“What a season, What a year, What times we live in”
An opening statement to an awards ceremony, the sentiment of which many presentation compare’s will plagiarise into their half-hour live stream. All delivered in a monotone monologue as we stumble towards the end of Pandemic Year #2.
If one looks back 22 months ago to that far off land outside of cricket. It is fair to say that none of us picked the googly and realised a future of watching one’s teammates gracefully hacking a beamer to cow corner, from the distanced confines of a damp, cold, plastic, deep extra chair, if you were lucky to have a chair that is.
We have lost much, so much, as a society, as individuals, but have we lost as cricketers?
Perhaps a recap. 2020 was a struggle. Rules, protocols, the new order, the new normal, but despite the confusion we still played a fair bit of competition. Future winners may see or notice if they scan the ‘Elvery’, ‘Fellows’, ‘Joseph Pike’, (Silverware steeped in Munster History), that some are emblazoned ‘No Competition’, others that were not the expected longer game, but a T20. Was it limited-overs, was it not? Surely just a pandemic covid19, 20 over match. A ‘c.1920’ game, perhaps? An echo of another historic tumultuous time of turmoil and change on this Island.
2020 defined the 2021 season, the best guess of what will work, utility fighting a desire for freedom from protocol. Much like a cheaply wrapped festive gift from the Brown Thomas ‘Mens Gadgets’ section, bought in exasperated haste. Opened with potential indifference, as we all know that's not what you wanted. But… months later, you know what, that was quite useful. 2021, no Tea’s, but plenty of action. Boy, I missed the Tea’s, even the stack of Brennan’s, a tub of pseudo Dairygold & the plastic cheese. (No names, no public embarrassment, but you know who you are.)
A bit of stats corner to lighten the mood, care of CricHQ, so apologies to the Reds, Heat & the LCU wanderers.
220 games (including the small number abandoned) played by 468 brave souls which work out to 40 hours of cricket for each of you. Dig deeper and we see that 48 players failed to trouble the scorer, no shame in that, plenty of runs & wickets for the rest of us.
420 Batters (That title change nothing to do with the pandemic) smoked 39,893 runs at an average of 95. That’s roughly only 180 runs per game or 90 per innings (and they say it’s a batters game) which equates to about 8 runs per batter per inning. At the dizzy top of the leaderboard, 18 batters made 400+ runs, including 4 who scored over 500. Imran Pathan 514, Sunil Gautam (U17) 573, Abdul Ghaffar 651 & Awais Saghir 789. (All salute the stands, more on Sunil later…) Abdul stands out with the best single innings of 185* but a mention to young Umair H Khan, 155 & a broken bat.
355 Bowlers stood in their way. We did not do too badly (& membership is still open for my Munster Non-Spinners Association) 296 of us took 2,202 wickets in 8,700 overs or 52,331 balls to be precise. To all bowlers, perhaps we need to tighten things up for 2022, as we conceded nearly 7k of extras in 46,767 runs. However a global economy rate of 0.89 per ball is not too bad, but an average of 21 & a strike rate of 24??? Then again it is a batters game. 21 bowlers put in a shift & claimed 20+ wickets, including 4 who took 25 or more. Kanishk Kumar (U15) 25, John Daly 25, Thomas Raju 26 & Bilal Ashan 30. (Hold that ball aloft.) A mention to Prithiv Mohan with his 7/12 just topping a 6/41 from Kanishk.
A tireless season in the field is always hard to quantify but a mention to ‘Mr Unsure’ who demonstrated they still have a safe pair of hands again this season. This apart, half of the class of 21 shared 312 catches, meanwhile the runouts, well simply too many to mention. That leaves the keepers, well lads, keep up the good work. (but a little less of the chat, one is trying to concentrate).
Finally on the stats round-up the vagaries of the CricHQ logarithm for Munster Most Valuable Player of 2021, what if you will, the computer programmers story of 2021.
429 players contributed 11,276 points. (24 more jumped off the fence into negative territory) that's an average of 26 MVP pts per player. Three players stood out at the top; Awais Saghir 133, Imran Pathan 138 & Abdul Ghaffar 139 (Indeed every season is a batters game).
So to the Munster Awards 2021, who were the movers & shakers, who scooped the accolades.
In 2021 we recognised 31 categories between team’s & individuals.
The season kicked off for the 4 divisions with the T20 competitions on the 12th of June & the ‘Limited overs’ on the 18th of July. Some were close, some very close & some needed a calculator, but across the board, there were thrills and spills.
Thank you for taking the time to read and look through this article. Hopefully, it will inspire you to get involved in 2022. Munster Cricket hopes so. For me, I can't wait for a decent sandwich and a large slice of lemon drizzle cake.
Munster Operations Officer