9th May 2016

Welcome to your season. The close season was another busy period for a number of people at the club. We went on a second wave of recruitment after what seemed a successful venture last year and in the past 14 months we have done mail shots, leaflet drops, produced new signs outside the club, set up a Twitter feed, re-enlivened the Facebook presence, shuffled around the website, produced posters in the localities and more. Did it work? Well there's an old adage in marketing that only 50% of your activity is effective, but it is almost impossible to tell which 50%, however since this time last year, we have had 15 players make their league debut for the club, so something somewhere is working.

Possibly the busiest people in this close season have been those involved with the juniors. Marcus has taken over the administration (allowing Shaky additional time to fine tune his stand up routine) and the feedback from the first three weeks has been incredible. Over 80 kids registered throughout the age groups, including Lisa and Wendy's girls team who made their competitive debut in junior league cricket yesterday (8th May). Mark the date, for as one of the girl's so accurately and gleefully screamed as she ran around the ground with her arms aloft and a smile that might have melted Doug, "We lost but we made history!!!"

I leave these missives from previous years on the site as a reminder and check list to see if we are actually making any progress, in particular my rant about junior cricket from 2012. Now it is true that the average age of the 1s on Saturday did not leave us wondering about whether we needed the Child Protection Officer in attendance, and you can judge it however you want to. Of course we have lost some of the kids that have come through the junior academy, but I choose to judge it thus. The top scorer in the 1s (admittedly the rest of us didn't set the bar too high) was Matt Donnelly (18 yrs). The top scorer in the 2s with his third league fifty and highest score to date was James Goodband (18 yrs). Across the 2 teams, there were 5 products of the junior programme, including a 12 yr old who made 20 n.o.(which was 20 more than his dad made) batting in the 2s at number 6 (Jai Angell). There's still loads to do and it will take time to do it all, but so far, I think we're doing OK.

Our principal objective for senior cricket in 2016 is to ensure that everyone enjoys it and gets something from it. To this end, we will select the teams to ensure that both are viable and that there is enough experience in the 2s to help the younger players feel that they are always in the game (in every sense). 

We lost both games on Saturday, but at 8.30pm when there were still 15 or 20 people sitting in a balmy early summer evening light outside the club, enjoying a drink, each other's company and Shaky's wisdom on what we did wrong, the results didn't seem to matter quite as much. They will come. Maybe this year, maybe later, but if we keep doing what we're doing, even if only half of it is effective, then maybe in 4 years time Marcus will print this off, laminate it and stick it on a tree as our first girl to make 50 in the 1s is raising her bat.

Yep ... I think we're doing OK

An uncharacteristically optimistic Taggart


 2015 is Alive, Well and Underway


At the AGM in March, when the call went out for candidates for 1st team captain, several people were almost killed in the rush. Unfortunately, the rush was to get out, leaving just one soul standing who had been looking forward to a nice season in div 7, picking up cheap wickets and getting a sun tan. Oh well, you get the captain you deserve sometimes.

Throughout the winter, a huge amount of work went in from Rolfey, Chesh, Wendy, Tony, and several other co-opted innocents in an effort to drive some recruitment. Given that a number of players were disappearing, it was vital to the club's ability to continue to field 2 teams that this was successful and I'm pleased to say we are seeing some new faces around the club. Despite this we still found ourselves forced to forfeit a match in week 3, however it is seldom that we will have such a negative alignment of the stars (Bank Holiday, Half term, Wycombe in the play offs), so hopefully this will be the last time that happens.

For week 4 we are fielding 2 strong teams, have 2 umpires and 2 scorers, and by my calculations we are still missing 10 who would normally make one of the teams with ease. This should not be taken as any reason for complacency however. I have 2 specific goals for this season

1. Neither team gets relegated again

2. Until it is mathematically impossible to achieve, both teams target promotion

To achieve this, we need strong availability and as much consistency as possible. In this week's line ups we have 6 products of the youth system, with a further 2 coming back next week. To help them we need the experienced players to be turning out regularly.

