It was with great anticipation that the 4th awaited their new season in 7a as the league had shuffled the teams to allow for the arrival of several new clubs. The previous season had been a damp squib with many games lost to the weather and a mid table finish frustrating for all. New skipper Doree’s tactic of batting first and putting pressure on the chasers worked well with good victories and winning draws the 4ths were on top at the half way point the only blemish was a loss to Slough.
The second round saw a change of tactic as the opposition on winning the toss batted first trying to get as many points as possible as Windsor was on a roll. Chasing down totals 5 games in a row left the team on top 50 points clear with 5 games to play. The crunch was Slough at home in the 3rd last game, in a true epic, Windsor batting depth put enough runs on the board that the bowlers with tight fielding were able to restrict Slough to a draw, promotion and league title was Windsor’s.
Light, Houghton, Johal, Bristow, and Martin rocked up again to provide the nucleus of the team. All played 15 or more games and gave skipper Doree some experience and consistency that all lower grade teams need. Light volunteered to open and for the first time in years an opening stand of 50 was common, along with his13 catches and 209 runs @ 13.93 made for a good season. Johal tired of being a bit player had his best season for the club making 195 runs @ 17.73. Houghton had a so-so season with the bat 189 runs @ 17.18 but was all over the order, his strength was his keeping 9 catches 4 stumpings, in a grade where 30 byes are common on the slow low tracks Tim always put his body on the line and never conceded more byes than the opposition. Bristow was reliable as ever, opening with a tight spell and if needed coming back for more at the end. Martin relished dropping to number 6 and showed a return to form with the bat 568 runs @ 113.60 and his tight bowling made the opposition’s job harder.
Besides the return of Doree, Kevin Clifford another of the clubs captains from the past made a return after 5 years. His knowledge and insight quickly made him Doree’s right hand man, and his batting added strength to the top order with 320 runs @ 35.56. Australian Steven Ward made his Windsor debut after 13 years in the wilderness, scoring a fantastic century and 311 runs @ 44.43 and playing in the 2nd and 3rd teams. Racee Khan a useful all rounder bolstered the depth 94 runs @18.80 and 5 wickets @ 29.4 will only improve.
Stephen Day though now 18 and finding other distraction opened the bowling and took 12 wickets @ 16.83 and was amazing in the field with 7 catches. Sam Jordan enjoyed his 5 games with a magnificent 100 not out and 165 runs @ 41.25 as well as bowling useful out swing 5 wickets. Kristan Baumgartner who turned 14 during the season scored 137 runs @ 22.83 and has the right attitude to go along way. Khokhar, Zafar, Unsworth, Harley, Shah and Tindall all filled in from the colts
Alam after a season of being between grades found a home in the 4ths, in 7 games scored a fantastic century and 240 runs @ 40, he also chipped in with 9 wickets @ 14. Gareth Baber showed his versatility playing 6 games scoring 62 runs @ 20.67 with the bat but made a huge impression with 9 wickets at 9.44 not bad for a keeper.
Lickers may of had a season to forget with the bat 56 runs @ 6.22 but his tentacles in the Gully dragged in 6 amazing catches. In the end 33 guys played for the 4ths from colts filling gaps to club legends Charters, Lloyd, Bullock and Endacott all paying a visit.
The New Skipper
The first game saw a new old skipper in Andy Doree returning to the club after a 10 years absence, his experience and ability was welcomed. As the season wore on his knowledge of how to play the 100 over Saturday league game became evident and the team bore the fruit of being the top team by the halfway point. Simple tactics of batting first to get maximum points then bowl tight to put pressure on the chasing team worked, then when only Windsor could win inventive fields and inspirational bowling changes (Baber and Alam) had reward, he was never reactive always proactive and driving the game. Even if the opposition were not bowled out they scored less points, so if you score more points than your oppo every week you are on the right track. The added factor of bowling with the sun behind his arm for the loopy spin also showed there is nothing like local home ground knowledge. Batting at 8 or below to give everyone a fair chance he scored 187 runs @ 46.75, not only did he captain well he added great depth.
The team benefited from the inclusion of some experienced cricketers and it showed in the batting performances. 9 guys scored 150 or more runs, 6 passed the 50 mark and 3 scored centuries. The averages of 6 batsmen being above 35 meant totals of 200+ most weeks. In chasing down targets only once did the 4ths fail and that was in the last game.
With the batsmen doing their job the bowlers knew restricting runs was as important as wickets and the figures showed this. 7 bowlers managed to take 4 or more wickets in a game during the season, the astute use of slow spin to get wickets when the opposition shut up shop was a feature. Baber, Alam and Charters (4-13) benefited with match winning spells in the last 10 overs. 8 bowlers averaged fewer than 20 and no one was slapped around the park. The core of, Martin 37 wickets @ 10.24, Bristow 24 wickets @18.54 and Doree 24 wickets @ 15.21, each bowling over 100 tight overs
The season was a great success due to many factors. The clubs added depth means better cricketers are available and no-ones spot is safe, even the Skipper and the stalwarts were rostered off to give everyone a fair go. The veterans who have returned because of their love of the game added stability and experience that had been missing. Team spirit was fantastic with ego’s left at the door and a positive attitude from all. No one getting down on miss fields or dropped catches just a better luck next time a joke and everyone move forward, in the 4ths it can happen to anyone. The wish for everyone to succeed and get a fair go made for very enjoyable Saturdays, of course winning helps. All of the above means a team gets the best from it’s members, everyone looked forward to Saturday from a team view not a personal one, the spread of excellent performance by all is proof of this.