Club captain's speech to End-of-Season Dinner 2018
Sat 17 Nov 2018 
Club news item
 

On Saturday 17 November Pacific CC's end-of-season dinner was held at the Great Northern Railway Tavern in Hornsey and those present were once again subjected to a long speech by the club captain. Here's what he said:

Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Pacific CC end-of-season dinner 2018. It seems that I have to correct myself already because unfortunately Kate McGinnigle is feeling under the weather and is unable to make it. Likewise, Alice has pulled out at the eleventh hour due to a bad hangover. So I shall start again. Gentlemen, welcome to the Pacific CC end-of-season dinner 2018, where unfortunately gender diversity is not our strong point.

This evening I'll have to keep it a bit briefer than usual. I had set aside my Friday to write this speech and keep you suitably entertained, but I was volunteered to go and collect the trophies from Bounds Green Industrial Estate, which, although I went under no duress whatsoever, did eat into my writing time. I must admit that it was having to carry the extra ten bats for Luke that really took it out of me. Still, we must congratulate Luke on all his achievements this season and it is a shame not to have Pete here. The first end-of-season dinner that he has missed since founding the club back in 1983. Let's raise a glass to Pete. To Pete! 

Still, it has been an action-packed season, so I shall try to do it justice.

I've been thinking of words that sum up the 2018 season, and a couple spring to mind: the first one, which I don't want to dwell on too long, is Toxic. The second word is Technology – because this was the season in which Pacific embraced new forms of technology. The first innovation of the year was the Pacificos WhatsApp group. It has been a never-ending source of banter, and sometimes useful for covering last-minute dropouts. Everyone has embraced WhatsApp, though there have occasionally been complaints from the likes of Ben Stockton and Aroon about too many updates, and Matt Dempsey, who doesn't have a smartphone, still needs to be sent a carrier pigeon. The second innovation was Pitchero – or Pitch Hero as some people insist on calling it. Pitchero has had the welcome effect of greatly reducing the number of emails sent each week and greatly assisted Tim Garrett in his sterling efforts at getting sides out each week. The third innovation has been the introduction of the legendary Pacific Card Reader, and we really must thank Shaz Timbadia for all his work on the Treasurer front. Indeed, Shaz has done a fantastic job of keeping track of who has paid their subs and their match fees. And all of this on top of being the biggest swinger in town. Well done Shaz.

This season was unique in the history of Pacific in that it's the first time that we've been in a Saturday league as well as a Sunday league. Before our first match in the North East London League, word had gone around the other teams that they'd have to watch out for us. They'd heard that we were a serious club, with a proud history and a mountain of statistics. Unfortunately were to register a sad statistic in our opening match. We did well to contain the 2017 champions, London Fields, to a gettable total of 205. But going out to open the batting and standing at the non-striker's end, I was to see carnage unfold. Making his Pacific debut that day was the young Bing Stanley. For Fields, Aussie bowler Phil Clark had the new cherry. The first ball was wide outside off stump, and would have been called wide had Bing not toe-ended it to point. We were 0-1 off our first ball in the North East London League. Bing was replaced at the crease by Tom Ireland, Pacific's 2015 Player of the Season, who just survived an LB shout off his first ball only to be clean bowled by his second. We were 0-2. Sumeet Sharma, calm as ever, left the fourth ball but the fifth from the towering Clark hit him on the knee-roll and after a big appeal Fields had their third wicket of the over and we were 0-3 of five balls – not the best of starts to our league campaign.

One man who wasn't put off by all this mayhem was one Umrish Pandya, who was touring the cricket pitches of Hackney in search of a club to join. He cycled along, saw that we were in the worst of trouble but that our vibes were still good, and thought that we were the club for him. Umrish, welcome aboard!

So it was a baptism of fire but we fought on. Our second match was against Camel at Millfields. Having seen that rain was forecast we erected our newly-bought gazebo only to realise that we had forgotten to bring the roof. It proceeded to rain all day but we battled through it to win the game and record our first ever victory in the North East London League.

