Club Cricket Conference

Sunday, 16th December 2018

Joel join-up sees two champions defending one title

By Charles Randall

10th May 2017

Clubs need some strong home counties knockout cricket to supplement league rivalries, and that is why Aston Rowant versus Hatfield Hyde and Old Rutlishians versus Paragon are matches of special importance next Sunday (May 14). They launch the first round of the revived Club Cricket Conference competition, now for the Bertie Joel Trophy.

The amalgamation of two competitions extends cricket's  connection with the Joel name and a lovely trophy up for grabs since 1967. Bertie Joel, one of the great characters of London cricket, died in 1996, but his competition - for many years mainly midweek - has continued under a small committee and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year when West Indies United beat Wanstead in the final at Sutton.

So there will be two champions defending their title this summer - West Indies United and Reigate Priory - and it is possible they will meet, as a new draw is made each round after the second.  Watch out for coverage in All Out Cricket magazine. The final is scheduled for Saturday 16th September at Guildford, with £1,000 and the trophy on offer to the winners.

Reigate Priory, captained by Luke Beaven, won The Conference Cup in 2014 at their first attempt, overwhelming Bromley at Ealing, and they enjoyed their time as champions unchallenged for two years while the event was suspended. Priory, still led by Beaven, return to the 45-over fray this year along with a raft of strong clubs.  The quality is enhanced by current league champions such as Wanstead (Essex), Radlett (Hertfordshire) and Sunbury (Surrey), but likely winners could be major campaigners such as Ealing, Finchley, Bromley, Blackheath,  Waltham and Cambridge Granta.

The Sunday side West Indies United face a tough start as champions with a trip from Catford to play Colchester & East Essex at their Castle Park county ground in the second round on Sunday, June 18, when Reigate Priory are due to begin their defence against Acton or South Hampstead. Most of the first round will be played on Sunday March 28.

The CCC set up The Conference Cup to replace Evening Standard Trophy after its demise in 2008. The support from a keen nucleus of clubs remained solid enough, but walkovers became increasingly prevalent, forcing the CCC board to suspend the project, leaving a few county cups, the Bertie Joel Cup and the ECB National as the only long-form knockouts remaining.

In 2014 about half the CCC first-round games were decided by non-weather walkovers, including a few by the home club. This suggested that the appetite for the longer limited overs format was diminishing, and the CCC board took reluctant action, but this year  the competition has been given a second chance with the support of a core of clubs and the Joel amalgamation. The entry includes 10 clubs based in Essex.

Robbie Book, CCC chairman, said that club feedback and the desire to maintain the Bertie Joel Cup convinced the board to try again. "The clubs entering the CCC competition, with its longer format, enjoy the high standard of cricket," he said. "We are confident that these clubs have a real desire to take part. Travel is not too much of a hindrance, as can be the case in the National Championship. "

The Conference Cup for the Bertie Joel Trophy

First Round (on or before Sunday 28th May)

Acton v South Hampstead
Hoddesdon v Pacific
Old Wimbledonians v Bickley Park
Aston Rowant v Hatfield Hyde (Sunday 14th May)
Indian Gymkhana v Old Southendian & Southchurch
Fives & Heronians v Middlesex Tamil Sports & Social Club
Old Rutlishians v Paragon (Sunday 14th May)
Beaconsfield v Waltham

Second Round (on or before Sunday 18th June)

Colchester & East Essex v West Indies United
Radlett v Chingford
Reigate Priory v Acton or South Hampstead
Hoddesdon or Pacific v Ealing
Stanmore v Brentwood
Sawbridgeworth v Bexley
Sunbury v Hornchurch
Finchley v Bishop's Stortford
Beaconsfield or Waltham v Fives & Heronians or Middlesex Tamils
Aston Rowant or Hatfield Hyde v Harold Wood
Shenfield v Bromley
Wanstead v East Molesey
Old Wimbledonians or Bickley Park v Harpenden
Cambridge Granta v Valley End
Blackheath v Ashtead
Indian Gymkhana or Old Southendians & Southchurch v Old Rutlishians or Paragon