Forget the current league positions. Consider that the 2s were 2 dropped catches away from beating the team that currently tops div 7, and the 1s have scored 659 runs in 3 games at an average of 33 per wicket. If we keep at it, the stars will align in our favour before too long.

A lot gets done at BRCC by a few e.g. Dom has a virtually full time job in running our Clubmark accreditation process, but that is fine. We don't need everyone to be spending half their lives running the club. Neither is there a need to be constantly expressing your gratitude to these people. There are some things however that you can do to show your appreciation.

Use the club.

Play regularly, and when you do, do it in a BRCC shirt and pay your subs 

Come up on a Friday for a pint and a burger and show your face. There are dozens of little cricketers up there and believe it or not they will be slightly in awe of a senior club cricketer. God help them, but you are what they aspire to be.

Come to nets if you can. It's social and useful. If we get enough there, we will expand it out to include batting, bowling and fielding. If you want to be a bowler but don't think you're good enough, even on a quiet night there is about 200 years of experience there to help you, and if you show willing, the captains will make sure you have a chance in a match.

Quicker than you think, you will be older than you are now and wishing you had played more when you weren't. 

Be positive in your play and be positive in your approach to the club, and as ever, we will get the results we deserve, even if we have the captain we deserve.


Taggart



16th April 2014


As I wandered out of the clubhouse door at 7pm on Tuesday night (should point out at this juncture that I had been there since 5.30), I stopped for a moment and beheld the sight in front of me. The sun was shining, there were just short of a dozen in the nets, Birdy was conducting a private tutoring session in the middle, there was some catching practice going on to my right, Tombsdog had rung to say he would play both games at the weekend and of course Rolfey was half way up a scaffold hanging a net and comparing cable tie cuts unfavourably to paper cuts. All was right with the world.

Availability for the 2 games in the coming weekend was proving a challenge, but by no means an insurmountable one, and the week after (first league matches), it already looks like there will be some difficult decisions to make. Add to that, manifesto promises regarding youth (see below), and you're setting the scene for a time that will be referred to as "in my day" in 10 years time.

Happy days. All good. Nothing more to be done. Well........, that would be nice. And it is. But when the big stuff is good, we quite rightly look at the detail, wherein of course the devil lives. Those of you lucky enough not to have been copied on it, may not be aware that we are about to publish volume 3 of the correspondence regarding teas, subsequent to which Lord Keeping will be engaged along with the infinite resources of JP Morgan, to do a full financial audit of the costings. The subject of who runs the bar on a match day has taken on more significance than who runs the country. There are some other things as well, but let's focus on these 2 and what you can do to help.

In the 2s last year, the person who did the first stint in the bar was the first person to break and ask the captain who had the bar keys. After a while, someone else went in and helped out. Be that someone else. 

We have 30 or 40 regular players and we have to provide around 20-25 teas including Sundays. If you did one last year, thanks. If you did 2 or more (and I know at least 3 people who did), thanks very much. Would you like to do one this year as well? If you didn't do one last year, no problem, could you do one this season? The budget's £40 and you know the sort of stuff that's needed.

Oh and one other thing, the club can't run without money, so if you've paid your subs already, thanks. If you haven't, could you please? 

Thanks

There now. That wasn't so hard. Have a good season.


Taggart



 Welcome to season 2013


As you are all aware, the start of the season has not been without incident off the pitch, and the cricket committee have been working to minimise the disruption and put all the pieces back in place ( I was going to say put all our ducks in a row, but in the context of a cricket mail that Dave Maunder is reading.......)


So after a lot of positive discussions, this is how we roll for the rest of the season.

Ben Keeping will take over the captaincy of the first team with immediate effect and Steve Bird will be his vc. Ben however has an injury which will most likely keep him out of the team this week and Steve is doubtful (or should that be dubious?), so John Rolfe will continue as interim skipper for the next match. The cricket committee would like to extend their grateful thanks to Jamie for stepping into the breach at short notice, but as you are probably aware he has enough on his plate at the moment and we hope to see him back playing soon.

