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D2 end of season report

There was a point midway through the season when it was decided that this year   Hotdogs should treat D2 as a development side.  Danny had already nobly fallen    on his sword, tearfully announcing to specially selected representatives of    Shanghai’s media that he would take the fall for the team’s early losses, but the    change at the top did little to address the team’s performances.  If anything it    made things worse. Under Captain Hooper, Hotdogs were defeated by the Digital    Devils by a comprehensive, though respectable, five-wicket margin, while the    return fixture under the new management saw the Democratic People’s Republic    side finish 158 runs in arrears.  Unfortunately for those involved, the history    books will remember this game as it marked Shem Henry’s DPR Hotdogs debut.     Consequently, when analysing our season in the comforts of the Big Bamboo,    Chairman Andy asked whether this developmental side was any better at the end    of the season than the beginning.  The answer was mixed at best.  Some players    had improved:  Phil, whose average was at one point so low that it required    additional decimal places to keep it above zero, rounded off his season with the    team’s top score of 56 and a tidy 30 odd, while Darshan scored 46 in one game    and was top of the batting averages from the middle of the season right up until    the final game, when due to jealously I made him bat 4 to see if he could score    runs against opening bowlers.  He couldn’t, but maybe next year he’ll be an all-   rounder. As well as those two, Pradeep and Vikram scored some useful runs.    There was some improvement too among the bowlers. By the end of the season    Sandy was proving a regular threat with the new ball (much of this I think can be    attributed to the advice and supportive shoulder provided by Peter Todorov),    and, all summer, club elder statesman Vikas proved as reliable in his bowling as    he is off the field, even if the statistics don’t necessarily back this up.    Interestingly, looking back at the scorebook, the only two matches where Vikas    bowled his full quota of six overs were the ones where our opponents scored 309    and 282. What does this mean?     In terms of the fielding, Dom entertained everyone with his ridiculous levels of    enthusiasm, and Andy kept well throughout the season and even had stopped    getting out lbw by the last few games.  A cynic might suggest that this was    because when it got hot and we bowled first Andy asked to bat in the order and    so was left stranded not out a few times, but I’m not a cynic.     Our catching might even have improved (I can’t recall us dropping any in our    final game), though it would have been hard to match the drop by Chris, one    game wonder, Pratt in our opening fixture, or my drop behind the stumps to cost    Vikas a five-for as the Digitals made hay.   There was even one match where,    partly because we couldn’t bowl straight enough to get anyone bowled or lbw, all    ten of our wickets were caught. My personal favourite of these catches was taken    by D2 impact player Darsh Vader. Darshan had adopted his usual ‘free-role’ in    the field, and had positioned himself saving the two at mid-wicket. I did a little    bit of shouting and pointing, in order to politely suggest that he might like to    consider taking ten paces forward and so actually contribute something, and in    response Darshan graciously advanced about a metre.  Inevitably, the next ball    was hit in the air towards him, and the big mountain (大山) took a couple of    steps back to his original position, and held the catch.  It has been a privilege to    captain such instinctive genius.     Other than that, positives are hard to find.  Throughout the season Dom    continued to demonstrate that no situation was too dire for him not to get    bowled trying to deposit the ball into the river (though in his defence he did    manage it once), each game Dr Shashi managed to find a new way of explaining    to the team why the umpire had been wrong to raise his finger, and Danny    remained physically unable to hit the ball on the leg side while psychologically    incapable of playing any scoring shots on the off. Perhaps most problematically,    everyone kept bowling wides.    With the possible exception of Danny, I don’t think any bowler can avoid blame    for the vast quantity of wides bowled (we gave 72 runs away in wides in one    game), but as an interesting statistical footnote, across the season, DPR Hotdogs’    D2 leg spinners had the combined figures of 5-0-1-82 (this even includes one    over in which Vikram took a wicket and only went for three runs).    Despite all this we did manage to win one match, and better still it was against    the Bashers.  Nitin returned as a guest star, opened the bowling, and found the    edge in his first over—I may have dropped the ball, but the stage was set for a    famous win.  We restricted the Bashers to about 180, thanks to some good    bowling from Sheraz, who made the ball nibble around effectively in the drizzle,    and a fantastic five-wicket spell at the death from the good Dr. Shashi, before    knocking off the runs with ease.     This was another match when the team talk was crucial. In the between-innings’    break, I’d explained at some length how we weren’t going to chase down 180    with bits and pieces, we needed one batsman to take responsibility and score a    50, and then everyone else could chip in around that. I still think in principle the    point stands.  However, while we did chase down the Bashers’ total, if you were    to look at the scorecard, you’ll see our 180 was made up of five scores of    between 20 and 30 (including a good counter-attacking innings from Sheikh Manoj late    on), a few wides, and some excellent scrambling by Sheraz and Will at the end.     So much for the team talk. Nevertheless, we won, and I’m still trying to decide    whether the highlight was Sheraz, having hit the winning runs, running wildly    towards the dugout in celebration, slipping in a puddle and falling flat on his    arse, or the email we got from the Bashers afterwards complaining about the    rain.  Thinking about it, rain might have been our best player since it was also    responsible for the only other points we managed to accrue throughout the    season.     After that victory, things returned to as they’d been.  There was a moment of    excitement (and some ethical confusion around selection) when James Keel    made himself available for a game, but then he got hit for six an over and scored    two, which put an end to both the excitement and the ethical dilemma.  Even the    SCC captain himself had a little run in D2, but neither Dayne, nor the team scored    any runs.  As for our last game, I think Danny’s visual match report sums it up    better than I can.     So we came bottom of the league with six points from a possible 48.  Not perhaps    our best ever result. Despite this, I don’t think it was all a failure. A lot of new    people have played a reasonable amount of cricket, and seem to have enjoyed it.    Shashi only joined mid way through the season but has played more games than    most (and would have played even more if he hadn’t broken his finger) and who    knew Guru had so many friends, let alone so many friends in Shanghai that    played cricket?   Then there has been one of the club’s more enthusiastic new recruits, Mr Shem    Henry, and I’d urge anyone who hasn’t to read his interview    to do so, and while it is hard to beat Shem for keenness, Ben has run him close by    texting me the evening before most games to check that I’ve got eleven and    offering his services as a fielder if I haven’t. On top of those, our new Chinese    players have got involved, with Akbar, holding a couple of catches, unlike almost    everyone else, and Fang getting very involved at the beginning and end of the    season.     In fact, it was probably Fang who summed up D2’s season best.  After our last    game, as he was setting off to the metro for the two hour trip back to Songjiang    he told me, “I may not have played very well [he got a duck and his one over    went for about 20], but I have really enjoyed being part of the Hotdogs again    today.” Maybe that’s all that counts. Yes we played crap most of the time, yes it    would probably have been more fun if we had won more than one game, but I    still really enjoyed the season, so thanks everyone for that. As for winning some    games, there’s always next year, after all that’s how you should really judge a    development side.