Celebration time at Redbourn Cricket Club

REDBOURN IVs are celebrating after winning Divison 14 of the Saracens Herts Premier Cricket League at the first time of asking.

When youth coach John Pritchard, together with stalwart Jim Lee, decided to establish a fourth team at Redbourn aimed at giving the juniors an opportunity to gain experience of senior league cricket, they could little have expected to achieve immediate success.

But after nine wins, three draws and only a solitary loss, the team topped the division in spectacular fashion to be crowned champions.

The season started with a draw at home against Kings Langley - a somewhat frustrating result as Redbourn had the upper hand throughout but could not take the last wicket needed for victory.

The game did however give the team confidence that they would be competitive in the league and was followed by three straight wins, including a 10-wicket victory over Knebworth Park VI.

After four games, Redbourn were top of the league and starting to think of promotion. A high scoring draw against Frogmore II brought the winning sequence to a halt, but two further wins, including a comprehensive victory against old rivals Harpenden VI kept Redbourn top.

The only loss of the season was to follow when Redbourn failed to chase down a total of only 97 posted by Watford Town IV, in tough batting conditions. At this point, Redbourn slipped to second place in the table behind other promotion challengers Northwood Town II. Hopes of regaining top spot the following week were dashed when the top of the table clash with Northwood was rained off. With five games left to play, Redbourn still had work to do, but they never looked back. Important wins against Hitchin IV and Old Camdemians, and a high points draw, put Redbourn back on top - a position they maintained to the end of the season to run out as champions.

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During the season, the team achieved its primary objective by fielding 23 junior players, including one U12 and a handful of U13s. The team typically consisted of seven to eight juniors with parent players often making up the numbers.

And it was the juniors who led the way in winning the league. The stand out junior batsman was U13 Matt Taylor, who scored 161 runs at an average of 32 with a top score of 57 not out. U14 Dean Flynn (122 runs at an average of 20) and U13 Will Comfort (90 runs at an average of 18) also showed great promise.

On the bowling front, Flynn’s pace proved too much for opposition teams, netting him a season’s haul of 23 wickets at an average of 3.6 with best figures of 5-4.

U13 Adam Pritchard looked a strong prospect with his high quality leg spin returning 20 wickets at an average of 11.6 - his season’s best being an outstanding performance of 6-69. U15 George Luckhurst bowled well for his seven wickets and U13 Josh Arnold took six wickets including a haul of 5-22

The team were also very tight in the field, holding catches and putting pressure on opposition sides. U13 Tom Copp demonstrated his wicket keeping prowess, looking very assured with the gloves taking three sharp stumpings

The juniors were ably supported and mentored by John Pritchard, who scored 348 runs at an average of 58 with a top score of 97,

Paul Copp (149 runs with a top score of 83 not out) and Jim Lee who took 18 wickets at an average of 17.

Commenting on the season, skipper John Pritchard said: “I am delighted for the boys. They have shown great promise and deserve their success.

“I am particularly pleased that a number of the boys have done so well that they have been selected for the Redbourn second and third teams this year. The whole team should be very proud of its achievements this year.”