Communication of availability and selection for both Saturday teams will be coordinated by Taggart. The teams will be published on the website on Wednesday morning, however things often change as the week unfolds, so this should be regarded as a guide rather than a definitive missive. You will receive a text from Taggart confirming that you are playing, to which you should reply with simply a Y (yes I am available and will be there), N (I am not available), or D (yes I am available and will travel direct). This IS considered definitive and we need to know at the earliest opportunity of any change. We don't need to know that your Auntie Nora is visiting (I hope she's well), the latest update on your health (we know you're old), or the details of your wife's/girlfriend's/both Saturday morning social life. 

You should inform your skipper of your availability for next week after each match (immediately after each match in the changing room). and failing that, no matter who you think you may have mentioned something to regarding your availability (in a lager/Doombar soaked haze as you leave the clubhouse) if you haven't told Taggart, using some form of electronic communication, you haven't told anyone

Once you are confirmed in the home team, you run the risk of receiving another communication from said meglomanic Taggart to tell you that you are on tea or bar duty (see below). We will always be happy to accept volunteers, but will not wait for one. If you have an issue with the allocation of duties, it is YOUR responsibility to arrange a swap/alternative with someone. The target this year is to ensure that no-one has to do teas twice (unless they really want to) and that you don't find yourself running the bar more than twice in the season (there will be 2 bar people every Saturday).

The budget if you are doing a tea is £40, which will be refunded to you by your captain. If you feel that a tea is just not a tea without a splash of Beluga (or Jude is looking over your shoulder and tutting) feel free to invest more, just don't expect to get it back. Please do NOT help yourself to cash out of the till, speak to your skipper.

All guidelines (I'm being polite, they're rules) also extend to Sunday matches, except that the coordinator and communicator here will be Doug.

We did consider putting all this to a vote, but in the spirit of our new "democracy is rubbish" mantra, decided not to.


Taggart.



September 2012


So the 2nd half of the season ended in the same way as the first, i.e. not playing Hanborough and promotion was gained after a painful night of waiting to hear if Banbury had done the unlikely and spoilt Buckingham’s season.

On reflection, there are some things we could have done differently and there are some things we should have done differently, but in the end, the year had a feel about it that things were going to land the right way for us and so it turned out. “We nearly blew it” (when we didn’t) is as pointless and unproductive an opening as “We nearly did it” (when you haven’t). The simple fact is that we’re up to 6 and if my memory serves, the differences to 7 are not that marked.

What made the difference this year, was not the quality of the opposition, but that of our own line up, and more importantly, their ability/willingness to turn out on a more regular basis than previous years. If this can be maintained, there is no reason why div 6 should prove to be too daunting.

And so to the close season.

Up and down the country in clubs of every size and sport, Chairmen and club captains are preparing their speeches for the dinner/AGM/awards ceremony (delete as appropriate), and basically they are all saying the same thing.

“Our youth policy is the future of this club, so well done to (insert as appropriate) for all the fantastic work he/she/it has done with the kids this year. The future is looking very bright indeed”

This will receive a raucous round of applause for he/she/it, along with many admiring asides along the lines of “Yes, yes, well done for putting up with the little buggers all year”

At the first committee meeting of the season just after the second team captain has announced that he’s waiting for a call back from one legged Jack the incontinent octogenarian to confirm that he can get a team out, the same Chairman/captain will be heard to grumble into his pint, “So where are all these bloody kids we’re supposedly grooming? What’s the point in investing all this time and effort, stocking the bar with cokes, mars bars and J2Os, and cutting mini wickets/marking mini pitches, if none of the little buggers are going to play?”

Well……… here are the facts about kids and sport

   1.       11 year olds will play anything. It’s their favourite thing. That’s why there are 40 of them on junior’s night.

  2.       12 year olds will play most things. It’s their second favourite thing behind winding up their parents, but our particular game  may be their third favourite after football/tennis/ synchronised swimming/stamp collecting. That’s why there are 25 of them on junior’s night.

  3.       13 year olds will play some things if they can be bovvered. Nothing is their favourite thing because they hate everything and everyone and no-one understands them, but on the list of things they hate least, we rank fairly high up after Xbox, 2 other sports, and the yr 9 French language teaching assistant . That’s why there are 12 of them on junior’s night.

