Annual Dinner and Awards 2010

by Jack McGill

The President's speech at the club's annual dinner Friday 8 October 2010

Gentlemen, welcome to the BBC Scotland CC annual dinner and awards, 2010. Before this evening's awards, may I ask you all to be upstanding and toast, The Club.

Thank you all for your contribution to another successful season, for attending practice, for your availability for matches, for attending this evening. Thank you for your flight, your guile, your swing, your turn, your length, your pace, your drives, your cuts, your sixes, your fours, your website, your accounting, your lucky top edges over the keeper, your catches and run-outs, your stumpings. Most of all thank you for the good humour and spirit that you all displayed throughout the season.

Thank you to the members and groundstaff of Clydesdale Cricket Club for their continued support and for giving us a home that is the envy of our league opponents and to Baxter Storey for their sponsorship again this season.

I'd like to thank our opposition for the drama and entertainment they have contributed, and for their questionable interpretation of the laws of the game.

As has so often been the case, it has been a season of what-ifs and could-have-beens. Two league wins, could conceivably have been five but what if two conceded matches had been played and lost, and the prospect facing us tonight was relegation and not promotion?

At the end of a season in the West of Scotland one can only look back and be thankful we played any cricket at all.

And what of that cricket?

Well, we were nothing if not inconsistent. The worst pre-season start imaginable recorded no fewer than five ducks in an epic fail against the Clydesdale Development XI. Bowled out for 37, chased down within two overs; it was an inauspicious start.

In the first round of the Greenwood Cup, the first shoots of hope began to spring up. Despite conceding over 180 runs to the GU Staff, the team also managed what was at the time, a club record 136 runs. Nick Rougvie was the undoubted star of the show, contributing significantly to the score of both his own team and the opposition.

The club also played its first 40 over match at West of Scotland, a match marked out by comical fielding, comical running and comical batting.

West's total of 192 could have been a great deal lower if catching chances at 0, 4, & 28, had been held against a batsman who went on to score 104. Save for Colin and Gregor's bowling and Ewan's 40 there might not have been any encouragement to take from the game at all. But pre-season is there to iron out the kinks and remind everyone of their development needs: clear and decisive calling, backing up, attacking the ball; catching!

A winning temperament requires urgency but not panic; calm but not inattentiveness. Our ability or inability to find that balance separated us from the highs and lows we endured over the season and forms the basis of tonight's first award.

Panic can lead to needless overthrows during a tight runs chase, calm will secure you the run out.

In every match there was the sublime and the ridiculous. This year's nominees for Champagne Moment are:

  • Bharat Balani for a comedy, will he, won't he, dropped catch v. West of Scotland
  • David Blane for an inspired direct-hit run-out v. the Biologists (Winner)
  • Ani Vaidya for being run-out having ventured only eight inches outside his crease
  • Nick Rougvie for capping off a six-encrusted season with a massive hit v. East Kilbride
  • Gregor Dean for his one-stump, direct-hit run out v. Biologists
  • Jack McGill for being given a lesson in humility by a girl v. East Kilbride

Fielding is an area where at times there were definite signs of improvement. As always there were constants on which we all could rely: the athleticism of Toby and David Blane, the skipper's willingness to throw himself recklessly in front of anything that came at him and Phil Goodlad's uncanny knack of appearing to dive for the ball whilst getting out of its way. But elsewhere Michael Hines showed significant improvement in the field…he started using his hands…and Colin and Ani proved to be ever dependable catchers of the ball.

Indeed there were several excellent catches during the season and probably fewer put down than we've previously seen. The nominees for Best Catch of the Season are:

  • Ani Vaidya's head-height snatch at backward square-leg v. The Biologists, Garscube
  • Peter Mellis's sliding catch at long-on v. GU Staff, Garscube (Winner)
  • David Holmes's diving effort at Cover v. The Biologists, Titwood
  • Peter Mellis's crotch-held take at Point v. The Biologists, Titwood
  • Colin Moffat's slapstick fall v West of Scotland, Hamilton Crescent

Yes, the start of the season proved that certain things weren't going to change. Peter couldn't keep his head down, Holmesy didn't lift his head enough and I couldn't keep mine at all.

But the standard expected of all of us was higher and with the kind of squad rotation that would make Rafa Benitez proud, it was incumbent upon the regulars to step up.

One player in particular showed a renewed purpose to which I have already alluded. His attitude towards the club and commitment to practice set a very positive example, and a more consistent if still filthy bowling performance throughout the season secured him five wickets with a particularly impressive turn on tour.

The award for most improved player goes to Michael Hines.

Having a player improve in that way can feel like a new signing, but actually having new signings can also make a significant difference. With Tom we got personality, with Gregor we got pace and a lot of extras, but the addition of our next award winner has provided the middle order of our batting with extra punch. Despite his questionable running between the wickets and a near suicidal approach to grounding his bat, his 43 from 28 balls against the Biologists and 39 also from 28 balls against East Kilbride were both batting highlights of the season. Add a liberal sprinkling of sixes and with 135 runs and a safe pair of hands, the Best Newcomer of the Season Award goes to Ani Vaidya.

