COLCHESTER and East Essex player-coach Jonny Bassett-Graham says it is a great team to be a part of after they closed ground on the league leaders.

The Castle Park side recorded an impressive five-wicket triumph over top-of-the-table outfit Shenfield to draw to within nine points of the Shepherd Neame Essex League division one summit.

Kiwi Bassett-Graham, who arrived from Auckland earlier this year, has made a positive impression since signing for second-placed Colchester.

And after contributing to their win over Shenfield with both bat and ball, the experienced player-coach says it was an impressive victory.

Bassett-Graham told the Gazette: “So far, we’ve played some very good cricket.

“It’s a great team to be a part of.

“It was an awesome result – the boys played very well.

“We bowled very well to restrict them to 220, which was good on a very good wicket.

“It was a full team effort in that regard and a lot of the guys played key roles.”

After being asked to field first, Colchester dismissed Shenfield for 220.

Along with Bassett-Graham claiming 2-48, Joe MacGregor (3-28 off six overs) and Denson Narayan (2-28 off 9.1 overs) also shone for the hosts in glorious conditions at Castle Park.

“The bowlers seemed very comfortable and we took our opportunities in the field with a run out and a couple of important catches,” said Bassett-Graham.

In reply, Colchester found themselves on 90 for four at one stage.

But a timely 118-run partnership between Grenada under-19 international Narayan (76) and Bassett-Graham (53 not out) helped steer the hosts to a significant victory.

“It was nice to spend a bit of time at the other end watching Denson hit it pretty cleanly,” added Bassett-Graham, who reached his half century off 71 balls.

“I thought we put on a good partnership and that solidified us through the middle.

“Denson played very well – he hit the ball incredibly hard and he read the match situation accordingly.”

Colchester’s first XI are at home again this weekend when they host Woodford Wells, at Castle Park.

In Second XI division one, Colchester’s second team suffered an agonising four-run defeat at Frenford.

Andrew Kennedy’s side dismissed the hosts for 171 at the Jack Carter Centre, with Dan Thacker (3-21) and Louis Morris (2-22) impressing.

Colchester looked on track to reach their target with significant contributions from Caspar Everett (46) and Charlie Fernandes (32) but with victory in sight, they fell just short at the end.