Report from Nigel Birtwistle
At the start of the season Lincolnshire were not one of the teams fancied to make much of an impact in the Minor Counties Competition. My main aim as the new captain was to make sure we had enough players who were willing to play in all of the matches and ensure we did not give away gift points to the opposition by defaulting boards. So I put in a fair amount of effort during the Summer months, by e-mail and telephone, to make sure we were ready for the first match. I hoped that this would lay the foundation for a good start and encourage more players to play as the season progressed.
We played Worcestershire in our opening fixture and a 10½-5½ victory raised a few eyebrows. Leicestershire were up next before Christmas and they were relieved to get away with a drawn match after a couple of late swindles saw us pegged back. We had to wait until March for our final group game against Shropshire who could still qualify for the knockout stages of the Minor Counties with a win over us. However a stunning display from the lower boards propelled us to an 11-5 win and top spot in the MCCU Minor Counties group.
|14 Nov||Worcs - Lincs||5½-10½|
|5 Dec||Leics - Lincs||8-8|
|13 Mar||Shrops - Lincs||5-11|
A quarter final tie in the knockout stages against Suffolk looked a tricky task but this time boards 4-11 turned on the style and we won easily 11-5. We were without several regular players for the semi-final clash with Middlesex, who normally are competing for the Open championship, but despite this we more than held our own against stronger opposition before two or three games turned in the last hour and we went down 9½-6½.
|23 May||Lincs - Suffolk||11-5|
|19 Jun||Lincs - Middlesex||6½-9½|
Everybody who played for the county team this season should take credit for the results that we achieved. A captain cannot run any team without a dedicated hardcore of players. The fact that we used just 26 players in our five matches with our team average rating over these matches being 169.4 speaks for itself. I am willing to stand again as captain next season if asked to do so and I hope that the superb team spirit that we have persists in to next year's competition.