The Usual Suspects – All 35 of them

By my reckoning 35 players represented the Academy this season. Please shout up if you have been overlooked. Here is my take on to the individuals concerned. Don’t look now if easily offended!

Andy Simpson, The Optician. An able Vice Captain. I think that is how Nina described him! He has been invaluable as a relatively senior player (26!). Despite having to work Saturday mornings he has always arrived on time and for the early part of the season performed the duties of Treasurer with an efficiency that Malcolm Glazer would admire.

He has maintained a positive attitude throughout as evidenced by the fact he has the best captaincy record in the club this season or so he tells me! He has never complained despite not being able to keep wicket regularly, although when called upon to do so (whilst Dobby was injured) he did so immaculately.

Whilst his technique has driven Ketts to despair and some of his dismissal have left me with a similar feeling when he gets going he is as clean a striker of the ball as you will see at this level. His innings in the cup final was a joy to behold. Responsibility seems to sit well with him.
Simmo, it has been a pleasure. I am indebted to you and have recommended that you follow in my footsteps.

Tom Hancock, T or Half Hour. Left arm seamer and Left handed bat who took to opening the batting with no little skill and plenty of bravery. Has consigned the pull shot to the locker room in the top pavilion and will score runs at league level.

However, it is with the ball that T impressed most. I recollect him being mauled last season at Tickhill and comforting him with the thought that as he grew, if he maintained his accuracy, the batsmen would not be able to simply hit him back over his head. As ever T listened and took it on board to such an extent that I was able to recommend him for a stint in the first team to sample what the future undoubtedly holds for him if he maintains his progress.

He didn’t let himself down and came back at the end of the season to demonstrate his progress by putting together some excellent wicket taking spells based on accuracy with the odd yorker slipped in.

Needs to polish up on his Aston Villa history but when i asked him to name the team that won the European Cup I overlooked the fact that he wasn’t even born at the time!

Steve Slack, Slacky. Left hand opener and reputed to be the heir to half of the Isle of Man. Fitted in superbly during his brief spell before heading home for the summer, via a University tour of Barbados (I got as far as Nottingham Uni away in my time!).

Hopefully Steve will be back next season for another loan spell.

The Right Honourable Charles Langdale, Prince of Sheffield, and future James Bond. Right handed batsmen who managed to squeeze in a few games between social engagements. He came of age at Oughtibridge with 80 odd not out and has the ability to go a long way if not distracted by trips to Cannes, family villa in Portugal and pool parties in Whirlow.

Up to you Chaz. I appreciate it is a difficult decision whether to spend your summer engaged in the above activities or playing cricket at Barnsley, Rotherham and Hull but we would be delighted if you did join us.

Joe Rooke, Rookie or as Simmo loves to say one of a pair of Rookes together with younger brother Ben.

Leg spin bowler, capable batsman and excellent fielder. Joe had limited opportunities at Academy level but by continuing to work on one or two technical issues spotted by Graysey at nets can definitely go on to master the art. He works hard at his game and fitness and shows a competitive edge which will stand him in good stead.

Off to southern parts on a school rugby tour next summer which will come as a relief to some of those who have been “rooked” this year. Clearly a fine all round sportsman and a fellow Red.

Josh Jones, Jonah. 6 foot plus at 16. Fast bowler and stylish batsman. If we can’t make a player out of this lad we may as well give up. Josh has developed to the stage where he has already taken a five for at first team level and scored 60 odd not out in the Cup Final with the bat. Rightly named Man of the Match much to the annoyance of our opponents.

Again suffered with back problems but if we can guide him through the growing years there will be testing times ahead for Yorkshire League batsmen if he continues to work as hard as I intend to make him! I won’t be donning the pads at nets in a hurry!

Josh has the ability to at least become a first team all rounder. His laidback approach is one of his qualities even if i did have to shout at him occasionally in the field just to check he was still awake! Mind you if the ball goes anywhere near him in the air the batsman can start the long walk back to the pavilion.

