Cricket is tied to the weather in a way that few other sports are. Clearly in writing that, I’m opening myself up to a barrage of retorts reminding me that you can’t sail without wind, or ski without snow, or remonstrating with me for not recalling the glorious winter of 2010 when rugby and football were cancelled for weeks on end. But cricket depends in two ways on the weather: firstly, as we have found all too often this summer, you can’t play cricket for long in the rain; secondly the weather informs our memories of summers gone by, when cricket was played on endless lazy afternoons in glorious baking sun. Or not.
The 2019 under-14 season has been in many ways like any other: we started playing in the near-arctic conditions of early-May evenings; we moved on through the increasing balm of June into the actual warmth of July, and on to the shortening evenings of August. Somewhere along the way, rain intervened and we spent a few unhappy evenings at home, watching the rain drip down outside, waiting for it to stop so we can get back to cricket. Over time however, the characteristics of 2019’s summer will blend into a single whole, and we will recall that the entire season was characterised by warm evenings, rained-off games or arctic winds, depending on the most frequent weather we experienced. So the 2019 cricket season will be remembered completely differently by Carlton’s under-14 sides and our senior teams: our seniors will recall weekend after weekend rained off; our U14s will remember endless cricket-filled Monday evenings, hardly disturbed by rain at all. In a season when the 4th XI end-of-season report lists a mere 11 matches played out of an intended 18, the Falcons managed 13 out of 14 – and we filled 3 of the 4 Mondays unaccountably missing from the U14 league schedule with even more cricket. The Boomtown Rats were clearly not U14 cricket fans – we’ve loved Mondays.
13 games: won 9, lost 4. That’s a tremendous record given Carlton’s strategy of entering two A teams in the league. The Falcons beat all the other teams at least once. Some of the results were tense: 1 run at Grange, 5 runs at home to our fellow Carlton team, the Eagles; others were more relaxed.
- The Falcons started the season with a comfortable win at a Penicuik team who hadn’t quite made the jump yet from pairs to out-means-out. An early-season Falcons team, led by Euan with 40* and Rudy with 28* posted 135-6, and then bowled out Penicuik for 41 in 10 overs: Rudy returned an astonishing 3-3, backed up by Ally’s 2-4 and Max’s 2-5. We played on (it seemed a long way to go not to have everyone bowl), and very nearly bowled Penicuik out again in 10 overs.
- The second game was a back-to-earth-with-a-bump loss to Grange Lightning: Ally (27) and Freddie (22*) led the Falcons to 112-8, which proved not enough to hold Grange, who overhauled our total with 2 overs to spare, despite 1-7 from Rudy, and 0-1 from Dougie.
- The Falcons returned to winning ways with our annual trip to the warm welcome at Livi: Dougie led the Falcons’ onslaught with a remarkable 48*, to which Ally’s 25* and Freddie’s 24* (which would normally have been candidates for batting highlights) were merely footnotes but drove them to 157-5. Despite a good effort from Livi’s opening batter (30*), Freddie’s 3-10, abetted by Rudy’s 2-5, Dougie’s 2-7 and Sam’s 0-2, were too much for Livi, who were bowled out for 96.
- The Falcons returned to Grange Loan (albeit technically Away) to face the Eagles, themselves fresh off a stunning victory against Watsons, in which almost 400 runs were scored. They found the Eagles in full-on run-scoring mode: the Falcons scored a promising 142-4, marshalled by Rudy (21), Matthew (18*) and Dougie (17), but had no answer to the precision boundary-hitting of Thomas’ 43*, despite Matthew’s 1-13. In the context of this game, Archie’s 0-3 was an economical highlight.
- Undaunted, the Falcons moved on to Portgower Place for one of the best games of the season. In a dark drizzle, the players (encouraged by Stevie and the Carlton supporters) gamely played on. The Falcons amassed 162 runs for only 3 wickets, albeit on Grange’s pocket-handkerchief junior square, led masterfully by Charlie (41*) and Matthew (32*). In increasingly tricky conditions for fielding, they bowled well – Charlie 3-20, Archie 2-9 – to slow some powerful Grange batters. In a tense final over, Rudy took a wicket and top-quality fielding restricted the batters to singles, to run out winners by 1 run.
