COLCHESTER and East Essex’s talented teenage opener Joe MacGregor is showing maturity beyond his years as he continues his prolific form for the Shepherd Neame Essex League division one leaders.

That is the view of his Castle Park team-mate Kieran Savill, who has been hugely impressed by the promising 16-year-old both on and off the field.

MacGregor was in magnificent form once again for Colchester in their latest league clash, hitting an unbeaten 117 off 129 balls to help his side claim a six-wicket win over fellow promotion contenders Harold Wood.

And Savill, who claimed an excellent 6-57 in his ten-over spell, says the young batsman is a class act – and even reminds him of England star Ben Foakes during his formative years at Castle Park.

Savill said: “Joe played another fantastic innings, to help see us home.

“He has a lot of natural talent but what he also has is a mature head on his shoulders.

“He’s only 16 but he already has maturity in both his batting and also his approach to the game and he sets the standard for the rest of the team, even at his young age.

“You tend to forget that he is the age he is when you speak to him and he’s a huge asset to the club, having come through the youth system.

“Joe’s the best young cricketer I’ve either played with or against at Colchester since Ben Foakes and Reece Topley.

“He reminds me a lot of Ben when he was the same age as he has the same kind of maturity to take charge and still be there at the end.

“There are a lot of similarities there, in terms of his talent and how mature he is.

“Joe takes it all in his stride and the one thing that he doesn’t do is play with ego.

“We turned up two and three-quarter hours before the game last Saturday and Joe was already working in the nets, not just helping himself but also helping others.”

After being asked to field, Colchester restricted Harold Wood to 242 for nine in their 50 overs, with skipper Darren Eckford claiming a superb 0-2 in his seven-over spell.

In reply, MacGregor spearheaded the hosts’ innings and was well supported by the likes of Denson Narayan (47) and Simon Fernandes (29 not out), as Colchester claimed victory.

“It was a really good all-round team performance,” added Savill.

“Harold Wood are one of the strongest sides in the division especially their bowling line-up but we carried out our plan successfully and came out on top.

“Credit goes to Darren Eckford for his excellent spell opening the bowling and managing our fielding and bowling display.

“He’s played at a high level of cricket for a long time and has so much experience, both as a captain and a cricketer.

“The same goes for Jonny Bassett-Graham – they’ve both been excellent for us this season and have really created an enjoyable but competitive environment.

“I was probably flattered by the six wickets but we had a plan and we bowled to it.”

Colchester II (173-8) lost to Harold Wood II (175-5) by five wickets, in Second XI division one.