The 1st XI started the season with only two of last year's regular players and many did not expect the resulting inexperienced aide, which first took the field at Chelmsford, to fare as well as last season's team. In fact, on paper, the summary of results does suggest a decline in the standard of the School's cricket, but if the truth of the matter be known, much has been done this season to provide a nucleus for a very strong side either next season or the one after. At least one facet of the School's cricket has made a marked advance, namely that of fielding, which showed a general and steady improvement as the season progressed; on occasions it was really brilliant.
One very pleasant feature of this year's lst XI was its team spirit. Although a player may have an innate ability to play cricket well, it takes a sense of union with the rest of his team to bring the very best out of his game. It is therefore a tribute to the team as a whole, which cannot claim to have been rich in talent, that every player was, for most of the season, playing the highest standard of cricket of which he was capable.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the year's cricket was the small fixture list which had been arranged by the beginning of the season. The list was ably filled in at short notice by J.H. Webster.
The sincere thanks of myself and the rest of the team are due to all those who have helped us during the season: to Mr. Waterman and Mr. Ames; to those members of the Staff who have umpired the matches; and to those mothers and boys who have prepared teas for home matches, in particular Mrs. Jones, whose much-appreciated assistance was always forthcoming. To these and many others who have freely given their valuable time and help in making this a most enjoyable season, the team is deeply indebted.
J.A. CHAMBERLAIN: Chamberlain was the most outstanding player this season both for his batting and his bowling. As a batsman, he was slow to start and liable to make a rash stroke early in his innings, but if he overcame his initial uneasiness at the wicket and reached a score of about ten runs he became more relaxed and made much better strokes. Chamberlain possesses one most attractive shot which earned many runs; he easily disposes of the ball pitched well up on his leg stump usually to some point beyond the square leg boundary. Not a few of the nineteen boundaries he has hit this season were made in this way. Chamberlain's best performance with the bat was against West Essex Cricket Club when he made 64 not out.
For some unaccountable reason Chamberlain's bowling was not even tried until mid-way through the season. He had immediate and sustained success, and did remarkably well in taking 17 wickets in the remaining five matches. Unfortunately, his usual good length suffers after about five overs and possibly fatigue also causes him to bowl at least one bad ball in each subsequent over down the leg side.
In the field, Chamberlain was memorable for his accurate throw, which assisted in running out several batsmen.
J.A. DUNCAN: Playing his first season in the lst XI, Duncan soon settled down and played some most entertaining strokes which earned him the runs they deserved. About midway through the season, however, he occasionally found himself at four or five in the batting order and having to go in following a collapse of the opening batsmen's wickets. It became quite clear that he was at home playing forcing strokes against all types of bowling slightly off a length. Although he has demonstrated that he has a sound defence, he tends to become impatient with a slow rate of scoring and is often out trying a forcing shot when the bowling is obviously on top. If he would be content to persevere with his defensive game in situations like this, I am sure he would be a most difficult batsman to remove.
Like Chamberlain's, Duncan's bowling was not tried until halfway through the season. Bowling right arm round the wicket he was most effective and tempted many batsmen to give chances to slip fielders; most of his wickets came this way. He tends to bowl balls down the leg side too often when the field is set for his most useful away-swingers. Throughout the season Duncan's ground fielding and catching have been reliable.
R. D. EBERST: The inclusion of Eberst in the 1st XI was mainly for his usefulness as a left-arm spin bowler. Bowling round the wicket he occasionally struck an enticing length which had many batsmen in trouble. His wickets thus came from batsmen being bowled when attempting a big hit or being caught mistiming such a stroke. Unfortunately, bowling of Eberst's type requires an immaculate length in order that it is at all profitable, and he does not seem to be able to maintain his accuracy for more than a few overs. Nonetheless, he is not a bowler to be trifled with by any means. His best performance was against East Ham Grammar School where he took four wickets for 37 runs.
Eberst was outstanding as a fielder not so much for his competence as for his enthusiasm to retrieve the ball. He has taken a few good catches and made some look much easier than they really were. His main fault as a fielder is that he is occasionally so keen to return the ball to the wicket-keeper that he does not throw as accurately or as hard as he might.
Batting at number eleven throughout the season, Eberst was not expected to produce any sparkling batting, as was in fact the case, but he made a reliable defensive batsman and took his batting very seriously. On at least one occasion the burden fell upon him to play out time for a draw.
R. HALE: A good wicket-keeper can do much to raise the standard of a cricket team's fielding, and it is thus to his credit that Hale, as wicket-keeper, saw the standard of the lst XI's fielding improve steadily throughout the season. He was quick to fault any fielder for a bad return to the wicket and was always on the alert for a chance of a run-out. Setting himself a very high standard, he quickened his own reactions as the season progressed and stood up at the wicket for all bowlers except Black. He should correct the habit of chasing the ball around third slip or short leg when other fielders can retrieve the ball just as quickly.
For most of the season Hale opened the School's batting. He met with varied success but certainly showed that he has the right temperament for such a position in the batting order. If Hale was out cheaply, he was seldom out quickly, and repeatedly demonstrated his intense concentration at the wicket by the very style of his batting; he took batting seriously, and so it was a just reward for his perseverance that, towards the end of the season, runs came from his bat more liberally.
