Sunday, 26 March 2017

Chairman's remarks at the 2017 AGM And Annual Awards Ceremony

No Management Consultants involved - the awards were correctly announced...

Some of you may recall last October one of the more bizarre pieces of recent cricketing news, when the Indian Supreme Court no less ordered the Cricket Board of Control to accept the findings of a former Indian Chief Justice on how the governance of the sport should be overhauled. 

Coming as it did the week before the Mandarins Committee meeting, this was a bit of a personal wake-up call.  There might not, I felt, be much I could do to improve our performances on the field – more on that later - but at least I could ensure by tightening up our governance that we weren’t subject to our own committee of enquiry – more likely in our case led by a former senior civil servant, Paul McIntyre perhaps.

So not merely did we had a formal committee meeting this year, albeit one marked by more apologies for absence than members present, we even recorded its conclusions.  And in the spirit of transparency, there are copies over there.

The conclusions themselves don’t make for very gripping reading, but there are one or two points I should mention

  • ·         I’m glad to report that thanks to Tim’s sterling efforts the finances of the club remain very healthy and despite the inflationary effects of the post-Brexit weak pound, subscriptions remain £30 and match fees a bargain basement £5.

  • ·        In terms of results on the field last year I’ll draw a veil over our win/loss ratio.  I’ll just note that, with a wet start to the season, more games were abandoned or cancelled than won by us.  Never mind.  

  • ·         More importantly an encouraging 33 Mandarins and guests took to the field at least twice last year.  New players are always welcome and if you know anyone who’d fancy a game please encourage them.   But the Committee noted that if everyone who played fewer than half a dozen games, and that was most people, played one more, that would make the match managers’ lives much easier.

  • ·         Jon Porter was, as usual, given lots of aspirational advice on the fixtures list.  He’s still pursuing a number of slots, but it’s shaping up well.  

Finally, an important conclusion of the Committee was that we should have more annual awards and I was delegated to implement this instruction. 

I seem to remember in days gone by a rather disgusting looking bottle of orange liqueur being passed from one recipient to another each year.  Perhaps fortunately, that’s now disappeared.  This year’s prizes will be more modest, but I hope more consumable.

So let me turn to the awards themselves.

Some pleasures come early in life and others await the mellower years of middle life.  One of the latter, that some of you may also have experienced, are school sports awards nights.  I promise that this ceremony will be considerably shorter.  But one thing I always like is the prize for Outstanding Sporting All-Round Commitment or OSAC.  Louis proudly notes on his CV an OSAC for water-polo a year or two ago.  In the Mandarins context the OSAC might go, for example, to the player who took the kit home most often or who was most assiduous in writing match reports.  But this year I’ve decided to award it simply to the player who played most often, and who did so in the best Mandarin spirit, batting at pretty much every position in the order, bowling and fielding with panache and not least sporting delightfully colourful footwear; this year’s OSAC goes to Arvind Manian.

For me the Great British Bake-off is another pleasure that’s come later in life, but this year I was gripped.  And awarding a Star Baker prize to one of our opponents for an outstanding tea might well be a good idea.  Instead I’ve decided to choose a Star Family.  Louis and I are safely out of contention with a combined bowling average well above our combined batting average.  More serious candidates based on multi-generational performances on the field, are the Eastaways and McKeons.  But the winners are clear – fielding three players and scoring the winning runs in dramatic circumstances at RCDS – Mandarins Star Family of the Year are the Porters.

Having looked at the averages Dan kindly compiled, while there were some notable innings, I decided that on the whole, given our typically low totals, any batting award would be out of place this year.  But there were lots of candidates for Ball of the Year from among others, Heard, Grey, Eastaway, Foreman himself, Swanson for those who saw his spell at North Enfield, and McIntyre. But I’m going to go for a dismissal that I thought strongly reminiscent of Warne’s famous first ball dismissal of Gatting – Hurst’s first ball of the Thursley innings in July: Ball of the Year – Martin Hurst.

Finally, and I’m afraid I couldn’t resist this, dropped catch of the year.  As always, there were many strong candidates for this prestigious award, not least some of my own, though those have all fortunately already faded from the memory.  I wasn’t there to see it, but Heard’s drop at Brightwell sounds to have been particularly egregious, apparently engineered to ensure the possibility of a five wicket haul remained open – at least he took that chance.  And then there was Lowen at Nazing, dropping a complete sitter at mid-on – nothing especially remarkable in itself about that of course – but he put himself in award contention by then implausibly claiming it was the first time he’d ever dropped a catch for the Mandarins.  But in the end there was a clear winner.  After playing for the opposition at Worlingworth and catching four blinders, restored to Mandarin colours the following day, our winner promptly dropped a straightforward chance in the ring.  Drop of the year: step up Graeme Tunbridge.

Let me finish with some well-deserved thanks.  First to everyone who played last year for another very enjoyable season.  Second, to all the match managers and members of the committee for all they have done do to keep the club going.  And I’d like to particularly thank Jon Porter this year who has now done ten years as fixtures secretary and will be stepping down from what I think is one of the more onerous roles. 

And finally and most of all to Tim and Emma for so generously hosting us tonight.