2019 Summary – Played 13 – Won 3 – Lost 9 – Drawn 1
- LOST | vs Rotten Livers 05 May 2019 : A chill wind etc
- LOST | vs Islip 19 May 2019 : The binary Scorebook
- DRAW | vs Demijohns 02 Jun 2019 : Back in the Old Routine
- LOST | vs Whalers 16 Jun 2019 : A tale of innings
- WIN | vs Hetairoi CC 30 Jun 2019 : A monkey off the back
- LOST | vs Rotten Livers 21 Jul 2019 : Another Sterling Adventure in Cricket
- LOST | vs NCACC Sofia 27 Jul 2019 : See Tour Pages
- LOST | vs NCACC Sofia 28 Jul 2019 : See Tour Pages
- LOST | vs Highgate Taverners 04 Aug 2019 : We had our cake and ate it, and yet we didn’t …
- WIN | vs Intellectuals CC (Spain) 25 Aug 2019 : A tale of two centuries
- LOST | vs Jordans Taverners (Seer Green) 01 Sep 2019 : Injurious injuries abound
- WIN | vs Aston Rowant 08 Sep 2019 : Bring Out Your Inner GC – A New Self-Help Guide from The Nurdler
- LOST | vs Gents of West London 15 Sep 2019 : Beware the inswinging full-bunger
Lies, Damned Lies and Salix: 2019
So, 2019 is nearly done. Some things have changed, while others remain the same. There has been a change of leadership, but we still seem to be heading in broadly the same direction. Europe remains somewhere we want to go for our annual holidays, but the UK is still the focus of our activity. There have been recent signs of a brighter future, after the dark days of 2017 and 2018, and the cold, dismal period of May. So maybe now is the time for a brief period of reflection, before the inevitable chaos of upcoming events when we may or may not find out where our new leader has been putting his Johnson.
What follows is an idiosyncratic, and occasionally statistical, review of the 2019 season. It has no connection with the annual awards, which are the responsibility of much higher powers. So where to begin? Well there’s only one place to start. Overall our number of wins increased by 50%, indeed domestically our win rate tripled. What joy.
Of particular note was that our batting improved significantly. Our average score was 185, easily the highest it’s ever been – 168 way back in 2010 being the next best, and a big improvement on 2017 when 120 was the average total. Three of the top six totals ever made (all 250+) were scored in the second half of the season, including the highest total in Salix history, a monumental 308. Although it should be noted that the 266 still failed to produce a positive result. This was also our most productive season in terms of centuries scored, four, with Yov and TFC getting two each. Indeed, Yov broke the 13-year-old record for our highest individual score with a magnificent 175. However, as with high team totals, centuries were no guarantee of victory. Indeed, only two of the centuries resulted in a win, and one of the winning tons was some distance (80 runs!) from being the highest individual score in that particular match.
xThe nature of these centuries was also very different. Yov’s first ton, against a demon opening bowler (5 for 8, as the other six members of our top 7 combined for a grand total of 3 runs!), scored 76.1% of our total that day, and 84.3% of those scored off the bat. By way of comparison, the Test record is 67.3% by C Bannerman in the first ever test innings, way back in 1877. There is an argument that the other three centuries should all come with an asterisk. Not representing not out, though they all were, but the discriminatory approach to their scoring. TFC, our resident GP, demonstrated how much his patients, predominantly children and the elderly, must irritate him by scoring his two tons at their expense. Meanwhile, Yov’s monumental 175 left several kids scarred for life. Perhaps our fixture organisers should take note, and maybe TFC can organise a game against some of his patients.
At the other end of the batting spectrum, the perils of moving North were laid bare by the decline in Padders’ batting average from 34.5 in 2018 to … zero (3 innings).
xElsewhere, there was the epic 17 over blockathon by Tuffers and the Nurdler to salvage a draw against Demijohns to kickstart, sort of, our season. Whilst on the curiosity front, we showed periods of remarkable consistency. Our opening 3 innings of the season were 134, 134 and 133. Last year we had consecutive innings of 128, 128 and 129. How does this happen?
Unfortunately, the counterbalance to the increase in our team batting average was that our opponents’s average score also reached record highs – 211. Were pitches better this year? Perhaps. Are we lacking a little penetration? Maybe. Only once did a bowler, Tuffers, take 4 wickets in a game, and there were only four three wicket hauls. Moreover, nobody had an economy rate below 5 an over, indeed only the Saiborg sneaked under 5.5, and only two other regular bowlers conceded less than a run a ball.
