RCC – Review of 2021 Season

At approximately 4.15pm on September 11th, Rhys Lloyd hit the boundary which won the game for the First XI at Lisvane by 3 wickets and proved to be the last action of a packed season. The highlight of the last game was a hat trick, his first, by Tom Shrewsbury, and the first at this level for the club in over twenty years. (For those interested the moment when it happened can be seen from two angles on Twitter). 

The year for the First XI ultimately proved successful, as having got promotion in 2019 to the top division of the South East Wales Cricket League, consolidation was the aim. Finishing in mid table was the perfect end and was helped by being undefeated in the last four games: the three wins and a tie took the side well away from any idea of relegation. Thoughts however go to games we should have won, especially twice against Sudbrook, where we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. However mid table would have been grabbed with gusto if it had been offered before the season started.

The Second XI also had the same aim of consolidation having been promoted to Division 3 in 2019. This level of cricket meant that for the first time, the club would have neutral umpires for its top two sides and for the seconds the difference was palpable. The season ebbed and flowed, winning when they were destined to lose and losing when it seemed impossible to do other than win. However in the end, despite a terrible run of injuries and Covid interventions, the team got the necessary number of points to avoid the dreaded drop. Next year will be quite another challenge, especially early in the season, when quite a few of the stalwarts are away in University, but hopefully injuries and Covid will relent.

The Third XI, as with the top two sides, were basking in a 2019 promotion season. However unlike those sides, the team found the going tough in Division 4, playing against some exceptional clubs and ending second from bottom in the table and therefore contemplating life in a lower division. Despite some early wins, the knock on effect of availability throughout the club took its toil and relegation was confirmed a few weeks before the end of the season. This was a bitter pill to swallow for the skipper and his loyal group of players, but I have no doubt that 2022 will see a fresh impetus from the Third XI as they once again aim to climb back into the higher division.

At the start of the season the club asked Daf Marsh to skipper the Fourth XI and to achieve promotion out of Division 10, which had cruelly eluded his predecessor for a number of years. Moving up the divisions was felt to be vital to close the cricketing gap between the 3rds and the 4ths. The skipper, his first ever captaincy role, like his team, got better as the year progressed and by the last game of the season, they knew that a win might just be good enough for promotion. The side did what it could with a comprehensive victory and then the agonising wait for the result of our closest rival. Slowly rumour turned to fact and the news seeped out, the Fourth XI were promoted and the team fashioned out of promising young cricketers plus a few more senior individuals had become the talk of the club.

The 2021 season was for a number of reasons a year of firsts, with one of them being the Fifth XI finally taking the field. After a stalled year due to Covid, Steve Sanders took the helm, with the aim being to end above mid way in an eighteen team division. This was achieved as they finished in eighth position and not before his players scored three centuries in achieving seven brilliant victories. The only drawback was the need for their home games to be in Pontcanna rather than Radyr, though the club are looking at all possible avenues to bring them home. Throughout the year they played some great cricket, introduced youngsters to the game and at the end of the day enjoyed themselves enormously. The 2022 season can’t come soon enough.

The other main first was the inaugural full season of the Womens XI which was an enormous success. The side finished in third place in the South West Womens Regional Premier League, which saw visits over the water to Bath and Bridgwater Cricket Clubs, plus more local south Wales matches. The triumph at the latter of the English clubs saw the side chase down over two hundred and fifty to win the game by eight wickets, with captain, Lydia Clements making an undefeated hundred. She was nobly assisted by Beth Gammon, who later in the year was given her Western Storm debut at Chester Le Street. The ladies have in a short space of time become an integral part of the club and added to an already fun environment. Their dedication and no little skill will see them undoubtedly prosper over the next few seasons. It should also be mentioned that the Ladies Soft Ball team won the Division 3 Cup and from the photographs seen they had a great time afterwards.

The Under 19s weren’t quite as successful this year as in 2019 though at the start and end of the season they triumphed against Gorseinon CC, who are about to take their place in this year’s final. The Junior teams continued to introduce young boys and girls to the joy of cricket and produce youngsters who will grace the senior sides. Another first was the club’s association with the University of South Wales CC. Unfortunately the early season weather saw all but one game called off, though the club has great hopes of developing this relationship into the future. Finally a big thank you to our main shirt sponsors, Michael Graham Young and CGI, plus all those who advertised in the Fixture Card and around the ground.

The 2021 Award winners at the brilliant celebration night I early September were as follows:

First XI Player of the Year, Mick Sullivan Award – Rhys Lloyd

Second XI Player of the Year – Tom Wilbraham

Third XI Player of the Year – Matt Tyler

Fourth XI Player of the Year, George Edwards Award – Evan Rhys

Fifth XI Player of the Year, Mary Norman Award – Peter Lamb

Womens XI Hardball Player of the Year, Geraint Thomas Award – Lydia Clements

Womens Softball Most Improved Player, Paul Adams Award – Kath Cook

Young Player of the Year, Denis Towill Award – Archie Clegg

Club Person of the Year, George Helyar & Gomer Cosker Award – Becky Thomas

Adam Shantry Award – Peter Lamb

Can I say bon voyage to a number of members who are off to pastures new: Matt Swindlehurst is moving to London to further his career and George Pickering is off to, he doesn’t know yet, in his career as a Civil Servant. You go with our deepest thanks and wishing you all the best in whatever life throws at you. To those off to University for the first time it’s au revoir, to Archie Clegg, Alex Griffiths, Cian Morgan, Jack and Will Jones and Sophie Thomas. Also to Alfie Rogers who is about to start his apprenticeship in Cheltenham. Hopefully we’ll see you at the club in one piece as soon as you’re home.

So the 2021 season is at an end. Thanks to all members, LVPs, VPs and all the club’s friends and sponsors and hopefully see you all in 2022.

Chris Hitchings – Chairman

14 September, 2021