Following on from his incredibly long remarkable speech at the 2023 end of season presentation evening, new 1st XI captain Phil Hayes has issued an inspired rallying cry to the troops ahead of winter training and the run up to the next season.

In a passionate Whatsapp timed beautifully to coincide with the end of Saturday Kitchen, Phil's message first touched on the highs and lows of 2023 and paid tribute to outgoing captain Lenny for his efforts under very difficult (and consistently wet) circumstances last season. In perhaps the highlight of his post, Phil then evoked a time of Shakespeare, of Henry V rousing his men ahead of Agincourt, and left at least one player sat open mouthed just outside HMV in Bury's Millgate Precinct.

Leading an amateur cricket team is no small feat. It requires diplomacy akin to Kissinger, tactical prowess like Brearley, political finesse comparable to Churchill, and the ability to understand our players on a psychological level, almost like Freud.

This being TSJ, predictably there followed a discussion about which Churchill Phil was referring to; while most will have instantly assumed it was our former Prime Minister, the odd fellow suspected that our new skipper was channelling the nodding insurance dog.

Florid language notwithstanding, the new skip called the players to action:

I encourage each of us to reflect on the past season. Let's use this time to rejuvenate our spirits and look forward to the upcoming season with enthusiasm. Over the next few weeks, I'll be reaching out to everyone individually to discuss our availability and gather feedback from the previous season. I'm genuinely excited to get things rolling, and I hope you share in that excitement. Our club is a special place to play cricket, and we all have a debt of gratitude to repay for the enjoyment it offers us each summer.

There have been plenty of excellent moments of oratory over the past few years, Doc's Latin-infused team talk and Kieran's wonderful monologue at the awards evening springing to mind, but surely none have quite topped the new 1st team captain's passionate rant on a damp November Saturday morning. If he's this enthused now, we can only wonder at what awaits us when the new season kicks off in five months' time.

We now await similar battle cries from 2nd and 3rd XI captains Nick Marsh and Katie Schofield. Good luck following that.

King Phil
Phil works on his speech while standing on a good length

I Will if You Will Biffaward

Beryl Avenue, Tottington, Bury, BL8 3NF
Twitter: @TottyStJohnsCC