Weekly Round-Up

Week 21 (September 9th) - Clacton go top of Division One, Stebbing are promoted from Division Three

Maybe a controversial start to this week’s roundup, but having written a weekly report for five seasons, I think I am entitled to voice a concern or two as we come to the end of this season, following a couple of results on Sunday. I must stress that no complaint has been received from any clubs, and the opinion is my own and not being linked with an NECL club I do not have an agenda. No league rules were broken on Sunday, and maybe rules will have to be redefined at an AGM, but I would argue that the Spirit of Cricket was definitely infringed, and particularly that sense of fair play that cricket is renowned for. Firstly, the practice of strengthening teams with ‘guest players’ for title, promotion or relegation issues. A number of players made their seasonal debut on Sunday and quite possibly affected the outcome of a match, and conceivably the season, which after five months competition could be quite a bitter pill to stomach. Secondly, the issue of players punching above their weight in the basement division – surely in this day and age of online statistics captains can gauge the strength of their opposition and not overload the top order with gun players, when there would be a perfect opportunity of giving youth a chance with the bat ! Even the most fervent cricketer would become quickly disillusioned with the game by having their noses bloodied by chasing leather for forty overs, and then to be rolled over. In the increasingly difficult Sunday cricket scene and particularly the reduction in participation levels we are hardly doing ourselves any favours. I am not dictating who should and should not be playing, as I said no rules were broken, but as we go into the last two weeks of the season please consider the bigger picture and what will be achieved by certain decisions.

Clacton playing their final game of the season, opened up the Division One title with victory at previously unbeaten Wivenhoe, but were significantly strengthened giving three seasonal debuts. As a result, Clacton have gone top of the table, and can win the title if there is rain about for the last two games to be held over the next two Sundays. In Division Two, Halstead with the title already in the bag lost a second successive game, this time at home to Springfield who still harbour hopes of runners up. Abberton kept their survival hopes alive, with a five wicket victory at Eight Ash Green. A win at The Brow next week will see them out of the relegation zone. In Division Three, Stebbing went to the top of the division with a 115 run victory over Real Oddies in their final game, so are promoted. Kelvedon can take the title with a win in their final game at West Bergholt, and this week showed no mercy to lowly Great Horkesley & Lexden. Ed King (189no) and Ryan Vickery (154no), were largely responsible for the biggest total of the season as Kelvedon posted a massive 385 for 1, and then the ten man Saxons misery was compounded as they were bowled out for 106.
Harlan Greig of Clacton scored the third century of the weekend with an unbeaten 109 against Wivenhoe, while there were two fivefor’s this week, young Harry Gallian of Stebbing starring in his sides demolition of Real Oddies by taking 6 for 9, while Matt Illsley of Clacton claimed 5 for 25.

Division One
The Division One title can be won by anyone of four teams going into the last two games of the season. This was following Wivenhoe’s first reverse of the season, at home to a strengthened Clacton who sit pretty at the top of the table, and will be looking to the rain gods in the next fortnight to claim the honours. Wivenhoe won the toss and elected to field, but were soon chasing the ball around as Tom Sinclair and Bradley Pitts (22) put on a rapid 59 for the first wicket. The run scoring did not abate with a fifty run second wicket stand between Sinclair (47) and Dominic Stockdale (38) who was third man out with the score on 130. Jakob Kelly (3 for 52) claimed two cheap wickets in the middle of the innings to reduce Clacton to 150 for 5, before a sixth wicket stand of 150 between Harlan Greig and Sam Brynes (70) took the Clacton total above 300. Greig eventually closed with a beautifully constructed unbeaten 109, which included nine fours and six sixes as Clacton reached 318 for 6. Dan Carter (1 for 29 from 9) and Matt Illsley then quickly put Wivenhoe on the backfoot as they slumped to 9 for 3. Half centuries from Jordan Nicholls (62) and James Butcher (52) and 30 from Joseph Nicholls lifted Wivenhoe up to 164 for 6, before a second burst by Illsley (5 for 25) ended the match as Wivenhoe were dismissed for 179. Despite defeat the home side picked up enough bonus points to ensure that their back to back title aspirations remain in their own hands with victory in the last game at home to Galleywood sealing the deal.

