It’s been a case of ‘all change’ at Great Melton as 2013 sees new captains in place in 5 of the club’s 7 senior teams.  Retiring First Team skipper Mark Scott who stated his intention to step down after leading the club to 2 successive championships and 5th place in Alliance Division 2, has been succeeded by Richard Waddell.  Waddell who joined Melton 2 years ago when he moved to Norfolk from the North East has captained his home club and will still have the the experience of Scott, and prolific run-scorer Richard Wood, to call on as he attempts to build on recent successes.  Lee Whiddett was re-elected as A Team skipper having captained the A’s to a third-place finish in Alliance Division 4 following promotion in 2011 but there will be new faces in charge of both the B and C Teams.  Liam Hughes, who turned out for Vauxhall Mallards last season and whose sons play for the club, will lead the B Team while Coaching Coordinator Simon Carding will, no doubt, freshen up the C Team with youthful talent.  Simon will also add his own considerable cricketing experience to the C Team having been Division 5 champions’ Colney’s leading bowler in 2012.

George Bunn, having led the Sunday side back to the Mid Norfolk Sunday League’s Shield Premier Division, will stay on in the role in an attempt to consolidate a position among the Sunday elite after a few yo-yo seasons, but he has also taken over the captaincy of the Midweek side from Daryl Godbold.  Melton will also have an additional Sunday side aimed at those not getting a regular game plus promising youngsters who may not be quite good enough to play in the C team.  This team will be led by Kevin Frazer, assisted by Clive Gristwood and will play about 6 matches in the Friendly Alliance over the course of the season.

Most of the other officers stay the same but Steve Clarke has taken over as Membership Secretary from Andy Cameron.  At the A.G.M. Chairman Steve Phoenix paid tribute to the retiring officers and praised the efforts of the many volunteers that keep a large club like Great Melton running relatively smoothly.  The club would like to appoint a Volunteer Coordinator to help with the recruitment of volunteers, organise Cricketforce Day and take some of the pressure off the Chairman but, as yet, nobody has been found to take on this role.

The Junior Section continued to be very successful in 2012 with the U11s and U13s winning the South Norfolk Community League and U13s reaching the Alan Bridgewater Final while Junior Membership rose to an all-time high of 180.  The Women and Girls’ Section, however, was the biggest success story of 2012.  Thanks to the enthusiasm of Chris Brook (Coach) and Mark Cadge (Women & Girls’ Coordinator) Melton increased it’s female membership, was able to field a Women’s team for the first time and the U13 Girls won the Lady Taverners’ County Tournament. The Club are hoping to see even more women and girls involved in 2013.

With Treasurer Grenville Ireland showing the club’s finances to be in a fairly healthy state despite the cost of refurbishing the scorebox plus some unforseen expense in repairing ground equipment, it was decided that subscriptions and match fees could be left at present levels: Subs – £35 seniors & £5 Juniors; Match fees – £6 Senior Matches (£3 for juniors, students, unemployed); £2 Junior matches. With a new junior pavilion – courtesy of Patron Sir Edward Evans-Lombe – due to be erected for the start of the 2013 season, the next major expense is the replacement of the club’s practice facilities with a new 3-lane net system.  Planning permission is being sought and Liam Hughes is currently undertaking a major fund-raising appeal entitled ‘No Boundaries’ to help support this and encourage even greater inclusiveness. It is hoped that some grant aid may be forthcoming too.

Regarding playing strength, Melton are always likely to have enough players with such a large junior section but putting our 4 teams on a Saturday can still be quite challenging.  With some clubs struggling last season to field two sides, there was considerable discussion at the A.G.M. about commitment to cricket, particularly longer forms of the game.  Cricket is changing and there is no doubt that players of all ages now want to take weekends off to do other things so all clubs need much bigger squads.  With often the most talented youngsters going off to university and sometimes not returning just as they are making their mark in the first team, there must be a regular conveyor belt of talent but it is hard work!  With some of Melton’s cricket-playing stalwarts talking of ‘retiring’ there is certainly a need in the club for some new blood at first and second team level so new players or those fancying a change of club will be very welcome at the club’s pre-season nets which are on Monday evenings at the UEA Sportspark (6.00-8.00 p.m.) from 18th February until 25th March.

Officers 2013: Patron, Sir Edward Evans-Lombe; President, Andy Seeley; Chairman, Steve Phoenix; Secretary, John Burdett; Membership Secretary, Steve Clarke; Treasurer, Grenville Ireland; Welfare Officer, Celia Phoenix; Groundsman, Mike Phoenix; Junior Development Officer, Steve Phoenix; Coaching Coordinator, Simon Carding; Women & Girls’ Coordinator, Mark Cadge; Captains – 1st Team, Richard Waddell; A Team, Lee Whiddett; B Team, Liam Hughes; C Team, Simon Carding; Sunday Team (League), George Bunn; Sunday Team (Friendly), Kevin Frazer; Midweek, George Bunn; Junior Managers – Chris Brook (Women & Girls); Dave Bickel (U17s); Duncan Greenslade (U15s); Martyn Moye (U13s), Guy McCurley (U9s).  U11s still to be appointed.

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