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Friday, June 15, 2007

Some Helpful Suggestions

The time of year has almost arrived for my usual twelve page essay of suggestions for our Club at the Annual General Meeting. This usually lengthens what could be quite a swift meeting into a lengthy session.
This season, I shall be making no Notices Of Motion beforehand, nor will I be raising any issues at the General Meeting which follows. To be quite honest, I think it is about time we had others in our Club coming up with ways in which we could improve, both on the field and off of it. That would of course hopefully lead to some different people putting their hands up and volunteering to help out.

This new leaf of not pushing ideas into the faces of those few who attend our AGM doesn't mean I have run out of ideas. Goodness gracious me, no. In fact, just for those that have a few minutes to laugh at the thoughts of the insane, here are a few things that I would personally like to see implemented in the 2007/08 season.

1. AVERAGES AND AGGREGATES TO INCLUDE SEMI-FINALS AND FINALS.I've never really understood why semi-finals and finals have not been included in our Clubs final averages and aggregates for Presentation Night awards. Someone at one time must have thought that this was a fair and equitable way to decide on the best players of the season – and to be fair, there has only been a few occasions in the last 60 years that it would have changed the outcome. Still, I feel that we are devaluing the outcome of those matches if they cannot be included as part of the 'official' record come the end of the season.

2. NEW SELECTION PANEL MAKE-UP AND 'CHARTER'From the outside, it feels as though we haven't had a true 'panel' in several years, rather we have individuals choosing their own side, and passing on the players remaining to the next person to select the next team. How this enables a Club to choose the best teams is a mystery to me.
I would like to see our selection panel work in a similar way that our National Selection Panel does. By that I mean the following:
  1. The Selection Panel is expanded to FOUR people, of which at least two are preferably non-playing, or as very casual players.
  2. One of the selectors is nominated as Chairman, who is in charge of chairing the SATURDAY NIGHT selection meetings, conversing with Grade captains as to performance of players and teams and team balance and player availability.
  3. Teams to be chosen so they can be published in local newspapers and on website.
  4. Selectors to be 'rostered' so that all players and all Grades are viewed on a regular basis. This obviously is targeted at the non-playing selectors, but should playing selectors be injured or have a bye, they will be under the same regulations.
  5. Selections should be made on a CONSENSUS basis, and not a head-to-head vote. That is, if there is a difference in opinion in a particular selection, the panel should come to a consensus decision on that position, and not engage in a vote which will split the panel. As a panel, it should be a united front. The Chairman is in charge of retaining this position at all selection meetings.
Although it should not be made as part of the actual plan, there is no doubt we need to start pushing through our junior players, to replace the elders that are beginning to grow old and weary. Though I would not suggest setting an actual quota of junior players to be chosen in any particular Grade, the panel should have a plan in which they would encourage a good batch of juniors heading up 2nd and 3rd Grade, with a view to planning for the next three seasons.
I know many will suggest that this is impossible to implement, if only because we can rarely find non-playing people to put their hand up for a position, let alone two.
As it is, I am even willing to suggest those that may suit the positions. I think if Dale is to become 1st Grade captain, he would make a good member of the panel, as he not only has an interest in the Club, but in how the players of the Club are performing. Steve Holz has done the job for the past two seasons, and is a supporter of the juniors coming through. I'm not sure of his position in regards to captaining 2nd Grade this season, or pushing for a 1st Grade position. In either case, I think he would be another worth choosing. I also think Joe Murphy, if coaxed properly, would be an excellent 'neutral observer', with the role not taking up his entire Saturday, and the ability to have an excuse to be at the Grand Hotel every second weekend for a couple of hours!
To me, this type of situation would serve the Club as a whole better than we have been over recent years.

