BB Chief's Letter 2017

General

 

I am delighted to report that 2016 was a very good year for BB. I will report on the cricket later in this Letter. As usual it is my great pleasure to be able to thank all those who have contributed to the running of BB and I am extremely grateful to the members of the Benevolent Board and all our Match Managers for their efforts on behalf of us all. Their efforts have certainly made our Club one which still attracts good players and nice people – as happily has been the case throughout our long history.

 

A major innovation this year was the new and highly successful match at Torry Hill between two teams of Brethren. Brother Rose Kingsdown very kindly allowed us to play the game at Torry Hill and despite rather indifferent weather a large gathering of Brethren, past and present, witnessed a good game of cricket with a jazz band playing in a small tent in the outfield, a delicious barbecue lunch and the chance walk round her lovely gardens or swim. We will repeat the game this year and all Brethren who have given us their e-mail address will be invited to attend and I would love to see even more Brethren there this year. We are very fortunate to be able to play matches at Torry Hill and also at Belmont where the Trustees also make us very welcome.

 

Brother Rose, after her highly successful year as President of Kent CCC, was invited to continue into an unprecedented second term last season and she did so with unflagging charm and enthusiasm. She will now be succeeded as Kent’s President by Brother Charles Rowe who played for Kent - and of course for BB - for many years. I know that all Brethren will be delighted at this. It is further excellent news that Brother Matthew Fleming has become the President of MCC.

 

Cricket

 

Our prominence in the high offices of cricket should in no way diminish the successes of our playing Brethren. We had an excellent season (played 19, won 10, drawn 2, lost 6 tied 1) both in terms of the cricket played and the enjoyment had by those who played for, and against, the Club. Six matches were cancelled, three because of bad weather, two because our opponents failed to raise a team and one, regrettably, was our fault. The steps we took last winter to improve the match management of our teams paid dividends and as a result far fewer games were called off at the last minute. We will continue to do all we can to encourage excellent match management and thus hope to avoid the scourge of cancellations which sadly is more commonplace in cricket than I can ever recall. The continuing success of our cricket has been due in no small way to the enormous and infectious enthusiasm of our Hon. Match Secretary, Alex Norwood Hill. We owe him a continuing vote of thanks for all he does. The task is considerable but happily he carries out his many responsibilities with evident pleasure. In a year of good cricket one of the highlights was that rare bird, a tied match (241 apiece) against Tonbridge School.

 

Among some excellent individual performances during the season were hundreds from Marcus Pyke, Finn Hulbert and Mike Churchill. Piers Richardson bowled very well on many occasions including a haul of 5-23 in the inter-club game at Torry Hill.

 

Junior BB

 

I was delighted that BB had such an excellent season, but I was particularly pleased to see how well Junior BB is doing under the energetic management of Brother Mark

Pettman. This year he expanded our fixture list from four to eight matches, and we won the first seven before losing the last match, a 20/20 game against the Brethren. It was splendid to see how 2015’s crop of inexperienced young players matured as cricketers and this season they played some marvellous cricket in exactly the right spirit. They all enjoyed their matches and getting to know their opponents. Brother Mark carried out his role magnificently – and he would be the first to say how much we owe to the parents of many of the boys. They do a lot of fetching and carrying and with Mark they give the boys great support.

 

Tents

 

This year we were able to take advantage of a kind offer from Kent CCC. In previous years we have seen declining attendances in our Tunbridge Wells tent –and the Kent CCC were experiencing similar problems. For a relatively small sum we were offered the chance to share their tent and we did so on an experimental basis. There was an irritating day when we found that all our food had already been consumed but apart from that it all worked well. Having received the appropriate assurances we will continue with this arrangement because we were able to put the savings we made into BB cricket and as a direct result we were able to cover the costs of our inter-club match at Torry Hill. There are worrying developments at Canterbury so far as our tent is concerned. The ECB seems determined to hold one day county cricket in July and August and there is to be no Championship game in August this year. Instead, Kent will have a three-day match against the West Indies and, assuming that we receive the appropriate assurances from Kent CCC, our tent at Canterbury will be in its traditional place and full of Brethren having their usual wonderful time on Sunday 6th, Monday 7th, and Tuesday 8th August. The Canterbury tent was much enjoyed by those who were present and the whole exercise was, as usual, managed very stylishly by Brother Peter Canney.

 

Golf

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our annual golf matches against, chronologically, Chislehurst, Rye and Royal St George’s GCs. Our thanks are due to each of them for their hospitality and the warmth of their welcome to us. We also took part in the Quadrangular match against MCC, the XL Club and the Gloucester Gypsies at the Berkshire GC. It pains me to report that we came second in all of the matches except the Quadrangular match where we came fourth. We need to do better!

