SATURDAY 3RD XI REVIEW OF 2001
Given that promotion for the 3rd XI was at least a technical possibility at the start of the last game, fifth place in the final table was somewhat disappointing. However, given that after three games, new skipper Paul Fortescue was contemplating relegation, fifth was an excellent return. The last three seasons have seen the team promoted to division 2, survive at the higher level and now flourish, losing the 'social cricket' mantle without compromising their positive approach, with an accent on enjoyment.
Much of the credit for the team’s development must go to the 4th XI, without whom the regular selection problems would have been impossible to overcome. In no two consecutive weeks did the same XI take the field and at no point during the year was the team that started the match the same as was originally picked. In all, over 30 players featured and only 1 played in every match. Having said this, many of the 3rd XI regulars were pushing all season for greater recognition, and two went on to make appearances for the first XI.
The batting was very strong. Four players averaged over 30 - David Penly who also stepped up to keep wicket, Richard Thompson, who batted at 3 and was either unfortunate or careless enough to step on his stumps in consecutive innings, Toby Aldred who led the averages with 43.7 and Matt Allan, who scored two crucial half centuries when the side was in trouble. Penly and Allan scored over 300 runs during the season, with Penly completing his first league century.
In the field, some tremendous performances in mid-season saw opponents dismissed for 40 and 24 respectively. Excellent catching performances by the whole team at Malden Wanderers and Aldred in particular against Camberley made an enourmous contribution. Graeme Mattocks finished top of the averages, with 19 wickets at 8.1, Fortescue finished with 30 at a touch over 11, but most pleasing was the continuing emergence of Halim Mohammed, who came second in the bowling averages with a strike rate of less than 22 and an average of less than 10.