Umrish would go on to take 19 wickets in his first season off only 54 overs. That in itself is an incredible stat. His wickets came at an average of only 13.95 runs. What a guy! One of my favourite moments of the season, and surely a strong contender for the Champagne Moment, was when Umrish, coming on to field in place of an injured Tim Garrett, wearing shorts and a rasta hat, took a sharp catch at square leg and celebrated by swinging his shirt around his head as if he was in Essex somewhere.

Now I think we'd all like to thank the Social Secretary, Ben Burnham, for organising tonight's dinner. It has been a breakthrough year for Ben on the pitch. Having had 67 innings for Pacific, in September Ben registered his first 50 for the club when he hit 70 off 84 balls against Homerton at Highgate CC. Ben has had a bit of coaching this year from Johan, otherwise known as Yoda, and I think it's fair to say that the Force was with Ben that day on Yoda's home turf. But even when Ben doesn't score big runs, he is an essential part of the team. He has probably the highest strike rate in the club, he has made Jonty Rhodes' backward point position his own, he often provides emergency cigarettes to his team-mates, and at one point he had to fight off a one-armed bandit who had been terrorising us after a match. Now that Ben has added scoring fifties to his repertoire, he'll truly be a force to be reckoned with, and we are sure that that was the first of many.

Rob Dinsey – otherwise known as Walt – has made himself an indispensable member of the team. He has uploaded more scorecards than anyone, has bravely stepped into the breach when we've been short of a wicketkeeper, and his batting has come on in leaps and bounds. One innings sticks in my mind, when we were playing against Nomads CC at Crouch End. Rob was batting with Riz and at one point during their productive partnership, Riz was heard to say to Dinsey: "Look where you've ended up! Stop backing away – he's not Waqar Younis." To which Dinsey, jovial as ever, replied: "Yes, but I'm not Mark Waugh."

Now, Tom Ireland. This season Tom scored 393 runs and took 10 wickets in his 14 appearances. Few of us who saw Tom bowl a marathon spell of 15 overs for only 24 runs up the hill against UCS will ever forget the sight. He then came down the hill for another six overs to finish with figures of 21 overs, 4 maidens – two for 40. Another notable performance by Tom at Highgate CC was his 99 against Golden XI. The match report reads: "Having gone to bed only a few hours before the scheduled meet time, Tom fell on 99 hitting out, unaware he was within reach of a mini-bat at the End of Season Dinner." Don't worry, Tom. I'm sure Luke's got a spare one you can have.

Another of this season's newcomers was the chilled-out Harry Holmes. It was, of course, Ben Stockton who introduced Harry to the club, so I asked Ben if he'd like to say anything special about Harry. After much thought, Ben got back to me, and said: "I'm struggling to think of anything to say about Harry, except that he's always tired." But I think we can say that Harry impressed with both bat and ball, and when keeping wicket. The match report for Harry's debut match against Fulmer records that "the journalism student timed the ball with elegance and grace, his batting every bit as impressive as his superb wicketkeeping, scoring 39 from 39 and looking set to go big – before being needlessly run out by the captain". Sorry about that Harry. Still, Harry wasn't without his detractors. After one slow innings, a certain someone did liken him to a certain Ian Bell. Now I wonder who might have said that…

We give Aroon Korgoankar a lot of respect because he has done so much for the club over the years. As well as acting as Treasurer for several years, Aroon has of course revived Pacific's midweek side by utilising his friends from the Royal College of Surgeons. So popular is Korgy that he even has his own Loon Platoon, turning up at Victoria Park to down beers and cheer him on. I think we have some of the Loon Platoon here tonight, and I'm sure they'd all like to raise a glass to him. So it was fantastic to see Korgy break personal records with both bat and ball this season.

