Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The 2017 Bazfest was, from its very conception, inevitably focussed strongly on the past. Most obviously, this is because it was the first FAS tour without Baz himself in attendance, at least physically. But his presence was felt throughout - there was no question in anybody's mind that he was the "character of the tour" - and, really, the whole event was a form of tribute to his memory and his vision in setting up FAS more than three decades ago.
That's also roughly how long we've been playing our two oldest opponents: Temple Grafton (31 games since 1984); and Fladbury (30 games since 1984). While we have positive records against both - 14 wins vs. 3 and 8 losses, respctively - things didn't quite go to plan this year: we failed to bowl out TG after setting a middling target of 192; and we just plain failed against Fladbury, getting nowhere near their 40-over total of 231/7. Even though we didn't do that well as a team, there were at least some impressive individual performances in these matches. At Temple Grafton Joss Dare (56*) and Chris Barras (40*) combined to show the younger members of the team how not to get out; and then Harry Houlder (5/64 off 14 overs) and James Wyatt (3/19) did their very best to dismiss the opposition. And at Fladbury, er, well . . . never mind. Anyway, all of this paled into insignificance compared to the great batting against the Bunnies, where Tom "Devon" Reynolds showed us the promise of a bright future with a stylish 112 (good enough to get him the "batsman of the tour" award on the spot) and Jim Streeter harked back to past glories by smashing 73*.
The past was also a source of inspiration, perhaps most obviously in the form of the tour-ending "twenty/20 test", which was a repeat run of last year's absurdly successful version in which a first innings defecit of 49 and subsequent target of 62 was successfully defended. This time around the club was split according to even and odd birthdates, with the resultant Oddities and Divisibles being matched so evenly (copyright Joss Dare) that the first innings scores were identical (118/5) and the game ended up coming down to the final ball, off which a six was needed but only a stumping resulted. This was effected by the player formally known as James Houlder, who thus completed his 8th dismissal in 3 matches on tour and romped home to another "best wicket-keeper" title. Given his tour-high haul of 9 wickets at 17.11 - nobody else got more than 6 - one might have thought that Harry Houlder would have similarly romped to the "best bowler" title, but that would be no fun, and instead the award went to Joe White (6 wickets at 14.00) for his consistency - and for the 10th time. Harry hence had to once again be content with the consolation prize of "best all-rounder" for scoring 108 runs at 36.00 in addition to taking all those wickets. Another contender for the bowling award was Zoe Dare (5 wickets at 15.00), who had to be content with "most improved young player", but will surely win the bowling award herself in the near future.
And this of course sums up the beauty of Baz's vision: challenging young cricketers to play with adults in the demonstrably correct belief that they will rise to that challenge. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Cliff and Joss, and the unending generosity of Wendy, we'll hopefully be able to continue that legacy indefinitely.