 

 

Changes to the Benevolent Board

 

After nine years of excellent work as our Hon. Secretary, StJohn Brown has decided that the time has arrived for him to stand down. He has looked after the affairs of BB diligently and has helped to move BB calmly into the 21st Century. I have been enormously grateful for his support and am delighted that he has accepted my offer that he should become an Honorary Life Member in appreciation of all he has done.

 

We are indeed fortunate that Anthony Fincham has agreed to become our new Honorary Secretary and I am greatly looking forward to working with him. He is a senior lawyer in the City of London and in his pomp was a fast bowler who, though narrowly missing his blue, once took four wickets for forty-odd for Oxford University against Glamorgan. I know that we will be in safe hands.

 

Tom Boucher has also joined the Benevolent Board as the Keeper of the Website. He has developed our new website and I am grateful for all he has done so far. Without doubt the running of BB will benefit greatly from the new technology and this will be a great help to all of us - the playing members in particular.

 

Communications with Brethren

 

Being able to send much of our literature by e-mail saves the Club a lot of money each year. If all of this year’s mailing has come to you by post it means we do not have your e-mail address. If you are now prepared to help us by agreeing to receive our annual communications by e-mail and that you will be happy for us to e-mail you infrequently (on BB matters only) it would be very much appreciated. Just send an e-mail to me at tony@parkholt.fsnet.co.uk and we will do the rest. Those who are more set in their ways and prefer to continue to receive our annual communication by post should do nothing and things will continue as usual.

 

Finances

 

The Club has an acceptable level of financial resources for its current level of activities. We need to continue to run a balanced budget, so we need to be judicious as to how we spend going forward. Our policy is to support the playing side of the Club in particular and make playing for BB as attractive as possible.

 

Appointments

 

Up to date, the following have accepted my invitation to appointment:

 

Honorary Life Member: A. StJ. Brown

 

Playing Members: T.W. Davey E. Dickinson M.P. Hickson

 

F. Hulbert F.T. Hulbert D. Lock

 

C. McLean W.C.O. Meredith A. Newport

 

H.R.F. Law H. Ward T.J. Whyte

 

Social Members: The Lord Colgrain H.M. Fenwick

 

 

In closing this letter I can say that I believe that BB is in a good place at present although club cricket has a very distinct problem insofar as many cricketers stop playing the game before reaching 30 - a far younger age than previously. BB is taking steps to ensure that our playing membership holds up well and that we continue to attract new members who will fit well into our traditional environment.

 

I hope that all Brethren will continue to take an active interest in the affairs of BB and I look forward to seeing many of you on the boundary in 2017.

 

Tony Monteuuis,

 

Chief

BB Chief's Letter 2016

General

2015 was a season which started so well. We enjoyed a series of well-fought matches from May until late July when out of the blue no fewer than 6 of our last 9 opponents cried off within 48 hours (and sometimes less) of the game. It was wretched for those Brethren who had made their cricketing plans for the weekend only to find them dashed at the last moment and it was equally infuriating for groundsmen, umpires and scorers alike. These cancellations reflect a problem that is affecting the game of cricket for both wandering and town clubs. Young men are under greater pressure to observe their responsibilities to their home and family life than in days of yore and sadly they simply don’t spend as much time playing cricket as used to be the case. Happily BB still has a strong cricketing base and our younger members enjoy their BB cricket enormously. This is a reflection on the enthusiasm of our remarkable Hon. Match Manager, Alex Hill who makes a supreme effort to ensure that BB cricket remains successful and enormous fun for all involved. He and our excellent Match Managers have been central to our successful team-raising and, though challenged occasionally, we always had a team on the pitch for our matches which is a rarity nowadays. My thanks go to all of them for their unswerving determination that BB will not let down their opponents. 

A group of playing members and I met after the season ended to discuss this problem and the Benevolent Board has heeded their advice that we should not simply carry on regardless of everything that is happening in club cricket. We will continue with many of our matches in the same way as in the past while at the same time we will try playing some 20/20 matches, play some afternoon-only matches and we have cut back our fixture list a bit to ensure that we do everything in our power to play matches only against those on whom we feel we can rely. We cannot be healthy if our opponents are failing. 

 

Cricket

In early May I travelled to Paris with a delightful and enthusiastic group of 12 for the second BB Tour to Paris. BB played three consecutive limited overs games in very indifferent weather winning two of them. Our Tour Committee ensured that everyone played a full part during these matches and everything went like clockwork apart from the fact that one player sustained an “injury” late on the first evening and I unexpectedly found myself umpiring for the next two days. The injured player made a surprisingly rapid recovery!