3. CREATION OF JUNIOR LIASON OFFICER.As Steve has already put forward on the forum in recent weeks, the Club is in dire need of a person who can communicate with the junior club, and in particular the coaches of the Under 16 and Under 14 years teams, in order to assess the ability and keeness of our junior cricketers, and get them into playing Grade cricket as well as their junior matches. I also believe that, should this role be created, that the person should be co-opted onto the Selection Panel in an advisory role, if that person is not already on the panel. Their job would be to assess players in our junior Club, and hopefully encourage them to turn out for our senior teams – not only so that they can gain experience in Grade cricket before they complete their terms as junior players, but in many cases, to improve the standard of our Grade teams!
Again, some candidates stand out as logical people for such a position – I'd have thought Steve himself, or Mick Norris, would be perfect for the position, if they felt like nominating for a position that, of course, currently does not exist.

In regards to the above position of the Club, the opportunity to redesign the selection panel and the way we select teams, and the need to really target our junior players between the age of 14 and 18, and give them good exposure and good experience, as a Club we would also need to have captains who were on board with this policy, and who were interested in:
  1. developing young talent with a view to players advancing through the Grades
  2. ensuring everyone in their team was not only playing to win, but playing in the right spirit
  3. pushing the line that all players bonded as a team, while still pushing for selection in higher Grades
  4. ensuring that the betterment of the Club is the ideal.
To do this, I believe it is time that the Club, rather than asking for nominations for Grade captains as we almost always have, should target the people within the Club it sees as leaders in this 'brave new world', and got them to commit to taking on the role of captain in each Grade. The Club would run a lot smoother on the field if the Club had a Selection Panel who could comfortably work with the Grade Captains, and vice versa, with all involved striving for the same goal. Surely, if the players of the Club saw these 8-10 people all working together, doing their best for the Club and its players, then the players themselves would feel more comfortable about the Club's position, and hopefully perform better themselves.
Well, in an ideal world, yes.
Certainly, I have people in mind for these positions as well, but it is not for me to reveal all of my thoughts out loud. Especially as those people in my mind may not want to have anything to do with it, and others who I have not nominated may crave the position or positions themselves.

I have a real passion for this to go ahead, but it would take some serious organisation, on the same level of the 1st Grade Reunion we held over two years ago. The idea would to hold a night similar to that Reunion, at the Golf Club, inviting all who wished to attend to come, with the night dedicated to presenting the chosen Best Kiama XII since 1946, when the South Coast District Cricket Association began. Those chosen would become the first inductees into the Kiama Cricket Hall Of Fame. Then, every year at Presentation Night, another player would be added to the Hall Of Fame and invited to attend (if still in the land of the living of course).
I think it is an important part of bringing the wonderful history of our Club to those who are playing today, as well as entwining the old and the new. If we did the day right, we could have all of the invitees and guests turn up at the 1st Grade fixture for the afternoon at Cavalier Park, watch Kiama win, and then have a great night that evening.

Those are just some of my thoughts. Others are mostly in regard to social events to get our Club together away from the cricket field, and perhaps I'll air those on the day. Until then, I'm looking forward to the meeting, and what we as a CLUB can come up with for the 2007/08 season.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Team of the Year 2006-07

Unlike every other season that I have done this, I have found choosing the “2006/07 Team of the Year” quite difficult. There are a number of reasons for this, which I would like to list here before I reveal to you the side as chosen.
  • There are a number of players in the Club who are playing regularly at a higher Grade, simply because there aren’t suitable replacements, or replacements with suitable form, in the lower Grades. Suggesting that these players should be chosen on average figures just because they play a high Grade is uncomfortable for me.
  • Conversely, and hypocritically, there are players who are playing at a level below their proven ability, and whose figures are inflated because of it. Picking these players in front of people with less flattering statistics, but at a higher Grade level, is uncomfortable for me.
  • Many players showed good form in one Grade, but on promotion to the next Grade were unable to retain that form or show they were ready for the step up.
  • Others had solid, average, unspectacular seasons that may not have been eye-catching, but provided the basis for the team’s season.
In the end, I am not completely happy with the side I have chosen, for a combination of all of the above reasons. However, here we go, for whatever it is worth.

