1st XI Season Report 2017
The 1st XI’s 2017 season was a memorable and highly successful one and for a good number of reasons.
I was fortunate indeed this year to have a group of highly enthusiastic and talented boys; in total, fifteen boys played for the XI and every single one contributed to the success of the season. This was a remarkably inclusive season with fourteen boys getting the opportunity to bat and, remarkably, all fifteen boys getting the opportunity to bowl in matches! Eleven of twelve scheduled fixtures were completed and of the eight matches against U13 teams of other schools, seven were won with the single defeat coming on the final ball of the match. The boys were also the Glenalmond Six a Side Tournament champions. This makes 2017 the most successful season of my twelve years’ tenure as 1st XI. Six half centuries were scored by three boys – a new record for the 1st XI - as was Oscar’s magnificent 97 in the Merchiston game.
The season opened with a seventy-five run win against Ardvreck and included a fantastic knock worth fifty-four by Robbie. This match showed that the group was able to bat aggressively, scoring at nearly six an over and also showed the depth of bowling available with eight bows bowling and five of them taking wickets.
Fettes, also at home was next up and I have lost some sleep over this match! Batting first, we scored 137 which was a decent score but slightly below par. Despite some good bowling, two Fettes lads had excellent innings and by the time we had got past them and into their long tail, it was just too late. In an absolutely gripping finale, they managed to score the winning run off the final ball of their allotted twenty-five overs.
Another excellent innings worth seventy-nine by Robbie and some economical bowling by all those give a chance against Loretto, led to a sixty-five run win there. Robbie was again in the runs against Riley House (Strathallan) racing to an unbeaten fifty in just twenty-five balls and rounding off a remarkable run of form. The form 2s also put in a good showing with fine innings by Sam up front, William and Charlie. Ben too had a good knock and they took our total to an imposing 201 off just 20 overs.
In a break from the 11-a-side format, six intrepid lads headed north to participate in the annual Glenalmond Six a Side Competition. The boys dominated most of their matches and went one better than last year, beating St. Mary’s in a hard-fought final to lift the trophy as champions and make it a double with the U11s at the end of a fantastic day of cricket.
An entertaining match against the Old Boys with a social braai afterwards was a grand opportunity to catch up with last year’s leavers but wasn’t much of a spectacle as the XI romped home.
After such resounding successes, it was a bit of a shock to come across a very strong Edinburgh Academy U14A side in the capital. Decent knocks by Robbie and Lochie were not backed up by any others as the team struggled with some fast and accurate bowling, being particularly troubled by their left-armer. 115 off 20 overs was never going to be enough and unfortunately our bowling attack which was usually rock-solid, had it’s worst day of the season allowing the Academy to romp home with nine wickets in hand.
A very, very wet day at Cargilfield resulted in a simple win by 8 wickets for Belhaven but the most impressive thing about that game was, perhaps, that we managed to finish the game at all! Jonty had a good spell with the ball in hand while I was stunned that Gimmie still managed to get some swing despite the ball resembling a lump of soggy soap. In fact, considering the conditions, this was a very good effort in the field.
The St. Mary’s match, in Melrose was, after the Fettes nail-biter, one of the best of the season and played under sunny skies. Despite some decent bowling, Robbie and Oscar got us off to the perfect start as Oscar blazed away and raced to his fifty off 29 balls. Despite a strike-rate of 124, Robbie’s excellent 46 seemed sedate by comparison. I was delighted when Lochie also built an innings and ended up retiring on 57. St. Mary’s had a good go at reaching the target but fell short by 66 runs.
Merchiston failed to put up much of a fight due, in no small part, to a spectacular innings by Oscar, worth 97 runs. I’ve never had a century yet in twelve years of coaching the 1sts and I suspect that I may have been more nervous than Oscar as he entered the nineties. Everyone was gutted when he fell short of his century but it didn’t take anything away from a very special innings. Though slightly overshadowed, Ben and Sam also had good knocks into the twenties. Sam followed this up with a four wicket haul with the ball in hand while Lochie knocked over three wickets for just ten runs.
A long break from cricket ensued with all the excitement of C.E. and school exams followed by half term and school trips or camps. The boys regrouped for the final match of the season and while I was a little worried that they were underprepared, I needn’t have been. A fine opening spell from Oscar and Gimmie put Craigclowan on the back foot and they never recovered. Nine boys bowled in this innings with Harry, Henry and Josh all doing well. It was, however Oscar who finished his season in fine form scooping a five wicket haul for just five runs. Robbie and Sam then knocked off the majority of the runs, leading Belhaven to a nine wicket victory to end the season in fine style.
The single and double wicket competitions are always fiercely competed and there were one or two upsets this year and some very exciting games indeed. Eventually, however, O. Jack was the very deserving winner of the single, beating L. Bruneau in the final while the two of them teamed up to win the doubles competition in a very close final against W. Gimlette and B. Prentice.
As mentioned at the start, this was a highly successful season for the 1st XI but (and I know some of you won’t believe this, coming from me) winning is not everything and the season’s success should not be measured by the victories alone. By any measure however, this was a fantastic season. I love cricket and I love coaching cricket; this group of boys is one of the reasons why. Their spirit, endeavour, desire to succeed and improve and, possibly most important for me, the delight they take in each other’s successes, is what it is all about.
With nine of the fifteen boys who played for the 1sts returning next year and with a very strong group of lads coming through from the U11s, the future looks bright for cricket at Belhaven Hill.
v Ardvreck: won by 75 runs
v Fettes: lost by 6 wickets (last ball!)
v Loretto: won by 65 runs
v Riley House: won by 177 runs
v Ed. Ac. U14: lost by 9 wickets
v Cargilfield: won by 8 wickets
v St. Mary’s: won by 66 runs
v Merchiston: won by 109 runs
v Craigclowan: won by 9 wickets
Glenalmond Six a Side Competition: Competition Winners
Old Boys: Won, easily
Fathers: Won, just!
Single Wicket Competition Winner: O. Jack
Double Wicket Competition Winners: O. Jack and L. Bruneau
Team selected from: O. Jack (capt.)*, R. Stewart Howitt (wk) *, L. Bruneau*, S. Walford*, B. Prentice, S. Harris Stuart, W. Gimlette, O. Tomlyn, J. Mitchell, H. Thomas, H. Bouverie, C. Mitchell, J. Thomson, J. Nevill, O. Gray Muir.
(* denotes colours)