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Secretary’s Report – January 2022 David Ross looks back on another challenging year for the club.

January 17, 2022 News

For the second year in a row, I am reflecting on twelve months framed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whilst thankfully the virus did not lead to the loss of any significant part of the season – just a few games here and there – it did continue to present serious challenges, especially during the opening weeks of the 2021 campaign. As the country emerged from lockdown, the rules covering sports and hospitality changed almost weekly. Whilst “Covid fatigue” was settling in for many of us, this guidance still had to be followed and a lot of hard work was undertaken to make sure we continued to remain compliant. We owe Chairman Steve Oliver, Health and Safety Officer Dan Squires, and several other key volunteers, our thanks on this score. By and large our members stuck patiently to the rules, and so on the few occasions when we did record cases, these never developed into wider outbreaks – to everyone’s relief. Early indications bode well for a much more normal summer in 2022 which we can only hope comes to pass.

On the field hopes were high that the 1st XI would be able to mount a sustained promotion push after winning the Grand Final in the shortened 2020 season. However, it was not to be the case. Batting fragility plagued the team; after a series of good results in June, Wellington began to slide down the division eventually settling in mid-table. Lots of work has been put in this winter to ensure that the club is able to progress over the next twelve months. We have already secured the services of a talented overseas player in the form of William Mashinge, an all-rounder from Zimbabwe. We hope that his experience will bring the best out of our young 1st XI squad who at times showed glimpses of their obvious potential in 2021.

Elsewhere the 2nd XI enjoyed a solid campaign despite the loss of several early games to Covid and bad weather. Alex Taylor will be stepping down as their captain at the AGM due to work commitments. He has done a fine job stewarding that team over three seasons with a strong emphasis on trusting and developing young talents – and this will continue to be the bedrock of the club’s philosophy. The 3rd XI was our most successful side in 2021, narrowly missing out on the Division Three title to rivals Wroxeter. The runners-up spot does however earn them promotion, meaning the club will have sides in Shropshire’s top three divisions next season. Meanwhile the 4ths had a solid fourth-place finish in Division Five, whilst the 5ths were promoted into Sunday Division One following a third-place finish. Looking back on the season, the Saturday in July when Luke Goring, Harjot Singh, and Dan Pitchford all registered hundreds for the club certainly stands out as a highlight.

Elsewhere, it was encouraging for the club that there was a huge demand for our Sunday friendlies this year. Whilst many fixtures were cancelled at short notice, we were often able to find alternatives or arrange inter-club matches, bringing in younger players for their first senior matches. Matt Earley worked tirelessly to get these games on and was a deserved winner of the Access Covers Inspire Award for his efforts.

Our Ladies section continues to grow in strength, and we were recognised as the Ladies’ Hardball Club of the Year at the Shropshire Cricket Awards in November. Hannah Young’s side is beginning to benefit from the influx of junior girls at the club over the last few seasons, girls whose talents are now progressing to the senior ladies’ side. The biggest challenge to female cricket remains the difficulty of securing fixtures.

Wellington’s number of junior cricketers is now at an all-time high, which is wonderful to be able to report after the disruption of 2020. We were worried about ‘lapsed’ boys and girls at the start of 2021, but our junior volunteers put in a huge amount of effort to organise a free taster session to generate some new interest. Pleasingly this was a huge success, recruiting over forty first time members, mostly in the younger age groups. Elsewhere, it was another successful season for our juniors with the U11 Boys winning their league and the U15 Boys winning the county cup. It will be interesting to see how these two promising groups develop in 2022. Meanwhile, All Stars remained a pleasure to behold on Sunday mornings, with plenty of enthusiasm on display from our littlest cricketers. They will move to a new Friday evening slot this year.

Fickle weather led to many more cancellations than Covid did in 2021 with the month of May being a virtual wash-out. This was a very challenging period for Steve Gough and his ground team as they waged a daily battle to keep water off the squares with sheets, towels, and anything else to hand. It was becoming clear that the uneven nature of the surface was making our volunteers’ lives very difficult, with water running towards the squares rather than away from them. As such, the Management Committee authorised a complete levelling and redressing of the main square following a professional consultation. The work was carried out in October and the benefits should begin to be felt in the coming months.

The Treasurer’s Report will show a healthy profit in the last financial year largely due to the financial support received over the winter lockdowns and the club’s failure to secure an overseas professional for 2021 due to travel restrictions. On top of the work on the ground, funds have also been invested in repair work to the pavilion’s roof – essential maintenance which could not be put off. The Treasurer will of course report on our current financial position at the AGM.

As many of you are aware, 2022 will mark the 75th anniversary of Wellington Cricket Club. It will be a running theme this year around the club, and we hope to arrange a special anniversary ball to celebrate the milestone this summer. More of course will follow on this and the other initiatives we are planning to mark the club’s formation back in 1947.

Whilst being a cause to celebrate, our 75th anniversary is also an opportunity to look forward. We need to ensure that the club will continue to grow and meet the challenges of the next 75 years. As of right now, the biggest issue we face by some margin is volunteering. We have shared many appeals for fresh numbers in the past few years, but sadly without too much success. We need to be widening our volunteer base at the club to keep pace with our growing membership and ever-expanding cricket offer. However, as you will see at this AGM there are many roles which are currently vacant. If you are interested in filling any of these, my committee colleagues and I would love to hear from you.

Of primary concern, and worth singling out, is the issue of our annual fireworks display. Our main fundraiser has not taken place for two years now, with the Management Committee judging it too risky a venture amid all the uncertainty of 2021. We need this event back in the calendar for 2022 and, most importantly, we need new people to drive it forward. If the idea of helping to run this crucial but rewarding event appeals to you, again please get in touch.

I should also use this report to make our membership aware that Peter Holt, our President, has asked to step down as he feels he is not able to do justice to the position at this time. I have thanked Peter for his service over the past three years and the Committee hopes to be able to announce a new President very soon.

Finally, I will end this report by paying thanks to the many people who helped to keep Wellington Cricket Club moving forward in 2021. 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. Whilst there are many people who could be singled out, the extraordinary generosity of John and Diane Tudor of Access Covers, our Platinum Sponsors, continues to blow us away.

Here’s to a prosperous, healthy, and successful 75th anniversary year for Wellington Cricket Club and all its members. I look forward to welcoming many of you to our AGM on 31 January 2022 when I will submit this report.

David Ross, Secretary

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