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2009 was one of the most memorable and successful seasons in the club's history. Even before the business of cricket had got underway, we celebrated the construction of a new electronic scorebox; the purchase of new pitch covers; the erection of a marquee as accommodation for lunch and tea. And with extensive pre-season works to the cricket square at North Stifford, the stage was set for an exciting 50th season.
We knew that the quality and consistency of our pitch would favour the batters and sure enough, both our own and visiting bowlers had to work hard for any reward. So the bowlers had a pretty tough season, but three of them were still able to notch up 50 wickets. 14 years old leg-spinner Owen Jefferies was the season's star performer, capturing 74 wickets in senior matches (including 34 in SNEL) - an outstanding achievement becoming the youngest bowler in the club's history to take 50 wickets in a season. Michael Cansdale took a total of 56 wickets and our 4th XI skipper Paul Whitlock scooped a total of 50 well-earned wickets (including 24 in SNEL).
Most wickets in the season
Best bowling - 7 for 29
Paul also produced the best bowling performance of the season - 7 for 29 against Old Southendian & Southchurch CC. Only one other bowler pitched in with a '7 for' - stalwart Cliff Cansdale who returned 7 for 71 off 19 overs for the 4th XI against Billericay CC. There were 20 other instances of 5 or more wickets in an innings.
Rob Long and 15 years old Connor Day took 41 and 40 wickets respectively, and Connor in particular reaped the rewards for his consistent accuracy with an excellent average of 19.08. And others who played their part in bowling out the opposition by taking more than 30 wickets were Mike Squires (including 26 in SNEL) Brian Edwards, Ricki Ellis, Jim Banner and Danny Norris.
With only two previous instances of all-bowled hat tricks in senior matches in our history, Chris Baker joined the elite band when he took his first hat trick - against Ongar CC at North Stifford in August.
Now with the old, reliable bowling brigade of Jim Robertson, Robert Waters, Richard Waters and Mark Winter stepping out of the wicket-taking limelight, we will be relying heavily upon our younger troops to carry the baton from 2010 - a little earlier than would be ideal. We are confident though that they are up to the task and will relish the challenge.
The club is certainly not lacking players who can 'bat a bit'. Indeed, we scored more runs in 2009 than in any other season. On many occasions, and in all XIs, we batted 'down the order' and 500+ match aggregates were not uncommon. Wise old hands often combined with the talent of youth to register big totals and, when batting second, we frequently chased down big scores to the surprise of our opponents. A good example was our Sunday 1st XI's chase of the season's highest score against us - 311 for 7 by our old friends Goresbrook CC. That's a big total in just 40 overs, but all of our batters made a contribution in our gallant reply, not least Bradley Walker who gave another display of his six-hitting ability. We finished on 273, the club's highest score, to date, when batting second in a 40-overs match.
Belhus CC has never been shy of chasing down big scores when batting second. In fact, we are probably more adept at chasing larger rather than lower totals! And although this 'can do' approach will continue to be encouraged, the SNEL format in which we now play will prompt our younger members to exercise caution before valour when the situation demands.
In a season's review of this kind, it is easy to overlook fielders and 'keepers. Fortunately, we are blessed in both departments. There were many great catches taken during the season, but we should single out the 6 outstanding catches (a club record) that were taken behind the stumps by Mark Sansom (and he dropped one too!) for the 2nd XI against Woodford Green CC in June. Michael Fogg keeps opposition batsmen in their crease and his catching and stumping skills have reached a high level. A club full of youngsters ensures enthusiasm and agility, and Dale Kenyon deserves special mention for continuing to 'raise the bar'.
6 dismissals in an innings
Hat trick against Ongar CC
We passed 200 runs in an innings on no less than 47 occasions and 19 of those instances were achieved when batting second. And if the 7 totals in the 190s had been converted, the final tally would have been even more impressive.
No less than 15 centuries from 9 different batsmen were recorded during the season - yet another club record. Four of our batsmen registered their maiden centuries -
Gavin Jefferies (101*), Darren Frampton (104), Jim Robertson (104*) and 15 years old Billy Winter (117). Tom Thompson made the season's highest score of 131 not out in the SNEL match against Epping CC in July, and produced another two elegant centuries for good measure. Not being satisfied with his maiden century against Southend-on-Sea CC in May, Gavin Jefferies went on to score another two tons and eventually took his total runs for the season to 1,987 - an awesome performance and a new club record for the highest number of runs in a season.
Seven different batsmen were dismissed or left stranded in the 90s - Taz Ali, Ben Marns, Nick Marns, Mike Randall, Danny Norris, Gavin Jefferies and Roy Heffernan - but they have the consolation of becoming members of our '90s Club'. And let's not forget the 125 other scores of fifty or more, as well as debut fifties from juniors Ben Kent (86*), Mathew Lewis Jnr (63) and Craig Dalton (60) - evidence indeed of our strength in depth. In addition to Gavin Jefferies' excellent season, three other players passed the 1,000 runs mark - Billy Winter, Jim Banner and Roy Heffernan - so congratulations are due to them too. And not too far behind them was a gang (too numerous to list) of other talented batters who exceeded 500 runs.
The performances by each of our XIs in the Shepherd Neame Essex League were highly respectable and our 4th XI were deserving Runners-Up in Division 3 East. Our captains Paul Whitlock (4th XI), Paul Hall (3rd XI), Tom Thompson (2nd XI) and Richard Day (1st XI) are to be congratulated for their fine efforts in getting to grips with new rules and regulations. Our Sunday 1st XI also performed well in the Essex Sunday League, often fielding players who were much younger than many of our opponents. All in all, a moderately successful season on the results front for all of our teams..
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There were many memorable games during the season - both in the League and friendlies - but they were memorable more for the impressive individual performances than dramatic matches.
