Guildford Cricket Club – Men’s Team Reports for the 2017 Season
A year which always threatened to be challenging proved just that as Guildford’s first team were relegated from the Premier Division. The club have only spent one season out of 50 since the Championship was formed out of the top group and will look to bounce back quickly again. A meagre three victories – beating Ashtead twice plus a DLS-assisted win over Reigate Priory – were heavily outweighed by 12 defeats for Joe Pipkin’s side, who were substantially weakened by absences in the early weeks and found catching up beyond them.
Guildford knew the early games would be vital but lost three of the first four 50-over games.
Defeats in the opening four time matches compounded the situation and, with a much stronger side but little leeway remaining, two abandonments when well placed only underlined the feeling that the side were heading down, confirmed by losing the last four games. All of which added to a sense of frustration as there was no shortage of talent, offset by naivety and failure to grasp the vital stages of many encounters.
It said much about the shortage of runs that the only two centurions were 17-year-old opener Nathan Tilley, whose 143no came at Wimbledon before the hosts hung on nine down, and Will Jacks (18) – an integral member of England’s U19s – who produced a scintillating 119 to lead the lengthy run chase at Ashtead. Easily the outstanding bowler was left-arm spinner Olly Birts, claiming 28 wickets. Undoubtedly the star of a difficult season was 19-year-old Fred McMillan, whose 419 runs were his side’s best, always scored in fearless style and backed up by neat work behind the stumps.
Despite being in with a mathematical chance of promotion going into the final game, the second team finished sixth in their league with seven wins. That was two places lower than the 2016 season, when promotion should have been secured on the final weekend of the season.
In all, 32 players were used throughout the season with a number of fringe players taking opportunities presented to them. Injuries to key players and a reliance on university and public school players in the first half of the season resulted in the team having to play catch-up at the halfway point.
However, a strong second half to the season resulted in a late surge for promotion but it always just seemed beyond the grasp of Chris Coombs’s side.
There were six centuries from five different players, while the 19 scores of 50 or more were spread among a field of 14 to show the depth in the batting. Three bowlers secured 20 or more wickets in Vikram Singh, Chris Weill while the development of Jonny Charles’s off-spin resulted in the side always being competitive, apart from on two occasions against runaway champions Malden Wanderers.
Special mention should go to batsman-of-the-year Tom Shrives for holding together the middle-order in the first half of the season, winning matches and scoring 350+ runs. Singh was the leading bowler with 28 wickets and an economy under 3.5 per over.
Problems which beset the more senior sides made it a particularly difficult season for Guildford’s third team. They were forced to concede three matches, two others being abandoned, and finished bottom of Division One.
There were four wins, though, to lighten the mood under captain Rav Garcha in a tough summer, the outstanding batsman being 17-year-old Will Jenner as he averaged 44 over six matches and made two half-centuries. Seamers Harrison Charles and Nathaniel Brittany bowled intelligently, wicketkeeper Jevan Kher showing plenty of youthful enthusiasm in support.