I must open my first Chairman’s report for our handbook with a humble and admiring ‘thank you’ for all of the hard work put in through 2017 by all of our club officers – committee members, co-opted committee members, and not least our stalwart Match Managers – to set us up for and then see us through another year of Stragglers cricket.

And so to my reaction on the 2017 season – greatly facilitated by a sheaf of superbly written match reports from our Match Managers.

Our precious 2017 match wins were of course as memorable for their rarity as for the strength of Stragglers team performances on the days – we prevailed against Grannies, Northchurch, Sunbury and Adastrians. Of course with the paucity of match victories there were rather more draws and losses … and probably not surprisingly, but disappointingly, we managed some late snatches of draws and losses from the jaws of victories and draws… Such is cricket – and of course the prospect of achieving a better outcome next time is one of the reasons we all come back for more season after season, week after week, innings after innings, spell after spell!

While losing half of our matches feels a bit bleak now, looking back over the last couple of decades we have occasionally had similar seasons – but of course just as important for us as our results is the spirit of the games played. And very much evident from the 2017 match reports, from anecdotes, and from my own experience representing the club last year, the vast majority of our matches continue to be played in great spirit.

Our ‘candidate to active playing member’ conversion rate and the robustness of our ability to raise sides continue to test the cricket committee and Match Managers – not new problems for wandering clubs of course – and again we have had similarly dif cult years or runs in seasons in the not-so-distant past. I regard it as a reminder for us not to take for granted either our playing members or our ability to raise sides; we know that we have to use all means and measures if we are to continue to do justice to our opposition clubs and our own.

Looking forward to 2018 – and as a result of much energetic, imaginative and inspiring work by the cricket committee through the autumn – I am delighted to report that our fixture card is in good health – stable in all the right places, and with some interesting new fixtures and venues. I am very excited also about the prospect of our 2018 tour to South West France (the tour outline is visible in the 2018 fixture card). Beyond 2018 we are developing plans for one or two short UK tours, another overseas tour 4 or 5 years from now (ideas welcome!), all leading us towards a full Stragglers of Asia club tour back to our roots in India in our centenary year 2025.

With very best wishes for 2018.