The 1st XI's record run-chase
Southend-on-Sea CC were probably quite pleased with their total of 275 for 2 at North Stifford in June after Phil McIntosh had scored 113. But the 1st XI wasn't at all phased by such a target. Sensible batting down the order and a closing 53 not out by Scott Bayford saw us home with nine balls to spare and achieve a club record winning score when batting second. A mature effort.
Most runs in the season
Inaugural match for 5th XI
For the first time in the club's history we fielded a 5th XI. Skippered by Jim Robertson, we played Orsett's 5th XI on 20th June and posted a total of 106 thanks to Jim (39) and Mike Squires (27). We then dismissed Orsett for 76, with Mitchell Arthur and Jack Panteli producing excellent spells in taking 3 for 11 and 3 for 15 respectively. An historic day.
Record-equalling 4 x 50s in an innings
In the 40 overs away match against Horton Kirby CC in June, four Belhus batsmen scored 50s - only the second occasion in our history. Richard Dopson (64), Jim Banner (62), Darren Frampton (58*) and Ian Wright (73) took us to 288 for 3. All players in our side were asked to bowl save our wicketkeeper/captain. We duly won. A good day's work.
Record 10 wickets win
On 22nd August, Ongars' total of 212 against the 2nd XI wasn't nearly enough. Our openers, Gavin Jefferies (84*) and Tom Thompson (113*) comfortably took us to 213 without loss in 34 overs, creating the club record 10 wickets win in the process. Impressive.
And two others......
There were two other 10 wickets win margins. First, the Sunday 2nd XI victory over Ardleigh Green in April when Mike Randall (33*) and Danny Norris (92*) easily chased down the target of 136 in only 22 overs. Secondly,
the 3rd XI rout over Southend-on-Sea CC when Ben Marns (72*) and Richard Dopson (54*) took only 25 overs and just 13 singles (not surprisingly) to overhaul the 143 target.
Ben Marns/Richard Dopson Mike Randall/Danny Norris
Turning the tables
Darren van Dyk smashed our Sunday 1st XI bowlers to all corners of the ground in the away match against Wickford CC in May. Of Wickford's 255 total, Darren scored 175, the third highest ever individual score against the club. We did very well to reply with 226 but lost the 40 overs match. However, in the return match at North Stifford we dismissed Wickford for just 184, a target that we easily reached in 31 overs, thanks to a stylish opening partnership of 139 by Nick Marns (75) and brother Ben Marns (89 not out). Pure class.
Oldest batsman to score a fifty
The Chelmsford CC total of 263 against the 4th XI looked a few too many for us to chase. But we made a fight of it and almost squeezed a draw as Don East, batting at No.9, scored 68 not out to become the oldest Belhus batsman to score a fifty. Well done Don.
Best all-round performance
Jabir Sarwar bowled 26 overs (the second highest in an innings by a Belhus bowler) when taking 6 for 44 for the 2nd XI to dismiss Orsett CC for 187 in July. And we looked set for a win with 2 wickets remaining and just 3 runs required. Alas, we couldn't manage it, and Jabir was left stranded on 69*. A great solo effort though
Best all-round performance
The visit of Prague CC
When Prague CC from the Czech republic visited us in May, it was the first time that we had entertained an overseas team. Our visitors won the toss and batted first and amassed 229 from their 40 overs after their captain Paul Myers scored 101. Despite a determined 70 from skipper Roy Heffernan, we weren't quite on song and finished on 180 in reply. Another historic day for Belhus CC.
Roy Heffernan at the toss with
Paul Myers of Prague CC
Kevin Harber bowling at North Stifford v Prague CC
VETS display class
The end of season VETS match against Great & Little Warley CC witnessed a fine team performance by our ageing stars. An elegant 101 from Jim Banner and 58 off 37 balls from Richard Day took us to 240. And although our hosts reached 180 in reply, safe catching hands and the sharing of opposition wickets by no less than 6 of our bowlers gave seasoned skipper Peter Clark and his fellow gentlemen a comfortable victory. Top-drawer.
Down to earth
It would be churlish not to mention our heaviest defeat of the season. In the SNEL league cup in April, we were drawn away to South Woodford CC. Despite our best bowling efforts, the Premier Division side racked up 341 with a majestic innings of 118 in 52 balls by Nick Browne. We took the opportunity for some practice at the crease and also took some consolation in losing only 3 wickets in reply. A heavy defeat maybe, but an interesting and valuable experience nevertheless.
All-round team effort
Another instance of the numerous team efforts and the contribution that each and every one of our players made throughout the season, was the 1st XI performance against Billericay CC in the Essex Sunday League match at North Stifford in June. Four of our bowlers shared the wickets in the 40 overs match, and the required target of 238 proved a stroll in the park as five of our batsmen made scores in the 30s to cruise us home to a comfortable victory.
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5th XI 2009
4th XI Runners-Up Shepherd Neame
League Division Three East 2009
3rd XI 2009
2nd XI 2009
1st XI 2009
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A Season of New Records
It is hard to recall a season when so many records were broken.
Youngest batsman to score 1,000 runs in a season
Youngest bowler to take 50 wickets in a season
Oldest batsman to score 1,000 runs in a season
Oldest batsman to score a fifty
Most runs in a season
Highest score in a VETS match - 101 v Great & Little Warley CC
Highest score by 4th XI batsman - 104* v Brentwood CC
Most batsmen to score maiden centuries in senior matches - 4
Most batsmen scoring centuries in a season - 9
Highest number of centuries in a season - 15
Highest winning score batting second - 279 for 8 1st XI v Southend-on-Sea CC
Largest 10 wickets win - 213 2nd XI v Ongar CC
Highest VETS team total - 240 v Great & Little Warley CC
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