1. Jaya Hartgerink.
It’s funny how every season we can look at the raw figures and think that, once again, Jaya has underachieved. No doubt he probably thinks so too. And yet he has the toughest job in our Club, opening the batting for First Grade. We have all expected so much from him over the years – perhaps it is time that we accept that this is what he is going to offer us every season, and be happy with that contribution.

2. Andy Sheehy.From the most maligned batsman in the Club to Seconds Superbat – well, with a touch of luck along the way. Andy was one of those rare out-of-the-blue forced selections that turns to gold. Andy found turf wickets easier to score on than astro, and his season proved to be one of the bright lights of 2006/07. He needs to work hard to back it up in 2007/08.

3. Dale Scifleet (vc)
4. Matt Meurant (c)

More than enough has already been written about their superlative seasons, and their influence on the First Grade season. The Club’s hopes for the immediate future lies in whether they play for Kiama next season or not.

5. Steve Holz
Steve had his most consistent season since 2003/04 with the bat, his best ever with the ball, and all while holding the side together as captain and senior player. Would have liked to have seen him convert a few of his 30’s and 40’s into bigger scores. Still has a chance to carve out a good First Grade career if that is his wish next season.

6. Tim Wolf
Whilst yet to find the secret to turning his constant starts into big scores, Tim at least scored consistent runs in First Grade’s middle order during 2006/07, something that was in short supply for most of the year. He featured in good partnerships and showed improved judgement in his batting. Always has ideas on how to change the course of the game. One of First Grade’s trump cards in 2007/08.

7. Matt Unicomb
Showed his ability to score big runs with his 178 against an average (at best) 2nd Grade attack. Spent the rest of the season in First Grade, which he will see as a learning experience. Has enormous potential with the bat, and his bowling is very handy. Must take this season’s lessons and make 2007/08 his own.

8. Luke Bombaci
I’ve said it all before about Luke. His stats for the season were fantastic, but he’s done it in 3rd Grade for at least the three seasons before this. We won’t know if he has, or can, improve until he plays 2nd Grade on a regular basis. Both he and the selectors need to find that out.

9. Brendan Czulowski (WK)
Brendan snares the wicket-keeping role in the team after the inconsistent efforts from those in the higher Grades. Brendan continues to improve with the gloves, and his batting is also showing good signs.

10. Josh Jones
Another player whom we as a Club tend to judge harshly at times. He probably didn’t have the kind of season that we are used to, no doubt his constant cricket for 18 months having a big bearing on that. Girlfriends also confuse priorities as well. My opinion is Josh enjoys being the leader on the field, the one everyone is looking for to make the breakthrough, or change the course of the match. This season he wasn’t that player with Matt and Dale being so dominant, and I think he was unable to summon up his powers because of it. Josh will break every bowling record in this Club if he wants to stick with it. With the right mental preparation, and the support of his team mates, I have no doubt he can recapture the form that made him the premier bowler on the South Coast a few seasons ago.

11. Matt O’Brien
Didn’t produce the same figures as last season, but with the bowling line-up he had in front of him, he didn’t get the same opportunities either. His enthusiasm didn’t wane because of it, and he was always upbeat and ready to play. Still the best spin bowler in the Club, and has the opportunity to improve even more before the start of next season.

There are a number of players who can feel disappointed at not making this side. As I said, many of the stats are not dominating. Players such as Andrew Ross and Mick Norris did as much as some of those chosen, and in the long run it was a judgement call on how their seasons had progressed at different levels. The same goes for the wicket-keeping role – to me, the other two main aspirants had below-par seasons by their standards, and had not pushed their case hard enough, except of course to be playing higher Grade cricket.

Here for comparison is the side chosen by those who frequent the Forum. It may be a better guide as to whom they thought was the best during 2006/07.

1. Andy Sheehy
2. Luke Bombaci
3. Dale Scifleet
4. Matt Meurant
5. Steve Holz
6. Gary Koks
7. Andrew Ross
8. Ben King-Gee
9. Mick Norris
10. Josh Jones
11. Glen Cleary
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