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1st XI - Captains Report

Wednesday 25th October 2017

2017 proved another successful season for the 1st XI as some dominant performances throughout gave us a second place finish in Section One and a T20 finals day at the Lawn. However I would suggest, as I am, that most will probably feel disappointed that we did not finish in top position of Section One. Ultimately we finished with a credible 12 wins from 18 league games. In respect of cup competition we were convincingly beaten by Premier League opponents Muckamore at the Quarter final stage of the Challenge Cup..

From first accepting the position last January I knew that I had a tough act to follow in Michael Irwin and made even more difficult with our early decision not to bring in an overseas player due to Visa regulations. Ultimately the fact that we did not have one or more so that eventual league winners Armagh did, proved the difference.

 I must firstly thank all of the players for their dedication and commitment throughout the season. I knew that it may prove difficult without the return of Sujit however I could not be more pleased with those who stepped up to the mark. I must mention the exceptional season that Mark Irwin had with 724 runs at 52 and the crucial contributions he made on numerous occasions. He was consistent with the bat and end of season performances with the ball shows his credentials as an all-rounder. I must also mention Ferhan Saeed who has been a consistent performer over the past few seasons with the ball, however has only on sporadic occasions, showed his ability with the bat too. I always knew there was more he could give with the bat in hand and this season he delivered, none more so than his century against Derriaghy with his 100. A special mention must also go to Michael Irwin who brought up his maiden century in any form of cricket which is no mean feat.

In terms of the performance with the ball there is one player that stole the show. Thomas Hill finished the season with 51 wickets which very few cricketers can say that they have done at any level. ‘Tucker’ deserves much higher plaudits than he has received to date for his performance. Ferhan, although struggling early on for wickets, came back with a return of 31 wickets, which is an excellent return, given his exploits with the bat too. I would like to mention Paul Robinson, although not taking the amount of wickets he would have wanted in 2017, was the one bowler that I could turn to when either runs needed saved or there was a need for a ‘big’ wicket.

Although there were many positives from 2017 I would still like to address a few issues that we the players must address next season. I must admit that, although not surprised, I was disappointed with certain aspects on the field which have been proved in the end of season stats. We have prided ourselves for the past few years for batting to 11 but I would suggest that this is no longer the case as we showed, on too many occasions, that our batting can capitulate and quickly. This is only one on-field issue of a few which I primarily attribute as result of low numbers at practice throughout 2017 which was not good enough. I would challenge each and every player to improve this next season. Off the field, as would be the case with many clubs, I believe that more people need to get involved and do more for the club. We cannot go on relying on the sparse 3-4 people who keep the club going on a daily basis.

With that short rant over I would like to thank my vice-captain David Connelly for his support on and off the field together with the other senior players around the team that offered me invaluable advice. It is great to have past captains Marty, Paul and Timmy about the team who have an abundance of experiences behind them. Special thanks must be given to Brian, Dennis, Ronnie and Anton who we very much rely on in respect of the ground and to the likes of Paul Robinson and Stephen Whitehead who put in so much unseen effort off the field. Well done to Phil Stewart and the 2nd Xi on strong season together with Colin Storey who I do not envy in his role of 3rd Xi captain due to lack of availability of players throughout the season.

I had said on many occasions in the past that one thing I would never do would be captain of Woodvale….but here I am. To the players I would ask each and every one to look at their own individual performance as a whole last season and challenge themselves to improve on each and every aspect of their game. If we can improve as individuals then we will no doubt achieve more as a collective group. I must say that I enjoyed my first season as captain of Woodvale Cricket Club and have learnt a lot in a short space of time which I hope to take into the 2018 season.