A Review of the 2005 Season
Dave Wright (Saturday 1st XI Captain)
All in all 2005 was a disappointing season for the senior teams in terms of results and league positions, however there was a number of individual contributions which bode well for the clubs performance next year and beyond.
For the 1st XI, the return to afternoon cricket after the narrow relegation from the Premier Division was a mixed blessing. The disappointment of our narrow relegation plus the loss of a regular weekend lunchtime meal hit certain members of the squad, however some of those affected were also thankful for the lie in they were granted to recover from the effects of a hard week's graft.
The club as a whole were delighted to welcome back Matthew Weaver for a second season with us and following his excellent returns last year, big things were expected of him in all three disciplines - playing, coaching and socialising. Sadly, Simon Moore who had spearheaded the attack for the best part of a decade decided to call it a day, citing a chronic pelvic complaint, business commitments and paternity (although obviously employing slightly simpler vernacular) as his reasoning. Simon has, at times performed heroically with the ball for the club and is greatly respected around the league. He will probably still continue to perform well on his occasional appearances for his first club, Epping, albeit as a slightly gentler, slower version of the fiery, carrot topped loon most people know him as on the field. Otherwise the squad was pretty much the same as the one that got relegated, with some youngsters looking to push for a place in the line-up led again by Dave Wright.
The season couldn't have got off to a worse start as we were comprehensively dumped out of the League Cup by local rivals Brentwood after collapsing to 102 all out. The league campaign started in a similar vein as we could only muster 116 at home to Chingford in the first week and despite reducing the visitors to 60-6 we lost by 4 wickets. A second home loss followed against Colchester as the batting again failed, before we came up quite a bit short chasing 220 at Chelmsford, although a third loss in a row was avoided. On the Sunday we then pulled off a stunning win in the Evening Standard Trophy, chasing Ilford's 326, with 7 wickets and 4.4 overs in hand. The catalyst for the win was Danny Hazle. Amidst some fairly ordinary early season batting stats, his return of 9 runs from 6 knocks, topped the lot, but he put this behind him to blast a scintillating 144 not out and shared a century opening stand with Rob Tappin (37) and a match- winning 200 stand for the third wicket with John Walter (86). We got our first league win of the campaign the following week, bowling out Orsett for 89 to defend our total of 152 on what was an interesting pitch. Brentwood again gave us a thumping the following week, rattling up in excess of 300 and then with our top order blown away, some resistance led by Matt Keane's unbeaten 62 nearly salvaged a draw, but we were finally all out in the penultimate over for 206.
Our batting finally fired on our visit to fellow early season strugglers Fives. Matt Weaver blasted 170 and in partnership with Rob Tappin (recording his maiden league ton) they put on a club record 282 as we piled up 323-2 dec from 48 overs. However the home side recovered from 90-3 and scraped home by 2 wickets. Weaver peeled off another 170 the following week at home to Woodford Wells as we piled up 340-5. There was no danger of an early declaration following the previous Saturday's loss but despite Weaver's all-round heroics (5-44) the visitors clung on for a draw with 2 wickets in hand.
The two games up to the halfway point were real chokers that left us in a real relegation dogfight. An all too familiar collapse left us up against it at home to Ardleigh Green. An enterprising half century from Dave Watts at least gave us something to bowl at and again led by Matt Weaver (6-68) we very nearly defended 189, but Green squeaked home by one wicket. We only had ourselves to blame the following week as we lost to bottom club Hadleigh & Thundersley. Felix Walker and Dave Wright shared all the wickets as we bowled out the home side for 185, but we contrived to go from 90-1 with plenty of time to spare to 156 all out. Chingford comfortably completed the double over us, before a weakened side wrung 12 vital points out of a trip to Colchester with the scores finishing level and the home side 9 wickets down. Two further draws against Chelmsford and Orsett followed, with Weaver's third ton of the season against the latter not quite enough to chase 255, leaving us only 4 points off the bottom as 4 teams (Orsett, Fives, Hadleigh and us) looked to be fighting to stave off relegation.
Brentwood continued to get the better of our derby fixtures as in a rain affected game they reached the target of 209 in the last over, with much of the second half of the game being played in atrocious conditions. We then had the better of a draw in a crucial 'six pointer' with Fives. Our score of 268-4 was built around a powerful 135 from Danny Hazle aided by John Weber with 77 and the visitors were 183-8 at the end, denying us a victory that would have significantly eased relegation worries.
