A SEASON resulting in relegation would be one to forget for most, but for Halstead chairman Mark Surridge, it was a more of a case of allowing his budding players the chance to fully flourish.
“Everything is looking rosy in the garden of Halstead Cricket Club,” he declared contently despite seeing his side finish bottom of the East Anglian Premier League, 120 points adrift of second-bottom Cambridge Granta, after a campaign that saw the side fail to claim a single league victory.
“I refute the argument that we endured a season to forget,” he added. “We had the youngest team in the whole of East Anglia and they have all gained that Premier League experience that will stand them in good stead.
“For me it has been exciting to see the youth we have had coming through because there is no-one else using youth like we are.
“Sometimes you have to reposition and restart not through choice. Obviously we didn’t aim to get relegated, which was disappointing, but sometimes you just have to take one step backwards to take two forwards.”
The Star Stille outfit had to endure a delayed start to the season as the adverse weather across April and the beginning of May claimed their first four matches, all resulting in postponements.
In truth, however, Halstead’s season never really got going, even when the rain clouds lifted, the gloom surrounding their fortunes on the field did not.
A six-wicket defeat away at Vauxhall Mallards in their opening encounter was unfortunately a sign of things to come for the club who would go the entire season without tasting success, which ended with a disappointing 10-wicket defeat away to rivals Sudbury on September 15, ensuring their relegation.
For a team coping with the loss of a number of experienced players, relying on youth was always going to be a struggle and their inexperience ultimately cost them.
A lack of penetration with the ball was a major factor in their lack of success with Chris Rayner the only player to claim double figures in wickets, and just so with 10, an astonishing 38 per cent of Halstead’s entire wickets to leave him 51st in the EAPL standings.
Fortunes were only slightly stronger with the bat. Only seven players scored more than 100 runs this season, with captain Tom Philp leading the way with 394, to leave him 25th in the league standings.
He was closely followed by Daniel Sinbuca in 32nd, who managed a total of 371, including top scoring with 94 in his side’s nine-wicket defeat away to Copdock and Old Ipswichians in August, and together with Philp scored just over 31 per cent of his side’s entire runs.
With Premier League experience under their belts the hope for Halstead youngsters is that they will bounce back from Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One at the first attempt before taking their ‘step forwards’ with Surridge declaring: “Hopefully we will come back as a team to be reckoned with”.
n The second XI enjoyed a slightly more successful season, securing survival in the Two Counties Championship Division Three with Ian Pont leading the way in both the batting and bowling statistics, hitting 421 runs and claiming 20 wickets in total.
Meanwhile, for the third XI it was a season to rue inconsistency that could ultimately lead to relegation from Division Seven.
Victories over promoted Kesgrave and Sudbury showed signs of being competitive at the right end of the table but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as eight defeats leaves them waiting on a decision of the league AGM to learn their fate.