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After becoming Essex Indoor Champions and then winning the National Indoor Championship title, a mood of confidence filled the air at North Stifford Village Green as the 2016 season approached. And that confidence swept throughout the Belhus camp as, after an intensely competitive four months, it converted into the club lifting no less than 3 Division titles in the Shepherd Neame Essex League. And in crowning the club's most successful season, it was a momentous, unprecedented achievement in cricket history in Essex.
National Indoor Champions 2016
More than 800 clubs from 32 counties across England and Wales competed in the ECB's prestigious 40-years old competition. After a gruelling journey through local, district, county and regional Finals against the finest six-a-side teams in the country, Belhus progressed to the grand National Indoor Final at the MCC Academy at Lord's on March 13th, emerging victorious against the Yorkshire champions Whitley Hall CC. Magnificent.
Indoor Champions of England & Wales 2016
Left to right: Dan Norris, Dan Dreher, Martin Guilbert, Michael Fogg, Joe Joyce, Danny Joyce
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Both our 1st and 4th XI skippers, Danny Joyce and John Wilson, had boldly predicted successful seasons and, sure enough, through their skilful leadership, their teams duly became champions of their respective divisions. And both teams sat atop of their tables throughout the entire season - magnificent performances. Meanwhile, Jack Plane marched his 3rd XI to championship success in his first season as skipper and John Lewis Jnr steered the 2nd XI to their highest-ever league position. Alan Maidment and Rob Long were the leading wicket-takers in their divisions and Joe Joyce was the leading run-scorer in the 1st XI's division, but the club's success in 2016 was achieved by valuable contributions from just about all of our players. A round of applause for everyone please.
Essex CCC stalwart Graham Napier and club president Jim Robertson
Saturday 1st XI SNEL Champions 2016
Saturday 4th XI SNEL Champions 2016
Saturday 3rd XI SNEL Champions 2016
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A total of 18 centuries (15 in 2015) were struck during 2016 - Richard Day, Steve Huckstepp, Danny Joyce (3), Joe Joyce (2), Wayne Read (4) and Billy Winter - with maiden centuries being recorded by Russ Blackburn, Dan Dreher, Jack Plane, Jack Thomas (2) and Zak Wilson. Congratulations to them all.
A total of 20 '5fors' (14 in 2015) were returned during 2016 - by Cliff Cansdale, Dan Dreher, Rob Long, Alan Maidment, Jack Martin-Hussey, Dan Norris and Gary Sanderson - while Joe Joyce, Billy Maidment and Baiju Mohammed recorded their maiden '5fors'. Congratulations to them too.
Record individual score for the 5th XI
In the 5th XI's match against Chelmsford on 20th August, Jack Thomas stroked his maiden century (108). And in his very next innings, a week later, he smashed another century - this time against Brentwood when his masterly 144 became the new club record individual score in a 5th XI match. Fantastic.
New club record winning run-chase
In the 2nd XI's SNEL match on 23rd July, Hainault & Clayhall batted first and racked up a competitive 313 for 4. After tea, and despite a commanding half-century by opener Wayne Read, we found ourselves staring down the proverbial barrel of defeat as we slumped to 187 for 7. But then Jake Wolfe (76*) and Jack Martin-Hussey (57) combined to carve a brilliant 8th wicket partnership of 105 to swing the match around in our favour before Jack was run out. And then the injured Matthew Williams hobbled to the crease and swiftly crashed 21 from 4 deliveries to see us home to an unlikely victory by 2 wickets and secure a new club record winning run-chase in the process - surpassing the previous club record of 299 by the 1st XI against Leigh-on-Sea in 2014. Magnificent.
Undefeated SNEL season for 4th XI
Under the stewardship of John Wilson (in his third year as skipper) our 4th XI marched through their SNEL season without a single defeat in their 18 matches. And in winning the SNEL 4th XI Division One West, they sat at the top of their table from start to finish. Belhus teams have enjoyed successful seasons in the past (in 1968 our 1st XI lost just one of their 34 Saturday/Sunday matches) but our 4th XI's achievement was the first occasion that a Belhus team had played through a league season without defeat. Bravo.
Two hat tricks in an innings
A good number of Belhus bowlers have snared hat tricks over the years (Jim Robertson, Bob Garner and Ricki Ellis have each taken 2). A hat trick is a rare feat, of course. But even more rare was the occasion when two hat tricks were taken, in the space of just 9 deliveries, by Gary Sanderson (his second hat trick for the club) and Matthew Williams (his first) in the same match - the 2nd XI's SNEL match against Harlow Town on 14th May (we won by 159 runs). Brilliant.
Two hat tricks in an innings by different bowlers haven't ever been performed in Test, First Class or ODI matches. Nor, to our knowledge, has it ever been achieved in league cricket at club level in England. 'Records are made to be broken' says the old adage, but we've a feeling that this unique record will remain with Gary and Matt for a very long time.
National hat-trick record
Gary Sanderson (left) and Matthew Williams
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Dismissed opposition for 34 - but we only just won!
In only his second match wearing the skipper's badge, Jack Plane was absolutely delighted when his 3rd XI dismissed Chingford for just 34 (in 25 overs) in a pre-league friendly on 30th April. In the run-chase after an early tea, our openers Liam Waters and Zak Wilson posted 17 without loss. And at 23 for 1, we were cruising home to a comfortable victory but then the first 'Belhus Collapse' of the new season occurred as 5 of our batsmen were dismissed for 'ducks'. But with a nudge here and a nudge there, Braydon Scarlett was able to see us over the line to win by just 3 wickets. Phew - nerverackingly close!