As usual we had many wonderful days in Kent and most particularly at Torry Hill where the re-laid wicket was again magnificent. Brother Rose Kingsdown was as hospitable as ever despite the many claims on her time as Kent CCC’s President, a role which she carried out so spectacularly well that she has been asked to do it again in 2016. We are also very grateful to the Trustees of Belmont who so generously allow us to play some of our matches on that lovely ground with its historic connections to Lord Harris and BB.

We won 11 of the 19 matches we actually played which meant that we really might have enjoyed a fabulous season had we been able to play all our matches. There were some excellent performances again this year with Jonathan Wilkes-Green, Alexander Cornwallis and Chris Maurice scoring hundreds and Michael Churchill taking a five wicket haul at Hurlingham, a bowler’s graveyard, to snatch success for us in a very tight finish. 

Tents

Despite the fact that Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week was much later in the season it still proved disappointing that our tent there was very difficult to fill - as indeed was the Kent CCC’s tent next door. We have therefore accepted a very kind offer from the Kent Committee to share their tent on a trial basis in 2016. They have offered as many tables as we can fill (and we can fly our own flag alongside the Kent flag) in exchange for a modest contribution. Incidentally our lunches and teas will cost significantly less than previously and since we will not be renting a marquee or crockery etc it is well worth a trial this year. We will not be putting these savings to profit but will spend the money on making BB cricket more attractive to our playing Brethren and Junior BB with an eye very firmly on the future. Our tent at Canterbury Cricket Week will continue as it has done throughout our history and we have no plans to change anything so far as this is concerned. I do hope though that Brethren will try very hard to support us at the two Cricket Weeks. Our tents are the greatest fun and a very enjoyable time is always had there. St John Brown, our hardworking Hon. Secretary, will continue to manage our tables in the Kent Committee’s Tent at Tunbridge Wells and Peter Canney will continue to run the BB Tent at Canterbury Cricket Week. They carry out their roles with charm and efficiency and I know that we are all grateful to them for all they do. 

 

Junior BB

It was with great regret that we have had to discontinue the use of the traditional name “The BaBes” when referring to our Junior Section after more than 100 years. Those with whom we are able to communicate by e-mail received a message from me last year explaining the reasons for this, and the text of that message is now enclosed with (or attached to) this Chief’s Letter so all Brethren will understand why this change is actually necessary. My thanks to those (unanimously understanding and supportive) Brethren who wrote to me then. I am very grateful.

In their last season playing under The BaBes’ banner our young cricketers were a nice group and had a great deal of fun. In 2015 we had a particularly young membership and they struggled a bit in their matches, but happily many of those young players will be back in 2016 (and 2017 in many cases too) and their experiences will no doubt stand them in very good stead. Brother Mark Baker White has now completed a very good stint as Manager of the BaBes and Brother Mark Pettman kindly agreed to be the new Manager of Junior BB. He has two sons who are already playing Junior BB cricket and he has already seized the initiative and the Junior BB fixture list is most attractive and larger than before. As Brethren seem to stop playing BB cricket earlier than in the past it is critical that we replace them with young players who will love what BB has to offer. Brother Mark will ensure that they are versed in the traditions and spirit of BB when they move up to playing BB cricket. 

 

Golf

Our annual golf matches against Royal St George’s, Rye and Chislehurst continue to be greatly enjoyed as was our Quadrangular match against MCC, the XL Club and the Gloucester Gypsies played at St George’s Hill, Weybridge this year. My thanks go to Brothers Giles Brealy, Bryan Hamblin, Peter Cattrall and James Davis respectively for managing the events so well. 

 

Communications with Brethren

It proved very helpful (and it saves us money too) that so many of you were happy to receive our communications by e-mail. If any more of you would be happy for us to do this please send an e-mail confirming this to Brother St John Brown (stjohnbrown@btinternet.com).

Changes to the Benevolent Board

Brother Mark Baker White has now stood down from the Benevolent Board with our gratitude for all he has done as Manager of the BaBes. His successor, the new Manager of Junior BB, Brother Mark Pettman has joined the Board at my invitation.

Finances

Our financial position remains sound despite a recent fall in the value of our invested reserves (which will not surprise many of you). The Board has taken significant steps to reduce expenditure in areas which do not impact on our main business as a cricket club. Our policy is to support the playing side of the Club in particular and to make playing for BB as attractive as possible.

Appointments

The following have accepted my invitation to appointment to playing membership of BB during the past year :

P.B.Richardson

A.J.C.Smallwood

H.P.Ward

and the following have been invited to become playing members :

E.Dickinson

D.Lock

W.Meredith

A.Newport C.Williams. 

May I end by thanking the Officers of BB and the members of the Benevolent Board who have been enthusiastic and constructive at all times. I am most grateful to them for all they do. I hope that Brethren will continue to take an active interest in our affairs and look forward to seeing many of you on the boundary in 2016.