Mens 2 v Jaguar 2 (H) - 03/03/14

Mens 2 were relegated from Division 3 last night in a heart-breaking 5-4 defeat to Jaguar 2, where age, experience and “know-how” triumphed over youth, power and inexperience. The former have the ability to raise their game at crucial points in the match, the reason being experience, and that’s the best thing everyone will have gained from these two seasons in the lofty Division 3. Division 4 (and Division 5 for Mens 3) will be the recipients of this next season, when we get these defeats out of our system!!
Division 3 is what is known in football as the “Group of Death” with the two promoted sides about to finish 1st and 3rd this season. Yet I had what Baldrick might refer to as a “cunning plan”, targeting a survival on rubber difference, having got more rubbers than our rivals against the top sides, and having our two rivals to come to us at Ecclesfield, and needing to beat them both.
A rotation in the squad meant Prithvi and Arun burst into the first choice team after their recent heroics in the much changed side we put out in the last two hard away games, designed to give most people in the squad some matches. Steve and Rich merged together again, reforming the successful promotion partnership from 2 years ago and the one which was top pair against the Drone at home last year. Ravi was meant to retain Deepak as his partner, but a sudden job interview down south meaning his last partner Jethron was drafted in instead. All three pairs have got “previous”, with successes at various times, the latter last minute pairing having got 2 rubbers out of 3 away to rivals Graves and being top pair that night. We were thus confident we would win and win well, as we needed to because we sensed a 6-3 win may be needed for rubber difference.
The night almost went to plan – Steve and Rich won 2 rubbers comfortably in straight ends with Rich having a calm demeanour never seen before, and men of the match Arun and Prithvi did the same against the same pairs. The latter two almost became heroes after taking the top pair to a third end, but losing it on a tie break 21-19! After being just 4 points away from victory in the away game, this was hard to take. Unfortunately, Ravi and Jethron could not repeat their Graves heroics, and lost all 3 rubbers, one in three ends losing 21-18 in the third. That meant a narrow 5-4 win to Jaguar 2 (well done to them) despite Ranmoor winning 5 more points over the course of the night; sadly they weren’t the crucial ones. This secures our relegation and leaves them fighting for survival, hoping we beat Graves in our final game. I’m wondering what was in that brown envelope that was passed to me at the end of the night??
The night was not without entertainment – we always expect an element of gamesmanship when playing the older league players (indeed, some of our young bucks in Mens 1 don’t exactly shy away from those tactics themselves!). The night was remarkably calm – the only incidents I can recall were a dispute over the overhanging curtain, complaints about the green lines, a complaint about two separate elements of the serve of one of our boys, arguments over line calls, discussions about off-court coaching, disagreements over scoring and some very heated exchanges between members of the opposition! And for once, little of it involving me! Other than that, it was a quiet night which ended with handshakes! Well done again to Jaguar – you were the better side in both games and deserved to win!
Steve and Ravi take the boys prisoner......
As the season, and my two years as captain, is effectively over, it’s time to hand out some praise to the boys, obviously using stats which as a financial consultant is like oxygen to my lungs! The chart below is of the rankings over the last two seasons (only showing the top ten of course – we don’t have a name and shame culture at Ranmoor!!!). The top scoring pair in each match gets 1, second gets 2 etc. Lowest average each year wins my player of the year award at captain’s night. Out of the 18 players who have played for Mens 2 in our two seasons in Division 3, Prithvi and Arun look to have the award sewn up, the former being in the best pair for all three games since debut. As can be seen in the photo, Ravi and I aren’t letting those two boys go – we’re kidnapping them and forcing them to play for Ranmoor indefinitely! The chart also shows players in positions 4, 5 and 6 who have left the club this season so in truth we have had a tough battle without them. Developing pairs containing long standing members has to be the way to go, as there is a good chance they will develop long and fruitful partnerships not just brief flirtations! Well done to the two at the top, but well done to all 18 players for their efforts and victories over the last 2 years!
Prithvi and Arun are kings of the castle.......
Two more home games left, and chance to try to find some pairs for next season, whichever mug, no, helpful volunteer, decides to be captain! It’s a tough job plus we have our club’s Captain’s Code to comply with, but hopefully a promotion charge to fight!