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Secretary’s Report 2023 David Ross looks back on the club's 75th anniversary year.

January 6, 2023 News

With Covid thankfully abating, the Management Committee were once again able to focus on the longer-tem development of Wellington Cricket Club in 2022 – our 75th anniversary.

On the field, Daniel Lloyd took up the 1st XI captaincy and oversaw a positive season full of close matches and memorable performances – including an unlikely match-winning bowling performance from James Flynn at Oswestry. It was particularly pleasing to see so many young players, such as Hugh Morris, Josh McDonald, Elliot Byram and Faheem Chohan, called into first-team action and taking their opportunities when they came. Their attitude and application were truly a credit to the club. Elsewhere, the captain’s own performances – including an incredible 53 league wickets and over 600 runs – saw him crowned as the SCCL Premier Division’s overall Player of the Season – an outstanding achievement. Overseas professional, William Mashinge, also brought a great deal of experience and runs to the side – and made a fantastic impact off the field in his various coaching roles. We hope to welcome William back in 2023 and, with another year of experience on their side, we wish Daniel’s young side all the best in improving on their fifth-place finish.

Matt Stinson began his first year as 2nd XI captain in impressive fashion, outperforming expectations by leading his side to a fourth-place finish in a very tight Division One. Excellent performances from Vipul Bhaskar, Ed Bushnell and Martin Weill meant that they were genuine title contenders with four games to play – despite suffering the high turnover of players which is usual for a second team. The 3rd XI overcame a difficult start to secure a top-half finish in their first season in Division Two thanks to some terrific late-season form; and they thereby ensured that the club would maintain three sides in the top three Shropshire leagues next term. Patrick Howells’ stint as 4th XI captain nearly ended in promotion, but his young side were edged out into third place in the Division Five table; however, the performances of Vrishab Eli, Matthew Morris, Krish Singh and Dhairya Jani, amongst others, have given a glimpse of the talent now coming through.

However, there was less good news for the 5th XI who finished bottom of the Sunday Division One after promotion in 2021. Captain Steve Oliver will hope that relegation will allow his team to compete on a more even standing next year. Elsewhere, the demand for Sunday recreational cricket continues to be strong and Matt Earley was able to lay on an almost complete programme of friendly and inter-club matches – efforts that saw him recognised with the Inspired To Play Award at the Cricket Shropshire Awards in November.

Wellington Ladies continue to make great strides in their development thanks to the hard work of Hannah Young and her young squad. They finished second in their division in 2022 with youngsters Libby Ross and Sophia Parton turning in impressive performances at the higher level. Our female playing numbers are particularly strong in the U16 age group and these girls will continue to train with the ladies in 2023 as the club seeks to encourage their progression. With Wellington having recently been named Girls Club Of The Year by Cricket Shropshire, the future is very bright for ladies cricket at the club.

Wellington also received good news in the summer when its ECB Clubmark was renewed. The assessors had some very positive things to say about the state of the club’s youth section, which continues to attract large numbers of boys and girls and enjoy consistent success on the field: in 2022, the U13 Boys and U16 Girls both won their county competitions. At the younger age groups, we were always able to take teams to county Dynamos and Girls festivals, and our All Stars intake of 60 children was really impressive. Pleasingly, Wellington continues to produce strong junior players for the county sides and several of our boys and girls were recognised with Shropshire-wide performance awards this winter, including Matthew Morris, Dhairya Jani, Krish Singh, Adithya Manigandan, and Sophia Parton.

Nevertheless the club’s large junior section does present us with challenges: in some cases sessions are bigger than we would like, and we have difficulty getting all juniors game-time. We are planning some structural changes next year to address this, but we are naturally reliant on growing our pool of coaches and parent admins in line with our junior membership. After several years as de facto Junior Coordinator, our Cricket Chairman Simon Topper is passing that brief on to Duncan Taylor for 2023. I would like to pay tribute to Simon for covering one of the most demanding and time-consuming roles for several seasons. Duncan inherits a junior section in good health, which remains in its size and depth the club’s crowning achievement. On one ocassion last year, nine of our eleven first teamers were Wellington junior graduates – a fantastic indictment of the work put in by generations of coaches and volunteers season upon season.

