The Tigers had an ultimately disappointing year – just seven wins from 20 matches – but managed to turn things around in August and September with five wins from the final six games, mainly thanks to improved availability, several key players having missed large chunks of the summer for varying reasons. The malaise that affected the second half of 2014 carried on into 2015, where the team won only two of the first 14 fixtures – including 2014, only six victories in 26. However, there were many close finishes, which suggests the fixture list is being pitched just right. There were two enjoyable tours for the club, as diverse as Portugal and Essex, though none of the games were won (3 defeats, one losing draw) and the team was much depleted in Essex.
In fact, the side often had to take the field with less than eleven players for a while, which obviously contributed to poor results. Despite membership increasing from 18 to 21, this was negated by two members not playing a single match and one other participating in just two games. In all, ten members played less than half the games. Of the new full members, John McGirr was rarely seen after May, but Andy Ward, after a slow start, proved an excellent addition, finishing as second highest run scorer with 305 at an average of 27.72.
In the circumstances the batting held up remarkably well, despite there being no outstanding performance in this area. Barnaby Pinfield’s 106 not out against Octopus (in another losing cause) was the only century, and there were 13 individual scores of 50-plus, three down on 2014, with nine of them coming at the back end of the season as results improved. Pinfield topped the averages with 165 runs at 41.25 with Chris Boden second with 235 runs at 39.16, though they played only 12 games between them and their averages were both boosted by one big innings. Mike Herlihy finished top scorer with 331 runs at an average of 27.58; Chris Dane was as consistent as ever with 277 at 34.62 and Stewart Taylor compiled 296 (37.00), 171 of them coming in his last two innings! After bagging 116 runs on the Porto tour Rowan Allerton tailed off somewhat but still finished with 226 at 25.11 and Mike Delanian, without making a fifty, scored 295 at an average of 18.43, frequently getting the innings off to a flying start.
Messrs. Herlihy, Delanian and Pinfield all reached 1000 runs for the club during the season, joining Wright and Dane in that exclusive group. Statistics can often be misleading, as the side actually scored more runs than the previous year (3799 at an average of 190 per innings) and oddly, one more than their opponents, who nevertheless lost 18 fewer wickets. The average of 25.32 per batsman was a mere 0.04 down on 2014. The team totalled 200 or more in nine of their innings, with the only real failures being the miserable 95 all out against Old Grumblers in the first home match, a battling 122-7 to achieve a draw after being hammered for 273 at Eastons, and 110-7 in the t20 against Whalers. Matt Webster, Steve Rennie, Ian Daffern and Steve Bignell proved more than adequate tail-enders, frequently bailing out the team after a succession of worrying mid-innings collapses.
The innings frequently got off to a good start, prior to subsequent collapses in many of the matches, often rescued by the resolution of the tail-enders. The ability to bat confidently right down to No.11 proved a big plus for the team and there were new record partnerships posted for the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th (equal) and 10th wickets, though not always in a winning cause. In the more successful period the situation was usually reversed, with a poor start being improved by recovery in the middle order.
But it was in the bowling department that the Tigers suffered most, with stalwarts Matt Webster, Chris Wright and Chris Dane missing a total of 23 games between them. In the circumstances the support bowlers had to bravely fill in, with the likes of Ian Daffern and Mike Delanian doing exceptionally well, Mike bagging 12 wickets and Ian 11. John McGirr topped the averages with six wickets at 17.00 but from only four games. The ever reliable Webster was second with a leading 21 wickets at 22.42 from 120 overs, bowling nearly forty more than anyone else, with Daney close behind on 12 victims at 22.75 each.
The improved form of Stewart Taylor, growing into his new role as captain, plus the re-emergence of Craig Murray and Chris Wright in the final part of the season, were key contributory factors to the improvement in results. Stewart was second highest wicket-taker with 14 at 26.85, whilst Craig had 8 wickets at 24.62 plus 164 runs with the bat at an average 27.33, including a Tiger best 89 against Highgate when his team were in serious trouble. The fielding polished up as the season progressed, as it often does with a full compliment on the field, although nine fewer catches were taken in 2015 (53). Rowan Allerton was once again outstanding with 11 catches and a number of run outs, often direct hits. Chris Boden and Andy Ward were also excellent as was the captain. Steve Bignell plugged the wicket-keeping gap in Barnaby’s absence, as did Boden at the end of the season, both to good effect. Steve Rennie proved he can still make vital contributions, though it was an overall disappointing summer for Chris Wright (226 runs and 9 wickets) after missing two months with a serious injury.
Richard Burgess filled in as skipper on six occasions in his usual thoughtful style, though he rarely had a full eleven or top-strength bowling attack at his disposal. Jimmy Carter and Simon Warren made useful contributions in the matches they played, and it is hoped we will see more of Ian Porton next summer, his forceful batting being sorely missed. Only 24 players were utilised during the entire season, which included three guests.