A junior season which nearly didn't happen ...
Updated: Sep 30, 2020
The stumps have been removed for the final time, the marquee packed away and the end of season work to the ground is well underway ... and as the threat of lock-down closes in once again it's time to say a huge thank you to all those who made it possible to pack in what was pretty much a full junior cricket season at Blackheath in this strangest of summers.
In the end, between late June and September we managed a training programme of 13 weeks for all our boys' and girls' squads (not to mention 2 very popular holiday camps). Though our hastily arranged junior fixture list was somewhat shorter than in a normal year, most squads also arranged a decent number of matches. Sadly, there can be no junior awards evening, but a few highlights deserve a brief mention.
First, congratulations to the U15s and U12s, two highly talented squads both of whom managed unbeaten seasons. Danny Harrison's U12s managed to fit in 10 games, rounding off with an excellent win against a very strong Spencer side. A special mention for the amazing consistency of Rob Greenway's batting, the formidable fast bowling attack of Jasper Arengo-Jones, Sam Riddy and Dylan Schnauffer and the outstanding catching of Henry Perei - but this was definitely an all-round team effort, underpinned by superb fielding week after week.
In their last season as a squad together, Chris Poil's U15s also more than did themselves justice, finishing undefeated after a fixture list which included several of the other Surrey Junior Invitational League sides in their age group. It was good to see a few of the squad also playing in some adult games - notably Ed Eves, who after with success with the 2nd XI made a spectacular debut for the 1st XI in the National Village Cup, taking 5-21 in a match-winning performance against Churt. Ed was definitely one of the finds of the summer, along with Surrey U13s keeper James Fortescue, whose superb glove-work together with confident batting ended up earning him a place as a 1st XI regular.
There were mixed fortunes for our many other junior squads, but all of them had their moments, a few of which are pictured below. Even when the results didn't go our way, valuable experience was gained. For everyone, the main thing was simply to be playing in a summer when there might easily have been no cricket at all.
The fact that we were able to do all we did was thanks to a huge effort from a large team of coaches, squad managers, administrators, supervisors and other parent assistants. Particular thanks to Head Coach Chris Poil and our 5 regular Matchfit Academy coaches, to Alex Jones for her tireless efforts as Welfare Officer to ensure that we complied with the Covid-19 regulations throughout the summer, to Sean Kitson, who did an amazing job as junior fixture secretary, to Graham Webb, for adapting our Teamtamer software to enable us to run coaching sessions in a wholly new way, to Terry Brockman, who prepared countless pitches for junior games, and to Richard Brocksom for stepping in as acting chairman at a crucial stage of the season to oversee the return to cricket.
Now the season is over, we will be taking stock of lessons learned, some of which will certainly be carried forward into next year, whatever the requirements of Covid-19 regulations may be next summer. In particular, we will almost certainly be continuing with our new model of using several professional coaches for all squad coaching sessions spread over different days during the week. We hope, however, that next year we will be able to run a bar for parents during at least most of our evening coaching sessions. Further details will follow as our plans develop ...
The U12s were undefeated all season - pictured here after their win against Spencer
Charlie Pugh and Max Holden after chasing down Cobham Avorians' total for the U11s
The U11s after winning at Guildford
All our coaching sessions this year were run by our team of Matchfit Academy coaches
Our 2 holiday camps were extremely popular