Johnny Udall, Dobby. Resident wicketkeeper-batsman and House Elf. Bubbly character who has progressed well with the gloves. If the batsman nicks it Dobby rarely fails. Has improved standing up to the slower bowlers, particularly down leg side. He knows he has to work hard at some aspects of his game and Simmo will be making sure he does.

His positive personality not only ensured that we looked a very good fielding outfit but also rather enjoyably seemed to wind up the opposition! One Fatty Batter even threatened to shove his bat where the sun don’t shine! His “well bowled Mr Chairman Sir” became a team catchphrase.

Capable batsman who scattered the field on several occasions as they gathered round not expecting a positive array of strokes. Reminds me of Ian Healy, strong with the cross bat. That reminds me Dobby can I have my book back please. It was the only way we could keep him quiet!

Dave Seal, Seals. Do not confuse the antagonistic, cantakerous old buzzard who posts on this site with the real Dave Seal. On the first day of the season due to the first of many communication cock ups we were left one short. Without hesitation this great club man not only stepped in to the breach to play but also did an excellent makeover job on the changing rooms which would not have been out of place on the programme of the same name.

His 2 overs 0 for 10 to end the game was a chardonnay moment. Always a pleasure.

Zabe Javed (innit), Big Fish. Zabe bowled consistently well in the first half of the season before his biannual return to his father’s village in Pakistan. He bowls a heavy ball and unlike some young bowlers is happy to try and hit the right area 6 balls out of six. His spells against Wath and Oughtibridge in our early victories were outstanding.

Not one for fitness training, more of a Trueman in that he likes to get fit by bowling overs. He took the United annihilation of Arsenal in the Champions League semi with good grace as he did the lack of suitable food at Rossington. “I don’t think they have seen an Asian before” had the team in stitches.

Has the ability to bowl at a higher level and always entertains with his aerial onslaught with the bat. Don’t change your approach to either discipline Zabe and hope to see you at winter nets.

Rob Shaw,Shawsy or Mitchell(Johnson). Left arm over and dedicated number eleven, except when the Chairman plays. Rob had a good first half to the season stepping up to the plate with Zabe when T and Josh moved up the teams. His spell at Oughtibridge in a close finish was fantastic and with work on his action he too can go higher.

Another laidback character with hands like buckets. He has been exceptional in the field, the highlight being what for me was probably the catch of the season (along with Harry’s effort at Rotherham) at Whitley hall, a full length dive to the right to catch a ball travelling like a tracer bullet. Fellow Red who works hard at his game and who probably suffered from a lengthy holiday mid season. He will be back next season taking wickets and a yard quicker I am sure.

Tom Lister, Muralisteran. Left hand stylish opening bat/number three and budding off spinner. Tom has the ability to play first team cricket. His innings at Rotherham had Big Al Kettleborough enthusing that he was too good for the bowlers in the team that won our division. And he was. That knock and the one at Tickhill showed Tom’s talent. If he can tighten up his game a little without losing the flowing drives he will go far. Keep it simple Tom.

Tom hs also shown the makings of a good off spinner, able to turn the ball and when he concentrates on simply putting six balls on the spot he looks the part. Tom proved to be an asset to me as Captain with his willingness to assist with various duties and at 21 was one of the senior guys!

Also comes complete with a very pleasant young girlfriend who was happy to score on a regular basis. The colour scheme in the book is a wonder to behold. Thanks Eleanor. I apologise for some of the boxes and opposition scorers you were exposed to but that will only make you appreciate Tom all the more.

Matt Lee. Right hand batsmen who showed tremendous courage playing on whilst not in the best of health this season. The fact that he has been picked to represent Derbyshire is testament to his ability and he will be back scoring runs again next season I am sure.

Matthew Cork, Dominic. Right arm seam bowler. Another resident of the Peak District who has become a welcome addition to our club. Bowls with a natural rhythm and athleticism. One of a select bunch to win a game in the second eleven. There is more to come from this young man.

Classic moment at Oughtibridge when Mrs Cork delivered Matthew and ask me what time the game would finish! Managed to reassure her that we would deliver him safely back to the Dale and take things from there.

