Buckingham Town II’s end their season on Saturday with a trip to Abingdon Vale and with just a point separating the two sides the battle is on for fifth place in the Cherwell Cricket League Division One table. However, fourth place Twyford go to Oxford Downs who are battling it out for the championship and should Twyford lose and Town win (depending on bonus points), then a fourth place finish is not out of the question. A tense week-end lies ahead for quite a few sides in the division as the season draws to a climax!
Steve Beck in action
This week Sports Shots caught up with II’s skipper Steve Beck to find out just how tough a season it’s been?
It has been tough but it was what we expected, it’s the first time Buckingham Town have had a second team in this division. We could not have started any worse than conceding 317 in the first match and having to start the game with only 9 players!!!
There have been a few other disasters over the season but we have improved, the hard part as captain comes in the 50 overs games where you have more restrictions, but certainly in the second half of the season we have had more options so that helps
What were the hopes for the team at the beginning of the season?
When we started the season back in May, if you had offered me mid-table security then I would have taken it, as the overall aims were to get the 1st team & 3rd team promoted, and thankfully the first team have achieved their goal. With them in the HCPCL Premier Division next season, it is imperative that the seconds stay at as higher level as possible. Hopefully with 2 points on Saturday we will achieve this
How did Steve keep the squad spirits up when the team went through that long spell without a win?
It was a long gap between week three and week fourteen, but I have played in this league long enough especially in the timed games, to know that you need to keep picking up points week in week out.
We batted first to help take the pressure off our batting line up which was pretty fragile during the first half of the season, this meant we kept picking up points from good draws. Back in 2013 I played in a side that only won 1 match during the season but we almost finished fourth that year!
The key was to compete in the matches so everyone realised we should be in this league. We have only lost six games this year and four of those were against the two stand out sides in the division
Matthew Thatcher runs & wickets
After the losing streak early in the season, the 2nds suddenly managed two winning draws before the four game winning run they currently boast, what changed the fortunes?
The batting line up started to click and we put up 241 and 298 in successive weeks. When you have scores on the board the bowling unit have less pressure and we were able to set an attacking field.
Sam Younghusband started scoring well, Matthew Thatcher gave us stability and Adam King hit our highest individual score of the season (80) which game the team confidence and also a platform to attack from.
The Banbury game was huge though as they were in a position to win the game with 10 overs to go, but we stuck together well as a unit and got crucial wickets, Waz and Albert Johnson in his first game enabling us to get the winning draw. I think if they had beat us, the next few weeks could have been different
If results go their way this week-end, Town II’s could finish fourth in the league, how strange does that sound after the bad spell the team went through?
It sounds unbelievable after we were bottom following the hammering by Great Brickhill on week thirteen. We sat down after the game and said we need to win three games to give ourselves a chance, as it happens we have won four on the spin. I feel that with the exception of the top two sides, there is not a huge difference between the remaining eight sides, so three teams getting relegated puts a lot of pressure on everyone
So what will the plans be during the winter to plan for the 2019 season?
I think the club will be sitting down again soon after the season finishes to decide what the targets for 2019 will be. With the first team now in the Premier Division, they will have to recruit, hopefully this will increase their squad size from 12/13 to 15/16 which will in turn improve the second team.
As a second team, we need to try and attract some younger guys that are happy to play Cherwell Division 1 but push on and play Premier Cricket in the future. It is a perfect place to develop your skills, win matches and put pressure on the first team captain to pick you!!
Wasim Fayyaz leading wicket taker
So how tough a game does Steve expect at Abingdon on Saturday?
The last game of a season can always be a funny one, but we are not safe from relegation as we need 2 points so that is the first aim. The time to party will be when we are back at the club with the rest of the teams!
Abingdon are decent side who have a few match winners so you can’t turn up and take anything for granted. It should be a good game. And I know we will have a beer or two with Whitey after
Finally, we asked the captain for his stand out players this season:
We have chopped and changed a lot this season which is part of the reason we struggled for the first half of the season. And over the season everyone has had their day but the three below deserve a mention:
Sam Younghusband – Teams leading run scorer with 342
Matthew Thatcher – Since becoming available has scored 271 (averaging 39 Teams highest) and taken valuable wickets
Wassim Fayyaz – The leading wicket taker in Division 1 with 39 wickets
I would also like to thank the lads from the third team that have come in and out, sometimes on short notice to help out. Possibly the biggest single wicket of the season was taken by Richard Pengelly v Challow when Ryan Gordon was out!! I can’t believe I have just admitted that!
The team for Saturday is as follows:
- Ali Martin
- G Singh
- S Younghusband
- M Thatcher
- C Cater
- A Johnson
- S Beck
- B Stafford
- J Gear
- R Pengelly
- W Fayyaz
Sports Shots would like to thank Steve for his time not only this week, but for every week of this season for his previews and team lists.