DARREN Eckford is hoping Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club's maiden victory of the season will provide the springboard for further success.

The Castle Park side secured their first Hamro Foundation Essex League premier division win of the campaign after beating visitors Billericay by 67 runs.

Charlie Fernandes (107 not out) hit a wonderful unbeaten century as Colchester made 246 for six, in their 45 overs.

And Ollie Hills (4/28) helped the hosts dismiss Billericay for 179 inside 41 overs to claim their first win - much to skipper Eckford's delight.

He said: “It was really good to get it across the line and there were some stand-out performers.

“With the nature of how we’d lost three of our four games, they’d always been really, really close.

“We were all pretty confident that there was a victory coming at some point but you almost start to feel like it’s not going to happen for you, when you keep losing close games.

“It’s all about finding the template for victory.

“We’ve had three games where but for Duckworth Lewis, a leg bye here or there or just an extra couple of wickets, we could have been on the other side of the result.

“We’re really pleased with the progress we’ve made and how close we’re getting and we are slowly settling on that template for victory.

“We’re starting to get a more consistent squad of guys who know what they need to do to perform at that level."

Fernandes was in fine form for Colchester, hitting an unbeaten century and also starring for his side in the field.

“Charlie is quite an athletic character - he really pushed the field around in the last few overs and was really quick between the wickets," said Eckford.

“I think the most important thing is that we were under a little bit of pressure when he came in – we’d had a reasonable start but there was the propensity from where we’d got to that it could all go to pieces and he had to work his way in.

“He took his time and found a way to score consistently on the wicket and then he put the foot down, which is where his T20 ability came to the fore.

“He hit every area of the ground; he was scooping, hitting over cover, slog sweeping, all sorts of different shots.

“He really manipulated the field and made it almost impossible to bowl to him.

“We were really lucky that he found the sort of form.

“He’s also been bowling really well and consistently this season and he’s been our go-to spinner.

“Our regular wicket-keeper Simon – Charlie’s brother – was away last weekend so Charlie took three catches keeping, as well!

“It wasn’t a bad outing for him – two wickets, three catches and a hundred!

“He was involved in every aspect of the game.”


Fernandes (2/27) and skipper Eckford helped dismiss Billericay, with Hills (pictured above) also in fine form with his four wickets.

Eckford added: "Ollie ran through their middle order.

“They came back quite strongly towards the end and David Houghton batted really nicely for them – he hit beautifully over cover and put us back under pressure a little bit.

“But in the end, Ollie’s spell had taken the meat out of the middle order so he ran out of partners to bat with.

“Ollie is another one who’s been working so hard off the field and it was just so nice to see him find that level of form and that level of confidence in the game.

“I’m really hoping that Ollie and Charlie in particular carry that confidence through and translate it into more strong performances like that."