Summer Solstice Day 2015 arrives – but where is the summer? Pretty bleak and unpleasant this cricket season so far! Yesterday saw 73% of the Saracens Herts Cricket League Fixtures washed out, but incredibly, from the 27% that survived, ALL FOUR Reed League teams managed to play – AND WIN!! So a second “120 Point Weekend” for the club this season, which yesterday included a 400+ run match for the 2nd’ Xl at Reed, and an almost 550 run match at our 2nd ground in Buntingford for our 4th’ Xl!! Brighter Cricket if not brighter weather!!
Mostly things are going well in 2015. Our 1st Xl are in a respectable position in the Herts Championship League, the 2nd Xl bar, a single aberrational batting performance against Ickleford have won all their matches and are well placed for another promotion, the 3rd Xl after early season availability problems are turning a corner, whilst the 4th Xl under the inspired and enthusiastic leadership of yet another ex-Reed Colt, Lloyd Bowman, are undefeated in all matches played to date. In the Herts Reader 20/20 Cup Competition we have beaten 2 x Premier League teams in Harpenden and Sawbridgeworth, and are through to the County Quarter Finals (at Reed Sunday 5th July). In the sadly disintegrating Keatley Cup, after a good win against Foxton, and a series on concessions by 2 x sides that are “big in Cambridgeshire” but unable to raise sides for midweek fixtures over the border, we seem likely to play Foxton in the Final after only 2 x qualifying matches.
The only disappoint of the season to date was last weeks defeat in the 2015 Herts and Beds County Final of the National Village Cup to old rivals Langleybury.
A tense and ultimately exciting match concluded with Reed going out of the competition, losing by virtually the narrowest possible margin. On the day, with a few notable exceptions, we underperformed, with precious few of our players being able to say they delivered to their true full ability. Despite the disadvantage of losing a key toss, and being asked to bat first on a damp wicket and soggy outfield, it was generally poor shot selection by batsmen that ultimately saw us fall short of using our full 40 overs and posting a modest total of just 156 all out. That we came so close to winning the match is testament to our determination and fine fielding, and the last hour of the Langleybury innings produced riveting Cricket that eventually saw our visitors just get home, 9 wickets down, off the penultimate ball of the match. A few “hard luck stories”, a few ‘what might have beens”, and as ever lessons to be learnt. A great game and no complaints!
So 3 years on from 9.9.12 and I wonder if it is only just now beginning to sink in with some that what happened that season, and that day, really was in all likelihood, a “once in a lifetime experience”.
I am sure all in our generally young team on that day at Lords who came away from the ground that night thinking “That was great … I’d like to do that again!” For many of “us veterans” we marvelled at the scale of the achievement, savoured every moment, and took exceptional pride at the achievement of our Club and the performance of our players. If we were very lucky we had the additional bonus of having our son (or in 3 cases “Sons”) involved in the match.
Even if we do manage to manufacture a return visit to a Lords Final then I cannot believe the occasion will ever match that day of 9.9.12. The weather was unbelievable, the sponsors were incredibly generous in their financing, support and organisation, the match was high calibre and a credit to good Cricket, Reed were allocated the “Home/England” dressing room, and afterwards there was the 40th Anniversary Dinner in the Lords Long Room! And we WON!!
For any Reed player or member over 40, that was IT!! Nirvana achieved!! There’s not a lot left you want to do in Cricketing terms. I remember saying to my youngest son William, who played in the match, fielded like a demon patrolling vast areas in the deep, and opened the Reed batting with his brother, Reed Captain James, “How does it feel to have had your best day in Cricket behind you at only 17?” It was a bit tongue in cheek, but for a Recreational Cricketer that day at Lords has to be the career highlight!
The 3 years in the NVC that have followed have proved the difficulty of getting to Lords again, however good your team. Of course you need skill and ability, but also the right attitudes, the right preparation for EVERY match, and a lot of luck!!
2013 – we thought we were invincible – poor match preparation by several – and out in the first round in a match we seemingly thought we “just had to turn up for”!
2014 – A good campaign, and really unlucky when our innings at Reed against Dinton was totally washed out by that thunderstorm when we were very well placed to chase down the runs required to win and move into the National Semi-Finals. We ultimately lost narrowly after a less convincing performance in the rearranged fixture on their ground the following week.
2015 – Pre-season and in season injuries to key players, an unexpected “List A” intervention, match day work availability problems, and not the best match preparation beset us, as we ultimately went down by the previously reported narrowest margin.
2016 – who knows!!!
It’s not going to be at all easy to repeat 9.9.12 but don’t worry – however much we want to – we don’t need to!! For anyone involved, or there on the day, it is a singular memory that nobody can ever take away!!
(This Occasional 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)