Monthly Archives: May 2008

Mark Bradshaw – An Appreciation

On the 11th May 2008 long serving Mark Bradshaw became the first Energy Exile to break the momentous figure of 5000 career runs since he joined the club more than 10 years ago in 1996. Another result of John Priestland’s recruitment campaign, I think I first met Mark at an away game against Harrowdene, though this is difficult to verify as Mark for many years has been my cricketing memory bank.

He joined a rather disorganised group of cricketers with a shared love of the greatest game in the world. Captained by a man who frequently decided whether to bat or field without looking at the pitch, a wicket keeper who didn’t believe in stopping balls down the leg-side unless edged and a fast bowler who was more concerned with his piles than mastering the arts of fast bowling. Add to that a Cumbrian with dreadlocks to the small of his back who never seemed to bowl a ball not on the stumps, a founder member who was then and still is a severe judge of batting and a miserly bowler whose son, initially our scorer, is now a mainstay of the batting line-up. And they were the sane ones. What he thought when he first played for us is difficult to know, but whatever he thought he seemed to slip seamlessly into the ethos of Exiles cricket. His first few games were a steep learning curve. Having been brought up on pitches in Lincolnshire where the ball often didn’t get above shin height, he initially struggled to deal with the bouncier wickets of the South. Quickly he got the hang of it, eradicating his propensity to cut the ball in the air and he rapidly moved up the order establishing himself as the Exiles top batsman.

Over the next ten years Mark became one of our most consistent performers with the bat only being challenged when Keith Roberts and Jon Taylor joined the club. Not only was he our premier batsman but he also became one of the Exiles most strident cricket evangelists. He has given everything to this club without ever seeking any reward. An enthusiastic tourist, he organised and kept everyone amused on our yearly excursions to Grantham. He introduced many a bemused Southerner to the local nightlife personally demonstrating how and how not to behave. His various drunken speeches on the importance of ‘cricket fitness’ were common, my particular favourite was his tirade directed at Jeff who was in the process of eating a kebab in Leicester, ‘Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh don’t eat kebabs’ he forcefully maintained between sips of his favourite brand of vodka, Morrinov. Without his input the yearly tour would have ended years ago.

Mark’s contribution to the club is immeasurable. From his successful captaincy, his tireless encouragement of lesser batsman, his role as team jester, club historian and general good egg were all backed up by his wholehearted dedication to the cause of the Energy Exiles. Playing for the Exiles for me would have been a lot less enjoyable over the years if Mark had decided to play for a proper club rather than doss with a bunch of cricket misfits.

Well done Mark, here’s to another 5000 runs.

Author Wil Scott

Marking 5000

Many congratulations to Mark on reaching such an impressive landmark!

The stats don’t lie – he has been our most valuable, most consistent batsman. Not only is he nearly 1,000 runs ahead of his nearest rival (and unlikely ever to be caught), but he has 6 of the top 10 highest season aggregates, and 2 of the 3 highest partnerships, not to mention being one of only four centurions in the club’s history. But the stats barely tell half the story. It has been a privilege to have been at the other end of the pitch while he’s scored quite a few of those runs – here are a few random reflections on what I’ve learned in that time:

Mark has phenomenal powers of concentration – a “proper” batsman prepared to work for his runs, but one who’s also always looking to move the score along, and rarely lets a bad ball go unpunished;

An amazing cricket memory – my first thought, on hearing that he scored his 5000th run, was that I wouldn’t mind betting he’d be able to give a pretty good account of the other 4999, but that’s not fair, because he’d probably be able to give a decent account of most of my runs, not to mention those of most of the rest of the club (and in particular those of such batting stalwarts as Chris Bunton and James Airey). More importantly, it wouldn’t be unusual for him to be able to tell me what to expect from some 3rd change opposition bowler who played against us once 5 years previously;

what an all-rounder – batsman, wicket-keeper, captain, safe pair of hands in the field, not to mention amateur commentator, often while participating in the game (usually he gets away with this, but no-one who saw it will forget the “Thanks Andy” with which he greeted a shortish delivery from our current skipper, while moonlighting for Newage a few years ago, before slapping it straight into cover’s hands!). There is of course an exception that proves the rule, and there remains an unclaimed (and unwanted?) place in Exiles history for the skipper who brings Mark on to bowl;

As Wil comments in his piece, Mark has always shown unfailing support for other players in the side, provided that is, of course, they are committed and trying their best. Woe betide, however, anyone who fails this reasonable test (I daresay Mark would be able to guess who of Exiles past I have in mind); and finally and most importantly

a good friend without whom my time playing for the Exiles would not have been half as much fun as it has been.

Well done, mate!