With 3 games to go, a bad run in could still see us go down, however two wins in a row secured our safety. Woodford Wells were shot out for just 87 following superb performances from Matt Weaver (5-39) and Michael Hindley (4-36) and we cruised home by 9 wickets. Finally, at title chasing Ardleigh Green we crumbled to 142 all out, but led by skipper Dave Wright (5-42) and ably assisted by John Weber (3-27) as well as Ryan Lugg with the key wicket of Royston Smith we won by 20 runs and other results meant we could not go down.
All in all it was a tough year for the team. Numerous batting collapses as well as dropped catches were costly. Matt Weaver was invaluable to the side with 802 runs and 30 wickets, whilst Danny Hazle was increasingly consistent and ended up with 581 league runs. Rob Tappin got a start frequently but only once went onto a big score, but his promotion to opening to partner Hazle looks a promising partnership. Despite a knee injury which hindered him throughout the season and left him slightly below his usual athletic self, skipper Dave Wright returned 29 wickets and Michael Hindley bowled well when the Met didn't need him. Youngsters Tony Hill and James Salisbury both showed they could perform with the ball when asked whilst Ryan Lugg showed maturity beyond his years with bat, ball and in the field. Availability was once again a problem as the usual bewildering array of excuses filtered through to the captain's mobile with varying degrees of notice.
Next year with our crop of youngsters and the returning Matt Weaver we will hopefully have learnt from our experience of getting into good positions as well as ending up on the right side of things in the several close games we lost or failed to win.
Sadly we will have to do it without John Weber who announced in his own imitable style that he was retiring following his match-winning bowling spell (not to mention direct hit run out) at Ardleigh Green. As an athletic all rounder John was a great acquisition from his native Queensland in 2000. He still is an excellent all rounder although in the slightly different disciplines of drinking, eating and turning up late. In all seriousness John has been great for the club, scoring heavily and taking wickets although latterly not quite backing up his constant "I'm the best player here" line with such prolific results. It's doubtful many opposition or umpires will miss his polite banter on the field, but as he's staying here they may well hear the odd choice line from the bar area. His input as captain and recently as vice- captain will be missed and the changing room will definitely be a quieter place.
The season got off on the wrong foot with our leader becoming incapacitated in March. The burden of captaining was shared by Paul Carter and the free scoring veteran 'Easy Rider', who played his usual quota of match winning innings, although failing on several occasions to drink as much beer or G & T as our umpire Mr Derek Morrell Esq.
The player of the year was super vet 'Toppy' Hayes, who scored over 500 runs and took plenty of wickets and one handed catches. He also did the score sheets every game and on the odd occasion entertained the crowds with his 'Gough' like ballroom dancing steps at Sam's nightclub.
The majority of the side was made up of frightened Shenfield schoolboys, for whom Mr 'Hammer' Sapsford has a lot to answer for! Despite his guidance, the boys acquitted themselves surprisingly well enough, to warrant several 1st team games.
Highlight of the season was 16 year old Martin Allen's 142 at Benfleet, and he, Tony Hill, Ryan Lugg, James Salisbury and Tom Austin, will hopefully form the nucleus of the 1st XI for many years to come.
It would be rude not to mention solid performances throughout from A Maddox and Mark Ridgeway, who throughout the season became the perfect clubman and a valuable acquisition for Shenfield.
Again the difficulties of running the 3rd XI fell to Dave Castell who responded magnificently scoring over 700 runs whilst the travails of again trying to get a semblance of a settled side out from our small adult playing membership hit hard. There were numerous opportunities for colts to play senior cricket and all will have learnt from the experience. Special mention goes to 13 year olds Ollie Ekers who made an excellent 113 against Ilford and also to Matt Salisbury who regularly bowled superbly and with Ollie looks destined to follow his brother up the senior ranks.
2005 League Tables
1st XI Division One
|Colchester & East Essex||18||8||7||0||3||0||230|
|Fives & Heronians||18||3||8||0||7||0||153|
|Hadleigh & Thundersley||18||3||4||0||9||2||121|
2nd XI Division Two
|Horndon on the Hill||18||7||2||0||9||0||215|
|Hadleigh & Thundersley||18||1||2||0||15||0||118|
3rd XI Division Two
|Horndon on the Hill||18||9||6||0||3||0||225|
|Basildon & Pitsea||18||8||2||0||8||0||216|