James Pearce’s   3rdXI Review 2007


Sefton Park 3rds, out of 22 leagues games, we won 10, lost 5, drew 3 and had 4 rained off.
No fewer than 44 players graced the 3rds this summer, of which 20 were under-18.
Giving youth the chance to shine was one of the priorities and we certainly succeeded with the likes of John Sprosen, Tom Baird and Dan Kelly establishing themselves as key members of the side.

As well as trusty veterans Hazo, SMC and Brian Viner, we were able to call on new boys Olly Shears and Jonny Woodsmith who proved to be quality acquisitions for the club.

The season started slowly with defeat against New Brighton and a draw at Northern before we got off and running with an emphatic 9-wicket win over St Helens Recs. Tom Baird was the star of the show with 4-13.

We were brought back down to earth at Birchfield Park where Stuart Lomas returned the extraordinary figures of 0.1 overs, 0 maidens 0-6 to end our misery in style.

Rain and then a bye in the Embee Trophy meant it was 3 weeks before we played again but we finished May with a 5-wicket win at Ormskirk thanks to 63 not out from Olly Shears.

One of the sweetest results of the campaign was certainly the nine-wicket thrashing dished out to Liverpool. It marked the first monster spell of the summer from BV, who bowled throughout to take 4-33 off 20.3 overs.

Matt Child, who rarely failed with the bat, hammered 58 not out to see us home.

After defeat to New Brighton we hit a purple patch in June, with Scotty Isaac's 75 ensuring our progress in the Embee Trophy at the expense of Bootle.

Half centuries from Ian Kelly and Olly Shears, plus a 5-wicket haul from BV, then wrapped up an easy home win over Northern 4th.

The boys were hungry for more and next up was the summer's first Battle of Sefton - us against the fourths.

It was a tale of two stunning centuries and we were indebted to a quality innings from Jonny Woodsmith who hit an unbeaten 105 out of a total of 190-8.

Thankfully, just when people were starting to ask whether the only reason I was in the side was because I drove, I came to the party with 5-29 as the 4ths finished 21 runs short - despite a ruthless knock of 105 from Vince Abel.

In the second half of the season I was spotted about as much as Lord Lucan as weddings and stag dos took their toll.

BV took charge and thankfully he was in charge of the debacle against Birchfield Park. Having dismissed them for 89, with BV taking another five-wicket haul, we somehow collapsed from 55-0 to 79 all out. Vince hit 47 but the next highest score was just eight.

Matt Child and Jonny Woodsmith hit half centuries in a draw at New Brighton and then it was on to our Embee Trophy quarter-final with Formby.

In a match reduced to 20 overs, there was a thrilling finish as in fading light we won by 2 runs to keep our cup dream alive.

BV was on a roll and ended July in stunning form, taking 7-13 as St Helens Recs were skittled for 46 - their second highest scorer made 2!!

Matt Child's unbeaten 51 secured a comprehensive 8-wicket win over Ainsdale in the semis of the Embee.

Losing at Bootle at the start of August, despite 64 from Terry Cordnor, proved to be our last league defeat of the summer.

At home to Ormskirk was a remarkable effort as with no fewer than 5 under-15s in the side we raced to a 8-wicket win, myself taking 6-36 as the visitors were skittled for 76.

Amid a series of impressive league performances in the latter part of the season was the shambles of the Embee Trophy final at Northern.

Having worked so hard to reach the final we deserved better than the rough justice petered out to us that day. The incompetence of the umpires who changed the rules of the rain-affected game at least 3 times was staggering.

In hindsight maybe we should have just walked off and gone home, if we had I'm sure the final would have been replayed from scratch, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and I was proud of the way the players handled themselves in ridiculous circumstances.

Back to the league and with 7 under-15s in the team we battled bravely to force a draw against title-chasing New Brighton.

Struggling at 34-4, chasing 167, young Dan Kelly and SMC rose to the challenge. They batted 28 overs to save the game, Dan hitting 18 not out and SMC 39 not out.

Dan had already demonstrated the special talent he has with both bat and ball and after a torrent of abuse he got from the 8 fielders around the bat he also showed he's got the temperament to go with it.

The season finished with three straight league wins.

There was a welcome return to form for Rick Anderson, who hit a crucial half century at Northern 4ths. The hosts were then bamboozled by BV who claimed 8-50 in his 17 overs.

The rematch against the 4ths proved more comfortable than first time around as Matt Child hammered a century and then James Sayer claimed 3 wickets to wrap up a 69-run win.

The campaign came to an end at Wallasey where a woeful display in the field lulled them into a false sense of security and a generous declaration. I came into form in mid-September with 60 as we sealed a 4-wicket win.

 There were 3 main contenders for the batting award. New boys Jonny Woodsmith hit 322 runs at an average of 64 and Olly Shears hit 318 and averaged 53.

But this year's winner, who hit 3 50s and one century, and helped himself to 479 runs at an average of 53 is Matt Child.

This year's bowling award didn't take a lot of figuring out. I was the second top wicket taker with 16 victims but Brian Viner was in a class of his own.

He bowled 221 overs, 59 maidens and claimed 45 wickets, at a cost of just 12.6 with an economy rate of under three.

The fielding award was a tough one but it went to a young lad who has been a member of the side throughout the season. He didn't always bowl as much as he would have liked but his enthusiasm didn't wane and he took a number of top catches at crucial periods, Tom Baird.

 The outstanding performance of the year. There were a number of contenders for this, BV taking 7-13 and 8-50, and Matt Child who repeatedly delivered with the bat. But the award went to a player new to the club this season, whose a talented cricketer and a great man to have in the dressing room.

His innings against the fourths back in June got us out of a big hole. On a tricky pitch on which most people struggled he made it look easy, smashing his way to 105 not out in a total of 190.

The performance of the season went to Jonny Woodsmith.

It was a tough but enjoyable first season as skipper. At times selection has been a nightmare and with so many changes it was difficult to nurture team spirit but a cup final appearance and a top-three finish in the league, compared to last year's sixth-place shows progress was made.            


James Pearce