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Thu 3rd Jan 2019

By Paul Reynolds

Division 3 review 2018 - Whaley and Leonard snatch league for Pembroke 2

Division 3 stats

Leading all time run scorer (2011-2018) - Vijay Gopal (Clontarf) - 2321 runs @ 30.95
Most runs in a Division 3 season - Daniel Barclay (Pembroke) - 782 runs (2018)
Highest score - Junaid Altaf (Clontarf) - 143 - Clontarf 2 vs North Kildare 1 - The Maws - 4 May 2014
Leading all time wicket taker (2011-2018) - Mark Collier (Clontarf) - 130 wkts @ 14.87
Most wickets in a Division 3 season - Mark Collier (Clontarf) - 32 wkts (2015)
Best bowling - Glenn Kirwan - 7-14 - Malahide 2 vs Pembroke 2 - Malahide 1 - 17 July 2016
Highest team score - 393 all out - North Kildare 1 vs North County 2 - Inch - 25 May 2014
Lowest team score - 30 all out - YMCA 2 vs Leinster 2 - Observatory Lane - 13 Sept 2017

Most Matches in Division 3 (2011-2018) - Vijay Gopal (Clontarf) - 79 (2011-2018)

Cricket Leinster's new website will be launching in the spring, but until then all player stats for the last eight seasons can be found at https://www2.cricketstatz.com/ss/web.aspx?mode=104&club=4530&team=.

Team of the Year (listed in the order, five batsmen/one wicketkeeper/five bowlers) 

Batsmen: Harry Archer (The Hills) (Div 3, 2017; Div 8, 2017; Div 9, 2015, 2016; Div 12, 2015), Sanil Gupta (Pembroke) (Div 7, 2015; Div 12, 2013), Niranjan Shankar (Merrion) (Div 8, 2017), Manmeet Singh (North County) (Div 3, 2013), Daniel Barclay (Pembroke) (Div 3, 2011; Div 5, 2014)

Wicketkeeper: Alec Barrett (Pembroke)

Bowlers: Mark Collier (Clontarf) (Div 3, 2014, 2015, 2016), Asim Nazir (Clontarf) (Div 3, 2014), Owen Graham (North County), Andrew Leonard (Pembroke) (Div 3, 2017; Div 5, 2017), Vish Vaidyanathan (Phoenix)


Review

Runs per wicket for all teams - 23.84 Runs per over for all teams - 4.97

Pembroke 2 - Champions - (Pos in league - 16 (2017 - 17)) - Batting Rating 117 - Bowling Rating 114 - RpO for 5.75 - RpO against 4.45 - Youth %age (by appearances) 34.7%