Oliver Hepplewhite, Goldberg. About six inches taller than last season and looked lean and mean. Off spinner turned opening batsmen and Captain of the League winning under 15s side.

Always willing to play despite limited opportunities at this level with the ball. His chance will come. Strong character who recovered from dropping a catch at Oughtibridge to snare a vital one off Zabe,innit.

One of a select bunch to be treated to The Specials Live at Brixton on a return journey. Only one to have heard of any of the tunes! Well done Ollie. I think it was a tactic to make the semi final eleven the following day. He sealed his place upon exiting the car when he pronounced that he’d be expecting to hear from me! Top man.

Neil Priestley, Priesters. Veteran opening batsman who provided much needed experience having been persuaded over the odd glass of red to come out of retirement to help the youngsters. Together with Hamps he set a shining example of how to construct an innings and also provided a cool head when things got too much for the Skipper.

Stuffed me at Wath when in a panic I rang him to see where he was. “We are at home aren’t we he said?”. Cue panic. “No away, I said, where are you?”. ” In the car park!”. You’d think I’d learn after all these years!

Alan Hampshire, Hamp. The man responsible for the Academy team in the first place and a very difficult act to follow. Even more of a veteran than Priesters. Like a fine wine he gets better each season. Still able to simplify batting and strike the ball as clean as the proverbial whistle. His driven four through mid wicket at Bawtry Road through the meadow for four was another chardonnay moment.

Always willing to share a bottle of wine with the Skipper, his tactical advice and field placement will not be bettered at this level and many a higher one. I hope I have learned as much as I should have done. And the rest of the lads too for that matter. Hope to see you soon Hamps. Thanks.

Elliott Winter, Straws. 14 year old opening batsman. When I eventually saw sense and promoted Straws to his rightful place at the top of the order he demonstrated a temperament which belies his age. Against the top of the league away at Rotherham he did not panic in taking 12 overs to get off the mark. Together with Tom Lister he formed a partnership of 126 for the first wicket contributing 37. One of the best innings by a young player Big Alan Kettleborough saw last summer. I need say no more.

He is not a technical player in the mould of Michael Vaughan but he possesses a calm and thoughtful approach to the game and on several occasions stood firm when the team was in trouble. His reading of the game in the field is exceptional for one so young and what’s more he plays with a smile on his face.

Richard Ibbotson, Mr Chairman Sir. Veteran off spinner who managed to add much needed experience to the bowling attack as one of a minority who was actually permitted to bowl more than 6 overs in a spell. His spells against Maltby and in particular Sheffield United were prime examples for any aspiring young spin bowlers of how the art works at league level. His spell at home to Rossington 0 for 76 off 8 was not! Mind you he was coming off the back of a month in Barbados!

Always entertaining when called upon to wield the willow and a calming influence on the youth. Another chardonnay (or rather lager) moment was the drink with the Chairman and Priesters in the top pavilion folowing the Coal Aston game when Simmo ordered 20 odd beers forgetting that most of the team aren’t old enough to drink! We were still there at gone 9!

Malcolm Heslop, Shaka. One appearance I think at Rossington when he perished early in the gully having opened the innings. As ever a pleasure to Captain and wonderful with the young lads. We need more senior guys like Shaka who also regularly gives up his Friday evenings to coach the Academy juniors.

Ben Fielding, Broadsword (can’t explain on a family website). Reinvented as a left arm spinner in the mould of “Deadly” Derek Underwood. Took to it with aplomb. Top wicket taker and a lesson in accuracy and thought. Engages the umpire and batsmen in banter to his advantage. Let’s face it he’s far too intelligent for most of the batsmen at this level!

Ben will learn to cope when he goes for a few runs with experience (I suspect it won’t happen often). He is also a very capable batsman as he showed in opening up at Whitley hall, a fantastic fielder and all round team man. Works hard at his game and is exceptionally fit. 18 years old with a big future. Shared the Treasurer’s role second half of the season with Tom Lister. Thanks to you both. Leips, I trust they have handed over the necessary?

