s and has a sizeable Colts set up. Is that good enough?

Week 2 – Should be the first full week of the League season – but with the 1st Xl now in Division 1 they start a week later. However, as requested, our Fixture Secretary has arranged a strong prep fixture v Sawbridgeworth 1st Xl – a HCE Premier League Team! Unfortunately availability is such that we cannot put out 4 x Teams. The decision is taken to cancel the non league 1st Xl match v Sawbridgeworth. 2 Weeks of the season – 3 x Fixtures not honoured. I will not at this stage comment on the “Piece de resistance” that then followed, save to comment that the 2nd Xl’s fine win yesterday will, in points terms, be all but negated by a league points deduction – whilst the 3rd Xl are also sweating on a possible domino effect repeat points loss!

Judging on the particularly poor availability for pre-season, and many other friendly matches, it appears that players are by and large only interested in playing “Competitive/League matches”. However how can you be “Match Fit”, and “In the Groove” for League matches if you do not prepare?
Are you going to prepare/get in the groove in League matches?
If so pay the price when you miss Promotion or suffer Relegation by just a few points at the end of the season – have we seen that recently?

In life in general, and certainly in competitive sport, the 6 P’s apply.
“Poor Preparation Produces P*** Poor Performance”!!
as well as
“Fail to Prepare – Prepare to Fail!”

Availability is key to any sports clubs success and matches must be cancelled as very last resort as your Clubs reputation takes years to build and only a few bad instances to destroy.

Lets motivate ourselves and others! Lets get out there en masse and enjoy our Cricket.

We need to learn from the early weeks of this season – and plan to improve and avoid a repeat in future years.

Hopefully we can move on to happier topics next week!

(This Weekly column is written by John Heslam Club Chairman of Reed Cricket Club. The views expressed in the article are his own and do not necessarily comprise those of the Clubs General Committee)