On tour against the Dorset Wanderers, Pacific wickets were tumbling but Korgy managed to score a free-flowing 93 not out off 74 balls. And I don't think we can cast any doubt on the quality of the bowling. For not only did Dorset Wanderers have the homegrown talent of Crate, Wood and Weld – names that would strike fear into any batsman – they also had a not-so-secret weapon in the form of the man with the second best Pacific bowling average of 2017, finishing that season as he did with an average of just 7 and a wicket every 18 balls. I am of course talking about our very own Aly Duncan. More on him later. The match report for that day records that "Korgy caressed the ball elegantly around the ground, holding our innings together as he fended off seven straight overs of Aly Duncan's bowling and repeatedly issued his trademark calls of 'Yeah, come on!' " The report later adds: "Aroon, having started drinking later than most owing to his batting travails, carried on late into the night and cracked open the Raki back at the ranch."

Later in the season, this time against Homerton, Korgy was to make headlines with the ball. To quote from that day's match report, "Aroon joined the pantheon of genuine Pacific legends with one of the great individual bowling performances. His 8 wickets for 32 is the third best figures for the club in its 35-year history. It's been 20 years since the last time a Pacific bowler notched an eight-fer. Only one bowler, Nigel Wilkinson in 1989, has even taken nine wickets for Pacific in an innings. Three other bowlers have bagged eight wickets in an innings: Nigel, in 2003, Pete Hollman in 1990, and John Baglivi in 1998." Some great names I think you'll agree. And Korgy is right up there with them. To Korgy!

Now, back to Aly Duncan – or the Alygator as he is otherwise known. Just don't call him Al, because he doesn't like that. This season Aly saved his best for last, with a run-a-ball 22 against Centurion Cricket Academy followed up by 42 against the President's XI in a 145-run partnership with Sumeet Sharma. We can only hope that one of Pacific's senior pros plays more games in 2019. Aly, more commitment please. But when Aly does play he gives his all for the team. When he got lost on an early-morning adventue in Dorset, instead of panicking as lesser mortals might, Aly stumbled across a rural McDonalds and came back armed with Big Macs for everyone who was hungover. Indeed, Aly is a good man for a crisis.

One senior pro who has taken on more responsibility this season is The Chairman, Oli Haill. Oli is a poacher-turned-gamekeeper. His usual role at the AGM had been to disrupt the meeting by starting a separate conversation at one end of the table – behaviour that would be certain to displease Ben Stockton. Now Oli will himself have to deal with such shenanigans. But I am sure he will not be a rollover, because Oli is more authoritarian than meets the eye. Indeed, one of his first moves was do declare himself President, in a dramatic sweeping away of checks of balances. But he knows that he can't upset the troops too much, so, following in the footsteps of one Ahmed Hussain, he brought not one, not two, but three kegs of beer to the President's XI match. And their name: Revolution Ale. Perhaps he had started one, or perhaps he is trying to stop one. Only time will tell.

But being well aware of his advancing years, Oli appointed a younger Vice-President in the form of Sam Howes. This season the multi-talented Sam, having previously been a leg-spinner, has reinvented himself as a fast bowler and middle-order batsman. He is joint second in the wickets column this season, having taken 19 wickets. I think he also took a fantastic catch at some point on tour, but I can't find any mention of that in the match report. Sam, perhaps you can talk us through it?

Another of our newcomers is the cyber security expert James McGinnigle, who is increasingly worried that our website will be hacked and our vital statistics messed with. So paranoid is he about online security that his internet name is the somewhat bizarre Evil Lemur. He also goes by the name of Maccy G, and the Mac Daddy. We hope that one day he will score a Daddy Hundred for us, but in the meantime he has been a real asset with the ball in his hand, unleashing 70 overs of hostility on the opposition. James, welcome aboard!

Sumeet Sharma's stats this year are incredible. He scored 904 runs at an average of 50, with three centuries. He also took 14 catches and 11 stumpings. One of his centuries this season, against Hadley Wood Green at Highgate CC, resulted in the headline "Sharmageddon", as he plundered 24 fours and one six in his 139 not out. A fantastic performance I think we will all agree. Well done Sumeet.

