Shenfield High School

Shenfield claim 7th successive U'19 Essex Cup

On a blustery day Billericay CC hosted the newly introduced finals day, which saw the top 4 schools compete for the trophy. Holders Shenfield were joined by Great Baddow, Newham Sixth Form and New Vic College. The draw was completed and we played Newham in the Semi-Final, skipper Billings winning the toss and electing to bat first. Our strong batting line up seemed to struggle to gage the pace of the pitch as we lost wickets regularly. Arun Kullar continued his good form, finding gaps and using his feet, making use of the first 6 overs. He and the imperious Pickering started to dominate before both fell. The innings was in danger of stagnating if not for an excellent unbeaten 41 from Marc Carter who mixed powerful drives with excellent running between the wickets. He managed to take the score to 125-8 which was probably 20 short of a good total, however with our strongest suit to come confidence was high. The confidence was not misplaced as we dominated with the ball, dismissing Newham for 68 as all of the bowlers were spot on, giving away very few loose deliveries. They were backed up by some excellent fielding with Billings highlighting his excellent captaincy skills. Looking to the final it was clear that spin was going to play a huge part as Billings and Ballington both bowled superbly picking up 3 wickets a piece.

Baddow amassed 180-4 in their semi-final, winning by 80 runs. However this was mainly due to the Clifford brothers who both represent Chelmsford 1st X1 in the Essex Premier League. James the older brother smashed 120 off barely 50 balls and then picked up 4 wickets, with Brother James scoring 25 and taking 3 wickets. So victory was sure to be decided on how quickly we get both out and how well we manage their 8 overs. 

We lost the toss in the final and were asked to bat, which was a decision we would have made. We started well and at the halfway stage 160 was looking like a par score, which would have been very competitive. Tom Mann made up for his poor dismissal in the first game with an excellent 37 at more than a run a ball. The transformation in his batting from this year to last was quite remarkable, showing that hard work does pay off. Pickering and Ballington knocked the ball around nicely with Pickering in particular looking in ominous form. Yet when both fell to the off spin of James Clifford the innings collapsed and the first part of negotiating the brothers had failed miserably. We lost 6 for 9 setting only a par total of 145. 

If our innings ended badly then the 2nd innings started horrifically and it looked as if the game was already lost. 22 was taken off the first over with the first legal ball essentially going for 13 (no ball six, free hit 6). The carnage continued as the next over went for 17 and the score had reached 41 after 3 overs. In desperate need of a wicket Pickering delivered trapping Ben Clifford LBW for single digits. However with James still there and smoating it to all parts we were still miles behind the eight ball. Our strength was that we had a great deal of depth in our attack and this showed as our three spinners bought us back into the game. Captain Billings showed his class bowling an immaculate line and length finishing with figures of 4 overs 1 for 21. Tom Ballington also bowled with impressive control and with wickets falling it was clear that we were one wicket away from victory. Having seen the seamers disappear to all parts Cameron Spicer was given his first overs of the day. He bowled an incredibly important spell over the closing overs with Clifford still going well. Spicer bowled the 17th over and after 4 balls had only conceded 2 runs until Clifford dispatched the last two balls for 6 putting the game back in his control. As we continued to pick up wickets the game went into the last over after Pickering bowled an impeccable penultimate over. With 10 needed Smith came back onto bowl with one wicket needed and Clifford on strike it was anyone's game. Lucky for us it was our day as Clifford could only find deep midwicket where Tom Mann took a match winning catch just inches of the turf. This sparked jubilant celebrations and a 7th successive Essex Cup, which on the whole was much deserved. Special mention must go to the Clifford brothers who single handily almost won their school the title. Our man of the day was Captain Billy who will be sorely missed. He is not only a fantastic bowler but a young man who understands the game and someone who is always willing to listen and take on board feedback. That win completed a clean sweep for the Academy, with the U'17  Cup and the St Albans invitational tournament already won.