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Sport, like life, is full of ups and downs and there can be no better example than the 2017 Superstars season which was more up-and-down than a trampolinist's yo-yo.
The first major high was the fixture list which was scheduled to be 42 matches of exciting team-on-team combat. The first low was that far too many of these fixtures we fielded less than 11 players but thanks to ringers like Khalid (who played enough games as a ringer to probably deserve a player profile) we always managed to get something that resembled a team on the pitch. The opposition cancelled 5 games and 3 games were rained off which left us with a meaty 34 matches. The next low was that we lost 19 of these (which stats fans will note makes it the first losing season since 2009) and some of these were undoubtably due to a lack of players.
Anyway, an undoubted high was the 2017 Superstars Tour to Cambridge where we visited for the second year in a row. After a first game, which fittingly we needed Ian's mate as a ringer in, heavy defeat to a clearly superior ARM side we outclassed a Pembroke College side clearly lacking players compared to last year's win over us. And so the day after Anthony Joshua beat Vladimir Klitchko in a epic heavyheight clash we had our own epic slugfest against Remnants. In a novel 2 innings of 20 overs each match we managed to ensure a winning tour. There were some excellent performances from the likes of Will Walker, Sandeep Goel, Sir Steve Meyler, Jason Marchant, Dan Forman and Diwakar Patwal, with Vijay's bat managing 171 runs unbeaten. displays
We returned to London to two cancelled fixtures in May but kindly Chelsea Cobblers and Kings Road were able to fill the void. The two games against Chelsea Cobblers were thrillers, a win each, while the much-hyped double header v Green Sox was de-headed as the second game was rained off after a win in the first match.
But to the Superstars loyal fans (or Izzy as she's otherwise known) Wednesday 24th was the date circled on wall-calendars as it was the first Ken Block Trophy> match of the season. In an absolutely thriller the cricketing equivalent of the Dark Side won by 5 runs. The June clash was rained off but was re-arranged to August 15th. Despite Dodgers "trolling" us selecting Superstars lynchpin Gary Plahe we managed to win by a solid 11 runs to set up a decider. In many ways we'd wished we hadn't as a truly embarrassing 135 runs defeat was the result with possibly our lowest score ever (in a completed innings) of 57. Dodgers retained the trophy and with a result that will long live in the memory.
In contrast June was probably our best month with an impressive four match winning streak. After a loss to an impressive Bricklayers Arms outfit (despite the brilliance of Steve Meyler wicket keeping, we managed an excellent victory in reply - Garry (with the ball), Mike Berry and James Hewlett (with the bat) starring. Before that we chased 145 at Barn Elms with relative ease to beat Ad Hoc - Rick Smith, Adam Spencer-Bickle, Vijay Anand and the (non-keeping) Meyler all reached 25 and retired. The final game of the run was Spencer-Bickle's game as skipper, an impressive win over DEFRA Allstars with Mike Duggan taking a beautiful 4 wickets and Gary bringing the innings home. The peak of the winning run was an excellent victory over an always impressive LSE Kings side, with the bowling attack keeping their batting line up in check on a typically flat track and Khalid, Rick Smith and Paul Gaught being the biggest contributors in chasing 170 with 3 wickets in hand. The month ended with a thrilling lost to FCO, despite new signing James Hemingway picking up wickets, and more convincingly to Commons Old Boys (with only Gary Plahe's retirement a highlight).
July started with the traditional visit to Roehampton to take on KAI, Bank and Treasury in the four-way 2020 tournament. The "draw" paired us with the difficult to beat KAI Dragons and we bowled and fielded exceptionally, but the following three innings mixed the disappointing, horrific and farcial to leave us 4th after an embarrassing defeat to Treasury (we were bowled out for 73). Batting collapses were becoming a theme. A win against Pirates, with contributions from Gary and Roy (ball) and Steve M and Vijay (bat) was the only one in seven matches after loses against Tilberg and Hounslow - both at least partly because of a lack of players. The run was halted by a win against Dan Forman's "other" side Mandarins where debutant Tim Saunders hit a promising 26 retired before a collapse bought a tight finish successfully conquor by Gigg and Duggan. The month ended with two losses, one against Marauders which falls into the "if we had one more player" category and one against Ad Hoc which falls into the "huge batting collapse" category.
Strangely the probable highlight of July wasn't a game we won, but one we drew. We took on a usually excellent Bank of England side at their lovely ground and beauitiful teas. John Bishop starred with 35 not out in our measly 135 all out on an admittedly slow pitch. Bank looked well placed but Dan Forman's 3-13 bought a collapse and in the end they ended up with 121-8, a great game and our first draw since 2003 although we wouldn't take as long for another one.
In recent years Superstars have done well in August and managed to secure a winning record where this was in doubt. An impressive batting performance at Alexandra Palace gained a win against CIPA ITMA, with Barry and Jimmy Hall both retiring as part of a thrilling chase of 155. However a hastily arranged match against the Khalid XI (thanks to Khalid) was lost, Treasury easily beat us at CHiswick and Green Sox achieved their first ever win over us partly due to Gary not realising he was in the team and Roy's car breaking down and partly because the remaining nine played pretty haplessly (Jimmy Hall's batting aside perhaps). Our T20 season ended on a positive note with a good victory over LT Dinos with Warren and Anand combining in the dark to bring us most the way home.
The second draw in 14 years came at the end of the season when Superstars entered new ground by playing a two day match against a rather familiar looking "Rest of the World" side captained by Paul Gaught. If nothing else the drawn match proved we are good enough to do this again as we didn't end of with a 7 innings a side game.
An odd season really. Probably poor on the pitch, no one managed to get a "5 for" or a century, but very enjoyable with some good blokes (old and new). Thank you to those who do stuff like Adam (stats), Vijay (fixtures), Barry (virtually everything), Will (Chairman-like inspiration), Ian, Paul and Barry (tour), Steve Meyler (keeping spirits high) and Paul (website).
Winter well, hopefully see you at the social (10 November) and then it will be March nets before you know it. Here's to 2018, known in Japanese folklore as "The Year of the Tall Man from East Anglia who opens the batting".
Paul Gaught
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Related Links
2017 Results
2017 Stats
2016 Cambridge Tour Report
2017 Awards Night Report
2017 Ken Block Trophy
2017 History
Other Captain's/ Season's Reports
2016 Season Report
2015 Season Report
2014 Season Report
2013 Season Report
2012 Season Report
1999 Captain's Report
1998 Captain's Report
1997 Captain's Report
1996 Captain's Report
1995 Captain's Report
1994 Captain's Report
1993 Captain's Report
1992 Captain's Report