The 2015 NDCV Bundesliga saw THCC field a very different team compared to previous seasons. With the loss of several club leaders and key players last year, questions were asked at the start of the season as to who would fill the void. A new captain was elected, and with him came a new approach to THCC cricket. But would it work?
The numbers tell part of the story: 10 matches, 8 wins, 2 losses, to finish equal first in the NDCV league (second only on net run-rate), with the team having comprehensively beaten the league winners, SG Findorff, twice. In the 8 wins, THCC took 80/1008, which works out as 1 wicket every 12.6 runs. And this happened with THCC never fielding the same 11 twice.
The 18 players who took the field for THCC came from 7 different countries, and ranged from the teen-aged to the middle-aged (showing the depth and diversity of the club). The team included 5 new players who recently joined the club (Dom, Raman, Aman, Imran and Shane), and was brilliantly supported by 2 volunteer scorers (Tina and Dave) and 5 volunteer umpires (Saradhi, Arun, Chris B., Emil and Shah).
Those are great numbers, but the other part of the story is something a little more intangible. The team succeeded, matured and unified far beyond expectations. It wasn’t just about playing great cricket and winning; it was also about creating a strong team spirit, a positive atmosphere and a team culture of responsibility and accountability. Young players were given opportunities, good fielding became the priority, players were encouraged to play their natural games, mistakes were seldom criticised, and players selected as 12th man embraced the role. At different times during the season, all players had the chance to shine, exemplifying the fact that teams win cricket matches, not individuals.
It started with a victory at home against Göttingen in bright sunshine, in what was a competitive and entertaining match. Göttingen showed they have some young, up-and-coming players, and could be a team to watch in the future. For the away match against Göttingen, THCC enjoyed the best of the conditions, with a superb fielding effort resulting in Göttingen being bowled out for 84.
After two good wins, THCC went off the rails a bit, getting thumped at home against Hannover. Credit must go to Hannover for a brilliant batting effort, but THCC also threw the game away somewhat, with some important catches going down that could have made a big difference to the outcome. But that loss also turned out to be a welcome wake-up call, with the team galvanising for the return match away at Hannover, in what amounted to a remarkable 371-run turnaround.
It was fantastic to see the team really step up a gear against SG Findorff, who had up to that point swept all before them, had a side stacked with talent and looked unbeatable. First, THCC won on Findorff’s home turf in Bremen on the back of Israfeel’s six wickets, and proved it was no fluke a week later by beating Findorff at THCC’s home ground, with the victory built on Dom’s splendid 92 and Sandeep’s brilliant spell that yielded 4/16.
Those two wins put THCC deservedly at the top of the league table, but unfortunately the team felt the rub of a lost toss against HSV. Batting was very difficult on the damp wicket, and was made even more difficult by excellent bowling from HSV. The team responded well a week later, beating HICC in a close game that saw young players Aman and Safiullah bat the team to victory, then managing to end the HSV hoodoo with an exciting one wicket victory at home (the game including possibly the leave of the century).
The last game against HICC at their ground in Horn saw the culmination of all the hard work the team had done, with HICC bowled out for 106 in clinical fashion. The wickets were spread between the bowlers (who bowled really well as a unit), some fine catches were held, and there was great pressure fielding (which included running-out HICC’s most dangerous batsman). Even better, the team avoided the usual middle-order collapse to get the runs relatively easily.
So, a season that began with trepidation and worry turned into a season of triumph and success, with only net run-rate keeping THCC from winning the league. Though in finishing “second”, THCC can draw a lot of positives from the season, putting the club in a strong position for the coming T20 competition, the current Regionalliga, and for next year’s Bundesliga.
It was especially good to see young players like Dom, Raman, Aman, Kamal and Safiullah developing as cricketers, establishing themselves in the team, enjoying their cricket and having success on the field. The team really benefited from their involvement, both on and off the field.
Thanks to all the players, scorers, umpires and fans who supported the first XI throughout the season. It was fantastic to see lots of supporters at our home games, which shows the strength of THCC as a club.
Thanks also need to go out to the first team “Tight Five” (Cam, Bipin, Steve, Trived, Satish), with excellent support from Mark Richardson. The Tight Five did a lot of work behind-the-scenes, including selecting the team, organising transport and catering, running team training, uploading the scores to crichq, and doing all the necessary league paperwork.
Well done to everyone involved and congratulations on a great Bundesliga season.