Reviews of the 2006 Season
Dave Wright (Saturday 1st XI Captain)
The 2006 season saw some incredibly contrasting performances from the 1st team. In what was an incredibly tight division we seemed to be looking over our shoulders most of the year but in the end finished the season in mid table, slightly closer to a promotion spot than a relegation one. With six wins recorded and 3 games being abandoned, a bit of luck with both the weather and injuries may have led to a better finishing position. In addition we made the semi finals of both the League Cup and the Twenty20 competitions only for it to go extremely pear shaped in both games.
We welcomed back Matt Weaver for his third season with us and the retired John Weber was cajoled into playing on his own terms. These were that work and social commitments would take precedence, he would be late when he did play and he would normally be hungover. No real change to previous seasons but the initial lack of expectation seemed to galvanise him and he went onto to have probably his best year since 2000.
Two early wins in the League Cup started us off nicely. We eased past Stanford Le Hope before a superb 143 from Weber set West Essex a big score that they were on course for as the weather made conditions hard for us in the field. It finally became impossible to play and after initially thinking we were out on run rate, Michael Wright’s calculator went into overdrive and declared us narrow winners.
The league campaign started slowly. Chingford bowled us out for 168 on a good batting track at our place and cruised home by 6 wickets. The next fortnight saw only 25 overs of cricket possible as we suffered a wasted journey up to Colchester before the countywide washout accounted for the visit of Chelmsford.
Getting back on the park at Woodford Wells was a relief but a total of 200-9 based around 59 from Jamie Walton wasn’t enough for the early season pace setters who won by 5 wickets with time to spare. The visit of Westcliff the following week provided us with our opening win. We racked up 334-6 with Aussies Weber and Weaver both scoring centuries before all the bowlers (including new recruit Will Molewa from SA via Ipswich) chipped in to dismiss the visitors for 239 and garner maximum points. A disappointing draw at Fives followed, John Walter seeing out time with an invaluable half century as we clung on 9 down and over a hundred adrift of our target.
The eagerly awaited renewal of League hostilities with neighbours Hutton proved too much for skipper Dave Wright’s knee ligaments as he went down like a wounded buffalo in the pre match warm up that put him on the sidelines for a month. Hutton piled up a huge score of 322-3 but with Weber again in the runs with 96 we were able to avoid defeat. Weber’s purple patch continued the following week with 105 at Upminster, but despite Matt Weaver reducing the home side to 15-3 we were unable to press home the advantage and succumbed by 5 wickets to leave us scrabbling about near the relegation spots.
The first half of the season finished with an excellent win at Hornchurch. Led by stand in captain John Walter (75*) and with yet more runs from Weber (73) we made 266-5 and then with the help of two self inflicted run outs had Hornchurch tottering at 34-4. A century partnership held us up but we weren’t to be denied with Matt Weaver breaking the partnership and then knocking over the lower order to end with 4-23 and give us a convincing 74 run win.
The reverse fixtures kicked off with a trip to the current leaders Chingford and a quite amazing win. Losing the toss and being asked to field, Matt Weaver almost single handedly dismantled the home teams order. Before the injured skipper had time to hobble to the bar for his second pint of the afternoon the leaders were in tatters at 24-5 including the prize wicket of Odedra for a duck, bowled by a delighted Weaver after some niggle between the two in previous encounters. There was little resistance from the lower order with only one man reaching double figures and Weaver wrapped things up in the 23 rd over, ending with the superb figures of 7-16 off 12 overs. The runs were knocked off before tea, leaving the team plenty of time to celebrate.
Colchester were next up and the only real highlight was a brutal 75 from Danny Hazle in our 246-9 before a rapid unbroken double century partnership saw the visitors cruise to a 9 wicket win and kick start their run towards promotion.
The league cup quarter final at home to Harold Wood followed on the Sunday and after a few scares and a trip to casualty for the hapless skipper (sitter dropped, result – split webbing) youngsters Martin Allen and James Salisbury coolly saw us to victory by 3 wickets.
