Over the winter at our club it seems that we've lost somewhere in the region of 20 players. Some have bailed out because of age/fitness related reasons I guess and others because of work related issues. The outcome initially, was that they'd not have a 4th XI, but there was a bit of an outcry seemingly from those that were 4th XI players, a lot of whom were U15's and U16's and their parents. The reaction seems to have surprised the "inner circle" within the club, who may have been unaware of the strength of support from the lower echelons of the club?
Over the last few years it does seem to me that the current batch of kids in the 14-16 age group are a relatively committed to the club and if you list these people on their own they constitute a potential 4th XI on their own in terms of numbers. Last year there were loads of kids that wanted a chance to play in the U15's and 4th XI that didn't get that chance and now their time has come. The club chairman has written an email that in essence says that no-one can afford to be precious about what team they play in this year and if they're asked to play in a team that normally they'd be reluctant to, they must comply to the request for the good of the club.... It's not what the club can do for you... it's what you can do for the club, kind of thing.
Earlier in the year one of the good younger players James Bunce was voted in as the 4th XI captain, but he's had to step down due to work commitments leaving the position empty. This and the loss of the 20 or so players led to the situation where they considered not having a 4th XI and one of the key issues was that of the captaincy. I was then petitioned by a few senior people within the club to take up the role in order to ensure the team was fielded this year, primarily to keep all the youth players on board. So kind of reluctantly, because I am totally clueless, but wanting to keep all the kids on board I've said yes. I've got loads of concerns and have voiced some of these and so far the support I've had would suggest that the majority of my concerns will be met at the time with viable solutions. So, fingers crossed when the games are played everything will come together.
They have said though that they're still not 100% certain that things will pan out in the right way and that if after 3 or 4 matches things are not coming together they'll then consider pulling the 4th XI.
The first game is still a month away and will be an easy start with an inter-club match with the 3rd XI. Hopefully that'll go better than last year where only about 14 of us turned up. If that gets off to a better start this year I'll kind of feel like I have got the support of the club and team. My main concerns at this point is that I'll always have enough adults in the side that can do things such as score and umpire. As I'm relatively new to cricket these are still things that I'm not 100% up to-date on and I'm researching and working on between now and the first proper game with Billericay on the 10th May. But again I've been re-assured that the committee will always ensure I've got a couple of good adults in the team to ensure there are no mishaps with this aspect.
More to come no doubt as the day gets ever nearer and I get more concerned...