It's possible that Pembroke 2's 1966 league title was a thrilling match decided off the last ball of the season, with thousands of people watching the league denouement. Possible but not likely. However, Pembroke's 3rd league title is recorded for ever on YouTube, thanks to Merrion's use of PitchVision, and the agonies and ecstasies of a cricket match make for electrifying viewing. The season came down to Pembroke needing two of the last ball, with one wicket remaining in pursuit of Merrion's excellent 318. Captain Bill Whaley was on 24 from 26 balls, whilst Andrew Leonard was there on 14 from 13 balls, with the pair having so far put on 29 for the last wicket. Hugh Kennedy was the bowler, with his first decision being whether to not run out the non striker, Andrew Leonard having decided to leave his ground early. Lenoard's risk paid off, and when Kennedy bowled a full length ball on off stump, Leonard was already half way down the pitch by the time Whaley was heaving the ball towards Merrion's pavilion at mid wicket. When the throw came in, Leonard was (not surprisingly) safe at the bowler's end, but a good throw would have had Whaley run out by 10 yards. But when a whole season comes down to a single moment of pressure, nothing is quite as simple as it seems. The throw landed in line with middle stump but five feet to the right of the stumps, leaving keeper Nirankan Shankar an incredibly difficult take. As the ball flew over Shankar's gloves, Whaley made good his ground, and Pembroke 2 had regained their Division 3 title. All that was left was for Andrew Leonard to do a lap of honour ahead of the obligatory crowd invasion (for those of you who haven't seen it, the entire match can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQhoLhIvYeY). Remarkably, this was the third Pembroke match in a row where the margin had been a one wicket win, with Pembroke winning two and losing to YMCA in the other. There's a huge amount to like when we look at who contributed to Pembroke's season, with youth players to the fore. Sanil Gupta takes pride of place with a brilliant 383 runs at 54.71. The 18 year old has been slowly rising up the Pembroke ranks, winning his third TotY this year and will hopefully cement his first team place in 2019. Three players slightly further into their careers also make the Team of the Year. Alec Barrett only rejoined Pembroke in 2017 after a long absence, but is already at 16th place in the list for most stumpings taken in all cricket, 2011-2018, with 21 (fellow Pembroke player Lorcan Tucker leads that list with 51). Barrett also scored 217 runs at 19.73. Danny Barclay needs no introductions, and makes his third Team of the Year, and first in Division 3 since 2011. Barry Archer's 2011 record for most runs in a season in Division 3 (614 for Balbriggan) has stood for a while but was beaten by Barclay (and Merrion's Beant Bhathal) in 2018, and Barclay was clearly the best batsman in the division, with 782 runs at 52.13, including hundreds against Phoenix and The Hills (twice). He also took 14 wickets at 19.29. The final Pembroke player on the Team of the Year also will be known to many. Andrew Leonard was a massive loss to cricket in Leinster on and off the pitch when he was with the ICC in Dubai between 2014 and 2017, but the ICC's loss has been Irish cricket's gain, with Pembroke 2nd's gaining more than most! Leonard became the joint highest wicket taker for a Pembroke bowler in a league season (matching Paul Lawson's 29 wicket haul for Pembroke 1 in 2016) and was the joint leading wicket taker in Division 3 this year, with 29 wickets at 14.86. It was his third Team of the Year, after winning in Division 3 and 5 in 2017. Plenty of other youth players were also to the fore for the team as well. Pembroke's exchange student from St Stithians, 16 year old Jodi De Sousa scored 236 at 118 in the only four matches he played. 18 year old JJ Garth will probably not play any more 2nd team cricket for a long time (as he progresses on the path to professional cricket), but he went out with a bang, taking 11 wickets at 13.18 in his four matches. Gavin Hoey is on an upward path as well, and the 17 year old taking 19 wickets at 25.89 did his cause no harm at all. 17 year old Scott Ruttle took 19 wickets at 24 and 18 year old Diarmaid Tucker scored 231 runs at 25.67. It's a fantastic return for the club's youth cricketers. The list is completed by Rehan Ali (303 runs at 27.55), Joe Prendergast (12 wickets at 20.25) and Bill Whaley (18 at 23.72)

Merrion 2 - Runners up - (Pos in league - 17 (2017 - 20)) - Batting Rating 134 - Bowling Rating 119 - RpO for 6.99 - RpO against 4.31 - Youth %age (by appearances) 19.4%

For all the wondrous excitement contained in the description of the end of Division 3 in 2018, there is no getting away from the fact that for the 5th year in a row, Division 3 was won by a Dublin 4 side, and it doesn't interest vast swathes of the Leinster cricketing population. Division 3 is pretty easy to describe. It is a division gives elite clubs the opportunity to have their best youth players, aspiring adult players, and players who cannot (or will not) play for their 1st team, playing in a competitive environment. But without promotion, and with starring playing its part, it has no relevance to the 34 other clubs in Leinster. It operates in the same way as reserve divisions in any other sport - an excellent way to mentor young players, but an awful way to develop other clubs. That of course has nothing to do with Merrion, and I apologise for taking over the first part of their review! Merrion were the league winners in everything but name. We have them ranked as having the best batting line up, and the best bowling attack in the division. And if any of the three matches that they lost by one wicket (to Pembroke, YMCA and Clontarf) had gone the other way, they would have been champions. But, but, but. Of course they didn't take that crucial last wicket in each game, and didn't become champions. It was their third runners-up spot in the last seven seasons, to go with their title in 2015. Youth representation was pretty good at 19.4% of all appearances, but as we have mentioned above, that has to be the priority at this level (what is the point of winning without youth players if no one is being promoted), and that 19.4% was only better than North County and Clontarf amongst the 2nd teams. Niranjan Shankar was the one Merrion player on the Team of the Year. After scoring 737 runs for Adamstown in 2017, Shankar moved to Merrion and quickly established himself as the keeper on Merrion 2. His return of 578 runs at 52.55 was the 7th time a player has passed 500 runs in a Division 3 season, and the second time for a Merrion player. JJ Walsh had a brilliant season, and was desperately unlucky not to make the Team of the Year. The 18 year old took 26 league wickets at 16.62, and ant the risking of boring people with figures, it was the highest number of wickets taken for Merrion 2 in a league season, and only Murali Raparla (27 wickets for Merrion 6 in 2018), Matt Petrie (28 wickets for Merrion 1 in 2011) and Tom Stanton (31 wickets for Merrion 1 in 2017) have taken more for Merrion in a league season. 18 year old Sean Stanton scored 87 in that final league decider, part of the 263 runs he scored in the season (at 29.22). And that leaves a slew of brilliant older players who are trying to nail down a place on Merrion's all conquering 1st team - Beant Bhatal (of those who have scored 1000 runs in Division 3, only Danny Barclay has a higher average than Bhatal's 42.75) scored 645 at 46.07, the second highest ever in Division 3; Vikas Dhiman with 471 at 36.23; Bhavesh Lakhotia (315 at 35); Rex Walsh (10 wickets at 27.80), Nitin Sharma (20 wickets at 20.05) and Denny David (15 wickets at 18).

