We played only nine games of the 13 fixtures made. Wood Street Village were unable to raise a team but we had to let down Reigate Pilgrims, Chipstead and Stoke d’Abernon due to lack of availability. In mitigation, we were ravaged by injuries, not least to Skipper Paul Bridges who only really took part in two games and made up the numbers in two more. We saw nothing of Gossy, the Pup or Seb all summer due to largely self inflicted wounds and Pippa’s creaks and cracks limited him to five games as his 60th birthday approached.

Recruitment isn’t easy without a catchment area, a colliery or a school to draw upon and, since most of us are of a certain age, it follows that our friends and contemporaries are not looking to join a new cricket club now, if they ever were. We need to find people in the 18-40 age group if the club is to have a medium / long term future. Whatever it takes, I encourage you all to search workplaces, football clubs, friends of friends and anywhere you can think of to pick up a youngster (within the law) or, better still, a small group who could take the club forward for another generation. We have variously survived and thrived for about 43 summers, and we are certainly not finished yet, but players are unlikely to come looking for us so we must find them.

All things considered, the 2019 season was pretty good on the field. Played 9, won 3, lost 6 tells only part of the story. With only one declaration game all season, and that on the Holybourne minefield, draws are off the agenda, but tight finishes are very much alive. We fell away towards the end at Avorians, and soundly thrashed Binsted and Crondall, but all other games were well contested with narrow margins and four of them went into the final over with a win for either team possible. Lots of catches were dropped, but 32 were held and you’d have got long odds on seven of those sticking in the buttery paws of Edwards and Seeckts.

The batting saw the majority averaging between 17 and 26 who could have drawn straws to choose an order, most dogs having at least one day when they believed they could keep going a year or two longer. Hugh’s duck riddled 2018 was forgotten as he got off the mark in every game he played (two scores of one, two more scores of two) and took us to a thrilling one wicket win at Banstead with 89*, his third such knock following a purple patch just before the referendum. Keith, Pippa and Seeckts continued in the usual manner and were three of the nine men who made up eight different opening partnerships in the nine matches.

Streets ahead, and back to his best availability and form, was Scottie. 385 runs (ave 64.17) in six games saved our blushes time and again, though he points out that he played in only one win (33 at Binsted) so 352 of his runs were “of no use other than to delay drinking”. Not a first choice bowler – blame the inclusive club ethos – he’s rarely invited to turn his arm over except in a crisis, so it’s with some sadness I report Scottie also topped the bowling averages with 12.33. Man of the Year? Nope, unlike the little urn, our trophy can’t be retained.

Grinders, Rod, Stu and PAJA did the weight of work with the ball, others nobly helping out but there’s no avoiding the fact that we missed the control and accuracy of  Bridges and Gossy with the ball. So credit to the four wicketkeepers, Ingo, Hugh, Marcus Ruffell and Pat Garlick who did their share of guessing and diving, the high point being Hugh taking two catches at Banstead without being aware the batsmen had hit either of them.  

There are currently no firm plans for a future tour. Rod has almost accepted that he could be persuaded to organise one more, possibly for 2020 but more likely 2021, which may even be a golden oldies tournament somewhere. Ideas welcome. And a volunteer to take over the tour management position would be appreciated by Rod.

Jingle Bells!