2013 looks set to be another very exciting year of cricket in the UK. England hosts the ICC Champions Trophy before we welcome the Aussies back to our shores for a highly anticipated (if uncompetitive) Ashes series.

And we should all be looking forward to another very successful summer for W&HCC. 2012 was a standout year for the club and is going to be a hard act to follow:

Our 1st XI fought hard to maintain their league position during a transition year without an overseas player whilst, at the same time, giving a number of younger players their first experience of the highest standard of cricket we play as a club. This will only benefit the team in the future and we’re very excited about the potential for this team in 2013 under Damien Honey’s astute leadership. We will also be welcoming Tom Hayes to the club from New Zealand. He is an exciting young all-rounder who we hope will have a fantastic experience in England and I ask all of you to help make him welcome at W&HCC this year.

Our 2nd XI won Division 3 of the Surrey Championship 2nd XI leagues convincingly to cap an outstanding 18 months for the team. Having won promotion as champions in 2011, the 2nd XI won all but one of their league matches in 2012 to secure back-to-back championships and promotions. Again, the 2nd XI looks set for another exciting year with a very strong squad in place to tackle this new challenge under the “experienced” stewardship of wise-old-head, Roger White.

Our 3rd XI were also crowned champions after a tough end to their 3rd XI Division 2 campaign, coming through a final-day decider to give new skipper, Matthew Lock, his first WHCC crown. The team will be even stronger this year as they look to compete in the league above with an improved format to the previous season.

The 4th XI had a mixed year but ended well to maintain their league position and we also saw strong performances from our 5th XI and the newly formed 6th XI. Our Sunday teams also enjoyed another successful season which included some remarkable performances from established Sunday regulars, new players, and exciting prospects from our Colts section.

The fact that we are now in a position to field 6 Saturday teams, 2 Sunday teams and enter into two different mid-week T20 leagues is testament to the growing strength of this club. We have some fantastic players, young and old, and I’m delighted we now have a formal link with the Colts on the cricket selection committee in the form of John Matthews. There is a wealth of exceptional talent in our junior ranks and we will be doing more than ever before this year to better integrate them, when ready, into senior cricket.

We’ve also made some important investments in improving our preparations and facilities for this summer. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the winter net sessions. Once we get outside in April (weather permitting), you will find that the outdoor nets have been fixed, we will have a new training cage and a practice strip cut for real grass-wicket practice. We’ve also organised a full club training day in place of the old club game on Saturday 20th April. This will be a great day for everyone so make sure you attend ready for a full day of batting, bowling and fielding followed by a few refreshments and a barbeque in the evening. Sunday fixtures start from 21st April. Following this, we will have some very competitive friendly fixtures for senior sides on 27th April and 4th May. Hopefully, this will set us all up for a great season ahead.

As always, we need your help to make sure the club is ready for – and then functions properly throughout – the season. We rely on volunteers and everyone mucking in to keep our club moving forwards. We all owe a huge debt of thanks to Ken and his family for the work they do on the ground. We are also extremely grateful to everyone who makes the great teas at WHCC, Matt Allan and Jamie McMahon for all their work on our facilities and the bar, and to the various people who lend their support with scoring, umpiring and all the other things we absolutely need to exist and must not take for granted. Please continue to show them how much we appreciate their efforts throughout the year and get involved wherever you can to help.

And let’s start this with record attendance at the Work Weekend --- 13 and 14 April between 10:00am and 4:00pm both days. Please make every effort to come down and help out.

Finally, I’m pleased to say that senior membership subs will remain unchanged from last year (for the 5th year in a row) so please make sure you pay your subs on time. All the information on how to pay is on the website.

I look forward to seeing you all throughout the season. Let’s make it even better than the last.