We then travelled to Chelmsford where another rumbustious knock from Hazle should have set us up for a bigger total than the 230-7 we achieved. We were staring down the barrel of a second heavy loss in a row at 140-0 but a superb run out by Will Molewa from fine leg kicked in a bit of panic before Chelmsford rather inexplicably gave up the chase with 20 wanted from 3 overs and 3 wickets in hand.
An excellent team performance at home to the freefalling Woodford Wells eased relegation thoughts. All the bowlers worked hard on an excellent batting strip, none more so than Will Molewa whose 2-26 deserved more and Ryan Lugg who claimed 4-76. The target of 220 was reached thanks to 59 from Weaver, 30s from Walter and Dickie Small before the game was killed off in a blaze of confident strokes by James Salisbury (37*) and Ryan Lugg (22*).
We suffered another washout at Hutton before Upminster visited the Courage Ground for what would be Matt Weavers last league game as he was forced to return home early due to work commitments. Determined to wring the best out him before he left Matt was obliged to bowl throughout the visitors 250-8 dec returning a worthy 6-96. He then signed off with a classy 79 before a middle order wobble left us too much to do despite some interesting tactics from the opposition.
The following day we travelled to Ardleigh Green for the League Cup semi final but in a poor performance we were choked by the home teams raft of spinners and could only muster 144 all out. Matt Weaver desperately tried to sign off on a high note and produced a stunning first over to have the home team 0-2, but it was not to be as Shenfield old boy Roy Smith saw his team to a 7 wicket win.
A word for Matt who in the three seasons he has been with us has been an absolute credit to himself and the club. His all round performances on and off the pitch were invaluable and although he had by his standards an average year with the bat in 2006 he more than made up for it with the ball. He also did wonders for the profits of Shenfield Bakeries and this season in particular of Vodafone with interminable calls to his newly beloved back in Adelaide. “Ken” will be missed by all at the club both young and old and it is hoped he will return at some point. There will be certainly be big boots to fill for whoever is his replacement for 2007.
With the League still very tight the trip to Westcliff was vital and in a rollercoaster game we scraped home by 1 wicket. Put into the bat the home side flew to 160-1 at the half way stage with Nupier belting the ball to all parts. However when he holed out to long on the innings unravelled dramatically and they were all out for 206, with Dave Wright claiming 6-54 with quite a bit of help from some injudicious batting. Absolutely cruising at the start of the last hour needing around 4 an over with 9 wickets in hand we managed to make an absolute mess of it. Jamie Walton (29) had put on 70 odd with Weber but when he was out the wheels came off. Weber went for 90 and the middle order stalled badly against some accurate bowling. The run rate rose drastically as wickets fell but again the calm young heads of Lugg and Salisbury saved the day. Mixing good running with bold shots over the top they got it down to 9 wanted from the last over. Lugg produced the shot of the day to launch Baker over long off for 6 first ball, but then holed out to leave us 8 down. Tom Austen was run out looking for a second run next ball to leave it down to the captain to gleefully belt one into the open space at extra cover for the winning runs much to everyone’s relief.
Given the tight nature of the League nothing was assured until the following week when we mathematically avoided relegation with a 27 run win over Fives. Weber again led the way with 105 and Ryan Lugg smashed a quick fire 46 in our score of 263-7 before all the bowlers chipped in to ensure the 20 points.
We finished off with a poor performance at home to Hornchurch. A solid platform was again wasted as we went from 72-0 to 188 all out and were unable to contain the vaunted Hornchurch batting line up who cantered to victory by 8 wickets.
All in all it was an inconsistent season with some excellent performances mixed in with some fairly abject ones. We relied too heavily on the top three of Weber, Hazle and Weaver with John Weber’s 741 runs from only 12 innings being the standout performance. With the ball Matt Weaver was far and away the leading bowler with 35 wickets at 17.40. Injuries deprived us of the captain and vice captain at crucial periods but on the plus side this gave real chances to the younger players, with Ryan Lugg and James Salisbury becoming fixtures in the team and both showing on numerous occasions they could mix it with both bat and ball.
