The First XI season started promisingly with two friendly wins from three. Wins against Taunton CC & Gloucester CC and a very tight loss to Stapleton CC.
The first game of the league season was against eventual league winners Golden Hill CC where George Willis in his WEPL league debut bowled superbly well in reducing the visitors to 29-4. Golden Hills overseas player Tayyab Riaz scored an unbeaten 121* and ran out winners on the day. Positives to take into the early season league fixtures.
Cue an unprecedented 3 consecutive fixtures being cancelled in a row due to rain!
Our first win of the season came at home in a low scoring game against Bristol West Indies. Ben Figueiredo with the crucial match winning knock of 51 with the team posting what seemed like an under par 140. An all-round team bowling performance and talisman Stuart Macarthur taking the crucial wickets at the end of a nail-biting finish!
Only winning 1 in the next 6 matches was a serious bump in the road. Barring a heavy loss to Twyford House we were competitive and in every match. A recurring theme was not being able to capitalise on strong positions with the ball. Having Knowle 89-5, Keynsham 63-5, Brislington 114-7 & Bristol West Indies 47-5; certainly food for thought for next season in making sure we finish teams off!
A few special moments dotted in amongst that difficult run. The one win at home against Congresbury with new recruit Jonny Norman taking 4-30 & vintage Rupert Swetman bringing the team home in style with 54*. A personal highlight for me was a certain Olly Harris taking 5-30 on his First Team league debut, bowling superbly to remove Bristol West Indies strongest batters with the whole family watching!
Special moments aside, going into August the team found themselves in the relegation zone and facing a real battle to stay in the WEPL. I was so pleased with the response from the whole team and winning 2 from the next 3 fixtures (the other cancelled by rain) with superb away wins against Congresbury & Keynsham.
Congresbury away was a rare sunny fixture where a strong batting performance finished by Ben Keysell hitting some of the biggest 4’s I’ve seen (the ball touching the highest leaf of the infamous tree on this lovely ground). An all-round bowling performance spearheaded by George Willis once again, with tight bowling under pressure from old stager Will Penny & a beautiful 9 overs of off spin from the young Kunal Barman seeing the team run out winners by 27 runs.
Keynsham was a rain effected 20 over thriller and a genuine pleasure to see the teams most youthful players make match winning performances. With the team chasing and seemingly up against it with a flurry of wickets, Charlie Collar 34* & Joe Durie 24 showing determination and a high level of skill beyond their years in bringing the team home in a tight finish!
The results meant going into the last game of the season it ‘was in our hands’ and a win against a strong Twyford House side would be enough to keep the First XI in the WEPL but losing having to keep a nervous eye on other results. The captain befitting of his ‘red cap’ nickname (being likened to skimmed milk with no substance) left the team in the lurch and decided to sun himself abroad. Vice captain Finlay Yates showing outstanding leadership qualities in making an important 77 runs. 6 bonus points was enough to keep the team up in a loss where fortunately Bristol West Indies lost heavily to Golden Hill and keeping Old Bristolians Westbury in the WEPL for the 2022 season!
The season finished with 5 wins 7 losses and a staggering 6 matches cancelled/abandoned due to rain! George Willis taking an impressive 23 wickets in his first season for the club and club legend Stuart Macarthur taking 21 wickets combining to be a standout strike bowling opening pair whom I’m sure will be terrorising top order batsman next season. Ben Harris also showing promise in opening batting for the majority of the season finishing with 264 runs.
In my first full season back playing at OBW’s since 2015 it was a genuine pleasure to be back representing this wonderful cricket club. I can only thank the team for their efforts throughout the season and look forward to the spending the 2022 season with such a superb group.
Russell Baker – 1st XI Captain