A.R. JONES: At the beginning of the season, Jones was tried as an opening batsman and met with little success. Tried with opening bowlers, he seldom had the chance to play himself in, and was usually out making a nervous stroke. The decision to play one so new to lst XI cricket as an opening batsman was probably wrong, for this unsteady type of cricket which Jones produced early in the season was by no means his best. He has a keen eye as his performance in net practice and as a slip fielder has shown and when he has overcome his initial nervousness at the wicket, he is capable of playing some excellent shots. In the last match of the season against the Staff and Prefects he looked completely at ease and played in an entertaining but orthodox style to score 60 runs, including eight fours and a six.
Jones has some potential as an off-spin bowler, as his efforts against West Essex Cricket Club showed, and together with his confident fielding he should be an invaluable member of next year's lst XI.
A. MAXWELL: Maxwell has the potential of being a good all-rounder, but until he settles down to play a more defensive game at the wicket and to bowl less erratically he will never realise his innate ability. As a batsman he has an unusually long reach. This gives him the advantage of being able to play forward to more balls than a person of average physique. In fact, Maxwell is reluctant to play forward at all and seems to prefer to play back, which resulted on several occasions in his being bowled, the ball passing underneath the bat.
I am confident that, with practice, Maxwell could become a very effective fast bowler, but as yet he lacks control, and too many balls fall short of a length or are overpitched.
Maxwell was most outstanding as a fielder for his speed in retrieving the ball; he was able to stop many balls from reaching the boundary when it was almost certain that they would roll that distance.
A.J. SAVILLE : Brought into the side for his batting, Saville had a slow start to the season, making eight runs for three times out. However, in his next innings against Chingford County High School he made an unbeaten 53 on the School wicket and demonstrated a variety of excellent shots for one so small in stature. Having gained confidence in himself he never looked back, and in his next three innings scored 54 runs for twice out. Saville seemed more at home against slow bowling; his main defensive shot against fast bowling was an almost casual push forward in which he occasionally even let go of the bat with his right hand. He was often bowled when playing this stroke.
It is worthy of note that Saville's seven dismissals this season have been made up of three times run out and four times bowled; he is very prone to attempt an impossible run and must try to correct this serious fault. If he subdues an impetuous trait, which was noticeable in many of his innings, he should be very successful next season. Saville was a useful close-in fielder and made some fine stops and catches at silly mid-on.
M.L. WASTELL: New to the 1st XI, Wastell took some time to settle down and for the first few games he was visibly tentative. He gained confidence as the season progressed and developed a sound defence when playing forward. Off the back foot, however, his reactions were slower and he was playing back on almost all of the five occasions on which he was bowled. He possesses some good shots on the off side, and having gained experience, should fare better next season.
Wastell was outstanding for his fielding in the slips, where he held seven catches.
J. WEBSTER: Webster was the regular medium-fast opening bowler throughout the season, and met with much less success than he deserved. He bowled, in all, 102 overs, his best performance being against Dagenham County High School where he took four wickets for three runs in eight overs. Probably the reason for some batsmen looking so confident when faced with his bowling was that he bowled each ball so similarly from check-mark to delivery that they may have even anticipated their shot before the ball was bowled.
Batting usually at number nine, Webster always looked safe until, like Duncan, he lost patience with his rate of scoring and attempted a big hit, usually a lofted straight drive, which if he timed correctly was a very effective stroke. Unfortunately, he often played the ball too late and gave a catch to long on. He has a reasonably safe defence, especially when playing forward, but when attacking the bowling he has too high a backlift, with the result that he has to chop down on the ball at the last moment should it shoot along the ground.
Webster's fielding was always of a high standard and he was notable for a very hard and accurate throw with low trajectory.
The following also played for the lst XI during the season : Gordon, Hancock, Ashman, Bloomfield and Fortey.
N. J. P.
L. BLACK: Like last year's Captain of Cricket, Black had the double responsibility of opening the bowling and batting high in the order. The burden proved too much for him, so that neither his batting nor his bowling reached the standard that might have been expected. Until he left School towards the end of the term he had been a consistent scorer, but he never got beyond the twenties and never gave the side the confidence that they needed. He has two powerful strokes, a straight drive and a sweep to leg, but his defence is shaky and he is prone to walk into a straight ball with the inevitable l.b.w. decision. On a lively wicket his fastish bowling was dangerous and could be shattering at times, but he was often erratic and inclined to be disheartened when the long handle - sometimes accompanied by the cross-bat - was applied to it.
N.J. PRITCHARD: The unexpected disappearance of Black at the beginning of July found Pritchard elevated to the position of Captain of Cricket. He gallantly filled the breach at a moment's notice and did the job so competently and with the full support of the rest of the team that they played together better in the final matches of the season than they had at the start. Pritchard himself was only moderately successful, taking 21 wickets and scoring an insignificant number of runs, but during his spell as Captain he handled the side well and got the best out of the individual players. With the knowledge that he has gained already and with a more experienced team to lead next season, he should be able to look forward with confidence to a run of successes.
H. T. E. M.