John Wright (Saturday 2nd XI Captain)
The enthusiasm for the new season was tempered with the reappointment of skipper John Wright, following his unavailability the previous season due to a career threatening back injury and also the realisation that no new players had been recruited.
There was however, some hope for the season due to the emergence of James Salisbury and Martin Allen as players of genuine promise and veteran Luke Jarvis was not planning on being available too often due to social engagements.
The opening League Game saw Shenfield visit West Essex, which was not generally a happy hunting ground for Shenfield. West Essex were asked to bat first on a wicket offering the seamers plenty of assistance.
James Salisbury bowled two exemplary spells to return figures of 1-24 from 12 overs and was at times unplayable. Luke Jarvis picked up 3 early wickets and was at times unreachable. Shrewd captaincy saw the introduction of John Doel who having taken 2 wickets in the last 2 years ran through the home side to claim 6-33 from 11 overs of controlled medium pace swing bowling. West Essex posted 125 from 44.5 overs and Shenfield duly reached their target from 28 overs. The highlight of the Shenfield innings being the return to the side of leather goods salesmen Michael Maynard who set about the attack with gay abandon and blazed his way to 82 with some ferocious stroke play.
The following 2 weeks saw a disappointing draw at home to Orsett followed by a washout at Horndon on the Hill.
Shenfield’s second home game of the season was against the habitually strong Walthamstow. After a good start with M Allen, D Castell and the evergreen Peter Rider all making solid contributions the side fell away badly and mustered 214 runs from the allotted 52 overs. Luke Jarvis turned back the clock and was making the ball sing like a veteran Karaoke artist to return figures of 6-52 from 18 overs of varying skill. Despite mounting pressure Walthamstow held firm and Shenfield were unable to capture the last wicket to force the victory. Nonetheless it was a promising performance with the ball and in the field to defend such a total and it boded well for future games.
Needless to say the next game was lost at Harold Wood. Shenfield won the toss for the 5th consecutive week and the skipper meekly succumbed to peer pressure and batted first so his minions could watch the England – Paraguay fixture on the TV.
The top order appeared keen to get back to the pavilion to watch the game and Shenfield soon found themselves 4 down against tight Harold Wood bowling. John Wright and the “Ginger Prince” Steve Cunnew set about rebuilding the innings with some deft touches and lusty blows. Wright top scored with 68 and a late blitz from young tyro Tom Austin raised Shenfield to 215 – 8. Opening bowler Jarvis was far too expensive and despite a late scare with a flurry of wickets Harold Wood deservedly reached their target with 2 overs to go.
Until this point Shenfield had not really fired on all cylinders and needed to put together a good run if they had any promotion aspirations. The following week saw Shenfield amass 313 against Buckhurst Hill but the inability to capitalise on a good start saw the opposition drift to 256 – 6.
The next 2 weeks saw the side hit top form with wins over habitual bogey team Hutton, with Tony Hill bowling a devastating spell to claim 4 wickets. Hutton were only 9 down in response to Shenfield’s 207 (a total owing much to a 10th wicket stand of 50 between Tony Hill and Luke Jarvis) but with Hutton’s last batsman unable to continue after being struck a nasty blow from a Jarvis long hop, Shenfield recorded their first victory at the Polo Ground for sometime. Other highlights were Jarvis recording his first six of his 20 year unfulfilled career.
The first fixture in July was against Benfleet whose total of 212 owed much to the knock of 83 by visiting skipper David Wright. Highlights for Shenfield were a five wicket haul for skipper John Wright and the absence of Luke Jarvis due to a stag weekend. Shenfield started their reply strongly with Matt Keane, Martin Allen and Peter Rider again all making good contributions. Keane fell for 51 and wickets began to fall regularly as the England VS Portugal match approached penalties!!!
John Wright steered the side home with 33no and finally the team were starting to put together a winning sequence. The contribution from the younger players was being felt and following a shaky start to the season Martin Allen was scoring runs and the likes of the ebullient James Kliber were making positive contributions.
