Dave Jones reviews the 2019 North Wales Cricket League Premier Division season
In the end, the team which finishes top of the table generally always deserves to be there and that was certainly the case with Bangor this season.
The Ty Newydd side lifted their second North Wales League Premier Division 1st XI title in three years, finishing 24 points ahead of runners-up Menai Bridge on the back of winning their final 10 completed matches of the campaign.
Despite suffering an early setback when losing their third match by just three runs at home to the Bridge, Gareth Edwards’ side were to be defeated just once more in the season – a single run reverse to Mochdre.
Bangor’s final record of 17 wins, two losses and three cancellations/abandonments was worthy of a championship-winning team – and they were a team in every sense of the word.
Although they produced the league’s top-wicket taker in South African Franco Kasner (59), the joint-third most prolific wicket-keeper in Robbie Marshall (30 dismissals) and David Winter’s 650 runs putting him in the NWCL top 10, the champions had a number of other fine performers in the ranks.
In the batting, Nadeem Rehman came up with 469 league runs, highly-promising new signing Owen Reilly scored 382 and all-rounder Kasner 340.
While Kasner was streets ahead in the bowling with those 59 wickets, Michael Hughes (25), Rehman (22), Christopher Dawson (20), Reilly (18) and skipper Edwards (16) all produced vital contributions at various stages.
While far from at their best, the masters of consistency Menai Bridge again ensured they have not finished outside the top two since 2012 by claiming runners-up spot.
Over the past eight years, the Anglesey club have landed three league titles and finished second on five occasions.
In 2019, Dion Holden and Jack Gower both passed the 500-runs mark in the league, while Australian left-arm spinner Sean O’Callaghan was leading bowler by some distance with 49 Premier wickets, including a memorable 7-18 in that early season narrow win at Bangor.
If asked to name a Team of the Season, I guess the logical choice would be champions Bangor, but more than worthy of a big mention are Mochdre, promoted to the Premier this year and ending up third after a marvellous comeback effort.
Until the closing weeks, the Black Marsh Fields club were right in the title picture and must have been extremely proud of their narrow wins over Bangor, Menai Bridge and Llandudno in a golden June.
As for individual performances, how about skipper Matty Humphreys, the league’s leading run scorer with 818 at an average of 58.43, plus how good were the returning Alex Davies (463) and Gareth Goodson (460) as well as the ever-consistent James French (443 runs and 25 dismissals behind the stumps).
Goodson completed a great return season with the club by scooping 38 league wickets, while new-ball partner Russ Boswell was also pretty impressive with 33 victims.
Denbigh did superbly too, leading the standings in the early weeks and finishing up an excellent fourth.
Gerallt Lyall (466) and Harrison Jones (431) did well with the bat, while Andy Clarke (359) celebrated a maiden century for the club.
Skipper Jones was also top wicket-grabber on 35, the ever-improving Sam Lewis collected 33 and Andy Clarke added to his fine runs haul by picking up 27 victims in just 14 games.
Elsewhere, Llandudno, Northop and Gresford all had their special moments in securing fifth, sixth and seventh places respectively, Tudno’s Sam Rimmington standing out with 780 league runs, while it was a real roller-coaster ride for St Asaph and Pwllheli, amazing performances mixed in with some less than convincing efforts.
Saints finished like an express train, Duncan Midgley in the end rattling up 746 runs from just 13 games with a stunning 93.25 average, also sharing in a remarkable opening stand of 355 with Will Ryan against Connah’s Quay.
Pwllheli skipper Morgan Murray-Williams enjoyed a season of career bests, a highest-ever 741 league runs, a joint biggest personal total of 38 wickets and an all-time top score of 123 not out versus Llandudno.
Brymbo struggled for the most part, but avoided relegation fairly comfortably, while Pontblyddyn and Connah’s Quay went down.
It was not a good season for Pontblyddyn overall, but some positive news for youngsters saw James Griffiths notch up 30 wicket keeping dismissals and James Hughes capture 28 wickets – good effort in a struggling side.
It was a worst season in memory for the Quay, champions in 2011 and runners-up as recently as 2014 and 2015, but with so much inexperience in the side a difficult summer was perhaps inevitable and they did not manage a single victory.
While there was no last day drama, Bangor did have to work hard for their success and they will no doubt face a stiff challenge to their superiority in 2020. But for 2019, Gareth Edwards’ side reign supreme – and deservedly so.