A very unusual Saturday without a fixture in my diary had me heading to Chelmer Park to watch Chelmsford CC v Ilford CC.  I took a lot of photos and managed to take some of the 4th team too – they’ll be at the end 🙂

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Chelmsford have a rich history having been formed in 1811, they celebrated their bicentenary in 2011.  When the club was formed in 1811 they played across 3 main grounds but have played at Chelmer Park since 1972, a superb facility with 3 squares.

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I was very kindly given a copy of the book produced for the 2011 Anniversary hit contains a paragraph on the origins of cricket in the Chelmsford Area –

Cricket had been established in the Chelmsford area longer than the Galleywood races.  It was first mentioned locally in 1726 when a magistrate, hearing of a Saturday game to be played at Writtle and obsessed with the idea that such games as cricket were only an excuse to collect a crowd of disaffected people in order to raise a rebellion, hurried there with a constable to read the Riot Act, and to dispense the few well-meaning neighbours who were there innocently at play.

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The thought of a cricket match causing a riot is an amusing one, even when we consider the modern T20 games where alcohol flows.

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Chelmsford now run 5 teams in the highest leagues they can be in and the 1st XI won the Essex Premier League in 2015.

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Their visitors for the afternoon Ilford CC were first in to bat, they were facing amongst others, Sam Cook who had travelled to Dubai with the Essex Academy and subsequently been awarded a Summer contract with the County.

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Haaris Ayub and Shahzed Haleez opened for Ilford, Ayab faced only 2 balls before falling for a duck to Sam Cook, caught by Jack Sterland.  Haleez followed with the same score caught by Ben Clifford from the bowling of Anthony Hill.  Ilford were 5 for 2with less than 4 overs bowled.

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Mohammed Akhtar and Gurdeep Kandola were at the crease, Sam Cook took his 2nd wicket and Kandola’s bails, another batsmen was back in the pavilion with a duck and the score was 6 for 3.

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Ahktar faced 28 balls, making 10 before he became Cook’s 3rd ‘victim’ a catch by James Clifford this time and Ilford were 15 for 4.  The afternoon was going well for the home team to say the least!  Ilford needed a stand!

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Saf Imtiaz and Abid Ali put on 35 runs giving the fielders some work to do.  Ali made 21 before Jack Sterling took a second catch from the bowling of Karamat Ali.  Imtiaz wasn’t far behind Ali, he was caught by Ollie Devinish from the bowling ofHames Clifford, it was 53 for 6.

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A quick  mention here about the venue, Chelmer Park – by this time there were 3 cricket matches underway as well as various groups kicking footballs around, others playing tennis or netball, this is clearly an impressive and important local facility.  It would seem that one particular local missed the fact that a cricket match was going on, it was quite funny to see an elderly lady walking right across the outfield as play was going on, well of course play had to stop as she took her stroll oblivious to the 13 men in whites!

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A Raj and Awais Liaqat were at the wicket, Liaqat made 5 before Devinish took his second catch, Karamat Ali was the bowler and Ilford were 60 for 7, rapidly running out of wickets.

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Toheed Hamid made 23 with Raj keeping him company before Sam Cook took his 4th wicket, bowling Hamid. The score had moved on to 89 for 8.  The tail enders Salim Akbar and Theeben Tavarasa were both despatched by Cook for a Duck. Akbar saw his bails fly and Jack Sterland took his third catch to give Cook his 6th wicket for 15 runs!  Almost Stuart Broad style!  Raj remained Not Out on 9 having faced 53 balls, he certainly prolonged his team’s innings.  They finished on 93 All Out.

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That total wouldn’t provide a big challenge for Chelmsford, their opening batsmen had scored the 206 needed to beat South Woodford CC away the week before.

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Captain Nick Bailey and Dan Hagen opened the batting and went about making the runs needed. The two kept pace with each other before Bailey was caught by Saf Imtiaz from the bowling of Theeban Tavarasa he’d scored 16 from the 22 balls he faced.  The score was 30 for 1.

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Dan Hagen, who can certainly hit a ball, was joined by Nick Prowting the pair added 35 runs with Hagen throwing his bat and hitting 6 Fours  amongst his 34 runs, before Tavarasa took his wicket with a catch by Mohammed Ahktar. Chelmsford were 65 for 1 and the game was running away from Ilford.

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Much to his annoyance Ben Clifford had a long walk back to the pavilion with a duck to his name having been bowled by Tavarasa one run had been added.

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Jack Sterland joined Prowting who became Tavarasa’s 4th wicket with another catch for Imtiaz.  He’d made a useful 18 and the score was 73 for 4.

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Tavaresa achieved his 5fer (33 runs) taking the wicket of James Clifford (Ben’s Brother I presume – there’s a band name in there), with Ahktar taking his second catch.  Jack Sterland scored the winning run to finish not out 15 and Chelmsford had won the game by 5 wickets.  Not a bad day at the office!

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I enjoyed my first visit to Chelmer Park and the day was enhanced by having a chat with Aaron Beard, newly signed to Essex he was there for the love of the game and the club he played at from the age of 12.  He was water boy, cap boy, generally just loving being there in spite of what was quite honestly a chilly day, he lasted all day in shorts too! I’m looking forward to seeing Aaron take lots of wickets for Essex, and I believe he’s pretty decent wth a bat too!

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The true spirit of cricket was reinforced too by a lovely conversation that took place between ex Chelmsford player Pete, now in his 70’s I’d guess and a competitor of his from younger days, it was wonderful to hear them share stories in spite of them always being on the opposing side.  I’m sure the young cricketers sharing the win will have similar discussions in years to come.

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