The following 2 weeks saw good wins against Billericay and the double being completed over West Essex. The highlights against Billericay being a five wicket haul for Luke Jarvis for 108 runs and a fine ton by Martin Allen as well as a good contribution of 75 from David “Raver” Castell. The victory against West Essex owed much to the bowling attack of Jarvis and a rare Michael Hindley appearance in the seconds who between them ran through the West Essex side for 112 runs. This was duly reached for the loss of one wicket with Raver (54) and Maynard (47) again batting well.
Orsett again proved to be frustrating opponents as Shenfield were unable to capture all ten wickets but it was still as good showing by a much changed side due to unavailability. The next 2 weeks were vital if Shenfield had any real promotion aspirations - both games were duly lost against a very strong Horndon side and away to Walthamstow.
Shenfield were now reliant on other sides slipping up if they were to win promotion and their hopes were further dampened by abandonment against Hutton. In tough conditions Shenfield posted 208 for 6 from 45 overs and after reducing Hutton to 64-4 the Hutton skipper decided it was too wet to continue. It proved to be a frustrating afternoon as Shenfield had gotten themselves into a very strong position only to be denied by the weather and the opposition’s understandable reluctance to continue.
The following week's jaunt to Benfleet saw an inspired spell of trundle from vice skipper Toppy Hayes to record figures of 6-64 from 20 overs into the teeth of a fierce north westerly. At time of writing he has just about recovered. The target of 122 was duly knocked off with Martin Allen notching up another fifty.
With some unlikely results elsewhere Shenfield found themselves tied for second place with Harold Wood. Horndon had deservedly secured promotion already and the next week was a winner take all clash as Harold Wood were the next visitors.
Harold Wood won the crucial toss and put Shenfield into bat. Wickets fell regularly against tight Harold Wood bowling and only Matt Keane showed any real resistance, battling his way to 58. Wright and Doel managed to consolidate and edge towards a respectable total. The dismissal of Wright was followed by an onslaught from Doel as he smashed the bowling to all areas. It was a remarkable piece of batting the highlight being 3 consecutives sixes hit out of the ground. The outcome was a target of 245 for Harold Wood and despite an early breakthrough Shenfield were never able to really put any pressure on Harold Wood who batted extremely well to reach their target for the loss of 4 wickets.
The final 2 weeks of the season saw wins over Buckhurst Hill and Billericay with Tony Hill picking up a five wicket haul in the first of these two games and another 6 wickets in the final game at Billericay. Ultimately Shenfield finished up 5 points adrift of the promotion position they craved. The season saw some notable performances with Luke Jarvis leading the bowling attack with great effort and Tony Hill bowling well without getting the wickets he often deserved. There were good contributions from several batsmen and a marked improvement in the field. The good team spirit combined with the continued development of younger players should ensure that the 2007 season can be viewed with real optimism. Finally a big thanks to umpire Derek Morrell for his stoic efforts during the season. His time is very much appreciated by all the players and the bar manager.
Garry Sapsford (Saturday 3rd XI Captain)
The Shenfield 3rd XI started the 2006 season with a depleted team for the first game of the season with the game away to Ilford coinciding with West Ham’s big day out in Cardiff. Like West Ham, Shenfield made the journey home disappointed. New signing ‘Swiss’ Tony Hayes being the pick of Shenfield’s under strength side.
New captain Garry Sapsford led Shenfield’s ‘Stiffs’ out for the first time against Saffron Walden. A winning start was denied Shenfield as Saffron Walden blocked out for the draw. However, the signs of a promising season ahead were shown with Tony Hayes smashing a superb century and he then combined with vice skipper Ben Vowles to prove a very threatening bowling attack.
The third week of the season saw Shenfield travel to Horndon only for the weather to prevent any play. Mike Humphrey skippered the side for the fourth game of the season against Southend. Having put Southend in to bat Humphrey took four quick wickets as Southend were dismissed for just 81 runs. The runs were knocked off quickly to provide Shenfield’s first win of the season.
