All in all it was a good season for Hornchurch Cricket club. Having sought the services of a full-time groundsman over the winter and the return of three players from our local rivals buoyed the club with great optimism for the season ahead. Two out of the four teams were promoted but, unfortunately, the 1st XI lost the last game of the season and just missed promotion to the first division.
The 1st XI had a good season despite a very slow start, culminating in what should have been promotion to the first division. After having to wait seven games for the first league win, a strong run from then on was responsible for a chance of promotion going into the last game of the season. Unfortunately, we lost against Ardleigh Green and missed promotion. Simon Barnes and Andy Stallard were the 1st XIís leading batmen scoring 402 runs and 307 runs respectively. Marc Whitlock was again the main contributor with the ball taking 45 wickets, ably supported by Glen Noller with 28 wickets. The seasonís results show again how difficult it is to move up from Division 2 as every game was very closely contested.
The 1st XI did exceptionally well in the League Cup beating Hainault & Clayhall, Old Southendians, Loughton and Five & Heronians respectively to reach the semi-final stage. This was played against local rivals Gidea Park & Romford. We contained Gidea Park & Romford to 188 for 6 wickets, but unfortunately we did not perform well with the bat and were all out for 82 runs. Even though we lost the semi-final the most pleasing part was that all the teams the 1st XI played in the League Cup were higher league opposition.
After two poor seasons, the election of a new captain, Danny Noller and the return of some players to the club saw the expectations high for the coming season for the 2nd XI. The goal for both the 2nd XI was to bounce straight back into Division 2.
The opening game set the pattern for many of the games during the season. Having lost the toss we were put into bat. After setting a target of 196, with Richard Burd scoring 80, we saw a draw ensue, being unable to bowl out the opposition on the day and Epping finished on 137-8. It was evident from that point that batting second and bowling the 52 overs quickly was going to be vital to securing wins.
This was true for the next four weeks with wins against Southend and Buckhurst Hill, with Sean Perry showing great form, scoring consecutive centuries (101 and 114*) and Neil Adams performing well with the ball. These were then followed by draws against Basildon and Old Parkonians, when, whilst falling well short of the targets set them, they were unable to be dismissed. Darren Whitlock gained five wickets and Brian McGonigle 89 runs against Basildon while Paul Murray (60) and Jason Lofthouse (70) performed well in the Old Parks game with Dean Skipper taking five wickets.
Rain saw the abandonment of the Ongar fixture, as it would for the Old Parkonians and Stanford fixtures later in the season.
Week eight saw the only defeat of the season, away to Buckhurst Hill, a poor batting performance accounting for the loss, with the exception of the reliable Sean Perry who scored 64 runs. The side bounced back well defeating Southend again, chasing the target of 229 successfully, thanks largely to Dean Skipper (76), Imi Ahmed (59*) and another 40 from Sean Perry. Two draws against Epping were followed by a run of four wins against Benfleet, Basildon & Pitsea, Ongar and Woodford Green.
We entered the Woodford Green game knowing that a victory would ensure promotion. An early flourish from the Woodford Green openers was soon overtaken by some tight bowling, with Vishal Agarwal and Dave Kiff picking up three and five wickets respectively, dismissing Woodford Green for 127 runs. The job was completed by a destructive performance from Sean Perry, smashing an unbeaten 52 in conjunction with 36 not out from Danny Noller to ensure promotion. It was a fitting end to the game with captain and player of the season at the crease when promotion was secured.
The season ended with mixed emotions, a draw against Benfleet, with them batting beyond the 52 overs saw us finish as runners-up, despite having twice beaten the champions Southend-on-Sea. However, the goal for the season had been met and promotion gained, so congratulations to Southend and we look forward to playing them next year in Division 2.
For the 3rd XI the season began with one objective to gain promotion. With a new captain, Graeme Farquhar and a consistent squad of players the season was a triumph, losing only one game and this was after promotion had been gained.
The batsmen paved the way scoring 2400 runs, lead by Michael Church Snr (293 runs), Bill Stallard (289 runs) and Madhu Rao (256 runs). This included a memorable game against Old Brentwoods where Bill Stallard just fell short of his century when we were chasing a total of 256 runs. Greg Singleton should also be mentioned for his explosive batting when opening in this game by getting the team off to a flying start when we were chasing the runs. The team also recorded the highest 3rd XI score of 275 runs against Epping.
The batsmen were admirably backed-up by the bowlers with Graeme Farquhar taking 40 wickets, including a career best of 8-22 against Epping. He was well supported by Michael Church Snr (23 wickets) and Danny Wray (19 wickets).
The Captain and Vice Captain, Don Miller remain the same for 2002 and we look forward to challenges that playing in a higher division can bring.
For the 4th XI team the season was a huge success. On several occasions we just missed out on run chases or were unable to take the last couple of wickets. If this would have happened then we may have achieved our ultimate goal of promotion to the Premier Division, but to finish the season undefeated was in itself a major achievement.
More importantly, the standard of our younger members was excellent. Michael Church Jnr, Anthony Church, Nick Mitchell and Grant Williams all scored runs and took wickets. They showed that Hornchurch Cricket Club has a healthy future. Hopefully, next season will see the 4th XI win their deserved promotion.
Nadeem Kader with 473 runs (av. 52.56) including 112 against South Woodford and Tony Walpole 250 runs (av. 83.33) were the 4th XIís highest placed batsmen. The evergreen Doug Shewring took the most wickets and will once again take over the reins for the coming season as Captain, as the Williams family moved to Cornwall during the winter. We wish them well.
The Sunday 1st XI remained in the Essex Sunday League Premier Division, despite a number of games having to be fulfilled by the 2nd XI due to the successful run in the League Cup. Anthony Sealey was again top run scorer with Richard Burd taking most wickets.
Of the seven centuries scored during 2001 Sean Perry hit four with 143 runs against North Mymms being the highest and scored a total of 1,062 runs for the whole season. The top wicket taker was again Marc Whitlock with 77 wickets.
The youth section continues to prosper with the under 13ís winning the Havering section of the Subaru trophy before losing to Chelmsford.
The U15 team won their Havering League and the U16ís performed well in the Matchplay competition, winning two matches in a group that consisted of Billericay, Brentwood, Ilford and Wanstead.
Now that the square is vastly improved we are turning our attention to the Pavilion. We have plans to refurbish inside the Pavilion, which hopefully will be completed by the start of the cricket season.
We have finally obtained planning permission to enclose our practice net facilities and they should also be ready for the coming season.
We would like to thank all our sponsors, but especially Grove & Dean for their further continued support to Hornchurch. The spirit in the club is excellent and we look forward to continued success in the coming season.