Boys' Cricket: U11A Season's Report 2021
Belhaven Under 11A Cricket report
Played 5 : Won 2 : Lost 2 : Tied 1
J. Cunningham ©, A. Brownlow, H. Brownlow, B. Bucher, C. Corstorphine, G. de Robien, J. Foster, S. Jack, F. Leitch, L. Lyon, T. McNicol, T. Watson
With rain having washed out our opening fixture against Merchiston, our first match was away at Ardvreck. We won the toss and chose to bowl first, giving the boys a chance to get used to a competitive match environment – with last summer lost to Covid, this was a first cricket match for some and so there were some important areas to address, such as how to wear whites properly (shirts tucked in) and how to change fielding positions between overs (beat the wicketkeeper to your new fielding position), not to mention the pressure of bowling straight and fielding in a focused and committed manner. Whilst some of the bowling on the astro wicket was a little rusty, the fielding was outstanding, and a direct hit from Captain Jamie Cunningham to run out their opening batsman was the first of three run outs as the Belhaven fielders piled on the pressure. Ardvreck built some momentum towards the end of their innings and scored 59-3 from their 15 overs. We had been working hard on our running between the wickets – good backing up and a commitment to look to score from every ball means that you should be able to transfer pressure to the fielding side – and the Belhaven innings started well. Although no batsman dominated, the boys played sensibly and positively and a crucial partnership of 39 between Fin Leitch and Alfie Brownlow saw us reach our target with 4 and a half overs to spare. A six wicket victory was a great way to start!
Our next opponents were Strathallan U12. We drove through heavy rain and agreed to play a softball match on arrival – the hard ball would not have reappeared after pitching, we decided – and we batted first in a 20 over match. Some good running and some very encouraging cover drives from Johnny Foster saw us up to a total of 109-7 from our 20. The Strathallan batsman treated our accurate bowling with disdain – they had some strong hitters and, as the boys pointed out to me later on, using the plastic bats with a windball is a sensible option as the ball travels further… usually, the team that conceded fewest extras in an innings wins the game, but here we conceded 18 to their 53 and lost! There was still time for some more outstanding fielding – special mention here to Fin, who took a fantastic catch to dismiss their best batsman – and once again, everyone bowled, but sadly we lost with 2 overs to spare and by 6 wickets.
Our first home match was against Merchiston, and it was announced that we were to play on the 1st XI pitch: cue great excitement. They won the toss and chose to bat and immediately showed that they had some good cricketers who were prepared to put bat to ball. Helped by some uncharacteristically wayward bowling, Merchi racked up an imposing 141-6 from 20 overs. I should excuse Géza from the ‘wayward bowling’ summary – he took 3-10 from 2 overs and ripped through their middle order like a hot knife through butter. Géza had never played cricket before this term and has become our most potent strike bowler – ‘the French Destroyer’ – and his absolute delight at taking a wicket has been one of the highlights of the season. We batted bravely in return, and a partnership of 45 from 39 balls between Johnny and Beetle looked to be giving us a chance, but sadly our innings rather fell away when Alfie, who had scored a promising 11 from 8 balls, was bowled. An alarming succession of first ball ducks followed and we finished, rather tamely, on 79 all out.
Our next match was against St. Mary’s, Melrose, and was probably our best performance of the season. They batted well in their first match, with A. Rofe top-scoring with a very good 38 before being run out by Alfie after some excellent fielding on the boundary. A target of 87 from 20 overs was always going to be achievable if we started positively, but it was made to look rather easy by Johnny and Beetle, who tore into the bowling and put on 56 for the first wicket from just 7 overs before Beetle was run out for an excellent 30. Alfie continued the momentum and he and Jonny put on 22 from 24 balls to see us home with over 6 overs and 8 wickets to spare.
The final full team match of the season was against the Compass – a soft ball game of pairs at home produced a thrilling finale and some excellent cricket from both teams, with a tie being the fairest and most exciting result possible.
Given that the boys have missed out on at least a year of their cricketing development, I think that there are many signs for optimism. It was not just the summer that was lost, of course, but also the opportunity for winter nets, and it is here that the boys will need to work hard as they look ahead to playing some first team cricket next year. There is lots of enthusiasm for competition and it was great to be able to select from so many for the A team. Huge thanks must go to Alex Wilson, our wonderful groundsman, for preparing the pitches with such care and to the team of matrons and laundry ladies for providing the whites in such pristine condition. Having the expertise of Angus in the coaching department has been invaluable and he will be on hand to oversee their progress into next season as well, which will provide some important continuity. It has been such a shame not to have had spectators, but the boys have made good progress this term – I hope that they can play and watch some good cricket in the summer holidays!