Stratford Bards enjoyed a record-breaking 2016 season which resulted in a second consecutive promotion – finishing second in the Cotswold Hills League 4th Division with 12 victories and just a single loss.

The squad was bolstered over the winter with Richard Sykes, Steve Cootes, Iain Lythall and Harry Jolly moving down from the 2nd XI, giving the squad plenty of experience. New faces included Matt Dutton and Jamie Carter, whilst Sam Bishop took over as captain from the departing John Paton.

After an early loss away to Inkberrow, the Bards were quickly into their stride with a brisk victory at Blockley and a hard-fought 2-wicket-win at Tanworth. Catherine de Barnes, Leamington and Alcester & Ragley were bowled out for sub-100 totals as the Bards stormed up the table.

The records started in July, when the Bards set a new record team score of 341 against Inkberrow thanks to 125 from Pete Richards.

This record only lasted a week however, as Overbury were subject to an onslaught from Tim Smart – he scored 211 from 123 balls (he moved from 100 to 200 in just 38 balls), including 10 sixes – as 390 runs were amassed.

The record survived the following week – just. The 385-4 against Blockley included a club record opening partnership of 278 between Luke Nardone (137) and Will Noble (171).

The season finished with 3 consecutive abandonments which scuppered hopes of overtaking champions Dorridge.

Other notable performances included an unbeaten 102 for Matt Dutton against Alcester & Ragley (Bishop also finished unbeaten on 97), 6-40 for Bishop at Tanworth plus a trio of 5-fers for Jolly.

Many thanks to all players who part, to captain Sam Bishop, to umpire Paul Rathkey, to Iain Lythall and all others who helped prepare the wickets at Alscot, to John Paton who left the club early in season following several years as captain, and to the Alscot estate where we play (and who also sponsor the team shirts).

Read on for final table plus batting/bowling statistics.

Cotswold Hills Division 4 – Final Table

# Club Played Won Points
1 Dorridge & Hockley Heath 18 14 314
2 Stratford Bards 18 12 298
3 Stanway 18 10 270
4 Inkberrow 18 10 246
5 Leamington IV 18 6 195
6 Blockley 18 8 194
7 Tanworth & Camp Hill II 18 6 179
8 Overbury II 18 3 137
9 Catherine de Barnes II 18 3 133
10 Alcester & Ragley II 18 1 122

2016 top wicket takers

# Bowler Wickets Average Best Bowling
1 Harry Jolly 24 10.46 5/13
2 Iain Lythall 20 18.15 3/17
3 Sam Bishop 19 18.26 6/40
4 Archie Walker 8 11.13 3/20
5 Matt Dutton 7 13.29 3/46

2015 highest run scorers

# Batsman Runs Average 50/100 High Score
1 Sam Bishop 397 44.11 4/0 97*
2 Will Noble 292 97.33 1/1 171
3 Matt Dutton 246 61.50 0/1 102*
4 Luke Nardone 225 75.00 1/1 137
5 Tim Smart 211 211.00 0/1 211