2018 was the joint hottest year on record in the UK since records began in 1910, sharing the title with 1976, 2003 and 2006. The fine weather was clearing to the liking of the Belhus players as it proved to be the most successful season in the club's history. Our 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th XIs all gained promotion in their respective Divisions in the Shepherd Neame Essex League, and our 1st XI reached the Dukes Essex League Cup Final for the second successive year. And our Under 13s became SEDCB champions after a magnificent performance in the Final against Orsett. In addition to the many superb match-winning performances during the season, there was a great camaraderie throughout the club - across all of our teams.
Members of the Belhus family with a plethora of SNEL awards and cups
1st XI step up to SNEL Premier Division
In his sixth season as skipper of our Saturday 1st XI, Danny Joyce steered his side to the Runners-Up slot in Division One (just three points behind the eventual winners, Buckhurst Hill CC) to secure promotion to the SNEL Premier Division for the 2019 season. It should be remembered that the club joined SNEL only in 2009, so to move up from Division Three to Division Two to Division One to the Premier Division in the space of just 10 years has been a remarkable achievement.
Belhus CC 1st XI 2018
4th XI crowned SNEL Champions
Having led the 4th XI (undefeated) to the Divisional Winners title in 2016, skipper John Wilson skilfully guided his team to the 4th XI Division One East title by the sizeable margin of 48 points over Runners-Up Benfleet CC. No fewer than 27 players appeared for the Belhus 4th XI this season and congratulations to them all for their valuable contributions - it clearly was a fantastic team effort.
Belhus CC 4th XI Champions 2018
3rd XI shine yet again in SNEL
Having been crowned champions of their SNEL Divisions in 2016 and 2017, our 3rd XI gained promotion yet again under the leadership of skipper Richard Waters by finishing Runners-Up in Division Two. Three promotions in as many seasons has been a terrific effort. Well done to everyone who represented the team in 2018 and who played the game in the best possible sporting spirit.
Belhus CC 3rd XI 2018
2nd XI edge on upwards in SNEL
In their SNEL campaigns over the past couple of years, our 2nd XI had been 'there or thereabouts' and their league table positions didn't accurately reflect the fine cricket they had played, failing by a whisker to get over the line. But fortunes were deservedly turned around this season and veteran captain John Lewis Jnr will lead the side again next year - his fourth successive season as skipper. With confidence and team togetherness on a high, there is good reason for optimism in 2019.
Belhus CC 2nd XI 2018
Our batsmen registered 13 centuries in 2018 (12 in 2017) with Ross Fullbrook (3rd XI), Matt Doran (1st XI) and Max Osborne (1st XI) all recording their maiden centuries for the club.
Our bowlers recorded a total of 14 '5fors' in 2018 (the same as in 2017). Billy Baker (5 for 23 for the 5th XI against Rainham CC on 25th August) and Ryan Prendergast (5 for 12 for the 4th XI against Leigh-on-Sea CC on 5th May) achieved the feat for the very first time. Spinner Matt Doran registered three '5fors' during his successful season with the ball.
Record-equalling 'Belhus Double'
To gain promotion, our 1st XI needed to win their final SNEL match of the season (against Upminster CC). Belhus batted first and a chanceless opening partnership of 209 between Joe Joyce (104) and Matt Doran (106), enabled us to post a competitive total of 274 for 3 declared after 39 overs. In a match played in a fine spirit thanks to our sporting opponents, our total proved sufficient for us to secure victory by 106 runs and step up to the SNEL Premier Division in 2019. And it was a memorable day for Matt Doran as he took 5 for 63 after tea, becoming only the second player in the club's history to score a century and take a '5for' in a Belhus match (after Richard Harvey's 121 and 5 for 14 against Norwood CC in 1980). Excellent.
New club record score in a 4th XI match
In the 4th XI's SNEL match against Southend-on-Sea & EMT CC on 30th June, George Maidment opened the batting and stroked his way to a masterly 161 not out to create a new club record individual score in a 4th XI match. George is no stranger to club records. In 2013, for the 5th XI against Hainault & Clayhall CC, he became (at the age of just 13 years 164 days) the youngest bowler to take a hat trick in a senior match. Well done George.
Under 13s clinch SEDCB title
After a fine competitive season, our Under 13s triumphed in a tense SEDCB Final against Orsett at Southchurch Park, Southend-on-Sea. Producing a fine all-round performance, all of our boys made a contribution to the comfortable 4-wickets win under the watchful eyes of their dedicated managers, Robert Waters and Jim Robertson.
Belhus Under 13s
'Andrew Jenner Unsung Hero' Award for Julie Whitlock
At the 2018 Shepherd Neame Essex League Awards Presentation Dinner, we were absolutely delighted that our very own Julie Whitlock received the 'Andrew Jenner Unsung Hero' award. To a raptuous applause and standing ovation from the 200+ congregation, the prestigious award was presented for her many off-field contributions to the club over the past 21 years. We are proud of you Julie.
Julie Whitlock receives her award
from club chairman Tom Thompson
MCC v NACC
On 27th June at North Stifford, the club hosted the curtain-raiser to the inaugural series of matches between MCC and the National Asian Cricket Council. The 10-match programme formed part of the MCC's strategy for deepening its engagement with players from a South Asian background and the ECB's plan to draw more players from a South Asian background into cricket. Belhus players Max Osborne, Danny Joyce and John Lewis Jnr represented MCC who won a keenly-fought contest by 95 runs, thanks to a cultured century by Danny Joyce.
