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1st XI Report

Chris Willey

Cowbridge 1st XI Captain

After the rollercoaster season of 2016, I looked upon the 2017 season with a great deal of optimism having seen a significant strengthening of the side following the signing of Jon Hubschmid and having Ben Wright available throughout the duration of the season. These changes, I had hoped, would give us a great chance of promotion to the South Wales Premier Cricket League.

Following the first game of the season away at Bronwydd, many would have thought I might have lost my marbles. Having dismissed the opposition cheaply for 111, Cowbridge were then dismissed for not even half that score.

A few strong words in the dressing room resulted in the team embarking on a fantastic run, securing six wins, a winning draw and a wash-out over the next eight games, catapulting Cowbridge to second place in SWCA Division One at halfway through the season, leaving many dreaming of that elusive promotion.

There are far too many outstanding performances during those games to mention them all individually. However, it was our first

home game following the Bronwydd match that, perhaps, gave the team the confidence and belief to set off on such a good run.

Having invited visitors Gorseinon to bat first, it would not have been surprising to have heard a few murmurs behind the captain's back as the opposition recorded a monumental 301 for 7.

At that point, few would have backed Cowbridge in the chase. However, the team romped to victory with more than three overs to spare, losing the only wicket of Ben Wright for 86 while Tom Merilaht scored a faultless 121 not out in a match where many records were broken.

In our next three games, it was the turn of the bowlers to deliver the goods as Gowerton were dismissed for 90 (Merilaht 4-19), Merthyr for 80 (Hubschmid, Webb, Wood and the Russells all chipping in with wickets) and Llanelli for 209. The last-mentioned was one of the best victories of the season as Llanelli were 184-5 at one point chasing a target of 219, before being halted in their tracks by the deadly accurate bowling of Hubschmid and Sam Russell.

A winning draw followed away at Aberdare who had been relegated in 2016 from the Premier league. Batting first, Cowbridge set a solid total of 224-5 with Merilaht and Willey both scoring half centuries. Again, our bowlers stepped up to the mark when Aberdare looked to be cruising. Tom Harper, Rian Thomas and Heath Webb showed experience beyond their years, bowling tightly and picking up wickets, one of which included a magnificent one-handed catch by keeper Matt Harper.

A comfortable victory against Briton Ferry Steel followed a wash-out at Dafen as Cowbridge chased a target of 171 with ease losing just one wicket. Tom "Mr Consistent" Merilaht featured again, being undefeated on 86 that time.

The second half of the season began with a top-of-the-table home clash against Bronwydd.  However, rain intervened, leaving a draw not good enough for Cowbridge to reel in the opposition who remained first in the league.

Unfortunately, the team then had a run of six games without a win as poor weather, player unavailability and some inconsistent displays contributed to the demise of the promotion dream for the 2017 season.

Despite that winless period, there are some fine performances worth a mention. With the bat, both Ben and Tom at the top of the order contributed 50s whilst, with the ball, Nick Wood produced some very consistent displays, not always getting the wickets he most justly deserved. Also, Nick's son, Tom, produced an exceptional fielding display against Aberdare at home, taking a brilliant catch as well as two run-outs.

Thankfully, the final two games of the season saw the team record comprehensive victories to end 2017 on a high. The first of those two wins included possibly the greatest innings ever witnessed from a player in a CCC shirt as Ben Wright recorded a majestic 217 not out away at Briton Ferry - a day that will live long in the memory. Sam Russell then followed Ben's performance with his own personal best bowling figures of 5-55 as Cowbridge wrapped up a comfortable victory.

The last game of the season saw Ben score another unbeaten century as the team overcame Llandysul to secure another mid-table finish.

Looking back, it did feel rather disappointing to have finished mid-table whereas the year before we were somewhat relieved to have finished there. On a positive note, I now regard this disappointment as a good sign that the team is improving and can hopefully push on further during 2018.

Special mention and thanks must go to Sara Russell for once again scoring, washing kit and filling out forms . . . along with everything else that she does for the team and the club. I should also like to acknowledge Phil Webb for stepping in and playing a lot more games than he had probably imagined at the beginning of the year!

Chris Willey

1st XI Captain

1st XI Team versus Aberdare on 5th August

1st XI Team versus Llandysul on 26th August

1st XI  Fielding against Aberdare

1st XI Scorer, Sara Russell A Study of Concentration