Chris Pickford,Picko. All rounder and one of the I Phone twins (along with Minnie). Has the ability to hit the ball a long way for an under 15. First appearance away at Rossington.Has come a long way since then in terms of adapting to senior cricket. Towards the end of the season he was bowling his seamers with the confidence and accuracy which has seen him chosen for the district team at Under 15 level.

Chris is a strong character as evidenced by his recovery from dropping a sitter off the Chairman at Bawtry Road to take a vital catch to dismiss their overseas player. Also shrugged of a Rookeing in rugby at training.

A measure of his improved anticipation in the field was his excellent catch at Whitley at Mid Off when Roy Sanderson lofted one up a chimney off Ben’s left arm spin. He also picked up three wickets in that game with one of his lesser bowling spells. A vital lesson there.

Elliott Callis, Jacques. Leg spin bowler and stylish batsman. I have watched El progress from the boy who appeared at senior nets two years ago displaying talent and courage yet lacking strength to a tall young man who is not only coming to terms with the dark art of leg spin but who is blossoming in to an elegant batsman with an all round array of shots.

Once he had learned that the public school approach to chirping isn’t necessarily a welcomed approach in the South Yorkshire League he also played a signifcant role in encouraging the bowlers in the field. Also chief ball shine. Represented Yorkshire this season and rightly so.

Ian Davey,Sir. Always willing to come along and contribute with bat and ball. An able all rounder in every sense. A bit of a Busman’s holiday scenario given the number of Westbourne pupils in the team but handled the situation well and proved to be a valuable experienced campaigner.

Retains the ability to laugh at himself (everybody else does) and is an excellent club man. Looking forward to the school ski trip which he is organising for next Easter. Hopefully we will both return in good shape for next season! Although hopefully not the same shape.

Luke Bennett. Leg spinner. One appearance, one win. Say no more. Took some stunning catches in practice. Old fashioned approach to the warm up consists of lighting up and chilling out. It takes all sorts!

Ben Rooke, younger of Simmo’s pair of Rookes. Seam bowler and attacking batsman. Excelled in the field at Rotherham on debut and has the talent to become a regular in the side. Like his brother he is an excellent rugby player who has now hopefully recovered from swine flu. Another red.

Ben Woodhead, Minnie. Right arm seamer, aggresive lower order batsman. Exceptionally fit individual which will serve him well in his bowling exploits.Near Neighbour of the Skipper but this didn’t stop us occasionally arriving at the ground over half an hour apart!

Ben showed at SUCC he is an uncomplicated ,competitive cricketer who is tougher than the majority of our juniors, perhaps as a result of his involvement in the fine sport of rugby league.

I fully expect Minnie to make a big impact over the next few years.

James Lomas, Lobber. One of the old school. Veteran opening bowler and marathon runner. Filled the position of over 40 year old bowler during my holiday to help the side reach the President’s Cup Final. With hindsight he should have played in the final instead of me such was my display with the ball!

Another senior player who is a first class clubman. Always contributes positively to the dressing room banter and a shining example of how to compete with a smile.

Danny Walton, The Ginger Prince. Opening batsman and potentially very useful seam bowler. Retired mid season. Phone call from Skipper lasted all of ten seconds. “Danny, you are playing for me on Saturday. O.k!” ” Yes Jonesy”. “Good Man”.

And so he proved to be. Set the stall for our victory at Warmsworth, followed this up with a ton at Tickhill and won the batting award.

Not the keenest on fitness, drinks only water at drinks breaks and uses £20 of sunscream each match but having finally cut out the “Walton Whip” will score plenty of runs in division one next season. Should also bowl a few overs based on his display against Rossington.

Never shy of a chirp in the field , especially when faced with very average Australian opponents. Mind he is a very decent fielder.

On target for a first at Uni. Hopefully paid employment will improve his fashion sense and reduce his socialising. He may even be able to afford to alter his hair colour!

Tom Leiper, Leips. Budding journo and blogger. Seems to have worked hard on his game and produced some telling innings on his return from the Toon, not least to help guide the team to the cup final.

His cover drive in the final was Vaughanesque. Unfortunately, he perished quickly thereatfer to a trimmer.