The batsmen probably take the greatest plaudits from a season in which the team scored over 1100 runs in competitive fixtures. Our total of 186 away to the GU Staff was the highest total of any team in the division and our battling 148 at Queen's Park one of the biggest totals against the eventual league champions. Nick Rougvie proved to be the season's big hitter with no fewer than eight sixes on his way to 162 for the season. With two further team totals in the 150s, the batsmen can take a great deal of satisfaction in their efforts.

As in previous seasons, however, one player outscored everyone else by some margin and provided the foundation on which most of our big scores were built. With 267 runs and the first player to break 500 runs for the club, the Batsman of the Season is your captain, David Holmes.

There were, of course, also lows this season. The acrimonious departure of Phil Goodlad, I note, rumbles on. Apologies were very much de rigueur this season. Tom Cara joined the Primary Club, David Blane split up with ninety-three girlfriends, we…or rather I, fell out with the Biologists and East Kilbride…twice. And various members of squad succumbed to a host of injuries: Gregor's back flared up as frequently as his liver, Bharat suffered an unusual, economy-saving shoulder injury, the day before the match against Queen's Park; trialist, Matt Walmsley, tore his hamstring in the warm up for the Charity sixes and I'm sure I cracked a rib at some point…

…but the award for Injury of the Season can only go to one man: for missing two games after sustaining a neck injury, drying his hair, the winner is Tom Cara.

On the bowling side, I think it's safe to say that it was a frustrating season. The inconsistency of line up and dire lack of bowlers at practice, probably played its part, and there were some shockers along the way.

But when they get it right, it's as close as we get to proper cricket. Bharat Balani took five wickets and could have taken more if he'd held any of the catches off his own bowling. When Gregor was sober, his pace was a useful weapon taking four wickets.

As always Colin Moffat steadily accrued wickets and despite shutting down into a near coma at the end of the first East Kilbride match, he took six wickets in the league and a great performance of 3-22 in the pre-season friendly at West.

This year's Bowler of the Season is, however, no stranger to picking up awards on these occasions and my only regret is that we don't see more of him. With seven league wickets and a terrific strike rate, The Bowler of the Season is Toby Stevens.

Before we get to the business end of the evening, I would like to inaugurate one last award. The BBC Scotland CC OBE.

This award goes to someone who has devoted considerable time and effort to the improvement of the image and organisation of this club. Despite playing, I think, only one game this season, he has attended the majority of the games to score and, after those he couldn't attend, has completed his homework with diligence. His dedication was never more in evidence than on the final game of the season, when having travelled to East Kilbride and changed for the match, he selflessly gave up his place in the team to Ani.

The website he has created for the club is in the very best traditions of the BBC, informative, educational and entertaining and without him you wouldn't know how many extras you bowled or dot balls you faced.

It has been a huge help to me and I think by the start of next season will be the envy even of Cricket Scotland's web editor.

Alan Lawson, on behalf of the club, I'd like to thank you for all your efforts and present you with the award for Other Bugger's Efforts.

And so to the main event. In a season of bits and pieces, it has been conveyed to me through the voting process that arriving at a Players' Player of the season has proved difficult. Indeed, it was described by one member as being as painful as nettles to the genitals, razors in the rectum or listening to Rep Scot and finally's on an endless loop.

It has not been easy to find an outstanding contribution on the field of play. One contender has demonstrated ability in the field, taken five league wickets, an impressive batting strike rate, including 49 against QP, and a commitment to practice that has resulted in noticeable improvement in his play over the course of the season. His name is always one of the first on the teamsheet, but he is the runner-up: David Gest…Blane.

The other contender - and winner of this year's award - was described as having a bowling action like an epileptic giraffe doing backstroke. Despite this, his leadership throughout the season, clam head, sorry calm head, and catenaccio style of batting…not to mention his ability to soak up pressure…exerted by his own teammates has been an inspiration. I would personally like to add my thanks for his increased support this season and the beautiful bromance that has blossomed between us. It's touched me in ways I didn't think possible.

Your Players' Player of the Season is David Holmes.

And so finally to the Baxter Storey Player of the Season. The award this year recognises more than simply runs and wickets, since let's be honest, it had to. In our bits and pieces season, it is our opinion that one person has epitomised the spirit of the club above all others and that the bits and pieces he has contributed throughout the year add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts.

He takes our cause seriously enough to have a near perfect attendance record at nets, on some occasions throwing the ball up and hitting it back to himself, but has never lost sight of the fun, never taken himself too seriously and drinks a pint of lager faster than anyone else here. He has been a loyal supporter of the tour, I suspect at risk to the health of his domestic equilibrium.

His 149 runs this season included a blistering 41 not out in 15 balls at Garscube and twice electing not to walk when players in the dressing room could hear the snick. His bowling lives up to the club motto admirably and he has been without question this year's outstanding fielder with five catches. His vice-captaincy has served David well throughout the season and his tactical advice is always insightful and delivered in an appropriate manner, which is not to say it's always right as Ani will testify after he cost him three wickets on tour by removing the slip fielder!

This year's Baxter Storey Player of the Season is our Mr Nice Guy, Peter Mellis.