        4.       14 year olds will play anything they think they might be good at, assuming they can get a game. They also don’t have a favourite thing, but sawrite I spose, especially if you can hit Mikey in the nadgers after filling his box with cayenne pepper. That’s why there are 8 of them there on junior’s night.

        5.       15 year olds will do anything that does not involve the letters G, C, S or E, however they come with an unfortunate attachment; parents who insist on them spending their quality time buried in books. Even if they can be freed from this educational servitude, we still rank below porn, cheap lager, cigarettes, hanging round shopping precincts and occasionally real girls. That’s why there are 6 of them still at the club.

Add to all that, Saturday jobs, school trips, the increasing presence of girls, university, girls, not being seen dead in the same place as your parents, learning to drive, girls, parties at your mate’s house while his parents are on holiday, girls, learning to drink, going on holiday because your parents aren’t stupid enough to leave you in case you have a party while they’re away and girls, and it’s a miracle there’s a sports team in the country with an average age of less than 40.

But nonetheless, nothing beats a good speech about the future of the club being invested in the kids.

He/she/it, or in our case, Shaky, Jamma, Dickers, Robbie, Gorgeous and of course, the Guv’nor are doing their bit. The kids are happy, entertained and learning about cricket, but it’s not enough to assume that a thriving youth section will naturally lead on to a thriving club. If you start with 150 11 year olds, by the time you’ve experienced 7 years of shrinkage, you might get an U18 team out, but a quick drive through Bledlow Ridge and you’d be forgiven for thinking that there aren’t enough houses to produce 2 teams on a regular basis (especially as most of them belong to the same Lord), let alone 150 sprogs.

So given that we might have 4 or 5 kids coming out of U14, how do we hang on to them long enough to make them productive members of the div 1 winning BRCC team of 2016?

Well………. we could appoint a youth development officer to put together a programme of transition development coaching, specifically designed for high achieving/high potential age group protégés. This individual would need to be a specialist in transition management, youth psychology, work/life balance, youth counselling and post pubescent physiology.

Or………. we could just pick them in the 2s.

But the key word here is pick. ‘Pick’ as opposed to ‘make a desperate call to on Friday night’ because somebody just stubbed their toe and you’re down to 10. And once we’ve picked them, you can't bat them at 11 (10 if I’m playing), field them at long leg and give them an over when the oppo have got within 3 with 10 overs to go.

If we genuinely want to engage these kids, we need to pick them as what they think they are, opening bat, middle order bat, leg spinner, whatever, and play them as that.  This will mean picking them ahead of more established players, and there are risks, but if we care about the future of the club, if they really are its future, then the more established players have to accept it. Not only that, they need to embrace it, and instead of winning brownie points at home by fixing the fence or doing the Tesco run, come to the game anyway as a scorer or umpire, or to help manage the team.  

So here it is. Taggart’s manifesto for 2nd team government.

If we can establish a quorum of youngsters who are eligible and willing to play league cricket, we guarantee them that three of them will be picked every week. Not the same three necessarily, but three nevertheless.

To accommodate them, we will need to rotate some of the more senior players out of the team periodically. These players will be expected to help out where possible, particularly in the area of umpiring, which becomes an issue again in 6. Of course survival in 6 is the priority and the team has to be balanced to ensure that we don’t provide cannon fodder for anyone. There will be additional responsibility for the senior players that are in the team that week to ensure that we provide a platform for the youngsters to play on, but if we really believe that these kids are the future of the club, then we can’t simply hope it will be so, we have to make it so.

There will be difficulties and they won’t all hang around for ever. In truth, if we get one in as a regular, long term first teamer, we’re probably doing OK. One a year for 10 years and you have created a new team.

But it’s a manifesto, not a ransom demand. If it’s not the way you want the club to go, I’m cool with that. But the only way to stop it will be to put yourself up as 2nd team captain, and if it is the will of the club, I will happily relinquish the role and get my summer back.

Up the Bears (and bring on the cubs!!!)