Reviews of the 2007 Season
Dave Wright (Saturday 1st XI Captain)
2007 was a season of vastly contrasting fortunes for the club. Whilst the mood was dark in the 1st XI as they slipped quietly out of Division One after a hugely disappointing campaign, there was considerable cause for celebration as the 2nd XI, after a few near misses, finally climbed out of Division Two as champions and the 3rd XI deservedly achieved a second successive promotion and will enjoy Premier League status in 2008.
There was also success on Sundays as Mike Humphreys young side won the East Division of the ESL in an unbeaten season and although there were early exits in the League Cup and Evening Standard Trophy we again found the Twenty20 competition to our liking. Fielding a mix of energetic youngsters and the odd passenger in the field, we began with a very satisfying win in the first round against local rivals Brentwood, before progressing through to Finals Day (where our snazzy new coloured outfits were unveiled to mixed reviews from the team, depending on physique), where we went one better than last year and made the final after a thrilling semi final win over Upminster (all the better as they had stuffed us in the League 24 hours earlier). Sadly we really didn't make a game of the final against Saffron Walden.
The story of the 1st XI's league season was really one of consistently poor overall performances. The batting never really fired all year and subsequently despite some decent performances with the ball we were mostly unable to press home any advantages gained. There were some close games and some where it was barely noticeable that we'd turned up.
On an individual level no one really had a season to remember. Mainstay of the batting John Weber missed a large chunk of the season and he didn't score anywhere near as heavily as last season. There was a late resurgence in his leg spin with his 8-73 against Hornchurch a fine effort (although that was upstaged by the superb achievement of Cameron Nupier scoring a hundred and taking all ten of our wickets). Overseas import Louis Hanna had a difficult time with the bat, but did on occasion produce some vital wicket taking bursts and ended as leading wicket taker with 26, for an average of 24.23. Ryan Lugg took the player of the season gong for his 20 league wickets (including 7-28 in the early season win against Westcliff), over 300 runs and some exceptional fielding.
On a positive note the continuing development of the clubs colt section was reflected in 3 players from the Under-15 section making deserved 1st XI debuts. Ollie Ekers, Charlie Sutherland and Tom Moore all looked at ease at this level with the first two showing no fear with the bat and Tom showing signs he will be a real threat with the new ball in the near future.
Division Two will be a real challenge next year with a return to some clubs we have not met for a while. We are under no illusions that it will be any easier but are looking to the younger players to continue their progress and for some of the more grizzled veterans to improve on disappointing 2007 returns.
John Wright (Saturday 2nd XI Captain)
Our initial enthusiasm was tempered by a rain affected draw in the opening game against Buckhurst Hill. We started the ball rolling with a last over win at Westcliff. Rider 80 and Castell 66 led us to 278 -9 dec before Westcliff were dismissed in the last over, James Kliber starring with 4-42.
Kliber’s 5-28 at Stanford-le-Hope bundled them out for 108, but we made hard work of it, staggering to victory 7 down. A crucial win against perennial promotion rivals Hutton was achieved by chasing down 200 in only 29 overs thanks to a quick fire 50 from Kliber and a cameo from the skipper John Wright, finishing the game with a hefty six off his opposite number.
The season was shaped by a run of seven wins on the bounce starting in mid July, with several matches unfortunately over by tea time. Two sides were skittled for scores in the 50s and the double over Hutton was wrapped up after Andy Hayes ran through the top order, returning 6-27. The absence of the skipper for a number of games affected the balance of the side but stand in captains Rider and Tredget winkled out the unbeaten streak which was decisive in winning the title.
Promotion and the title was duly achieved on the last day of the season as we romped to maximum batting points, plundering 274-1 off 34 overs against Orsett. Mickey Maynard rattled off an unbeaten 115 and Martin Allen 85, to go with his unbeaten century a week earlier in the win at Benfleet. Somewhat distracted by the planning for the evenings celebrations the game was lost however.
Veterans 'Easy' Rider & 'Raver' Castell made significant contributions in many low scoring games on some very interesting wickets. Andy Hayes (50 wickets) and Obe Jarvis, 26 wickets, formed a formidable if somewhat decrepit seam attack, superbly backed up by James Kliber. He extracted prodigious turn from the damp wickets to collect 36 victims, allied with some useful batting and brilliant fielding, he won the 2’s player of the year award and also performed a starring role in the Twenty20 side. Not bad for a rodent.
Division One will be a welcome change of scenery for the side although the loss of Luke Jarvis to a new life making a buffoon of himself in Sydney’s hostelries as opposed to London’s will be keenly felt and leave the ageless Andy Hayes to find a newer, younger partner in crime to terrorise top orders with searing medium pace wobblers.
Garry Sapsford (Saturday 3rd XI Captain)
The newly promoted 3rdXI began the 2007 campaign in the hope that they could compete with the best teams in the first division. With a very young team gaining promotion in 2006 a further year’s experience (and growth for the many teenagers in the team enjoying puberty) boded well. This certainly proved the case as the ‘Stiffs’ enjoyed another outstanding season.
The early season weather denied us an excellent start as Ilford were bowled out for 113. Rain halted play for 2 hours leaving us only 16 overs to reach Ilford’s score amassed over 50 overs and we ended up only 15 short.
Steve 'The Gnome' Roach picked up where he finished the 2006 season against Westcliff taking 4-16 with his very own art of ‘dibbly dobbly’ bowling. Chasing 188 for victory an excellent 98 from Roach proved crucial with key support from youngsters Luke Neal, James Boreman and Frank Austin carrying us over the line.