YMCA 2 - 3rd - (Pos in league - 18 (2017 - 23)) - Batting Rating 106 - Bowling Rating 107 - RpO for 4.06 - RpO against 4.61 - Youth %age (by appearances) 34.4%

A decent enough season for YMCA 2. As stressed above, as long as a side in Division 3 isn't relegated, it doesn't matter how they did, as long as players (especially young ones) develop. Although the "Youth percentage" of 34.4 appears to compare with Pembroke's in reality, it was not quite as successful a season on that front. Aviral Shukla was the undoubted star of the show, with 341 runs at 31 and 18 wickets at 20.33. Amazingly, the 18 year old Shukla is the first player to score over 200 runs and take more than 9 wickets in a YMCA 2 league season since our records began in 2011. 15 year old Tim Tector also makes the 200 run mark with 210 at 35. Others with decent seasons were Andrew Blair-White (328 at 36.44) with the bat, and Rajesh Chawla (21 at 17.33), Jay Shelat (12 at 30.83) and Sam Streek (11 at 25.36) with the ball. Chawla has been a consistent performer for YMCA 2, and is their highest wicket taker in all cricket since 2011.

Clontarf 2 - 4th - (Pos in league - 19 (2017 - 21)) - Batting Rating 88 - Bowling Rating 113 - RpO for 4.71 - RpO against 4.40 - Youth %age (by appearances) 17.7%

Whilst it is tempting to gloss over the rest of Division 3 (the next four sides all avoided relegation, and all played roughly the same number of youth players), there are a few irregularities between the teams. Clontarf 2 finished 19th for the third time in the last five seasons, and so is pretty much as they would have expected. However, we are rating the batting as only being better than North Kildare's, the youth appearance stat is worse than all the other youth teams, and by and large, the team is still relying on the same players as it has done for the last handful of seasons. Let us first start with the positives and the new. 18 year old Andrew Vincent scored 450 runs at 37.5, the first youth player to score over 300 league runs in a Division 3 season for Clontarf since Andrew Delany scored 319 in 2013. Faisal Zaman was playing his first season in the province, and took 12 wickets at 21.33. And then we come to Clontarf's super five, the quintet who have formed the heart of this team for getting on for ten years. Two made Team of the Year again, all had great seasons - Mark Collier, Asim Nazir, Junaid Altaf, Paul Ryan and Vijay Gopal. But going back to our original thoughts around the reasons for Division 3, how do these players fit in? They prevented Clontarf 2 from getting relegated, but they failed to win the league. None of the five look like once more becoming members of the Clontarf 1st team (Altaf hasn't played since April 2017, Gopal since July 2016, Paul Ryan played four games during 2018, taking wickets in one, Nazir played four game but didn't bowl (and got in double figures once with the bat) and Collier played one game). But there are two more reasons for such players forming the rump of a side for so long in Division 3 - to have a strong nucleus for other developing players to learn from, and as a social side. So therefore is Division 3 just a form of academy with a social element? The facts and figures for the quintet - Collier made his fourth TotY (first since 2016) with 14 wickets at 11.36; Nazir made his 2nd TotY (first since 2014) with 271 runs at 20.85 and 29 wickets at 13.38; Ryan took 10 wickets at 18.20; Altaf scored 394 at 30.31 and Gopal scored 211 at 15.07. One more player reached our quota of achievement - Naveed Khan with 11 wickets at 20.27.

