Season 2001 2nd XI Review

A season of turmoil could best describe this year's cricket for "Stewkes' Seconds" as the team's performances on the field were put in the shade by behind-the-scenes shenanigans as a bitter power struggle took place. 

The long-established junta of the Baxter-Stewkesbury alliance was threatened by a free-thinking radical in the form of the season's newly appointed Vice-Captain, Jones. After the sickening defeat at the hands of Bridport, the Duke relented, falling on his sword and vowing to retire from the game for good. In stepped the hero of the hour, Jones, taking a new broom to the dusty shelving of the second team, and looked to breathe new life into a sleeping giant. An impressive first innings display against Division 5 high flyers Yetminster, gave hope as they were dismissed for little over 200, but the reply from the batting side fell short.

An encouraging start indeed, this unfortunately proved to be a breath of hot air, as the new leader, dubbed "Wing Commander" Jones by the resident PRT Spokesman, outlined his five year plan for the 2nd XI, also promising to bring in big name players including a former South African youth international. However, he was left floundering when the visiting Child Okeford team arrived ready to play. They were to find the match had been cancelled that morning after a pitch inspection by the groundsman and club captain, though they had not been informed by the home team's captain. In a reign lasting less than Steve Coppell at Manchester City, Jones handed in his resignation and left the Saturday afternoon limelight completely for the rest of the season to concentrate on his Sunday form, leaving the Duke to return in a blaze of glory.

Regrettably, his flame did not burn as brightly, as he yielded once again, this time to his doctor's diagnosis on his damaged shoulder, and retired this time for good at the end of the season. Carrying the torch into the 2002 season will be the lovely Neville, PRT stalwart and 2000's top rated Sunday League wicketkeeper. Rumours abound that Jones will return to the Saturday line-up next year, but it is still at a wait-and-see stage.

On the field all was not rosy, but then it became rosier with the emergence of promising young talent, as the always improving Scott 'Snott' 'S'Males had a new rival for best youngster with the arrival of Chris 'Spinner' Skinner. Belying his nickname, Spinner is a fast bowler of some promise, generating pace and bounce from his small frame, as well as showing no fear with the bat. Plucked from the clutches of the Weymouth Cricketing Empire, his capture may well prove to be a valuable coup in future years as the first team continues to hold onto its tenuous grasp on local superiority.

Victories were hard to come by this year, though the record books will just have the single win for 2001, many on the team will remember fondly the crushing defeat administered to Gillingham 2nds in the first home fixture of the campaign. Recoiling from a sound thrashing against promotion favourites Yetminster (PRT dismissed for a paltry 29, Yetminster won the match before tea was taken, causing Ben Doidge to be sent back to the first team after his abject display of batting), Stewkes rallied his troops and leading by example, hit a lusty 30 with the bat and then recorded career best figures of 5-17 with the ball. This should have been a landmark victory in the season, to reflect on in weeks to come, but the gods were against him from the start. Gillingham pulled their 2nd XI from Division 5 cricket, the victory, points and the captain's personal best bowling analysis disappeared into the hallowed pages of the What If? book of records. 

The squad needed strengthening, and the reappointed captain Stewkesbury knew this, so calling in a favour from fellow Las Vegas veteran, Graham Elenor (club captain and official Triangle spokesman). With Gordon 'Smokey' McCombe going through a run of indifferent form, he was transferred to the seconds in the hope he might regain his love for the game. He added a pace attack to the side which had been lacking any bowling resembling pace, and also strengthened the fragile batting order. Further reinforcement came in the guise of the good Reverend, Bill "Preacher Man" Gates, a fast scoring top order batsman. Along with the other new acquisitions of Mark Knott and Sam Polley (the only plus points of the brief Jones era), as well as the mighty Neven returning from injury and the equally mighty Rupert, now free from the rigours of childbirth, the outlook for the rest of the season looked decidedly rosy.

Unfortunately this was not to be, but encouraging results showed a marked improvement, especially when the long awaited victory arrived when local rivals Abbotsbury fell under the spell of the frightening pace attack of Rupert and McCombe, but the damage was done by Bill Gates who notched up an impressive 77, accompanied by McCombe contributing with a flashing 48, setting up the tail for victory.

The final game at Bridport was a sign of things to come as Neven put the home side into bat, even though they had notched up an impressive total of 382 at Reforne already that summer. In agreement with Vice-Captain on the day, Tony Quayle, they decided on this course of action to stop the opposition from seeing the England-Germany game which was being played that evening (the result of course being a 5-1 victory to England). Once again Bridport put on a mammoth score against the Islanders, not helped by their attack lacking the swing twins of Males (Scott) and Morris, who had been called up at the eleventh hour to field on the boundary for the first team. After a hard innings in the field, PRT were once again playing for pride, and stubborn batting from Quayle and Neven ensured that the innings very nearly reached its conclusion and the moral victory was theirs as Bridport missed most of the first half. This strategy backfired on our heroes as the long journey home meant that none of the PRT 2nd's saw any of that famous game in Munich.