Author Keith Roberts

Mark Bradshaw – 5000 runs

In the process of getting 40 against Surbiton Imperials in May 2008, Mark Bradshaw passed a landmark of 5000 career runs for the Exiles.The website asked Mark a few questions to reflect on his achievement.

Mark, congratulations, how does it feel to reach such a significant landmark?

Not bad, but it’s not that big a deal. You need to put it into perspective. In my first season of village cricket, my captain Robin Fenn made over 1300 runs in a season then a couple of years later he did the double i.e. 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a season. In addition, last year some guy playing in the South Lincs/Peterborough area scored the 40,000th run on his career. Compared to those sorts of records, my landmark isn’t such a feat.

I presume you have known for a while you were close to reaching this figure?

Yes, and I should have reached the figure last season, but missed six weeks owing to a foot injury, and last summer’s dreadful weather didn’t help either.

What has been your favourite innings?

No particular innings, but I did enjoy the following:

39 against Harrowdene in 1996 (my debut for the team)
94 against Caythorpe in 1998
103 not out against Morden Parish in 2004
84 against Morden Corinthians in 2004
64 not out against Clapham Nomads in 2005, which was my last match as captain and it was nice to sign off by contributing to a victory against some decent opposition that day.

Any regrets, perhaps, that there is just the one century (to date)

Not really, as I am delighted to have made one century. I would love to have made 1000 runs in a season, but haven’t really got close. My main regret is not beating my old team Castle Bytham in a 20 over match on the 2000 tour. We should have walked it, but we made some daft decisions which cost us the match.

What target have you set yourself next?

Fifty 50s. So far I’ve made 39.

Can you describe how the Exiles have changed in your time spent within the set-up? In particular, how your role has changed?

On the whole we are playing better sides and on better pitches. We improved quite a bit from 1997 onwards to around 2004. However, in the last few years we have lost a lot of very good all-rounders and results have suffered as a consequence. I don’t think my role has really changed that much. I started off batting at 4 or 5, but pretty soon found myself either opening or going at No.3, which is about the same as it is now.

You captained the side for a while – did it have any effect on your batting do you think?

Yes, it made me better.

Who have you enjoyed batting with most over the years?

Amil Patel. He rotates the strike very well.

How has playing alongside Exiles legend Jeff Hilson helped over the years to hone your batting technique and mindset?

A true inspiration and I recite his poems while I am at the crease to help me focus, ‘Hoo hoo to the owl! Thou o owl!’. Jeff’s courage against fast bowlers is also an example to us all.

Would you trade all those runs that you have scored for a bowling ability like Jeff’s?

No, I much prefer batting!

Interview by Jasper Searle

Martin Thomas – back at the crease

Back at the crease, an interview with Martin Thomas, May 2008

When Exiles stalwart Martin Thomas collapsed in agony attempting an expansive shot in the end-of-season club match in September 2006, little did anyone know at the time just how serious the injury would be. After missing the whole of the 2007 season, he finally returned to action last Sunday against the Strollers. The Energy Exiles website caught up with him to ask about how it felt to be back.

Martin, how did you feel after your comeback game?

Very well indeed, if not slightly disappointed to be left stranded not out with the bat.

How were the nerves when the skipper told you to get ready to come on to bowl?

From the start it all felt unusual and surreal. It did help getting into the action early with a decent catch at point. However, the nerves started to get to me when time was approaching for me to bowl. I tried to block everything out and hoped just to get the ball to the other end of the wicket without suffering from dartitis or the yips.

For professional sportsmen who suffer the dreaded cruciate, it often means they are back in action within 6 months; but how difficult was the recovery process for a “mere mortal”?

The whole affair has taken over a year and a half and I’m not 100% fit as yet. You really need to find a lot of time for the rehab process to be successful. From physio, to gym work, to running takes a lot of patience and discipline to make a full recovery and at times can be pretty depressing. I think you need to be an addicted amateur sportsman to get through this and playing last Sunday was exhilarating.

Have you set yourself any targets for this season? When realistically do you think you might be back to full cricket fitness/awareness?

Just hoping to play every available Sunday and will be looking to increase cricket activity on Saturdays as well. The important thing will be to ensure that batsmen have as difficult a time as possible to get runs of me and hopefully that will eventually lead to wickets. I should be back to full cricket fitness/awareness within a couple of months.

The injury was partly caused by an attempted Hilson-esque super stretch shot
I take it you won’t be trying that again when you next bat?

You probably saw that was exactly the shot I was playing against their (the Strollers) accurate left arm spinner on Sunday and it seemed to be effective. It’s an important shot when trying to smother the ball and if you get forward enough should negate the LBW possibility. However, I will be looking to play shots against poorer bowling and hope to be given a chance or two higher up the order.