The final round of matches in Division Two and Three, saw the remaining outcomes decided. In Division Three, Kelvedon & Feering were confirmed as champions following a ten run victory at bottom of the table West Bergholt, who put up a valiant fight. Bergholt did at least claim enough points to avoid the wooden spoon, which went to Coggeshall. Elsewhere in Division Three, Real Oddies claimed a six wicket success over Great Horkesley & Lexden. In Division Two, Braintree and Springfield both missed out on the Runner Up spot, by suffering defeats in their respective matches. Chappel & Wakes Colne claim the second spot to end their tenure on a high in the NECL, having given notice to withdraw in 2019. Abberton avoided relegation on Saturday night, when visitors Braintree conceded – unfortunately for the Dolphins not notifying the Results Secretary by 10pm on Saturday resulted in a ten point deduction. So Witham started the day in the drop zone and required seven points to leap frog Great Totham, and duly claimed the full twenty with a 33 run win at home to Springfield. Champions Halstead, signed off with a seven wicket win over Eight Ash Green. The only game in Division One, saw Mistley defeat Galleywood by five wickets, to go to the summit of the table. They are assured of runners up spot at least, but will be champions if Wivenhoe are unable to secure twenty points at home to Galleywood in the season’s final match next Sunday.
Individually, two centurions this weekend, with Josh Ruthven (108) starring in Halstead’s run chase, while an unbeaten 103 by Springfield’s Noah Pothen was unable to steer his side to victory. The only fivefor also came at Star Stile, where Callum Hansey (5 for 41) tore through the Eight Ash Green lower order.

Read more: Week 22 (September 16th) Kelvedon - Division Three champions, Mistley go top of Division One,...

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.

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

Glorious weather greeted the start of the final month of the season, and with no less than seven centuries it was certainly a batsmen’s day. In Division One, the top three all won, of which leaders Mistley were the only to achieve a win on the field, with a 93 run victory over Galleywood. Clacton and Wivenhoe, both picked up wins courtesy of concessions by their respective visitors, Colchester & E.E. and Copdock & O.I. Wivenhoe are still in pole position with two home games to come. In Division two, Halstead suffered only their second reverse of the season with a 14 run defeat at Abberton, who can still avoid the drop with two wins in their last two games. However, there was a sweet side to defeat for Halstead, as Springfield were well beaten at Braintree, thereby crowning Halstead as Division Two champions. Second placed Chappel & Wakes Colne finished off their season with a thumping win over Great Totham, who will be looking nervously over their shoulders as they can be overtaken by Abberton and Witham. Already relegated Eight Ash Green were big winners over a ‘hungover’ Witham, who were celebrating Two Counties successes late into Saturday night. In Division Three, Cavaliers pulled off a seven wicket victory over third placed Kelvedon to finish their campaign, and go top. Kelvedon can still win the title with two wins in their final matches, and Stebbing also have an interest as a win in their final game will see them go above Cavaliers by virtue of results in their head to head games. Boxted run riot at Coggeshall where brothers Matt and Jon Wilson both compiled centuries, while Great Horkesley & Lexden are off the foot of the division to be replaced by West Bergholt who had ten points deducted for a late concession in their match, in a game that was actually played !
Seven centuries on Sunday was the biggest weekly return of the season, in Division One, 15 year old Callum O’Connell registered 102 for Mistley against Galleywood. In Division Two, Ross Wyatt (138) and Zac Taylor (149) went big for Chappel & Wakes Colne against Great Totham, while at Braintree, Daniel Garner (152) and Carl Lees (111) also went to three figures. Finally the Boxted pairing of Matt Wilson (121no) and John Wilson (122) brought up centuries in Division Three. Chappel’s Henry Dow (5 for 14) was the only players to return a fivefor on Sunday, with Josh King (4 for 31) the next best in Halstead’s defeat at Abberton, which takes him to the top of the league wicket takers with 18 wickets.

Read more: Week 20 (September 2nd) - Halstead champions of Division Two, and Centuries galore !

After the abysmal weather on Sunday, it was a relief to see a drying breeze on Monday morning for the T20 Finals Day. Sterling work by the Colchester & E.E. groundsman ensured that despite the amount of water that had fallen, play got away on time in the semi finals.

Read more: Week 19 (August 26th) - Colchester & E.E are 2018 NECL T20 Champions

Just five weeks left of the 2018 NECL season and clubs are getting into position for the final push for honours – in Division One, Galleywood routed an inexperienced Colchester & E.E side to keep their hopes of a Division One title. In Division Two, Halstead require just seventeen points from their remaining three games to clinch the title, this was following their victory over Eight Ash Green by concession at the weekend, and second placed Springfield’s six wicket defeat at Abberton. Chappel & Wakes Colne have climbed into second place following a big win at Braintree where Ross Wyatt (118) scored the only century of the weekend. In Division Three, it’s as you were, as the top four all picked up maximum points to keep the promotion and championship race nicely bubbling.
There were three five wicket performances this week, with the best being from Real Oddies Mike Miller who 5 for 9 saw the Oddies to a 32 run victory over Coggeshall. Zack Hicks (5 for 18) was largely responsible for Colchester & E.E. crashing to 41 all out, while Harry Gallian (5 for 21) claimed his fivefor in Stebbing’s win over bottom club Great Horkesley & Lexden.

Read more: Week 18 (August 19th) - Halstead on the brink, Colchester routed !

With rain in the forecast, a number of matches were reduced overs affairs. Three games were lost, two to concession – Copdock conceding for the fourth time this season, which cements their relegation, with Wivenhoe the beneficiaries. Great Totham conceded their home game to Chappel & Wakes Colne, while the Division Three game at Stebbing was cancelled due to lying water on the outfield. In Division One, Mistley are the new leaders following a seven wicket success at Colchester & E.E. In Division Two, Halstead got back to winning ways with a 34 run victory at Witham, in the other game team performance of the week came from eight man Eight Ash Green who pulled off a 54 run victory over the in form Braintree. In Division Three, leaders Cavaliers were defeated at home by Real Oddies, while Kelvedon gained ground with a nine wicket success at home to Coggeshall. There was a thriller at Mile End where the bottom two in the division were separated by a single run, with Boxted the winners over Great Horkesley & Lexden.
Just the one century this week, with Eight Ash Green’s Ollie Stovell (117) starring in his sides batting effort. Ashok Sharma (98) of Real Oddies just missed out in the game against Cavaliers. The bowlers had a rare time on top this weekend with three five wicket performances, George Curtis of Kelvedon returned 6 for 20 against Coggeshall, Ollie Cooke (6 for 26) had a hand in all the Halstead wickets, while Matt Parker (5 for 30) bowled a decisive spell in Eight Ash Green’s win over Braintree.

Read more: Week 17 (August 12th) - Mistley go top of Division 1, Eight man Green pull off remarkable victory