With the Verbandsliga season now over and the shadows lengthening into autumn, it’s time for me to take stock of our first season in the second XI. I won’t lie to you, I was sceptical that we would be able to be competitive across two teams at first (I think the old days of nine players turning up to a first league match were nagging at the back of my mind). However, I have to admit I was wrong – playing and captaining the second XI has been an absolute privilege and one that I am looking forward to taking on again next season.
As anyone who has been following the exploits of the seconds will have noted, we have had some corking matches this season. Of course, the standard may not be as high as in the Bundesliga, but that doesn’t mean that we lack in excitement or moments of absolute brilliance. Finishing second behind a dominant HCCW team (who we congratulate warmly as Verbandsliga champions 2013) is an absolutely superb achievement and one that every single person should be proud of.
This season was one of extremely fine margins. We lost by one wicket and two wickets against BCCB and our games against HCCW could have also gone either way. Then we have maybe the most nailbiting game of all against Dresden, with a five run victory. Even our most convincing victory against BCC distracts from the fact that we were 90-8 at one stage and only passed 200 thanks to outstanding performances from Utsab and Jayanth. And then there was the weather, maybe the most dominant force of all. Three games fell victim to Mother Nature – who knows how the league may have ended if we managed to get something out of these soggy Saturdays. On one hand, we might have conceivably lost every game this season. The fact that we didn’t shows the class and commitment shown by everyone in the team.
On the batting side, obviously the exploits of Utsab stand out – his defection (sorry, promotion) to the first team left us with a big hole in the last few matches of the season. Maddy’s lusty shotmaking in the middle order was something to behold, whilst Siddiqi and Arun both had successes with the willow. However, ultimately we just didn’t make enough runs. Either the top order failed and the middle-order rescued the situation, or the top order laid the foundation and the rest were not able to kick on. This is something we must all work on for next season, I have my own personal goals and I hope you all do too.
Bowling wise, we had an embarrassment of riches this season. Obviously, Arun’s 15 wickets and intelligent bowling stand out (let’s hope married life doesn’t change him), but the support from everyone in the team was impressive. Utsab’s intelligent lines with the new ball were feared, whilst the first change bowling of Tipu (excellent variation) and Rajan (some of his balls were utterly unplayable) helped us immensely. In vice-captain Sunil, we also had the best “death bowler” in the league, nagging away for often very little reward. Whilst the spinners suffered, Maddy, Neil and Imran all did well at crucial times. Prasanth was unlucky with injuries, but that spell on his debut was most certainly the most hostile seen last season, and we hope to see more next year. Extras were, of course, the major problem, with our personal “best” being 45 wides! Again, something to work on!
The fielding side saw massive improvements as the season went on. From being caught cold against BCCB in the first game, the fielding and catching got better from game to game, which is something to be very proud of (and let’s all not forget the acrobatics of Rajan and Maddy!).
To conclude, I sincerely hope that all the players enjoyed the season as much as I did. The joy of victory and the agony of defeat were never far away, but we win together and lose together. As long as the heart of the team stays intact and we train hard, then there’s nothing we can’t do in 2014.
Let’s all now look forward to a successful finish to the T20 season and a great day together the day after with our friends and family.
Thanks to you all!