JJ wins race to 500
For the second successive year, Joe Joyce won the 2016 award (sponsored by SQ-Sports) for being the first batsman to reach 500 runs in the Shepherd Neame Essex League. There are 40 clubs fielding 160 teams teams in 16 Divisions in the Shepherd Neame Essex League - that's 1,760 players so it's quite an achievement to win the award. Well played Joe.
First boundary in the 46th over
Batting first in the 2nd XI's SNEL match on 18th June, Horndon-on-the-Hill were dismissed for a modest total of 72 as Gary Sanderson took 4 for 18. A wet outfield and razor sharp Belhus fielding prevented HoH scoring a single boundary in their innings of 29.1 overs. Although we knocked off the required runs quite easily after tea (John Lewis Jnr 35 not out), it took us 25 overs to do so, with the first boundary of the day being signalled in the 46th over - some record we think?
In all league and friendly matches, four of our batsmen passed 1,000 runs for the season - Wayne Read (1,321 @ 34.76), Joe Joyce (1,247 @ 77.94), Danny Joyce (1,177 @ 51.17) and Zak Wilson (1,007 @ 24.56 in senior and youth matches).
Wayne Read - most runs Joe Joyce - highest score
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17 years old Billy Maidment finished the season as the club's leading wicket-taker with a total of 55 wickets at an average of 20.04 and an economy of 3.29 and Jamie Fairweather was close behind with 52 wickets (in both senior and youth matches) at an average of 12.98 and an economy of 3.29. Fine young bowlers indeed. And a number of other bowlers also bamboozled the opposition - Alan Maidment (46 wickets @ 11.43), Rob Long (45 wickets @ 10.44), Gary Sanderson (45 wickets @ 19.33), John Wilson (41 wickets @ 15.78) and Dan Dreher (40 wickets @ 20.00). Excellent.
Billy Maidment Jamie Fairweather
The 90s Club
In the 2016 season, seven scores in the 90s were registered (the same as in 2015) with Liam Wilson, Jack Thomas and Josh Clarke becoming new members of the Belhus CC 90s Club. Interestingly, Joe Joyce was twice dismissed on 97 - and, bizarrely, on both occasions against Harlow Town CC.
Golden ducks x 2
In the 2nd XI's SNEL match on 25th June against Old Southendian & Southchurch, skipper John Lewis Jnr and son Charlie Lewis were both dismissed for 'golden ducks'. How nice. A record we thought - but a flick through the scorebooks reminded us that brothers Ryan Lucas and Matthew Lucas also registered 'golden ducks' for the 2nd XI against Hutton in 2014. And such family love also occurred in 1982 when Alan Cayless and his two sons David and Andrew were dismissed for 'ducks' (all clean-bowled) in the match against Henfield in Sussex on 3rd August.
Runners x 2
It is worth recording that in the 1st XI's match against Harlow Town on 11th June, it became necessary for HT to call for runners when their batsmen became lame during their innings. That in itself isn't unusual, but in this instance two runners were required on the field of play at the same time. And add the fact that both batsmen were named Gladwin (Neil and Jason), it made for an amusing and memorable occasion.
Well held sir(s)
Over the years, we've been known to spill the occasional catch or two with some amusing stories (usually a little exaggerated) of as many as 10 catches in a match being put down. But 2016 saw a number of our fielders (in all XIs) cling on to some amazing catches - with many of them changing the course of a game and having a bearing on our season's success. Michael Fogg, Mark Sansom, Danny Joyce and Sam Hall all held 4 catches in an innings when behind the stumps, while Liam Wilson, Paul Hall and Neil Sullivan also took 4 excellent catches in the outfield. And with 3 catches in a match, safe hands were displayed by Martin Guilbert, John Wilson, Matthew Williams, Eathan Morris, Josh Clarke and Joe Joyce.
Over the years we've had our fair share of injury-prone players but 2016 saw fewer injuries than usual. That helped our captains with their team selection process, of course, particularly when we were mountIng serious league title promotion challenges. It helps considerably when there is a superfit squad of players, and a good number of players showed their enthusiasm by regularly turning out on many occasions. Zak Wilson (50 matches), Wayne Read (49), Liam Waters (43), Jamie Fairweather (43), Josh Clarke (37), Billy Maidment (37), Jack Plane (35) and Mike Randall (35). And we are grateful also to our regular, always-cheerful scorers, Pat Stephenson and Julie Whitlock using their array of coloured pens as Julie appeared on every Saturday and Sunday bar just one weekend - wow, that's dedication. Our thanks to them all for turning out regularly - we hope they enjoy a restful winter.
Under 12s SEDCB Indoor Champions
And to crown a magnificent year for the club, Belhus Spitfires won the SEDCB Unders 12s Indoor League (Grays division) after victory over Stanford-le-Hope CC in their final match of the 2016 Indoor season. Terrific.
Belhus Spitfires - 2016 Indoor Champions
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Player of the Year Awards
Saturday 5th XI Jack Thomas
Saturday 4th XI Zak Wilson
Saturday 3rd XI Alan Maidment
Saturday 2nd XI Imran Mohammed
Saturday 1st XI Joe Joyce
Sunday 2nd XI Keith Dhannie
Sunday 1st XI Danny Joyce
'Club Member of the Year' Richard Waters
'Club Member of the Year 2016'
The phenomenal success of our players was supported by many dedicated volunteers who gave of their time, and sponsors who produced generous cheques that contributed enormously to the club's very special year. Thank you.
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For player performances/records for 2016, please see PLAYER AVERAGES and STATISTICS on the top bar menu.
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