In October, Wellington became an ECB Disability Cricket Champion Club, helping to deliver sessions alongside Cricket Shropshire for young people with physical and learning disabilities this winter. These sessions will continue in the summer of 2023 and we hope that over time the club will be able to expand its offering to young people who often feel excluded from the sport. The club was recognised for its work in this regard when it won the Cricket Shropshire Connecting Communities Award in November.

Off the field, 2022 witnessed a great deal of improvements to the grounds and facilities at Orleton Park. Levelling and reseeding of the main pitch was carried out in the winter of 2021/22 and this work has already improved the playing surface – reaping rewards much earlier than our head groundsman Steve Gough expected. Elsewhere, another big improvement was made to the net area which was completely refurbished courtesy of the generosity of our platinum sponsors Access Covers – a “75th birthday present” in the words of John Tudor, whose ongoing support for the club is truly remarkable. Visitors to the ground will also have noticed the upgrade to the balcony – although fewer will have perhaps clocked the resurfacing of the pavilion roof, an expensive, unnoticed but ultimately necessary investment. Finally, thanks to the generous sponsorship of our friends at Sword Engineering, we were also able to finally replace the tired old sign on the main entrance. The club, as visitors often remark, has never looked so good – and I am inclined to agree and I think we should pay tribute to Steve Gough and his diligent small team of groundstaff for their incredible efforts.

These investments, particularly the groundwork and roof repairs, did have an impact on our financial reserves, as our Treasurer, John Wardle, will touch upon in his report at the AGM. However, better financial news came in November with the return of The Big Blast, our fireworks show, which was of course cancelled in 2020 and 2021. It returned to pent-up demand and the club recorded a bumper attendance which helped pay for some of these upgrades and bodes well for the future. Credit must be given to Dan Squires, Steve Gough and Neil McKeitch for their sterling work in bringing the event back to such success.

It is the Management Committee’s intention that from 2023 we will organise a second mass fundraiser in the summer months as a way of hedging our reliance on a weather dependent November event. This new should compliment other regular events, such as the Vice Presidents’ Lunch, Ladies Day, and Christmas Lunch, which were all magnificently supported again this year. Many thanks to those who organised and supported these great days.

Over the summer one of our vice presidents, John Pattinson, compiled a fascinating account of the club’s first 75 years. Many of you will have already downloaded it, but if you haven’t I’d recommend you to take a look. I thank John for the countless hours he spent on the project and for shining a light on the club’s remarkable story. As I said in the postscript to the work, we are all now part of that story as members of the club and its future direction and success relies on our efforts.

One of the the biggest disappointments for the club this year was that we were not able to organise a grand event to celebrate the 75th anniversary. Many members expressed regrets about this, but unfortunately the club did not have the voluntary capacity to organise an event on such a scale. The Management Committee is a small group who only have so many hours to commit; and individuals often cover two, three, or more roles. As you would expect, the provision of cricket had to be our priority, but this great opportunity was sadly missed.

The health of the club remains strong in many respects but, at the risk of repeating the sentiments of earlier reports, a shortage of committed volunteers remains our biggest issue. The burden of running a club of this size is vast and ever-growing – and we need new people to come forward on a yearly basis. There are lots of areas where we could use help, including Committee roles, assistance on the ground team, and delivering the junior programme (on and off the field). If you think you might be able to help, please contact me on secretary@wellingtoncc.co.uk

Several years ago, Ruth Tuffnell responded to a similar appeal and offered her services as Assistant Secretary. She now manages the club’s ground and fixture diary, amongst many other roles, and was a deserved winner of the Access Covers Inspire Award in 2022. Dan Squires – our Health and Safety Officer and new Fireworks supremo – and Jennie Good – our excellent new Safeguarding Officer and a deserved winner of Cricket Shropshire’s Safe Hands Award this year – have both also put their hands up in recent seasons and added great value to the club.

I will as ever end this report by paying thanks these individuals and the many other people who assisted Wellington Cricket Club in 2022. Our officials, captains, umpires, scorers, ground staff, bar staff, junior coaches, supporters, and of course our sponsors all make their contribution to a club that now offers cricket opportunities to well over 300 people of all ages and abilities. Furthermore, a word for our new President Charles Bathurst, and Deputy President Amanda Bathurst, whose enthusiasm for their new roles is obvious for all to see.

Here’s to a prosperous, healthy, and successful 2023 for Wellington Cricket Club and all its members. I look forward to welcoming many of you to our AGM on 23 January 2023 when I will submit this report.

David Ross, Secretary

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