Division Two
Champions Halstead were bowled out for the first time this season as they fell to successive defeats, this time at the hands of Springfield on the back pitch at Star Stile. Ollie Prudence (77) top-scored for the visitors, making the most of three dropped catches throughout his innings. Ed Clark (0-16) and Josh Ruthven (0-32) were the unlucky bowlers to see chances go down as they bowled well early on without reward. Joe Morris (2 for 15) introduced himself to the attack and made the breakthrough, after the Springfield openers had put on fifty for the first wicket. Prudence passed his 50, but Sam Walter (3 for 13) set a trap that the opener fell into, holing out to Callum Hansey at deep mid-wicket in the spinners' first over. Springfield then slipped to 155 for 7, as Sam Johnson (2 for 36) claimed his brace, albeit with some tap from Alan Warley (16 - 2 fours and a six) who took sight of the short boundaries and enjoyed a lively eight balls at the crease. An important eighth wicket stand of 27 between Neil Kennedy (19) and Martin Southwell (16no) saw Springfield up towards their final total of 186 for 9, Callum Hansey chipping in with two late wickets to return 2 for 15. Jamie Trimm (3 for 39) dismissed both Halstead openers, bowling Goush Raviendran (0) and Josh Ruthven (17) with only 30 on the board, before a 47-run stand between Ed Clark (39) and Josh King (19). King miscued an Alan Warley (2 for 38) short ball to Paul Durrant at square leg, with Sam Hawes (22) joining Clark at the crease. Clark looked on course for a half-century, but played around a ball from Warley to be bowled, with Callum Hansey (0) soon following as he picked out the only man on the boundary off Ted Ashurst (1-40) without troubling the scorers. Sam Walter (2), Sam Hawes (22) and Dave Hawes (4) all fell to the slow left-armers of Martin Southwell (3-25) as Halstead looked to be heading towards a comprehensive defeat, slumping to 112 for 8. Joe Morris (35) and Sam Johnson (17no) kept hopes alive, the former hitting four sixes as Halstead reduced the equation to 35 from 5 overs. Trimm returned to the attack and had Morris caught behind by Kennedy, with Morgan Whymark (0) being bowled by Thevasakayam to give Springfield victory. Veteran Southwell now leads the way in wickets in the North Essex Cricket League with twenty to his name, although Halstead pair Josh King (18) and Callum Hansey (16) are hot on the tail going into the final game of the season.

Abberton are finishing the season in some form, and despite only having ten men for the visit to Eight Ash Green managed to claim victory, which sees their survival hopes in their own hands going into the last weekend of the season. The Green won the toss and elected to bat, and were dependent on Matt Parker (29) and Alex Hammond (27) at the top of the order for a large proportion of their total of 145 all out in 36.2 overs. No other Green player reached twenty, with the next highest scorer being William Spicer (18), although the home sides total was bouyed by a top scoring Extras (32). The wickets were shared around by the Lions bowlers, Joe Earley (3 for 28) the most successful, but a pair of wickets also for Brad Mann (2 for 28), Chris Pettit (2 for 30) and Ed Farley (2 for 30). In reply, Abberton lost influential batsmen Darren Davies and Matt Sullivan to ducks, as Matt Murray (2 for 39) claimed both their wickets. Elliott Mann hit a forceful 34 from 26 balls in a third wicket stand of 49, with Adam Cuthbert (32 from 31) and as Abberton raced ahead with the required rate. However, there was still work to be done as Abberton were reduced to 90 for 5. An unbroken sixth wicket stand between Will House (43no) and Joe Earley (11no) saw Abberton to a five wicket success with almost 13 overs in hand.

