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Wanstead dominate Essex League awards night

PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 October 2016

Wanstead's Martin Pluck, Matt Smith, John Gray, Arfan Akram, Adnan Akram and Shoab Iqbal with some of the club's awards at the Essex League dinner

Wanstead's Martin Pluck, Matt Smith, John Gray, Arfan Akram, Adnan Akram and Shoab Iqbal with some of the club's awards at the Essex League dinner

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Club collect host of prizes at annual dinner

Wanstead Cricket Club walked away from the Essex League dinner with a handful of awards at the Mount Banqueting Suite in Hutton last night.

Clubs from across the county were represented at the annual event, where Essex all-rounder Graham Napier was the guest of honour, and Wanstead received trophies and pennants for a hat-trick of titles.

The Overton Drive club, celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2016, had won the Premier Division title under captain Joe Ellis-Grewal, finishing 30 points clear of Brentwood, while their 2nd and 3rd XIs were also crowned champions of their respective Premier Division competitions, beating their Chelmsford counterparts by seven and 49 points on each occasion.

Wanstead’s 4th XI were runners-up to Buckhurst Hill in Division One, meanwhile, and the club also won the league cup and under-19 T20 competitions.

Collecting the awards on behalf of the club were president John Gray, chairman Martin Pluck, first-team duo Arfan and Adnan Akram, 2nd XI captain Matt Smith and 4th XI captain Shoab Iqbal.

Gidea Park & Romford vice-captain George Rogers collected the Division Two runners-up prize, while Shenfield received their 2nd XI Division One trophy and Oakfield Parkonians picked up the 4th XI Premier West prize.

Napier then entertained the crowd during an interesting Q&A session and said he felt honoured to have received a special achievement award from the Essex League, having graduated from club cricket with Colchester to become one of the county’s biggest stars of the 21st century.

The 36-year-old, who retired from the first-class game after helping Essex to the County Championship Division Two title this year, revealed how Graham Gooch, Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff had inspired him as a youngster and during his own playing career, and recalled how his T20 innings of 152 from 58 balls against Sussex in 2008, which included a then world record of 16 sixes, changed his life overnight.

He also spoke of his dismissal of former Australian captain Ricky Ponting during a spell of four wickets in one over in a 40-over match and his future hopes for the likes of fellow Essex League graduates Jamie Porter and Paul Walter.

Napier is now hoping to inspire the next generation of cricketers in a new role at the Royal Hospital School in Ipswich.


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