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2013 Adult Review

1st XI

So another season done and the 1st XI finally appears to be finding their level. The previous few seasons had been relatively comfortable with promotion being obtained (or very nearly obtained). This was our most challenging season for the club's premier side since we first entered the Invitation League but as a club, we have hopefully learnt much from the experience. We had to really scrap to get results in every game (except aqgainst whipping boys Southwick) and had to learn how to lose games putting up a fight rather than throwing in the towel. There were some games where several players felt umpires didn't give us a fair crack of the whip but overall 4th place was a great achievement. The highs were probably the first league game at home to demoted County League side Littlehampton where Chaloner destroyed them at the Rec and at Selsey in mid August when canny captaincy from Howgate throwing the ball to his spinners - Charlie Davies come of age in this match - saw Fitzgerald and Charlie take eight of the home side's wickets. Selsey had looked on course to win the game and escape the relegation zone. If that had happened, there was a real chance we could have gone down instead of them and it wasn't the first time our bowlers had rescued the batsmen this season. After the game, Selsey were extremely courteous in defeat and we wish them all the best in Division Two next season.

A change of job for captain Morrish early season meant that from the first game, VC James Howgate was again elevated to leader. As ever with Jimbo, his selections and problem solving occasionally confused his team mates as much as the opposition but his management especially of the younger players could be ruthless when he needed to. They were often selected to learn from the experience of the older players and had to fight to stay in the 1sts away from the comfort of the 2s. James never suffers from self doubt and players soon had to adapt. He also used people like Chaloner to rescue the batting as well as the bowling. 33 players used in Division One this year as opposed to 37 last year winning the Second Division title demostrates that his desire to get eight or nine regulars was working. Twelve players played five or more league games which is in fact similar to last year. Iain Haggart came over from Storrington and whilst "the Chin" didn't make as many runs as he would like, his fielding and enthusiasm impressed the captain and could not be faltered. 57* in the crunch Selsey away game was also pivotal. James Chaloner was outstanding this season even by his own exalted standards. He picked up 58 wickets in the league for the 1sts including three five-fors but also averaged 37.5 with the bat often helping us to a reasonable total when others folded all around him. His unbeaten 63 at home to Selsey ensured we didn't lose the game and his 60 the following week at Clymping in a hundred run partnership with Mick got us close. He's always said he could bat and Howgate (plus others not scoring around him) gave the man the chance to show it this year.

Mick Armstrong was the only player to achieve a batting average over 50 for the 1s and like many of our other sides, this is the area where we need to improve next season. No centuries were scored in the League in either the 1s or the 2s and the signing of Tim Monday from Wisborough Green (which we announced this week on our Twitter feed) will hopefully go some way to address this. Tom Chambers averaged 38 - as ever it could be six and out for Tommo but this year he added maturity with a fine 71 at home to East Preston, an unbeaten 51 to stop Littlehampton avenging their opening day defeat and 47 as we overcame runners up Felbridge in the last match. As well as James, Mick took 20 wickets and Fitzgerald 17. This website wrote Malcolm off at the start of the season but he again confounded his critics to keep his place in the 1st XI. Only he and his mate "Walter" have played for the 1sts for us every year as a merged club which is a fine record for the pair of them.

So to summarise, a good season where hopefully many players have learnt and progressed. Like all sides, we need to expand the number of people that can produce every week and clearly get more runs on the board. We only made more than 200 in four of the sixteen games last season so some work to be done. The 2nd XI have continued to bridge the gap in quality by playing in Division Four next season which will also help players step up.

2nd XI

Unlike the 1s who had to scrap for everything this year, 2013 continued where 2011 and 2012 had left off. The 2s just keep on rolling with West Wittering. Three successive promotions for the pair of us now. Too many draws, and a costly home defeat to St Matts, cost us the title - we missed out for the second year in succession by a point to the Wittering boys. However there were certainly other games we managed to win when the opposition had us in trouble. More than the other two league sides, this side is a team where no individual is outstanding. They are well led by Stephen and Craig and the narrow wins, coupled with two commanding performances against the division winners, clearly demonstrated the team spirit.

Like all our league sides now, there's a fair sprinkling of youth coupled with some wise old heads. The mainstay of the batting - Bob - was unavailable virtually all season and key bowler Reevers, due to night shifts and aching bones, could only manage about half the games (early on too). However as the Uni boys drifted back, six players managed eight or more league games with the captain managing 12. Not as good as the 1s but as the wins kept coming, much easier to maintain morale and play for the shirt.

The victory at Wittering (with due respect to the home win which was equally conclusive) was probably the result of the season for the club. They bowled us out for just 165 with extras top scoring. However, after fighting talk on the re-start from several senior players, we bowled like demons. RC-P and DB-D put down 20 overs taking four wickets for 46 runs. Change bowlers, Gabbers and JE-M, took four more (3 for Gabriel) before Charlie wrapped up the innings with the final two wickets. Four of the five were colts and the fifth was the old man of 19. Wittering were impressed and not for the first time, the colts showed their value on the big stage.

Other games of note were when the captain was unavailable. A rare defeat when St Matthias beat us at home at the end of June (Craig was distraught) and a protracted draw at Shoreham against Lancing where the game ended in the dark. Manor captain leading their Under 11 from the field as captain Mick threatened to summon Will Chambers to bowl the final overs. They had batted themselves into a position where they could win the game too. (Will was due to bowl some spin as we needed floodlights to see what was going on). In the last game in Brighton against St Matts, with Wittering having finished their fixtures, we needed to take eight wickets to clinch the title and they needed 150 runs to get promoted. St Matts managed their target - a few dropped catches and an unbeaten half century seeing them home. However, we could only manage seven wickets and so Wittering won the title again by one point.

Areas to work on? Eight players averaged over 20 but none over 35. And again like the 1s, no one hit a ton in the league either. When we do find our level like the 1s have this year, learning how to scrap hard in the field and with the bat to grind out results. The St Matts home game should be a warning that we can't take this game for granted. It would seem unlikely that we can continue to charge up the leagues as there are only two promotion spots up for grabs when you reach the upper echelons of the Invitation League. However with many more colts coming through to play adult cricket, the future of the club certainly looks rosey and all sides can look forward to continued progression if we can maintain this impetus!

3rd XI 

So the 3rd XI are quick learners. Last year we were "promoted" in a league restructure to Division Nine but this year, we earned the right to call ourselves promoted after finishing runners up to Arundel. Six players played nine games or more including the more than useful U13 opening bowlers - Reuben Taylor and Dan Abbott. New captain Liam's dad, Paul, won us a couple of games batting well at the top of the order and both vice captain Mike Morrish and new boy Phil Abbott greatly assisted with the running of the side on the field. Liam captained well. He grew in confidence as the season progressed and used his bowlers especially well. In all, 41 players turned out for the 3s this season although several of those only played when the 1s and 2s had a break to get them back into nick.

Next season, as with the 2s, the challenges will increase as we climb the divisions but with the conveyor belt of colts showing no signs of halting, it will be another very interesting season for all concerned. All games below were in the league except the first one which was cancelled.

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