Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Cricket: Mayor opens historic match in South Ockendon

Rayleigh 6th 152-6
Belhus 5th 153-6

Belhus and Rayleigh cricket clubs staged a groundbreaking match at Garron Lane, South Ockendon on Saturday – it was the first time that a club cricket match had taken place on the ground since 1959. Back then, the ground was the school playing field of the former Ockendon Courts school; today it is home to a vibrant rugby club. The addition of a non-turf cricket pitch, partly funded by the Veolia Mardyke Trust, together with the potential development of a cricket square, has seen a strong relationship grow between both the local rugby and cricket clubs.

Mayor of Thurrock, Charles Curtis and his wife, Wendy, were among those present for this historic occasion. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Terry Lee, Chairman of Thames Rugby Club said: “We very much welcome our distinguished guests at Thames Rugby Club today for the return of cricket to our ground. We would like to record our special thanks to the Veolia Mardyke Trust for their financial support in making this possible and also to Belhus Cricket Club. We certainly hope that this marks the start of what we hope will be a very long and successful partnership between our two clubs”.

Meanwhile, Barry Ruck, the Belhus club Secretary and fifth eleven captain said: “Great thanks must go to all who worked hard to produce the funding for the installation of the surface and also for those at both Thames Rugby and Belhus Cricket who put in many hours of voluntary work to ensure this fixture took place and made the day such a memorable occasion”.

With the formalities over, Rayleigh team captain Mike Humphrey accepted an invitation from his Belhus counterpart to take first use of the fine batting surface. After a slow start, Chris Slough top scored for the visitors with 41, while Kalpesh Patel and Rebecca Holyoak both scored 31 apiece. Steve Lynch then hit a quickfire 20 not out as the remaining overs began evaporating, while Phil Hammond was dismissed for 16 off the final ball of the innings – by a stunning one-handed catch from Mike Squires. Earlier, Bradley Stevens gratefully accepted two good catches in the outfield as Elliott Playle and Squires picked up 2-24 and 2-28 respectively. Ruck and Lee Hawkes collected one wicket each.

After a slightly extended tea interval, Mike Randall showed good early season form by scoring 60 runs. But he was eventually caught from a well-timed pull shot at backward square-leg by Kalpesh Patel. His opening partner, debutant Naveed Mirza, gave valuable support with 22. There were contributions too, by skipper Ruck with 13, Stevens, 15, while Hawkes and Mason Ruck finished the job for the home side by scoring 13 not out and 2 not out respectively with eleven balls to spare in this forty overs per side match. For Rayleigh, Jai Patel took 2-38 from 9.1 overs and Phil Hammond returned 2-28 off seven overs.

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