The Surrey Championship

Review of Men's Cricket in the 2013 Season

1st XI

Having finished in the the top half of the Premier Division for the first time since 2006, Guildford were keen to progress.  Winning the opening three matches against Malden Wanderers, Spencer and East Molesey offered hope and victory at Sunbury in the fourth match would have meant top place.  Instead a heavy defeat was the start of a chastening run of results which brought one point in seven weeks, meaning survival became the height of ambition.

The lowest point of the season began when Guildford bowled out East Molesey for 116 thanks to Tom Jewell's remarkable 9-49. A collapse from 73-2 to 99 all out - reward for a wonderful fightback by the hosts - left scars which lasted the rest of the summer despite the best efforts of captain-coach Jeremy Greaves.

Ironically it was a victory over Sunbury one week later which gave Guildford their only time win in the time format - repeating 2012's poor form in these matches.

Guildford's record in 50-over cricket was far better though and, when relegation seemed a real possibility,  finishing the campaign by seeing off Banstead, Sutton and Weybridge meant a rebound to seventh.  

The loss of key players from the previous year, irregular availability of others and asking too much of some of the youngsters finding their way at Premier level, were all negatives.  Greaves was delighted by the way the team fought through their difficult times.  Left-arm spinner Joe Pipkin's 30 wickets made him consistently the most reliable bowler although he lacked the support of Chris Coombs's off-breaks for much of the time due to injury, and his finishing power at the end of an innings proved crucial.  

With so many injuries and absences among the bowlers, Tom Collins - who batted solidly without much reward and took some fine catches - and Phil Nicholls did a steady job with the new ball in the final weeks.  Alex Senn was comfortably the most consistent batsman 507 runs and will be much missed next year but no one scored a century all season.  Chris Thompson's 58, 5-23, three catches and a run out in the crucial match at Sutton was vital in securing victory.

Guildford know though that the club must learn from the struggles of 2013 and become much better at the longer form of the game to become a threat again.

2nd XI

A difficult year for the 2nd XI ended in a relatively comfortable league position for the second team. A league position that was looking tough to achieve during the first half of the season. It would be fair to say that the season was split into 2 halves with the team really struggling until mid-July when an influx of players released from school commitments ensured the club as a whole had more personal to choose from.

The batting during the 1st half of the season was the primary reason for the struggles of the team, apart from Julian Hare, no batsmen really imposed themselves on games and made significant scores. The bowlers however performed very well and consistently dug the batsmen out of the hole and almost won games on numerous occasions. Phil Nichols, Chris Weill and James Ashton all led the bowling during this time backed up with good performances by Neil Harding and Tom Shrives.

During the second half of the season the batting started to match the levels previously set by the bowlers and as such performances and results improved, culminating in victories over Banstead, Reigate Priory and Sutton to ensure premier league survival. The Nick and Jon French scored big and important runs during the second half which, in conjunction with aggressive opening batting from Henry Straw allowed platforms to be built for significant scores. Cameron Spence and Jon French added to the good bowling performances already mentioned to show how a full second team could have challenged for the top of the league.

With some good recruitment over the winter to the club the second team should be able to contest with the best teams of the league and stay safely away from the drop zone. The one benefit of our lack of availability this year has been the exposure of some of the younger players to regular 2nd team cricket and in Jon French, Freddie Mcmillan, Alex Sweet and Jonny Charles we have found some quality juniors who will play an increasingly important role next year. As ever our thanks to Ed Bailey for his scoring and Peter Twitchens for umpiring as well as Dave, Kev and Jane for the food.

3rd XI

Having been promoted to the 3rd XI Premier following an undefeated season in 2012, the 2013 season could not have been more different. Due to a number of changes in personnel it was difficult to compete at the much stronger level offered by the Premier league. Guildford were able to win only two games but can take heart in the fact that they competed well early season without quite managing to get across the finishing line. Standout performances were few and far between. However, Josh Rix made excellent contributions with the bat from the lower order with Neal Harding and Nick Armstrong making some devastating contributions with the ball. Tim Goodman put in enormous effort as skipper. Thanks to Barry Williams for umpiring and Derek Morgan for scoring.

4th XI

Following a year in which Guildford won 10 and lost only two games on the way to winning the 4th XI West Division in 2012 was always going to be tough, especially given the clear step-up in the standard of cricket, so to win six out of eighteen and finish 6th in a league containing the strongest clubs in Surrey was a considerable achievement.

Guildford struggled early in the season in the limited overs format, often getting into winning positions but lacking in experienced heads to drive home the advantage. Signs of improvement in this format showed throughout the season and the experience gained by the youngsters of dealing with pressure situations will stand them in great stead for the 2014 campaign. Once the longer form kicked in, the side fared better, with four wins.

Initially the bowling was led by Andy Green (19 at 7), whilst Mike Tilley (17 at 8) and Mainul Hossain (7 at 16) formed a formidable opening partnership towards the end of the season, keeping runs to a minimum. Although overall results show that the side struggled to build on these starts, there were real positives in the development of Bradley Eustace and Harrison Charles, who both bowled with good pace, taking regular wickets, whilst Will Jenner made some useful contributions and showed real improvement in his consistency.

Lack of runs was an issue, reflected by the fact that only three players scored more than 100 runs or averaged more than 20, with only four 50s registered throughout the year. Plenty of players got starts, but these were rarely converted into match-winning innings. One notable exception was Philip Hodgson (228 at 38), who, as captain for the first half of the season, led from the front with some vital knocks, including two match winning half centuries. Youngsters Benji Thomas and Nathan Tilley showed great potential with promising innings at important times – ones to watch in the future.

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