Dukes Essex League Cup Final
Having been losing finalists to Chingford CC in the Dukes Essex League Cup Final in 2017, we again found ourselves in the Final in 2018 having comfortably defeated Shenfield CC in the semi-final at North Stifford. Played at Garons Park, we came up against a mighty Hornchurch CC side who enjoyed an outstanding season by also winning the SNEL Premier Division as well the SNEL T20 competition. Despite a gallant effort in front of an army of Belhus supporters, we lost by 89 runs to a strong side that included Monty Panesar. Well played Hornchurch. Perhaps 2019 might prove third time lucky for us!
Oldest batsman to score a century
In the 2nd XI's SNEL match against Horndon-on-the-Hill CC on 4th August, John Lewis Jnr stroked a majestic 117 not out in an unbroken 2nd wicket partnership of 149 with son Charlie Lewis (43*), steering his side home to an emphatic 9-wickets win. And in the process, at the age of 55 years 64 days, skipper Lewis became the oldest Belhus batsman to score a century. Magnificent.
John Lewis Jnr
Record 2nd XI team total
On a hot afternoon at North Stifford, our 2nd XI racked up 354 for 5 in 45 overs in their SNEL match against Fives & Heronians CC - the highest total recorded by a Belhus 2nd XI and the second highest-ever team total in the club's history (behind the 1st XI's 399 for 5 against Woodford Green CC in 2011). Zak Wilson hammered 107 (67 balls) and Charlie Lewis stroked a career-best 136 not out as the pair shared a 2nd wicket stand of 136 before Imran Mohammed strode to the crease to crash a quick-fire 64. And Belhus won by 122 runs on this historic day.
Leading run-scorers in SNEL
For the 1st XI, Joe Joyce was again our leading run-scorer in the Shepherd Neame Essex League racking up a total of 819 runs in Division One at an average of 51.19. Also for the 1st XI, Max Osborne scored 696 runs @ 77.33, Matt Doran 590 @ 36.88, Ryan Wells 496 @ 38.16 and Danny Joyce 445 @ 55.63.
Those who also topped 400 runs were Zak Wilson who slammed a total of 560 runs for an average of 50.91, Charlie Lewis struck 484 @ 34.57 and Wayne Read 401 @ 34.08. Richard Waters also stroked 484 runs @ 37.23. Some fine players registering some fine innings.
Leading wicket-takers in SNEL
Those who clocked up 25+ wickets were the consistent Antonio Darrell who enjoyed his best season (to date) by taking 38 SNEL wickets at an economy of 4.28. Matt Doran crowned an excellent all-round season with 34 wickets @ an economy of 4.75, Max Osborne likewise with 32 @ 4.65. Pacemen Connor Day took 29 @ 3.97 and Rob Long 26 @ just 2.06, while spinner Deepak Sinha returned 25 @ 3.91. These were excellent returns by our leading bowlers, given the hot season and flat wickets that benefitted batsmen.
New club record 4th wicket partnership
In the SNEL match against Upminster CC at North Stifford on 7th July, our 1st XI batted first and found themselves perched precariously on 36 for 3. But then Max Osborne and Danny Joyce combined together to carve a magnificent, new club record 260-runs 4th wicket partnership to enable us to reach 325 for 5 from our allotted 50 overs. Max struck 177 not out (118 balls) to register the club's highest individual score in SNEL matches, as well as recording the highest-ever score by a Belhus No. 5 batsman. Unfortunately, skipper Joyce was dismissed on 99, the fifth Belhus batsman to fall one short of a century - after David Webb (1981), Martin Guilbert (2007), Charlie Lewis (2013) and Joe Joyce (2013) - but his side eventually won by 37 runs.
Belhus caterers shine again
Our caterers excelled themselves yet again during the season, and we are indebted to the many ladies (and gents) who consistently displayed their culinary skills and treated all of our youth and senior teams to some sublime teas and lunches. And clearly our opponents enjoyed the tea-breaks between innings when the official SNEL Captains' Marks for 2018 ranked us No. 1 in the season's Catering Assessment tables. From all of our players and supporters, we thank you very much indeed for feeding us so well.
Tea-time at North Stifford
Left to right: Sue Waters, Sue Joyce, Kim Wilson, Maria Clarke
The club completed its third senior tour to Barbados in 2018, having previously toured the sun-drenched island in 1976 and 1991. The 37-strong party of players, umpires, scorers and supporters flew out from Gatwick on 3rd March and enjoyed seven 35-overs matches against some of the island's most prestigious clubs - North Stars CC, Wanderers CC, St. Catherine CC, Empire CC, Windward CC, Isolation Cavaliers CC and the Barbados Defence Forces XI. We were honoured to have received messages of good luck and best wishes from Lord MacLaurin, David Acfield, Jason Holder and Gordon Greenidge, and although we narrowly failed to win a match during our stay, a great time was had by all.
Final SNEL match record in 2018
Played 18 Won 12 Lost 3 Drew 2 Abandoned 1
Played 18 Won 11 Lost 6 Drew 1
Played 18 Won 9 Lost 7 Drew 2
Played 18 Won 14 Lost 1 Drew 2 Cancelled 1
There were many other memorable moments and outstanding achievements during the remarkable 2018 season at what is one of the friendliest and most special clubs in Essex.
Sadly and tragically, we lost a much-loved, popular club member and friend this year. Stewart Farr we miss you very much.
You brought much joy to those who knew you and will forever live on in our memories.