If I may be self-indulgent for a moment, my favourite wicket was when TFC had the touring Intellectuals skipper brilliantly caught by Smutty for a golden duck – immediately after, while leisurely marking his guard, he had boasted at length about how he had scored a century last time out (he would go on to score a ton the following day against the Patent Attorneys). However, the best wicket was, ahem, self-inflicted – the RLM’s hit wicket … off a wide. So impressive was his dismissal of himself that he claims to have been unable to repeat it in practice. Clearly a man for the big stage.
On the fielding front, it is often said that catches win matches, and certainly in our first win of the season this was true – 5 catches (a season high) and no drops (our only drop-free game) – Thanks For Catching. The season finished with a catch percentage of 50.7%, a big improvement on 2018 when it was a dismal, and record low of, 41%. The all-time rate is 53.3%. Over the summer there was much debate over what constituted a drop and what should be construed as catch avoidance. Unsurprisingly, no conclusion was reached. The captain’s decision remains final.
xHowever, our new leader – the King is dead (yeah right, ed), long live the King – Smutty has clearly had some influence in this area. Coming into the year with a career catch percentage of 34.7%, he led by example catching everything that came his way – both blinders as well. Though while he may now have safe hands while on the field of play, you put your fingers into his razor blade-infested kit bag at your peril. It should also be noted that catching is a dangerous business, as poppadum-fingered CK will attest. Get well soon. Not all catching improved, however, as Teen Wolf slipped from top spot to third in the all-time catching stats as the result of an uncharacteristically sloppy performance – as he tells it – against the touring Intellectuals when he spilled not one, but two chances.
However, the most impressive fielding stat is not recorded – the number of runs saved. There is only one competitor in this category, Ben S, incredible athleticism combined with a sky-high laundry bill. Happily, for the rest of us, runs conceded by incompetent and arthritic fielding are also not recorded – likely a seriously competitive field.
This year’s tour, the 19th, was to Bulgaria, perhaps a little unwisely in July as temperatures were ferocious. The matches followed a similar pattern to the rest of the season – we scored a lot of runs, unfortunately the oppo scored quite a few more. However, the tour did see the welcome return to action of Delilah for the first time since 2015, and, as ever, a good time was had by all. xOff the pitch our ace social secretary, the Saiborg, organised a number of events. Discussions prior to the Salix Grand Prix came to the conclusion that, as all the cars were broadly equal, the winner would likely be decided by weight. And so it proved, as the Saiborg came out the winner. Meanwhile at the oche, perhaps unsurprisingly, the bowler with the lowest average and best strike rate came out on top, well done Tuffers. x
The Salix marathon championship, something I suspect will not become an annual event, was won by Monty, in a turnup to rival Leicester’s winning of the Premier League. However, there are suspicions that he may have arranged to have Dozy kneecapped – what with his dubious network of professional contacts etc. The marathon also provided the winner of this year’s caption competition with Steve’O’s, “Dozy assumes the position as the winner waits to claim his prize…”
In other Dozy news, last year’s graduate from the Salix youth program (which has been rejuvenated over the last couple of seasons) celebrated by taking the winter off to find himself by visiting some of the highest and most far flung reaches of the planet. The jury is still out on the success of this particular project, although if he also went looking for some more runs, the evidence is unequivocal. Perhaps he should have taken note of the sage words of Nurdler T at the bottom of his graduation certificate, “I’ve been playing cricket for 20 years, if I was going to get any better, it would have happened by now.”
Meanwhile, as Brexit-inspired political chaos ramped up, Daveski’s media career took off as he put several MPs to the sword, on something or other to do with trade, in a similar manner to which he regularly tears apart opposition attacks. We sadly said goodbye to Bala, a very popular member of the team – though I still haven’t forgiven him, when fielding for the oppo, for catching me off one of the very few shots I timed this season. Not the first time he has done this to us either. Why do we lend one of our best fielders (career catch rate 77% – 4th on the all-time list) to the oppo when they are caught short? Winning is challenging enough as it is.
So farewell then 2019, a season in which remarkably we didn’t lose any days to the weather despite the volume of rain. We did nearly lose a day due to a lack of oppo, but this actually resulted in the very enjoyable captain’s day – when half of us also managed to win a game.
Roll on 2020, but not the Hundred – WTF is that all about. Raven, T-E