Club Cricket Conference

Saturday, 23rd March 2019

Chelmsford town hosts theatres of dreams


By Charles Randall

22 September 2017

Wanstead & Snaresbrook CC can celebrate a magnificent season at their presentation evening on September 29, with the national club title in pride of place... much to their relief.

After they were pipped by Chelmsford for the Essex League title on the last day there were fears that Wanstead would miss all four prizes they were chasing, but  they won a gripping contest against Ormskirk in the final of the Royal London Club Championship at the Essex County Ground in Chelmsford.

Thanks mainly to three left-arm spinners, Wanstead beat the Liverpool & District Competition champions by 12 runs in a match of almost unbearable tension, having scored only 159 on a slow pitch. Jack Lord, their improving young seamer, took the first four Ormskirk wickets - including George Lavelle, lbw, and Gary Knight, clean bowled in consecutive balls - but Ormskirk's middle order revival was scotched by the accuracy of spin.

The left-arm narrative began with Mohammed Fayyaz Khan, at the age of 50,  entrusted with the new ball, followed by two Essex county men  Aron Nijjar and the captain Joe Ellis-Grewal. Ormskirk could never quite break free of their grip.

The Wanstead innings proved disappointing after a good start through Arfan Akram's rapid 38. The youthful Feroze Khushi, the Premier League's leading run-scorer with 703, failed this time, but bits and pieces among the tail took the total up to a reasonable score. Ormskirk relied on seam, though their most effective bowler proved to be Tom Hartley, a left-arm spinner. No surprise there.

So it became the town of Chelmsford's year in cricket, with Essex taking the county championship and supplying the venue for Wanstead's success, not to mention Chelmsford CC's league title across town.

Wanstead reached their only previous national final in 2012, losing to York, so they went one better and deservedly pulled off the biggest coup in club cricket. Few could begrudge them.

Wanstead were given a raw deal in the season's final round of league games, a three-wicket loss to Chingford.  They should have wrapped up a victory at Overton Drive, even after their batting failure against Liam Lannen(6-36), yet another left-arm spinner. Chasing 158, Chingford collapsed to 48-6 before a shower of rain changed the picture. In soaking conditions the Wanstead spin attack could not grip the ball properly and  No 7 Andrew Macgregor cashed in well with a match-winning 62 not out.

Chelmsford needed a victory to overtake Wanstead for their second Premier title in three years, and their left-arm spinner Ben Waring obliged with 5-25 to bowl out visiting Colchester for a 38-run win in an attritional  game. That meant Colchester were relegated by one point behind Southend, an agonising finish to their season. Southend's last pair held out for a draw against Brentwood to earn those crucial extra points.

Wanstead produced the league's best batsman and bowler in Khushi and Ellis-Grewal (54 wickets), but Chelmsford probably deserved their league title, having beaten Wanstead by 16 runs at Overton Drive in May. The home return game was washed out.