FORMER England spinner Monty Panesar could not stop Colchester and East Essex’s relentless march towards the Shepherd Neame Essex League division one title after they chalked up another win.

Panesar, who made 50 Test appearances for his country, lined up against the league leaders for Shenfield.

But after claiming 2-72 in his 16 overs, the former Essex bowler was unable to prevent the visitors Colchester from claiming a three-wicket win which leaves the Castle Park side 35 points clear at the top, with two games remaining.

The highlight of Colchester’s performance was a superb debut performance by 16-year-old batsman Guy Haines, who hit 67 to help his side to victory as they reached 228 for seven, in reply to Shenfield’s total of 224 for seven.

Colchester player-coach Jonny Bassett-Graham said: “We batted incredibly well and Feroze (Ahmed) got us off to a flyer with his 35 (off 17 balls).

“That wasn’t necessarily in the script or something that was planned but it took a fair bit of pressure off and allowed Joe MacGregor to play naturally.

“Guy Haines then played incredibly well for a 16 year old making his debut.

“It was an amazing knock and it was effectively a match-winning innings even though he wasn’t there at the end.

“We knew that he’s a good player and he’s shown that in his performances for our other teams like the seconds.

“He’s an opening bat or a number three and we wanted to keep him in that role.

“He did very well, especially as he was up against Monty Panesar.

“From our perspective, that made the win even sweeter, because the guys were in a pressure situation against an international spinner.

“It can be easy in that situation to play the man and not the ball and you can easily spook yourself but the boys did incredibly well and it was great experience for them.”

Shenfield had earlier been restricted to 224 for seven, with skipper Darren Eckford claiming impressive figures of 2-12 off eight overs.

Bassett-Graham added: “We started off incredibly well with the ball and made them work hard for their runs.

“We were able to keep pressure on them to score and we did that very well throughout but they formed a couple of good partnerships and got a competitive total with the bat.”

Colchester II (201 for nine) beat Frenford (200) by one wicket in Second XI division one, with Alex Young claiming 5-56.