The Captain’s Report 2014

Players may come and players may go but Bushmen cricket continues to flourish after 72 years of existence. Like every skipper before him, in what follows Chris Ancil has much to praise and much to lament. He stands tall in the tradition of Bushmen captains who put the enjoyment of the team before themselves. As always Chris performed admirably with bat and ball.  It was good to see the Ancil brothers re-united on a cricket pitch and thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Chris and his partner Kate are to be congratulated on devising the most wonderful overseas tour to France to bring the cricket season to a deeply satisfying conclusion.  At the converted Mill life took on the tenor of an African safari, with supplies being shipped in from some mysterious source beyond the grounds, and Mowbray Jackson supplying omelettes for everybody during the three hour-long breakfasts.  

Our opponents were, with one notable exception, all Brits.  Comment of the weekend came from a disgruntled opening bat from the opposing team, “The trouble with the French is that they can’t integrate.” Priceless.

Our tour ended on a high as the team and friends paid a sunlit visit to St. Martin de Re.  It is events such as these which make playing for the Bushmen a source of the deepest pleasure. Ed.


Captain’s Log, 2014

Being a Bushman cricketer in 2014, I think it’s fair to say, was less emotionally topsy turvy than is often the case.  That said, the season got off to a disappointing defeat to eight players including small children at Farleigh Wallop.

The team enjoyed some excellent cumulative efforts to overcome strong opposition. A decent example being against Waldron, who are always strong, where Lyndon and Will’s father and son combo put on 106 to see us home. Also the win against confident Hartley Wintney was particularly memorable as we chased 172 to win with seven overs left.

Other strong team efforts failed to result in victories for the team on a few occasions due to generous play-making decisions by the Bushmen. In no way should we stop encouraging tight finishes, as has always been the Bushman way, but I have to admit when I come to look at the end of season stats, my competitive side wishes some of the draws were the wins they deserved to be!

One example of this might be on a bizarre July day when with 10 players The Bushmen appeared at a very sunny Kirdford, choosing to bat we were 4 for 1. At the end of our innings we declared early on 304 for 1. Will Jones, who had made his first fifty for the team a couple of weeks previously, made 123 not out, with the skipper making 143 not out.  Various records were broken including highest team score and highest partnership.  One day I shall write a more in depth report of this day.  We got Kirdford to nine wickets down, but the game ended in a draw.

Other notable individual scores include Nick Norman Butler making a hundred when captaining the side soon after his marriage to Alicia in America.  Nick’s bowling also came to the fore from the Suffolk tour onwards.  He gains great pace from his height and ripped through two teams.  Lyndon and John Whitehead also made their first Bushmen fifties and Howard Owens’ runs at Groombridge continued to demonstrate that he can hit a ball further and harder than most.  Clyde Jeavons showed he still is hard to get out with a defiant 20 over long innings in Suffolk and Michael Cockerell still clearly has an eye for a ball, with runs from his willow at Brondesbury.

With the ball, Will Jones again bowled with pace and impressive control, stalwarts Cockerell and Jeavons – who along with Andy Popperwell took a five-for at Fernhurst- continued to make hay now well into their seventies.  Simon Israel found wobble with the ball and took regular valuable wickets being a very useful partnership breaker to such an extent that ‘should have brought him on earlier skip’ could often be heard at the fall of a wicket.  Simon also took three remarkable big boundary catches at Brondesbury, two in near identical consecutive balls. Michael Kaye, still the oldest, most enthusiastic and flexible player, bowled a few impressive spells, picking up wickets. Mowbray Jackson also showed a renewed gift behind the stumps with a couple of fine stumpings.

Some of the players also played in an invitational game to mark Kate Adie’s involvement at Cerne Abbas cricket club.  Bernie Spratt arranged this fixture which the players enjoyed greatly and this saw the recruitment of Tony Grant, editor of From Our Own Correspondent, to The Bushman team.  We look forward to seeing more of Tony on the field.

The traditional tours to Dorset and Suffolk were greatly enjoyed despite Suffolk proving bizarrely winless. In Dorset Howard Owens performed a hat-trick with the ball, a highlight in yet another impressively consistent season.  We did enjoy wonderful new grounds at stately homes at Chadacre and Ickworth, thanks to Peter Herrmann as always for his fixtures work. At Chadacre Andy Popperwell nearly pulled off an outstanding catch which injured his finger to such an extent that he missed Sunday’s game. At Ickworth Steven Crossley bowled a fine, flowing spell, the stutter in his run up eradicated and demonstrating a return to form enjoyed by the team.

The overseas tour saw us visit Maillé, near La Rochelle, France.  We won both games.  The first was a two innings match that showed a new approach to playing in the heat that worked well and kept a one sided match interesting.  In the second innings Andy Popperwell carried his bat, showing a rare glimpse of what he can do with a willow as he scored a controlled 18 not out in 18 overs sharing in good partnerships.  The second match was won in a thrilling last over finish with the recently married former skipper, Bobby Ancil, taking a calm boundary catch in an expertly bowled over by Michael Cockerell that may have seen others wilt, despite starting it with a wide!  The game also saw Richard Heller play the shot of the season, a charged lofted straight drive that was also captured on camera.  New recruit, World Service studio manager Rob Fanner also made his tour debut hitting two innings of twenty. Earlier, Howard Owens had scored a dashing 84 with the help of a runner.  Young Fanner was selected for the task in spite of not knowing what to do.  Richard Heller called expertly for him from the other end helping the team add 30 valuable runs without the usual chaos that a runner brings.     The entire touring party of fifteen enjoyed sharing a large converted mill as their accommodation – the après match was as much fun as the season for which we were marking the end.

Thanks to all concerned, I hope my memory has kept a decent record of the season.
Well played and thank you for the fun.