Division Three
Stebbing completed their Division Three programme with a 115 run win at a bowler friendly Garrison Ground against Real Oddies. The visitors went to the top of the table, although level on points with Cavaliers, their better head to head record sees them climb above Cavaliers. It also guaranteed their promotion. Oddies won the toss and inserted Stebbing, who struggled for fluency with the bat. Although five of the top six got starts only Neil Bartlett (23) and Walter Forsey (25) topped twenty. Oddies at one point had their opponents in some trouble at 114 for 8, with Ashok Sharma (3 for 31), Mukesh Kumar (2 for 27) and Stuart Ward (2 for 43) amongst the wickets. A vital unbroken eighth wicket stand between father and son Harry Gallian (27no) and Jason Gallian (31no) saw 54 runs put on, and Stebbing close at 168 for 8. Oddies were soon in trouble in their reply, as Tom Gallian (2 for 24) and Chris Townsend (1 for 16) made early inroads, which then set up man of the match Harry Gallian to rip through the rest of the Oddies line up, returning excellent figures of 6 for 9. Only opener Mukesh Kumar (22) reached double figures, as the hosts capitulated to 53 all out.

Kelvedon are on the cusp of the Division Three title, needing to win their final match at West Bergholt on Sunday. Batting first, Ed King and Charlie Wilde (31) gave Kelvedon the perfect start in their match with ten man Great Horkesley & Lexden, the pair putting on 112 for the first wicket, before Graeson Laitt (1 for 60) claimed the solitary wicket to fall for the visitors on a bleak afternoon. King (189no – 25 fours and 2 sixes) and Ryan Vickery (154no – 16 fours and 7 sixes) then bullied the bowlers with an unbroken stand of 273 as Kelvedon posted a season league high of 385 for 1. The youthful Kelvedon bowling attack were then able to bowl tight lines and pick off the demoralised Saxons batsmen, with Rauf Mann (43) the top scorer in their innings of 106 all out. Will Wilton-Steer (3 for 27) was the pick of the bowlers, while youngsters Charlie Wilde (2 for 5), Harry Ratcliffe (1 for 14 from 6) and Max Brown (1 for 34 from 6) provided the backup, before the not so youthful Alan Cookson (1 for 8) and Nick Cocks (1 for 2) claimed later order wickets.

Centuries and Five Wickets
Ed King 189 * Kelvedon & F v. Great Horkesley & Lexden
Ryan Vickery 154 * Kelvedon & F v. Great Horkesley & Lexden
Harlan Greig 109 * Clacton v. Wivenhoe

Harry Gallian 6 -- 9 Stebbing v. Real Oddies
Matt Illsley 5 -- 25 Clacton v. Wivenhoe

Performance of the Week Nominations
Harlan Greig 109no Clacton v. Wivenhoe
Matt Illsley 5 for 25 Clacton v. Wivenhoe
Harry Gallian 6 for 9 & 28no Stebbing v. Real Oddies
Ed King & Ryan Vickery 273no Kelvedon v. Great Horkesley & Lexden

Congratulations to Mistley's fifteen year old batsmen Callum O'Connell who's 102 against Galleywood was adjudged Performance of the Week, in a week that boasted seven centuries.

Next Week
Just seven matches left in the NECL season, of which six are scheduled for next Sunday. In Division One, Galleywood welcome Mistley to Slades Lane, Mistley can go top if they win, while Galleywood also have an outside title chance if they win their last two games. In Division Two, Braintree and Springfield both look to claim the second spot with a win in their final games at Abberton and Witham. The home sides are both looking for points to avoid the drop, Abberton requiring a win, while Witham need seven points. Champions Halstead complete their campaign with a home match against bottom of the table Eight Ash Green. In Division Three, Kelvedon travel to bottom of the table West Bergholt knowing that a win will see them claim the silverware. Bergholt require seven points to avoid the wooden spoon. Real Oddies welcome Great Horkesley & Lexden to the Garrison Ground, with both sides looking to end the season on a high after heavy defeats last weekend.