North County 2 - 5th - (Pos in league - 20 (2017 - 26)) - Batting Rating 90 - Bowling Rating 88 - RpO for 4.86 - RpO against 5.74 - Youth %age (by appearances) 18.9%

A slightly different emphasis for North County 2 when compared to the other sides we have looked at. County were promoted in 2017, and hence needed to nail down their Division 3 spot, an aim which they achieved fairly comfortably, with their highest league placing since 2012. It wasn't quite the easiest of seasons though - we have them ranked as the 8th best team in the division, and three of their six wins on the pitch were by 14 runs or less. But as we have seen consistently, it matters not how you win, but only how many points there are on the table. We'll detail the six players who made the difference, but a special mention to 16 year old Owen Graham who made our Team of the Year, a remarkable achievement coning from a team that didn't dominate. Graham took 17 wickets at 14.29, with the highlight of the season undoubtedly being in the last game if the season against Clontarf, in the unlikely surroundings of Leinster's Observatory Lane. The match was played there after North County kindly agreed to host the Division 1/2 play off match, and County struggled to 76 all out. At 45-2 (and then 56-3), Clontarf looked to be cruising to a regulation end of season victory, before Graham entered the attack, taking the wickets of Altaf, Wordley, Devilly, Anwar and Gopal, as Tarf collapsed in a heap. Graham finished with 5-4, as Clontarf lost their last seven wickets for nine runs. The youth player only made his 2nd team debut in August 2017, and in the early stages of his 1st team career, already has 7 wickets at 9.57. One final Owen Graham fact. Remarkably, he stands at 9th place on the list of bowlers with most wickets in Observatory Lane in 2018 (including players who play for Leinster CC) with 9 wickets at 4.56. Sean Rooney led the run scoring with 438 runs at 43.8 (his 122* at home to North Kildare was the highest league score for North County 2 since our records began), followed by Safdar Ali with 332 at 33.2 and Manmeet Singh with 261 at 52.2 . The bowling was completed by Ankit Gugale with 17 at 20.53 and Anthony Mooney with 15 at 21.87.

Leinster 2 - 6th (Pos in league - 21 (2017 - 19)) - Batting Rating 98 - Bowling Rating 106 - RpO for 4.50 - RpO against 5.62 - Youth %age (by appearances) 28.7%

A season that was pretty much as expected for Leinster 2, as they finished in 21st place for the third time in the last four seasons. After winning their first three games, dreams may have developed towards a title winning season, but one win from the next eight soon put a stop to that! With North Kildare struggling, it became a battle between Leinster, North County and Phoenix for the second relegation spot, and it needed two September wins (against YMCA and North Kildare) for Leinster to be safe. No players on the Team of the Year, but a few youth players giving hope. Craig and Euan Mackay (15 and 18 respectively) only played half a season for they both made up for lost time. Craig finished with 12 wickets at 19.5 and Euan with 12 wickets at 17.5. Euan took 6-32 at the beginning of the season against YMCA, which was the best bowling for Leinster 2 in all cricket since our records began. All the other players who did well were out of the proverbial nappies. Leading run scorer was the ever green JP O'Dwyer. He scored 281 at 40.14 including a rarity - an O'Dwyer ton. There must have been some in the dark and distant past, but as a player who specialises in quick 50s, there aren't too many passed the three figure mark, the details of this one being 101* in the same game against YMCA that Euan Mackay took 6 wickets. Peter Masterson also scored a 100, being his first for Leinster in his 66th innings for the club - 110 vs Merrion contributing to 208 runs at 41.6 for the season. The other member of the 200+ club was Jason Nagle with 213 at 21.3. Nagle has now played 103 games for Leinster 2 - more than anyone else in the last eight seasons. The bowling was Leinster's strong suit, and in addition to the Mackays, four more got ten wickets or more - Malik Amjad (16 at 22.56), Abdul Ghaffar (13 at 23.85), Anees Ahmad (10 at 21.4) and Nitin Rajwar (10 at 19.2).

