Running to the title - Sulhamstead's Jamie Seward and Craig Palmer
A REAL team effort forged since youth days was one of the keys to Sulhamstead’s second Berkshire League crown in three seasons.
Having won the title in 2013, Sulhamstead had to take second place to Peppard Stoke Row last summer but are on back on top after losing only on of their 17 matches with one to play.
But skipper Matt Gill believes that it was not an easy success: “We’ve had five or six really closely fought games and came out on top pretty much all the time, and that’s made the difference and some should have gone the other way.
“We lost to Crowthorne Crown Wood five or so games ago and we thought we had blown it,” he added, “but we won our next five games and they failed to pick up a win so it looks as if it was quite easy, which definitely was not the case.”
The team ethic was also a major key to success: “We don’t really have any superstars and every one of our players contributed each and every week,” said Gillo. “If you look at the averages, we don’t have any players that are stand-out and don’t have any in the top five batsmen or bowlers.
“But we always have one or two who step up every game, and we have a consistent bunch to pick from and don’t have to chop and change every week, which means we are very lucky in that respect and makes my job easier as captain as well.”
And many of those players have come through the club’s ranks: “When we first won the title in 2013, it was the 30th yar of our Colts set-up and nine of the 11 in the final game came through the Colts, and it was similar this season.
“More than 80 per cent of our lads have come through the Colts, which shows that we are producing good, young players ho want to stay with the club with good facilities.”
Work is ongoing at the Jack’s Booth ground - The Watson Oval - where new fencing, electronic scoreboard and second team pavilion have been added with new kitchen, toilets and covers on the agenda. “It’s all going on, and chairman Bill MaDonald works really, really hard behind the scenes,” said the skipper.
The ambition now is to retain the title, although Gill knows that is not an easy task having tried that once before. “Last year we put too much pressure on ourselves about retaining the title before we had enjoyed winning it,” he said.
“But as Peppard found, it’s really hard to maintain that level for two years in a row. But that’s the goal, although I don’t think anyone has done it in more than 15 years.”