Now Mark Woodland – otherwise known as creatures – often tries to sneak in under the radar but he certainly hasn't gone unnoticed. One Pacifico said: "Mark has developed into a specialist square leg fielder, he has one of the better arms in the club, he never complains every time the skipper sends him in as fodder to open the batting! His bowling is getting better and he’s a top bloke." Another senior pro added: "Mark has improved so much in the three years I’ve been at the club in all aspects. And he’s got one of the more confusing nicknames for opponents to fathom." Mark, to us you are a Creature Comfort.

Now in the interests of not going on too long I will mostly limit my speech to those people who are here in this room. But there is of course one person who is not with us this evening who I have to mention. I am talking of course about James Gleadow, who sadly died last month.

Overall Nuggsy played 222 "first-class" matches, taking 351 wickets at an average 17.91. He scored 1239 runs at an average of 18.91. Of course it wasn't just his stats that were so impressive, but his general dedication to the game and being such a team man.

I would like, if I may, to quote from the great Jon Webley, who joined Pacific in the same week as Nuggsy in 2005, said: "I don’t think you will ever meet another Nuggsy anywhere – a true cricket man, with his Wisden under his arm, never taking a backward step. I most remember him quoting historical citations as he approached the crease and sharing many a long and determined partnership. His ability to land the ball on a penny gave many a batsman a headache. Well played, Nuggsy, well played."

Rob Bastin, who so often kept wicket to Nuggsy, added that "James was a passionate cricketer and a dedicated friend who would turn out for matches with the same slightly disgruntled air that all good seam bowlers seem to have. Having been behind the stumps for more than most when Nuggsy was bowling, I can attest to the variations of surprising dip, swing and cut that led to many feint edges behind. I think everyone who played with James will remember his celebrations, a jump in the air, clenched fist or pump of the arms. The satisfaction of a successful plan."

We all have stories to share about Nuggsy and we will continue to do so for years to come, but I'd like to raise a glass to Nuggsy!

Unfortunately I am running out of time, but I must quickly thank a few more key people for a fantastic season.

As well as being able to score runs under pressure and get us out of sticky situations, Mutz Siddiqui has really helped to keep us going in the North East London League. He has kept wicket fantastically throughout the season, and has taken charge of the scoreboard, the gazebo and plenty of other things besides. He has also topped off the Pacific dessert with a touch of Brett Custard.

Ahmed Hussain may not have had his best season with the ball, but he has often captained the Sunday side and he has umpired more than anyone, racking up an estimated 285 overs this season.

Kieran Mullens rescued the club a few years back and did a fantastic job as match manager. Had we already had a Clubman of the Season Award, Kieran would no doubt have been its recipient on numerous occasions. 

Ben Stockton has this season topped the bowling chart, with 36 wickets. He also scored a whopping 1036 runs and proved himself to be a no-nonsense chair of a committee meeting.

James Soden took 19 wickets – including five for 39 against Tower Hamlets as the ninth bowler used. Why he wasn't brought on earlier is anyone's guess. I blame the captain. James has also cemented his place as the club's leading backing-upper in the field.

What to say about Aravindan Ilangovan, the most intelligent man in the club? He only played a handful of games this season but his class was there for all to see.

Sumant Kumar took nine wickets at an average of 14.78. However, he does come with a health warning. I should caution any unsuspecting bystanders that they should keep their distance from Sumant this evening, because last year he dragged Ben Stockton and myself out until 6 in the morning. Sumant, take it easy tonight.

Jasbir Basi has grown in his first season for Pacific and has also turned out for us in the Victoria Park League.

Paul Davis might not have played too many cricket matches this season, but it is heartening to know that he puts his whites to good use, even wearing them when playing baseball matches in Finsbury Park.

Now I'm afraid my time is up. So, I can just say thank you all for coming and here's looking forward to 2019!