- Stew Mel proved too strong. The Falcons bowled well to keep them to 140-5, the best bowling being Rudy with 1-8; but the batting collapsed. Kyle top-scored with 14 as the Falcons were all out for 66 in the 12th over.
- The mid-season mini-slump continued in the next game, Watsonians bowled well, but the Falcons found some bizarre ways to get out. Ally resisted stoutly for 21, but the Falcons subsided for a sub-par 79-8. Despite an astonishing 4-3 from Sam and a parsimonious 0-1 from Calum, Watsonians had little trouble in reaching 80-5 in 15 overs.
- Junior cricketers are exceptionally resilient, and convened for the return game against Penicuik in fine spirits. In a free-scoring game at a breezy Peffermill, Max (30*), Rudy(27) and Sergi (20*) led the Falcons to a strong 163-5. Penicuik’s reply was game, and showed how much they had learned in the 7 weeks since our opening encounter, but a string of fine bowling – Rudy (2-5), James (2-16), Kyle (1-5) & Sam (1-7) – led the Falcons to a comfortable win, restricting Penicuik to 112-6.
- The Falcons’ final game before the July break was to have been at Grange against the Tornadoes, but fell victim to the rain, their one rained-off fixture this year.
July was spent playing cricket, despite Cricket Scotland’s odd insistence that the month doesn’t exist. Various friendly games, plenty of cup matches, and a number of appearances for the 5th XI filled the gaps not otherwise occupied by Cricket Camp. So by the time August arrived and the league season returned, the Falcons were primed and ready to go for a run of 5 games at home.
- Much of Livi’s squad were still on holiday, so we loaned them half a team for their visit to Grange Loan. The Falcons posted 126-1, headlined by Kyle’s 23*. Only two of Livi’s batters made significant scores, and one of those was the on-loan Matthew, left stranded on 54* as Sam (3-9) and Rudy (2-23) led the demolition of the rest of the batting.
- Next up was the eagerly-anticipated return game against the Eagles. In contrast to the early season game, this one was dominated by bowlers. Dougie top-scored with 25* out of the Falcons’ total of 101-6; then some determined bowling and fielding, finished off by Rudy’s 3-12, held the Eagles to 96-6.
- Grange Tornadoes came to Grange Loan for their only game against the Falcons, having claimed the distinction of being the Falcons’ only rained-off game back in June. More tight bowling (Matthew 2-9, Fraser 2-19, Sergi 1-6, Calum 1-7) held Grange to 91-9, to which the Falcons replied with 99-2 (Matthew 30, Charlie 27*) in just 10 overs.
- Three for three in August, confidence was rising. The fourth August game was the visit of Stew Mel, winners by a considerable margin on our June visit to them. Shaun’s astonishing onslaught (63*), plus notable contributions from Kyle (23*) and Rudy (22) took the Falcons to a season-high 189-7. Stew Mel batted gamely, but reached only 111-5 in the face of disciplined bowling led by Archie (1-8) and Calum (1-10).
- One more win, and the Falcons would have an unbeaten August. The home fixture against Watsonians was on, then off, thenat the last minute back on again. Another good bowling performance held Watsonians to 100-7; Matthew led the attack with 2-8, but in a very consistent bowling analysis, Sergi, Kyle, Rudy, Shaun and Dougie all chipped in with 1-[something between 5 & 8], and Euan added 0-7. The Falcons’ reply was somewhat error-strewn, but they had enough power to reach 104-7 in the 15th over; Shaun stole the headlines with 24*, but Matthew’s 15* was a masterpiece of obdurate defensive batting.
That was a cracking season. The team played with joy, ambition and enthusiasm from the first game to the last, it has been a pleasure to watch them develop over the season. Every one of the players is a better player now than they were 4 short months ago, and we can’t ask for more than that. Thank you to the players – and their parents – for their season-long enthusiasm; to the massed bands of substitutes often rustled up at exceptionally short notice; to Cheeky for imparting wisdom to the players; Brian for umpiring, scoring, writing match reports, and generally filling in for me; and to everyone else who helped in some way. It’s only a short pause now until winter training, then we’ll be back for a new season. Hurrah!
Happy off-season everyone!