The Southend win inspired Shenfield to wins in their next 3 games against Basildon, Buckhurst Hill and Leigh-on-sea. 13 year old Matt Salisbury took a hat-trick and 5 wickets in the game against Buckhurst Hill with Sapsford and Hayes putting on an unbeaten partnership of 120 to win the game by 5 wickets. Vowles continued his fine form with 5 wickets for 42 from 21 overs against Leigh-on-sea.
Poor availability for the game against Wickford contributed to the end of the winning run. Without Hayes and Vowles, Shenfield failed to defend an under par batting score of 139. The visit of Loughton saw Shenfield get back to winning ways. Matt Barrett ripped through the Loughton middle order to take 4 wickets for only 9 runs to leave Shenfield chasing 200 to win. Tom Austin and Sapsford put on 110 for the fouth wicket to help Shenfield to the target inside 33 overs which put Shenfield fourth in the league.
Top of the table Ilford were the next opponents. Shenfield lost an important toss and were put in to bat. Will Owers was in inspired form with the bat, hitting the strong Ilford attack to all parts for a superb score of 131. An unbeaten 61 from Sapsford helped Shenfield to a 314 from 52 overs. In reply, Ilford lost early wickets with Joe Heddon and Tony Hayes picking up 3 each. Ilford responded by shutting up shop and could not be prized out.
The long journey to Saffron Walden saw a disappointing defeat but Larry Tredget turned back the clock with a fine innings of 83. Horndon’s visit to Shenfield coincided with the return of Steve Roach. He played outstandingly for his knock of 147 and was ably supported by Dave Edwards (65) for a partnership of 182 for the fifth wicket. Horndon made an excellent fight of the run chase. However, Vowles continued his fine form with 6 more wickets. 14 year old Henry Owers deserves particular praise for two crucial wickets and very tight bowling in a tense finish to a great game of cricket.
Shenfield were up to third in the league and faced bottom of the table Southend next. Shenfield fielded 9 players aged under 17 and travelled to the fixture by minibus due to the lack of drivers! Southend opted to bat first and Matt Salisbury took 4 wickets for 29 runs whilst Vowles bowled a 25 over spell taking 3 wickets for only 52 runs. Lewis Harris opened the batting and played an excellent innings to reach 68 unbeaten as Shenfield reached the target of 156 for the loss of 3 wickets.
Leigh-on-sea’s visit to Shenfield saw another excellent display of bowling from Vowles who finished with 6 wickets for 54 runs from a 23 over spell. Shenfield chased a target of 168 with Phil Prior (58) and Steve Roach (75) in fine form. A convincing victory against Wickford in the next fixture moved Shenfield in to second place in the league. Vowles taking 6 for 36 whilst Will Owers took 3 for 17. This victory was followed up with a similarly easy win against Basildon who were dismissed for 85, Vowles taking another 5 wicket haul before Dave Edwards (43 not out) top scored in Shenfield’s reply.
Buckhurst Hill put Shenfield in to bat in the penultimate game of the season. Steve Cunnew (46) opened the innings with some hard hitting but it was Steve Roach who dominated the Shenfield innings (102 not out) despite straining a calf mucle and playing with a runner for most of the innings. Shenfield declared after 31 overs on 238 knowing nothing less than a win would be required in the chase to catch Ilford at the top of the league. Vowles took 5 for 54 to take his season’s tally to 47 wickets and Shenfield finally dismissed Buckhurst Hill for 173 guaranteeing Shenfield promotion and a night out on the town, for those old enough!
The final game of the season against Loughton posed two major questions. Could Shenfield pip Ilford to the title and would Ben Vowles collect his 50th wicket of the season? Shenfield batted first and declared on 265 after 39 overs with Sapsford top scoring with 63. Two balls into Vowles’ first over a tough caught and bowled chance shattered the thumb of Shenfield’s star bowler and with it, his hopes of reaching 50 wickets in a season. Mike Humphrey and Will Owers took on the bowling responsibilities with 4 wickets each and Loughton were dismissed for 200. Ilford’s final game win denied Shenfield the title but this did not deter from a great season from such a young squad of players. Roach finished with a batting average of 127 but the player of the season award went to the outstanding Ben Vowles. With so many very good colts playing in the third team the future of the club seems very bright.