Double Champions!

2nd XI Warwickshire League (Birmingham Group C) Winners 2020

Review of the 2020 Season

At the culmination of a somewhat truncated season, both the 1st XI and 2nd XI were confirmed as winners of their respective Warwickshire Cricket League Divisions : Premier League (West) and Birmingham Division C. For the 1st XI, this marked their 3rd successive title, following on from their successes of 2018 and 2019. The 3rd XI were placed in a very strong Birmingham Division E, but with a view for the future in mind, provided many opportunities for youth section members to play senior cricket. The 4th XI didn’t enter the league this year, opting for friendly fixtures instead with the emphasis on youth development and finished the season undefeated.

Here the respective captains Alex Perry, Phil Tompkins, Richard Bowpitt and Rob Green reflect on this incredible season…

In a truly amateur league this year, the Ashfield have really shown their ability with both bat and ball, being led by Oliver Thomas, Iltaf Rehman and Phil Jefferies. These consistent performances have been backed up by younger players such as Hayden Evans, Felix Shears, and a breakthrough season for Nick Pooley, who have contributed to see us over the line, or get us into a great position to win. We successfully won our Warwickshire Premier League Division West title, taking the team to a grand final against Coventry and North Warwickshire CC.

Ashfield won the toss and elected to bat, we posted a good score of 266, lead by Oliver Thomas with 139. Ashfield started the second innings well, reducing their opponents to 63-5 with some excellent new ball bowling by Phil Jefferies and Ian Carey who picked up 3 wickets apiece. Unfortunately, Ashfield could not kill the game and with some heavy hitting from the opponents’ middle and lower order and chances missed, Coventry & North Warwick took home the win with 3 balls to spare and 1 wicket remaining. Heartache for Ashfield, but a great experience for the younger players and a great foundation to build from, for next season, when it counts.

We Are Ashfield, This Means More……

In this strangest of years, the 2nd XI eventually prevailed as the champions of Birmingham Division C. We had an excellent first half of the season winning all five games in emphatic fashion. On the three occasions we batted first, we scored at least 240 with our smallest winning margin being the 99 run victory against Weoley Hill. Batting second, we had two 7 wicket wins after bowling sides out cheaply.

The second half of the season was more of a struggle but demonstrated our strength in depth and the resilience of the team. On two occasions (away at Lyndworth and at home to Pickwick) the lower order came to the rescue and got us over the line when it looked like we would fall short chasing modest totals. We also suffered our only two defeats of the season, against Kings Heath and Attock. The behaviour of our opponents in these two games meant that there was a sense of karma when the game between Kings Heath and Attock on the final day was cancelled due to a Covid-19 protocol breach. This meant that a win at Weoley Hill would see us overhaul Kings Heath and win the division. John Pemberton’s magnificent 182 not out in a total of 309 meant that the result was never in doubt and the socially distanced celebrations could begin.

Whilst the notable performances above highlight the contribution of a few individuals, the real feature of the season was the attitude, energy and performance of all 19 players, with everybody making a telling contribution at some point. With a good blend of experience and younger players like Ruari Shears, Zayd Maflahi and Basit Mohammed continuing to develop in senior cricket, the prospects for next season look good.

The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic meant that the decision was taken not to enter a 4th XI into the leagues for the 2020 season, but with many youth players keen to take their first steps in senior cricket, friendly matches were arranged. The poor August weather led to 3 of the fixtures being cancelled, but matches were played against Solihull Blossomfield, Harborne and The Old Moseley Arms Fitmen and in each case victories ensued. In all, fourteen members of the youth section represented the 4th XI at various times; each performing with great distinction and ably supported and guided by a relatively small number of senior players.

Star performers with the bat were Dan Addis, Charlie Beard, Jon Terry, Ash Patel and with 103 not out, Hassan Idrees, but it was the bowling and fielding that particularly impressed, especially in the first match against Blossomfield when a total of 110 was successfully defended. Top performers with the ball were Will Terry, Rohan Ahmed and displaying masterful control over the difficult art of leg-spin, Shafiq Hussain. It was also a fitting end to the season that the final match against Harborne was played at The Graveyard on the wicket that had been prepared for the 1st XI’s abandoned match with Attock and that the younger members of the squad were able to showcase their talents in front of a good sized (socially distanced of course) group of spectators and club dignitaries.

With even more talented youth players ready to make the step-up into senior cricket in 2021, the future looks bright indeed.