Another one who is never shy of a word on and off the field. The innocence of youth!

An intelligent lad who could make himself in to a very good club cricketer if TMS don’t snap him up first.

Harry Liver, the Wednesday flyer. Seam bowler who claims only to have taken up the game this season. If true he performed remarkably well. Knows already the benefit of bowling six balls in the same spot.

Made his debut at Warmsworth and came on to bowl with the game in the balance and delivered a spell which helped tighten the screw on route to victory.

Took the joint best catch of the season at Rotherham off his own bowling- one handed and left hand at that. I was on my way to the boundary from mid off to retrieve the ball only to realise it hadn’t passed Harry!

A winger with SWFC Academy and therefore definitely not allowed to play for SCCC v De La Salle against the ageing left back!

Top first season. Well done.

Jack Lister. Smiler.County Junior bowler. Removed the stumps to dismiss Bob Cummins in the semi final on his only appearance. Just reward for some hard miles following illness in the off season.

Nearly played at Warmsworth when a communication cock up (difficult to believe I Know) saw him travel with kit when the Skipper thought he was scoring.

Won’t be long before he is a regular in the Academy side. My ambition is to not only turn him in to a first team bowler but to see him smile. A serious young man!

Richard Tasker, The Artist formerly known as ” Filth”. Where does one start?

An exceptionally talented player. Good swing bowler, clean hitting batsman and genuinely nice guy. Popped in for a brief spell having emigrated to SA. Performed with his usual combination of brilliance and disappointing failure. The latter being something he is not associated with off the field!

Gave all his kit away on his last appearance to Hamps and I much to our disgust. Probably have to do another year now Hamps. Mind you I am having second thoughts about his thigh guard contraption. Perhaps I can swap it with Joe Root for Vaughanies!

Best summed up by his picture in MPV’s autobiography. That was definitely a sign of things to come!

Josh Varley. Batsman Wicket keeper. A very likeable young man, who rightly won the junior award for an outstanding contribution to that section of the club based on his willingness to put in for the benefit of others.

Played just one game for us but did play a number of second eleven games when Colty made the big time. Took a catch off the first ball only for the umpire to fail to give it. Excellent decision given that he caught the same guy off my bowling next over. Sorry Shawsy!

Managed to concentrate on the cricket when we were batting despite one or two female distractions which occupied less disciplined minds. Carnival day. Shawsy’s that float looks very realistic, just like a double decker bus stills brings a smile.

Only team member to overpartake post match in the consumption of sherbert. Bright enough to learn his lesson. Hopefully those responsible will as well. Leave the drinking to us Old Ones boys.

Has the temperament and ability to do well.

Rob Greaves, Saint. Opening bowler and middle order batsman. Played two games having suffered a dip in form at first team level. Impressed me with his competitive spirit and his second spell at Warmsworth was quick. I reckon he could even be stronger with the bat.

Appears to have fallen out of love with the club and possibly the game itself. Other attractions sometimes take over at Rob’s age.With hard work Rob has the ability to be a very good YL player. The rest is up to Rob. I would love to see him back training over the winter, practising on Thursdays and playing every week.

The Skipper. Bowled more overs than in the previous two seasons combined much to his chiropractor’s delight. Managed two fifteen over spells and 24 overs in one weekend.

Also managed to sneak in an opening batting slot which hopefully convinced the team that he can actually bat. Dropped only one catch all season. Not bad considering Riaz and Joe almost broke every bone in his hands at the opening fielding practice!

Thoroughly enjoyed the journey, which as ever had its ups and a very big down at the end of the season.

Learned a lot from Hamps and the other senior players to whom he is indebted. Hopefully more senior players can be persuaded to come back for a few games next summer.

Season Introduction and summary to follow.

3 thoughts on “The Usual Suspects – All 35 of them

  • 14th November 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Great effort DJ. Useful for all the youth, entertaining analysis of the more senior players and interesting to find out about those I hadn’t seen much of…top work. Thank you

  • 15th October 2009 at 11:17 am

    Thank god for your efforts keeping this site above water…let alone the thirds.

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