John Heslam writes:-
As we move into August another Cricket season is rapidly moving towards its close, and if we want to be frank it hasn’t been a great season at Reed!
Most of our League teams currently seem to be achieving “mid-table mediocrity”, bar our hard pressed, and hard done by, 3rd XI for which that would, at this stage, be an achievement! Our midweek Cricket has been abandoned and dispensed with and now does not exist – withdrawal from a newly established midweek League without playing a single match (!), and letting down a touring side by failing to honour a booked and agreed fixture. Pretty shameful stuff!
Sunday 1st XI Cricket focuses on the National Village Cup where we threw away an excellent chance of making another Lord’s Final with a below par display at the last 16 stage. Add this to barely tolerated appearances (or non-appearances!) in the Herts 20/20 competition.
Sunday 2nd XI Cricket is one of the few thriving and well-supported areas of our Club’s current operations.
This current weekend has been a nightmare for selection and availability – unfortunately not for the first time this season – and when one sees 3rd XI players volunteering to act as “fodder” to make up a Herts Championship 1st XI, and pro-rata selection quandaries littering all the other teams, then it is indeed a miracle (well done to Lloyd Bowman – AGAIN!) that we managed to actually put out a 4th XI on Saturday.
Saturday’s weak teams, subsequent below performances, and poor results beyond the 1st XI, might have put paid to our 2nd XI’s chances of another promotion, and might have sealed the further relegation of our 3rd XI? Time will tell.
So what is the problem? At this time of year one expects “Annual Holiday absences” but this year it is substantially more than that.
There seems to be a rising tide of alternative social options, and a rising tide of lack of commitment to Cricket, which if unchecked, is ultimately going to see a reduction in the number of XI’s that we operate.
Stag Weekends, Weddings, Saturday Night Parties to attend, “Wife/Girlfriend “says No”, Going to play 5 –a –side football, going to a Festival, going to Wimbledon, and so the list goes on.
We obviously cannot stand in the way of a changing world but whatever happened to the commitment to play 80/85% of the summer weekends and players commitment to their teams, and team-mates?
“Call of Duty”? It seems to have gone AWOL! We have too many deserters!
If that’s the way it is now – then fair enough. Nobody should be expected to play reluctantly or out of duty.
And for those that do play – Captains need to realise that these persons are playing for their personal enjoyment and not some blind commitment to somebody else’s cause.
Despite what the ECB (and on occasions our own League) seem to think, Cricket is a game that should be played for enjoyment – and not some form of slow-moving attritional warfare!! EVERY player who appears in a team should be given a meaningful opportunity to participate in their role or skillset. We all know that this will not always happen – but sometimes an individual’s participation in a game needs to take preference over a perceived match situation. If that doesn’t happen, and people in future weeks vote with their feet, then you will not win many future matches with 9 men! Duty and loyalty works both ways.
Some of those players returning to Cricket following their various “away days” will find that Lords’ appearances, and promotional opportunities, might have slipped away in their absence, and perhaps in the future Cricketing opportunities may not be as freely available to them as they were in the past.
In a volunteer run Club (with levels of low Membership Subs and Match Fees) we cannot run and operate at high “stress levels”. Eventually, even the committed and loyalist members will cry enough, and, when it happens, and commitments to leagues are reduced, the part-timers might find there is a smaller Club left to return to – and no matches available to them!
(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 Club’s General Committee.