Division One Champions 2018
I’d like to say the 1st team thank you’s as we’ve especially felt the love this year and it really gave us an edge on the field. To the sponsors and donating members, to Jon and Lynn, the groundstaff, Horsey for watching and penning every second of our season (it was good viewing this time though…) and to all who followed us by any means, with a special shout out of course to the best… loudest travelling fans in Hertfordshire. Thanks everyone!
So Our Champion season, Played 18… 1 Rained off… 14 wins… just 3 losses!
A 5 wicket win against Chorleywood got us going at home with Rhys Carter smashing 75 and Shadrach G-B with a maiden Owen’s fifty on his league debut, seeing us chase 209 in just 35 overs. Then rain and a loss came the next 2 weeks unfortunately, but we bounced back with 6 straight victories in true Owen’s style.
In this run of wins the bowlers really showed their class and firmly put down a marker of our Champion intent for the season. 5 of these 6 wins coming as a result of skittling teams for under 150. Wickets were shared between the seamers Jack Bloxham, Sam Boothby, Caleb Hewson, Shoaib Khan and Bradley Lane during this period and we’ll get to the spinners later.
Arguably the win of the season came in this run. We hosted the Champions of 2017, Harpenden 2s, here at Fortress Coopers Lane. I lost the toss, shock, but it gave our batsmen a chance to show their class, as we were stuck in to bat. And my, did they show their class. Chris Whitworth and Rhys Carter put on a mammoth 160 for the first wicket! Chris was dismissed on 65, to leave Rhys to totally steal the show with the top score of the season and one of the most destructive innings I have ever witnessed. 143 runs… 142 balls… 21 fours… 3 sixes! I am told by Chris Palmer and Ralph Lane who batted at some length with him, for 30s each, that in the end Rhys was calling his shots over the trees into the cow field before the ball was being bowled… champion behaviour if i’ve ever heard it. We ended the innings with 317 on the board and Horse needing new ink in his pens. At lunch I didn’t think much could really top the first half, but Jack Bloxham had his own ideas, taking his first 5fa for the club with a devastating spell of fast bowling, to lead us to a 170 run victory over our fiercest rivals. A total performance that if we can consistently replicate, will make us unstoppable again in the next few years.
The second half of our season saw our trio of off spinners play their part. A match changing 5-13 from Whitworth over at Shenley, coupled with an industrious 69 from Shadrach, took us past our closest challenge for the title, a win that essentially set us up to become league Champions.
Our ever reliable spin wizard Robert Sibley starred again as our King of spin tallying 29 wickets and crowned the best bowler in Div 1 and to top off his great first full season for the Owen’s Rhys finished with 20 wickets and was 3rd in the league averages with his ‘part time’ offies.
Another key factor to our success this year was our middle order batters, asked to chase totals all season by their win the toss and bowl captain. Time and time again they held their nerve and consistently put on invaluable scores of 30+ to ensure we were on the winning side more often than not. Chris Palmer, Ralph Lane & Jordan Carter, the ‘not out’ brigade… i salute you Champions!
My last word goes to all the champion players this season. A special group of cricketers, a pain to organise at times, but a joy to lead onto the field every week. We have so much more to achieve and with the brand of cricket we are starting to play and the type of dressing room we have, there is no reason why we cannot achieve everything there is to do in Herts cricket if we keep improving.
Champions! Let’s make sure its not the last time we celebrate to that word.
1st XI awards 2019:
Batting – Chris Whitworth: 536 runs @ 38 av.
Bowling – Robert Sibley – 29 wickets @ 12 av.