Phoenix 2 - 7th (Pos in league - 22 (2017 - 22)) - Batting Rating 90 - Bowling Rating 101 - RpO for 4.71 - RpO against 4.38 - Youth %age (by appearances) 19.5%

The good news is that Phoenix repeated their 22nd position in the league in 2017, which in itself was their highest league position in the last eight years. The bad news is that there isn't a massive amount of good news. The highlight of the season was undoubtedly the 9 wicket demolition of Clontarf, when Vish Vaidyanathan took 4-26 to dismiss Tarf for 66, before the runs were knocked off in 14 overs for the loss of only one wicket. Two wins against Leinster, and one against North Kildare and The Hills were enough to earn Division 3 status for another year. Vaidyanathan made his first ever Team of the Year, his seasonal tally being 14 wickets at 15.86. So going back to our reasons for Division 3 existing, Phoenix avoided relegation. Whether they enjoyed themselves socially is beknownst only to them. How did the youth side of things work out? Well, they faired better than North Kildare, Clontarf, Merrion and North County, so not too bad, although those 20% of matches played didn't really translate into runs scored and wickets taken. The seven players who breached the 200 run or 10 wicket mark are all well past youth cricket. Leading run scorer was Naeem Shahzad with 350 runs at 31.82 followed by Sayed Mehdi Shah (290 at 29) and Nitin Naik (210 at 17.50). Naik also took 23 wickets at 15.78, which is worthy of a mention. Naik is the first player to break the 200 run/20 wicket mark for Phoenix 2 in a league season since Masud Ahmed in 2011. Two other players took ten wickets - Muhammad Asim Jan (10 at 18.10) and Gordon Millar (10 at 27.3)

The Hills 2 - 8th (Pos in league - 23 (2017 - 18)) - Batting Rating 99 - Bowling Rating 85 - RpO for 4.65 - RpO against 5.95 - Youth %age (by appearances) 24.0%

In the end, the 4th best batting line up wasn't quite good enough to compensate for the 2nd worst bowling attack, and The Hills 2 looked to be heading back to Division 4 for 2019 after two seasons in Division 3. A T20 win over Merrion in mid August gave them hope, but further losses to YMCA, Pembroke, Clontarf and North County snuffed out any lingering chance. One massive highlight was the continuing emergence of 17 year old Harry Archer, who scored a brilliant 447 runs at 55.88, to make the Team of the Year. That is the 6th time he has been such named, an honour only matched by Castleknock's Muhammed Nurulain Boda. Archer retains his place from 2017, and with Merrion's Vikas Dhiman, Archer is the only player to pass 300 Division 3 runs in 2017 and 2018. Success for The Hills 1 will surely come in 2019. More good news came from 18 year old Ryan Tobin, who scored 305 runs at 30.5, including 136* against North County in September. Tobin and Archer put on 210 for the first wicket (Archer scoring exactly 100), the highest partnership recorded for The Hills 2, although this was slightly tempered by the team losing by 6 runs in pursuit of North County's 279. 18 year old Cian Nulty became the 3rd youth player to pass 200 runs with 255 at 23.18 and Rashid Mehraj also added 215 runs at 21.5. And as described, although six bowlers took more ten or more wickets, the bowling wasn't quite up to the same standard - and noticeably, none of the six were youth players. Roger Kear was the leading wicket taker, taking 10 or more wickets in a league season for the fourth year in a row - his 2018 tally being 18 at 22.33. Next came the one and only Nadeem Akhtar (16 at 26.63), followed by Killian Everard (15 at 29.07) and Mehraj (15 at 17.20). Andrew Kavanagh took 11 at 23.73 and Waseem Akhtar 10 at 28.4. Nadeem Akhtar continues to lead The Hills 2 on the bowling front, being the leading wicket taker since 2011 with 155 at 25.07 - in that time he has not taken a wicket for any other Hills team.

North Kildare 1 - 9th (Pos in league - 24 (2017 - 16)) - Batting Rating 76 - Bowling Rating 61 - RpO for 4.67 - RpO against 5.95 - Youth %age (by appearances) 0.8%

As the calendar rolls over into 2019, North Kildare know that 2018 is now behind them, and they can look forward to better things. The North Kildare 1 Division 3 campaign was a disaster, giving five walkovers and not winning a match. Sean Dalton led the batting with 271 runs at 30.11, Manjeet Singh took 13 wickets at 22.08 and Gulab Singh took 12 wickets at 36.58. Here's to a better 2019.

The full Division 3 batting averages can be found here, whilst the bowling averages are here

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