IN an unprecedented season for Belhus cricket club, they lifted no less than three titles in the Shepherd Neame Essex League. With the first eleven being crowned champions last week, it was the turn of the Belhus third and fourth teams to secure their respective league honours.
Belhus 3rd 190-8
Horndon on the Hill 3rd 102-7
The top two teams met in their final league match of the season, with both sides in with a chance of the winning their division. Horndon travelled to Ockendon Recreation Ground in the knowledge that they were two points ahead of their close rivals Belhus. But when rain intervened, the home side had secured ten bonus points to the villagers’ five points. Belhus had Jack Day to thank for scoring an undefeated 71, which effectively saw Belhus secure top spot, three points ahead of Horndon. Jubilant Jack Plane of Belhus said: “I never imagined that we would win the league in my first season as captain of the third eleven. Many people have congratulated me on the achievements but I would like to thank and congratulate every team member who contributed towards our success this year”.
Belhus 4th 163 all out
Fives and Heronians 4th 23-0
Meanwhile, a script similar to that of their third eleven was being played out at Fives and Heronians. In the Shepherd Neame Essex division one west, Stuart Morris struck a fine 70, with little further action. Tea was taken; five overs were bowled in the home innings; the rain came and that was that. Six bonus points each and Belhus became champions with a 14-point clearance over their hosts, who finished as runners-up.
Belhus 2nd 221-8 dec
West Essex 2nd 83-3
The Belhus second string may not have achieved champion status in their division, but skipper John Lewis ably led his team to their highest ever league standing with a fine undefeated 65 at the Rolls Sports Ground. After rain intervened with the match evenly balanced, the visitors secured fourth place. Earlier, Charlie Lewis hit 49 while Chris Baker smashed eight boundaries including four sixes in a whirlwind 45. This enabled the visitors to declare after 38.3 overs but the elements had the final say.
Old Southendian and Southchurch 1st 157 all out
Belhus 1st 77-3
For someone who is regularly the subject of a batting headline, it is normal for Joe Joyce to be cricket news – but on this occasion it is for his bowling prowess. Joe’s spin offering at North Stifford yielded five wickets at a cost of just 27 runs from 9.1 overs, two of which were maidens. Gary Sanderson provided value support with 4-60 from sixteen overs. For the Old Boys, Max Craddock and Connor Mortlock provided strength in the middle order with scores of 33 and 37 respectively. With Belhus – and Joe Joyce with 31 not out – looking good after 16.4 overs, the umpires called it a day due to the precipitous conditions. It was time to celebrate three champion teams from the same club. Party time in the short term, but even stronger league opposition to look forward to in 2017.