CAMDEN 1st XI
2022 SEASON REVIEW
And There’s Always Cake
2022. A season in which the Coton hoodoo was finally broken and a season in which Kelsall didn’t drop any catches. A season which began with back-to-back wins. Now that the never-ending summer has turned abruptly to Autumn, it’s hard to believe that Camden’s annual struggle to stay in Junior 1 North began so optimistically. The two hidings that concluded the season were certainly in stark contrast, but were more representative of a stop-start campaign that featured twenty-seven players and just two more victories for the Thirds. One of which was the aforementioned vanquishing of Coton, but that was the only triumph at Queens’, where home comforts continue to be hard to come by. Only on the pitch, that is, thanks to Vice-President (Cake). There’s a bit of Shane Warne’s famous criticism of Monty Panesar about this year’s run of home fixtures. Camden didn’t lose six games at home, they lost one game, six times. But that’s to overlook the three losses in which the hosts didn’t field first. That’s to forget the 52 all out against Bottisham & Lode, and that the defeat to Cottenham could be classed as narrow. Aside from those two early season wins and a thumping win at Histon, Captain Redfern’s side didn’t fare much better on the road. A low-scoring thriller at Sutton was, by a long way, the closest the Thirds got to a fourth away win.
A season of eight heavy defeats out of ten, then, and just the four wins. With an aggregate score of 2150-106 versus 2631-93 for the opposition. 93 wickets taken – by coincidence, the same number that Vish, Kelsall, Karan and Redders took between them last year. That figure fell to just 34 this year, although it should be noted that the awesome foursome only played three matches together. Kelsall was sorely missed on occasion, but it was Karan ‘Deadly’ Derekar only being available for four games – one of which was the 52 all out – which made the biggest difference. Redders, meanwhile, gave the impression that he’s approaching ex-all-rounder status, bowling just 25.1 overs all year. Perhaps the most telling statistic – given that nobody could keep count of the number of dropped catches – is that the opposition were only bowled out on four occasions (one of which involved the concession of 300).
For all that, there were some terrific performances with the ball. Kelsall barely bowled a wide all season, and the bustling education executive’s 4-31 was instrumental in the opening day win at Cottenham. In the next game – at Lode – Karan’s 4-22 gave a hint of what might have been. The tireless Vish was again leading wicket taker, and the paceman’s newborn son can look forward to being told of the vicious in-swinger at Lode and the perfect out-swinger at Histon, in particular. To everyone’s relief, after a rare wicket at Cottenham, Sutton wasn’t called upon again, as Krishna’s ever-improving leg spin and Baker’s slow left arm accounted for 23 wickets between them. The Bulusu upgrade forged a productive alliance with the ever-reliable Hodsdon, the pair combining for five stumpings. As for Baker, who bowled brilliantly on his birthday, Redders observed at the end of season curry that the ageless wildlife supremo – now just ten behind Alec Armstrong as all-time leading wicket taker – had never bowled better. At the other end of their Camden journeys, new recruits Adil Khan, Rizwan Ansari, Bakiyaraj Selvam and Prathyush Pothoukuchi all took maiden wickets for the Thirds.
If the bowling largely failed to live up to last season’s high standards, what to make of the batting? Ordinarily, scoring 751 runs for the first wicket at an average of 53.64 would be the foundation for a successful season. Indeed, the four victories all featured sizeable opening stands, but this was not an ordinary season. Not in that sense, anyway. As was the case last year, only four batsmen – Batley, Sutton, Adler and Redders – averaged above twenty. Of the four, only Adler improved on last year’s average, however. After last season’s travails, it was heartening to see The Big Aussie Unit return to form – scooping up the coveted Botham Trophy and desperately unlucky to fall three short of a hundred at home to Cottenham. Sutton, whose three half centuries came in wins, also offered consistency at the top of the order. That, and occupation of the crease – the former fruiterer facing a frankly ridiculous 788 balls. That’s 131.2 overs. Given that Cam Kerela scored 300 in 39.1 overs, Sutton’s season tally of 347 runs looks a little light of what might have been expected. Strike rate wasn’t an issue for Redders, but the skipper – regretting not reverting sooner to his old bat – could share a sense of underachievement. The same couldn’t be said of Batley, who again topped the averages and, at Histon, played perhaps the best knock of the year. With 11 wickets and three coveted Man of the Match awards, he would have taken home the Player of the Year trophy – had anyone known where it was. The Nottingham undergraduate was absent from the end of season curry, where Captain Redfern was effusive in his praise for Hugo’s situational awareness with bat in hand.
With the top four dominating, that meant fewer opportunities for the kind of collapse that blighted the previous campaign – notwithstanding the obvious exception of the 52 all out, when promising newcomer Nick Harrison, with 14, had the dubious honour of recording the second lowest high score in a completed innings. It also meant that the lower-middle order were limited to cameos. Krishna’s classy unbeaten 40 at Caldecote against Cam Kerela springs to mind, and Vish’s Camden best of 44 against Sutton shouldn’t be forgotten. Nor the satisfaction of seeing Robinson combine with Vish to annoy Newmarket, the ex-former-ex-all-rounder rolling back the years in taking 22 from the final five balls. And then there was the novel thrill of Adil and Hodders scrambling the winning runs against Coton.
Asked on Test Match Special what makes cricket intrinsically funny, comedian Tim Key wondered whether it’s because cricket, unlike other sports, has scope for delusion. “I mean, you can literally time a cover drive.” It’s these fleeting moments – when it all comes together, when a craft is mastered – that will sustain the Camden lads over the winter and tempt them back for more next season. To those already mentioned, we can add Tarun’s chin music at Lode. And Kelsall’s ball-busting at Histon. And Clarke’s catch that wasn’t against Sutton. What about Liam Wallman holding his nerve against Cottenham’s big-hitting Jamaican? Or Sutton repeatedly dabbing Coton’s popular Kiwi? Not everyone can say they have witnessed Baker and Nick Austin bat together. Or Sutton bowl, for that matter. Seasoned followers will have seen numerous Redfern cameos over the years, but won’t have seen many better than the skipper’s 40 at Sutton. In the same match, Nutt took a remarkable catch on the boundary. At Histon, Batley took a seat on the boundary and Adil wrapped up victory in the most aesthetically-pleasing manner, pegging back the off stump.
For all the dropped catches, chasing of leather, and futile run chases, morale rarely wavered and a number of new faces were welcomed into the fold. It says much of the team spirit that Krishna securing a bonus point away to Cam Kerela was celebrated just as vociferously as any victory, and that the post-match drinks after the 52 all out were as enjoyable as any all season.
And there was always cake.