A strong Fives side were next and they piled up 297, Sikki scoring a superb 168. We were never really in the hunt and despite a great late fight back from the young tail, Kawsar Azam smashing 48 with F. Austin scoring 35 in a 9th wicket partnership of 81 we succumbed for 206.
Chingford away saw the triumphant return of student Joe Hedden. Despite a winter of discontent dodging taxes and pies in Birmingham, he bowled a great spell taking 5 for 29 from 14 overs. We breezed to the target of 59 for the loss of 3 wickets with Kawsar again brutal with the bat.
Harold Wood Park was blazed in sunshine for the ‘Stiffs’ visit and conditions seemed ideal for batting. Frank Austin took two early wickets as did Ben Vowles (4-38) to put Wood under pressure. Wood consolidated to finish on 169 from 52 overs. Larry Tredget (114*) and David Edwards (45) attacked the Wood bowling attack and we cruised home by 8 wkts in 26 overs.
The top of the table clash with Woodford Wells was disappointingly abandoned after heavy rain. Promotion chasing Harlow came to Shenfield the week after and they struggled to cope with our excellent bowling attack. All of the delay tactics in the book came out and some, before Harlow were dismissed for 115 after 40 overs. Shenfield scored 45 from just 8 overs with no loss when the rain arrived. Despite a 3 hour wait for the pitch to dry to Harlow’s satisfaction, no agreement could be made between the captains as Harlow used their ‘get out of jail free’ card to good effect.
Horrible weather the following week meant no play was possible against struggling Walthamstow so points in the game with Ardleigh Green were crucial to maintain our promotion push. We fielded first again and the bowling attack was on top form to rip through an experienced Green team. Ben Vowles (6-27) was almost unplayable and 14 year old Matt Salisbury cleaned up the tail with 3-8. We reached the small target of 71 for the loss of 3 wickets. This victory was the first of 6 straight wins to put the pressure on Wells at the top of the table.
The win over Ilford was probably the game of the season as Ilfords excellent young gun Nigel Jacob scored a dogged 76 against a bowling attack that had caused problems for many experienced players. Ilford’s total of 240 seemed a long way off with us on at 161-4 with 8 overs remaining. However, some excellent running between the wickets enabled the scratchy Sapsford-Naylor partnership to stay close to the 10 an over rate required. Young ‘Stan’ Boreman denied his somatotype to keep up the effective running when Naylor was dismissed.Skipper Garry Sapsford (49*) found the middle of the bat in the penultimate over to see us over the line with 1 ball to spare.
We were without the experienced bowling partnership of Vowles and Mr Naylor for the visit of Westcliff and our young bowlers struggled to make a break through until 14 year old Matt Salisbury entered the fray. He finished with the superb figures of 6-31 of 7.5 overs. Mark 'The Blade' Ridgway made 48 on debut and 'The Gnome' made 69 to see us home by 4 wickets.
We were out for revenge for our only defeat of the season against Fives. Naylor and Vowles were back and firing on all cylinders each taking 3 wickets but deserving far more for their efforts. The talented Sikki for Fives again looked too good to remove until some excellent work from Matt Salisbury saw him run out for 25. Chasing 124 we lost early wickets before Sapsford and Naylor put on 45 for the 6th wicket to take the points.
Needing 233 to beat Chingford we made a good start to the chase but lost 3 quick wickets on 73. The Gnome (65) stood firm but wickets were lost frequently at the other end. When The Gnome was out fishing, the 'Ginger Prince' Steve Cunnew was asked to give it the big 'un for the team. He duly obliged making an unbeaten 44. Young Salisbury's 27* was an excellent knock under considerable pressure in a winning partnership of 58, achieved with only 2 balls to spare.
The winning run continued against a weakened Harold Wood side. Vowles took 3 wickets for 1 off 7 overs and 'Sticks' Hedden 4-10 to skittle Wood for just 34.
Shenfield visited lowly Walthamstow and struggled on a damp pitch. The Gnome was left unbeaten on 89* as we were all out for 182. At 19 for 5 Walthamstow looked in a lot of trouble but an excellent 112* from Shaikh saw them home by 4 wickets.
This defeat meant a win against promotion rivals Harlow was essential. Sapsford won an important toss on a damp track. Young Salisbury took two early wickets with the Owers boys picking up a wicket apiece. Tom Austin and Kawsar Azam continued to bowl tightly and took regular wickets as Harlow were removed for 75. The reply was emphatic with Burden and Tom Austin smashing the ball to the boundary before both lost their wicket in touching distance of the finishing post. The Gnome finished Harlow off and revenge for the early season fixture was sweet, promotion was guaranteed.
The final game of the season saw the two promoted teams with only a mathematical chance of us winning the title. Wells won the toss which in effect guaranteed them the title. An early wobble for Wells was stabilised by skipper Caban (53) and they reached 210. An outstanding reply from Shenfield's young batting line up saw Austin (38) Gnome (32) and Phil Prior (48) all make positive starts before getting out. Henry Owers (24*) and Matt Salisbury (24) continued the attack as overs began to run out. James Prior (24*) battered a late cameo and we won with 2 balls to spare. Wells had done enough to win the title but the young side proved their worth in gaining back to back promotions.
Steve Roach led the way with 483 runs from only 11 innings while vice captain Ben Vowles took 38 wickets. As is the way in 3rd XI cricket a large pool of players were used and there were too many to name who contributed, but 14 year olds Matt Salisbury and Kalsar Azam stood out and were both deservedly called up to the 2nd XI when required.